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Disenchantment, good or bad?

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran

Dear friends,

I came across disenchantment in the Anudhamma sutra...

At Savatthi. "For a monk practicing the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma, what accords with the Dhamma is this: that he keep cultivating disenchantment with regard to form, that he keep cultivating disenchantment with regard to feeling, that he keep cultivating disenchantment with regard to perception, that he keep cultivating disenchantment with regard to fabrications, that he keep cultivating disenchantment with regard to consciousness. As he keeps cultivating disenchantment with regard to form... feeling... perception... fabrications... consciousness, he comprehends form... feeling... perception... fabrications... consciousness. As he comprehends form... feeling... perception... fabrications... consciousness, he is totally released from form... feeling... perception... fabrications... consciousness. He is totally released from sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs. He is totally released, I tell you, from suffering & stress."

Some reflection caused me to wonder, is disenchantment therefore a good thing? Usually it leads to a decrease in the joy one takes in life, can even lead to clinical depression. But I’ve seen it in other sutra’s as well and the Buddha seems to consider it as a key step on the path to release.

So what do you all think? Is the cultivation of disenchantment a good practice?

With warm greetings,
Kerome

Comments

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think The Void Veteran

    Well, I think it is important to generate positive spiritual mind states/emotions in conjunction with it.

    We're accustomed to finding the sources of our happiness in the external world. So if one were to just give that up and even hold in a negative regard without understanding or the ability to generate positive inner resources of happiness, then I imagine it would generally have negative outcomes.

    So, do I think the cultivation of disenchantment a good practice? It depends. But I also think it is an essential part of the path of awakening.

    BunksGlasslobsterVastmind
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Yes I think there's room for it.

    But cultivating the four brahma viharas (metta, karuna, mudita, upekkha) seems a more positive (and possibly beneficial) practice.

    I asked a monk some time ago how he handled lust and if he practiced asubha (disgust in the body). He said he found practicing metta a much better way of handling it. Sounds good to me!

    Kerome
  • I took this to mean not live in ego. I sense that to cultivate disenchantment from feelings, perceptions, etc., means to just experience them for what they are and not get attached to them or experience them from delusion mode. Whether the feeling is negative or positive, if I'm attached and living in ego mode, I'll suffer and things aren't "right" to me because I can be thrown off Center by the the good or bad. The ego-center is DEPENDENT on the feelings, perceptions, consciousness if we're enchanted. So, detach and become disenchanted means staying in Center and, whether good or bad, I'm able to just feel the appropriate joy or sadness, but neither feeling knocks me from my center in the way it would if I were enchanted.

    personlobster
  • And, living in Center has actually relieved me from clinical depression.

  • Here is an account of what it means to be disenchanted wth form, feeling, perception, fabrications, consciousness and finally finding release.

    Imagine you own a very valuable jewel which is so valuable that you place your trust in it so that should you fall upon hard times, it will look after you. It's so valuable that you can have it as your security. You don't trust anybody. So you have a safe inside your house and that is where you put your jewel. Now you have been working hard for a number of years and you think you deserve a holiday. So now, what to do with the jewel? Obviously you cannot take it with you on your seaside holiday. So you buy new locks for the doors to your house and you bar your windows and you alert your neighbors. You tell them about the proposed holiday and ask them to look after you house — and the safe in it. And they say they will, of course. You should be quite at ease and so you go off on your holiday.

    You go to the beach, and it's wonderful. Marvelous. The palm trees are swaying in the wind, and the spot you've chosen on the beach is nice and clean. The waves are warm and it's all lovely. The first day you really enjoy yourself. But on the second day you begin to wonder; the neighbors are very nice people, but they do go and visit their children. They are not always at home, and lately there has been a rash of burglaries in the neighborhood. And on the third day you've convinced yourself that something dreadful is going to happen, and you go back home. You walk in and open the safe. Everything is all right. You go over to the neighbors and they ask, "Why did you come back? We were looking after your place. You didn't have to come back. Everything is fine."

