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.

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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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

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

RatherSkeptic wrote:I started practising vipassana meditation...


Hmmm; any anapanasati? Because that includes the essential complement to vipassana, which is samatha, and I wonder whether this aspect has been developed.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

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

Dear RatherSkeptic,

Skeptic is good and rather means that the doubt goes maybe in two directions: In some own experiences, which need affirmative answer and missing experiences which need to be pointed to.

Not only for all other beings, but also for you own welfare and success in meditation:

Five faultless gifts

"There are these five gifts, five great gifts — original, long-standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated, unadulterated from the beginning — that are not open to suspicion, will never be open to suspicion, and are unfaulted by knowledgeable contemplatives & brahmans. Which five?

"There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones, abandoning the taking of life, abstains from taking life. In doing so, he gives freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings. In giving freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings, he gains a share in limitless freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, and freedom from oppression. This is the first gift, the first great gift — original, long-standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated, unadulterated from the beginning — that is not open to suspicion, will never be open to suspicion, and is unfaulted by knowledgeable contemplatives & brahmans...

"Furthermore, abandoning taking what is not given (stealing), the disciple of the noble ones abstains from taking what is not given. In doing so, he gives freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings. In giving freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings, he gains a share in limitless freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, and freedom from oppression. This is the second gift...

"Furthermore, abandoning illicit sex, the disciple of the noble ones abstains from illicit sex. In doing so, he gives freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings. In giving freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings, he gains a share in limitless freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, and freedom from oppression. This is the third gift...

"Furthermore, abandoning lying, the disciple of the noble ones abstains from lying. In doing so, he gives freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings. In giving freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings, he gains a share in limitless freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, and freedom from oppression. This is the fourth gift...

"Furthermore, abandoning the use of intoxicants, the disciple of the noble ones abstains from taking intoxicants. In doing so, he gives freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings. In giving freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings, he gains a share in limitless freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, and freedom from oppression. This is the fifth gift, the fifth great gift — original, long-standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated, unadulterated from the beginning — that is not open to suspicion, will never be open to suspicion, and is unfaulted by knowledgeable contemplatives & brahmans. And this is the eighth reward of merit, reward of skillfulness, nourishment of happiness, celestial, resulting in happiness, leading to heaven, leading to what is desirable, pleasurable, & appealing; to welfare & to happiness."

— AN 8.39


That actually needs mindfulness (keeping in mind, observing it well) and the impact and it's ways are so big that maybe this detail explaining is for good use --> Protection Through Satipatthana

There was once a pair of jugglers who performed their acrobatic feats on a bamboo pole. One day the master said to his apprentice: "Now get on my shoulders and climb up the bamboo pole." When the apprentice had done so, the master said: "Now protect me well and I shall protect you! By protecting and watching each other in that way, we shall be able to show our skill, make a good profit and safely get down from the bamboo pole." But the apprentice said: "Not so, master! You, O master, should protect yourself, and I too shall protect myself. Thus self-protected and self-guarded we shall safely do our feats."

This is the right way," said the Blessed One and spoke further as follows:

"It is just as the apprentice said: 'I shall protect myself' — in that way the foundations of mindfulness (satipatthana) should be practiced. 'I shall protect others' — in that way the foundations of mindfulness should be practiced. Protecting oneself, one protects others; protecting others, one protects oneself.

"And how does one, in protecting oneself, protect others? By the repeated and frequent practice of meditation (asevanaya bhavanaya bahulikammena).

"And how does one, in protecting others, protect oneself? By patience and forbearance, by a non-violent and harmless life, by loving kindness and compassion [Right intention -> Sila - look above]."


"I shall protect others" — thus should we establish our mindfulness, and guided by it devote ourselves to the practice of meditation, for the sake of our own liberation.

"I shall protect others" — thus should we establish our mindfulness, and guided by it regulate our conduct by patience, harmlessness, loving-kindness and compassion, for the welfare and happiness of many.
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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

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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

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

daverupa wrote:
RatherSkeptic wrote:I started practising vipassana meditation...


