Concerning right living in a world of impulse.

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Concerning right living in a world of impulse.

Postby adamposey » Mon Sep 13, 2010 2:47 pm

Earlier this year I spent some time (3 days) on a meditation retreat at Bhavana Society (Where Bhante G. resides). Let me first say that it's true that the environment of the monastics is quiet, encourages reflective thought, and is peaceful — I had no intentions of leaving, sadly I was given little choice due to commitments outside of the monastery. Since my time in Bhavana I have sought to create the ideal of monastery life in my own life, to encourage mindfulness in its own ways. I am failing.

The age of impulse is now, where every book, distraction, and encouragement of negative states of mind is available constantly, regularly, always. My mind struggles with everything from the need to listen to music to sudden bouts of lust should an advertisement with a beautiful woman be shown on my screen, perhaps I should buy this book. My mindfulness drifts under these circumstances, the mind is disquieted, noisy, and unfit for meditation. My desire to sit wains: "Not now," I'll say "my mind is not in the right place, it will be unproductive, I'll come back and sit tonight after I finish work." I attend forums where arguing is encouraged, political debate. I go to college where there are beautiful women in revealing clothing. All around me is temptation, negativity, unwholesomeness.

I struggle daily in these circumstances because my mind is keenly aware of the peace of bhavana. There is a part of it that wants to be set free, desires release and non-returning. But there is another part of my mind that is not attached to these trappings of modern life as much as my responsibilities to others, to society. There are dreams of big plans for me to go into law school, to be successful and to help this world become a better place by using the tools it provides. I am struggling to find a balance between living correctly in a way where my mind has a sense of equanimity allowing me to meditate productively, without too much restlessness and laziness, and still maintaining my place in this world and my commitment to help others.

Do you all have any advice?
adamposey
 
Posts: 158
Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2009 8:16 pm

Re: Concerning right living in a world of impulse.

Postby lovemygreys » Mon Sep 13, 2010 3:33 pm

I don't have any advice, but thank you for posting this thread. I have a lot of the same struggles and thoughts. I'll be interested in reading the replies of others.
Heather and the hounds
User avatar
lovemygreys
 
Posts: 20
Joined: Fri Aug 06, 2010 7:49 pm
Location: Upstate of SC

Re: Concerning right living in a world of impulse.

Postby Cal » Mon Sep 13, 2010 8:06 pm

Not trying to be trite, and assuming you'll get much wiser answers than this, but couldn't you simply consider what you're trying to achieve as a 'middle way' between the monastery life and a life given over to lust and avarice?

Over 10 years of trying to live 'in the world' but still practice (often fairly unsuccessfully) I have found my life gradually simplifying. The temptation to have a high-status job and attendant lifestyle has gradually waned, and opportunities for a simpler life and occupation (perhaps more right livelihood) have presented themselves. Not every day is easy, and lust and attachment are always there (though I suspect they would be too in a monastery, perhaps in different ways) but these are opportunities to learn and practice.

I understand your desire to help and please others, having been there. However, it's worth remembering that dreams of the future are just that, and rarely if ever work out as you imagine. I recently found Ajahn Sucitto's book 'Kamma & the End of Kamma' very helpful regarding how we unhelpfully build up a sense of self by such expectations (it's available online at Cittaviveka : http://www.cittaviveka.org/documents/books/Kamma%20and%20the%20End%20of%20Kamma.pdf)

Personally, though, I could do with a 26-hour day though, to fit in the meditation around family commitments... :juggling:

Metta

Cal
Right Speech: It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will. [AN 5.198]

Personally, I seem to gain the most insight when I am under the most pressure, when life is at its most unpleasant. There is something in me on those occasions which feels that there is nothing left but to be aware of 'this'. Ajahn Sumedho - Don't Take Your Life Personally, p288
User avatar
Cal
 
Posts: 58
Joined: Fri Jun 04, 2010 7:33 pm
Location: South Coast, England, UK

Re: Concerning right living in a world of impulse.

Postby 5heaps » Mon Sep 13, 2010 9:04 pm

and still maintaining my place in this world and my commitment to help others.

meditation isnt about peaceful feelings its about insight, which is the perfection of rational thinking. its the only method which can account for the requirements of both the short-term and the long-term simultaneously. if thats true, and if you could teach it to other people, then it would be better than anything else you could do for somebody else.

when i was in school, because i didnt understand all that clearly yet / wasnt sure if it was true or possible, i tried to maintain my schoolwork whilst studying the best material on anatta/emptiness i could find.

with me it turned out that i would end up failing my classes and dropping out since i was spending all my time studying emptiness, but it doesnt have to happen that way to you :console:
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
5heaps
 
Posts: 334
Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:19 am

Re: Concerning right living in a world of impulse.

