Author Topic: College or not  (Read 9278 times)

Slider

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College or not
« on: March 16, 2011, 07:02:22 PM »
I have a problem that I would like your advice on.

In all the discussions that we’ve had here, we try to stress on the practical side of the training. Mere intellectualization is discouraged.

But does that mean thinking, or doing stuff that requires thinking, or engagement in extreme intellectual activities (stuff that wracks your brain sort of activities such as constructing mathematical proofs or doing some research in physics), will adversely impact a person’s meditative practice, even if he religiously sits at least twice a day? Also, for instance, if a person writes books for a living (read ‘author’) then he or she will have to “think” a lot and come up with stuff to write. Generally that’s considered “creative”. Will that kind of thinking come in the way of meditation? Basically, does excessive mental activity and creativity (in the material or conventional sense of the word) hinder dharmic advancement, or does it have no affect at all as long as you maintain your practice?

The reason I’m asking is that I have to decide whether to go to college or not. I had dropped out of college earlier for various reasons. Firstly because, since I’m not very much of a social person, I did not like the college environment very much. Secondly, I also didn’t quite like the approach towards academics here in India. For a year and a half, then, after dropping out, I explored other disciplines in hopes of learning something that would provide me with a basic sustenance so that I could live a simple life and give myself more time to make efforts towards firmly establishing myself in the Dhamma. That is when I really came in contact with the Dhamma itself, and also discovered a few of those skills that I could work on, skills that would not require much thinking, skills that could give me a basic sustenance in order to live a life that I desired.

Now the problem is that my parents don’t really approve of this course of action (why would they?), although they’re also at the same time not forcing me to not pursue it. They’re not opposed to the meditation, of course. They only wish for me to go to college in order to get a degree for the job that everybody wants, and to have the freedom afterwards, arising out of financial security, of “doing whatever I liked” comfortably and without any hassles. In other words, I would be safe, secure and comfortable. Quite frankly, I don’t find anything bad in their logic; they certainly are very pragmatic. Besides, college could be looked at as an academic-cum-meditative retreat (if I can avoid the distractions  :-[ ). The only thing I fear is that the demand for excessive intellectual indulgence may not be very conducive to a dharmic life.


In December and January, I applied to some colleges in the US and got in. I opted for a course in engineering because I fairly like doing science (although it’s not really my “passion”). Apart from that, I also applied to a Physics/Mathematics course in a liberal arts college. As you can see, studying these things would involve considerable mental activity. Moreover, after I graduate, I will have to work in order to pay back my loans. That would mean eight to ten years of commitment to worldly life. Throughout these years,  I’ll have to, as I said, really exert myself mentally - intellectual discussions, arguments, critical thinking and all that sort of stuff – which is not a problem but is risky, considering that it might just interfere with my meditation.

On the other hand, I have this alternative. I could stay in India in a solitary setting, enroll myself in an open learning course in Literature or the Arts, do some photography to pay for groceries and rent, and work hard to establish myself in you-know-what. Life will be a little hard and unpredictable, no doubt, but that’s not really the problem. The only drawback to this course of action is that it would require from my part an extraordinary determination to stick to whatever I’ve decided and to maintain a routine. And my parents won’t really be “happy”.

Whatever road I take, I just don’t want to be in the middle of nowhere. I just want to work hard and come out of it all, peacefully and without hurting anyone. What would you suggest?

Slider

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Re: College or not
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2011, 07:14:49 PM »
And one more thing. I have four months of free time. Can I go on solitary retreat and so some solid Shamatha? Will that be safe? Can I mix it with some academics? For instance, could I give 50% of my time to shamatha, 40% to studies, and the rest to some sort of ....... diversion?  :(

Stefan

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Re: College or not
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2011, 08:25:43 PM »
Playing intellectual games instead of acting is discouraged. Not the intellect as such, being part of human life.

Meditation as an example: If you pose a question on meditation and then receive an answer, that is no intellectual game. You use the intellect to get on, even if you have to lead a little discussion untill you understand what you needed to understand.
But if you keep posing questions and keep on discussing the answers in endless debates without making any real efforts of practice, then it is intellectual game, normally not worth a penny.

