Author Topic: defending oneself  (Read 2766 times)

purity

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defending oneself
« on: February 11, 2016, 12:12:52 AM »
I listen to quite a few podcasts and read a fair bit about insight practice and Im a bit confused. There seems to a big focus on noticing bodily sensations and not reacting to things.  Im confused about how you live in the world and be assertive about things that need addressing such as the endless injustices that occur and how to do this practice at the same time.    Im human, I get angry. No matter how much I do this practice that is always going to happen when I witness certain things.   I feel that anger is telling me that action must be taken.  If I just ignore my anger and accompanying sensations how do I not become a passive doormat for the world to wipe its feet on.  I do understand that I can see the anger and then wait for it to subside then act but many times in life we don't get to do this.    This whole idea that I feel compelled to react because I "think Im defending a self" just doesn't gel.   While I am in this world as a human I have a body and a mind.  No matter how much i meditate and read these two things make up part of my so called self. When they are attacked I will defend.   
Correct me if Im wrong but isn't Buddhism saying I should not defend the self because the self is just an idea?   

gasteria

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Re: defending oneself
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2016, 01:55:30 AM »
If I can be of any help. Struggling myself with various emotions. In my opinion this has nothing to do with becoming a doormat. It is about our habitual mental knots that we fall into at any little trigger.  Then once we fall into this we cannot stop running the tapes recorded many years ago over completely different events and in completely different circumstances.

I have read the book "Radical Acceptance" by Tara Brach (one of the members of this forum recommended it to me) that really, really helped me with my emotions. I have read many other books on the subject of meditation but this was the best in helping me.

This book gives multitude of samples how people fall into this mental state over and over again and how to stop it. I could identify with most of the situations described in the book.

To stop it we just need to look at our physical reflection of our emotions and become mindful of what is our body and mind is doing to us. I don't know how to explain it. You probably need to read to book to find out for yourself, if it suits you.

If I get stressed by anything which would be mostly fear or anger that is what I do.  I just watch my jaws clenching, or breath becoming fast and shallow, or stomach in the knot and I know I am in the state  of "trans" with obsessive thoughts.  You will not become doormat, you will become more rational about the situation because you will not be driven by your emotions. Now when I am in the state of obsessive thoughts I don't make any decisions or react to anything until my mind comes back to me.

This book is based on Vipassana technic of meditating. 





Moderator Edit: Link to products website removed.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2016, 01:51:24 PM by Vivek »

Goofaholix

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Re: defending oneself
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2016, 02:23:27 AM »
Do you need to be angry in order to be motivated to do the right thing? or correct a wrong? or fix a problem? to resist aggression?

I don't think so.  One can instead be motivated to do those things by clear seeing, by wisdom. 

Doing it out of anger is only going to increase the risk of escalating things, harming yourself or others whereas clearly seeing the anger objectively gives one the opportunity to act out of clarity rather than be lead by impulse.

purity

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Re: defending oneself
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2016, 06:25:30 AM »
Do you need to be angry in order to be motivated to do the right thing? or correct a wrong? or fix a problem? to resist aggression?

I don't think so.  One can instead be motivated to do those things by clear seeing, by wisdom. 

Doing it out of anger is only going to increase the risk of escalating things, harming yourself or others whereas clearly seeing the anger objectively gives one the opportunity to act out of clarity rather than be lead by impulse.

I can see that reacting from anger is probably not the best way to handle all situations but as I said I am human and I get angry. Its a natural human emotion. I dont think suppressing it is going to change that.  Also I think anger can protect us.  If I am being physically attacked the anger will motivate me to defend myself or my family.   If I stop and Im standing there trying to do this so called "clear seeing" then its too late.  The person has already killed me or my family.

Goofaholix

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Re: defending oneself
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2016, 06:50:57 PM »
I can see that reacting from anger is probably not the best way to handle all situations but as I said I am human and I get angry. Its a natural human emotion. I dont think suppressing it is going to change that.  Also I think anger can protect us.  If I am being physically attacked the anger will motivate me to defend myself or my family.   If I stop and Im standing there trying to do this so called "clear seeing" then its too late.  The person has already killed me or my family.

