Newbie here. Trying to navigate through my own suffering....

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Newbie here. Trying to navigate through my own suffering....

Post by CB45 » Tue Jul 30, 2013 9:49 pm

Hello there. My name is Chase and I am 33 years old. I am only 6 months into my “awakening” and being introduced to Buddhism itself. I started seeing a Buddhist (unbeknown to me at the time) therapist a few years ago. I had just relocated to Denver and started going through an early mid-life crisis. (Who am I? What do I really want to do with my life? Why am I so miserable? There has to be more, etc.)

I have been in a corporate job setting for almost 9 years. Through working with my therapist I’m starting to discover, or trying to discover who I am, and just waking up to the fact that I have been/am suffering. I‘ve read a few books by Eckhart Tolle and many by Cheri Huber which have been helpful in trying to navigate through this process. It seems the more I dive into this the more I realize I AM suffering and the more I actually suffer, or at least I find myself focusing more and beating up myself that I am in this state of depression than trying to find a way out of it. I’m now realizing that after 9 years trying to climb the corporate ladder, that I am an extremely depressed person and that I have emotionally cut myself off from friends and family and have immense self-hate towards myself (the voices). For some reason, which I'm still trying to figure out, I've cut myslef off from my emotions and am afraid to feel them, cry, etc. I think part of me is excited/scared to know that who I thought I was by 33 years old is not who I really am and there are other possibilities. I’m deathly afraid of quitting my job and self-hate tells me I’m stupid if I do, I’ll never get another job, only an idiot would quit a corporate job, etc. Maybe attachment to that part of my life? My self confidence is shot in all aspects of my life, meeting new people, relationships, etc. I know that sitting in an office for the rest of my life will now not suffice and I want to be of help to other people in some form or fashion.

I guess why I’m posting here is just to ask some simple advice from other people that have gone through this same awakening/suffering process? What was your experience and how were you able to come out of it? What suggestions might you have for someone who is going through it? I really am appreciative of the people I’ve met so far and how big their hearts are, and only hope that one day I can do the same. Thank you for your time and any insight.


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Re: Newbie here. Trying to navigate through my own suffering

Post by reflection » Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:39 pm

Hi Chase,

Nice to see you on here.

Although for me it started at 18 and the 'transition' from one lifestyle to another was relatively smooth, I can relate, and am sure many others can. Already then I doubted what would be the meaning of what most people strive for their whole life? But for me the practice of Buddhism filled the gap, and although the practice in itself is not always easy, it was worth it in every aspect. It is not always easy because it required me to face deep emotions and fears. Even following the 5 precepts which now like second nature, wasn't always easy. But Buddhism is a beautiful path with beautiful results. It sorts of starts with untangling the mess in our hearts and minds and then later on getting to know each piece and transform it, so life becomes more open and fresh.

If I would give you one piece of advice it would be: stay honest with yourself. Be honest not to think you haven't got problems when you do. Be honest when you are angry, be honest when you don't understand, be honest when the practice isn't working, be honest with whatever. Because if you are honest with yourself, that prevents so many internal struggles.

Another advice, the teachings that helped me mostly in the beginning were those you can find here: on this channel. They touch upon many problems from a Buddhist perspective. Of course there are many other good places/teachers as well, but I have less experience with them because those teachings provided me with all I needed.

Now almost a decade later.. time flies.. I am still working on myself, but at least I know where I'm going and what's important in life. I can say it was a 180 degree turnaround for the better.

I'm sure you'll work it out!

With kindness,
Last edited by reflection on Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Newbie here. Trying to navigate through my own suffering

Post by lyndon taylor » Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:46 pm

The OP posted on my other forum, so this is a double post of my response;

Heres a quick fix, with the idea that you study, meditate and find a local buddhist teacher if possible, suffering is all in your head, its neuro chemicals, try to look on the bright side of your situation, dont dwell on the bad, dont dwell on your pain, dont dwell on negativity. when you find yourself wanting to dwell on pain and suffering, switch the topic in your brain, think of something pleasant, dwell on the good things in your life, dwell on the stuff thats right in your life, eliminating suffering is a long process, but reducing suffering can start today'

Suffering exists, you suffer
Your suffering has causes
Find out what the causes are and get rid of them and
Your suffering goes away

Thats my bastardization of the Buddhas 4 noble truths, I'll try to be more help later

remember its not situations at work that cause your suffering, its your attitude to situations at work that cause your
suffering, your suffering is not things outside you, its your brains attitude to things outside you. Change your attitude and your suffering can go away. the more you change your attitude, with the help of buddhist practice, the less suffering you have.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community, sincerely former monk John

