Author Topic: Meditation, progress and hindrances  (Read 10582 times)

Sebastian

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Meditation, progress and hindrances
« on: December 22, 2009, 07:19:34 AM »
Beginning in the New Year, I'm planning to delve deeper into meditation. As of now, I'm meditating an hour a day on average (usually in four sessions of 15 minutes each). I will double this to two hours (but perhaps not eight sessions, probably four to six). I've had daily practice for almost seven months now and I'm quite happy with my progress. No major breakthroughs, the results a very modest: I'm becoming more comfortable with sitting cross-legged (which was a major issue early on as I'm exceptionally inflexible) and I notice that my sessions feel shorter, so I guess my concentration is getting better. I view this as a life long practice, so I'm not in a rush. Add to it, I've battled a psychological disorder (manifesting as intrusive thoughts) which was my original motivation for taking up daily meditation. I'm still healing this wound, and I'm sure it has had an effect on my meditative practice. All things considered, I'm content with what's happened so far.

With all this said, I have some questions now that I will become more heavily invested in my spiritual practice. My lifestyle is fairly regular and common. I'm a student with stable living conditions, and I'm single which of course allows more time for my own interests. The only deviation from the norm is that I go out quite a lot, usually three or four nights a week. This affects my circadian rhythm, but doesn't really hamper my chances of meditation. The practice becomes irregular at times, but remains consistent. My main concern is this: If and if so to what degree does my lifestyle negatively affect my spiritual progress? What are the major hindrances to becoming more aware of the present moment and developing wisdom and insight?

I'm trying to get a rough idea of how progress is made in this area and what influence practical concerns may have. I'm not ready to become a monk yet, and to fully engage the spiritual path, but I think it would be very helpful to have some basic understanding of how to balance my everyday life with meditation to the extent that I find reasonable in order to gain the most from my practice.

I hope I made myself clear, if not; please don't hesitate to ask anything and I'd be happy to clarify. Thank you!
« Last Edit: December 22, 2009, 07:21:56 AM by Sebastian »

mik1e

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2009, 10:19:54 AM »
Sebastian,

 I can give you a couple of practical advises.

1) Try to teach your body to sit in meditation with straight spine. This habit will help you a lot. For that you may elevate your buttocks when sitting with cross legs. Yogis usually use a folded blanket for this goal. Don't forget that your knees should be on the floor.

2) If you cannot sit properly with crossed legs, you can split your practice for two parts -- teaching the body to sit with crossed legs and working with consciousness. When you can sit properly without fighting with your body, you can merge them. When working with consciousness, you can sit on a common chair or on chair for Zen meditation (preferably, since it helps to keep the spine straight). Here the main condition is to keep the spine straight. If you want, I can send you the drawing of chair for Zen meditation which can be easily made by oneself.

3) Regarding the duration of your sessions.  There are two considerations. On the one hand, the deeper, the better. That is, it is better to work for 10-15 minutes, but to reach more or less deep state, than to sit for 30 minutes with walking mind. On the other hand, the longer, the better. If you can manage to work for 40-60 minutes, it will be very nice, since at the beginning really deep relaxation comes after 15-30 minutes of mind calming.

4)  Regarding circadian rhythm. If you cannot not disturb it, try at least to sleep well, so that you could feel more or less fresh when you start the practice. If you are not in good shape, your body will solve its problems first, and you will get a deep sleep instead of meditation.

If you want, I could conduct a couple of sessions with you for free, so that you could experience the necessary sensations.

Sebastian

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2009, 11:27:35 AM »
First of all, thank you for your extensive answer. I can tell that you put the wisdom of compassion and sincere care for others to practice. That inspires me greatly.

My sitting has improved quite a bit since I started. In the beginning, my legs looked like an X when sitting cross legged (despite my body being elevated). I'm still unable to make my knees touch the floor, but this is only a question of continual habituation. I'm aware of the importace of having an erect spine ("[with the] back straight as an arrow", as Dalai Lama said) and I'm working on this as well. It's still not good, but it becomes better for every month that passes (in concomitance with my improved flexibility).

I don't feel the need to split up my practice as you propose, partly due to time constraints but also because I do think I'm making headway in terms of consciousness and that my deficient posture is not a major (and of course, not permanent) hindrance in this regard.

