Prior trauma and anxiety about practice

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Vakkali
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Prior trauma and anxiety about practice

Post by Vakkali »

Hey everybody,

I've been having some anxiety lately, and was curious to know if anyone here could relate.

I grew up in a pretty conservative area, and was around a lot of hell and damnation talk. My sister took me to a baptist church when I was a really, really young, and the fire-and-brimstone sermon scared me half to death. One of the reasons that Buddhist practice appealed to me so much was that I had finally found a religion where I didn't have to worry about a god, or about what he/she was going to do to me if I messed up. Even now though, at the age of 25, I'll have moments where I'm struck with this bizarre anxiety about practicing Buddhism. I worry that I'm wrong, and that I'm losing a high-stakes spiritual game by not believing the right things.

This is something that I've learned to manage, reason away, or ignore, but is there anyone else out there who goes through this? Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

With all the metta I can muster,
Clayton
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DNS
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Re: Prior trauma and anxiety about practice

Post by DNS »

Hi Clayton,

Don't worry about the gamble. If you lead a good, moral life and do what you can to be nice, helpful, and generous, you will be fine. If there is some bearded guy waiting in judgment when you die, I am sure he'll judge on your positive qualities, not how much repetitious prayer and praising of a deity-who-doesn't-reveal-himself you did in a church or other house of worship.
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Vakkali
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Re: Prior trauma and anxiety about practice

Post by Vakkali »

Thank you David. That's comforting, and honestly very helpful. It's good to hear it coming from someone who also practices.
SarathW
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Re: Prior trauma and anxiety about practice

Post by SarathW »

This may some help too.
=========


"There are these four ways of going off course. Which four? One goes off course through desire. One goes off course through aversion. One goes off course through delusion. One goes off course through fear. These are the four ways of going off course."


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
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Ben
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Re: Prior trauma and anxiety about practice

Post by Ben »

Many years ago before I first started practicing, I had disturbing dreams before my retreat which nearly stopped me from going. I grew up in a staunch catholic family.
As David says - live a good life, that is the important thing. Living a good life is really what walking on the Noble Eightfold Path is about.
With metta,
Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
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in mountain clefts and chasms,
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martinfrank
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Re: Prior trauma and anxiety about practice

Post by martinfrank »

Vakkali wrote: Even now though, at the age of 25, I'll have moments where I'm struck with this bizarre anxiety about practicing Buddhism. I worry that I'm wrong, and that I'm losing a high-stakes spiritual game by not believing the right things.
Dear Clayton

I know how you feel. You meet daily these confident Christians and you are the lonely freak (probably vegetarian) Buddhist who believes he knows better than the Pope and President Obama.

The best cure is a holiday in Thailand or Cambodia or Myanmar or SriLanka, just to feel "majority", "normal", "right" for some time. Also try to spend time with your local Buddhist communities. South-East Asian Buddhism is not "Western Buddhism" but often all we need is to be among others who believe the same (more or less). I associate a lot with Thais here in Switzerland.

We are lucky to have forums like Dhamma Wheel which can become our virtual community.

If believing the right thing would guarantee you your seat in Heaven that would be great but which one is the right thing? There are hundreds of churches in the USA alone, and what about Mormons? Jehova's Witnesses... If you were born in Saudi Arabia in a Muslim family wouldn't you feel exactly the same about not being a Muslim?

Truth has no color, no name, no taste (except the taste of freedom), no -ism. Lord Buddha didn't promise us "Buddhist" Liberation. Buddhism is scientific. It means to face Truth without prejudice.

Welcome to the club!

Martin
The Noble Eightfold Path: Proposed to all, imposed on none.
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seeker242
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Re: Prior trauma and anxiety about practice

Post by seeker242 »

Practicing how the Buddha said to practice, the God of any religion would approve of that IMO.

:anjali:
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martinfrank
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Re: Prior trauma and anxiety about practice

Post by martinfrank »

seeker242 wrote:Practicing how the Buddha said to practice, the God of any religion would approve of that IMO.

:anjali:
Did you ask Him or Her?
The Noble Eightfold Path: Proposed to all, imposed on none.
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Re: Prior trauma and anxiety about practice

Post by Sanjay PS »

martinfrank wrote:
Vakkali wrote: Even now though, at the age of 25, I'll have moments where I'm struck with this bizarre anxiety about practicing Buddhism. I worry that I'm wrong, and that I'm losing a high-stakes spiritual game by not believing the right things.

Truth has no color, no name, no taste (except the taste of freedom), no -ism. Lord Buddha didn't promise us "Buddhist" Liberation. Buddhism is scientific. It means to face Truth without prejudice.

Welcome to the club!

Martin

Powerful and insightful...........

May be a few decades down the line , India will shine back with the torch of Dhamma aglow, like the pull of the twilight , and you can then include India in your list Martin ! All thanks to Goenkaji in painstakingly bringing back Dhamma to its land of origin . The efforts put in is beyond any ones description...........

Slowly but surely , homes are getting back their lights .

sanjay
The Path of Dhamma

The path of Dhamma is no picnic . It is a strenuous march steeply up the hill . If all the comrades desert you , Walk alone ! Walk alone ! with all the Thrill !!

U S.N. Goenka
Bakmoon
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Re: Prior trauma and anxiety about practice

Post by Bakmoon »

David N. Snyder wrote:Hi Clayton,

Don't worry about the gamble. If you lead a good, moral life and do what you can to be nice, helpful, and generous, you will be fine. If there is some bearded guy waiting in judgment when you die, I am sure he'll judge on your positive qualities, not how much repetitious prayer and praising of a deity-who-doesn't-reveal-himself you did in a church or other house of worship.
:goodpost: Perfectly said. Goodness will always be rewarded.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
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Sati1
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Re: Prior trauma and anxiety about practice

Post by Sati1 »

Dear Clayton,

My advice would be to incorporate the Christian God and Jesus into your metta meditation at the end when you spread loving-kindness to the beings of all realms.

You are certainly not the first former Christian to go through experiences of doubt, guilt, etc regarding their new Buddhist faith. I myself used to be an ardent Christian in college and simply drifted from it when I could no longer find Christianity to be consistent enough to be true. It wasn't until some ten years later that I came across Buddhism. After reading MN 49 and DN 11 and discussing the topic of Christianity and Buddhism with a trusted Buddhist monk who used to be a Catholic priest, I came to think that perhaps not everything about Christianity is wrong, and that the Christian God perhaps exists in one of the deva planes. Perhaps Jesus did "talk" to that god and learn some truths about morality and rebirth, for example that virtuous actions lead to rebirth in a pleasant place ("heaven") and immoral actions lead to rebirth in a painful place ("hell"). They both just probably only understand a small portion of how rebirth works and samsara is perpetuated, and clearly didn't figure out that life in heaven is finite. MN 41 indicates that through intense wishing, combined with sufficient wholesome kamma, one can propel oneself to a particular deva plane after death. This might correspond to a faithful Christian being reborn in the same plane as the God to whom he prays. Nevertheless, it is clear throughout the suttas that the power and knowledge of Buddha is far greater than that of any god. To help you deal with the anxiety, I would nevertheless recommend extending loving-kindness to the Christian God, whether he exists or not. If it happens to be the case that he punishes those who don't believe in him (which I doubt is the case), then he must sure have some sympathy for a meditator who deliberately extended loving-kindness to him and made an effort to stay "on good terms" with him.

MN 49: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
DN 11: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
MN 41: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html

With metta,
Sati1

----
"I do not perceive even one other thing, o monks, that when developed and cultivated entails such great happiness as the mind" (AN 1.30, transl. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)
"So this spiritual life, monks, does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of moral discipline for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable liberation of mind that is the goal of this spiritual life, its heartwood, and its end," (MN 29, transl. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)
Sanjay PS
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Re: Prior trauma and anxiety about practice

Post by Sanjay PS »

My dear brother Martin ,

i am delighted . Your four questions brought on a gentle smile to the face , just letting go of ones own views, and those of others gets much reward :smile:

Its understandable.............the ocean of dhamma is limitless......if some one, in one part of this ocean has tasted Dhamma , there are other places too where dhamma can be tasted and dispensed .............

Lord Buddha said

"Licchavis, the manifestation of five gems is rare in the world. What five? (1) The manifestation of a Tathāgata, an Arahant, a Perfectly Enlightened One is rare in the world. (2) A person who can teach the Dhamma and discipline proclaimed by a Tathāgata is rare in the world. (3) When the Dhamma and discipline proclaimed by a Tathāgata has been taught, a person who can understand it is rare in the world. (4) When the Dhamma and discipline proclaimed by a Tathāgata has been taught, a person who can understand it and practice in accordance with the Dhamma is rare in the world. (5) A grateful and thankful person is rare in the world. Licchavis, the manifestation of these five gems is rare in the world. " ~~ AN 5.195 ~~

There is never ever a doubt , out of these five , Goenkaji , was blessed with the four, nor is there any doubt that there are a few others too :smile: and i draw great inspiration from them .

You have raised four doubts , some of which may well be satisfied should you give a half an hour of your solitary time in watching the enclosed footage which takes a traveler through the journey in Dhamma .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=albRE0Gme94

As regard to your second query , please see the link below and scroll half way through to see the english translation of the Mahasatipatthana Sutta , which forms the four corner stones of Lord Buddhas teachings , and is presented as lucidly as possible by Vipassana Research Institute ( VRI is very much a part of the Dhamma awareness started on by Goenkaji )

http://www.tipitaka.org/stp-pali-eng-series


Should you and your family come to India , it will be to our delight to extend all hospitality and warmth ˜ .

sanjay
Last edited by Sanjay PS on Wed Sep 10, 2014 8:03 am, edited 3 times in total.
The Path of Dhamma

The path of Dhamma is no picnic . It is a strenuous march steeply up the hill . If all the comrades desert you , Walk alone ! Walk alone ! with all the Thrill !!

U S.N. Goenka
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Re: Prior trauma and anxiety about practice

Post by plwk »

If there is some bearded guy waiting in judgment when you die, I am sure he'll judge on your positive qualities, not how much repetitious prayer and praising of a deity-who-doesn't-reveal-himself you did in a church or other house of worship.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him will believeth in anything. - Hitchens 3:16

What the Buddha recommended...
"Now, Kalamas, one who is a disciple of the noble ones — his mind thus free from hostility, free from ill will, undefiled, & pure — acquires four assurances in the here-&-now: "'If there is a world after death, if there is the fruit of actions rightly & wrongly done, then this is the basis by which, with the break-up of the body, after death, I will reappear in a good destination, the heavenly world.' This is the first assurance he acquires.

"'But if there is no world after death, if there is no fruit of actions rightly & wrongly done, then here in the present life I look after myself with ease — free from hostility, free from ill will, free from trouble.' This is the second assurance he acquires.
This is something that I've learned to manage, reason away, or ignore...
Until one has at least reached Sotapannahood, this nagging doubt will resurface again & again in one form of another, hence the urgency of the here & now in the Path & Stages. But yes, until then, what you have done is helpful conventionally, like St Paul to the Corinth Church... When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

It's time to move on man... seriously
This may be of some help too
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