    The next year, the same thing. Again you tell the neighbors, "Now this time I am really going to stay away for a month. I need this holiday as I've been working hard." So they say, "Absolutely no need to worry, just take off. Go to the beach." So once more you bar the windows, lock the doors, get everything shipshape, and take off for the beach. Again, it's wonderful, beautiful. This time you last for five days. On the fifth day you are convinced that something dreadful must have happened. And you go home. You go home, and by golly, it has. The jewel is gone. You are in a state of complete collapse. Total desperation. Depressed. So you go to the neighbors, but they have no idea what has happened. they've been around all the time. Then you sit and consider the matter and you realize that since the jewel is gone, you might as well go back to the beach and enjoy yourself!

    That jewel is self. Once it is gone, all the burden of looking after it, all the fears about it, all the barring of doors and windows and heart and mind is no longer necessary. You can just go and enjoy yourself while you're still in this body. After proper investigation, the frightening aspect of losing this thing that seemed so precious turns out to be the only relief and release from worry that there is.

    https://www.dhammatalks.net/Books4/Ayya_Khema_Meditating_on_No_Self.htm

    lobster
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @person said:
    Well, I think it is important to generate positive spiritual mind states/emotions in conjunction with it.

    It’s tricky. I’m generally not hugely in favour of generating positive feelings artificially through meditation, especially not to offset the negative effects of other things that are happening. Generally your feelings are a mechanism for the mind to tell you about things that are happening on deeper levels, and i don’t think it is a good thing to mask or interfere with that.

    So, do I think the cultivation of disenchantment a good practice? It depends. But I also think it is an essential part of the path of awakening.

    If disenchantment results in a more realistic view, greater freedom, less magical thinking then im generally in favour. But I certainly wouldn’t go looking for it. It may arise spontaneously, but to directly cultivate it doesn’t sound healthy to me.

    federica
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think The Void Veteran
    edited December 2019

    @Kerome said:

    @person said:
    Well, I think it is important to generate positive spiritual mind states/emotions in conjunction with it.

    It’s tricky. I’m generally not hugely in favour of generating positive feelings artificially through meditation, especially not to offset the negative effects of other things that are happening. Generally your feelings are a mechanism for the mind to tell you about things that are happening on deeper levels, and i don’t think it is a good thing to mask or interfere with that.

    There is some debate among differing sects whether enlightenment is generated or revealed. I tend to be in the revealed camp, so maybe the word generated isn't the most accurate. However my practice of the Brahma Viharas comes across as very much a practice of generating mental states through meditation.

    I'd also say that masking or repressing emotions isn't a proper understanding of the practice, so if that's what someone is doing then I too don't think it is a good thing to do, I think it is more a practice of letting go.

    This is the first time I've tried describing this so it may not be spot on, but this is my experience of a mindfulness type meditation when I sit and watch my mind. The same sort of thoughts and emotions come again and again. After enough time and sessions doing that occasionally a sort of separation occurs. Where before I was completely caught up in whatever habit pattern, but now its more as if I'm holding in my hand at arms length. Still feeling it and aware of it but now with a perspective with a small bit more peace. Then I can sometimes see a suffering aspect to it that I wasn't able to see when engrossed with it. I call that moment a moment of disenchantment. I now see more clearly the dukkha contained within it and no longer want to hold on to it, I can let it go. It comes back of course, but doing this repeatedly trains it to stay away and makes it easier to notice and let go each time.

    The bulk of my spiritual practice over a couple decades has been along these lines, I can count on one hand the number of deep (often brief) experiences I've had that have spontaneously arisen. My path has very much been one of a gradual wearing away and letting go. I couldn't tell you from one day to the next that anything I'm doing is having much of an impact or not. Its only when I look back over the years that I can say unequivocally that my mental state is happier, more positive, stronger, wiser, calmer, etc.

    “Do everything with a mind that lets go. Don’t accept praise or gain or anything else. If you let go a little you a will have a little peace; if you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace; if you let go completely you will have complete peace. ”
    ― Ajahn Chah

    .

    So, do I think the cultivation of disenchantment a good practice? It depends. But I also think it is an essential part of the path of awakening.