The issue of time limits is one where I've looked at different sources and compared to my own experience. Just as you suggest, I've found that a shorter session is good for concentration but that a longer one may be beneficial for reaching a deeper meditative state. I'm a beginner still and I think that having many shorter sessions is preferable, and that each session will eventually grow in length as I become more experienced.

It's good to hear that, if I understand you correctly, a somewhat irregular sleeping pattern is not fundamentally detrimental. My question was also one of lifestyle and life choices in general, and their effect on spiritual practice. I think I wasn't too clear on this (it's a bit hard to describe). For example, I make a conscious effort to be empathetic and kind to others, even when my emotions signal something else. Likewise, I'm thinking that being out and being socially active creates a flood of emotions that might impede the calming of the mind. I'm extrapolating on this issue, but it would be interesting to hear what others think. Again, I'm not ready to move into a monastery yet. I just want to have all the facts as straight as possible and then make the value judgement for myself.

I'd love a teaching session! I'll send you an e-mail right now. Thanks once again.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2009, 11:36:19 AM by Sebastian »

pamojjam

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2009, 01:57:12 PM »
Hi Sebastian,

since you are asking about a beneficial lifestyle choices coming from 'my own' tradition, I would simply like to suggest the importance what in the buddhist tradition is suggested at it's beneficial foundation - from where to proceed (though maybe superfluous, since you might be long aware of):

1. Panatipata veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
         "I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking life."

2. Adinnadana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
         "I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking what is not given."

3. Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
         "I undertake the training rule to abstain from sexual misconduct."

4. Musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
         "I undertake the training rule to abstain from false speech."

5. Suramerayamajjapamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
         "I undertake the training rule to abstain from fermented and distilled intoxicants which are the basis for heedlessness."

These simple 5 training rules aren't really concerned about becoming 'a good' person in the eyes of others, but more fundamentally for their very beneficial effect against hindrances and boosting it's opposing factors: confidence, effort, awareness, stillness and wisdom.

Quote
My question was also one of lifestyle and life choices in general, and their effect on spiritual practice. I think I wasn't too clear on this (it's a bit hard to describe). For example, I make a conscious effort to be empathetic and kind to others, even when my emotions signal something else. Likewise, I'm thinking that being out and being socially active creates a flood of emotions that might impede the calming of the mind.

The 5 training rules taken from an experimental approach - and not for possible guild games - are at the very base.  Commitments for kindness and compassion I consider something much further down that road, and greatly enhanced by the strengths being formed through meditation. To try to be emphatic in a moment you're actually not, is only creating an unnecessary conflict and thereby a stirring up or dumbing down.

But if empathy is allowed to flow naturally in daily life - first by keeping the 5 training precepts which enhance stillness of mind in meditation - than it only creates a very effective reinforcement loop enhancing meditation afterwards.

Consider this sutta:
Quote
Lawfulness of Progress, Anguttara Nikaya X, 1-2:

For one who is virtuous and endowed with virtue (Sila), there is no need for an act of will: 'May non-remorse arise in me!' It is a natural law, monks, that non-remorse (Kusala-sañña) will arise in one who is virtuous.

- For one free of remorse, there is no need for an act of will: 'May gladness arise in me!' It is a natural law that gladness (Pamojja) will arise in one who is free from remorse.

- For one who is glad at heart, there is no need for an act of will: 'May joy arise in me!' It is a natural law that joy (Piti) will arise in one who is glad at heart.

- For one who is joyful, there is no need for an act of will: 'May my body be serene!' It is a natural law that the body will be serene (Passaddhi) for one who is joyful.

- For one of serene body, there is no need for an act of will: 'May I feel happiness!' It is a natural law that one who is serene will feel happiness (Sukha).

- For one who is happy, there is no need for an act of will: 'May my mind be concentrated!' It is a natural law for one who is happy that the mind will be concentrated (Samma-ditthi).

- For one who is concentrated, there is no need for an act of will: 'May I know and see things as they really are!' It is a natural law for one a concentrated mind to know and see things as they really are (Ñanadassana).

- For one who knows and sees things as they really are, there is no need for an act of will: 'May I experience revulsion and dispassion!' It is a natural law for one who knows and sees things as they really are to experience revulsion and dispassion (Nibbida).

