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Overcoming addiction to suffering

Hey guys! It's been a long time since I have been on here but I wanted to seek out some advice and wisdom.

So I've been reading a lot of Buddhist(inspired) literature, mostly books by Thich Nhat Hanh, the Dalai Lama, and articles on the web. I've also been practicing meditation to the best of my ability for a while now. I feel as if I'm starting to understand the teachings in a way that actually effects how I view the world, myself, and other people. I wrote this down a week ago as a summary of my understanding:

"The goal of practice is a calm, undisturbed mind. From this mind free of greed, hatred, and delusion we can act ethically.
Delusion is the root of suffering. Everything is compounded phenomena meaning that it is like an illusion. Nothing can ever provide us eternal happiness though we act as if things can. Through our delusion that things are permanent with inherent properties we cause our minds to become disturbed. We crave things that have exaggerated good qualities and hate things that have exaggerated bad qualities. From this agitated state of mind we act in ways that cause us to suffer."

Then situations occur where I'm faced with a decision. I can either act in a way that doesn't engage my cravings, aversions, and delusions, or I can act in a way that does and suffer as the consequence. I know that engaging in the three poisons results in suffering but I feel as if I'm addicted to acting out my passions. In the moment preceding my decision I see the choices and the consequences and pick suffering regardless.

What would be your advice to overcome this addiction to suffering?

Comments

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    Find a practice and practice it. There is nothing more fearsome than approaching a time and place in which my worries found no foothold. Who would I be without my worries? JEEE-SUS!!!!!
  • Sadly I live in an area with no local sangha (rural northeast Missouri). So my practice consists of my reading and daily meditation.
  • Isn't this to do with letting go? Try letting go of something you desperately want to happen. You can try it right now, just let it go and stop striving for a second. Notice if the relieve feels better then clinging.
  • I know that engaging in the three poisons results in suffering but I feel as if I'm addicted to acting out my passions. In the moment preceding my decision I see the choices and the consequences and pick suffering regardless.
    I think Thanissaro Bikkhu has a lot of interesting things to say on this topic. He describes how our actions are often ways of feeding ourselves. When you get caught up in anger (or lust), then something in you is feeding on that anger. This feeding gives pleasure. I don't think you are addicted to the suffering (that comes with the package) but to this pleasure. He advises to develop better feeding habits. For example, if you start to enjoy your meditation practice, then you can choose to feed on meditation instead of feeding on anger.
    JasonEvenThird
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited October 2013
    Zelkova said:

    Hey guys! It's been a long time since I have been on here but I wanted to seek out some advice and wisdom.

    So I've been reading a lot of Buddhist(inspired) literature, mostly books by Thich Nhat Hanh, the Dalai Lama, and articles on the web. I've also been practicing meditation to the best of my ability for a while now. I feel as if I'm starting to understand the teachings in a way that actually effects how I view the world, myself, and other people. I wrote this down a week ago as a summary of my understanding:

    "The goal of practice is a calm, undisturbed mind. From this mind free of greed, hatred, and delusion we can act ethically.
    Delusion is the root of suffering. Everything is compounded phenomena meaning that it is like an illusion. Nothing can ever provide us eternal happiness though we act as if things can. Through our delusion that things are permanent with inherent properties we cause our minds to become disturbed. We crave things that have exaggerated good qualities and hate things that have exaggerated bad qualities. From this agitated state of mind we act in ways that cause us to suffer."

    Then situations occur where I'm faced with a decision. I can either act in a way that doesn't engage my cravings, aversions, and delusions, or I can act in a way that does and suffer as the consequence. I know that engaging in the three poisons results in suffering but I feel as if I'm addicted to acting out my passions. In the moment preceding my decision I see the choices and the consequences and pick suffering regardless.

    What would be your advice to overcome this addiction to suffering?

    Part of the Theravadin approach is learning to see the role our actions play in creating the conditions for suffering and freeing ourselves from our unskillful addictions by replacing them with more and more skillful ones. To do that, we train ourselves to be ever more mindful of ourselves and our intentions until we can begin to recognize what Thanissaro Bhikkhu calls the 'feeding habits of the mind,' which ties into the Buddhist concept of clinging.

