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Growth through joy?

What started my spiritual journey 20 years ago was being unhappy and wanting to be happy. Sufferings of various forms was what motivated me and what kept me motivated over the last 20 years. The problem I have now is that the growth attained over the last 20 years has left suffering in minimal supply, and, as such, I find I am lacking in motivation to deepen and expand my practice. I know that there is so much joy and peace to be obtained, but that is a much more gentle allure than the kick up the arse that suffering provides. I have even found myself welcoming a bit of trouble into my life, and even actively seeking out a bit of pain, just so I can be spurred on. That doesn't seem too healthy!

In contemplating this I feel like a whole new way of thinking is needed. Of course there will always be painful situations in my life, but it's also clear that the challenges and sufferings that were in overwhelming supply 20 years ago (caused by my poor quality mind) are much, much less now... I just can't depend on sufferings to motivate me anymore. It will still be there, but I need a more consistent fuel now to keep me ticking over.

I thought habit would help. I got into a very dedicated routine where I was managing to do a lot of meditation each day, but my heart wasn't in it. I'd just carved out a groove that was easy for me to maintain, but it was lacklustre. I miss the fire that I used to have inside of me when I had much suffering in my life. I was so enthusiastic and dedicated to relieving my suffering and finding some form of happiness. Now I'm in a very in-between state. I have minimal suffering, i.e. a mind that doesn't make suffering for me, but also minimal happiness... I'm just fairly contented.

Has anyone else found themselves in this position? How did you solve it? I suppose one thing I can do is just persevere with my practice until I have a taste of a greater joy and peace which then might motivate me onwards. Maybe there's underlying beliefs within myself that I need to address too. I certainly had low self esteem for much of my life, so maybe some remnant of that makes it hard for me to pursue greater happiness and joy, as if I don't deserve it...?

Thoughts?

lobster

Comments

  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    @mindatrisk, this all seems very familiar to me. I’ve gone through a number of years of studying and practicing Buddhism, and have ended up in a somewhat similar place. Over the years I have done a lot of letting go, and I have gotten a measure of peace and some happiness, and a lack of suffering. But rarely have I had glimpses of great happiness.

    And in a way I decided it wasn’t really necessary. Sometime back I read quite an insightful piece about not chasing happiness to extremes, that when you do that you end up stuck in desire again. So I just focus on mindfulness and letting go. I’ve been busy with awareness of the emotions for a while now, trying to observe where emotions come from.

  • @Kerome said:
    @mindatrisk, this all seems very familiar to me. I’ve gone through a number of years of studying and practicing Buddhism, and have ended up in a somewhat similar place. Over the years I have done a lot of letting go, and I have gotten a measure of peace and some happiness, and a lack of suffering. But rarely have I had glimpses of great happiness.

    And in a way I decided it wasn’t really necessary. Sometime back I read quite an insightful piece about not chasing happiness to extremes, that when you do that you end up stuck in desire again. So I just focus on mindfulness and letting go. I’ve been busy with awareness of the emotions for a while now, trying to observe where emotions come from.

    Thanks for the reply. I agree with you. From a Buddhist perspective this 'chasing' is all wrong and counter-productive. That's what I mean by a whole new way of thinking, because, clearly, me 'chasing' relief from suffering worked... I had a desire to reduce my suffering, I pursued it diligently, and, as such, I was relieved from much suffering.

    But attaining the higher seems like a different story. It's a matter of stripping away the delusion to reveal our inherent, natural state of happiness, bliss, peace etc. (our Buddha-hood) that is always there, rather than doing and adding to who we are to become more happy. Hmmm.

    I've had a few experiences recently whilst doing meditations that focus on the 'higher' - love, bliss, joy etc. I've had a glimpse into something that is so much more clear. It's like in those brief moments things make sense, the pieces of the puzzle fall into place, I get insight and understanding into certain things. It's clearly something worth attaining. Not just for myself, but, because, in that state, I would be so much more useful to others. Without any doubt (and I'm stating the obvious here), it is a state worth attaining, and, I think you are correct in the process you prescribe, but why the lack of motivation? Why is that state - as alluring and beautiful as the glimpses show me it to be - nowhere near as motivating as reducing my suffering was?

    Maybe this is how we evolved. I mean, in terms of survival, avoiding suffering is endlessly more vital than being happy, joyful etc. is. I'm hard-wired to avoid pain and anything that can threaten my survival. But happiness et al is like a bonus add-on that isn't needed, but is nice if we're lucky.

    Keromelobster
  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    The lack of motivation might well come because something deeper inside you, a part beyond the surface mind, is more interested in avoiding suffering than in chasing happiness. Just because a state is worth attaining does not mean the deeper portions of your mind provide the motivation to get you there.

    Overall it shows there is still work to do. You might want to focus for a while on your motivations and what powers them, those deeper drives. If you can get insight into those areas, you might be able to unfold what’s there and see if it is truthful and beneficial. It’s a piece of self-knowledge which might clear up a few things and help you unblock your energy.

    The other thing you might want to think about is what your everyday life might look like if you were to feel these states of love, bliss and joy all the time. Perhaps the glimpses you’ve had point to jhana, and your goal might be to attain a steady and lasting meditation in that state. It might be worth reading a meditation manual such as Ajahn Brahm’s Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond.

  • @Kerome said:
    The lack of motivation might well come because something deeper inside you, a part beyond the surface mind, is more interested in avoiding suffering than in chasing happiness. Just because a state is worth attaining does not mean the deeper portions of your mind provide the motivation to get you there.

    Overall it shows there is still work to do. You might want to focus for a while on your motivations and what powers them, those deeper drives. If you can get insight into those areas, you might be able to unfold what’s there and see if it is truthful and beneficial. It’s a piece of self-knowledge which might clear up a few things and help you unblock your energy.

    The other thing you might want to think about is what your everyday life might look like if you were to feel these states of love, bliss and joy all the time. Perhaps the glimpses you’ve had point to jhana, and your goal might be to attain a steady and lasting meditation in that state. It might be worth reading a meditation manual such as Ajahn Brahm’s Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond.

    Great insight. Thank you.

    I had serious self-esteem issues when I was younger that obviously took time to overcome. So, I guess, one of my core beliefs about myself for a lot of my life was that I am not good enough. Maybe that dominated my mind such that I never allowed myself to reach for happiness or pursue happiness in normal life... which is the case. I've never really indulged in the pleasures of life or had 'what makes me happy'. Actively relieving suffering is one thing... I never had the notion that I deserve pain, because I was never a 'bad' person. But that sense of not being good enough - which is rooted only in not fitting in, not wanting what others want, comparing myself with others before I had more understanding that it was perfectly fine - healthy, even - to not fit in - had perhaps capped me off from letting myself have happiness. I just hope I can resolve this without resorting to positive affirmations. :/

    Keromelobster
  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    edited November 2020

    @mindatrisk
    quote...Has anyone else found themselves in this position? How did you solve it? I suppose one thing I can do is just persevere with my practice until I have a taste of a greater joy and peace which then might motivate me onwards. Maybe there's underlying beliefs within myself that I need to address too. I certainly had low self esteem for much of my life, so maybe some remnant of that makes it hard for me to pursue greater happiness and joy, as if I don't deserve it...?
    Thoughts?