- For one who experiences revulsion and dispassion, there is no need for an act of will: 'May I realize the knowledge and vision of liberation!' It is a natural law for one who experiences revulsion and dispassion to realize the knowledge and vision of liberation (Nibbana).

...Thus, monks, the preceding qualities flow into the succeeding qualities; the succeeding qualities bring the preceding qualities to perfection, for going from the near to the far shore.

kind regards..

mik1e

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2009, 02:52:19 PM »
As usual, pamojjam provides very nice tips.

But I'd like to explain something to those who do not belong to any tradition and are not used to taking vows.

There are two levels of following the vow (or "training rule", as pamojjam names it). The first one is "external" or, as I call it, "mechanical'. Roughly speaking, you do not allow your body to do things which are not allowed by the training rule. This develops your awareness and protects you against the problems, related to violation of the rule. Finally, you develop the habit of "not doing" wrong things and avoid them automatically.

The second level of following the vow is "internal". This level is achieved when your mind is purified to such extend that you simply forget how to do these "wrong" things and do not understand what for to do them. I.e., you still see that other people do them, you well understand why and what for they do it, but you do not feel any intent to follow these people, even if somebody agitates you to do so.

It is clear that at some moment the person achieves the "internal" level, even if (s)he started from "external" one. But I think, that at least for some of us, Europeans, as for those who are used for mental activity, aiming at the second level from the very beginning may be practically more efficient.

Sebastian

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2009, 03:18:59 PM »
Thank you for another informative post. I am aware of the five precepts, and I try to apply the teachings to my life. The second precept is quite impossible to follow if you're not living the monastic life (if interpreted to mean that you're only allowed things given to you). I don't fully follow the third precept either. But again, for me at this point this is about becoming more knowing and gradually applying what seems reasonable and just to the extent I find practical in my current life situation.

On the point of empathy, let me just say this: While I do agree emotions should ideally be genuine, for any unenlightened individual the idea of compassion for every other sentient being is fiction. Nonetheless, I strongly believe one should always be kind and empathetic as opposed to cold and uncaring. Even if the latter is the authentic emotion, a conscious effort of empathy is always possible. In the words of Dalai Lama: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”

Sebastian

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2009, 03:23:17 PM »
As usual, pamojjam provides very nice tips.

But I'd like to explain something to those who do not belong to any tradition and are not used to taking vows.

There are two levels of following the vow (or "training rule", as pamojjam names it). The first one is "external" or, as I call it, "mechanical'. Roughly speaking, you do not allow your body to do things which are not allowed by the training rule. This develops your awareness and protects you against the problems, related to violation of the rule. Finally, you develop the habit of "not doing" wrong things and avoid them automatically.

The second level of following the vow is "internal". This level is achieved when your mind is purified to such extend that you simply forget how to do these "wrong" things and do not understand what for to do them. I.e., you still see that other people do them, you well understand why and what for they do it, but you do not feel any intent to follow these people, even if somebody agitates you to do so.

It is clear that at some moment the person achieves the "internal" level, even if (s)he started from "external" one. But I think, that at least for some of us, Europeans, as for those who are used for mental activity, aiming at the second level from the very beginning may be practically more efficient.

This was very interesting and if I understand you correctly precisely what I had in mind. I think the "mechanical" action that you speak of is in the vein of "Right action". Why not apply both levels of following simultaneously? When one works towards the second level, surely it must beneficial to act as if one had already attained the skillfullness and wisdom of the first.

Crystal Palace

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2009, 04:04:00 PM »
The second precept is quite impossible to follow if you're not living the monastic life (if interpreted to mean that you're only allowed things given to you).

Hi Sebastian!
I think the second precept is quite possible to follow even if you are living a lay man's life. What it actually means is that one should not take what one has not earned/deserved. So if you are working and your employer gives you a salary, taking it is perfectly right. But say you rob a bank and steal the money, then that is breaking of sila, because you did not earn it.
"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

sylvanhart

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2009, 04:54:57 PM »
Hey Sebastian. I don't have any advice right now, but I think we're in a similar situation. I definitely know what you mean by intrusive thoughts and feeling cold and uncaring at times. It seems like I've felt negative about most things for as long as I can remember. I've only just begun regular, focused meditation over the past few weeks, but I'm already feeling that it's helping "make way for the positive day." I'm feeling confident about my two 10-20 minute sessions twice a day and I plan to extend them to 40-50 minutes soon.