Sometimes it is not that easy to tell the difference between use of intellect and intellectual game since we are all not enlightened yet. But anyway, if it is your path to study maths, history or quantum physics, then you should do it. Meditation will teach you the difference at least to discriminate wether your brain work still has solid ground or not.

Metta to you, Stefan
anicca

rideforever

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Re: College or not
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2011, 08:52:20 PM »
Well, this is a very important decision for you ... so please take my comments as ... comments from somebody else who doesn't know you very well.

I think the situation you are in is common, it is trying to make a decision when you are not sure what the options will lead to ... a good strategy is :

a) don't force yourself to take drastic decisions - for instance going to the US to study something you are not really interested in leading to big debts ... this isn't a good plan ... if you choose to study when you are unsure then better not to risk you entire life - go to an Indian university, do a subject you like ... try it one year at a time - visit the faculties, speak to students ... and ask them to help you choose

b) try to get some more information on the options open to you - you have 4 months, you could do this : spend 1 month in a monastery, 1 month in an ashram, 1 month as an intern in a company, 1 month studying on a short course or with a private teacher ... just experiment and try ... and see how you feel

c) the question you are wrestling with about work and dharma ... this question is not going anywhere ... the question will not be answered unless you have more experience ... this is how it seems to me

d) I did a maths degree (I am a programmer).  What can I say about it ... it was a tough mental challenge that sharpened my mind. Did it lead away from the dharma ... yes perhaps a bit, but yesterday I did 5hrs of Goenka vipassana.  University is more than about work, it is about life - all the aspects

e) why don't you like to socialise ?  you are a monkey after all ... monkeys need to laugh and play games you know !  wife and family ?  these things can be beautiful, and do not preclude the dharma.   i would feel sad that a young person does not have the experience of enjoying these things - are you afraid of them ?  they can be frightening, but also great fun.  and they absolutely do not preclude the dharma.  Goenka is married isn't he ?

if you want to renounce the worldy life, you first have to know the wordly life.  if you try to renounce something you don't know, you are just living in a dream world ... and hiding a little bit ?  see the world, be in the world ... it is not bad, it is what it is.  and meditate -> perfect !

...

Like I said, I don't know anything about you - remember that when you read what I wrote. 

I hope you can find a nice way that feels right for you.


ivana

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Re: College or not
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2011, 10:33:10 PM »
Dear Slider
I wish you a good decision and I am writing about myself to help you to make your decision.
When I was 15 I wanted to be a vet but  I could not study at a veterinary school.I could study manufacturing technology. So I have a master degree of manufacturing technology.  I worked as Engineering Designer. It was in time of socialism in the Czech Republic. After it was a velvet revolution and I studied what I wanted (but I did not want to study veterinary at the time) and I have a master degree of finance at University of Economics. I worked as  a stockbroker and financial analytic. In the UK  I started a course of financial planning but first time of my life I did not finish what I started. Now I want to teach meditation therefore I am doing at Open College Diploma of Meditation Teacher.
Take care and go to live
Ivana



kidnovice

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Re: College or not
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2011, 11:22:24 PM »
Hey Slider, in answer to your main question, "does intensive intellectual activity hinder meditation?" I can only draw from my own personal experience. As someone who is pretty intellectual (I've been a teacher most of my life: English, Legal Studies, Philosophy....  And I am that guy you wondered about.... I am writing a novel while also meditating around 2 hours per day), I find that the main issue is emotional not intellectual. 

If I am engaged in alot of intellectual activity, but I am fairly calm, I find that I can meditate quite fine. However, if I am doing alot of intellectual activity, and my mind is fairly agitated (stressed/excited/ecstatic/anxious), then the intellectual activity will bleed into my meditation practice. 

Over time, I feel like meditation is helping me to use my intellectual faculties in a way that doesn't hinder (and actually SUPPORTS) my development on the path.

