Do Thoughts Create Reality?

“All experiences are preceded by mind, having mind as their master, created by mind.”

— The Buddha, from the Dhammapada, via

Did the Buddha say your thoughts create your reality?

This foggy subject is laden with popular opinions such as,

“What you think you become, what you feel you attract, what you imagine you create,”

along with other fake Buddha quotes.

The rest of the Buddha’s teachings and other masters shed light on the subject of the mind.

Enlightened masters never say “your thoughts create your reality.” If you read the real Buddha quote again at the top of the page, you’ll notice he said “thoughts precede your EXPERIENCE of reality.” There’s a fundamental difference between reality and your experience of reality.

Illusions Of The Mind

Yes, life experiences are preceded by the mind, but these life experiences are ILLUSIONS. Why? Because the mind is full of illusions and in fact, the mind is an illusion itself.

“… When you’re the Self there is no mind…. What remains is wordless. As you come back to yourself… You are living in the perfume of Being itself, you’re in a state of peace….”
— Mooji

The mind is where all fantasy and suffering occur.

“You see the world.
But like the snake in the rope,
It is not really there.”

— Ashtavakra Gita (5-3)

As a bracelet melts into gold,
A pot crumbles into clay,
A wave subsides into water.

— Ashtavakra Gita (2-10)
You see a rope.
Your mind thinks the rope is a snake.
Or a pot of gold.
But the snake and the pot of gold are not there.
It’s just a rope.

You might think you would never mistaken a rope for a snake or a pot of gold, but this is what your mind does all day long, every day.

Someone compliments the clothes you’re wearing.
You might think they’re trying to get something from you.
Or you might think they want to date you.
But these are illusions of the mind.
It was just a compliment.
“You see what you are thinking and feeling,
seldom what you are looking at.”
— Zen proverb

Can You Trust Your Thoughts, Beliefs, and Opinions?

“Our opinions have no permanence;
like autumn and winter,
they gradually pass away.”

— Zhuangzi

One day you believe something beyond all doubt; but the next day you start to change your mind. You might even change your mind completely. This is why the mind can’t be trusted.

The changes that appear to occur in the empty world
we call real only because of our ignorance.

— Sengcan, translated by Richard B. Clarke

Some people drew a line in the sand and said, “This land belongs to this group of people and this land belongs to this other group of people.

But this line has no existential reality or life of its own. That line only SEEMS real because a lot of people agree on it. That line can’t give you a true sense of belonging or make you feel at home because there’s NO ACTUAL DIVISION between land and people except in your own mind.

This goes for ALL of your thoughts and beliefs:

  • Where you should live
  • What you should wear
  • What you should look like
  • What you should say
  • Where you should work
  • Who you should associate with
  • Who you should love
  • What you should achieve
  • How you should die

There’s nothing real or true about these thoughts and beliefs no matter how many people AGREE on them, televise them, and promote them; therefore, they cannot give you real, true security, comfort, or joy.

“Take someone who doesn’t keep score, who’s not looking to be richer, or afraid of losing, who has not the slightest interest even in his own personality: he’s free.” – Rumi

Your thoughts aren’t real and they don’t even exist.

“Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment. Cleverness is mere opinion. Bewilderment brings intuitive knowledge.” – Rumi


The mind filters reality through a complicated network of beliefs, expectations, and assumptions and this is how all suffering occurs.

“Your unhappiness ultimately arises not from the circumstances of your life but from the conditioning of your mind.”

— Eckhart Tolle
“[The mind] is strong because it overpowers the intellect with its vigorous currents and destroys the faculty of discrimination. The mind is also obstinate because when it catches a harmful thought, it refuses to let go, and continues to ruminate over it again and again, even to the dismay of the intellect. Thus enumerating its unwholesome characteristics, Arjun declares that the mind is even more difficult to control than the wind. It is a powerful analogy for no one can ever think of controlling the mighty wind in the sky.”
Swami Mukundananda, Commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, 6.34

When the mind controls your life, your life becomes a roller coaster ride of superiority and inferiority, excitement and disappointment, love and hate, power and weakness, confidence and terror, fantasies and shattered dreams….


