Most of our thoughts are caused by desire. So, what are the thoughts of a person who has no desire?

Another way of asking the same question: if we remove desire based thoughts, what will remain?

Edit: I'm asking this because I want to experience enlightenment. I know I am not enlightened, but If I am enlightened, how would my thoughts be? How would I feel it through awareness?

  • "Such" is the Sublime Buddhas answer. – user11235 Mar 12 '20 at 0:03

Enlightened people do not overgeneralize.

(This can be supported by both Pali Canon as well as Mahayana sources.)

Concepts like "enlightened", "person", "I", and "thinking" are all overgeneralizations, which enlightened people do not dwell in.

They may use generalizations as skilful means, to communicate the teaching, but they themselves are not bounded by them.


The enlightened ones can think, and do have thoughts, as shown in the quote below. But their line of thinking is always without defilements (kilesas) - see this answer and this answer.

Thoughts are not necessarily caused by desire, craving and clinging. Thoughts can arise due to sensory stimuli from the other senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch), and also from other thoughts.

From Udana 6.1:

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Vesālī at the Gabled Hall in the Great Forest. Then, early in the morning, he adjusted his under robe and — carrying his bowl & robes — went into Vesālī for alms. Then, having gone for alms in Vesālī, after the meal, returning from his alms round, he addressed Ven. Ānanda, "Get a sitting cloth, Ānanda. We will go to the Pāvāla shrine for the day's abiding."

Responding, "As you say, lord," to the Blessed One, Ven. Ānanda followed along behind the Blessed One, carrying the sitting cloth. Then the Blessed One went to the Pāvāla shrine and, on arrival, sat down on the seat laid out.

Seated, the Blessed One addressed Ven. Ānanda, "Vesālī is refreshing, Ānanda. Refreshing, too, are the Udena shrine, the Gotamaka shrine, the Sattamba shrine, the ManySon shrine, the Sāranda shrine, the Pāvāla shrine.

  • Given that avijja phassa is eliminated, what the touch that causes thoughts? – user11235 Mar 12 '20 at 0:03

The first step is to let go of the question. After all, when we hold on to questions such as these we are attached to them.

The matter is illustrated aptly by a painting found on the road between Taiwan's old and new Foguangshan Temples:

The man holds on tightly

One day a man stepped out to run errands. On his way he passed a cliff. Not paying attention to the road, he slipped and fell. Seeing his life was in danger, he only just managed to grasp a branch sticking out from the cliff wall. As he saw no way up or down, he was stuck. Until out of thin air a Buddha appeared floating on a cloud.

The man saw his chance and begged the being: "Please save me!"

"I can save you, alright." said the Buddha "but only if you listen carefully and do as I say."

"Enlightened One, at this point how could I dare disobey you. I will do whatever you say. I am listening." replied the man.

"Alright then" said the Buddha, "then let go of the branch you are holding on to!"

Upon hearing these words the man's thoughts started racing. If I > let go, how could I ever survive the fall. My bones will surely be shattered. How will this save my life? Consequently, he held on to the branch all the more tightly. The Buddha, observing this, left the man where he was.

If we want to see clearly, we must follow the Buddha's instructions and let go. At the cliff egde, you can save yourself by letting go. Otherwise, if we are desperately clinging on, how can we ever get out of danger.

Set aside your discrimination between concept and reality. Non-duality and non-discrimination are key. Stop thinking.

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