    There are a number of stages of experience that practitioners go through when steadily involved in a practice that is attempting to address ones attachments to identity.
    The one you are currently describing is sometimes called aridity.

    Where ones addressing of the attachments to the more overt experiences of stimulation inherent in identity offers some novelty to a determined practitioner, eventually the polar opposite experience of identities attachment becomes the next stage of practice to address. That stage is sometimes called aridity (because that is how it feels) is just a subtler and more taxing graduation in that same practice because it calls for the same level of ardor to persevere with but now offers an absence of the stimulation to work with that formally used to help motivate your practice.
    In a formal monastic 24/7 practice this often occurs for monks in the 3 to 6 year range of practice and is often a major reason for them wishing to dis robe. In the lay world that offers numerous diversions to the focus of our practice this stage occurs proportionally further down our path of practice.
    This is not me saying this is where you now are & I am not trying to be an armchair quarterback. This is just saying that there are a range of consequences to seriously practicing and one stage within them is quite typical to what you are describing.
    In a Sangha with teachers & senior practitioners at least you have folks walking beside you saying "yeah it's tough and there is a practice beyond this stage, but right now you are exactly where you've been asking to be." This too will change!

    The most notable boundary ending of aridity often gets passed through (in hindsight) when the practitioner truly no longer cares about transitioning through it to anywhere else. That can be a big ask for any monk or layperson to just accept and is often where faith makes the most sense to me in a Buddhist practice.

    In gassho

    marcitkoJeffreylobster
  • Joy is enabling, uplifting, fun.
    But life does not always cooperate.
    Growth comes from overcoming difficulties, joy helps, but is not a critical element.
    Appreciation, determination, effort...These elements are more determinative.

    Jeffrey
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    You want more suffering?

    1. Get married
    2. Have kids
    3. Get a mortgage

    That should do it.....

    howコチシカ
  • @Bunks said:
    You want more suffering?

    1. Get married
    2. Have kids
    3. Get a mortgage

    That should do it.....

    I know you joke, but I have a magnetic attraction to bad girls, and, as much as it drives me crazy, underneath it all I crave the stress on my practice because it has been the only way I know to grow. But I'm 38 now, and I'm about 15 years into my practice, and that approach is starting to feel a little bit, erm, immature.

  • @how said:
    @mindatrisk
    quote...Has anyone else found themselves in this position? How did you solve it? I suppose one thing I can do is just persevere with my practice until I have a taste of a greater joy and peace which then might motivate me onwards. Maybe there's underlying beliefs within myself that I need to address too. I certainly had low self esteem for much of my life, so maybe some remnant of that makes it hard for me to pursue greater happiness and joy, as if I don't deserve it...?
    Thoughts?

    There are a number of stages of experience that practitioners go through when steadily involved in a practice that is attempting to address ones attachments to identity.
    The one you are currently describing is sometimes called aridity.

    Where ones addressing of the attachments to the more overt experiences of stimulation inherent in identity offers some novelty to a determined practitioner, eventually the polar opposite experience of identities attachment becomes the next stage of practice to address. That stage is sometimes called aridity (because that is how it feels) is just a subtler and more taxing graduation in that same practice because it calls for the same level of ardor to persevere with but now offers an absence of the stimulation to work with that formally used to help motivate your practice.
    In a formal monastic 24/7 practice this often occurs for monks in the 3 to 6 year range of practice and is often a major reason for them wishing to dis robe. In the lay world that offers numerous diversions to the focus of our practice this stage occurs proportionally further down our path of practice.
    This is not me saying this is where you now are & I am not trying to be an armchair quarterback. This is just saying that there are a range of consequences to seriously practicing and one stage within them is quite typical to what you are describing.
    In a Sangha with teachers & senior practitioners at least you have folks walking beside you saying "yeah it's tough and there is a practice beyond this stage, but right now you are exactly where you've been asking to be." This too will change!

    The most notable boundary ending of aridity often gets passed through (in hindsight) when the practitioner truly no longer cares about transitioning through it to anywhere else. That can be a big ask for any monk or layperson to just accept and is often where faith makes the most sense to me in a Buddhist practice.

    In gassho

    This is a very, very interesting and helpful insight. Thank you. I know that I need to simply persevere, and I will because I've been afforded the glimpses to know that something is there to be 'attained'. Maybe I'm fortunate in this regard. Life will always afford me challenging circumstances that I can utilise as fertile moments for expanded growth. It's just that I no longer have a mind that is causing me suffering... I don't have an ever present fucked up nature to work with day to day, and that's what I miss. I had a relationship with a 'bad girl' recently (70% evil by her own estimations), and it gave me so much to work with, it was such a rich period of learning and growing and real motivation. Now that's gone and I'm left with a very bland existence (in terms of exterior stimuli for practice).

    What inspired me to make this thread was when I caught myself wishing difficulty in my life so I had the opportunity to engage in that rich practice again. It just didn't seem healthy or mature. I presume that there is a way to make progress from another perspective, but whatever that is, it's just not as glaring as the good ol' suffering is. I guess I need to make peace with that and begin this new journey. Rid myself of old ideas about how the spiritual path proceeds, and start afresh with a renew beginners mind. Because I can't see it being reasonable or advisable to hunt out difficult situations just to have the spur to growth. Life will give me them anyway. I don't need to seek them out. I just need a motivation for the day to day practice.

  • @Lionduck said:
    Joy is enabling, uplifting, fun.
    But life does not always cooperate.
    Growth comes from overcoming difficulties, joy helps, but is not a critical element.
    Appreciation, determination, effort...These elements are more determinative.

    Yeah I think I just need to lock into a practice and let it be. Make hay here and there when the shit storms, but otherwise just practice for the sake of practicing.

  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    @mindatrisk said:
    Because I can't see it being reasonable or advisable to hunt out difficult situations just to have the spur to growth. Life will give me them anyway. I don't need to seek them out. I just need a motivation for the day to day practice.

    It does seem to me that many practitioners who choose to serve other people do so in circumstances where they encounter many dharmic difficulties, like working with addicted people, working with the homeless, working in hospices. This kind of turmoil can be a good spur to mindfulness practice.

  • @Kerome said:

    @mindatrisk said:
    Because I can't see it being reasonable or advisable to hunt out difficult situations just to have the spur to growth. Life will give me them anyway. I don't need to seek them out. I just need a motivation for the day to day practice.

    It does seem to me that many practitioners who choose to serve other people do so in circumstances where they encounter many dharmic difficulties, like working with addicted people, working with the homeless, working in hospices. This kind of turmoil can be a good spur to mindfulness practice.

    Yeah I've done that. I volunteered with drug addicts for five years. I actually took them on week long visits to a Buddhist centre, and, yes, very challenging! I certainly don't mean to avoid challenges in life, rather, the mindset to desire them is unhealthy... accept them when they come, and by all means place yourself in challenging circumstances, but if the motivation for volunteering with addicts is to challenge myself rather than compassion then something seems amiss. That doesn't seem like Right Action.

  • How did you solve it?

    By asking others to solve it.