“Whatever the mind can conceive, it can achieve.”
“You attract your dominant thoughts.”
“When your beliefs match your desires, your desires must become your reality.”
“Thoughts become things. If you see it in your mind, you will hold it in your hand.”
“Believe in what you want so much, it has no choice but to materialize.”

Real masters don’t appeal to the mind with enticing promises like the above quotes from self-assuming gurus.

Instead, they give you a warning:

“Protect yourself from your own thoughts!”

— Rumi

The masters warned against thoughts, beliefs, conceptions, expectations, and conclusions.

In fact, you can only know the truth of something when you’re FREE FROM ALL THOUGHTS completely.

“A mind free of thought,
merged within itself,
Beholds the essence of Tao [apprehends the truth.]”

―Tao Te Ching, 1

“Clear water sparkles like crystal, you can see through right to the bottom. Mind free from all thoughts.

― Han-Shan

Seeing does not come from thinking.”

― Mme de Salzmann

“The masters of life know the way, for they listen to the voice within them, the voice of wisdom and simplicity, the voice that reasons beyond cleverness and knows beyond knowledge.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

The Real Mind

The masters used different terms to describe a mind that is free from thoughts, such as:

  • No Mind
  • Pure Mind
  • Clear Mind
  • Original Mind
  • Basic Mind
  • Healthy Brain
  • Primary Consciousness
  • Pure Awareness
  • Knowing Beyond Knowledge
  • Intuitive Knowledge
  • Inner Voice
  • True Intellect
  • Natural Intelligence

But they all meant the same thing. The real mind isn’t THE SOCIALLY CONDITIONED COLLECTIVE MIND.

It’s the pure, conscious awareness of a DIRECT EXPERIENCE in the present moment.


When your mind is free from thoughts, you can experience life directly in the present moment. This state is described as paradise or bliss.

“…You will be bathed in the ocean of bliss when all thoughts are extirpated. This state is indescribable. You will have to feel it yourself….”

― Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati, ‘Thought Power’ by Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati; Ch.1.22, via Supreme Yogi

“Paradise is within you, in your state of no-mind. And hell is also within you, in your very mind.

The choice is yours.”

― Osho

“A mind unruffled by the vagaries of fortune, from sorrow freed, from defilements cleansed, from fear liberated — this is the greatest blessing.”

― The Buddha, Mangala Sutta, via

“Mentally remove everything and be free. This is divine life. This is the direct way to Moksha or salvation.”

― Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati

Forget manifesting desires in the future. Awaken to the natural bliss of life that’s ALREADY OCCURRING right here and now.

“The “primary consciousness,” the basic mind which knows reality rather than ideas about it, does not know the future. It lives completely in the present, and perceives nothing more than what is at this moment.

― Alan Watts


When delusion disappears, you can see the world clearly, sharply, and feel it deeply. This FREEDOM OF BEING – free from all thoughts and beliefs – is the nirvana bliss described by enlightened masters.

When you experience inexplicable bliss by taking a simple sip of tea or simply looking at a mountain, you know you are enlightened in that moment, free from the mind.

“Tao and this world seem different but in truth they are one and the same
The only difference is in what we call them
How deep and mysterious this unity is
How profound, how great!
It is the truth beyond the truth, the hidden within the hidden
It is the path to all wonder, the gate to the essence of everything!”
― Tao Te Ching, 1

“The ancients said the enlightened mind is comparable to a fish swimming. That’s exactly how it is – there’s no stagnation. I feel no hindrance. Everything flows smoothly, freely. Everything goes nat­urally. This limitless freedom is beyond all expression. What a won­derful world!

― Koun Yamada’s account of his great awakening as recorded in Three Pillars of Zen

Realize Your Natural Brilliance

If you can drop the illusions of the collective mind, you can realize your natural logic, creative intelligence, and magnificent brilliance.

