Author Topic: Meditation, progress and hindrances  (Read 10312 times)

KnownintheKnown

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #25 on: December 23, 2009, 10:27:38 PM »
I was going to post in mild frustration firstly, but it probably the wrong place, still it seems
valid. I apologise if this derails thead somewhat but hey life is not "normal" we need to get used to that now
if we are to experience death.

Lot of talk about "progress", but remember we are all headed to die and how do we know that the experiences
come with us, implies a heavy does of faith to me?

I have a problem with faith, faith implies lack of knowledge.

I am mixed up to though, I DO believe there is something after death, so many mysterious occurrences after my mother passed away, too many for it to be coincidence, her energy was around for some days, weeks, I did the Phowa practice it helped me as much as it did her I think.

My background is meditator off and on, cannot move forward, read books no guru, stuck on"experiences" that are not obtainable again so gave up, not sure what progress is, not sure about where this fits into framework of life or even meditational experience/death. Been to India 8 times, love it.

Have had experiences where perceiver and perceived become one, realisation of a central point of awareness/reception was at the same time it's dissolution, seen it but cannot put it in a framework for further development.

Still love pleasure, still know it's so short it's not really real, but in the moment it's real (what is wrong with this?) I know it's all joined up so small that it's nearly not even real except for the sake of time which almost seems malleable. Easy to say till you stub your toe, then it's real again. My experience is reliant on my body, so much of consciousness come from the body how can we practically renounce it? we are it ! I know conciousness is not confined to the head, brain, physical but is it contained by physics, chemistry, energy as science knows it, can it be without body, seems like it is possible but it is illogical.

How does consciousness or essence exist without a source of energy determined by physics/chemistry?
Is there other energy as yet unknown?

This probably sounds a bit strange and almost mentally disturbed but this writing style keeps the essence without too much intellect getting involved. Apologies for being the wrong place for first post.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2009, 10:37:12 PM by KnownintheKnown »

pamojjam

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #26 on: December 23, 2009, 11:39:01 PM »

Thanks for everyone's helpful perspectives ..very much appreciated.


Welcome to the discussion, KnownintheKnown.

Every perspective - as opposite to prevailing one's and maybe frustrated it might be - is of course valid too and only might open new vistas for a more complete picture.

Quote
Lot of talk about "progress", but remember we are all headed to die and how do we know that the experiences come with us, implies a heavy does of faith to me?
Honestly, I can only assume some confusion here. I can't be sure it it would help you, but maybe reading some translations of original Sutta's might help?

From my side I can only offer my own experienced glimpses with meditation: The first I already described above as a the experience of an amazing compassion lifting any duality between you and me.

The other most life changing insight - in the continuous process of seeing nothing essential at my innermost and going repeatedly through the visceral panic of wrongly perceived annihilation - till I could become comfortable with this fact: that I've never been the way perceived in the first place. So how could I ever cease the way I've never existed?

Quote
I have a problem with faith, faith implies lack of knowledge.
I know 100% that I'm already non-existent the way I perceived, and it would be mere speculation that this fact would be different at the moment of my death. 'Anicca' now with everything seen, felt, perceived and conceived - nothing than 'anicca' thereafter too.

You seem to have experienced something similar without the ease it brought in my case through being able to letting go what isn't there to begin with:
Quote
Have had experiences where perceiver and perceived become one, realisation of a central point of awareness/reception was at the same time it's dissolution, seen it but cannot put it in a framework for further development.
Did you look at Paticca Samupada as a potential framework?

Quote
.. remember we are all headed to die and how do we know that the experiences come with us, implies a heavy does of faith to me?
Having witnessed momentary death so intimately I don't need even a bid of faith, because I know experiences are already now gone. And this feels like the release of something (the me, mine, what I am - to be more precise), which never existed that way anyway, and only causes all the trouble..

Hope I didn't cause more confusion, but ultimate 'progress' in the buddhist context doesn't mean to become more of something, even something more of 'enlightenment' - but the ending of ceaseless becoming. As Matthew said: 'Do not allow arisings to become solid ...', or as Ayya Khema puts it so nicely with a title of one of her books: 'Being nobody, going nowhere.'

the very best..

Matthew

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #27 on: December 24, 2009, 01:40:32 AM »
Lot of talk about "progress", but remember we are all headed to die and how do we know that the experiences
come with us, implies a heavy does of faith to me?

I have a problem with faith, faith implies lack of knowledge.

KnownintheKnown,

If you read the summary of Dhamma I posted above you will not find mention of faith.

