Anxiety and Stream-entry

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
Digity
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Anxiety and Stream-entry

Post by Digity » Sun Apr 26, 2015 2:53 pm

My goal as a lay Buddhist is to achieve stream-entry. However, I sometimes look at myself and see that my anxiety is above average. At times in my life it's been well above average. I'm getting better in this area of my life, but there's still room for improvement. The thing is, I'll often look around and feel somewhat jealous of people who seem so much more calm and at ease than me. These are usually just your average person in life.

I sometimes think to myself, how can I become a Sotapanna if I have above average anxiety? When I think of a Sotapanna I don't think of someone with anxiety problems. So, I've got this idea in my mind that I won't be able to achieve stream-entry until I've overcome my anxiety problem. Do you think that's a correct assessment? Or, is it possible to attain stream-entry and still have an anxious personality or at least above average levels of anxiety?

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Crazy cloud
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Re: Anxiety and Stream-entry

Post by Crazy cloud » Sun Apr 26, 2015 4:11 pm

I want stream entry!

Away with "I"and "want", and there it is

Best! :console:
If you didn't care
What happened to me
And I didn't care for you

We would zig-zag our way
Through the boredom and pain
Occasionally glancing up through the rain

Wondering which of the
Buggers to blame
And watching for pigs on the wing
- Roger Waters

dhammarelax
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Re: Anxiety and Stream-entry

Post by dhammarelax » Sun Apr 26, 2015 4:13 pm

Digity wrote:My goal as a lay Buddhist is to achieve stream-entry. However, I sometimes look at myself and see that my anxiety is above average. At times in my life it's been well above average. I'm getting better in this area of my life, but there's still room for improvement. The thing is, I'll often look around and feel somewhat jealous of people who seem so much more calm and at ease than me. These are usually just your average person in life.

I sometimes think to myself, how can I become a Sotapanna if I have above average anxiety? When I think of a Sotapanna I don't think of someone with anxiety problems. So, I've got this idea in my mind that I won't be able to achieve stream-entry until I've overcome my anxiety problem. Do you think that's a correct assessment? Or, is it possible to attain stream-entry and still have an anxious personality or at least above average levels of anxiety?
Hindrances are your friends, they show you how the process of dependent origination works and they let you advance in to the next jhana if you apply the four noble truths to them. People with a perfectly nice life probably have less motivation to try to end suffering, if you have anxiety use it to your benefit, ask yourself how is it arising? There are things that happen before is manifested.

Smile all the time
dhammarelax
Even if the flesh & blood in my body dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, I will use all my human firmness, human persistence and human striving. There will be no relaxing my persistence until I am the first of my generation to attain full awakening in this lifetime. ed. AN 2.5

Digity
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Re: Anxiety and Stream-entry

Post by Digity » Sun Apr 26, 2015 4:43 pm

dhammarelax wrote: Hindrances are your friends, they show you how the process of dependent origination works and they let you advance in to the next jhana if you apply the four noble truths to them. People with a perfectly nice life probably have less motivation to try to end suffering, if you have anxiety use it to your benefit, ask yourself how is it arising? There are things that happen before is manifested.

Smile all the time
dhammarelax
I agree. My anxiety is what pushed me to follow the path in the first place. I'm sure a lot of people can relate to this. I can sometimes feel a bit jealous of people who are more at ease than me, but at the same time that can make them complacent about seeking truth and finding an end to dukkha.

I do try to use my anxiety and hindrances to deepen my understanding, but sometimes my mind can get really weighed down by the hindrances and there's no room for clarity in those moments. When my mind is more steady and the hindrances arise I'm much more capable to penetrate them and see how they arise.

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Kamran
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Re: Anxiety and Stream-entry

Post by Kamran » Sun Apr 26, 2015 5:11 pm

IN buddhism its your desires that cause suffering. Its seems you have a strong desire to be free of anxiety and to reach a saint like stream entry status.

You might be putting way too much pressure on yourself and are likely to cause secondary anxiety, which is anxiety about anxiety. I think you can easily complicate and worsen your anxiety by putting unrealistic demands on yourself.

Are you familiar with secondary anxiety ?

With metta
"Silence gives answers"

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

soapy3
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Re: Anxiety and Stream-entry

Post by soapy3 » Sun Apr 26, 2015 8:36 pm

Digity wrote: So, I've got this idea in my mind that I won't be able to achieve stream-entry until I've overcome my anxiety problem. Do you think that's a correct assessment?
Yes.

Coyote
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Re: Anxiety and Stream-entry

Post by Coyote » Sun Apr 26, 2015 9:28 pm

My understanding is that a stream-enterer may have many defilements, but at least gains enough insight to know what is wholesome and what is unwholesome, and what must be done in regard to practicing the path.
Even if it is not so, causing yourself undue stress worrying about it won't get you there any faster. If you take care of the causes, the results will come.
Also, I think it is important not to measure success in terms of lessening medical health issues like anxiety. A teacher told me, if we practice for spiritual benefits the medical issues will take care of themselves.
Wishing you well.
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
Iti 26

SarathW
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Re: Anxiety and Stream-entry

Post by SarathW » Sun Apr 26, 2015 9:32 pm

What is the Pali word for anxiety?
:thinking:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

Digity
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Re: Anxiety and Stream-entry

Post by Digity » Sun Apr 26, 2015 9:37 pm

Kamran wrote:IN buddhism its your desires that cause suffering. Its seems you have a strong desire to be free of anxiety and to reach a saint like stream entry status.

You might be putting way too much pressure on yourself and are likely to cause secondary anxiety, which is anxiety about anxiety. I think you can easily complicate and worsen your anxiety by putting unrealistic demands on yourself.

