Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
RatherSkeptic
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Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

Postby RatherSkeptic » Wed May 30, 2012 11:51 am

Hello/ Namaste Meditators.

I registrated to this forum in order to find out whether I'm doing something wrong in my meditation practise, or that sth. might be wrong with myself, or that maybe meditation itself is nothing more than a joke. I need to find out!

I started practising vipassana meditation exactly a year ago when I read the first writings about the benefits of it. Bhante Henepola Gunaratanas Mindfulness in Plain English was the first book I've read about meditation, it's still lying on my desk while I'm writing this. I found the promises of vipassana (and later, also samatha) very...seducing.

"Puryfing fire". "End of suffering". "Living each moment to it's fullest". "Only peace remains". To me, it seems like the advocates of meditation (Gunaratana, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Joseph Goldstein and Ajahn Brahm, these four are those whose writings I've read the most) are labeling meditation as the universal solution itself, giving the meditator total immunity to all kinds of disturbing thoughts and feelings that will arise of course due to the events that occur in every human's life. Drug addiction, depression, anxiety, hopelessness, nothing meditation, especially mindfulness meditation (Vipassana) couldn't solve, right?

"Great", I thought. "This might be the key to overcome my countless worries caused by the problems in my life. In fact, meditation might be the key for every human being to overcome it's traumas and fears and concerns, (certainly worse than mine) no matter how many horrible things happened in their lifes".

So started practising meditation a year ago: Two times a day, 30 minutes minimum. First concentration on counting the breaths, then on every distraction that arises, just like it's taught. A year of practise has passed now.

My personal impression of this first year with meditation: Horrible disappointment!

Nothing changed. Let's say, if there was a tragic happening I witnessed, I was still as sad as before. If I encountered a scary situation, I still was as afraid as before (and turned my back towards it instead of facing it). If there was something troublesome, I became angry just as before. Nothing changed.

But I'm glad to say that I've identified the problem allready: Vipassana doesn't give me any results because for me, it seems like reality itself is in the way. To be more precise: Disturbing and worrying thoughts habe a trigger. That trigger is the perception of some event. This event - the death of a relative (example only, didn't happen to me) - is very real! And no matter how many hours a day you meditate, you know very well that this situation remains. And as long as the situation remains, the thoughts concerning it keep on coming to your mind again and again, don't they? Thus, how is Meditation ever supposed to make a difference if reality forces you to be aware of the present situation as long as it still persists?

It is said that all phenomens are impermanent, and recognising that is a major goal of Vipassana, isn't it? However, I found out quite the opposite: When a worrying thought is caused by a real situation, my reason reminds me all the time that the situation remains and therefore, gives the thought concerning it it's substance. I never witnessed that impermance!

I must say, when I read some of the topics on this forum, I become jealous: Feeling of "hotness and coldness", experience of jhanas (nothing seems to be more lightyears away for me now), disturbing experiences at a Goenka 10 day retreat. Quite honestly, I would welcome even disturbing experiences during meditation, because then AT LEAST something would happen at all! :(

But, could it be that I'm just too impatient? Is it just normal that you have to practise not 1, but at least 3 years before the very first results show up? Was it also your case that the first year of daily meditation didn't change anything in your mindset?

PS: I am aware of the fact that many people on this planet have much worse problems than I do. But these problems - famine, war, etc. - are reality, and how could mindfullness help these people to get rid of their detrimental worries as long as this reality still remains?

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daverupa
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

Postby daverupa » Wed May 30, 2012 11:58 am


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hanzze_
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

Postby hanzze_ » Wed May 30, 2012 12:06 pm


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Khalil Bodhi
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Wed May 30, 2012 12:14 pm

RatherSkeptic,

It sounds like you're expecting a lot of your meditation and pushing yourself too hard. A year isn't, honestly, all that long to practice but I understand your frustration. Although I meditate for at least 30 minutes a day suffice it to say that blissful experiences don't happen to me frequently. Only on long retreats have I been able to deepen my meditation. But, as the Buddha has advised us, patience is the highest virtue and concentration practices don't come easy for most of us. I would recommend finding a teacher and trying to take some joy the great determination and effort you have already been putting in. You know there's more to this path than meditation (i.e., samadhi) there's also sila (morality) and panna (wisdom) and you really can't focus on one to the exclusion of the others and expect to get great results. PM me if you would like to talk more but I wish you all the best. Mettaya!
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

Uposatha Observance Club:
My Practice Blog:

RatherSkeptic
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

Postby RatherSkeptic » Wed May 30, 2012 1:37 pm


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hanzze_
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

Postby hanzze_ » Wed May 30, 2012 1:56 pm

Dear RatherSkeptic,

"If good morals would be the only condition for a controlled and blissful mind, we'd be in a much better world allready."

So what do you think if it would be like that and what would you thing about the world and why it is not like that in this regard.
There is no good moral without a controlled blissful mind and there is no controlled blissful mind develop-able without virtue step by step. Goodwill and heedlessness are are combination a team that works for your and the welfare of all others.

Did you read the linked Explaining and maybe you think one more time about "Certainly I lied in my life, but I can't remember a lie since my meditation practise has started" in regard of:

abandoning the taking of life
abandoning taking what is not given
abandoning illicit sex
abandoning lying
abandoning the use of intoxicants

in it's deeper meaning (without cheating your self)

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kirk5a
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

Postby kirk5a » Wed May 30, 2012 2:11 pm

In my experience, the more consistent the application of wakefulness in daily life, the more positive qualities result.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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LonesomeYogurt
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Wed May 30, 2012 3:25 pm

Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta


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daverupa
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

Postby daverupa » Wed May 30, 2012 4:40 pm


RatherSkeptic
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

Postby RatherSkeptic » Wed May 30, 2012 5:27 pm


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marc108
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

Postby marc108 » Wed May 30, 2012 5:42 pm

"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."

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LonesomeYogurt
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Wed May 30, 2012 6:07 pm

Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta


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Alobha
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Location: Germany

Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

Postby Alobha » Wed May 30, 2012 7:26 pm


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Goofaholix
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

Postby Goofaholix » Wed May 30, 2012 7:49 pm


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mikenz66
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed May 30, 2012 8:39 pm

Hi RatherSkeptic,

That's excellent advice from Goofaholix.

I would encourage you to seek out a teacher or a meditation group in your area.
This directory may be useful: http://www.buddhanet.info/wbd/

Just being able to talk with fellow practitioners can often help much more than a stack of books.

If you can't find any local people, consider also learning more about the Buddha's teaching through recorded talks, e.g. at
http://audiodharma.org/
http://dharmaseed.org/

Since you mentioned Mindfulness in Plain English you might find Bhante G's talks helpful:
http://www.audiodharma.org/teacher/68/
http://dhammarakita.net/DAudio/BhanteG.html

:anjali:
Mike

RatherSkeptic
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Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 7:25 am

Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

Postby RatherSkeptic » Wed May 30, 2012 9:52 pm


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Goofaholix
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

Postby Goofaholix » Wed May 30, 2012 10:10 pm


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LonesomeYogurt
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Wed May 30, 2012 10:18 pm

Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta


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Travis
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

Postby Travis » Wed May 30, 2012 10:22 pm


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kirk5a
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

Postby kirk5a » Wed May 30, 2012 11:27 pm

"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230


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