It is important to realise that "faith" in the Buddhist context has a very different meaning to other religious/spiritual contexts. In the Buddhist context faith refers specifically to "confidence" and not "belief".

the Buddha was very clear about not believing things but finding out for yourself whether they are true or not. In this context "faith" means that, having heard the Dhamma, one has a level of confidence in what one has heard to start practicing the teachings. It is not about belief. It is about having enough confidence to experiment with meditation and other aspects of the eightfold path so you see for yourself whether that you have heard is true or is not true: Confidence, not belief.

I hope this clarifies the essence of the teaching regarding this matter for you.

With regard to "progress" there is no doubt that when you have heard and understood the teachings, and practiced them, you will make progress on the path. It is a very different kind of progress to that we normally consider "progress" however. Progress usually means to improve or gain something. On the path it means to lose: illusions - ignorance, selfishness - greed, and hatred or anger. It is about losing things - not gaining them. Specifically losing the things that make up the root causes and subsequent outer manifestations of your ego (or accumulated sense of self) - which are based on these roots of ignorance, greed and anger.

This allows for the natural nature of being to come to the fore, which is open, flexible, aware, compassionate and wise. One does not work to progress and gain these fruits of meditation - and if one is trying to do so then the Dhamma has been misunderstood.

These fruits are the natural fruits of cutting the roots of ego and seeing through the illusion of separate self. Belief or no belief in afterlife or rebirth is immaterial to this real kind of progress. Just practice until you know.

Welcome to the forums.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
« Last Edit: December 24, 2009, 01:43:44 AM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
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Sebastian

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #28 on: December 24, 2009, 05:02:28 AM »
On the topic of making progress, what this means and how the process will take shape, I would strongly recommend everyone to read this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Mastery-Keys-Success-Long-Term-Fulfillment/dp/0452267560

It's short, and it explains pretty much everything in relation to becoming good (or rather, changing from where you were before) at anything. Don't be dissuaded by the somewhat prosaic title. No doubt, one of the most valuable reading experiences of my life.

Here's one of the blurbs:

"George Leonard translates the wisdom of Zen into a self-help program for sticking with it – whether you want to learn aikido or need support in realizing long-held goals."
—The New Age Journal

mik1e

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #29 on: December 24, 2009, 10:42:47 AM »
KnownintheKnown,

I think that the root of your state is lack of practice. Under "practice" I mean not just sitting with closed eyes and walking mind, but deep diving inside the calmness of your mind.

I can say by my own experience and by the experience of my students, that the knowledge of past and future, which you need so much, comes with practice. I.e. when you clean and calm down your mind to proper extend, you begin simply see these things like stars mirroring in the lake. If lake's surface is disturbed, there are no stars. So, you need not believe (have faith) in the stars -- just make the surface of the lake mirror-like, and they will be constantly visible.

Therefore, the first step is the most difficult: you have to forget totally about your problems and start working, being focused only on one thing -- proper state of the mind. Even if you are going to die in several days, it will help: your next incarnation greatly depends on the state ("the last thought") at the moment of leaving the body. And if you are young and have enough energy, it is good start, too: what we take with ourselves to the next life is not our emotions or specific knowledge, but some "mean ability" which "crystallizes" in us during our lifetime. If you spend your life in frustration and fear of death, this will imprint itself in your energy centers and bodies, and you will start your next incarnation with "load" of these states. Do you really want this?

So, focus not on your problems, but only on your path to infinity (God, Buddha, or how you are used to call it), be ready to change, do what is necessary to change yourself (i.e. make practice), and changes will come.

One tip: never try to force the changes to come. They are just the effect of mind calming/stabilizing and energy purification. So, the main key is practice.

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #30 on: December 24, 2009, 10:16:51 PM »
I was going to post in mild frustration firstly, but it probably the wrong place, still it seems
valid. I apologise if this derails thead somewhat ....

KnownintheKnown,

No need too apologise - if the thread needs separating into two it will be done. We don't worry too much about that sort of thing here. I would recommend when you want to post out of frustration that instead you sit quietly and be very clear about the frustration and where it comes from instead.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
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pamojjam

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #31 on: December 25, 2009, 12:16:25 PM »
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..
Kamma is only one way of conceptualizing many preconditions which have accumulated since sentient live started (and who can claim to know where and when that happened), all written down in each humans genome. An excerpt by wikipedia:
Quote
An analogy to the human genome stored on DNA is that of instructions stored in a library:
* The library would contain 46 books (chromosomes)
* The books range in size from 400 to 3340 pages (genes)
* which is 48 to 250 million letters (A,C,G,T) per book.
* Hence the library contains over six billion letters total;
* The library fits into a cell nucleus the size of a pinpoint;
* A copy of the library (all 46 books) is contained in almost every cell of our body.

Kamma in comparison to the genome maybe only seems more 'supernatural', but looking at the endless cycles life goes through - it would be truly supernatural if something came from nothing only to pass into nothing again - without many causes and having multifaceted effects on everything else again. As far as Kamma can't be looked at as DNA under a microscope, its as supernatural as haven't one's own DNA deciphered yet.