    Upadana, the Pali word that's generally translated as 'addiction,' 'attachment,' or 'clinging,' can also mean 'the act of taking sustenance.' So just as the body feeds upon physical food for sustenance, the mind can be seen as feeding upon sensory experiences for its nourishment; and just as we eat better food to improve our physical heath, we can consume better (more skillful) experiences to improve our mental well-being. This is why the precepts, guarding the sense doors, and the practice of mindfulness are so important. In essence, these things help us wean the mind off its unskillful feeding habits and provide it with healthier fare until we reach the point where we can really let go and be free.

    In short, you start by seeing that there's a problem/addiction. Then you pay careful attention to what you're doing and 'feeding upon,' making distinctions between your skillful (healthy food) and unskillful (unhealthy food) actions of body, speech, and mind with the goal of trying to cultivate (consuming and enjoying) the former while relinquishing (seeing the drawbacks of and not consuming) the latter until you're in a position where the mind no longer needs to 'feed.'
    upekkamaartenEvenThirdAllbuddhaBound
  • Then situations occur where I'm faced with a decision. I can either act in a way that doesn't engage my cravings, aversions, and delusions, or I can act in a way that does and suffer as the consequence. I know that engaging in the three poisons results in suffering but I feel as if I'm addicted to acting out my passions. In the moment preceding my decision I see the choices and the consequences and pick suffering regardless.

    What would be your advice to overcome this addiction to suffering?
    Keep watching how suffering arise again and again and again .......... until you become sick and tired of the "wrong" choices made. Because ultimately there is no right or wrong but only suffering and its cessation.
    Jeffrey
  • Thank you all for your responses. And also thank you @Jason and @Bunks for the linked articles. I'm glad that you shared your story (@Bunks) and that you are benefiting from your efforts. I definitely feel like I'm in a similar situation, I guess it's just going to take some clear, rational effort to say no to the temptations.
  • Are we programmed for self destruction? In other words does the evolutionary component of our physical being sometimes motivate us foolishly, against our individual best interests? In a sense the entering of the dharma stream would then conflict with the turbulence of other karmic influences, including strong biological urges. It would explain why we can relish the moment but spend longer dealing with the consequences.

    Time to chant for a bit of peace . . . :om:
    AllbuddhaBound
  • AllbuddhaBoundAllbuddhaBound Veteran
    edited October 2013
    I really liked the article @Bunks shared and the approach of @Jason mentioned. The power of choosing right thinking vs suffering.

    I once heard of an approach that is very helpful. Sorry, I cannot recall the source but I read it somewhere.

    Imagine yourself walking on a beach, angry as hell (a very strong addiction). All of a sudden, you see someone drowning. What would you do? Most people would immediately go to the person's rescue any way they could. What would happen to the anger? It simply falls away, no need to struggle with it. No need to extinguish it. It goes on its' own because you had something much more important in mind.

    People often demonstrate making right choices over their negative obsessions. Most rage-a-holics know better than to rage at work. They pick having an income over their
    desire to unload on someone. Definitely right thinking there.

    Whatever the obsession is that causes you the suffering, the trick is to develop something more powerful. Something to go towards rather than having to defeat an obsessive thought.
    Bunkslobster
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran
    Zelkova said:

    Thank you all for your responses. And also thank you @Jason and @Bunks for the linked articles. I'm glad that you shared your story (@Bunks) and that you are benefiting from your efforts. I definitely feel like I'm in a similar situation, I guess it's just going to take some clear, rational effort to say no to the temptations.

    I also made a conscious decisions to remove myself from situations that would trigger the lust as well.

    I try not to watch television programme's that have nudity or sex scenes in them and I also put a filter on my phone and laptop at home and had my wife enter the password so that I can't get around it.

    It was difficult at first but I found after a few months the craving has pretty much gone away and I am able to live unbound from these things......
  • From facebook feed today:

    Dalai Lama
    We need to be clear which emotions are harmful and which are helpful; then cultivate those that are conducive to peace of mind. Often, due to a lack of knowledge, we accept anger and hatred as natural parts of our minds. This is an example of ignorance being the source of our problems. To reduce our destructive emotions we strengthen the positive ones; such emotional hygiene can contribute to a healthier society.
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