spiritual pride

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spiritual pride

Postby befriend » Thu Jan 02, 2014 2:23 pm

how do we work with pride that comes from our meditation? ive practiced single pointed concentration or metta, and afterwards I feel like a god almost or very powerful wholesome energy. this brings up strong conceit. is this just me, or does this happen to other people? if so is bowing or contemplating nonself an antidote to this pride? maybe just trying to let go of it when it arises would work?
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Re: spiritual pride

Postby Feathers » Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:05 pm

Assuming you're a westerner with the stereotypical guilt-background (that's not just me right?), I'd say don't be TOO hard on yourself. It's ok to feel good about meditating :D

Personally, I bow to the view out my window to signify bowing to the world in general/everyone I may meet that day.
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Re: spiritual pride

Postby Sam Vara » Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:13 pm

afterwards I feel like a god almost or very powerful wholesome energy.


You might want to reflect on the fact that if the energy really were wholesome, then it would not lead to pride.
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Re: spiritual pride

Postby Viscid » Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:49 pm

This 'pride,' I think, is a 'rebound effect' which sometimes occurs after meditation. When one concentrates strongly for long periods, a mania-like state can arise. Jack Kornfield has an anecdote about this happening (to great effect) at a retreat:

Jack Kornfield wrote:A student who sat a three-month retreat that I taught was an over-zealous young karate student seeking the extremes of spiritual intensity. Rather than follow the instructions, he decided to get enlightened as quickly as possible in his own way. In the middle of the retreat he sat down and vowed to himself not to move for an entire day and night. After the first few hours he began to sit through sensations of fire and intense pain. He sat all afternoon, all night, and all the next morning. If one does this long enough, the pain and fire become so powerful that consciousness becomes disassociated and catapulted out of the body. There are many more gentle ways to have out-of-the-body experiences, but this happened to him very abruptly. As he continued to sit he began to experience all sorts of altered states. When he got up after twenty-four hours, he was filled with explosive energy. He strode into the middle of the dining hall filled with one hundred silent retreatants and began to yell and practice his karate manoeuvres at triple speed. The whole room was bursting with his energy, and in the silence he could feel the fear that arose in many people around him, who were very sensitive after two months of silence. He made sounds with the movement, and his energy appeared to have flooded his third and sixth chakras. Then he said, "When I look at each of you, I see behind you a whole trail of bodies showing your past lives." He was living in a very different state of consciousness, which he had attained through pushing his body to such a limit. But he could not sit still or focus for a moment. Instead, he was very fearful and agitated, moving in a wild and manic state, as if he had temporarily gone crazy.

What did we do with him? Since he was an athlete, we started him jogging. We got him to run ten miles in the morning and afternoon. We changed his diet. While everyone else was eating vegetarian food, we put him on meat loaf and hamburgers. We made him take frequent hot baths and showers. We had him work and dig up a good part of the garden. And we kept at least one person with him all the time. After about three days he was able to sleep again. Then we started him off meditating slowly and carefully again. While his experiences may have been valid spiritual and psychic openings, they were not brought about in a natural or balanced way, and there was no way he could integrate them.

A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life (p. 131)
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: spiritual pride

Postby Mkoll » Thu Jan 02, 2014 11:01 pm

Dear befriend,

Pay reverence to the Triple Gem. Bow your head down to the floor. Understand that the Buddha and his Noble Disciples are worthy of reverence and respect. Do some form of this before and after meditation.

Your pride may resist this at first and it may feel awkward or ungenuine (it did for me) but I assure you it gets better if you keep it up.

:anjali:
Peace,
James
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Re: spiritual pride

Postby befriend » Thu Jan 02, 2014 11:33 pm

thank you Mkoll for the advice.
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Re: spiritual pride

Postby kmath » Fri Jan 03, 2014 2:19 am

Sam Vara wrote:
You might want to reflect on the fact that if the energy really were wholesome, then it would not lead to pride.


So not true.
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Re: spiritual pride

Postby Kusala » Fri Jan 03, 2014 8:53 am

befriend wrote:how do we work with pride that comes from our meditation? ive practiced single pointed concentration or metta, and afterwards I feel like a god almost or very powerful wholesome energy. this brings up strong conceit. is this just me, or does this happen to other people? if so is bowing or contemplating nonself an antidote to this pride? maybe just trying to let go of it when it arises would work?