In my eyes obvious things as interdependence doesn't has to be supernatural, merely because we don't understand them yet. On a different level again, as you also said rightly:

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.

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.
There aren't such 'clean' laboratory conditions anywhere in real life, where something always arises due to many conditions from the past.



Concerning the 5 precepts again:

from all what I've gathered from the different contexts within Pali text, there was a very huge difference what the Buddha expected from monks compared to 5 precepts laymen.

The wording of 5 precepts - as the additional 3 taken during Uposatha-day or a 10-day course - are very clearly defined, themself allowing little ambiguities:

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."

6. Vikalabhojana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
         "I undertake the training rule to abstain from eating beyond the time limit,"

7. Nacca gita vadita visukhadassana-mala gandha vilepana dharanamandana vibhusanatthana veramani sikkhapadam samamadiyami
         "I undertake the training rule to abstain from dancing, singing, instrumental music, unsuitable shows, and from wearing garlands, using scents, and beautifying the body with cosmetics."

8. Uccasayana mahasayana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
         "I undertake the training rule to abstain from high and luxurious beds and seats."

Going for Refuge & Taking the Precepts

Looking at it without letting least historical interpretations interfere - the following is clear:

  • they are rules to train which are taken by individuals voluntarily - to experience their benefit within oneself - and not rules given externally with the benefit probably not to become punished (though this may overlap)
  • the first 5 precepts main concern is with basic harmlessness to our fellow being in everyday live fully in social relations through deeds of body and speech only
  • there is a very sensible graduation with the first - taking life - most harmful, next taking (possibly life sustaining) property, hurting with sexuality (with rape and unprepared childbirth as the worst case), hurting feelings (and possibly body) through unskillful speech, and finally intoxication where one easily looses heedfulness (in this context certainly concerned with the 4 proceeding training rules)
  • there is no indication whatsoever it would already include refraining from unwholesome deeds of mind too, and the higher training where it properly belongs to. As to abstain from unwholesome cravings or aversions
  • on the opposite the additional 3, only taken on on special occasions voluntarily again, having almost no relevance of harm to others, but now are mainly concerned with the refraining from satisfaction of desires. In today's world it would be sensible to include also radio, tv, etc.


Considering the gradualness with each following, as well as undertaking them to the subtler levels for example by monks and nuns (which nevertheless wasn't the immediate intention of the Buddha for laymen, nor of the laymen taking them at that time - otherwise there wouldn't be an additional need for 227 training rules for monks) it becomes all to understandable that these two distinct levels might have been blurred over time.

A prominent example can be seem in the Tibetan tradition, which allows to take a partial number of the 5 precepts to begin with (which, considering their voluntary nature, seems sensible to me).
And on the extreme other hand made even the Boddhisattva vow (which in the Pali text were only taken by a few Buddhas to be, not even obligatory to monks) to laymen obligatory.

Nothing against such variation identified as such, but if such different interpretations about the basic 5 precepts for laymen - clearly spoken - are so wide spread, I can only suspect the significance for beginners in their spoken form hasn't really been understood - for not being intent on preserving their original meaning for future generations.

I see no benefit to lift them on a level as trained by monks, since then many newbies will only be discouraged from giving them a serious and fair trail.

Looking from this basic level at some things said:

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.
For taking life there always has life to be taken. Threatening someone - by the wording one takes the precepts - falls under the training rule no. 4.

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.
I consider this more harsh and hurtful speech and no. 4 again too. Though there really might be compassionate speech, if compassion is not there it isn't compassion.

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.
For a monk it certainly would be. But between lay-followers at the Buddhas time you'll even find courtesans.

(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  ).
The Dalai Lama's view in this respect seems inconsistent.. for monks it doesn't makes a different if it was homo or hetero sex. Why should either count so much graver with laymen then?

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.
Well, in this case the words used to take this precept, does precisely state: '... to abstain from fermented and distilled intoxicants which are the basis for heedlessness.'

In Matthew's case I wouldn't use the original wording for this training rule, but would say instead: '... to drink with awareness and moderation fermented and distilled intoxicants so they may not become the basis for heedlessness.'

This wording would be more fitting the case.

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.
Than the 3 additional precepts would have been included under the 5 basic ones. If one has different partners or only one - neither does automatically imply more multiplications of passion. Passion itself simply is not the concern of the 5 basic precepts of laymen.

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
.
Would be interesting where this interpretation was added, I would hazard the guess this interpretation was meant for monks. It certainly isn't found in the original words of the Buddha to lay-followers.