    I will never succeed until everyone else does. It is a Bodhisattva thing. o:)
    Now that you are reasonably contented. Affirmed, quite content what can you and will you share?

    I have even found myself welcoming a bit of trouble into my life, and even actively seeking out a bit of pain, just so I can be spurred on. That doesn't seem too healthy!

    Ah ha. Hell realm picnics. Seems perfectly healthy to me ... :3
    Bless them demons. Endless.

    howDavid
  • @lobster said:

    How did you solve it?

    By asking others to solve it.

    I will never succeed until everyone else does. It is a Bodhisattva thing. o:)
    Now that you are reasonably contented. Affirmed, quite content what can you and will you share?

    I have even found myself welcoming a bit of trouble into my life, and even actively seeking out a bit of pain, just so I can be spurred on. That doesn't seem too healthy!

    Ah ha. Hell realm picnics. Seems perfectly healthy to me ... :3
    Bless them demons. Endless.

    Well, this is the thing that bugs me, and what made me want to discuss this here. I started doing intensive positive meditation about a week ago, and I had some very profound glimpses of something... a way of mind, something much more clear, something that would be of immense benefit to whatever efforts I make to help the world. It was like 'woah, if I can be like this all of the time then anything is possible'... and yet the motivation to pursue it is lacklustre. I've wanted to help make a better world all of my life, and I've made huge efforts to become someone who at least has a shot at doing so. But in this glimpse was something else altogether. Flashes of intuitive clarity. A sense of jigsaw pieces falling into place. If it was possible for me to be like that all of the time then I could so, so much. But the motivation for compassion does not have the same drive as the motivation against suffering. I guess it's just practice... developing that Bodhisattva thing.

  • Flashes of intuitive clarity.

    Seems real, a jig saw.

    What I am suggesting is becoming worthy of serving, rather than personal breakthroughs. The jigsaw is not for your benefit. You want something more. I am suggesting giving away the peaces you have ...

    howShoshin1
  • @mindatrisk said:
    What started my spiritual journey 20 years ago was being unhappy and wanting to be happy. Sufferings of various forms was what motivated me and what kept me motivated over the last 20 years. The problem I have now is that the growth attained over the last 20 years has left suffering in minimal supply, and, as such, I find I am lacking in motivation to deepen and expand my practice. I know that there is so much joy and peace to be obtained, but that is a much more gentle allure than the kick up the arse that suffering provides. I have even found myself welcoming a bit of trouble into my life, and even actively seeking out a bit of pain, just so I can be spurred on. That doesn't seem too healthy!

    In contemplating this I feel like a whole new way of thinking is needed. Of course there will always be painful situations in my life, but it's also clear that the challenges and sufferings that were in overwhelming supply 20 years ago (caused by my poor quality mind) are much, much less now... I just can't depend on sufferings to motivate me anymore. It will still be there, but I need a more consistent fuel now to keep me ticking over.

    I thought habit would help. I got into a very dedicated routine where I was managing to do a lot of meditation each day, but my heart wasn't in it. I'd just carved out a groove that was easy for me to maintain, but it was lacklustre. I miss the fire that I used to have inside of me when I had much suffering in my life. I was so enthusiastic and dedicated to relieving my suffering and finding some form of happiness. Now I'm in a very in-between state. I have minimal suffering, i.e. a mind that doesn't make suffering for me, but also minimal happiness... I'm just fairly contented.

    Has anyone else found themselves in this position? How did you solve it? I suppose one thing I can do is just persevere with my practice until I have a taste of a greater joy and peace which then might motivate me onwards. Maybe there's underlying beliefs within myself that I need to address too. I certainly had low self esteem for much of my life, so maybe some remnant of that makes it hard for me to pursue greater happiness and joy, as if I don't deserve it...?

    Thoughts?

    What can I say...Dukkha AKA unsatisfactoriness, works in mysterious ways...Happiness is Dukkha...Sadness is Dukkha...Perhaps you should explore Dukkha a little deeper...

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @mindatrisk said:

    @Bunks said:
    You want more suffering?

    1. Get married
    2. Have kids
    3. Get a mortgage

    That should do it.....

    I know you joke, but I have a magnetic attraction to bad girls, and, as much as it drives me crazy, underneath it all I crave the stress on my practice because it has been the only way I know to grow. But I'm 38 now, and I'm about 15 years into my practice, and that approach is starting to feel a little bit, erm, immature.

    I’m not joking....

    Shoshin1
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    @mindatrisk said:
    What started my spiritual journey 20 years ago was being unhappy and wanting to be happy. Sufferings of various forms was what motivated me and what kept me motivated over the last 20 years. The problem I have now is that the growth attained over the last 20 years has left suffering in minimal supply, and, as such, I find I am lacking in motivation to deepen and expand my practice. I know that there is so much joy and peace to be obtained, but that is a much more gentle allure than the kick up the arse that suffering provides. I have even found myself welcoming a bit of trouble into my life, and even actively seeking out a bit of pain, just so I can be spurred on. That doesn't seem too healthy!

    That sounds so close to tempting fate and taking your happiness for granted. Appreciation for what we have makes little room for focusing on what is missing.

    In contemplating this I feel like a whole new way of thinking is needed. Of course there will always be painful situations in my life, but it's also clear that the challenges and sufferings that were in overwhelming supply 20 years ago (caused by my poor quality mind) are much, much less now... I just can't depend on sufferings to motivate me anymore. It will still be there, but I need a more consistent fuel now to keep me ticking over.

    If suffering isn't really your thing, I would suggest some joy and gratitude. It helps not only you but everybody you come in contact with.

    I thought habit would help. I got into a very dedicated routine where I was managing to do a lot of meditation each day, but my heart wasn't in it. I'd just carved out a groove that was easy for me to maintain, but it was lacklustre. I miss the fire that I used to have inside of me when I had much suffering in my life. I was so enthusiastic and dedicated to relieving my suffering and finding some form of happiness. Now I'm in a very in-between state. I have minimal suffering, i.e. a mind that doesn't make suffering for me, but also minimal happiness... I'm just fairly contented.

    Has anyone else found themselves in this position? How did you solve it? I suppose one thing I can do is just persevere with my practice until I have a taste of a greater joy and peace which then might motivate me onwards. Maybe there's underlying beliefs within myself that I need to address too. I certainly had low self esteem for much of my life, so maybe some remnant of that makes it hard for me to pursue greater happiness and joy, as if I don't deserve it...?

    Thoughts?

    This may sound obvious but if you are no longer practicing to overcome your suffering, should not your goal to be to help others overcome theirs?

    Just some thoughts you inspired, thank you.

  • thank you.

    Well said :mrgreen:

    DavidBunks
  • @lobster said:

    Flashes of intuitive clarity.

    Seems real, a jig saw.

    What I am suggesting is becoming worthy of serving, rather than personal breakthroughs. The jigsaw is not for your benefit. You want something more. I am suggesting giving away the peaces you have ...

    It's an interesting point, but I'm not sure I agree. I feel like if I gave away what I already have then I might not have the sufficient skill for it to be delivered in a helpful way. 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions' etc. I feel very close to being ready to give my pieces away, but I am not ready yet. When I had those intuitive flashes it was like a pivotal piece of the puzzle falling into place, because I could see the bigger picture and how all the pieces related... I would be able to act with the confidence that I knew what I was doing.

