Author Topic: Setting the issue ???  (Read 2081 times)

Arkle

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Setting the issue ???
« on: August 04, 2009, 11:25:46 PM »
As we sit focussing on breathing, body, emotions ... and being mindful to what occurs and our responses to it - I wonder is it useful, productive or counterproductive to "set a topic" so to speak to meditate on.  Let's say I have an issue I'd like to understand more.  A work problem needs me to do something more to it and I'm stuck.  I feel I need a deeper understanding or to be more creative with it.  Is to contemplate it (meditate on it) thus, useful, productive or wise?

Arkle

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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Re: Setting the issue ???
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2009, 08:54:46 AM »
Dear Arkle,

Welcome to the forums.

As we sit focussing on breathing, body, emotions ... and being mindful to what occurs and our responses to it - I wonder is it useful, productive or counterproductive to "set a topic" so to speak to meditate on.

Not very. You will end up thinking. Meditation is a physical and mental act aimed at developing calm and concentration, changing the way our brain works, how we perceive and understand reality. Better to use the meditation time to fully practice and develop the greatest benefits of calm and concentration and de-clutter your mind of old habitual thinking.

Off the cushion we are no longer "practicing" - we are being. You can use the extra calm and concentration you have developed in practice and apply them to your problem.

Let's say I have an issue I'd like to understand more.  A work problem needs me to do something more to it and I'm stuck.  I feel I need a deeper understanding or to be more creative with it.

This really highlights what I have said above. You need to be "more creative" and/or you need a "deeper understanding".

These things will come from calm and concentration, from clearing your habitual thinking patterns in meditation and looking afresh at things. When you have an clear mind and look at an old problem it is a new problem and new approaches to it spontaneously emerge.

There is also an implication in the way you word your statements that you are trying to think your way out of problems yet creative insight comes from liberation of the mind from the fetters that tie us to our habitual thinking such as the story we live in (our personal "meta-narrative") and our "understanding" of the world. In the western world this understanding is highly imbalanced towards rationality - often leading to the death of creatvity.

Is to contemplate it (meditate on it) thus, useful, productive or wise?

Outside of your regular meditation - yes - but watch your mind closely and question yourself "am I thinking in circular patterns?"

It's also good to grab a Pina-colada or smoothie, settle by the pool and await a new insight as you enjoy the beauty of the moment. This is often where the spark of genius lays - in knowing as much as you can then forgetting it all the mind can often do some magic of it's own and create a solution you never even thought of with your rationality.

This comes down in some ways to the fact that meditate can mean many things. One of the meanings of meditate is to contemplate or think about something. Confusing this sort of meditation with Shamatha/Vipassana meditation won't get you far. Better to set aside different sessions for each.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
« Last Edit: August 05, 2009, 08:57:06 AM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Arkle

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Re: Setting the issue ???
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2009, 10:48:52 AM »
Thank you.  Super reply.

I was just wondering then about another aspect - visualisation.  How does visualisation sit along side meditation?

Arkle

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Staff
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Setting the issue ???
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2009, 12:16:55 PM »
Arkle,

You are welcome.

Visualisation is used in some meditations as the "object" of meditation. Particularly this is so in Mahayana traditions including Tibetan Buddhism and some other East Asian forms of Buddhism.

One way visualisations can be used is to continue developing concentration, however, in doing so you are "fabricating" an object with your mind: a double edged sword because, yes this can increase concentrative awareness, but ... it involves mental fabrication which is a form of thinking.

Another way visualisations are used, especially in Tantra/Tibetan Vajrayana practices is to identify with the aspects of the Buddha/Deity and thereby to increase those aspects in oneself. Again there is much mental fabrication involved here. My personal experience is that I have not seen great results from Vajrayana practice in Western students of Buddhism.

I have a mantra for good meditation:

"FABRICATE NOTHING"

What do I mean? Exactly what I say: fabricate nothing, be aware, don't fabricate guilt about your "failures" or joy about your "successes" in meditation. Just take each session as it is, be present and be aware of the object of meditation and your bodymind, when thoughts arise be aware, no shame and no guilt, then let them go their way without clinging to them, rejecting them or following them. Just be.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
« Last Edit: August 07, 2009, 12:19:04 PM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Arkle

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Re: Setting the issue ???
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2009, 08:56:02 PM »
Thank you Matthew.

You see one of the (many) things I need to do for work is come up with lots of ideas that are all well planned and well thought through and well executed (not so different from most work).  I find these projects need focus and attention over sustained periods of thinking.  They need "walked through" if you like.  I often do this by sitting thinking - "walking through" the projects.  Going deeper and often get insights into these things.  In many ways I plan things like holidays and so forth like that too.  Now I understand that meditation assists (sometimes greatly) these activities but it doesn't (seem to) replace them.  How do the two approaches sit together?  Do they sit together?  Should we not plan, project forward, set targets and goals and do our best to meet them?

Paul

pamojjam

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Re: Setting the issue ???
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2009, 11:18:11 PM »
Hi Paul,

How do the two approaches sit together?  Do they sit together?  Should we not plan, project forward, set targets and goals and do our best to meet them?

How about sitting 1 hour a day in meditation without planing - and the rest of the day sitting with planing, projecting, targeting and goaling?  ;)


Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Staff
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Setting the issue ???
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2009, 06:04:02 PM »
How do the two approaches sit together?  Do they sit together?  Should we not plan, project forward, set targets and goals and do our best to meet them?

Paul,

You can use meditation to improve your life. Continue planning forward, set targets and goals etc. It will help. A lot. And make you a nicer person almost certainly, more considerate and compassionate towards others as you learn your own being.

If you want to know the fullest fruits of meditation they don't sit together very well at all. This is almost impossibly hard to grasp, as our modern world is so much more complex, and has filled our brains with so many more ideas to cling to, than we realise - or than the people who first trod this path encountered.

It also implies a vast change in personal habits that few are ready to engage in and many would be castigated by those around them for even considering.

In the Dhamma,

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