I don't think that I want to devote 100% of my life to a spiritual/inner path either, although the monastic life often seems tempting when I'm feeling overwhelmed by school work and everything else. I'd like to engage with the universe and create some degree of paradise in my physical reality through community and permaculture, while not being attached to the results of my actions (changing the world and all).

I'm not sure what the best answer is to increase compassion. I'm not very good at lying or feigning enthusiasm, so I think it's best for me to let it grow organically. How can I tell people that I love or have missed them when they're not used to hearing it from me, and my face betrays my true feelings? Now, I know from experience that I don't entirely lack the capacity for empathy, but rather I think something is preventing me from feeling and expressing it most of the time (anxiety?). At some point I plan on trying loving-kindness exercises.

I'm interested in hearing about your progress.

Peace,
Keith
« Last Edit: December 22, 2009, 05:06:26 PM by sylvanhart »

pamojjam

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2009, 07:20:26 PM »
Hi again,

It is clear that at some moment the person achieves the "internal" level, even if (s)he started from "external" one. But I think, that at least for some of us, Europeans, as for those who are used for mental activity, aiming at the second level from the very beginning may be practically more efficient.

Agreed that this is also possible, since there so many different individuals. However, not being established even in the basics, one might just delude oneself, especially heavy-headed Europeans.

And the basic is still the basic for going ahead, sit down, and meditate. There are nevertheless rare individuals, who just sit down and awaken on the spot with all preliminaries instantaneously established to their fullest extent. But this isn't the case if someone ask about progress in respect to hindrances, or needs help with his posture.

The internal level means something comes straight from the heart naturally - even less possible to concoct - where the 5 precepts are indeed superseded. If it isn't coming forward 'organically' by itself, I know no better way than vipassana with its necessary preliminaries.

.. I try to apply the teachings to my life. ... But again, for me at this point this is about becoming more knowing and gradually applying what seems reasonable and just to the extent I find practical in my current life situation.

Excellent, that's what I mean with an experimental approach.

The second precept is quite impossible to follow if you're not living the monastic life (if interpreted to mean that you're only allowed things given to you). I don't fully follow the third precept either.

I have to guess it's rather your interpretation of the 2nd precept for laymen, if you believe it could only be followed by monastics.

Therefore - if you feel comfortable to tell - what is it which makes it appear you couldn't follow those two precepts?

Nonetheless, I strongly believe one should always be kind and empathetic as opposed to cold and uncaring. Even if the latter is the authentic emotion, a conscious effort of empathy is always possible. In the words of Dalai Lama: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”

Though I have no Lama to quote, only once you are able to have compassion and care for that something inside you, 'cold and uncaring' - which in my experience develops naturally if you look at 'things as they have become' during ceaseless vipassana (no shortcut here either) - levels of spontaneous compassion are occurring I never thought possible. So alien to me, and though a very staunch 'Buddhist', I couldn't help but associated an allpervaiding God with it.. Certainly nothing to do with me..

Sebastian

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2009, 07:52:52 PM »
I'm so happy to see all these replies! Let me go through them one by one.

Crystal Palace, that's what I figured would be the layman interpretation, and that's why I reserved my answer. You're perfectly right, and in that case, I do follow the second precept. I think one should extrapolate on any one precept in the context of one's life, as long as the interpretation is modest and reasonable. For example, the first precept comprises not only killing but also threatening, while at the same time allowing for a very limited sphere of justified self defense. The core issue as I see it is how one's emotions is affected by one's actions. Negative and unjustified actions have a lasting effect on the emotional constitution of the individual. I believe this to be true whether or not one accepts the notion of karma.

Keith, I'm glad to hear that you seem to have a similar inspiration and spiritual concern as I do. I definitely think you're doing the right thing by acting on your intentions and bringing consistent meditation into your life. I'm very happy for myself that I've taken this step. The intrusive thoughts I referred to are not your everyday kind of negative buzz but of a pathological character; I've suffered from posttraumatic stress for almost eight months. It's an on-going battle but the progress is benign and I'm enthused to have been given the opportunity to regain my health and wholeheartedly engage in meditative practice. I truly believe in this, and it seems like this suffering was necessary in order for me to get started on my spiritual path.