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Re: Newbie here. Trying to navigate through my own suffering

Post by JohnWB » Fri Aug 02, 2013 10:52 pm

Hi Chase,
I came to Buddhism through reading "The Art Of Happiness", by the Dalai Llama about 7 months ago. It was a book I stumble across it in our local library while I was looking for something completely unrelated. It helped turn me around and started getting me out of a personal and family crisis related "funk". This was after being a spiritual drifter for ~35 of my 50+ years.
That's my story.
Your's sounds a bit different, but I can relate.
I don't know if there's a quick fix but deciding on a spiritual path is a good sign. It'll center you if you decide to stick with it. Personally, I like listening to Dhamma talks that I download from a site that I learned about here ( I do this daily to and from work and it keeps me focused on my practice. As things at home bounce around in turmoil I'm better able to smooth out the bumps. Daily meditation has become a big part of my day and helps a great deal.

I hope that you stick around and get through this with a better understanding of your suffering, the cause, the solution, and the way out.

Enjoy the ride :toast: !

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Re: Newbie here. Trying to navigate through my own suffering

Post by Anagarika » Fri Aug 02, 2013 11:10 pm

Hi Chase:

Your post reminded me of the plight of so many, myself included. I think that living in the US in this century can induce a form of dysthymia in almost anyone. We have disconnected ourselves from our social anchors and support systems, and work in corporations that demand more and return less. I wanted to write you about an anecdote that I recall when HHDL was asked about the phenomenon of self loathing in the West. Instead, I found an article that Tara Brach wrote, and she says it well:

"Over a decade ago, a small group of Buddhist teachers and psychologists from the United States and Europe invited the Dalai Lama to join them in a dialogue about emotions and health. During one of their sessions, an American vipassana teacher asked him to talk about the suffering of self-hatred.

A look of confusion came over the Dalai Lama's face. "What is self-hatred?" he asked. As the therapists and teachers in the room tried to explain, he looked increasingly bewildered. Was this mental state a nervous disorder? he asked them. When those gathered confirmed that self-hatred was not unusual but rather a common experience for their students and clients, the Dalai Lama was astonished. How could they feel that way about themselves, he wondered, when "everybody has Buddha nature."

While all humans feel ashamed of weakness and afraid of rejection, our Western culture is a breeding ground for the kind of shame and self-hatred the Dalai Lama couldn't comprehend.

Because so many of us grew up without a cohesive and nourishing sense of family, neighborhood, community or "tribe," it is not surprising that we feel like outsiders, on our own and disconnected. We learn early in life that any affiliation -- with family and friends, at school or in the workplace -- requires proving that we are worthy. We are under pressure to compete with each other, to get ahead, to stand out as intelligent, attractive, capable, powerful, wealthy. Someone is always keeping score.

After a lifetime of working with the poor and the sick, Mother Teresa's surprising insight was: "The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis but rather the feeling of not belonging." In our own society, this disease has reached epidemic proportions. We long to belong and feel as if we don't deserve to.

D.H. Lawrence described our Western culture as being like a great uprooted tree with its roots in the air. "We are perishing for lack of fulfillment of our greater needs," he wrote, "we are cut off from the great sources of our inward nourishment and renewal."

Buddhism offers a powerful response to our individual and societal predicament. The Buddha taught that this human birth is a precious gift because it gives us the opportunity to realize the love and awareness that are our true nature. As the Dalai Lama pointed out so poignantly, we all have Buddha nature.

As we rediscover the truth of this goodness, we begin to awaken from our trance of unworthiness. Instead of living from separateness, we affirm our innate belonging by bringing loving presence to each other, to our moments, to the beauty and pain that is in our world. This is our practice, our path. As Lawrence goes on to say, "We must plant ourselves again in the universe."

My postscript is that the idea of Buddha nature is probably more a Mahayana concept, but within traditional Buddhism there is this strong and wonderful practice of Metta. ... .than.html Metta is this practice of goodwill. It comes from the heart. It is a meditation that radiates kindness, compassion, and goodwill toward all. Most importantly, this meditation begins with ourselves. We meditate on our own innate desire that we ourselves be well, happy, and peaceful. Like the rippling of a stone tossed into a pond, these meditations of goodwill begin with ourselves and radiate out the the rest of our world. We connect with those close to us, our families, our neighbors, strangers, and eventually, even those who cause us difficulty.