Ajahn Brahm has a Dhamma talk on "Spiritual Pride"...

Image

Homage to the Buddha
Thus indeed, is that Blessed One: He is the Holy One, fully enlightened, endowed with clear vision and virtuous conduct, sublime, the Knower of the worlds, the incomparable leader of men to be tamed, the teacher of gods and men, enlightened and blessed.

Homage to the Teachings
The Dhamma of the Blessed One is perfectly expounded; to be seen here and now; not delayed in
time; inviting one to come and see; onward leading (to Nibbana); to be known by the wise, each for himself.
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Re: spiritual pride

Postby Sam Vara » Fri Jan 03, 2014 10:04 am

kmath wrote:
Sam Vara wrote:
You might want to reflect on the fact that if the energy really were wholesome, then it would not lead to pride.


So not true.


I think I need a bit of explanation here, regarding the word "So". Do you mean

1) "It is very much the case that the above is not true"

or

2) "Therefore something is not true"

Thanks.
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Re: spiritual pride

Postby binocular » Fri Jan 03, 2014 10:51 am

befriend wrote:how do we work with pride that comes from our meditation? ive practiced single pointed concentration or metta, and afterwards I feel like a god almost or very powerful wholesome energy. this brings up strong conceit. is this just me, or does this happen to other people? if so is bowing or contemplating nonself an antidote to this pride? maybe just trying to let go of it when it arises would work?


When explaining meditation, the Buddha often drew analogies with the skills of artists, carpenters, musicians, archers, and cooks. Finding the right level of effort, he said, is like a musician's tuning of a lute. Reading the mind's needs in the moment — to be gladdened, steadied, or inspired — is like a palace cook's ability to read and please the tastes of a prince.

Collectively, these analogies make an important point: Meditation is a skill, and mastering it should be enjoyable in the same way that mastering any other rewarding skill can be. The Buddha said as much to his son, Rahula: "When you see that you've acted, spoken, or thought in a skillful way — conducive to happiness while causing no harm to yourself or others — take joy in that fact, and keep on training."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ffort.html



There is, of course, some danger of developing delusions of grandeur and delusions of enlightenment - but those are done away with as long as one keeps on practicing in line with the Dhamma.
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Re: spiritual pride

Postby Mkoll » Fri Jan 03, 2014 5:35 pm

:goodpost:

Thanks, binocular.

:anjali:
Peace,
James
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Re: spiritual pride

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Jan 03, 2014 9:26 pm

The pride that you can see you can observe, gradually understand, and let go of, so it's good you are aware of what you're aware of.

It's the pride that you can't see that you've really got to worry about, that's why jhana practice comes with a warning.

I guess you have to be vigilent, always looking for subtle signs of pride, observe how it arises, use it for insight.
"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: spiritual pride

Postby m0rl0ck » Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:15 am

This has been a problem for me on and off my entire meditation career and i dont know if i am ever entirely free of it. For one thing you actually do become different from long term meditation. For instance, you see people behaving reactively about this or that thing or circumstance and realize that you dont do that behavior much anymore. I have also experienced episodic states of bliss or deep calm or had this or that realization.

One of the nice things about being prideful about these sorts of things, viewing them as some sort of badge of progress or personal accomplishment, in my case anyway, is that i tend to grasp at whatever state or experience i had and for me grasping seems to shorten their life and puts you back on track, pride in this sort of thing is almost its own antidote. Grasping will ruin it. You are just setting yourself up for dissapointment.

It also helps to have a spiritual friend or teacher you respect who isnt afraid to pull the rug out from under you when the need arises. :) I learned early on that if im feeling special and tell my teacher about it he is pretty good about knocking me back on my ass (figuratively speaking) and showing me where my cushion is and telling me "just do your practice".