On the issue of being uncaring and cold and the question of empathy; I don't think the difficulty is in vocally expressing untrue declarations of compassion. Telling someone you love them when it isn't so is not necessary to be empathetic. Kindness and empathy to me is more a question of what you're not saying; to refrain from outbursts of annoyance or anger, to treat everyone with a smile even when they don't smile back. It might seem forced at first, but I do this because I think it will help me in the long run. Oftentimes, you will receive exactly what you put out. I also make a conscious attempt to think the best of people and to understand why they're doing something that annoys and angers me and forgive them. I'm not trying to sound highfalutin, it's mostly small acts of forced kindness that I think are to my own benefit. It feeds my emotional being with positive or at least more neutral emotional reactions.

pamojjam, I hope your question on my view of the second precept was answered in my reponse to Crystal Palace above. In regards to the third precept, all I can say is that I still act out on my sensual desires and I know that this precept in particular is rather straightforward and not very adjustable in terms of what is allowed and what is not (although Dalai Lamas viewpoint on homosexuality is interesting in this context; I'm not a homosexual, I just like women and I'm not married  ;)). With this said, as I've articulated before, this for me is a gradual development. Maybe I'll go celibate sometime in a future, at least for a limited amount of time to try it out. Who knows? After all, most of all of will experience celibacy one day, whether voluntary or involuntary.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2009, 07:54:43 PM by Sebastian »

Sebastian

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2009, 08:30:18 PM »
I have a follow up to my original question posed in this thread, because I think I came up with a better way to formulate my concern.

Imagine this: Two people meditate for a total of ten hours over ten days, one hour each day. One has a busy social life, going to work or school, going out in the evenings to fraternize (albeit without consuming any mind altering substances such as alcohol), spending his time between meditation sessions listening to or playing music, surfing the web etc. The second person lives completely secluded, in total abstention of frivolities of any kind, with no engagement in physical or sensual drives of any sort.

Two different lives, precisely the same amount and variety of meditative practice. Will either benefit more from his practice? Why?

pamojjam

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2009, 08:59:33 PM »
Concerning the 3th precept, as far as I know it means not to hurt anyone with your sexuality. You'll know better if that would be the case with your women. And if this would be the case, why you still wouldn't act accordingly..

Quote
Two different lives, precisely the same amount and variety of meditative practice. Will either benefit more from his practice? Why?

Either would benefit from their practice, but if the one with the social life would had been a very dedicated nun for a couple of 1000 past lifes ..guess whom?
« Last Edit: December 22, 2009, 09:05:47 PM by pamojjam »

Sebastian

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2009, 02:54:49 AM »
Concerning the 3th precept, as far as I know it means not to hurt anyone with your sexuality. You'll know better if that would be the case with your women. And if this would be the case, why you still wouldn't act accordingly..

I think that's a liberal albeit reasonable construction of the meaning of this precept. I do think that it was originally meant to be much more limiting, considering sensual desire is the first of the five hindrances (see more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexuality_in_Buddhism).

Quote
Either would benefit from their practice, but if the one with the social life would had been a very dedicated nun for a couple of 1000 past lifes ..guess whom?

I see what you mean, but I'm personally refraining from bringing supernatural processes into the calculation. I don't believe in rebirth, but that's up to each and everyone. I'm a follower of the Buddhist tradition because there's sound scientific proof that this way of life makes for a healthier and happier person, and that's where my question was directed. I wonder if the very real and measurable effects of the meditative practice (changes in brain waves etc) is affected by the lifestyle and so to what extent. Let's make an additional assumption, that both my imagined people live righteously and with no major transgressions in regards to the precepts (as we've discussed them here). Is the active lifestyle a hindrance, or a negative influence, or are there parts of it that is? That's my question.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2009, 07:12:43 AM by Sebastian »

Matthew

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #14 on: December 23, 2009, 04:52:03 AM »
Sebastian,

There is a small still voice inside us all which tells us when we are doing something wholesome and something unwholesome.

Tuning in to that voice will make it very simple to apply the precepts in a knowing appropriate way. It's a question of learning to trust yourself.

