I sit here clearing my mind like trying to scoop water out of a sandy hole too close to the lake's edge. It keeps filling and with thoughts that cause suffering.
I sit here busying myself with reading and videos and experiences but I feel the shade of my self-oriented lens making everything seem darker.
I sit here providing myself allowance for how I feel and radiating acceptance and compassion but the calm that arises feels like an unwanted touch of a repulsive kind.
I am finding myself doing these things halfheartedly because in this moment there is part of me drawn to the suffering.
Part of me wants to hurt.
Why? I have to meditate further on this.
In this moment my method is not robust and I am split between being OK and not OK with it. A sort of paralysis in the midst of suffering.
I want to honor myself but also return to the path quickly.
I want to honor myself but remain here in the suffering for a little longer.
What are your methods when found in this type of space?
Back to the breath...back to the suffering...back to the breath...back to the suffering...back to the...
I'm not sure how long you've been practicing. For me, at some point when I saw that the teachings were having real impacts on my mind a type of faith, or conviction, arose. It didn't matter so much how I felt or whether a particular meditation was peaceful or disturbed. I had confidence that if I made the effort and did the work the results would eventually come.
I sat with it longer and went somewhere natural to practice presence and mindfulness. I listened to The Novice by Thich Nhat Hanh on the way and way back. I believe the longing for pain was an echo of previous interests so as awareness returned with help of guidance, the echo dissolved. I have been practicing and learning in earnest for about a month, but if I'm honest even this month has had little structure and more of a fever about it. I believe I'm beginning to feel what I understand from your observation. It doesn't matter so much as it is temporary and dissolves. I will strive to remain confident.
Better the devil/ignorance we know rather than the effort of real commitment of our fevered brow?
Better the instant pot noodle than 'tasteless' real nutrition?
Slowly. Carefully. Gently.
Maybe you're starting to see that it is not about trying to run away or try and cover up our suffering. Maybe you're having mixed feelings on whether it's worth it or not to give up pleasurable attachments for a better understanding. Maybe you think you deserve to suffer.
Maybe you're a bodhisattva in the making.
I try to be as mindful as possible. Now that you have seen a hint of what it's all about, you may not be able to unsee it. From my own experience it sounds like you're discovering the snooze button on your alarm.
Whether it is correcting negative thought patterns or overcoming a physical addiction, a continual practice of stopping and really taking notice of what is going on can help shine a light on what is at stake.
In a matter of speaking but you could be focusing too much on what you're trying to overcome and not enough on the miracles all around us. There are so many conditions that had to come together to allow our breathing. We can be happily aware that our breathing is a miracle without having to think about it.
"To suffer is not enough. We must also be in touch with the wonders of life. They are within us and all around us, everywhere, any time. ... Wherever we are, any time, we have the capacity to enjoy the sunshine, the presence of each other, even the sensation of our breathing."
--Thich Nhat Hanh
Ah, that feels quite close to the truth. Maybe I have crammed too much too quickly and wanted to revisit my old behaviors. Though today I discovered my old behaviors didn't work as they used to just a couple months ago. Or maybe I am starting to see they never worked very well at all.
It continues to be a day of de-cluttering.
The way you've structured this sentence has triggered a great understanding for me.
I will continue to do my best to build constant awareness, to strengthen concentration, and to create continuity of purpose. There is everything at stake, though maybe I need not make it feel so dire and critical all the time.
Calming wisdom. There are challenges in my recent memory I am still working through but I have learned not to fear them even though they cause great pain. I have yet to learn how to skillfully dissolve them and as a result find myself in combat with them when unaware...or sometimes aware and with unskillful emotions and thoughts.
I will follow this in mind when I find my breath-work unskillful and let that gratitude and appreciation permeate and transform. I will turn my personal internal suffering inside-out and expose it for the immense love and compassion for the universe it truly is.
Thank you, this has been a helpful process.
I get drunk about once every six months just to remind myself why I don’t do it anymore!
I need to find my equivalent of this.
There's wisdom in what @Bunks says. The path is rarely straight and constant progress, it waxes and wanes. Steps back and to the side can be taken to increase one's understanding and insight into the nature of our suffering states of mind. When you find yourself wrapped up in painful feelings, you haven't gone completely backwards, you now have a new perspective on them and have the ability to see them in a new light.
Another way of looking at it is that of doing the laundry. When you clean your clothes the dirt has to come out, when you finally see the dirt that was in the clothes its not that there is all this new dirt occurring. Its that you're now becoming aware of what was in there all along. Becoming aware of it is a necessary part of the process of cleaning it out.
It's far more comfortable, and far less effort to stay with what you know than to explore unchartered territory and learn new habits, while shedding old ones.
Take @lobster's analogy of noodles and allow me to expand.