Hmmm; any anapanasati? Because that includes the essential complement to vipassana, which is samatha, and I wonder whether this aspect has been developed.


Yes, I focused on samadhi too, as I first counted my breaths up to 100 and then back to 1, until I didn't miss just one breath. Then counting up to 5 for every single in- and outbreath until that was a bit stable. But then - what? Reality isn't altered just because I can count to 100..

@hanzze

I never killed anybody (I'm even vegetarian!)

I never stole from anyone since my childhood

I never went to a prostitude

Certainly I lied in my life, but I can't remember a lie since my meditation practise has started

I never took drugs, hell, I didn't even touch a cigarette my entire life.

If good morals would be the only condition for a controlled and blissful mind, we'd be in a much better world allready. In short: I don't get your point.

@Khalil

It sounds like you're expecting a lot of your meditation and pushing yourself too hard.


I consider that as a compliment.
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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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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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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

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

I understand your frustration. However, seeking out a teacher may be a very good step for you. Someone who is practicing like you are would probably benefit greatly from the guidance of someone who can respond to your individual concerns.

In general, however, you may be missing the point of meditation slightly.

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?

Meditation is not in any way about forgetting a situation or casting the situation out of your mind. Instead, you can meditate on your fear or your sadness or whatever emotion you may be experiencing. Develop concentration and then gaze into the fear; see it for what it really is, which is impermanent.

You may be seeing impermanence on a slightly conceptual, large-size scale. Look at the moment-to-moment changes in all phenomena, from an itch to a thought to your greatest, strongest desire. It's all going to show impermanence if you look at it with right view. Just acknowledge it. Say, "this is fear. I see you, fear." That's what meditation is all about, really - seeing that sadness and joy and hate and fear and everything else is just there, always changing, and that you don't have to get attached to it.
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

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

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

RatherSkeptic wrote:Yes, I focused on samadhi too, as I first counted my breaths up to 100 and then back to 1, until I didn't miss just one breath. Then counting up to 5 for every single in- and outbreath until that was a bit stable. But then - what?


Well, then you'd be done with that preliminary concentration-building exercise, and you'd move on to the actual anapanasati practice which combines vipassana and samatha - but which does not involve counting. Give this a year, though it won't likely take that long before some benefit or other is discernible.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

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

@hanzze

I'm really sorry, but I still don't get it. I can only repeat that IMO, morality is not the problem that keeps me away from any experience of progression.

@kirk5a

kirk5a wrote:In my experience, the more consistent the application of wakefulness in daily life, the more positive qualities result.


You talk about mindfulness in daily life. I already read about that, like in the books of Bhante Henepola and Joseph Goldstein, they also tell that meditation doesn't take place in a sitting posture, but also in everything we do. So far so good, but how does that stop troublesome thoughts and emotions from arising out of an unpleasant situation?

The situation in reality still exists.

And therefore, thoughts and worries connected to that real situation will come again and again as long as it persists.

@LonesomeYogurt

You know, I've read about anatta and anicca.

I'm glad to tell you that I've totally understood anatta, the non-self of phenomena. I agree with the teachings that you are not the controller of your emotions and thoughts. Rather they are caused by social and enviromental influences and therefore, they are out of your reach.

However, I did never get behind anicca, the so-called impermanence. You say I just have to concentrade on these phenomenas, and I would recognise it's impermanence. But whenever I do that, the voice of reason tells me that this fear is caused by a real situation that will not change, that is permanent. Let's say, for example, I was once very anxious before a job interview. That interview was reality. Also, it was a definite reality that there was much at stake, and it was a reality that I could terribly disgrace myself. And no matter whether I was five or just one day or just five minutes away from that situation, it's reality still persisted, permanent, not changing. "So", my voice of reason would tell me during the attempt to gaze into it during meditation, "why do you ever think that the worries about this interview might be impermanent and changing if the situation they are based on remains very permanent and unchanging?" And it owns me.