    If disenchantment results in a more realistic view, greater freedom, less magical thinking then im generally in favour. But I certainly wouldn’t go looking for it. It may arise spontaneously, but to directly cultivate it doesn’t sound healthy to me.

    The whole Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism talks about the practice in terms of cultivation and generation. I'd offer them as evidence that that path can be quite healthy.

    lobster
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @person said:
    There is some debate among differing sects whether enlightenment is generated or revealed. I tend to be in the revealed camp, so maybe the word generated isn't the most accurate.

    That’s really interesting. My view on it has been that it was revealed, mainly through reading the stories of Osho’s and Eckhart Tolle’s enlightenment. As I understand it the Buddha’s view was that enlightenment comes through slow advances followed by a sudden breakthrough, so there is a period of growth involved.

    Then I can sometimes see a suffering aspect to it that I wasn't able to see when engrossed with it. I call that moment a moment of disenchantment. I now see more clearly the dukkha contained within it and no longer want to hold on to it, I can let it go. It comes back of course, but doing this repeatedly trains it to stay away and makes it easier to notice and let go each time.

    That sounds like a perfectly valid way to train, with an aspect of disenchantment to it. It sounds like you are trying to modify some deeply set behavioural patterns, that is never easy.

    The whole Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism talks about the practice in terms of cultivation and generation. I'd offer them as evidence that that path can be quite healthy.

    Perhaps it suits some people, and especially those who start the monk’s life while still young I think. But for a western mind that has had 20 years of parenting and a school system prior to coming into contact with Buddhism, or more, I suspect that there are certain old trauma’s and blockages.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think The Void Veteran

    It sounds to me like what you're worried about is spiritual_bypass, where spiritual seekers don't face their demons and do the necessary shadow work. People speculate that this phenomenon is why some enlightened masters fall victim to abuse scandals.

    My view is that some of both are necessary. Because westerners aren't brought up in the culture we need to be intentional in our efforts because we have a lot of contrary conditioning to overcome. When a difficult situation becomes overwhelming a helpful practice is to simply recall impermanence, "this too shall pass", rather than waiting for it to spontaneously happen on its own. The teachings for metta meditation are pretty overtly one of conscious generation of a felt experience. And maybe its about where we place our emphasis, in my practice there are moments of spontaneous insight and love. My focus is on the intentional practices that bring them about though rather than the experience itself. In my life they haven't happened on their own, you also can't force them, but it is necessary to build the framework, causes and conditions, for them to be able to arise.

    To intentionally spend time contemplating the negative aspects of samsara helps prepare us to face them when they do happen, makes us more appreciative of the good things when we do have them and helps keep our feet on the path.

    Joseph Goldstein has referred to renunciation or disenchantment as non-addiction. It isn't that if we become spiritually disenchanted with samsara we are left with a grey, depressive void. When we do it right, they say, that allows the sun of enlightenment to shine forth.

    lobsterDavid
  • @Glass said: ... So, detach and become disenchanted means staying in Center and, whether good or bad, I'm able to just feel the appropriate joy or sadness, but neither feeling knocks me from my center in the way it would if I were enchanted.

    Good points. ✅😌🙏🏽

    Being enchanted/bedazzled/fooled by our off centre mind/emotions/urges/surges/crazy requires detachment from the turmoil.

    If we are a highly motivated, positive and disciplined person, progress is easy. Most of us have to develop qualities that will enable us to disengage from the enchantment of our ignorant being ...

    In other words we have to skilfully engage in extreme practices, that will in the long term enable us to empower and enable a temporary false being that will increase the chances of the real to become apparent.

    🕊🙃👍🏿😌🐲🤐👤

    person
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited December 2019

    Is disenchantment good?

    To answer this I had to take a good look at what enchantment really is. Enchantment isn't just to feel good about something but to be bewitched or charmed by it.

    So disenchantment isn't to stop feeling good about something but to stop getting carried away by said feelings. Seeing it clearly we can better enjoy its existence and even understand it better.

    Non attachment is not non love but attachment and thus enchantment is an obstacle to love.

    I'd say disenchantment is healthy, yes.

    personlobsterShoshin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Hmm...like stopping the Mind from becoming charmed by its own thoughts kinda thing :)

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