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?
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...
Ok. So you are of the view that the reason for suffering is not found within, but outside. If that is the case, there needs to be an inherent qualitiy to external objects that determines whether it makes you suffer and worry or not. If such an inherent quality to external objects exists, all people would need to suffer over the same things, because the objects determine whether the person suffers and it doesn't depend on the person. This is not the case. An inherent quality of external objects that determines whether you suffer or not does not exist. Suppose, someone smashes a person's carlights with a baseball bat. The person owning the car, upon seeing that someone damaged his property, damaged what is his, may get very angry or very upset. If you, walking past this stranger's car, would you be equally angry and upset?
Probably not. Because the smashed car is not the problem. It's how you relate to it. It's your relationship to these external objects, the identification with them, or the craving for them that makes it tough, not the object itself! Carefully investigate this for yourself.
If you watch some horrible pictures of war on the news, do you start to cry and get really upset? Why not? Because you do not relate to some strangers from a foreign land very strongly. But if a loved one gets hurt, this is a whole different matter, because we relate to them entirely differently, with much more desire for their well-being, desire to be around them, desire not to be apart from them and so on.
That's one of the very first things you need to understand fully, because if you think that you can do nothing against suffering, there is no way out of suffering for the mind. If suffering is perceived as uncontrollable internally and predetermined externally, of course there will be disappointment.
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?
No, right practice brings gradual results, not just after 3 years. Of course it is a matter of intensity of practice and how one practices but one year of right practice brings noticable change.
What might be the problem?
"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". [/quote]
Right from the start, it seems that your intention to start meditate was driven by desire and gaining. Better health, self improvement, nice mindstates, more mindfulness, more peace, immunity from feelings and thoughts.
I know that Kabat-Zinn advocates the many benefits of meditation in his books about MBSR, but he also tells people at the start of training courses, that, while they may have decided to meditate with their own set of expectations, these expectations should be put aside during the course. To me, it looks like your expectations and desires block the practice entirely and that you mistake mindfulness for concentration. That's what Ajahn Brahm speaks about when he tells to "let go.".
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..
How do you feel after meditation? Relaxed? Stressed? Tired?
All those desires and expectations give rise to stress and disappointment. It is great that you have been determined to try meditating for the last whole year, but it's important to note how you did it. Did you do it by willpower? Did you force yourself to sit down and "get through" with it because of the great results you hoped for?
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.
Moral misconduct is another reason for a lack of mindfulness because it feeds desires. This is not just about behavior in body, but also in speech and mind.
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.
It's a good example for "the meditation does note end when you get up from your cushion". Even if there is a certain predictability to external matters, this has nothing to do with how you relate to them. An interview has no internal quality of stress. Very briefly speaking, If you just apply "counting numbers" concentration and focus on the worry, it may just make you more worried. If you apply mindfulness, you just watch without judging. If you watch your mind, you are aware that you watch your mind and that it is feeling restless or worried. If you watch your thoughts, you are aware that you are watching your thoughts, e.g. thoughts about failing, about disgracing yourself, about coming to late, about forgetting something during the interview, about your future. and you can watch what these thoughts lead to, a pleasant or unpleasant or neutral feeling, and what your mind wants to do with it. Get away from these troublesome things, indulge in more pleasant things perhaps fleeing to meditation on other objects.
Three things you should note here: 1.) These worries will not make anything easier, if you're tired and mentally exhausted, that's not the best condition to do an interview or spend your days before the interview. 2.) The interview is not the problem, the problem is what you make out of this interview. "A big, live changing fuzz that will determine your whole life and your life is senseless if you mess it up and you have to do it perfectly" ? - the problem is not the interview, but how you relate to it.
3.) Changing how you relate to these things is not done by willpower, not by forcing the mind, but by thoroughly, consistently and mindfully observing the matter. If you wonder why mindfulness should be able to change how you relate to things, how it could change that you get angry or sad about this or that, well, this is simply the power of wisdom. Mindfulness helps to make peace with things and to let go these phenomenas by observing, not by acting on desires blindly. That said, your daily meditation should also have impact on your daily life and vice versa.
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.
You don't need to be a buddhist, to listen to the Buddha or dhamma talks from monks like Ajahn Brahm. I would suggest to get informed about the 4 noble truths and the noble eightfold path, because if you want to do something about suffering and happiness, that is the place to start. Gather more knowledge as your fundament, before you just plunge into some sort of meditation. Your perception of where suffering comes from suggests that you could benefit from giving the basic buddhist teachings some more consideration - there may be some more useful stuff after all
The talks of Ajahn Brahmali
called "The Noble Eightfold Path" and "Dependent Origination" may be of interest to you. The talk about Dependent origination may give you a more precise idea how mindfulness can be applied on a daily basis.