Difficulties with your meditation practice? Cause and remedy

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
User avatar
Sekha
Posts: 789
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:32 am
Location: Earth
Contact:

Difficulties with your meditation practice? Cause and remedy

Post by Sekha »

Some people try to sit for meditation without proper preparation and give up because they don't manage concentrate.

Most of them are not aware that they are trying to jump to step #7 out of 8 without undertaking 1 to 6. It's mathematical. Those who do manage to practice abide by them, knowingly or not.

They are described by the Buddha:

http://www.suttapitaka.net/formulae.html#anupubba" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

in the suttas: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .horn.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

One thing should be very clear: it is not possible to practice serious meditation without giving up all sexual activity. The practice of samadhi or samatha or anapanassati will eradicate raga (craving) from the deeper levels of the mind, but only if one has mentally given up intentions regarding sexual activities. Otherwise, he will keep being obsessed by sensual thoughts every time the pleasantness due to concentration will start to arise, and he will not be able to concentrate. One has to experience all the "pleasantness" all the way to its natural cessation equanimously, understanding on the way that this "pleasantness" is actually like a burning fire or, as the Buddha says, a terrible itch (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;).

The proof in the suttas here:
http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh155-p.html#S11" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

"tranquillity" stands for samatha
"lust" stands for raga

the proof: “dve me, bhikkhave, dhammā vijjābhāgiyā. katame dve? samatho ca vipassanā ca. samatho, bhikkhave, bhāvito kamattha manubhoti? cittaṃ bhāvīyati. cittaṃ bhāvitaṃ kamatthamanubhoti? yo rāgo so pahīyati.

All the best for your practice!

Metta & Mudita
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

User avatar
bodom
Posts: 6493
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Difficulties with your meditation practice? Cause and remedy

Post by bodom »

One thing should be very clear: it is not possible to practice serious meditation without giving up all sexual activity.
And those of us living the household life who are happily married or are in a committed sexual relationship? We are left behind? Also, what is your definition of a serious meditation practice?

:anjali:
With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasaka Keep Nanayon

User avatar
Sekha
Posts: 789
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:32 am
Location: Earth
Contact:

Re: Difficulties with your meditation practice? Cause and remedy

Post by Sekha »

bodom wrote: And those of us living the household life who are happily married or are in a committed sexual relationship? We are left behind?
Whether it is pleasant to read or not, it is the law of nature. No one can change it.

The habit pattern of the mind is such that whenever it feels a pleasant sensation it reacts with craving, which manifests itself in various ways, the most obvious being sensual thoughts. When the mind starts getting concentrated, it starts feeling the pleasantness (piti-sukha), and if no proper effort to change this habit is made, it will keep on reacting with endless sensual thoughts. Eventually, the meditator has only two choices: either continuing with his meditation without letting go of sexuality and become litterally crazy (I have seen the case) or just give it up and endure their arising until they cease completely, provided that no action is taken that would make one fall back to his previous state.

We have to change our habit pattern at the deepest level of the mind. It is not costless.
bodom wrote: Also, what is your definition of a serious meditation practice?
A practice which leads you at least to the first jhana.

Dhp 372:
Natthi jhānaṃ apaññassa
Paññā natthi ajhāyato.

There's no jhana for one with no discernment,
No discernment for one with no jhana.


SN 35-229:
Santi, bhikkhave, kāyoviññeyyā phoṭṭhabbā iṭṭhā kantā manāpā piyarūpā kāmūpasaṃhitā rajanīyā. Ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, ariyassa vinaye samuddo. Etthāyaṃ sadevako loko samārako sabrahmako sassamaṇabrāhmaṇī pajā sadevamanussā yebhuyyena samunnā tantākulakajātā kulagaṇṭhikajātā muñjapabbajabhūtā, apāyaṃ duggatiṃ vinipātaṃ saṃsāraṃ nātivattati.

There are, bhikkhus, bodily phenomena cognizable by the body which are pleasant, agreeable, charming, attractive, pertaining to sensual pleasures, exquisite. This, bhikkhus, is what is called the ocean in the discipline of the noble ones. Here, this world with its devas, maras, brahmas, this generation with its samanas and brahmins, devas and humans, is for the most part overwhelmed, like a tangled skein, a knotted ball of string, like matted rushes and reeds, and is unable to go beyond the unhappy states, bad destinations, the nether world, saṃsāra.