  • @David said:

    @mindatrisk said:
    What started my spiritual journey 20 years ago was being unhappy and wanting to be happy. Sufferings of various forms was what motivated me and what kept me motivated over the last 20 years. The problem I have now is that the growth attained over the last 20 years has left suffering in minimal supply, and, as such, I find I am lacking in motivation to deepen and expand my practice. I know that there is so much joy and peace to be obtained, but that is a much more gentle allure than the kick up the arse that suffering provides. I have even found myself welcoming a bit of trouble into my life, and even actively seeking out a bit of pain, just so I can be spurred on. That doesn't seem too healthy!

    That sounds so close to tempting fate and taking your happiness for granted. Appreciation for what we have makes little room for focusing on what is missing.

    In contemplating this I feel like a whole new way of thinking is needed. Of course there will always be painful situations in my life, but it's also clear that the challenges and sufferings that were in overwhelming supply 20 years ago (caused by my poor quality mind) are much, much less now... I just can't depend on sufferings to motivate me anymore. It will still be there, but I need a more consistent fuel now to keep me ticking over.

    If suffering isn't really your thing, I would suggest some joy and gratitude. It helps not only you but everybody you come in contact with.

    I thought habit would help. I got into a very dedicated routine where I was managing to do a lot of meditation each day, but my heart wasn't in it. I'd just carved out a groove that was easy for me to maintain, but it was lacklustre. I miss the fire that I used to have inside of me when I had much suffering in my life. I was so enthusiastic and dedicated to relieving my suffering and finding some form of happiness. Now I'm in a very in-between state. I have minimal suffering, i.e. a mind that doesn't make suffering for me, but also minimal happiness... I'm just fairly contented.

    Has anyone else found themselves in this position? How did you solve it? I suppose one thing I can do is just persevere with my practice until I have a taste of a greater joy and peace which then might motivate me onwards. Maybe there's underlying beliefs within myself that I need to address too. I certainly had low self esteem for much of my life, so maybe some remnant of that makes it hard for me to pursue greater happiness and joy, as if I don't deserve it...?

    Thoughts?

    This may sound obvious but if you are no longer practicing to overcome your suffering, should not your goal to be to help others overcome theirs?

    Just some thoughts you inspired, thank you.

    Yes that is most certainly my goal, and has been for twenty years now. The problem, of course, is that without a sufficient degree of growth, understanding, wisdom etc. then there is no guarantee of helping others. In fact, efforts to help can be harmful. When I was younger I was very much the white knight, and all I can say is that life made it very clear to me that that is not an easy role to take on nor one that should be taken on lightly. There is immense weight involved in all of our human interactions. We never know how we might impact someone for better or worse. A word said in jest can crumble another soul, and a random smile can save someones life.

    I've become hyper aware of the need for tremendous sensitivity with others, and a tremendous sense of responsibility. It's a damn hard path with very real and meaningful consequences, and only a fool (which I most certainly was) would jump into 'helping others' without a very strong confidence and conviction that they were truly capable of doing so. I am getting closer, but I am not there. Those little intuitive glimpses, however, showed me what I am missing. I think that if I can attain that state then I have a good chance of actually helping others. The way that I experienced it was like it was a vital piece of the puzzle... the piece that allowed me to see the bigger picture, and the piece that allowed me to see how the other pieces connected, and which pieces were missing.

    lobsterDavid
  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    I once came across a quote which said “the greatest good you can do for the world is to look after your own enlightenment”. I believe it was attributed to Sri Ramana Maharshi.

    In terms of helping others, I believe you can truly help others only from the perspective of your own lived experience. If you want to help people with depression, you can do it better if you have knowledge of what it means to be depressed and have recovered. These people are called “experts by experience” and I think it is a vital piece of helping those who suffer.

    So for spiritual teaching you could decide to teach from your own experience, see if you can teach others a measure of freedom from suffering. Or you could go a step further and complete your own journey to certainty, and try and teach whatever that journey brought you.

    lobstermarcitkoDavid
  • @Kerome said:
    I once came across a quote which said “the greatest good you can do for the world is to look after your own enlightenment”. I believe it was attributed to Sri Ramana Maharshi.

    In terms of helping others, I believe you can truly help others only from the perspective of your own lived experience. If you want to help people with depression, you can do it better if you have knowledge of what it means to be depressed and have recovered. These people are called “experts by experience” and I think it is a vital piece of helping those who suffer.

    So for spiritual teaching you could decide to teach from your own experience, see if you can teach others a measure of freedom from suffering. Or you could go a step further and complete your own journey to certainty, and try and teach whatever that journey brought you.

    Yeah, I have no problem sharing my experiences, but always with the very clear caveat that 'this is just what I have experienced'. I think to teach demands certainty... it demands actual knowledge of the truth. This, to me, is like math. We don't have people who teach 'in my experience 2 + 2 = 5'. For me, the Buddha taught the truth. Most other teachers share their perspective (sometimes masquerading it as the truth). The problem with this is that that sometimes means 2 + 2 = 5, and, sometimes, it leads to outright fraudulent 'gurus' taking advantage of others. I don't know. There is so much that I can say about this. It is such a delicate, complex, heavy subject. If you don't feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders as you open your mouth then I think it best to keep your mouth closed. I wouldn't trust anyone who does not carry that weight.

    lobster
  • An update on my opening post...

    I had a key insight in my morning meditation today. I do experience joy and happiness, but I've been suppressing it.

    You see, the joy I have experienced has come in bursts of high energy. Profound, inspirational, full of ideas and possibilities, full of positive energy and enthusiasm. An energy that started as very desirable but that led me to problems, which, in turn, led to suppression.

    Because, that energy I experienced was very wild and volatile. It would come in bursts out of nowhere, and with it came grand plans, promises of the world, and big gestures. When I was in that state everything seemed possible. But then the state would disappear and I'd be left with a lot of cheques written that couldn't be cashed. And so, after many experiences of letting people down through failing to follow through on what I waxed lyrical about in the the joyous bursts, I began to ignore them. The bursts would still come, but they'd annoy me. To me they had no credibility. The promise that I felt in those states couldn't be sustained, and only caused me and others problems, so I held back on acting on those states.

    When I had the insight that these states that I'd grown to become so wary of were in fact the joy and happiness that the states I believed to be missing, I understood that the problem was not these states, but that I had no engine to tame, temper and control the fuel. The states were combustible. Exploding and fading. It reminds me of how I used to relate to passion. I'd be passionate about something, but it would be expressed in an explosive manner - emotional, angry etc. Like a normal young person. I had to learn how to temper my passion so it fuelled my long journey rather than exploding and fading out as my idealistic youth passed.