Sexual misconduct means different things if you are a monk. You aren't a monk so it means not raping or hurting anyone with your sexual desires, not telling lies to get people into bed and not having sexual conduct with minors.

Going out and drinking: drink with awareness and moderation. If you are sitting with a head heavy with alcohol it is not clear. Clarity of mind is essential for progress, so be moderate.

Finally if you are planning to increase your practice time I do not think it is beneficial to add more practice sessions. There is a much greater benefit to extending the ones you are doing.

Four half hour sits will be more beneficial than 8 x 15 minute ones.

Two one hour sits more beneficial than four half hour ones. An hour morning and night is a solid foundation for practice.

The danger of only doing short sits is that you may never get past the immediate contents of consciousness.

One retreat I did was 14 hours of Shamatha a day in sessions up to 4 hours long. This was for thirty days and is a very profound practice so I would definitely urge and encourage you towards longer sessions not more.

In the Dhamma,

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

Sebastian

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #15 on: December 23, 2009, 05:04:07 AM »
Thank you for this Matthew. You speak with the clear voice of an experienced person so I will follow your advice. Two hour long sessions seems like a good idea. I completely abstain from alcohol since several years back, which I something would recommend to anyone, spiritual seeker or not.

Crystal Palace

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #16 on: December 23, 2009, 06:52:01 AM »
Sebastian,

Sexual misconduct means different things if you are a monk. You aren't a monk so it means not raping or hurting anyone with your sexual desires, not telling lies to get people into bed and not having sexual conduct with minors.


Matthew, shouldn't having sex with multiple partners, even if consensually, also be added to that list?

Because the logic is that a person who is having sex with one person, then another and then another is only multiplying his passion and thereby his miseries. So the strict Dhamma way is to either remain celibate or committed to one person.
"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

Sebastian

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #17 on: December 23, 2009, 06:58:43 AM »
Crystal Palace, I think you're right, and as I wrote before, the third precept seems to be to have been intended to be conservatively interpreted in accordance with the five hindrances. Nevertheless, this thread is all about making your own value judgement of what one consider fitting for one's current life situation.

Let me also add that the reason why I started out in shorter bursts of practice was because I had read this article:

http://www.viewonbuddhism.org/Meditations/dalai_lama_meditation.html

"It is helpful not to practice too long in the beginning; do not over- extend yourself; the maximum period is around fifteen minutes. The important thing is not the length of the session but the quality of it."

I'm somewhat experienced with long term projects and I think it's important to be aware of where in your progress you are at the moment and what steps would improve your practice, whatever it is you're doing. I think I'm going to start out with four thirty minute sessions with the goal of doing the two full hours in maybe six months time. We'll see how things develop.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2009, 06:59:46 AM by Sebastian »

Crystal Palace

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #18 on: December 23, 2009, 07:09:34 AM »

Nevertheless, this thread is all about making your own value judgement of what one consider fitting for one's current life situation.


Sebastian, I think you are absolutely correct. Its important to start steadily even if slowly.
"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

mik1e

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #19 on: December 23, 2009, 07:31:36 AM »
Sebastian,

Your question about two different lives is quite natural. But if you ask Tibetan lamas, they would say that not necessary everybody in a monastery is enlightened and really dedicated monk. There are enough people who just perform their duties and live in the monastery just to survive. So, do not think that "monastery solves all problems". Actually, in some sense, it is the same social life, but organized in a bit different way. The real monastery is inside you. If you see this clearly, you will never experience problems with other people or social duties and relationships. Do not forget that the final goal of enlightened one is not to enjoy the buddhahood, but to share this state with other beings. 

When you turn any your action into a form of meditation, it will not matter where you are -- in a monastery or in a business office. You always be in your inner monastery and the monastery will always be the place where your body is. If you keep this in mind, you will never experience problems with environment. Remember that nobody can come inside your body and disturb your mind there, unless you yourself allow this. So, learn how to be real master of your inner space, and you will always have clean, calm and silent place for deep meditation.

Sebastian

  • Guest
Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #20 on: December 23, 2009, 08:48:04 AM »
I think you're right that all things considered, success stems from the individual and to a far lesser degree the circumstances. Of course, one can not negate the existence of favorable conditions in any one endeavor. But this is secondary.

