Author Topic: Life Struggles / Questions  (Read 3197 times)

whtrbt

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Life Struggles / Questions
« on: January 04, 2010, 08:44:29 AM »
I've been meditating daily. Sometimes I sit for 20 minutes. Sometimes I sit for nearly an hour. I usually get in at least an hour per day total. Sometimes more. Sometimes less. 

Lately I've been thinking about impermanence and death. I realize my death is fast approaching, faster every second. So what can I do? What should I do? I feel somewhat lost.

In my mind, I know there are things that I should do, yet I don't do them. I tend to slack on my responsibilities. I don't exercise. And other things. Why do I do this? Does it matter what I do? Before I know it, I'll be dead anyway.

In my mind, I know there are things I shouldn't do, yet I do them anyway. I stay up too late. I smoke cigarettes. I drink when I shouldn't. These things are part of the reason that I don't do what I should. Why do I do this? Does it even matter? Before I know it, I'll be dead anyway.

My life will be over before I know it. Does it even matter what I do? I could do nothing, and in the end it won't matter. I could do everything, and in the end it won't matter. So what can I do? What should I do?

I feel a little lost.

I am reminded of this Zen Koan:

Xiangyan said: `It’s like a man hanging in a tree by his teeth over a
precipice. His hands grasp no branch, his feet rest on no limb, and at the
bottom of the tree someone stands and asks him: `What is the meaning of
Bodhidharma’s coming from the West ?'
`If the man in the tree does not
answer, he fails in his responsibility to the person below; and if he does
answer, he falls and loses his life. Now what shall he do?

I feel as though I am in the same situation. 

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Life Struggles / Questions
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2010, 07:32:42 PM »
whtrbt,

I would suggest you do a little reading around the eightfold path .... meditation is only one of the eight aspects of the path that lead to enlightenment ....

What can you do? Anything. What should you do? I can't tell you - that's your call my friend.

Also Jhananda's excellent article "A practice regemin to lead to enlightenment in this lifetime" may be informative to you whilst you face this obstacle.

In the Dhamma,

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

Life student

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Re: Life Struggles / Questions
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2010, 11:44:04 PM »
I often ask myself very similar questions, though I don't smoke and I exercise everyday. Do you find yourself focusing more on what you should do rather than what you should not do? Perhaps changing your thinking in this regard may offer you some new insights.

Death is fast approaching for all of us: It's just a matter of perspective. We begin dying from the moment we are born. With regard to the comment of doing nothing, I recommend doing so; however, do it while simultaneously relinquishing yourself of whatever thought surfaces. 

Regards,
Chris

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: Life Struggles / Questions
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2010, 05:43:34 AM »
Hi Chris,

Welcome to the forum and thank you for your contribution.

The use of the word "should" in this thread is interesting. "Should" usually refers to an external judgement. "I think you should ..." for example.

One of the key tenets in practice is self-responsibility and this is hampered by thinking and talking in "should" language.

"I smoke. I know smoking is bad for my health and destructive to the environment. It is not something I want in my life. It is unwholesome to me and the world in which I live. I am going to take action to conquer this unwholesome habit", is more conducive to stopping in my experience than "I should give smoking up".

That is to say that with any change, taking full ownership of the change with proper descriptive language makes the change easier to transition than leaving it shrouded in "should" language that may contain elements of emotion, pseudo-science, other people's thought and argument, and incomplete chains of thought, etc.

Death is fast approaching. The quality of moments one experiences between now and then is what we work on with meditation and other aspects of the path. Moments become more flexible with practice as one inhabits them more fully, time stretches. Not that one can put off death (though it seems possible to delay it if one stops some unwholesome activities), more that as each moment is less consumed by dreams of the past and the future it is more replete in it's "now-ness".

Quote
Better is a day in the life of one who perceives the rise and fall of things than a lifetime of one who is not knowing.

Seen painted on a paper plate at a monastery in Thailand in 1990 this never left my mind. It became a touchstone for me in my life nine years before I made the jump into being a meditator and a Buddhist.

whtbrt, perhaps this "Koan" which answers itself has some meaning for you?

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
« Last Edit: January 05, 2010, 05:45:20 AM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Crystal Palace

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  • "Move on Bhikkus, Move On" - Buddha
    • Thai Forest Tradition
Re: Life Struggles / Questions
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2010, 01:02:56 PM »
I realize my death is fast approaching, faster every second.

You are absolutely right.


In my mind, I know there are things that I should do, yet I don't do them. I tend to slack on my responsibilities.

So the mind is controlling you like a puppet on strings.


I could do nothing, and in the end it won't matter.

If you do nothing, then in the end it won't matter.

But if you work on removing the conditionings of the mind by taking control of the mind and then practising insight meditation, you will start living in the present moment. That directly implies your quality of life will improve manifold. That means you will be more happy.

It will also help you in facing death in a calmer way. That means less suffering at the time of death. By living in the present moment, you will learn the Art of Living. By learning the Art of Living you will automatically learn the Art of Dying.

It will also help you in the life after death.

You need not believe any of the above statements of mine. Start practising regularly and see for yourself the changes that you encounter.


So what can I do?

You can meditate.


What should I do?

You should meditate.
"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

Crystal Palace

  • Member
  • "Move on Bhikkus, Move On" - Buddha
    • Thai Forest Tradition
Re: Life Struggles / Questions
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2010, 01:44:34 PM »
dear whtrbt

Doubts over one's practice and one's ability to meditate effectively are very common. When you say that if you do nothing, then it won't matter, and that when you do everything, even then it won't matter because you will die is actually a good concern as it makes you realize what is important in life and what is not.

But if you get disappointed, dejected and feel lost as you say you do, and if this hampers your practice, then you are being attacked by Mara (the personification of all the dark corners of your mind)

The answers to your questions will be only be found in persisting with meditation.

Hope this article helps:
http://www.vridhamma.org/en2001-13.aspx


"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

Life student

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Re: Life Struggles / Questions
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2010, 03:26:05 AM »
Hi Matthew,

You are absolutely right. The word "should" presupposes a standard, an external judgment. Real change only seems to happen when self-responsibility is adopted. I really appreciate you bringing this to my attention, for I can apply these principles to various areas of my own life that need improving.

In light of the discussion of internal dialog, I would like to ask the following question: Does consciously selecting descriptive internal language (in the form of thoughts) deter one from being fully in the moment? Forgive me if my question is not clearly stated, for I am only a beginner. My question is based on the little amount of knowledge I have on meditation--that while meditating one should not hold onto thoughts so that one may experience complete awareness. Reading my own posting, despite the effort I put into making it coherent, I still don't think I can convey the thought. Sorry.

"Moments become more flexible with practice as one inhabits them more fully, time stretches"

I've always been fascinated with time. As a kid, I used to constantly say to myself "this moment has already passed." I used to lie in bed at night and repeat the thought over and over, desperately trying to wrap my mind around the notion. I often wonder if time is only an illusion.


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: Life Struggles / Questions
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2010, 01:11:19 AM »
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~