As for looking for a teacher, thanks for the advice, but meditation teachers aren't as numerous as yoga teachers. I'll keep my eyes open.
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

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

RatherSkeptic wrote:Yes, I focused on samadhi too, as I first counted my breaths up to 100 and then back to 1, until I didn't miss just one breath. Then counting up to 5 for every single in- and outbreath until that was a bit stable. But then - what? Reality isn't altered just because I can count to 100..



I really understand your frustrations.

As far as one year of practice goes, that would be like an infant just opening his eyes. People like Bhante G, Ajahn Brahm, Joseph Goldstein.... these people are DEEPLY practiced, thousands and thousands of hours spent in meditation and their entire life's dedicated to the Buddha's Practice. My personal belief, is that the profound liberation you see in people like this is a result of serious, life long commitment to the Practice. That being said, while meditation is the foundation of the practice, the Buddha's path is the Eight Fold Path. You may benefit from spending some time studying the 5 hinderances, Right Effort and Right Mindfulness, as well as trying to find a teacher.

Samadhi doesn't necessarily equate to being able to count to 100 undisturbed, you can have shallow concentration with almost no disturbing thinking. Counting is just a preliminary process, a set up exercise to slow the thought stream in preparation for meditation... Once you can get the mind to a point where it's mostly undisturbed by the automatic thinking processes then you should continue with Anapanasati. Since you like them, both Bhante G and Ajahn Brahm have more advanced meditation manuals with guides to bringing the mind to Jhana, it would be worth your while to read... If your meditation is 'stale' and without an Piti/Sukkha, Ajahn Brahm's preliminary teaching on the 'Beautiful Breath' is really great for this, as well as Thanissaro Bhikkhu's techniques for breath manipulation. Ajahn Sucitto also has a great meditation manual, maybe you will find the section on Anapanasati useful.

Ajahn Brahm:
http://www.holybooks.com/wp-content/upl ... ndbook.pdf
http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... Jhanas.htm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
http://www.dhammatalks.org/mp3_topical_ ... tml#breath

Ajahn Sucitto:
http://forestsanghapublications.org/vie ... 12&ref=vec

Bhante G:
http://dharmaseed.org/retreats/603/
"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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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

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

RatherSkeptic wrote:You know, I've read about anatta and anicca.

I'm glad to tell you that I've totally understood anatta, the non-self of phenomena. I agree with the teachings that you are not the controller of your emotions and thoughts. Rather they are caused by social and enviromental influences and therefore, they are out of your reach.

However, I did never get behind anicca, the so-called impermanence. You say I just have to concentrade on these phenomenas, and I would recognise it's impermanence. But whenever I do that, the voice of reason tells me that this fear is caused by a real situation that will not change, that is permanent. Let's say, for example, I was once very anxious before a job interview. That interview was reality. Also, it was a definite reality that there was much at stake, and it was a reality that I could terribly disgrace myself. And no matter whether I was five or just one day or just five minutes away from that situation, it's reality still persisted, permanent, not changing. "So", my voice of reason would tell me during the attempt to gaze into it during meditation, "why do you ever think that the worries about this interview might be impermanent and changing if the situation they are based on remains very permanent and unchanging?" And it owns me.

As for looking for a teacher, thanks for the advice, but meditation teachers aren't as numerous as yoga teachers. I'll keep my eyes open.

I didn't mean to imply that you didn't understand. I'm sorry if it came off that way. All I mean to say is that impermanence is far deeper than the impermanence of a situation or an event; the feelings and emotions moment to moment are impermanent.

Your happiness is in your hands and I don't mean to imply that I know better. But before you abandon meditation, I would implore you to maybe try out Mahasi Sayadaw's method, which is far more active in its investigation of thought and emotion. That might help a lot.

http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/Pra ... tical.html

Also, many people say that the Goenka method of body scanning is great to examine and demonstrate anicca fast. Consider a retreat there, they have centers all over the world.
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

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

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

Hi Rathersceptic,

RatherSkeptic wrote: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?