    I suspect it is the same with these joyous bursts. I need to find a way to control that energy and turn it into a steady source of fuel. There's no doubt the power and potential in that joyous energy, I just didn't know how to manage it or sustain it, and I really hadn't recognised that what I was looking for was there all along, because the joy I was experiencing had become a source of frustration due to mismanagement rather than a source of power for good. I think that if I can learn how to hold that energy in a balanced manner such that it steadily leads me to taking action, then the joy that comes from the action succeeding will continue to fuel my movement forwards. The joy feeding the joy feeding the joy feeding the joy.

    lobsterDavid
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    @mindatrisk said:

    @David said:

    @mindatrisk said:
    What started my spiritual journey 20 years ago was being unhappy and wanting to be happy. Sufferings of various forms was what motivated me and what kept me motivated over the last 20 years. The problem I have now is that the growth attained over the last 20 years has left suffering in minimal supply, and, as such, I find I am lacking in motivation to deepen and expand my practice. I know that there is so much joy and peace to be obtained, but that is a much more gentle allure than the kick up the arse that suffering provides. I have even found myself welcoming a bit of trouble into my life, and even actively seeking out a bit of pain, just so I can be spurred on. That doesn't seem too healthy!

    That sounds so close to tempting fate and taking your happiness for granted. Appreciation for what we have makes little room for focusing on what is missing.

    In contemplating this I feel like a whole new way of thinking is needed. Of course there will always be painful situations in my life, but it's also clear that the challenges and sufferings that were in overwhelming supply 20 years ago (caused by my poor quality mind) are much, much less now... I just can't depend on sufferings to motivate me anymore. It will still be there, but I need a more consistent fuel now to keep me ticking over.

    If suffering isn't really your thing, I would suggest some joy and gratitude. It helps not only you but everybody you come in contact with.

    I thought habit would help. I got into a very dedicated routine where I was managing to do a lot of meditation each day, but my heart wasn't in it. I'd just carved out a groove that was easy for me to maintain, but it was lacklustre. I miss the fire that I used to have inside of me when I had much suffering in my life. I was so enthusiastic and dedicated to relieving my suffering and finding some form of happiness. Now I'm in a very in-between state. I have minimal suffering, i.e. a mind that doesn't make suffering for me, but also minimal happiness... I'm just fairly contented.

    Has anyone else found themselves in this position? How did you solve it? I suppose one thing I can do is just persevere with my practice until I have a taste of a greater joy and peace which then might motivate me onwards. Maybe there's underlying beliefs within myself that I need to address too. I certainly had low self esteem for much of my life, so maybe some remnant of that makes it hard for me to pursue greater happiness and joy, as if I don't deserve it...?

    Thoughts?

    This may sound obvious but if you are no longer practicing to overcome your suffering, should not your goal to be to help others overcome theirs?

    Just some thoughts you inspired, thank you.

    Yes that is most certainly my goal, and has been for twenty years now. The problem, of course, is that without a sufficient degree of growth, understanding, wisdom etc. then there is no guarantee of helping others. In fact, efforts to help can be harmful. When I was younger I was very much the white knight, and all I can say is that life made it very clear to me that that is not an easy role to take on nor one that should be taken on lightly. There is immense weight involved in all of our human interactions. We never know how we might impact someone for better or worse. A word said in jest can crumble another soul, and a random smile can save someones life.

    I wholeheartedly agree.

    I've become hyper aware of the need for tremendous sensitivity with others, and a tremendous sense of responsibility. It's a damn hard path with very real and meaningful consequences, and only a fool (which I most certainly was) would jump into 'helping others' without a very strong confidence and conviction that they were truly capable of doing so. I am getting closer, but I am not there. Those little intuitive glimpses, however, showed me what I am missing. I think that if I can attain that state then I have a good chance of actually helping others. The way that I experienced it was like it was a vital piece of the puzzle... the piece that allowed me to see the bigger picture, and the piece that allowed me to see how the other pieces connected, and which pieces were missing.

    I can relate. I was trying to help my oldest friend to quit drinking and see the dharma in a new light and I ended up stepping on a piece of his liver (I think it was his liver anyways... when the body was taken from the apartment, the sludge is left behind). I feel I failed him hut I had other little self dramas going on at the time.

    At any rate, there is a difference between trying to help fix a situation and just being there helping. It is hard on a one-on-one level and if we aren't mindful, it could be akin to a bandage on a gaping wound.

    Have you tried looking for ways to help change the social conditions that create suffering in others? That is engaged Buddhism and when our livelihood is aligned with serving others in this way, sometimes it can give our day-to-day life more meaning and we can better find space for gratitude.

    And I do implore you to look more closely as there is still more than enough suffering in the world to inspire practice in even the most joyful being if they are mindful.

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    @mindatrisk said:
    An update on my opening post...

    I had a key insight in my morning meditation today. I do experience joy and happiness, but I've been suppressing it.

    You see, the joy I have experienced has come in bursts of high energy. Profound, inspirational, full of ideas and possibilities, full of positive energy and enthusiasm. An energy that started as very desirable but that led me to problems, which, in turn, led to suppression.

    Because, that energy I experienced was very wild and volatile. It would come in bursts out of nowhere, and with it came grand plans, promises of the world, and big gestures. When I was in that state everything seemed possible. But then the state would disappear and I'd be left with a lot of cheques written that couldn't be cashed. And so, after many experiences of letting people down through failing to follow through on what I waxed lyrical about in the the joyous bursts, I began to ignore them. The bursts would still come, but they'd annoy me. To me they had no credibility. The promise that I felt in those states couldn't be sustained, and only caused me and others problems, so I held back on acting on those states.

    When I had the insight that these states that I'd grown to become so wary of were in fact the joy and happiness that the states I believed to be missing, I understood that the problem was not these states, but that I had no engine to tame, temper and control the fuel. The states were combustible. Exploding and fading. It reminds me of how I used to relate to passion. I'd be passionate about something, but it would be expressed in an explosive manner - emotional, angry etc. Like a normal young person. I had to learn how to temper my passion so it fuelled my long journey rather than exploding and fading out as my idealistic youth passed.

    I suspect it is the same with these joyous bursts. I need to find a way to control that energy and turn it into a steady source of fuel. There's no doubt the power and potential in that joyous energy, I just didn't know how to manage it or sustain it, and I really hadn't recognised that what I was looking for was there all along, because the joy I was experiencing had become a source of frustration due to mismanagement rather than a source of power for good. I think that if I can learn how to hold that energy in a balanced manner such that it steadily leads me to taking action, then the joy that comes from the action succeeding will continue to fuel my movement forwards. The joy feeding the joy feeding the joy feeding the joy.

    I missed this post when I wrote my last post.

    It reminds me that sometimes the obstacles are the path.

  • @David said:

    @mindatrisk said:

    @David said:

    @mindatrisk said:
    What started my spiritual journey 20 years ago was being unhappy and wanting to be happy. Sufferings of various forms was what motivated me and what kept me motivated over the last 20 years. The problem I have now is that the growth attained over the last 20 years has left suffering in minimal supply, and, as such, I find I am lacking in motivation to deepen and expand my practice. I know that there is so much joy and peace to be obtained, but that is a much more gentle allure than the kick up the arse that suffering provides. I have even found myself welcoming a bit of trouble into my life, and even actively seeking out a bit of pain, just so I can be spurred on. That doesn't seem too healthy!

    That sounds so close to tempting fate and taking your happiness for granted. Appreciation for what we have makes little room for focusing on what is missing.