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Sep 15, 2010 5:11 pm

Set up a daily practice- give it priority- do it before anything else, then do all other things. We can always find time to eat- meditation should not be a problem, even if it is being mindful a few minutes here or there. Don't be disheartened by this. Setting up a daily routine which includes meditation is very important. You may want to find innovative ways of doing this -like when going in public transport you can use a guided meditation on the mp3 player. Sense restraint may help- avoid situations were defilements are likely to arise. Try to simplify and you will gradually find more time for practice. With complications come the lack of time. Finally find time and the money to go on retreat every once in a while to deepen your practice. Escaping from samsara is not easy, but it can be done.

with metta

RYB
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
rowyourboat
 
Posts: 1949
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:29 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: Concerning right living in a world of impulse.

Postby Ben » Wed Sep 15, 2010 10:38 pm

I agree with RYB.
Getting your daily practice going is your first priority. But by the sounds of it, you're going to have to exert some herculean effort to overcome some of your predispositions which appear to be blocking your path. You need to make a strong determination (adhitthana) to maintain your precepts and to maintain your meditative practice. As RYB said, you might need to engage in some creative solutions. One solution might be to get out of bed an hour or more earlier and start your day in the quiet pre-dawn practicing meditation. Likewise again, later at night.
Keep in mind that unless you are on retreat, finding time and motivation for meditation will always require effort and will be hard for a long time.Its just the way it is. Practicing Dhamma one swims against the tide of one's own kilesa-influenced mind and the tide of humanity which continually seeks what is pleasurable and avoids that which is unpleasant.
Fortunately for you, most of us have either been where you are at, or still where you are at. So,there are plenty of people here who can give you encouragement.
kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia
e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16345
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Concerning right living in a world of impulse.

Postby Kim OHara » Thu Sep 16, 2010 12:39 am

adamposey wrote:Earlier this year I spent some time (3 days) on a meditation retreat at Bhavana Society ... Since my time in Bhavana I have sought to create the ideal of monastery life in my own life, to encourage mindfulness in its own ways. I am failing.
... There are dreams of big plans for me to go into law school, to be successful and to help this world become a better place by using the tools it provides. I am struggling to find a balance between living correctly in a way where my mind has a sense of equanimity allowing me to meditate productively, without too much restlessness and laziness, and still maintaining my place in this world and my commitment to help others.

Can I suggest that you aim for a better householder's life rather than idealising a monastic life in a life situation which will clearly not accommodate it? By doing so, you can be far more realistic about your practice.
You will still have to simplify your life and prioritise your practice, as RYB and Ben suggest, but at least you will be aiming for something achievable.
In terms of simplifying, I encourage opting out of popular 'culture' - celebrity obsession, spectator sport obsession, sex obsession, trash-talking rappers ... the list seems endless, and all of it is junk food for the mind. Get better at turning the TV off, putting the magazine down, ignoring the ads that pop up on the net, and so on. You may be surprised just how much it improves your life, and all you need is enough mindfulness to ask, "Is this a good use of my time?"
:namaste:
Kim
User avatar
Kim OHara
 
Posts: 3224
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:47 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: Concerning right living in a world of impulse.

Postby manas » Thu Sep 16, 2010 2:24 am

Hi adam,
regarding the monastic situation of seclusion from seeing beautiful forms, sounds, (add the other senses too :shock: ) of women, I agree that it makes celibacy, and thus more calm in meditation, easier to achieve.

I once spent nine months without a single orgasm. I was so brahmacarya that, one night while in the dream-state, I was about to have sex and suddenly remembered that "this is a dream, and in the real world I am brahmacarya", and passed up the opportunity. I was living in a Hindu-style ashram at the time, with no internet, media or women around.

And yet...I feel that I have made more progress towards the surmounting of lust in the last three days here at home, than I did in those nine months back then. This is because I am NOT secluded from women, I HAVE to interact with them, and the INTERNET with its vast legions of free porn sites is always here for me. I have to literally use all of my powers of discrimination every single day to remain celibate under these circumstances. Sometimes at the end of the day I am in tears because I choose the Dhamma over quick and easy pleasure. (Sometimes I fail miserably too, btw). I am forced to use wisdom to defend myself, precisely because I am NOT secluded, do you see what I mean? (I am in trying to practice abstinence from orgasm for the sake of better meditation practice at present.)

So I encourage you to see how being exposed to sense objects can actually help us in our practice. There is somewhere where the Buddha says words to the effect that 'wherever there is that which is aggreeable, pleasing and delightful, there this craving can be abandoned". (emphasis mine). Right there, where the mind contacts a sense object! (could someone please give me the exact quote / sutta no. etc as I can't place it.):)

Then again, if you do not have any children or dependents, and you feel the yearning for renunciation, why not just give it a try? You can always change your mind and come back to lay life if it turns out not to be for you after all.
Last edited by manas on Thu Sep 16, 2010 9:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
manas
 
Posts: 2192
Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:04 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Concerning right living in a world of impulse.