Good luck

Metta & Mudita
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

User avatar
Viscid
Posts: 931
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:55 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada
Contact:

Re: Difficulties with your meditation practice? Cause and remedy

Post by Viscid »

I've seen people say that Jhana is not possible without complete chastity, but I am rather certain sexually active meditators who have attained Jhana exist. Why can't one let go of sexual thoughts in the same manner one lets go of any other type of thoughts or sensations which arise?

What I imagine prevents people from gaining jhana while being unchaste is that they feel a sense of guilt and shame at the carniality of their desires and see themselves as impure.. a guilt and shame which is completely unnecessary, imo.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James

Jhana4
Posts: 1309
Joined: Sat Feb 05, 2011 5:20 pm
Location: U.S.A., Northeast

Re: Difficulties with your meditation practice? Cause and remedy

Post by Jhana4 »

Dukkhanirodha wrote: One thing should be very clear: it is not possible to practice serious meditation without giving up all sexual activity.
That is possibly true, but I am suspicious of claims that sexuality interferes with "spiritual success". Any pleasure can have a strong hold on a person and lead to attachment. Including attachment to views, which the Buddha did mention. Yet, I don't see religious figures and other people warning people about reading books, studying or debating with anything close to the frequency of the warnings about sexuality. If you tell me that sex is warned about more often because it is more powerful I would tell you that wars have been fought over trifling points in religious views, even for Buddhism. A good example is the slaughters that took place in ancient Sri Lanka over the disagreement over which shoulder a monk should drape his robes over. Yes, sexual thoughts can be distracting during meditation.......so can thoughts of festering hatred for the order of monks putting their robes over their right shoulder while you are draping yours over your left shoulder.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

Kenshou
Posts: 1030
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:03 am
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Re: Difficulties with your meditation practice? Cause and remedy

Post by Kenshou »

Yeah I'm kind of unconvinced that sexual activity is something much "worse" in this context than say, a nice piece of cake or what have you.

Not that practicing restraint from these things wouldn't be beneficial to meditation practice, however, and at a certain point necessary.

befriend
Posts: 1598
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:39 am

Re: Difficulties with your meditation practice? Cause and remedy

Post by befriend »

its probably impossible to attain nibbana if you are still sexual. doesnt mean you cant make progress in bhavana if you are sexual. ive made progress in my bhavana and im not celibate.
Take care of mindfulness and mindfulness will take care of you.

User avatar
Sekha
Posts: 789
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:32 am
Location: Earth
Contact:

Re: Difficulties with your meditation practice? Cause and remedy

Post by Sekha »

I am not here to argue.

it is possible to make spiritual progress without giving up sexuality, but not to practice really seriously.

Check for yourselves the advice given by the Buddha in the following case:
We are lay people enjoying sensuality; living crowded with spouses & children; using Kasi fabrics & sandalwood; wearing garlands, scents, & creams; handling gold & silver. May the Blessed One teach the Dhamma for those like us, for our happiness & well-being in this life, for our happiness & well-being in lives to come.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

There is no question of meditation.

This thread was about gathering the right conditions for meditation practice. A derivative of the word "sex" has been used, and the whole conversation has become focused on this topic only.

:focus:
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

fijiNut
Posts: 124
Joined: Sat Jan 24, 2009 2:11 am

Re: Difficulties with your meditation practice? Cause and remedy

Post by fijiNut »

Great topic, Dukkhanirodha.

From the same link you provided for the Ganakamoggallana Sutta,
the Buddha did talk about the gradual training of morality, sense-control, moderation in eating, vigilance, mindfulness and clear consciousness before arriving at the overcoming of five hindrances and jhana.

Two points,
1) The Buddha emphasized on gradual training. Lets not forget the earlier pre-requisites of the training (morality, sense-control, moderation in eating, vigilance, mindfulness).

2) Obstruction to deep meditation is sensual desire (of which, sexual desire is a subset). Lets not forget the other 4.55 other hindrances!

