Buddhism and Goals

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Buddhism and Goals

Postby MayaRefugee » Fri May 14, 2010 8:00 am

Hey Guys,

Can anyone provide me with some insights regarding the pursuit of goals and goal setting.

Pre buddhism I used to set goals in the hope of negating my burning discontentedness with things as the were, the motivation to achieve these goals was, the way I remember it, pretty strong as a result - basically my theory was to replace what I was discontent with with its opposite (if that makes sense?).

These days, being a lot more content with the ways things are, there's not much (persistent) discontent to try and eradicate from my life thus I am finding that I struggle to find that type of all consuming motivation to passionately pursue goals like I used to - it's like a fire has gone out that used to serve as my reason to do certain things and now all the reasons I can muster are devoid of any epic force which makes it easy for me to talk myself out of doing them - I can take them or leave them sort of thing - they don't seem like neccessities.

I must admit my intentions and goals aren't crystal clear and could still be being exagerated/distorted by my old ways of thinking which could be the problem aswell.

Anyway, just thought I'd see what you guys have to offer.

Peace,

MR
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Re: Buddhism and Goals

Postby retrofuturist » Fri May 14, 2010 8:04 am

Greetings MR,

Do you still have suffering in your life?

If so, stream-entry is a good goal to aim for! That'll keep you productively occupied...

:buddha2:

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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Buddhism and Goals

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri May 14, 2010 8:19 am

As far as day to daily life is concerned Mayarefugee, I think there is a tendency for western Buddhists to assume that goals are somehow not Buddhist. I think in part that this is residue from the 60's directly or indirectly when a whole generation took a step back from the consumer society. But as is often the case it went too far.
I think that there is a good case for goals in lfe, whether on the meditation cushion or in daily life generally.
The important thing is to keep them flexible. Goals and plans are scaffolding not solid buildings.
You mention being more content with things as they are. I think what Buddhism teaches us is to see things as they truly are. Whether we are then content with what we see is a different issue.

:anjali:

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Re: Buddhism and Goals

Postby MayaRefugee » Fri May 14, 2010 8:40 am

Retro,

I do suffer from certain recurrences but I find I have the "mind tools" to quickly find peace with the cause/reasons of that suffering (atleast to a degree I am currently satisfied with) - it used to be the things that plagued me that made me act to replace them with their opposite and this opposiet was a clear goal I could visualise and use as a source of inspiration, but that was when I was extremely naive and ignorant of the nature of things which I feel I'm more educated and learned of now - not perfect but better - and it's like I can rebuke any reason for chasing after anything so nothing really permeates my being to fuel the desire I used to rely on for action.

Sangha,

Your points are very interesting, I think I started this thread to see my goal(s) as they truly are; its clear to me they are infected with the residue of my old ways of thinking.The particular goal I have is to lose weight/body-fat but the thing is I'm content with the body I have at the moment and have learned to live with it and the life it brings me/entitles me to so I'm struggling to find a/that "carrot" that will get me dedicated.

Thanks for your replies guys.

Peace,

MR
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Re: Buddhism and Goals

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri May 14, 2010 8:46 am

Why do you want to have a different body shape ..is it for medical or other reasons ?.
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Re: Buddhism and Goals

Postby MayaRefugee » Fri May 14, 2010 9:03 am

It would be nice to have a different body shape:

- to rub it in the nose of those people in my memory/dreams that teased/tease my younger self about my/its aesthetic.
- to see what doors open up as a result.
- so I'm doing what healthy people do and caring about my health.

My reasons are stupid and superficial and I don't really believe in them.....
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Re: Buddhism and Goals

Postby Ben » Fri May 14, 2010 9:11 am

Hi MF
There are some very good health benefits to reducing one's weight if one is already overweight. However, approaching that 'project' with grasping and/or aversion, it will not rid you of those negative mind states such as lack of confidence, lack of self esteem, craving for social acceptance and opportunity. If you are already overweight, it is better to approach your weightloss regime with equanimity.
kind regards

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Re: Buddhism and Goals

Postby MayaRefugee » Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 am

Thanks Ben,

Ignoring the obvious issues involved with the "instant fixes" I think weightloss will bring me I still think it would be the best foundation to start working on these issues from.