Just to clarify the situation:
If you say that an outer perception triggers disturbing and worrying thoughts, do you mean to say that you are of the view that the reason for suffering is not found within, but outside? Did i understand that correctly?
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

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

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


I think the title of this thread indicates where you are gouing wrong, why would meditation stand against the forces of reality? Vipassana meditation is about fully embracing reality rather than seeking the pleasant and pushing away the unpleasant. life will always be a mixture of both, why fight with it? why try to manipluate it to gert more pleasant and less unpleasant? This fighting and manipulation is part of what causes Dukkha.

RatherSkeptic wrote:I'm glad to tell you that I've totally understood anatta, the non-self of phenomena. I agree with the teachings that you are not the controller of your emotions and thoughts. Rather they are caused by social and enviromental influences and therefore, they are out of your reach.


I don't think you do at all. Most emotions and thoughts are not caused by social and enviromental influences but by previous emotions and thoughts and/or sense contact. The point is while you cannot control what you are experiencing now you can minimise the flow on affect by not reracting, not fighting, not manipulating those experiences.

Thought is just thought, feeling just feeling, don't get caught up in the content just watch them arise and pass away.

RatherSkeptic wrote:However, I did never get behind anicca, the so-called impermanence. You say I just have to concentrade on these phenomenas, and I would recognise it's impermanence. But whenever I do that, the voice of reason tells me that this fear is caused by a real situation that will not change, that is permanent. Let's say, for example, I was once very anxious before a job interview. That interview was reality. Also, it was a definite reality that there was much at stake, and it was a reality that I could terribly disgrace myself. And no matter whether I was five or just one day or just five minutes away from that situation, it's reality still persisted, permanent, not changing. "So", my voice of reason would tell me during the attempt to gaze into it during meditation, "why do you ever think that the worries about this interview might be impermanent and changing if the situation they are based on remains very permanent and unchanging?" And it owns me.


Are you still at that interview today? If not then it was impermanent. Are you still bringing up feelings and worries about that interview today even though the interview is long over? Each thought and feeling is a new event that is arising and passing away, you need to be looking at each thought and feeling as a new event condiotioned by previous events, if you do that you'll be able to let go of identification with them and attachment to them, this is vipassana. Instead what you are doing is looking at the story, stories tend to snowball and get out of perspective, they can take you into bigger rounds of negativity, Vipassana is about not identifying with the story nor the me at the centre of the story.

Break down what you experience into the smallest events and then you'll be able to watch them arise and pass away, embrace experience both pleasant and unpleasant, before long you'll notice what seemed so permanent and so difficult to overcome has just broken down to nothing.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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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
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

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

@LonesomeYogurt

I just read that text from Mahasi Sayadaw, and there's one sentence that illustrates my current doubt about meditation very well:

If you are thirsty while contemplating, notice the feeling, thirsty.


Now, we all know how important regular trinking is for our human body that consists to 70% of water. It is a common advice that you should drink regulary, even before you get really thirsty. Avoiding dehydration is very important for our health.

So, if I would get thirsty during meditation, I couldn't keep on meditating. Why? Well, I could concentrate on thirst and make a mental note like Sayadaw recommends, and yes, I maybe the feeling of thirst will cease in it's impermanence. But one thing still stands in the way: Reason. My rational mind knows I should abort the meditation RIGHT NOW, because if I would keep on doing this (especially when this happens everyday), I would put my health into danger. And that's a fact! It is reality! And as long as this real situation of ongoing dehydration still persists, my reason will remind me every second about that, making it impossible for me to focus on the actual meditation.

@mikenz66

I appreciate your help, but maybe it's time for me to admit that I have no interest in becoming Buddhist just for Meditation practise. To my knowledge, Vipassana and Samatha can be practised in an entirely secular way, and that's where I want to go if I keep on meditating...or I won't meditate at all. And these retreats you are offering me...they seem to be focused to much on Buddhism.