    In contemplating this I feel like a whole new way of thinking is needed. Of course there will always be painful situations in my life, but it's also clear that the challenges and sufferings that were in overwhelming supply 20 years ago (caused by my poor quality mind) are much, much less now... I just can't depend on sufferings to motivate me anymore. It will still be there, but I need a more consistent fuel now to keep me ticking over.

    If suffering isn't really your thing, I would suggest some joy and gratitude. It helps not only you but everybody you come in contact with.

    I thought habit would help. I got into a very dedicated routine where I was managing to do a lot of meditation each day, but my heart wasn't in it. I'd just carved out a groove that was easy for me to maintain, but it was lacklustre. I miss the fire that I used to have inside of me when I had much suffering in my life. I was so enthusiastic and dedicated to relieving my suffering and finding some form of happiness. Now I'm in a very in-between state. I have minimal suffering, i.e. a mind that doesn't make suffering for me, but also minimal happiness... I'm just fairly contented.

    Has anyone else found themselves in this position? How did you solve it? I suppose one thing I can do is just persevere with my practice until I have a taste of a greater joy and peace which then might motivate me onwards. Maybe there's underlying beliefs within myself that I need to address too. I certainly had low self esteem for much of my life, so maybe some remnant of that makes it hard for me to pursue greater happiness and joy, as if I don't deserve it...?

    Thoughts?

    This may sound obvious but if you are no longer practicing to overcome your suffering, should not your goal to be to help others overcome theirs?

    Just some thoughts you inspired, thank you.

    Yes that is most certainly my goal, and has been for twenty years now. The problem, of course, is that without a sufficient degree of growth, understanding, wisdom etc. then there is no guarantee of helping others. In fact, efforts to help can be harmful. When I was younger I was very much the white knight, and all I can say is that life made it very clear to me that that is not an easy role to take on nor one that should be taken on lightly. There is immense weight involved in all of our human interactions. We never know how we might impact someone for better or worse. A word said in jest can crumble another soul, and a random smile can save someones life.

    I wholeheartedly agree.

    I've become hyper aware of the need for tremendous sensitivity with others, and a tremendous sense of responsibility. It's a damn hard path with very real and meaningful consequences, and only a fool (which I most certainly was) would jump into 'helping others' without a very strong confidence and conviction that they were truly capable of doing so. I am getting closer, but I am not there. Those little intuitive glimpses, however, showed me what I am missing. I think that if I can attain that state then I have a good chance of actually helping others. The way that I experienced it was like it was a vital piece of the puzzle... the piece that allowed me to see the bigger picture, and the piece that allowed me to see how the other pieces connected, and which pieces were missing.

    I can relate. I was trying to help my oldest friend to quit drinking and see the dharma in a new light and I ended up stepping on a piece of his liver (I think it was his liver anyways... when the body was taken from the apartment, the sludge is left behind). I feel I failed him hut I had other little self dramas going on at the time.

    At any rate, there is a difference between trying to help fix a situation and just being there helping. It is hard on a one-on-one level and if we aren't mindful, it could be akin to a bandage on a gaping wound.

    Have you tried looking for ways to help change the social conditions that create suffering in others? That is engaged Buddhism and when our livelihood is aligned with serving others in this way, sometimes it can give our day-to-day life more meaning and we can better find space for gratitude.

    And I do implore you to look more closely as there is still more than enough suffering in the world to inspire practice in even the most joyful being if they are mindful.

    When I was 18 I had some kind of existential crisis. I became aware of the world, and all of its suffering and injustice, as well as my own supposed path through life... education, career, mortgage etc. etc. It didn't add up for me. As a typical naive young person a conviction to 'change the world' was born inside of me. Not a rare thing, but what has been rare is that my commitment to such a thing only deepened over time as I acquired knowledge, growth, and skills. Along the way I did much volunteering, some of it quite profound, and I hope that I was of some use and some help along the way. I think I was.

    But it never satisfied. Helping 10 people, 100 people, 1000 people would be nice, but it was within a wider context where 20,000+ children were dying every day because of poverty on the planet. So my journey has taken me deeper and deeper into what I need to be and what I can do to effect change on a much bigger scale, and those pieces have fallen into place. It really seems to me that, if we hold such an intention, and if we remain sincere and dedicated, then there is some force, internal or external, that guides us.

    There is an incredible wealth of ideas available to us. So many concepts, so many tools, so many ideas that lay dormant for most of us, that, if we experiment with and adopt, can provide us with immense power. But I need to dig deeper. My own suffering was my primary motivation for so long, and now that that is mostly resolved, I need to find new motivation. The scale of human suffering in the world is so vast that it can make compassion seem redundant, especially with the understanding that compassionate action can be as harmful as it is helpful.

    There's something deeper that I lack that I glimpsed recently. I can only call it 'intuitive clarity', although I'm sure there is a term in Buddhism for it. But it gave me knowledge - not speculation - of a situation and the correct course of action... I knew the truth of that situation and I _knew _what needed to be done. It excites me! If I can tap into that state and hold it then I would understand situations and be able to act correctly, i.e. in a manner that helps not harms.

    All of this is to say that I am hyper aware of the need to treat very carefully in life. Good intentions, compassion, great ideas, a kind personality etc. are not sufficient to guarantee a positive impact... not at all. And the more I contemplate getting involved in other peoples lives or in wider world situations, the more I realise that this is a fools game. Jesus is the perfect example of this. This is a man who taught and lived to the highest ideals, and yet look at what Christianity went on to do. So who am I to open my mouth? Who am I to think that I can do good in this world? Yet I am utterly dedicated to doing so! And that means diving deeper.

    There has to be something I am missing that gives me either a. the ability to act correctly, or b. the understanding that negative consequences of my actions should not deter from action regardless. The Buddha is the only one I can think of who has managed to at once do a tremendous service to humanity and leave a legacy wholly more positive than negative. So I guess all I need to do is become enlightened.

    DavidlobsterJeffrey
  • @David said:

    I missed this post when I wrote my last post.

    It reminds me that sometimes the obstacles are the path.

    I suspect that everything is the path. It's just that something are noticeably 'the path' than others. But with sufficient awareness and insight I think we'd discover that all of the pieces matter. There is nothing that is not perfectly placed and perfectly designed towards the ultimate end. We just don't see that.

    David
  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    @mindatrisk said:
    And the more I contemplate getting involved in other peoples lives or in wider world situations, the more I realise that this is a fools game. Jesus is the perfect example of this. This is a man who taught and lived to the highest ideals, and yet look at what Christianity went on to do. So who am I to open my mouth? Who am I to think that I can do good in this world? Yet I am utterly dedicated to doing so! And that means diving deeper.

    I have been thinking along these lines as well, for a few years now. The conclusion I've come to is that working through the media allows one the greatest reach to do good, and the best good we can do is spreading the right ideas. Often these have to be in the right kind of package in order to be popular.

    Let me give you an example. There is a saying that around the age of 14 there are two books one can read which can change the way one looks at the world, one is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, and the other is Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. I think it is interesting that one at the right age can be set on a very different life path... I know that decisions I made and attitudes I held at this time in life shaped my path for sure. I happened to read The Lord of the Rings in case you were wondering.