To get to this foundation I want to find an approach that I agree with and believe in deep down, somehting that calls me to action without, as you said, clinging or aversion - Joseph Campbell had a word for this but I can't think of it, the thing is nothing really rattles my cage anymore, as I said I can take it or leave it these days - I need to find a "why" that is congruent with me.

Peace,

MR
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Re: Buddhism and Goals

Postby Pannapetar » Fri May 14, 2010 9:37 am

Yes, I think setting goals is important. It has served me well.

If overweight bothers you, it's probably a good idea to set goals and reduce it. I agree with Ben that the health benefits are very worthwhile. From a Buddhist perspective, there might be a connection between overweight and right effort. Overweight has a tendency to make physical activities more tiring and it negatively affects strength and endurance.

Cheers, Thomas
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Re: Buddhism and Goals

Postby chownah » Fri May 14, 2010 1:53 pm

We all have intentions and aren't they really just one kind of goal...or is it that goals are just one kind of intention....I forget which it is....or isn't....
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Re: Buddhism and Goals

Postby ground » Sat May 15, 2010 11:27 am

If there were no causes for suffering there would be no causes leading to the cessation of suffering that expel these causes (for suffering) and there would be no suffering beings at all beyond that.
Since causes can only be called "conducive" with reference to specific goals the setting of a goal is the prerequisite for cultivating the corresponding conducive causes. If there is no goal set the cultivation of inconsistent "causes" (i.e. conducive to contradictory effects) is necessarily the consequence.

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Re: Buddhism and Goals

Postby MayaRefugee » Sat May 15, 2010 12:14 pm

Interesting TMingyur,

Does Nibbana (being the ultimate goal) have a requisite body condition?

Is it attainable (or even actual Nibbana) if the body containing the mind that attains/strives for it it isn't in a certain state?
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Re: Buddhism and Goals

Postby ground » Sat May 15, 2010 2:08 pm

Hi MR

MayaRefugee wrote:Interesting TMingyur,

Does Nibbana (being the ultimate goal) have a requisite body condition?

Is it attainable (or even actual Nibbana) if the body containing the mind that attains/strives for it it isn't in a certain state?


The requisite body conditions are 1) a human body and 2) sound sense faculties which of course also covers the use of medical devices likes glasses or hearing aids.

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Re: Buddhism and Goals

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Sat May 15, 2010 3:23 pm

TMingyur wrote:Hi MR

MayaRefugee wrote:Interesting TMingyur,

Does Nibbana (being the ultimate goal) have a requisite body condition?

Is it attainable (or even actual Nibbana) if the body containing the mind that attains/strives for it it isn't in a certain state?


The requisite body conditions are 1) a human body and 2) sound sense faculties which of course also covers the use of medical devices likes glasses or hearing aids.

Kind regards


Just a quick note that this is defintiely a Vajrayana position. In Theravada thought, brahmas and devas can also attain Nibbana.

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Re: Buddhism and Goals

Postby Annapurna » Sat May 15, 2010 4:39 pm

MayaRefugee wrote:It would be nice to have a different body shape:

- to rub it in the nose of those people in my memory/dreams that teased/tease my younger self about my/its aesthetic.
- to see what doors open up as a result.
- so I'm doing what healthy people do and caring about my health.

My reasons are stupid and superficial and I don't really believe in them.....


Your reasons are understandable though. Getting teased is usually a bitter lesson.

I'm sure the hardships of weight loss (hunger, desire, craving, loss of pleasure/ comfort) are easier to bear when you imagine all the benefits you will enjoy:

Better health, self-confidence, and perhaps better relationships.

Please don't think that you are superficial or that you goals are.
You're trying to adapt to a superficial world.