GENUINE AUTHENTIC BEEF PHO
for 8 servings
10 lb mixed beef leg bones (4.5 kg), shin, knuckle and marrow bones
12 oz ginger(340 g), 2 large hands, halved lengthwise
1 head large garlic, halved crosswise
4 kg medium yellow onion(4 kg), halved lengthwise
8 sticks cinnamon
¼ cup whole black peppercorn
6 pods whole star anise
1 lb beef brisket(455 g)
¼ cup fish sauce(60 mL), plus more to taste
1 lb boneless sirloin steak(455 g)
1 lb flat rice noodle(455 g), cooked according to package instructions
2 cups fresh mung bean sprouts(200 g)
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced lengthwise
1 jalapeño, sliced into thin rounds
1 large bunch fresh thai basil
1 lime, cut into wedges
Place the beef bones in a large stock pot, then add enough cold water to cover by 2 inches (5 cm). Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat and cook for 10 minutes to blanch the bones and remove any impurities.
Set a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the broiler.
Drain the bones in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Return the blanched bones to the stockpot.
Meanwhile, arrange the ginger, garlic, and onions cut-side up on a rimmed baking sheet and broil on high until the aromatics are deeply charred in spots, 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and add to the stockpot with the bones.
Meanwhile, combine the cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, and star anise in a medium skillet over medium-high heat and toast, shaking the pan occasionally, until the spices are darkened in spots and extremely fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the toasted spices to the stockpot.
Season the brisket liberally with salt and add it to the stockpot.
Fill the pot with enough cold water to cover everything by 1 inch (2 cm). Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium to maintain a gentle simmer, skimming off and discarding any fat that floats to the top as needed, until the brisket is fork-tender, 2-3 hours.
Using tongs, transfer the brisket to a plate and let cool completely. Refrigerate the brisket until ready to serve.
Continue to simmer the broth to get as much flavor out of the bones as possible, 3-4 hours more.
Using tongs, remove and discard the bones and aromatics. Slowly strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer set over a large pot. Skim and discard the fat from the broth, then stir in the fish sauce. Taste and add more as desired.
Thinly slice the brisket. Very thinly slice the raw sirloin steak against the grain.
Divide the noodles among 6-8 large bowls, then top with the brisket and raw steak. Ladle the hot broth over the noodles and meat and serve immediately with the bean sprouts, onion, jalapeño, Thai basil, lime wedges, hoisin sauce, and Sriracha alongside.
BOMBAY BAD BOY POT NOODLE
Peel back aluminium foil lid.
Fill with boiling water to mark.
Allow to stand for 3 minutes.
Stir, adding more water if wished.
Allow to stand for 2 more minutes,
See? So much simpler to take the easy route.
But at the end of it, are you more satisfied? or a little self-critical for having succumbed to the same old crap, and avoided the tougher route of the healthier option?
The sense of achievement and satisfaction.... not there, is it?
So tomorrow... More Pot noodle, or.... shall we start the prep?
For me recently suffering and happiness have been about insight into the second noble truth, that suffering originates in clinging. Whenever I notice my suffering I go looking into it’s source, and as time goes on I become more and more familiar with the mind patterns that cause me to cling.
Inevitably that insight also brings a release, a relaxation, a letting go. If that doesn’t happen then I know I am not done with it yet and there are further insights to be had.
Buddha emerges from the common person.
[Buddha - One who is awakened]
The historic Buddha, Sayamuni, suffered. he laughed and cried, he bled when cut. But, he was The Awakend One. The suffering were sufferings but they were the sufferings of a buddha. His joys were the joys of a Buddha.
A buddha continues to live in the world as it is, as he or she is. But is is within the life state , the realm, of Buddha.
A Bodhisattva has not yet reached the highest state but brings others and encourages others, reaching a hand down and pushing other up as he or she personally strives to become a Buddha. A Buddha strives to bring others up to join him or her into the realm of Buddha, without leaving this saha world.
I am but a humble man of great ignorance and little knowledge and minuscule wisdom. But I strive to awaken my life state of Buddha and to enable others to also awaken their life state of Buddha. It is the journey that matters.
Peace to all
You can be sure, being human. None of us are perfect. You can have faith and comfort in those that @Lionduck describes. The inspirers. The dharma influencers. The wannabe Buddhas. The almost.
One day at a time. One moment at an instant. Onward and upward. Sideways and inward. ♾
Knowing (which comes from developing an experiential understanding) that "This too shall pass"...which it does ....
The breath is the most precious gift...
Were the thoughts themselves coloring your mind with upset? Or are you getting frustrated hoping they will go away? I've meditated a long time and I'm still at the stage where I'm staying in the present moment and getting caught up in thought from time to time. It seems a stream of thought is there just about all the time and some of that time I am noting my breath and in my 5 senses in the room. I think it's similar to bailing out the water in a hole next to the big water from the lake. At least it's not trying to bail the water out of the lake!