    Of course that is not the only way to do good, Jesus is certainly another interesting case. He set out to teach in two ways, one by spreading his message to the masses through sermons, and the other by teaching to his twelve disciples. Sermons in person have changed in character, they have become motivational seminars. Another avenue is tv talks, look at what Eckhart Tolle does. A modern guru is almost a media personality.

    But it depends where your talents lie. Some people are good at talking, others are good at writing, others have charisma and don't have to say very much at all. It is really a case of examining the world around you and seeing what you do best.

    There has to be something I am missing that gives me either a. the ability to act correctly, or b. the understanding that negative consequences of my actions should not deter from action regardless. The Buddha is the only one I can think of who has managed to at once do a tremendous service to humanity and leave a legacy wholly more positive than negative. So I guess all I need to do is become enlightened.

    Perhaps you are setting your goals rather high here, not everyone can or needs to found a movement like buddhism. Changing even just one life can make a difference, and I think that even if we are not sure we are doing the right thing we can still do something good.

    But it depends on who you are trying to help. Helping anyone is a tough ask, many people hold stubborn views or are trapped in habit patterns. Your experiences with drug addicts may have taught you as much. The good thing about being a spiritual teacher is that people come to you to be taught... that removes a lot of barriers straight away.

    Perhaps it is best to just accept that it is a question of hit and miss. If you touch a thousand people, maybe a hundred will feel something and maybe ten will be significantly changed.

  • mindatriskmindatrisk Veteran
    edited November 2020

    @Kerome said:

    @mindatrisk said:
    And the more I contemplate getting involved in other peoples lives or in wider world situations, the more I realise that this is a fools game. Jesus is the perfect example of this. This is a man who taught and lived to the highest ideals, and yet look at what Christianity went on to do. So who am I to open my mouth? Who am I to think that I can do good in this world? Yet I am utterly dedicated to doing so! And that means diving deeper.

    I have been thinking along these lines as well, for a few years now. The conclusion I've come to is that working through the media allows one the greatest reach to do good, and the best good we can do is spreading the right ideas. Often these have to be in the right kind of package in order to be popular.

    Let me give you an example. There is a saying that around the age of 14 there are two books one can read which can change the way one looks at the world, one is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, and the other is Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. I think it is interesting that one at the right age can be set on a very different life path... I know that decisions I made and attitudes I held at this time in life shaped my path for sure. I happened to read The Lord of the Rings in case you were wondering.

    Of course that is not the only way to do good, Jesus is certainly another interesting case. He set out to teach in two ways, one by spreading his message to the masses through sermons, and the other by teaching to his twelve disciples. Sermons in person have changed in character, they have become motivational seminars. Another avenue is tv talks, look at what Eckhart Tolle does. A modern guru is almost a media personality.

    But it depends where your talents lie. Some people are good at talking, others are good at writing, others have charisma and don't have to say very much at all. It is really a case of examining the world around you and seeing what you do best.

    There has to be something I am missing that gives me either a. the ability to act correctly, or b. the understanding that negative consequences of my actions should not deter from action regardless. The Buddha is the only one I can think of who has managed to at once do a tremendous service to humanity and leave a legacy wholly more positive than negative. So I guess all I need to do is become enlightened.

    Perhaps you are setting your goals rather high here, not everyone can or needs to found a movement like buddhism. Changing even just one life can make a difference, and I think that even if we are not sure we are doing the right thing we can still do something good.

    But it depends on who you are trying to help. Helping anyone is a tough ask, many people hold stubborn views or are trapped in habit patterns. Your experiences with drug addicts may have taught you as much. The good thing about being a spiritual teacher is that people come to you to be taught... that removes a lot of barriers straight away.

    Perhaps it is best to just accept that it is a question of hit and miss. If you touch a thousand people, maybe a hundred will feel something and maybe ten will be significantly changed.

    It's not that I want to start a movement like Buddhism. More that the Buddha is a very rare example of an individual who not only did true good in their lives but who left a legacy of true good. The point I am making is that this notion of living a good life, helping people, making the world a better place is a task of monumental proportions.

    I think it was the Buddha who said that an unenlightened being trying to help another unenlightened being is like a drowning man trying to save another drowning man. I think he also said that 'the good man wakes up every day and attempts to empty the ocean with a ladle'. There is much in Buddhism about the futility and vanity of trying to 'change the world', and, I can't help but agree. The deeper I go into this idea, the more ridiculous it seems... the more dangerous it seems.

    I mean, did Hitler have bad intentions? Did Stalin have bad intentions? Did Hitler not - in his own perverse manner - want the best for his fellow Germans? Did the communists not want what is best for the down-trodden common folk? Did the torturers of the Spanish Inquisition not want what is best for God? It goes on and on and on. And, of course, we can pick these people apart and identify all of their flaws and faults, but my position is much closer to theirs than to a being who only does good and only leaves good consequences.

    I think the underlying message in the Buddha's words about the good man is 'yes it is futile, but it is done anyway'. My only hope is that through dedicated practice that I can tip the scales in the favour of good... that at the end of my life more good has come than bad. But it seems unavoidable in the pursuit of doing good to avoid doing some bad. I have greater hope now. If I can hold the state of mind that I glimpsed recently then that would give me the peace I need, because that intuitive clarity had certainty in it. My understanding of the situation and the correct course of action was as certain as 2 + 2 = 4.

    I'd really love to know what this state of mind is called in Buddhism, because it's clearly indicated. I mean, it's not possible for the analytical mind to surmise what is 'right action'. How could the analysing mind know what absolute right action is? The Buddha must have had this element of intuitive clarity to understand the truth of a situation and know what to say, what not to say, when to act, when not to act etc. which is what made him a 'perfect being'. Because how else would he know and how else would he have been able to act so correctly and precisely?

    Btw. The context of all of this thought is that we live in a world situation that demands that the good do what they can. I think if Buddha was here now that he would be very active in addressing the challenges of the world. I don't think there is any other compassionate or wise option than engaging. I just want to know the best way to engage.

  • So I guess all I need to do is become enlightened.

    Ah ha. A plan.
    Enlightenment is a good start.

    That's all ...

  • @Shoshin1 said:

    @mindatrisk said:
    What started my spiritual journey 20 years ago was being unhappy and wanting to be happy. Sufferings of various forms was what motivated me and what kept me motivated over the last 20 years. The problem I have now is that the growth attained over the last 20 years has left suffering in minimal supply, and, as such, I find I am lacking in motivation to deepen and expand my practice. I know that there is so much joy and peace to be obtained, but that is a much more gentle allure than the kick up the arse that suffering provides. I have even found myself welcoming a bit of trouble into my life, and even actively seeking out a bit of pain, just so I can be spurred on. That doesn't seem too healthy!

    In contemplating this I feel like a whole new way of thinking is needed. Of course there will always be painful situations in my life, but it's also clear that the challenges and sufferings that were in overwhelming supply 20 years ago (caused by my poor quality mind) are much, much less now... I just can't depend on sufferings to motivate me anymore. It will still be there, but I need a more consistent fuel now to keep me ticking over.