In a way, those people are your 'friends', as hard as it may be to see.

They push you in the right direction, only with unpleasant means, even hostility.
It could be that if you have acquired a perfect physical shape, they will find something else they must correct in you.

Why? Because people 'hate' something in themselves.

Hermann Hesse:

If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us.

Of course hate is a bit too strong here.

I wish you success, and that you reach your ideal shape, and that you will be healthy!

Metta,

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Re: Buddhism and Goals

Postby METTAXCORE » Sat May 15, 2010 11:29 pm

Well... I just try to be mindfull about my weightloss (Im a chubby Buddhist! lol) I do set goals for myself and I use the Buddhas teachings to help me along. Like when my hand reaches for a double glazed chocolate donut, I tell myself "Stephanie.. remember that you have bad habit that keep you from achieving greater happiness." And everytime Im presented with meal choice options, I remind myself "Your body is precious. It is our vehicle for awakening. Treat it with care." Goals are great and continue to set them! Just try using Buddhism as a means to achieve your goals, dont give them up completely.
"The way is not in the sky, the way is in the heart."
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Re: Buddhism and Goals

Postby METTAXCORE » Sat May 15, 2010 11:32 pm

Also, something thats really helped me with weightloss is eating ONLY at my table and reciting my meal time prayers before I eat. It helps me to be more mindfull of the act of eating itself and what its really for. It help me snack less and not want anything else. Oh, and I love working out to freebuddhistaudio.com on my ipod!
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Re: Buddhism and Goals

Postby Goofaholix » Sun May 16, 2010 5:52 am

MayaRefugee wrote:These days, being a lot more content with the ways things are, there's not much (persistent) discontent to try and eradicate from my life thus I am finding that I struggle to find that type of all consuming motivation to passionately pursue goals like I used to - it's like a fire has gone out that used to serve as my reason to do certain things and now all the reasons I can muster are devoid of any epic force which makes it easy for me to talk myself out of doing them - I can take them or leave them sort of thing - they don't seem like neccessities.


Interesting that you should say your fire has gone out as that is one of the meanings on nibbana.

So you've realised that whatever goal you set for yourself achieving it is not going to release you from a sense of discontent and give you lasting gratification, this is good.

When the goal or the destination ceases to be alluring then the journey or the process towards achieving your goal should become more important to you.

Hopefully you stop doing things because of what you think you can get out of them and start doing things because they are the right thing to do or because they are the good thing to do.

When you see every moment in life as an opportunity to develop wisdom then you give attention to the present moment, not to some future goal and not to some idea of what you are going to get out of it.

But yes this probably means you'll never be the head of a fortune 500 company, sorry.
"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: Buddhism and Goals

Postby MayaRefugee » Sun May 16, 2010 9:08 am

More interesting replies, thanks guys!

Goof,

What you say about the goal or destination ceasing to be alluring is precisely my problem, I think I need to reassess or reframe the situation to find a way to look at the things/actions that will get me to a relatively unalluring destination in an alluring, and as you said, personally important way, however I slice it I find my conclusions and potential motivators are still stained by old ways of thinking, they're really uninspiring and just fall apart/do nothing for me when looked at with my new perspectives/ways of thinking.

Anybody have any suggestions or insights on finding an inspirational and all encompassing why/reason?

How do you develop a lust for longevity/health?

Why improve the body when it simply is what it is?

Peace,

MR
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Re: Buddhism and Goals

Postby ground » Sun May 16, 2010 3:09 pm

Hi MR

MayaRefugee wrote:How do you develop a lust for longevity/health?

Why improve the body when it simply is what it is?


You asked and I prefer to take a stance that may be considered kind of more "orthodox"

The body is simply your vehicle to take measures against "circumstances" getting worse. Not to take measures will definitely render things worse, so the time available to take measures is precious.

A similiar but alternative "reading" may be a position more aligned to Mahayana, but I am going to refrain from stating this position here.

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