Choosing to be unmindful

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

Choosing to be unmindful

Postby Digity » Fri Dec 27, 2013 6:58 pm

I've been on vacation this past week and have been playing a video game non-stop. I like to do this during my Christmas break. I like just throwing myself into a video game and being absorbed by it, but I also realize how unmindful and full of craving such an action is. In a sense, I give myself allowance to do this even though I know it's unskillful. What are your thoughts on this? Am I in the wrong or is it okay to do this...as long as it's done sporadic (i.e. Handful of times a year).
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Re: Choosing to be unmindful

Postby Buckwheat » Fri Dec 27, 2013 7:06 pm

Less wholesome than mindfulness... less harmful than a heroine bender.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: Choosing to be unmindful

Postby Mkoll » Fri Dec 27, 2013 10:46 pm

Dear Digity,

I used to be really into video games and would spend entire days playing them as you've described. I think I had more than 365 days played in World of Warcraft across all my characters. That's a year of my life, almost 9000 hours. Imagine if I'd spent all that time meditating? And that is just one game. I've been tempted since becoming a Buddhist but I've stopped myself from actually played anything.

You have to decide if it's right or wrong for yourself. You're not breaking the precepts but you're definitely increasing delusion. If you can control yourself and limit it to just a few times a year, I'd say it's not so bad. I wouldn't bother trying to do that myself because of my addictive history with video games.

If you want to stop, here's my advice based on what I did. Sell your graphics card/Xbox/PS3 or whatever else you play games with, stop looking at gaming media (websites, magazines, etc.), don't talk about games with your friends and family, and find something to do with that free time.

Be well.

:anjali:
Peace,
James
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Re: Choosing to be unmindful

Postby ES06 » Sat Dec 28, 2013 12:18 pm

I think you just have to consider consequences of playing games and decide for yourself. You are responsible for you action only to yourself. (Another question would probably be, why play games instead of doing something else)

There are definitely more harmful things to do, especially when you don't play those games often...
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Re: Choosing to be unmindful

Postby Digity » Sun Dec 29, 2013 6:44 am

I use to have a gaming addiction back in the 90s, but not anymore. Now I'll do it sporadically, but after a week I'm usually sick of the game.

I'm just curious if people allow themselves to be unmindful. Whenever I do this, like when I play video games or just get lost listening to some music, I always feel guilty about it, because I know it's not being mindful. How do you handle this? Obviously when I'm playing games or listening to music I don't want to be practicing mindfulness by noting "playing" or "listening", etc. I'm just saying...is there a time and place to be mindful and then not to be mindful? I ask especially for someone who is a more novice practitioner. I suspect the developed your are in the practice the more often you are mindful. What about someone who is more new to the practice? Do you just designate times to be mindful?
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Re: Choosing to be unmindful

Postby Buckwheat » Sun Dec 29, 2013 8:41 am

Digity wrote:Do you just designate times to be mindful?

Yes. Right now. Don't be too hard on yourself if mindfulness is inconsistent. Just do the best you can. With more practice, you can easily make this question a moot point. Once you see the depth of benefits from mindfulness, you will probably lose the desire to intentionally toss mindfulness out the window.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: Choosing to be unmindful

Postby barcsimalsi » Sun Dec 29, 2013 2:08 pm

Digity wrote:
I'm just curious if people allow themselves to be unmindful. Whenever I do this, like when I play video games or just get lost listening to some music, I always feel guilty about it, because I know it's not being mindful. How do you handle this?


If possible, everyone wants to be perfectly mindful. It is because there’s still something unwholesome in the mind which makes one forgetful.

Gaming can stimulate lots of unwholesome mental factors but if you allow yourself to recall the whole mental experience after you are done playing and reflect the dhamma, it can be worth as a fruitful vipassana practice to recognize the varying qualities of defilement that has become more apparent and proceed to abandon it.

Each time the game is loading or when it ended, take the opportunity to scan the experience by asking yourself did greed, hatred and delusion arise…
Is there an obsession? How bad i still want to continue playing…
Is there illwill? Am i angry when i lose? Will i go nuts if there’s a sudden breakdown of power supply when I’m still playing…
Is there attachment? Can i let go if anything bad happen to my save files or console…
By constantly checking like that, it let you see if the defilement is increasing but if letting go of the activity as whole is impossible then at least try to cultivate equanimity by recollecting the 3 characteristic.

Of course on the bigger possibility, it can be dangerous if one is totally heedless which resulting one of being overcome by unwholesome mental state for the rest of the day, weeks, months...
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Re: Choosing to be unmindful

Postby manas » Mon Dec 30, 2013 7:18 am

Digity wrote:I'm just curious if people allow themselves to be unmindful. Whenever I do this, like when I play video games or just get lost listening to some music, I always feel guilty about it, because I know it's not being mindful. How do you handle this? Obviously when I'm playing games or listening to music I don't want to be practicing mindfulness by noting "playing" or "listening", etc. I'm just saying...is there a time and place to be mindful and then not to be mindful? I ask especially for someone who is a more novice practitioner. I suspect the developed your are in the practice the more often you are mindful. What about someone who is more new to the practice? Do you just designate times to be mindful?


In this sutta, the Buddha advises Sona, who had done walking meditation to the point where his feet were split and bleeding, to neither push himself too hard, nor to be too slack, but to find the right level of persistence for his practice:

"Now what do you think, Sona. Before, when you were a house-dweller, were you skilled at playing the vina?"

"Yes, lord."

"And what do you think: when the strings of your vina were too taut, was your vina in tune & playable?"

"No, lord."

"And what do you think: when the strings of your vina were too loose, was your vina in tune & playable?"

"No, lord."

"And what do you think: when the strings of your vina were neither too taut nor too loose, but tuned[1] to be right on pitch, was your vina in tune & playable?"

"Yes, lord."

"In the same way, Sona, over-aroused persistence leads to restlessness, overly slack persistence leads to laziness. Thus you should determine the right pitch for your persistence, attune[2]the pitch of the [five] faculties [to that], and there pick up your theme."\

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


I think we all have to do this. If you have, with conviction, gone to the three Refuges, and are carefully observing the five precepts, then you are already doing much good. Of course it is good to try to take your practice to a higher level, but so long as you are not breaking any of the five precepts, I don't think guilt is the appropriate response here. Maybe bring more awareness in to the activity. How do you feel just before you begin, during, and after doing it? How does it affect your meditation the next morning? Rather than feel guilty, I would recommend asking these questions. But only you alone can decide the correct level of practice for yourself, as it seems is advised above in the Sona Sutta...

kind regards
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