Sometimes thoughts are upsetting for a long time and some times they are pleasant. Equanimity I guess is letting the universe of reality to be as it is?
I am both the sabotaged and saboteur in and of my mind. Not every moment is one where I want to put the effort into being skillful. Some moments I want to be very unskillful and cling to reflections of the past like eating a bag of chocolates in front of garbage TV. Now that I think about it, I bet this is a very common circumstance and true measure of practice comes in how well one carries oneself in these times.
It's as @jeroen said above:
Hmm I have a lot of practice to do.
Do you find the more you become familiar with the mind patterns that cause you to cling, that you naturally stop going there? Not even attempting to stop, just as some sort of subconscious or automatic re-calibration of sorts?
Well with chocolate and garbage tv it’s about two things for me, one is is it healthy, and another is is it beneficial to my practice? You could have a big bag of chocolates but is it good for you in any way? Comfort eating is a bit of a misnomer because it doesn’t result in comfort, or maintenance of your health. Similarly garbage tv, once you start to realise it is just wasting time on things that are totally unbeneficial, it becomes a lot less attractive.
So you see it’s about a kind of dedication. If you come to the point where you say, I realise that I should pursue things that are good for me, beneficial for the practice, then a lot of things that are bad for you automatically drop away, they are no longer interesting. These things are no longer to the point. There is a certain clarity that you reach.
Buddhism was for me a first step on this path, and there is a lot of learning one can do with it. At first everything is good, you know very little and it’s all wonderful. But as time goes on you become more selective. It’s a natural progression as you become more refined.
Hmm I see.
Yes, then I am stubbornly revisiting clinging behaviors I understand in my mind to be unbeneficial. Possibly even avoiding those areas in my meditation to allow them to remain unresolved for a bit longer as I have a fondness for them still and a reluctance to let them go. I have not yet found the support in my practice to be able to release them completely.
I suppose if the action is not ready, then all I can do is forgive myself for not yet being ready and continue to practice in the other ways in which I am ready.
I see it as you say @Jeroen
I have felt the release and relaxation, the letting go of other unbeneficial behaviors. Like the first rinsing of a dirty dish clearing the less baked-on debris. I can see the challenge spots more clearly for when I'm ready to work a little harder.
Torpor, languor, sloth, immediately stand out as great hindrances. Does one find in practice, as they expand and grow their understanding, as they apply these teachings for the first time, that they get tired in the mind or spirit in a similar way muscles get tired when exerted? Is there a skillful way to rest or recover?
I think it depends on your personal inclination. Some people go looking for inspiration in the Mahayana sutra’s, others do the Zen just sitting meditation, still others go and do something physical, like chopping wood.
Personally I like to read spiritual literature, it supports my confidence in this path to read the teachings that others have left. Poetry and quotes I also find very useful. I go to Goodreads.com, pick a spiritual author, and read all the quotes from their best books. It’s a way to get a few highlights without having to read widely.
But confidence is something that happens as you notice the dharma having a positive effect on your life. If you work at it, and don’t resist, and let unbeneficial habits go as the time is ripe, then good things will happen, and as good things happen you gain confidence in the path.
I think it was Adyashanti who said, “enlightenment is being simply in accord with what is”. Something to keep in mind.
One possible form of a Zen view.
I tend to relate to my 6 sense gates like they are the 6 kids that I'm in a parenting relationship with. I'd like all of them to be able to be free to experience the width and breadth of life's experience but one of them (the one I call my mind) relentlessly tries to manipulate all the others in its attempts to make itself a throne. This mind's purposefulness gives itself a power that the other sense gates, having little interest in acquiring, will typically acquiesce to. Such a power imbalance can be described as the human condition or as suffering's cause.
A moment-to-moment Meditation can be described as the means of allowing all the sense gates to freely cycle through their experience of life, unmolested by a mind's habitual efforts at dominance.
Here, all the other sense gates can experience the full truth of their collegial validity in existence and the dominion of the mind proportionally can get relegated back to its original 16.6% share of the available real estate.
This balance could be described as equanimity or the path towards suffering's cessation.
Be wary of convincing yourself that your mind will honestly negotiate any real curtailment of its power agenda in good faith. There is no wilier opponent to spiritual progression than our mind. At best you'll probably only achieve cosmetic changes, and then again only if those changes will ultimately solidify the mind's entrenched position.
This is the most common reason folks end up falling away from spiritual practice.
The option that I've come to prefer is to, moment by moment, simply offer the other 5 kids (sense gates) their own equal share of life's available real estate, which bypasses all the questionable ego negotiations and simply leaves the mind a 16.6% appropriation to play in.
Here all the kids learn to play well together or it's a time out for everyone.
What does time out for the 6 senses look like?
Understanding the purposefulness yet wiliness of the mind, can one convince the mind of the path and enlist it more as an assistant to the parent instead of simply one of the children?
Calling my mind a 6th child equal to the others brings up discomfort similar to that of under-appreciation or under-utilization.
That’s quite a daunting prospect @how. My view on it was a lot less bleak, my results so far have indicated that if you are honest with yourself and dedicated you can make good progress. I haven’t been at this as long as you, but there are advanced practices you can learn, for example learning to see the gaps between thoughts and by focusing on them gradually lengthening these pauses, which can allow you to achieve a stilling of the mind which lasts long periods of the day.
That does mean disidentifying somewhat with thoughts, and learning to observe them. In truth I haven’t been focusing as much on the sense gates, for me in meditation the biggest trouble by far is with touch when I have my eyes closed, so I usually meditate with my eyes open.
MY WISH FOR ALL OF US: May your good karma produce squirrel-helpers, arriving in the knick of time ...
A time out for the 6 senses in this way is to the degree that there is an editing, a manipulation, a preference for one sense over another, a minimizing of one sense over the others, a grasping after, a repulsion from or an ignoring of any of the data flows through our sense gates.
The mind usually doesn't exceed the capability of its spiritual function when it is acting simply as the librarian of the sense gate data flows. When the mind strays into the editing and directing of that info for its own agenda, it is actually trying to function outside of the designs of its job description and capability. My mind is much more of a child then any of my other sense gates but there is a much wider intelligence that is less centralized and available to anyone beyond the limits of our mind's own sandbox. There is the dream that the Buddha exhorted his followers to awaken from.
This is the opposite of under-appreciation or underutilization of the mind, however to the degree to which we now identify with our own mind is the same degree to which we will feel discomfort when approaching or being threatened by any loss of that identity.
Ah I see now the dukkha involved with my experimented method. My mind is wily indeed trying to make friends or create importance so it can come along to nothingness.
Mind, you can come for now but when we get there I believe you will realize you are gone. And I hope for my sake by then I have let you go.
Each path has its pros & cons.
I am not saying one is right and another is wrong, just that if you primarily live in your head, that head is likely to misrepresent what is happening to keep its fiefdom going. If one has an intellectual bent, then the tendency is to rely on what we consider our intellectual strengths to address our practice.
Have you noted how often a master will give disciples with intellectual bents, menial jobs to attend to, just as they will give disciples with physicality bents, more intellectual tasks to work on?
My tradition tends to meditate with the eyes open with the argument that it is easier to bring meditation into daily life when you learn how to do it in the sense state that best represents your daily life.
I have done both though and have found little difference between them but those that associate the experience of meditation with one or the other often don't find switching to be very comfortable. That said, I do find that with my eyes open, I do get a slightly faster indication of any visually-oriented mental deliberations than with my eyes closed.
I assume it is because the blank screen of the eyes being closed is an easier medium for my mind to play with than it is with an open-eyed visual needing to become the blank screen to enact the same visual deliberation.
I believe we all start with different circumstances before joining the practice. Maybe attachment to these circumstances can lead to an unbalanced approach or view? I see two experiences, one with a cooperation of mind and one with an adversarial mind. The mind is simply the mind. Neither more nor less daunting.
I feel it is best not to look too far in the future. If you can just reduce the path to putting one foot in front of the other, it seems likely that you will reach somewhere.
Oh...I cling to clinging. I cling to clinging to perpetuate the illusion of permanence, to distract from the reality of impermanence.
I cling to clinging so I may procrastinate.
I procrastinate so I may cling.
I create the puppet show and watch intently as the show goes on full-well knowing the cast are just my own fingers. Why does it entertain me still? Why still cling to it? Why waste my time once I realize there is no substance in continuing to cling? Why not drop the whole show and look for truth instead?
Is it conditioning? = Clinging
Fear? = Clinging
Apathy? = Clinging
Clinging? = Yes
I cling to cling. I do. But what am I? Ah! I am just the five Skandas.
The five Skandas cling to clinging. All of them? Just the mind's Skandas? Only the mind makes up the story with input from the other five senses. The mind has established a story of clinging. Why? Dukkha? Because of Dukkha, the mind's Skandas cling?
My head hurts..
Suffering makes us feel "alive"!
What? No more suffering, no more fun?
Who wants that?
Practicing Buddhism is akin to rowing a canoe upstream. As long as you are rowing, you are advancing.When yo stop rowing, the river pulls you along with it or down strean, what is referred to as "regressing". You are , relative to the water, standing dtill. But, because the river is flowing you are caught in the flow and your progress is lost to the extent you do not return to rowing. Of course, you can pull to the shore and neither progress nor regress. That is in reality a mere illusion as all your fellow canoers are still rowing and progressing up stream to the next camp and shelter as you stand or sit on the side of the river with no shelter.
If you find yourself drifting, do not get upset or despair. Just start rowing.
Peace to all