... just some more thoughts about these basic but so beneficial training rules, feel free to add yours ...
« Last Edit: December 25, 2009, 02:18:38 PM by pamojjam »

Matthew

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #32 on: December 25, 2009, 02:26:35 PM »
Pamojjam,

Thank you for such a well thought out and informative post. As I said, much of this is about common sense and your motivation for practice as to how an individual deals with these issues. You have elucidated this in a very beneficial manner.

In particular placing the emphasis on the reduction of harm to others and self and pointing to the nature of these vows as aids to one's practice - and thus inherently also a personal matter is most useful for those starting on the path.

I have met many "old" practitioners who have missed these basic points and thus not established firm foundations for practice and subsequently not found the path to be the transformative vehicle it can be when these are understood. Your encyclopaedic knowledge of the Sutta's and scripture is a blessing to us all in this community.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
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Crystal Palace

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #33 on: December 25, 2009, 04:31:11 PM »

If one has different partners or only one - neither does automatically imply more multiplications of passion.


Pamojjam, although having multiple partners may not automatically imply multiplications of lust as you say, do you not suppose a person who has multiple partners is more prone to viewing women as objects?

And thus to get clarity, are you of the view therefore that a lay person who has multiple partners is not breaking sila (or that it does not lead to breaking of sila) as long as no mental/emotional/physical harm is being done to the partners and the sex stays entirely consesual?
"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

pamojjam

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #34 on: December 25, 2009, 05:58:45 PM »
Hi Crystal,

Pamojjam, although having multiple partners may not automatically imply multiplications of lust as you say, do you not suppose a person who has multiple partners is more prone to viewing women as objects?
Martial parners - be they female or male - might just as well be considered as objects of lust, security, etc. Just as the 'I', 'me' or 'mine' is given more substance by perverted views, as they in reality have.

Only awakened one's are free of such misconceptions, and for getting rid of wrong views one starts with the minimal base of 5 precepts, at least not causing hurt or harm through such internal facts to fellow beings.

And thus to get clarity, are you of the view therefore that a lay person who has multiple partners is not breaking sila (or that it does not lead to breaking of sila) as long as no mental/emotional/physical harm is being done to the partners and the sex stays entirely consesual?

I do consider this a play with fire, because very few people are so transparent to their true feelings or silent hurt through jealousy (even they wouldn't want to feel that way). Personally and by having taken the 5 precepts for laymen - to go ahead with such - I would only have the confidence after knowing myself and all possible partners intimately. But I don't have the impression so many people are that much transparent to them self and/or others. But maybe that's because I've never became familiar with swinger cycles.

Despite personally seeing little likelihood of many becoming that transparent and still seeking multiple sex-partners - for me as an outsider I see no reason that it couldn't be possible without hurt in rare cases. That's why I answered to Sebastian, only he would really know his situation better than any other...

In my view it isn't per se, and I don't see any reason to say so it the surrounding situation isn't clear. On the other hand I can see many cases even in faithful martial relations, where one's sexual behaviour could become just as hurtful as it is likely with many partners.

And for anyone having consciously taken the 3th precept, be it in one or many sexual relationship, I would warn of this possibility.

KnownintheKnown

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Re: Meditation, progress and hindrances
« Reply #35 on: January 05, 2010, 08:52:36 PM »
It is certainly not for dumb people Buddhism is it?

Most of the population of the world could not even read this forum
what hope is there for them, anyway annoying comments aside
I see myself as a 5/6 on the brain scale to 10, not exactly Einstein and from a working class background I guess.

I am a bit perculiar in that I came to this early on my own accord at 23, you know Alan watts, Osho, Jiddu Krishnamurthi + others, travelled to india on my own met my partner there who is 20 years my senior, now 37 I feel somewhat jaded by the "spiritual path" and have met enough failures (relative to normal society) who bore people talking about the path and having the "holier than thou" attitude.
Now I believe Buddhist path is commendable, generally peaceful, non violent and I respect the "come and see" aspect
and in this world it seems very relevant and the most plausible explanation for the near incomprehensible state we find ourselves in.

It's very cerebral, complex language used IMO

I guess my ego wants to go it alone and not have to rely on others for guidance. I also find that viewing partners
solely as objects of self gratification and avoidance of lonelyness both depressing and negative, so is it "spirituality on high" shrouded as depressing negativity? It seems very nihilistic and reducing of common values.

I am generally a fairly happy person dealing with the happenings in life as well as I can but knowing death is coming I have no answers and I suppose the fear is kicking in a bit. I both respect the Buddhist way but also like life as it is, feels as if there is some balancing to be done between short term happenings and long term understandings. I just wish I could do it without working too hard (I feel I have to do that enough just to survive in this society) and then to add further activities seems like a chore. Life has become complex, I run a small business that sucks time out of my life like a vacuum cleaner.

Sorry for another rant based type post, I do respect you guys.