User avatar
Sekha
Posts: 789
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:32 am
Location: Earth
Contact:

Re: Difficulties with your meditation practice? Cause and remedy

Post by Sekha »

Fijinut, thanx for alimenting the conversation.

My experience is that sexual desire accounts for a very large percentage of sense desire (more than 45 as you suggested). If you compare, the pleasures of other sense organs are much easier to give up. I have no difficulty to give up listening to music although I used to do it all day long. But if I have even one sexual relation, it keeps bothering me for months. Fondness of perfumes is also usually easy to give up. Just to show that the pleasures of the different sense organs do not all impact the mind with the same depth.

The Buddha gave also different other sets of requisite conditions for practicing seriously:

AN 6.77:
Cha, bhikkhave, dhamme appahāya abhabbo uttarimanussadhammaṃ alamariyañāṇadassanavisesaṃ sacchikātuṃ. Katame cha? Muṭṭhassaccaṃ, asampajaññaṃ, indriyesu aguttadvārataṃ, bhojane amattaññutaṃ, kuhanaṃ, lapanaṃ.

Bhikkhus, without dispelling six things it is not possible to realize some noble distinction above human. What six? Forgetfulness, unawareness, uncontrolled mental faculties, not knowing the right amount to eat, deceitfulness and talking deceptively.


AN6.117:
Cha, bhikkhave, dhamme appahāya abhabbo kāye kāyānupassī viharituṃ. Katame cha? Kammārāmataṃ, bhassārāmataṃ, niddārāmataṃ, saṅgaṇikārāmataṃ, indriyesu aguttadvārataṃ, bhojane amattaññutaṃ.

Bhikkhus, without dispelling six things it is not possible to abide reflecting the body in the body. What six? Fondness for activity, fondness for talk, fondness for sleep, fondnes for company, non-control in the mental faculties and not knowing the right amount to eat.


AN8.79:
Aṭṭhime, bhikkhave, dhammā sekhassa bhikkhuno parihānāya saṃvattanti. Katame aṭṭha? Kammārāmatā, bhassārāmatā, niddārāmatā, saṅgaṇikārāmatā, indriyesu aguttadvāratā, bhojane amattaññutā, saṃsaggārāmatā, papañcārāmatā.

Bhikkhus, these eight things conduce to the decrease of the trainee bhikkhu. What eight? Fondness for, activity, talk, sleep and company. Lack of control of the mental faculties. Not knowing the right amount to partake food. Fondness of company and fondness of papañca (definition of papañca here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;).

Note that indriyesu guttadvāratā and bhojane mattaññutā are defined in the Anupubba Paṭipadā (The Gradual Path): http://www.suttapitaka.net/formulae/bhojan.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; and http://www.suttapitaka.net/formulae/samvara.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

User avatar
Sekha
Posts: 789
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:32 am
Location: Earth
Contact:

Re: Difficulties with your meditation practice? Cause and remedy

Post by Sekha »

And here also the Buddha gives sense restraint as a sine qua non condition for successfull practice:

AN6.50:
Seyyathāpi, bhikkhave, rukkho sākhāpalāsavipanno. Tassa papaṭikāpi na pāripūriṃ gacchati, tacopi na pāripūriṃ gacchati, pheggupi na pāripūriṃ gacchati, sāropi na pāripūriṃ gacchati. Evamevaṃ kho, bhikkhave, indriyasaṃvare asati indriyasaṃvaravipannassa hatūpanisaṃ hoti sīlaṃ; sīle asati sīlavipannassa hatūpaniso hoti sammāsamādhi; sammāsamādhimhi asati sammāsamādhivipannassa hatūpanisaṃ hoti yathābhūtañāṇadassanaṃ; yathābhūtañāṇadassane asati yathābhūtañāṇadassanavipannassa hatūpaniso hoti nibbidāvirāgo; nibbidāvirāge asati nibbidāvirāgavipannassa hatūpanisaṃ hoti vimuttiñāṇadassanaṃ.