So, the question for you is this: Can you pursue intensive intellectual studies in a happy manner that doesn't agitate your mind?


With metta,
KN
May we cultivate the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the compassion to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

kidnovice

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Re: College or not
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2011, 11:35:31 PM »
Also, Slider, I hope you don't mind if I give you some practical advice regarding college...

 I don't know how old you are, or how things are in India,  but in America, its really not a big deal if you start college a few years late. If for example, you became a monk for a few years (or joined the circus) after high school, it wouldn't really matter. Once you got into university and graduated, your job prospects (or ability to get into grad school) would be no worse.  If anything, older students tend to be more successful.

On the other hand, it can be quite impractical to "disappear" from conventional society AFTER you graduate from college (unless you plan to eventually get your PhD).  You may have school loans to pay, and potential employers may see "red flags" and wonder why you didn't go straight into the workforce. This is especially true once you enter a career-track, where stepping-away can close many doors.  This can make it quite difficult to leave for a two year stint as a monk.

So, in some ways, NOW is the time to devote yourself to practice, if you have that impulse.

With metta,
KN
May we cultivate the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the compassion to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

Jeeprs

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Re: College or not
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2011, 12:04:43 AM »
I don't agree with the idea that intellectual work and meditation are opposed to each other at all.

The Universities of the world were all started by meditative and spiritual traditions. In ancient India, you had Nalanada University, which was a Buddhist university that was established before the European 'Dark Ages'. it endured for centuries, until the Muslim invasion of India. Furthermore Buddhist practitioners were at the forefront of the development of logic, maths, and science in the ancient world. In ancient Greece, the nearest thing to universities were all directed by philosophers and sages. The present Uiniversity system was originally started by Christian monastics in medieval times.

Where intellectualism and dharma do clash is when the former is directed solely in the interests of materialism. But if you are a practitioner, you can see through that, and still study the technical aspects of any of the subjects that interest you. You don't need to sign on to the materialist worldview to study engineering or science.

In practical terms, get as much education as you can while you are still young. That would be my advice.

Slider

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Re: College or not
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2011, 07:11:28 AM »
Thanks a lot all of you for your suggestions. Just so you know, I'm 20. That's pretty young.

What I've concluded then is that it might not really be a bad decision to go to college now. Yes, I am aware of the fact that there are no such age restrictions in the US so one can pursue a University education anytime, but I want to get over with college as soon as possible. As for what I want to study, I'm not very sure. Perhaps I really haven't found it yet or it doesn't exist. So I based my decision on what I like more, which was mathematics. I'm also fairly good at it. But really, I could go into any field.

My decision to go to college was not very drastic. I explored myself and the possibilities that I had for about two years before coming to this conclusion. I also tried out a job but the the experience wasn't really what we would call great.  The decision, moreover, was also not based entirely on simply getting a degree for a job, although attaining financial independence was indeed an important factor behind it. The only thing bothering me was the issue of intellectual extremes clashing with the Dhamma, which isn't much of an issue as you all pointed out.

Also, before I devote myself fully to the Dhamma, I guess a small taste of at least a moderately material life won't hurt. As rideforever rightly said:
Quote
if you want to renounce the worldly life, you first have to know the wordly life.  if you try to renounce something you don't know, you are just living in a dream world ... and hiding a little bit ?  see the world, be in the world ... it is not bad, it is what it is.  and meditate -> perfect !
[By the way, that diagnosis about "hiding a little" was perfect! How did you know?  :-[ ]

Besides, I think I have a duty towards my parents. They've done so much for me; this is something that I can do for them, if that is what they want.

Whatever decision I take, there's a strong possibility that I might just end up somewhere I had not intended to be. It could be good or bad. So I guess the only thing I can do is work hard, have some fun, do some solid shamatha, and leave the rest to ....... God?

Morning Dew

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Re: College or not
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2011, 07:25:44 AM »
Quote
leave the rest to ....... God?

Leave the rest to mindfulness instead :)

In meditation you learn to Respond instead to React, that is all. Meditation is not an escape but facing the actuality of all things and intellect is involved in facing all this. It is just that intellect is being observed through mindfulness.

If my wife does an exam she usually doesnt eat for a few days and even if she usually pukes all out and gets very sick  etc ... after she started to meditate with me for a while before the last exam she went through it with MUCH LESS stress :) so meditation is not going away from life but SEEING LIFE AS IT IS WITHOUT JUDGING , OK :)  good-bad, god-devil, right-wrong .... Middle way, glide in between all this mental division ;)

You will do just fine

Che

Slider

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Re: College or not
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2011, 07:36:07 AM »
Exactly Che. That's what I really meant. All I can do is improve myself and leave externalities to themselves.  :)

But why does your wife puke before her exams?


And @kidnovice, you wrote:
Quote
Over time, I feel like meditation is helping me to use my intellectual faculties in a way that doesn't hinder (and actually SUPPORTS) my development on the path.
That was the line that made my day.
If that's the case, then there's no problem in choosing a profession that is highly dependent on critical mental operations.  :) And if emotion is the main thing to consider, then I can guarantee you that mathematics is independent of possibly all emotions, except frustration in case you fail to solve a particular problem or something.

By the way, I have (and had) no plans to "disappear" from conventional society after graduating. I only wished to recede into a relative solitude. Something like what HD Thoreau did or, say, like what Matthew is doing right now.

Stefan

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Re: College or not
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2011, 07:39:30 AM »

By the way, that diagnosis about "hiding a little" was perfect! How did you know?  :-[


He knows because we all do the same ...  ;)
anicca

Morning Dew

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Re: College or not
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2011, 07:43:47 AM »
Quote
But why does your wife puke before her exams?


Because she is clinging to the upset feeling, panic, fear of failure etc ...
She is reacting. In meditation we get the chance to Respond and be aware of all that is taking place.

Dont worry about life, just make sure you look at it mindfuly in a calm aware manner :)

Che

Slider

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Re: College or not
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2011, 07:44:50 AM »

By the way, that diagnosis about "hiding a little" was perfect! How did you know?  :-[


He knows because we all do the same ...  ;)

Hahaha!  :D

Stefan

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Re: College or not
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2011, 07:46:48 AM »

Whatever decision I take, there's a strong possibility that I might just end up somewhere I had not intended to be. It could be good or bad. So I guess the only thing I can do is work hard, have some fun, do some solid shamatha, and leave the rest to ....... God?


Very wise.  :)  I think this is a solid basis for your decisions.
I wish you the best for your path!

Metta, Stefan

(I'd say "god", too. Possibly I'm the only one in this forum who'd do so. But Atheists can fill in another word instead, it doesn't matter to the inherent truth of what you said.)
anicca

rideforever

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Re: College or not
« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2011, 08:58:27 AM »
I regret doing a Math degree ... because although it was very intellectually challenging, it wasn't very sociable or interesting otherwise.  Other courses had much more fun and interesting things going on and developed you in different directions.

Going to a Maths lecture was like walking into a funeral, and I would walk past the other faculties looking at how much fun everyone was having and feel really jealous.  And now 20 years later I am still trying to redress the balance and enjoy life and socialising more.  I share my flat with 2 women now, and it is a very interesting experience.  There was 1 girl in the entire Maths year I was in - she was hot though ! 

Intellectually challenging my mind has probably made my life miserable.  I should have just relaxed and done something enjoyable and fun - it's ok.  That's the truth I think.

When I was choosing courses I had a wide choice but maths was my best subject ... but if I did it again I would do Biology / Psychology / French / Anthropology / Computer Science / Business / Oceanography / Drama ... one of those - it's much more interesting.  Maths is quite dead end - you are just left alone with your intellect ... yikes !


Matthew

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Re: College or not
« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2011, 10:04:54 AM »
Slider,

You remind me a little of my nephew when faced with this decision. His parents pushing him to do Physics at Cambridge due to the career prospects. When I discussed it with him he soon said "I don't feel ready to decide". "Then you aren't ready to", was my reply, "trust yourself, take a year off, but don't waste it. Travel, work, learn - do something, and see if you are ready to decide next year.

He is now (3 years on) in the second year of a degree in art at a very reputable college.

Which ties in nicely with rideforever's comments:

I regret doing a Math degree ... because although it was very intellectually challenging, it wasn't very sociable or interesting otherwise. 

.....

Intellectually challenging my mind has probably made my life miserable.  I should have just relaxed and done something enjoyable and fun - it's ok.  That's the truth I think.

When I was choosing courses I had a wide choice but maths was my best subject ... but if I did it again I would do Biology / Psychology / French / Anthropology / Computer Science / Business / Oceanography / Drama ... one of those - it's much more interesting.  Maths is quite dead end - you are just left alone with your intellect ... yikes !

I also studied maths. It's not just that you are left with only your intellect - that intellect is spent understanding the ideas of mostly dead men.

The same advice to you might be to take a year off before college and commit to Dhamma practice - or do some work and see how the working life suits you - if nothing else and you still study at least you'll have some savings.

Sometimes we limit our choices by making them at the wrong time, based on other people's imperatives.

Warmly,

Matthew
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Slider

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Re: College or not
« Reply #17 on: March 17, 2011, 04:38:12 PM »
Quote
The same advice to you might be to take a year off before college and commit to Dhamma practice - or do some work and see how the working life suits you - if nothing else and you still study at least you'll have some savings.

I did that. I took some time off, went here and there and I realized that I'm not ready for education in the real sense of the word, and I won't be ready until I spend four or five years (minimum) in solitude. Right now, I'm too weak and vulnerable. So powerless and fearful. I lack discipline and determination. Infinite negativities cloud and influence my judgment. How can I truly learn in such a state?

But at the same time, if I do go out for four or five years, there's a chance that I might be filled with regret and guilt for not attending college. It happened at one of the 10-day courses that I attended (I think I've given an account of that in another post) Not only that, I have a strong desire for attaining financial independence, so I am also not fully inclined to entirely commit myself to a meditative retreat. It just might become a hodgepodge [you can clearly see traces of fear throughout what I've written] It's a hopeless situation. I cannot confidently say "this is something that I want to do". Should I take some more time off or should I avail this opportunity and go to college? What should I study? What about the money? I don't even know why I want to earn money (I guess it's something that happens to everyone in the twenties)? If I take some time off, how will I earn? If I work to earn, how will I and how much time will I get for the real thing that I ought to do?

An ideal education shouldn't have a time limit, there should be no such thing as a degree involved, and it should be free. Unfortunately, it's none of it. There's so much room for guilt and doubt if a person wishes to not undergo a degree-acquiring-process in his lifetime. If a person wishes to opt to go through the process, and incurs loans along the way, there's still a lot of room for guilt and regret if the person is not satisfied with what he or she has extracted from such an education. Besides, University generally prepares us for industry. It's changing, yes, but all those courses that are not meant for industry don't pay much. If I opt for those courses, my goal of attaining financial independence will remain unfulfilled. The alternative, on the other hand,  might become a hodgepodge. *Sigh!* It's fear and guilt this way, and it's fear and guilt that way.

I guess only the strongest of men (and women) - people with great parmis -  can really think of going against an established system.

The perfect situation would be finding a nice place to stay alone, getting access to a library, living in a community of nice people who share the same cause, finding some work that does not consume as much time and energy as ones in the real world - a work that can give me an adequate source of income - and, most importantly, time and guidance to work on myself. Basically I'm in search of an education that increases my parmis, takes me up from wherever I am, while teaching me a skill or two for a source of income. Creating these conditions for myself here in India, unfortunately, has practical problems.

rideforever

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Re: College or not
« Reply #18 on: March 17, 2011, 07:26:45 PM »
I struggle with these questions all the time - how to live a good life in a world like this.  It's a very deep question.

For the moment I can humbly suggest :

- resist doing a degree just for the hell of it and getting into debt

- heal your wounds ... it's great that you have started meditating, this will help you a lot ... now also look after your heart ... if you feel weak and vulnerable powerless fearful ... look after your heart.  you can do more metta and less vipassana ... but also i don't know how your family life is but ... being loved involves other people - good people - so being on your own cannot be the whole answer. 

if you are loved you don't feel weak and worthless so something is not right.  there are people out here who can help.


financial independence : i feel that your motivation for this is the same fear and vulnerabilty you described earlier.  Think abou this ... imagine you won the lottery tomorrow ... then what ? would you sit in a house and lock yourself up for ever until you die ?  what is the point of that ? 

life is messy ... exactly because it is a possibility ... to LIVE ... to take risks ... to try

I read that "life is not about playing a good hand of cards, but of playing a bad hand well."  See life as it is, and play your best game.

Maths ... hmmm still don't like it !!!!! ... what about computer science, then you can be a programmer and make lots of money quickly, buy 2 houses, live in one and rent out the other.

You are always free to learn your whole life, it is up to you - just buy a book and read ... or go and do a workshop ... or fall in love.  it's all learning, especially falling in love


Matthew

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Re: College or not
« Reply #19 on: March 17, 2011, 07:46:03 PM »
Nicely said rf.

Slider - it is your life - no one else will walk in your shoes, I suggest you walk where you need to go and not where you "should" go (for all the wrong reasons).

Use the force. Follow your heart. Your heart, your life.

Matthew
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Vivek

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Re: College or not
« Reply #20 on: March 18, 2011, 08:29:43 AM »
Quote from: Slider
Basically I'm in search of an education that increases my parmis, takes me up from wherever I am, while teaching me a skill or two for a source of income.
To search for an ideal condition to develop paramis does not seems like a nice idea to me. The way of Dhamma is to start from wherever you are, to utilize whatever situation you find yourself in to develop wholesome states of mind. If one waits for the right work or education, one may even wait indefinitely. 
Quote
Creating these conditions for myself here in India, unfortunately, has practical problems.
And you are right about that, Slider. Not only in India, but be it anywhere, trying to create the ideal condition would always land us into trouble. Then again, even if we manage to create a conducive environment, what is the guarantee that it will stay the same? So, my suggestion will be to continue with your practice nevertheless, follow your heart and choose a course that suits your goals.
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

Stefan

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Re: College or not
« Reply #21 on: March 18, 2011, 08:43:46 AM »
Vivek said it already, so I don't have to ... 


I guess only the strongest of men (and women) - people with great parmis -  can really think of going against an established system.


In reality it is the weak guys (like you & me  ;) ) who treasure thoughts like this one ...

Metta, Stefan

PS.: On-Topic ... I finished school at the age of 19. I started to study biology with 28, I did my exams with 34.
So ... take your time ...
anicca

Stefan

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Re: College or not
« Reply #22 on: March 18, 2011, 08:50:04 AM »


but be it anywhere, trying to create the ideal condition would always land us into trouble.


Here's an extreme example on this:

Aleister Crowley, advanced meditator and practitioneer of the dark arts, said: "If a barking dog is disturbing your meditation, then shoot the dog and go on with practice."
...
Mr. Crowley did not reach Nibbana in this life, but ended as a junkie who was very afraid of dying.

Metta, Stefan
anicca

Matthew

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Re: College or not
« Reply #23 on: March 18, 2011, 12:24:58 PM »
I did that. I took some time off, went here and there and I realized that I'm not ready for education in the real sense of the word, and I won't be ready until I spend four or five years (minimum) in solitude. Right now, I'm too weak and vulnerable. So powerless and fearful. I lack discipline and determination. Infinite negativities cloud and influence my judgment. How can I truly learn in such a state?

By paying attention to what is.

But at the same time, if I do go out for four or five years, there's a chance that I might be filled with regret and guilt for not attending college. It happened at one of the 10-day courses that I attended (I think I've given an account of that in another post) Not only that, I have a strong desire for attaining financial independence, so I am also not fully inclined to entirely commit myself to a meditative retreat.