    I thought habit would help. I got into a very dedicated routine where I was managing to do a lot of meditation each day, but my heart wasn't in it. I'd just carved out a groove that was easy for me to maintain, but it was lacklustre. I miss the fire that I used to have inside of me when I had much suffering in my life. I was so enthusiastic and dedicated to relieving my suffering and finding some form of happiness. Now I'm in a very in-between state. I have minimal suffering, i.e. a mind that doesn't make suffering for me, but also minimal happiness... I'm just fairly contented.

    Has anyone else found themselves in this position? How did you solve it? I suppose one thing I can do is just persevere with my practice until I have a taste of a greater joy and peace which then might motivate me onwards. Maybe there's underlying beliefs within myself that I need to address too. I certainly had low self esteem for much of my life, so maybe some remnant of that makes it hard for me to pursue greater happiness and joy, as if I don't deserve it...?

    Thoughts?

    What can I say...Dukkha AKA unsatisfactoriness, works in mysterious ways...Happiness is Dukkha...Sadness is Dukkha...Perhaps you should explore Dukkha a little deeper...

    Dukkha is okay! I think Dukkha is misunderstood. Without Dukkha I would not be on a spiritual path and I would not be progressing down the spiritual path. I do think we need a very sensitive and aware relationship with our Dukkha, but I think the final elimination of Dukkha is late stages of the spiritual path, and I'm just not there. At the moment, a thin slice of Dukkha serves me well.

  • @lobster said:

    So I guess all I need to do is become enlightened.

    Ah ha. A plan.
    Enlightenment is a good start.

    That's all ...

    Yep, that's all! I've put it on my Christmas list, and - fingers crossed - Santa thinks I've been a good boy this year. I do also need some new trainers though. :/

    lobster
  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    The degree to which one can widen the heart/mind beyond our own selfish interests is the degree to which one's engaging might not be sharing harm's cause with others.

    lobster
  • @how said:
    The degree to which one can widen the heart/mind beyond our own selfish interests is the degree to which one's engaging might not be sharing harm's cause with others.

    Yes, certainly. I suppose I am wondering at what point of expansion I am suitable for engaging. There is a Buddhist line of thought that only an enlightened being can help others, and, so, the only correct course of action is to dedicate ourselves wholly to our enlightenment and then return over and over again until all living beings are free from suffering.

    That is, of course, within a much wider context... a cosmic context set inside an eternity. In other words, attempting to help one planet in one time frame when existence is so vast is a tad naive, especially when there's no guarantee that your efforts will actually be helpful.

    YET, what else can one do in our current world situation? Maybe my actions in the end are 51% good and 49% bad BUT they do help us avoid nuclear fall-out, environmental disaster etc. Maybe a truly good soul recognises that their efforts will do harm too but is willing to take on that karma and be subjected to more lifetimes just to keep humanity ahead of self destruction? Maybe it's like you see a child about to be hit by a bus so you shove them out of the way and break their leg...? The harm inflicted is justified by the avoidance of a greater harm...?

  • @mindatrisk said:
    Yep, that's all! I've put it on my Christmas list, and - fingers crossed - Santa thinks I've been a good boy this year. I do also need some new trainers though. :/

    Santa needs new trainers.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Nicholas

  • @lobster said:

    @mindatrisk said:
    Yep, that's all! I've put it on my Christmas list, and - fingers crossed - Santa thinks I've been a good boy this year. I do also need some new trainers though. :/

    Santa needs new trainers.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Nicholas

    I'll leave him my old ones by the fireplace.

    lobster
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    @how said:
    The degree to which one can widen the heart/mind beyond our own selfish interests is the degree to which one's engaging might not be sharing harm's cause with others.

    That is so hard to wrap around when we know there is no true distinction, lol!

    It is precisely my selfishness that drives me to help alleviate the suffering of others and trigger a smile.

    Oh, well.

    There are certain contradictions and seeming paradox I can live with.

    lobster
  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    @David

    While I am sure this is something everyone here understands in their own way, one way (with more words) that I sometimes see those distinctions is

    When meditation illuminates the differences between pain and suffering, pain can appear as the product of evolutionary survival as nerve alarms calling us to immediately attend to something, whereas suffering appears as the degree to which one wishes to detach from, attach to or ignore those alarms.

    Pain is primarily a mandatory aid to our continued survival where as suffering can be as optional in life as our attachments can be.
    Here, pain is as undeniably uncomfortable as it is an unavoidable product of birth, old age, disease & death, whereas suffering which is our often distressing relationship to that pain, turns out to be largely optional.

    It is with these views in mind that I speak of self & other & harm.

    To the degree to which we do face & address our own attachments and suffering, we also transmit an underlying truth that harmlessness is possible with everything we do.

    To the degree to which we don't face & address our own attachments and suffering, we also transmit an underlying truth that harmfulness rules with everything we do.

    lobsterDavid
  • mindatriskmindatrisk Veteran
    edited November 2020

    @how said:
    @David

    While I am sure this is something everyone here understands in their own way, one way (with more words) that I sometimes see those distinctions is

    When meditation illuminates the differences between pain and suffering, pain can appear as the product of evolutionary survival as nerve alarms calling us to immediately attend to something, whereas suffering appears as the degree to which one wishes to detach from, attach to or ignore those alarms.

    Pain is primarily a mandatory aid to our continued survival where as suffering can be as optional in life as our attachments can be.
    Here, pain is as undeniably uncomfortable as it is an unavoidable product of birth, old age, disease & death, whereas suffering which is our often distressing relationship to that pain, turns out to be largely optional.

    It is with these views in mind that I speak of self & other & harm.

    To the degree to which we do face & address our own attachments and suffering, we also transmit an underlying truth that harmlessness is possible with everything we do.

    To the degree to which we don't face & address our own attachments and suffering, we also transmit an underlying truth that harmfulness rules with everything we do.

    Yeah, suffering is just our dislike of pain. Two totally different things. Pain is a physiological reality. Suffering is our attitude.

    lobster
  • Pain is a physiological reality. Suffering is our attitude.

    Ah ha! :+1:
    I knew it! :grin:
    Very succinctly put. <3

    So for example I may be a pain in the ass but my attitude is 'Buddha had an ass'. :no_mouth:

    Still walked. :love:

  • I'm about 15 years into my practice, and that approach is starting to feel a little bit, erm, immature.

    After finishing with serious mature practice not only did I have to begin constantly, I also had to go backwards, sideways and even other ways. Not that I can but why should that stop me ... :grin:

  • @lobster said:

    I'm about 15 years into my practice, and that approach is starting to feel a little bit, erm, immature.

    After finishing with serious mature practice not only did I have to begin constantly, I also had to go backwards, sideways and even other ways. Not that I can but why should that stop me ... :grin:

    Yeah this path is not a linear one. At least not in any sense that we'd appreciate. It zigs and it zags, and we seem to go places that we shouldn't be going, and then it all makes sense - until it doesn't - and so we fall back and repeat old cycles, kicking ourselves and wondering where it all went wrong, and then it all makes sense - until it doesn't - and so it goes, just as it always has been. Deathly serious, fated and doomed, the weight of the world, everything crumbling... until we laugh, and all is transcended.

    lobster
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