What did the buddha say that he gained from enlightenment? Maybe nobody is special, maybe you are nobody till your nobody special :)

Disclaimer: I am not a theravadan buddhist i do a chan practice that could best be described in theravadan terms as citta-sati. But as ajahn dune said, all methods end in the same place.
Last edited by m0rl0ck on Sat Jan 04, 2014 1:00 am, edited 3 times in total.
"When you meditate, don't send your mind outside. Don't fasten onto any knowledge at all. Whatever knowledge you've gained from books or teachers, don't bring it in to complicate things. Cut away all preoccupations, and then as you meditate let all your knowledge come from what's going on in the mind. When the mind is quiet, you'll know it for yourself. But you have to keep meditating a lot. When the time comes for things to develop, they'll develop on their own. Whatever you know, have it come from your own mind.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: spiritual pride

Postby m0rl0ck » Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:18 am

Mkoll wrote:Dear befriend,

Pay reverence to the Triple Gem. Bow your head down to the floor. Understand that the Buddha and his Noble Disciples are worthy of reverence and respect. Do some form of this before and after meditation.

Your pride may resist this at first and it may feel awkward or ungenuine (it did for me) but I assure you it gets better if you keep it up.

:anjali:


:goodpost:

I too think a refuge and at least one bow before and a dedication and at least one bow after practice can have a salutary effect on the character.

EDIT: Feathers has a good point too, no harm in feeling a sense of a job well done, as long as you dont get too carried away with it :)

EDIT yet again : Man, i guess i should think these things out more clearly before i just pull the trigger on a post.
I was just thinking that there is no harm in enjoying the sense of calm and joy that practice can bring, after all thats what turns us away from seeking the tainted joy of conditional phenomena. Its just comparing oneself with others thats the problem.
"When you meditate, don't send your mind outside. Don't fasten onto any knowledge at all. Whatever knowledge you've gained from books or teachers, don't bring it in to complicate things. Cut away all preoccupations, and then as you meditate let all your knowledge come from what's going on in the mind. When the mind is quiet, you'll know it for yourself. But you have to keep meditating a lot. When the time comes for things to develop, they'll develop on their own. Whatever you know, have it come from your own mind.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: spiritual pride

Postby manas » Sat Jan 04, 2014 1:57 am

befriend wrote:how do we work with pride that comes from our meditation? ive practiced single pointed concentration or metta, and afterwards I feel like a god almost or very powerful wholesome energy. this brings up strong conceit. is this just me, or does this happen to other people? if so is bowing or contemplating nonself an antidote to this pride? maybe just trying to let go of it when it arises would work?


I would suggest subjecting it to the same treatment as any other mind-state:

"Is this permanent? Did I always feel like this, or has it only recently arisen? If I cling to this as a possession, would not distress arise, should I lose it? That being the case, is it fitting or skillful to regard this as 'me' or as 'mine'?"

:anjali:
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Re: spiritual pride

Postby kmath » Sat Jan 04, 2014 2:05 am

I love your wording. I meant the first:

Sam Vara wrote:
You might want to reflect on the fact that if the energy really were wholesome, then it would not lead to pride.


My response:

"It is very much the case that the above is not true." As in, one can feel unwholesome pride over experiencing a very wholesome state, such as jhana.
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Re: spiritual pride

Postby Weakfocus » Sat Jan 04, 2014 2:10 am

There is nothing wrong with feeling a certain amount of pride and self-satisfaction. Reflecting on one's truthful achievements helps go through difficult phases, it helps to fight off negative emotions and gives hope when one is in the troughs.

One should not let pride grow uncontrollably and turn into conceit, however.
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Re: spiritual pride

Postby fig tree » Sat Jan 04, 2014 7:44 am

Remembering to think of the path as a gift that has been handed down to you (like in a bucket brigade) seems to help.

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Re: spiritual pride

Postby Sam Vara » Sat Jan 04, 2014 8:59 am

kmath wrote:I love your wording. I meant the first:

Sam Vara wrote:
You might want to reflect on the fact that if the energy really were wholesome, then it would not lead to pride.


My response:

"It is very much the case that the above is not true." As in, one can feel unwholesome pride over experiencing a very wholesome state, such as jhana.


Ah, I see. You're probably right, but we don't know that the original post was about a very wholesome state. The phrase was

pride that comes from our meditation


My thinking was that if there is a necessary condition for a problem, then it might make sense to look at what that condition is, and whether we can change it - tweak the meditation a bit, maybe.
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Re: spiritual pride

Postby befriend » Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:54 pm

In my first post I did say I was doing one pointed concentration and times of practicing metta, the one pointed concentration was observing the breath at the upper lip, this led to access concentration and my mind involuntarily puffed this up into thinking, "look at me, my mind is more fine than a deva or whatever grandiose notion"
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