Alobha wrote:Just to clarify the situation:
If you say that an outer perception triggers disturbing and worrying thoughts, do you mean to say that you are of the view that the reason for suffering is not found within, but outside? Did i understand that correctly?


Yes.

Of course you could say that my personality, my character is a certain inner influence of how I deal with what I just perceived and whether I find an event rather good or bad. But then, I would say that charakter and personality are also just things that have been determined by previous influences from the outside, like education, upbringing by the parents, religion, etc...
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

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

RatherSkeptic wrote:So, if I would get thirsty during meditation, I couldn't keep on meditating. Why? Well, I could concentrate on thirst and make a mental note like Sayadaw recommends, and yes, I maybe the feeling of thirst will cease in it's impermanence. But one thing still stands in the way: Reason. My rational mind knows I should abort the meditation RIGHT NOW, because if I would keep on doing this (especially when this happens everyday), I would put my health into danger. And that's a fact! It is reality! And as long as this real situation of ongoing dehydration still persists, my reason will remind me every second about that, making it impossible for me to focus on the actual meditation..


Nobody died from being thirsty for an hour, nobody put their health in danger by being thistry for an hour. When the meditation session is over get up and drink, why wouldn't you?

However during the meditation examine the physical sensations and thoughts that arise around thirst, break them down to the most detailed level and then you'll notice they are constantly changing. Thirst is a label we apply to a variety of sensations, thoughts, and feeoings, thirst is not direct experience. "I am thirsty" is just the story, if you look at it there are a variety of sensations, thoughts, and feelings arising and passing away around this theme. This doesn't stop you being thirsty, it's a natural survival instinct and you need it, it will however stop you experiencing Dukkha when you have to wait longer before your need is satisfied.

When you can do this with little things like thirst you can apply similar principles to the big things in life.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

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

RatherSkeptic wrote:So, if I would get thirsty during meditation, I couldn't keep on meditating. Why? Well, I could concentrate on thirst and make a mental note like Sayadaw recommends, and yes, I maybe the feeling of thirst will cease in it's impermanence. But one thing still stands in the way: Reason. My rational mind knows I should abort the meditation RIGHT NOW, because if I would keep on doing this (especially when this happens everyday), I would put my health into danger. And that's a fact! It is reality! And as long as this real situation of ongoing dehydration still persists, my reason will remind me every second about that, making it impossible for me to focus on the actual meditation.

But what if your need to immediately rush and fulfill every desire that arises is the root of your suffering? What if, instead of freaking out and saying "This desire must be met!" you learned to develop an inner joy that was not dependent on thirst being quenched or hunger being sated? Going thirty minutes without a glass of water won't hurt you, but does it even matter? What's the value of clinging to health? Will it stop you from dying?
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

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Can Meditation stand against the forces of reality?

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

Hi RatherSkeptic,
RatherSkeptic wrote:... maybe it's time for me to admit that I have no interest in becoming Buddhist just for Meditation practise.

I would suggest Bhante G's 8 Mindful Steps. You seem to be confused about what practicing the Eightfold Path entails. Given what you have said I would also agree that a teacher or group may be the best option for you.

You are not going to hurt your body by being thirsty for 30 minutes. The next time before you sit you will remember to drink, and the time after that you will remember to go to the bathroom beforehand, too :shock:

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

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

RatherSkeptic wrote:
kirk5a wrote:In my experience, the more consistent the application of wakefulness in daily life, the more positive qualities result.


You talk about mindfulness in daily life. I already read about that, like in the books of Bhante Henepola and Joseph Goldstein, they also tell that meditation doesn't take place in a sitting posture, but also in everything we do. So far so good, but how does that stop troublesome thoughts and emotions from arising out of an unpleasant situation?

The situation in reality still exists.

And therefore, thoughts and worries connected to that real situation will come again and again as long as it persists.

"The situation in reality" - nice phrase!

Just find the quality of non-thinking wakefulness. Then you will begin to see the difference between your thoughts about the situation and the situation in reality.
"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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