From all I've gathered, I feel quite confident with continuing my lifestyle while slowly but steadily implementing a more spiritual approach to my life. I'm looking forward to plenty of meditation and hopefully some progress in the upcoming year.

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: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #21 on: December 23, 2009, 09:07:50 AM »
In the Buddha's Sangha there were hundreds of Arahants (Buddha's).

Many of these were not monks, they were lay practitioners, householders with wives, families, farms and the like.

With regard to what is wholesome and unwholesome conduct in any context, common sense is the rule for the lay practitioner.

It is also very much the case that your motivation for practice will be a determining factor in what amounts to wholesome or unwholesome behaviours.

Monks were not allowed to masturbate. If they did it when asleep that was not something they could be blamed for. Many used to pretend to be asleep and so the Buddha defined more and more criteria for such things. Hence the 84,000 rules of the Vinaya.

We're not monks. Well ... I'm not .. at least not yet, though I may become one. I have been celibate for many years but do not intend to be forever. Each person is responsible for themselves. Each person determines their own commitment to the path.

If you understand the four noble truths and try to live by the noble eightfold path and meditate on compassion and embody compassion in all your encounters with everyone you will progress more quickly.

I fail to live up to this ideal often. I am a learner, a student, a practitioner and human. I have failings. I suffer from them, and sometimes my failings lead to others suffering. I learn as I go and try to embody the Dhamma more each day but the path is hard work and the ego is working hard to make it harder.

Just don't give yourself a hard time. Do your best. And be honest with yourself.

In the Dhamma,

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

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: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #22 on: December 23, 2009, 09:28:32 AM »
Matthew, shouldn't having sex with multiple partners, even if consensually, also be added to that list?

Because the logic is that a person who is having sex with one person, then another and then another is only multiplying his passion and thereby his miseries. So the strict Dhamma way is to either remain celibate or committed to one person.

It depends.

If you want to achieve full awakening ... or not ... and who you are.

In the Dhamma,

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

Sebastian

  • Guest
Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #23 on: December 23, 2009, 10:37:00 AM »
I fail to live up to this ideal often. I am a learner, a student, a practitioner and human. I have failings. I suffer from them, and sometimes my failings lead to others suffering. I learn as I go and try to embody the Dhamma more each day but the path is hard work and the ego is working hard to make it harder.

Very well put. This is the reality from which one has to begin to work. The important thing is applying the right knowledge and consistently making an effort.

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: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #24 on: December 23, 2009, 04:14:56 PM »
Very well put. This is the reality from which one has to begin to work. The important thing is applying the right knowledge and consistently making an effort.

Sebastian,

Yes, this is correct understanding.

My root teacher, Her Eminence Mindrolling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche, summed up ten days of intensive (up to 3 four hour talks per day) of Dhamma teachings such that the Dhamma can be distilled to a very simple recipe. She used 29 words. I have added three for a point of clarity:



  • Generosity

  • Avoiding Harm

  • Patience

  • Effort (Discipline / Shila)

  • Meditation (Shamatha, Samadi, Trying to achieve understanding - i.e. Vipassana/insight)



"Combine all five to become wisdom-mind"



“Do not allow arisings to become solid obstacles”.




Self honesty and the last point is the key to overcoming of all obstacles. By not "solidifying" things, events, stories, manifestations of meditative practice, "signs", dramas, Dhamma - or anything else - but recognising that all is constant flux and change, one can more easily recognise an obstacle and change one's mental attitude to it such that it is no longer an obstacle, but a lesson learned.

Even here on this site - as Pamojjam will surely attest - I have personally fallen into the trap of allowing arisings to become solid obstacles. Then I went back to Shamatha and Vipassana and cut through and my attitude has changed greatly. I learned a lot from what I will term the "Goenka Wars" we went through here: About myself and about where I was misunderstanding Dhamma. Through that learning I changed, softened and was able to see the other point of view more clearly - and also that I was making a fool of myself and the Dhamma at times. Thereafter I sought to reach out a hand a peace.

The path is far from easy although can also be very uncomplicated - simple self honesty is the key, and being honest with others very important too. Sometimes that can take time, sometimes it is quickly realised. The more consistent effort one puts into practicing Dhamma the quicker one jumps these hurdles.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew



Her Eminence Mindrolling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche (some ten years ago - more recent pictures on her website linked above).
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

 

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