“Working rightly, the brain is the highest form of “instinctual wisdom.” Thus it should work like the homing instinct of pigeons and the formation of the fetus in the womb — without verbalizing the process or knowing ‘how’ it does it….”
Alan Watts

How can you allow your natural brilliance to guide your way? Instead of thinking about life, simply be.

Are We Having Fun Yet?

The difference between experiencing life from the mind and experiencing life directly makes all the difference in the world.

The moment you stop and say, “I’m having fun!” is the moment you stop having fun. When you stop having fun and start thinking about having fun, you might have a difficult time getting back to the fun!

“If you say, ‘I am free,’ then you are not free. It is like saying, ‘I am happy.’ The moment you say, ‘I am happy,’ you are living in a memory of something that has gone.”

― Krishnamurti

“To understand music, you must listen to it. But so long as you are thinking, “I am listening to this music,” you are not listening.”

― Alan Watts


“It’s so wonderful to watch an animal, because an animal has no opinion about itself. It is.

― Eckhart Tolle

Okay so, how do you break free from the mental matrix?

One way is to meditate and observe your thoughts instead of getting involved with them. This might require some very patient practice.

Don’t hate the arising of thoughts or stop the thoughts that do arise. Simply realize that our original mind, right from the start, is beyond thought, so that no matter what, you never get involved with thoughts.

— Bankei

“You can move from the mind to no-mind; the bridge is witnessing.”
— Osho


Another way to break free from the collective mind is to rest in stillness. You might need to exhaust your physical energy before you can fully relax the body and mind.

“The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.”

— Rumi

“The superior person settles his mind as the universe settles the stars in the sky. By connecting the mind with the subtle origin, [they calm] it. Once calmed, it naturally expands, and ultimately [their] mind becomes as vast and immeasurable as the night sky. Remain quiet. Discover the harmony in your own being. Embrace it. If you can do this, you will gain everything, and the world will become healthy again. If you can’t, you will be lost in the shadows forever.”
— Hua Hu Ching


If you deeply relax or meditate and you reach a state of nothingness or emptiness, this might feel strange or discouraging, but you’re on the RIGHT TRACK. Eventually, you’ll become accustomed to the pure calm of being instead of thinking.

“All is empty, clear, self-illuminating, with no exertion of the mind’s power. Here thought, feeling, knowledge, and imagination are of no value.”

— Sengcan

“Seeing into nothingness – this is the true seeing, the eternal seeing.” — Shen Hui

Let It All Go

“The Master leads
by emptying people’s minds
and filling their cores….
He helps people lose everything
they know, everything they desire,
and creates confusion
in those who think that they know.
Practice not-doing,
and everything will fall into place.”
— Tao Te Ching

Now that you know the mind is not your common sense, true intellect, you can let it go. In fact, you can forget everything you just read on this page.

Let all thoughts go so you can rest in perfect calm, become aware of the present moment, make your best decisions effortlessly, and experience the bliss of life.

Become totally empty
Quiet the restlessness of the mind
Only then will you witness everything
unfolding from emptiness
See all things flourish and dance
in endless variations
And once again merge back into perfect emptiness-
Their true repose
Their true nature
Emerging, flourishing, dissolving back again
This is the eternal process of return

To know this process brings enlightenment
To miss this process brings disaster

Be still
Stillness reveals the secret of eternity
Eternity embraces the all-possible
The all-possible leads to a vision of oneness
A vision of oneness brings about universal love
Universal love supports the great truth of Nature
The great truth of Nature is Tao

Whoever knows this truth lives forever
The body may perish, deeds may be forgotten
But he who has Tao has all eternity

Tao Te Ching, 16, – Trans. Jonathan Star

“You are always the same,
Unfathomable awareness,
Limitless and free,
Serene and unperturbed.
Desire only your own awareness.”

Ashtavakra Gita (1-17)