Indeed a 4 or 5 year retreat may well kill that strong desire ... no wonder you feel so torn.

It just might become a hodgepodge [you can clearly see traces of fear throughout what I've written] It's a hopeless situation.

Yes the fear is clear and everywhere, you will take it with you - to college or into meditation. Until you sit and face it and see it for what it is. Seeing it for what it is will teach that your situation is not hopeless, just that your limited vision of reality confines your current understanding of the situation to being "hopeless". Your current understanding is highly conditioned by society. Fundamentally you are facing this choice: more conditioning? .. or .. undo conditioning? ... Part of your conditioning is to condition you to seek more conditioning - out of fear of being yourself, something societies and cultures in general find difficult is individuals being themselves: it doesn't make you a good cow on the farm if you actually see things as they are and think for yourself.

I cannot confidently say "this is something that I want to do". Should I take some more time off or should I avail this opportunity and go to college? What should I study? What about the money? I don't even know why I want to earn money (I guess it's something that happens to everyone in the twenties)? If I take some time off, how will I earn? If I work to earn, how will I and how much time will I get for the real thing that I ought to do?

As my nephew said to me he was not ready to decide I believe if you just re-read the above paragraph you will arrive at the same conclusion for yourself about yourself.

An ideal education shouldn't have a time limit, there should be no such thing as a degree involved, and it should be free. Unfortunately, it's none of it. There's so much room for guilt and doubt if a person wishes to not undergo a degree-acquiring-process in his lifetime. If a person wishes to opt to go through the process, and incurs loans along the way, there's still a lot of room for guilt and regret if the person is not satisfied with what he or she has extracted from such an education. Besides, University generally prepares us for industry. It's changing, yes, but all those courses that are not meant for industry don't pay much. If I opt for those courses, my goal of attaining financial independence will remain unfulfilled. The alternative, on the other hand,  might become a hodgepodge. *Sigh!* It's fear and guilt this way, and it's fear and guilt that way.

So look into your fear and guilt and remove them from the picture.

I guess only the strongest of men (and women) - people with great parmis -  can really think of going against an established system.

That is clearly not true. You are thinking about it and having difficulty working out your answer. Do you think the established system will last forever? Do you think it is not subject to change? Dhamma teaches us everything changes. Look at the world around you. There is much change. Established systems are falling everywhere and more is to come. Being true to yourself is probably more productive and useful in life than fitting in with a dying system.

The perfect situation would be finding a nice place to stay alone, getting access to a library, living in a community of nice people who share the same cause, finding some work that does not consume as much time and energy as ones in the real world - a work that can give me an adequate source of income - and, most importantly, time and guidance to work on myself. Basically I'm in search of an education that increases my parmis, takes me up from wherever I am, while teaching me a skill or two for a source of income. Creating these conditions for myself here in India, unfortunately, has practical problems.

Actually these conditions already exist. There are Dhamma centres all over the world which need staff and volunteers to keep them running or ordained Sanghas you could join. The Thai Forest Sangha might be a place to start.

You are allowing your mind to run in unending circles due to a fallacy in your thinking: that there is a "right" answer to your questions. Also that you are actually asking yourself the right questions, and even that you are asking the questions you think you are !

There is not one right answer to your questions. What you are asking is "how do I need to live my life?", however, this question is also manifesting in your head as "how should I live my life?" - you are asking both at the same time and the answers are contradictory and conflicting because "how should I live my life" involves taking onboard all of the cultural conditioning you have been subjected to and treating this as something important to answering the question, hence the conflicts arise regarding your wishes against your parents wishes, your needs against your desires, what you see as the hopelessness of a no-win situation against what is actually a totally open and limitless situation. .... Whereas if you forget the "should", drop that part of the cultural conditioning, all the rest starts to drop away too - and you start simplifying the problem immensely, as you are then only dealing with your needs.

Warmly,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

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Re: College or not
« Reply #24 on: March 19, 2011, 11:18:02 AM »
Hmm..

 

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