Postby ground » Thu Sep 16, 2010 3:25 am

adamposey wrote:The age of impulse is now, where every book, distraction, and encouragement of negative states of mind is available constantly, regularly, always.

Availability does not necessarily undermine restraint/renunciation It is exactly the opposite: Without availability the practice of restraint does not make sense.

adamposey wrote:My mind struggles with everything from the need to listen to music to sudden bouts of lust should an advertisement with a beautiful woman be shown on my screen, perhaps I should buy this book.

Music can be used to meditate on its effects, impermanence and dukkha or impermanence and sukha which actually is the dukkha of change. Beautiful woman are also bundles of flesh, bone, slime, manifestations of impermance old age, illness and death, the suffering of getting older and ugly - objects of compassion.

adamposey wrote:My mindfulness drifts under these circumstances, the mind is disquieted, noisy, and unfit for meditation. My desire to sit wains: "Not now," I'll say "my mind is not in the right place, it will be unproductive, I'll come back and sit tonight after I finish work." I attend forums where arguing is encouraged, political debate. I go to college where there are beautiful women in revealing clothing. All around me is temptation, negativity, unwholesomeness.

... There are dreams of big plans for me to go into law school, to be successful and to help this world become a better place by using the tools it provides. I am struggling to find a balance between living correctly in a way where my mind has a sense of equanimity allowing me to meditate productively, without too much restlessness and laziness, and still maintaining my place in this world and my commitment to help others.

It looks as if you are rather young and have not yet entered a settled housholder life, as if you are at the point of making decisions about what to study, what job to choose. Under these circumstances the worldy concerns usually are very strong. As time passes and you get older you may experience the relativity of what now appears to be very important in your life. Be that as it may you have to accept the human condition. To struggle against it would damage your path. Human condition is to live in society obeying society's rules or to enter monastic life and obey monastic rules. The middle way of life in society is to obey society's rules outwardly but to pursue the benefit of others inwardly. With the former you accept human condition and with the latter you actually practice renunciation and restraint and renounce the dominant unwholesome values and rules of society.

Kind regards
User avatar
ground
 
Posts: 2592
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:01 am

Re: Concerning right living in a world of impulse.

Postby nameless » Thu Sep 16, 2010 4:49 am

You seem to have this idea that the mind needs to be in a certain state in order to meditate, but that just causes more suffering. The desire for the "peace of bhavana" is another desire, clinging to it causes suffering. It is quite confusing, if you don't desire peace you don't meditate, but if you desire it it causes problems which prevent you from getting it.

If you read the satipatthana it's about awareness. If you are lustful, just be aware. If your mind is noisy, just be aware. Restless, be aware, tired, be aware.
"Here, O bhikkhus, when sensuality is present, a bhikkhu knows with understanding: 'I have sensuality,' or when sensuality is not present, he knows with understanding: 'I have no sensuality.' He understands how the arising of the non-arisen sensuality comes to be; he understands how the abandoning of the arisen sensuality comes to be; and he understands how the non-arising in the future of the abandoned sensuality comes to be."

And so on with the other hindrances. So it's not about somehow getting a perfect condition where you can meditate "productively" (incidentally, what can one produce, really?). Without practicing first, you'll never get to that ideal condition anyway because it's our nature to have hindrances. So just practice. Ajahn Chah says in "The training of the heart" to practice while lazy, practice while diligent. But that really encompasses everything: when you feel like it, when you don't, whether you expect a good result or not, whether you're in a good condition or not.
nameless
 
Posts: 164
Joined: Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:25 pm

Re: Concerning right living in a world of impulse.

Postby Dan74 » Thu Sep 16, 2010 5:24 am

Regarding temptation and distraction, there are two (constructive) ways one can go: a complete immersion in practice in a supportive environment or a pragmatic compromise. The former is pretty clear - ordination, if you are ready. The latter is for instance finding a good partner and release of lustful impulse in as wholesome a setting as possible, ie in a caring relationship.

My take on this kind of dilemma is that one has to be brutally honest - are you ready to ordain? If not, you have to face who you are now and deal with that in the most pragmatic practical way. There is no use trying to beat your mind into submission. But you can learn to work with it. Notice temptations arise and pass. Work out ways of dealing with them that actually work for you. Give the mind some leeway when necessary, strike deals - eg OK I can listen to music for 15 minutes but I will sit for 30 minutes first. Constantly remind yourself of the unwholesome consequences of unwholesome actions. We are addicted to many kinds of stimuli and addictive mind conveniently chooses to forget the consequences. So daily contemplation of these can be helpful.

Likewise focus on the positives and nourish positive impulses in your life.

Above all be where you are rather than where you dream of being. But be guided by the Dhamma.

_/|\_
_/|\_
User avatar
Dan74
 
Posts: 2713
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm


Return to Theravāda for the modern world

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests