We are not our thoughts. Our notion of self is an illusion. I’ve just finished A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, the newest Oprah book, and these are two of the most important themes in this revelatory book. Before you snicker that because it’s an Oprah book, it’s not worth your time, please read it before you pass judgment. From my perspective, it is an expression, in plain language, of the Buddhadharma, the Buddha’s teaching. Especially on these two points: our ego is a false construction, and we are not our thoughts. Look at all the violence in the world, and it can be traced back to one simple cause: attachment to thoughts. When we attach to thoughts and beliefs we don’t see the Essence/Presence/Buddha-nature/God/Divinity of the human being who is standing right before us. When we attach to thoughts, we make judgments about people, and in our minds, we seal their fate. Like the wise Zen master said, “As soon as you make distinctions, you’re in Hell.” The Khmer Rouge in Cambodia under Pol Pot killed people who wore glasses. Why? Because according to the warped Marxist beliefs that they adhered to, people with glasses were intellectuals, and by extension, enemies of “the People.” We look back on this and see clearly the absolute irrationality of this position. But let’s be careful of letting our own beliefs about people direct our actions. Our beliefs, our stories, are not who we are. Our essence, our mind, our spirit, is unchangeable, incorruptible, untouchable, and separate from the beliefs we hold about ourselves and others. We are not our stories. When we realize this, maybe we really can create a new earth.