Are you familiar with secondary anxiety ?

With metta
I see what you're saying and I think you're correct. Secondary anxiety reminds me of the Buddha's teaching on the "second arrow".

I do think I have a problem with secondary anxiety, because I get anxious about being anxious. I think it's actually an understandable result. However, it's clearly not a helpful one.

I think the attitude I plan to take from now on is not to try and control or run away from my anxiety, but to let it become my teacher. I will use it to further deepen my understanding of my mind and will try to train it to be more skillful. My anxiety is a sign of unskillful mental habits I've developed and I need to disentangle these habits. In doing so, it should lead me to a deeper understanding of the practice and ideally I'll one day unlearn this unskillful mental habit.

SarathW
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Re: Anxiety and Stream-entry

Post by SarathW » Sun Apr 26, 2015 10:02 pm

SarathW wrote:What is the Pali word for anxiety?
:thinking:
I ask a similar question that may some help.

http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... depression" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

=========
The way I understand, the only requirement for Stream-entry is the following of Noble Eight Fold Path.
In addition, it describe as unshaken faith on Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, free from personality view and refrain from rights and ceremonies.
So I do not see that anxiety is a road block for attaining Stream-entry.
:)
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

villkorkarma
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Re: Anxiety and Stream-entry

Post by villkorkarma » Sun Apr 26, 2015 10:57 pm

Form my experience I suffer because I have to work to get money. that is what causing my suffering. any comments?
one suffer because one hasnt existed long : )

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Kamran
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Re: Anxiety and Stream-entry

Post by Kamran » Sun Apr 26, 2015 11:04 pm

Anxiety is uncomfortable at times, and it might be preferable to be less anxious, but there's a difference between preferring not to be anxious and believing that you HAVE to get rid of it. We don't need to get rid of it, though we might prefer to. I think we can still live happy, and productive lives even if we makes ourselves nervous sometimes :)
"Silence gives answers"

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

chownah
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Re: Anxiety and Stream-entry

Post by chownah » Mon Apr 27, 2015 2:15 am

Digity wrote:My goal as a lay Buddhist is to achieve stream-entry. However, I sometimes look at myself and see that my anxiety is above average. At times in my life it's been well above average. I'm getting better in this area of my life, but there's still room for improvement. The thing is, I'll often look around and feel somewhat jealous of people who seem so much more calm and at ease than me. These are usually just your average person in life.

I sometimes think to myself, how can I become a Sotapanna if I have above average anxiety? When I think of a Sotapanna I don't think of someone with anxiety problems. So, I've got this idea in my mind that I won't be able to achieve stream-entry until I've overcome my anxiety problem. Do you think that's a correct assessment? Or, is it possible to attain stream-entry and still have an anxious personality or at least above average levels of anxiety?
When learning to ride a mountain bike I was told to NOT focus on the rocks I want to avoid hitting but rather to focus on the clear path which I want to follow. It was great advice and almost immediately my ability improved. I suggest that you focus on the things which will bring you closer to the stream and not spend much time on things that don't. I think that for stream entry the most important and most difficult one to develop is the having of no doctrine of self at all...it will not only bring you closer to the stream but also help in controlling you anxiety.
chownah

santa100
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Re: Anxiety and Stream-entry

Post by santa100 » Mon Apr 27, 2015 1:32 pm

Ven. Thanissaro's Into the Stream gave some pretty useful info. on Stream entry and the initial steps to start..

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SDC
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Re: Anxiety and Stream-entry

Post by SDC » Mon Apr 27, 2015 3:32 pm

Digity wrote:The thing is, I'll often look around and feel somewhat jealous of people who seem so much more calm and at ease than me. These are usually just your average person in life.
I’ve dealt with making this sort of comparison quite a bit over the years as well. In my experience (which should not be seen as something which is ‘active’ in everyone’s experience – though it is most certainly there), the strongest anxiety results from both pondering, and attempting to reconcile, our own existence. And the resulting anxiety is manifold. For one, the immensity of it all can be overwhelming – trying to make sense of your existence in (what is understood to be) an endless ‘universe’ – birth and death, eternal/not eternal and so on and so forth. Secondly, while being aware of this overwhelming situation we try to live with it, cope with it and that generates even more anxiety. Then for us attempting to transcend or leave aside this whole notion of existence there is the anxiety related to wanting to be rid of it and the possibility of not achieving it.

Now for a good deal of people, concern directly related to this broad view of their own existence is not ongoing, because it is not evident as something which requires concern, nor is it known to be related to their own suffering. “It is what it is” to most people and while their existence is most assuredly a premiere factor in all that they know, they are not concerned with altering the status of it. The practitioner of the dhamma is concerned.

My point is, when you are not concerned with your own existence, when you have accepted as is, at face value, then it is not very difficult to go through life at ease. This is not to degrade such a person because there is certainly a good deal of emotional maturity present in order for the mystery of existence to not have a crisis-like effect on them, not to mention their calmness has a good effect on those around them. (And who is to say they are not developed in the dhamma from a past life, but perhaps have no pressing need to seek it out in this life? Who knows.) Point being, they are not in search of a solution on the scale of what the Buddha has taught despite how well they are handling life. The dhamma practitioner is making that attempt; with that they must constantly face what it is that they do not yet understand about their situation and they must cope with the immensity of their quest to understand it. They are ‘on the move’ in search of a calm and ease which is far superior to that of the settled common person who has little concern for his/her own existence.

In short, don't compare yourself to others. Hope this helps. :smile:

EDIT - This is not to say you shouldn't be looking to more calm and at ease in everyday life. You should, but just understand that you may have more on your plate then the ordinary person. My post is not an excuse for anxiety, though it could be part of the reason for it.

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