Suppressing it is not what we practice, clear and objective observation is.  This doesn't necessarily prevent one from taking appropriate action.  The point is that the anger is not permanent and it is not self and this is a separate question from "what is the most appropriate response to this situation?"

purity

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Re: defending oneself
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2016, 07:44:22 PM »
I can see that reacting from anger is probably not the best way to handle all situations but as I said I am human and I get angry. Its a natural human emotion. I dont think suppressing it is going to change that.  Also I think anger can protect us.  If I am being physically attacked the anger will motivate me to defend myself or my family.   If I stop and Im standing there trying to do this so called "clear seeing" then its too late.  The person has already killed me or my family.

Suppressing it is not what we practice, clear and objective observation is.  This doesn't necessarily prevent one from taking appropriate action.  The point is that the anger is not permanent and it is not self and this is a separate question from "what is the most appropriate response to this situation?"

It sounds nice in theory but how do you do this in practical terms? In a situation that happens very quickly that triggers anger and an overpowering urge to react to protect oneself? For eg if I'm being attacked. I don't see how it's possible in the moment.   I get attacked, anger arises and I defend.

Goofaholix

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Re: defending oneself
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2016, 09:23:30 PM »
It sounds nice in theory but how do you do this in practical terms? In a situation that happens very quickly that triggers anger and an overpowering urge to react to protect oneself? For eg if I'm being attacked. I don't see how it's possible in the moment.   I get attacked, anger arises and I defend.

You practice in low pressure situations over a long period of time and develop a momentum of awareness observing these factors of mind as they arise in much more subtle situations.

On meditation retreats one gets to observe the arising of aversion to small things like somebody taking the last cake, or somebody shuffling loudly in the meditation hall, one sees that the reactivity is pointless, involuntary, and only harms ones-self if you buy into it.

Unless you are living in Syria or Iraq most people don't have to defend the lives of their family on a regular basis. However if one day you find yourself in that situation you've got to do what you've got to do, if you have developed a momentum of awareness before that then you are more likely to act with awareness rather than from impulse, then once it's done there is no point feeding the anger or regrets.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2016, 09:50:10 PM by Goofaholix »

Matthew

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Re: defending oneself
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2016, 09:30:59 PM »
There is a difference between experiencing anger and acting out of anger: being angered. Being aware of anger and then acting with equanimity, is a first step. This is likely to be more productive than acting in an angered state. In the situation you posit of being attacked, for example, you are more likely to avoid such situations in the first place and avoid conflict if it does happen.

In meditation you go deeper than this though, you start to see how anger and other emotions arise from experience not meeting your conditioned expectations, and start to dissolve these expectations too.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Middleway

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Re: defending oneself
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2016, 02:18:26 AM »

I can see that reacting from anger is probably not the best way to handle all situations but as I said I am human and I get angry. Its a natural human emotion. I dont think suppressing it is going to change that.  Also I think anger can protect us.  If I am being physically attacked the anger will motivate me to defend myself or my family.   If I stop and Im standing there trying to do this so called "clear seeing" then its too late.  The person has already killed me or my family.

When you are being physically attacked, flight or fight fear emotion arises and not anger. If a bear is attacking me, I don't think I will get angry at the bear. I will run for my life or stay and fight but not out of anger.

Anger is a natural human emotion. However, anger is temporary insanity. You react out of anger and reaction is always impulsive and leads to incorrect responses.
Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Pacific Flow

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Re: defending oneself
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2016, 10:14:43 AM »
A little story. One time i did a Vipassana retreat in Myanmar. The day it was over we went into town in Yangon and changed some money at a street stall. The guys cheated us and stole some of the money while handing it over. We realized it like 15 mins later. I should add that day we were really still flashed and feeling relativly egoless, as it is normal right after a meditation retreat.
So what happened then was kinda cool. We went back and confronted the guys. And they were seasoned gangsters that looked like gangsters too! Yet feeling no anger, but confronted them with a clear and balanced mind.
I confronted them, telling them i wouldnt walk away without my money. I stares the meanest looking of them in the eyes nonstop and made it clear i would get my money back. And i did!
The lesson was, being egoless or reducing ego doesn't mean you have to be weak. It means you are able to keep your calm in a situation where you would normally lose your balance and get all angry. It actually works better than freaking out!

 

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