Thoughts, primarily the so-called 'negative' ones, appear to irk us pretty indiscriminately.

While 'negative' and 'positive' thoughts are basically a matter of subjective inference, a kind of 'while my body is here, my mind is someplace else' feeling seems to peeve a whole lot of people. Hence, a loud and clear message is to be urgently delivered for humanity at large: carpe diem à la Horace, and it will be an instant solace!

A worrywart was overheard narrating - he alone knows whether jokingly or in earnest - that he once confined himself in a room - much like in the early days of COVID-19 - closed the door and windows hermetically or, in a way, made it 'airtight' so that his 'mind' would not go out. Yet it did, and even more stubbornly.

While his body was indeed imprisoned, his mind (and by extension, his thoughts) felt even more liberated: it just went out unhindered; the room was the last place it wanted to dwell in: it was just outside, wandering, free as a bird, a cloud, like air. Coin any metaphor of your predilection!

Like 'how are you' or 'how is the weather', 'thought' is no doubt one of many a topic people tend to utter with an amazing frequency. My thoughts prevented me from sleeping, or I kept having negative thoughts until I knew you had landed safely at Zanzibar, or think positive, or it's just a mind game, thoughts simply come and go, yet they are driving me up the wall... 'I think' is a universal start of a sentence when both the wellversed and the commoners offer opinions on matters as diverse as the Buddha's nirvana, quantum physics or everyday life challenges. I think no topic can go on as eternally as the one on the rainbow of thoughts.

Now, seers and scientists – the former comprising sadhus and gurus, the latter comprising shrinks and psychologists – keep harping on the nature of thoughts: do away with negative thoughts (whatever that implies!); look at the half part of the bottle filled with happiness; therapy and medication should go together to rein in your thought process; practise yoga and pranayama to purify your mind... The Buddha was once taking a rest under a mango tree, when a bullock cart passed along a dirt track. He observed that the dust particles were following the wheels of the cart. He said: if your thoughts are impure, misery will follow you as the dust follows the cart.

It's the other way round if your thoughts are pure: happiness will follow you, as the wheels follow the cart. A thought-provoking observation, I think!

A version of this article appears in the print on May 06, 2022 of The Himalayan Times.