The suffering of our lives is something the Buddha understood. He prescribes a path out of this suffering. The pain you feel is amenable to this practice, to this Dhamma. So, start right where you are. Listen to the comments of others on this DhammaWheel. With time and with practice,it gets better. A lot better.

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Re: Newbie here. Trying to navigate through my own suffering

Post by chownah » Sat Aug 03, 2013 3:30 am

This is not Buddhist advise. I don't know why but when I read, " immense self-hate towards myself (the voices)", it reminded me of a book I read long ago and seemed to help me with a similar self view......the book is Knots by R.D.Laing. It is short and I think widely available at libraries at least in the US....Probably not worth buying if you can borrow a copy unless you are cash fat and like to buy books. Laing was a "radical" psychiatrist who wrote a few popular self awareness focused books back in the 60's. If you look at it let me know what you think. He wrote another book called Sanity, Madness, and the Family which probably does not relate to you but which might resonate strongly with women who might be reading this post.

PS Some famous quotes from Liang:

Insanity - A perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world.
Life is a sexually transmitted disease and the mortality rate is one hundred percent.

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Re: Newbie here. Trying to navigate through my own suffering

Post by Digger » Sat Aug 03, 2013 2:59 pm


I would say that many here have experienced some type of suffering in their lives, went looking for a solution and found Buddhism. When I was in my early 30's, I was suffering, I had zero idea what Buddhism was at the time, stumbled upon a book while in a library (What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula) and knew that this was the path for me. May take a while to make the changes in your thinking and your life, since some of the ways of the path are contrary to your current thinking (for example it is typically assumed that more money = more happiness, chasing and fulfilling all your desires is how you should live your life, etc). My advice to you is to read, learn and practice. The more you do, the less you will suffer.

Regarding your career path, you said "I know that sitting in an office for the rest of my life will now not suffice and I want to be of help to other people in some form or fashion". I don't know what you do specifically, but can you apply it in a more fulfilling way? For example, if you are a "paper pusher" for some "unfulfilling" type of business, could you be a "paper pusher" for a hospice or medical facility or in some field you believe is worthwhile? Or if you want to be more "hands on". can you take night classes and get a 2 year degree in some medical field or field you believe is worthwhile?

I don't recommend "jumping ship" and then trying to find something else as a career. A lot of companies don't like to see empty months or years between jobs on someones resume.
He is different. He thinks.

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Re: Newbie here. Trying to navigate through my own suffering

Post by vixian » Mon Aug 05, 2013 7:14 pm


I am pretty new to this ... have been reading Buddhist literature for a few months (Lama Yeshe, Sangarashitka and others) and can attest to the various morphings that have occurred for me.
Breathless excitement at the Aha! of recognising the truth of the basic principles.
So watching my thinking for a few months now has led to much revelation of my character and beliefs ... so much unexamined for so long means it can be overwhelming but like they say you eat an elephant one mouthful at a time (sorry if the analogy offends anyone) so I am taking the steps I need to.
I have learned to stay with an issue whereas in the past I would scoot over it thinking I had really delved and sorted it but the advice I found helped was to be unafraid of maintaining a steady gaze insude ... the truth is far more palatable and useful than denial but I also found that I needed to really make friends with the unknown me and to have gentle compassion for myself ...
Being aware of the voice of ego and separating that out comes from listening and hearing / recognising it for waht it is ... the voice of a spoiled brat constantly seekign attention ... it will say or do anything ... the thoughts of incompetence and fear have to be looked at for what they are.
Also thinking kindly toward others and shifting my orientation from one of criticism to one of empathy (because we are not seprate) has also brought some emotional balance that is sweet so that the tendency to catastrophise or muse over a miserable possible future evaporates as I think thoughts of wellness and love to those around me.
I know no Buddhists but I recognise the fellowship is important for encouragement and for reflection.
I also now believe that finding a teacher is important too .. I am not rushing it as there is much I have to catch up on with the revelations my mindfulness has brought about.

I work in the corporate environment and have stuggled for a while but for me the job I do is useful as it helps others, it is stimulating and provides a comfortable lifestyle for my wife and children.

Be encouraged and be gentle with yourself ... if you get out of your depth do not avoid seekign help and good luck in all things.

In the end it is an exciting journey and like any adventure there are pitfalls and dragons but we know that we can always come back to our breath or whatever anchors we use.

My doctrine is not entirely sound yet so please be gentle if you see words that do not marry with the experienced Buddhist ...

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