Painful memories.

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Painful memories.

Postby Individual » Wed May 20, 2009 5:59 pm

I've noticed that painful memories seem to last longer than happy ones. They are stronger in my thoughts and dreams. So when my mind wanders, whether asleep or awake, it often comes across a painful memory which makes me angry or anxious. And yet very rarely does my mind wander across a happy memory. It is in fact very easy to forget happy moments and very difficult to forget moments of suffering. Even if I try to think of a happy memory and find one, it does not have the same emotional impact as thinking of a painful memory.

Is this true for everyone, what is the cause of this problem, and what would the Buddha have said about it? Why does the mind seem to collect painful memories and disregard happy ones?

Even if I consciously try to stop dwelling on painful memories -- there are quite a lot of them -- even if I think, "There is no past or future, only the present," or "There is no self. So, this memory is not of me, but is simply like a dream," it does not go away or only goes away temporarily; it feels like a physical sensation.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
Individual
 
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: Painful memories.

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Wed May 20, 2009 6:03 pm

I think this is typical of a depressed personality or someone going through depression. Mind has anxious or depressed feelings so it looks for "hooks" to hang them on. The more intense the feelings, the more painful the memories Mind will dredge up. Sometimes in issues involving mind and emotion, it's hard to tell which is the cart and which is the horse.

J
Author of Redneck Buddhism: or Will You Reincarnate as Your Own Cousin?
User avatar
BubbaBuddhist
 
Posts: 640
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:55 am
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee

Re: Painful memories.

Postby Individual » Wed May 20, 2009 6:20 pm

Bubbabuddhist wrote:I think this is typical of a depressed personality or someone going through depression. Mind has anxious or depressed feelings so it looks for "hooks" to hang them on. The more intense the feelings, the more painful the memories Mind will dredge up. Sometimes in issues involving mind and emotion, it's hard to tell which is the cart and which is the horse.

J

That is a good explanation, but how can a person be mindful of anxiety before it has hooked onto a certain memory and remove these hooks once they are there?
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
Individual
 
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: Painful memories.

Postby Cittasanto » Wed May 20, 2009 6:32 pm

Individual wrote:
Bubbabuddhist wrote:I think this is typical of a depressed personality or someone going through depression. Mind has anxious or depressed feelings so it looks for "hooks" to hang them on. The more intense the feelings, the more painful the memories Mind will dredge up. Sometimes in issues involving mind and emotion, it's hard to tell which is the cart and which is the horse.

J

That is a good explanation, but how can a person be mindful of anxiety before it has hooked onto a certain memory and remove these hooks once they are there?


The Breath, just do the practice, and the concentration helps with the depression, although painful memories tend to linger longer than happier ones anyway, it is just how we dwell with them which makes them a problem.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5661
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: Painful memories.

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Wed May 20, 2009 8:53 pm

Individual wrote:Even if I consciously try to stop dwelling on painful memories -- there are quite a lot of them -- even if I think, "There is no past or future, only the present," or "There is no self. So, this memory is not of me, but is simply like a dream," it does not go away or only goes away temporarily; it feels like a physical sensation.


I can really relate to that. So much so, that I hardly have a good suggestion. At the elevated times, it does manifest like a physical sensation.

For me, being mindful of anxiety-stuffs or those painful memories/experiences/mind activities involves remaining aware of them, and letting them be like a cloud passing through the sky. And reminding myself that they always do pass. It's almost like respecting their right to wiggle in for a while. Fighting it always makes it worse for me and compounds the problem.

Best wishes,
Laura
User avatar
Ngawang Drolma.
 
Posts: 805
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:38 pm

Re: Painful memories.

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 21, 2009 1:16 am

Greetings Individual,

Often memories resurface because there's something unresolved about them... observing them mindfully, see if you can find their origin and their cessation.

Be careful not to attach to these memories or identify with them... remember everything that is not-self. Identification will lead to papanca and that papanca (particularly of this depressing kind) will lead to suffering.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14521
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Painful memories.

Postby Individual » Thu May 21, 2009 11:41 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Individual,

Often memories resurface because there's something unresolved about them... observing them mindfully, see if you can find their origin and their cessation.

Nothing seems to be unresolved about these, because the situations are far into the past and re-appear, almost of their own volition, from time-to-time, during casual acts of self-reflection. The anxiety and distress, as someone pointed out, exists before the memory appears, and the memory is simply a "hook" for the emotion to latch onto. That is, emotions are by nature situational. For every feeling there is, it is directed towards a certain object; a person feels a certain way always about something. But when there is an emotion present or arising that isn't related to something, it searches for something to relate itself to. This is different from the types of emotions that arise in reaction to physical circumstances.

retrofuturist wrote:Be careful not to attach to these memories or identify with them... remember everything that is not-self. Identification will lead to papanca and that papanca (particularly of this depressing kind) will lead to suffering.

Thinking about non-identification does not remove the habitual identification, because it has been developed for so long and is deeply ingrained. To a very large degree, suffering and ignorance seems to be unavoidable. Overcoming both and understanding the mind is the greatest mystery of all and easier said than done. Because what stands in the way of new action is the view of a self ("I cannot do that new action, because I am this," is fixed, but there is the possibility for new action, when there is the thought, "I can do that new action, because I am not that,"). However, the mental recognition of the non-existence of self is not the same as the experience, which is like swimming through a tsunami, climbing a mountain, or taming not simply a monkey or a wild horse, but taming a huge monster with many heads and many faces, like a hydra.

So, a person can walk around saying they are a Buddhist and meditating, but not much changes, unless they put forth that rare, unexplainable effort in every situation -- an effort which arises from beneath the conscious mind -- or unless they find themselves lucky enough to be in circumstances conducive to awareness. And even the slightest lack of vigilance against sensual desire makes any discipline which follows worthless, because even the subtle entertaining of sensuality -- delight in food, the warmth of a shower, the feel of one's pet dog, or the sound of one's mother's voice -- this lays the foundation for the more gross and painful forms of sensuality, such as laziness and drug-use.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
Individual
 
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: Painful memories.

Postby retrofuturist » Fri May 22, 2009 12:38 am

Greetings Individual,

Individual wrote:And even the slightest lack of vigilance against sensual desire makes any discipline which follows worthless, because even the subtle entertaining of sensuality -- delight in food, the warmth of a shower, the feel of one's pet dog, or the sound of one's mother's voice -- this lays the foundation for the more gross and painful forms of sensuality, such as laziness and drug-use.

I see your point, but it's not all or nothing... especially so the further from liberation you are.

Sometimes simple happiness can be the basis of kusala mindstates.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14521
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia


Return to General Theravāda discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: fivebells, MSNbot Media and 8 guests