Bhikkhus, like a tree devoid of branches and foliage does not grow its shoots completely. Does not grow its bark completely, does not grow its sapwood completely, does not grow the heartwood completely. In the same manner bhikkhus without control of the mental faculties, gone wrong in the mental faculties, virtues are destroyed. Without virtues, gone wrong in virtues, right concentration is destroyed. Without right concentration, gone wrong in right concentration, seeing things as they really are, is destroyed. Without seeing things as they really are, gone wrong in seeing things as they really are, knowledge and vision of seeing things as they really are is destroyed. Without knowledge and vision of seeing things as they really are, gone wrong in knowledge and vision of seeing things as they really are, turning away and disenchantment is destroyed. Without turning away and disenchantment, gone wrong in turning away and disenchantment, knowledge and vision of release is destroyed.

(...)

Seyyathāpi, bhikkhave, rukkho sākhāpalāsasampanno. Tassa papaṭikāpi pāripūriṃ gacchati, tacopi pāripūriṃ gacchati, pheggupi pāripūriṃ gacchati, sāropi pāripūriṃ gacchati. Evamevaṃ kho, bhikkhave, indriyasaṃvare sati indriyasaṃvarasampannassa upanisasampannaṃ hoti sīlaṃ; sīle sati sīlasampannassa upanisasampanno hoti sammāsamādhi; sammāsamādhimhi sati sammāsamādhisampannassa upanisasampannaṃ hoti yathābhūtañāṇadassanaṃ; yathābhūtañāṇadassane sati yathābhūtañāṇadassanasampannassa upanisasampanno hoti nibbidāvirāgo; nibbidāvirāge sati nibbidāvirāgasampannassa upanisasampannaṃ hoti vimuttiñāṇadassanaṃ.

Bhikkhus, like a tree endowed with of branches and foliage grows its shoots completely. Grows its bark completely, grows its sapwood completely, grows the heartwood completely. In the same manner bhikkhus endowed with control of the mental faculties, endowed with control of the mental faculties, there are virtues Endowed with virtues, there is right concentration. Endowed with right concentration, there is seeing things as they really are. Endowed with seeing things as they really are, there is knowledge and vision of seeing things as they really are. Endowed with knowledge and vision of seeing things as they really are, there is turning away and disenchantment. Endowed with turning away and disenchantment, there is knowledge and vision of release.

Metta & Mudita
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

User avatar
bodom
Posts: 6493
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Difficulties with your meditation practice? Cause and remedy

Post by bodom »

A practice which leads you at least to the first jhana.


What is so special about jhana? Desire to attain jhana can be as much of a hindrance as sensual desire.

:anjali:
With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasaka Keep Nanayon

daverupa
Posts: 5980
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Difficulties with your meditation practice? Cause and remedy

Post by daverupa »

bodom wrote:
A practice which leads you at least to the first jhana.


What is so special about jhana? Desire to attain jhana can be as much of a hindrance as sensual desire.

:anjali:
I think desire for jhana can be problematic and hindering, but this idea that it is just as much of one as sensual pleasure must be incorrect. I can desire jhana and this causes trouble, expectations and distractions from satipatthana and so forth, but one pursuing sensual pleasure isn't meditating as often, if at all, and their Sila will also be weaker. There is a great difference.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

Karma
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2011 4:22 pm

Re: Difficulties with your meditation practice? Cause and remedy

Post by Karma »

I think I'll look for the middle way

User avatar
manas
Posts: 2667
Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:04 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Difficulties with your meditation practice? Cause and remedy

Post by manas »

Darn it, I've had to delete my post. I started worrying that it might have looked like I was advocating (moderate) sexual indulgence (for householders). I was not. Sense restraint is good. (We need to know the right way to go about it, however - simple repression is not the best way to go). I was just warning against perfectionism in the sense that if one 'slips up' from time to time, one should not then think, 'oh darn it I'm a failure, now I won't be able to meditate properly...' etc. Don't assume that, or you might close the door on something. Pah, I'm not saying anything anymore. I hope more eloquent and experienced persons could elaborate. I have to go for now...

metta

:anjali:
Last edited by manas on Sun Nov 06, 2011 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
To the Buddha-refuge i go; to the Dhamma-refuge i go; to the Sangha-refuge i go.

Post Reply