Can you help me work through this?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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Myotai
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Can you help me work through this?

Post by Myotai » Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:44 pm

Hi everyone,

Been a while since I posted. I wonder if you can help me working through a bit of a quandary please?

I love the Dhamma….I love the Dharma too <joking>. But its true, I love all forms of Dhamma and can see the benefits in all traditions and schools. However, after some intensive practice over the last few months and some insights, I have come to the conclusion that much of what I pursue in (terms of why I practice) has been borne out of fear. An existential dread that has seen me seek other avenues to try to placate this fear. As a result its created a sense of urgency that has at its core a feeling of failure in my practice. This may or may not be as a result of having been weaned in the Mahayana that emphasised on the need to achieve enlightenment NOW or you might just blow the chance – I never felt comfortable with that Brimstone and Fire angle, nor did I understand how anyone could feel ‘peaceful’ amidst such a threat. However, I am now left with a really uncomfortable feeling, an anxiety almost that’s detracting from my practice that was at one time inspired and ultimately optimistic. What did I do to warrant such a shift? I was at one time happy to sit, chant, meditate and generally try to be a good person. Now I am anxious and feel like I have completely missed the point altogether over the last decade or so.

I need bringing back on track somehow!

Thanks for reading

M…

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Sam Vara
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Re: Can you help me work through this?

Post by Sam Vara » Mon Jan 29, 2018 1:53 pm

Hi Myotai,

Sorry to hear things don't seem to be going so well. It's difficult to offer any sort of definite advice here, as picking up the exact nature of your feelings and perceptions is quite difficult on line. And it's especially difficult when people don't know the tradition you have been practising in. Do you have a teacher you can meet with face-to-face? Or is there someone you can talk to about your progress who can offer advice after asking a few more probing questions?

Some people would say that you feelings towards the practice are in themselves no bad thing. You might have read it before, but this

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... rming.html

is a useful article on the balance between samvega and confidence. Or it might be that you just need to change the main focus of your meditation practice towards samatha. That's really good for alleviating feelings of anxiety about the world, or the rest of your practice. Often its a matter of developing a technique that you really enjoy and so look forward to, like a treat.

There is also the idea that is highlighted and revisited a lot in Ajahn Sumedho's later writings, such as Intuitive Awareness: these are just feelings....no matter how bad they seem, that's just a sort of movement in the mind which I can observe...etc. I have a good friend who uses Sumedho's talks like this to lift him out of the doldrums.

You might also want to consider what else you are doing with your mind that might be making the anxious feelings more apparent. Are you reading or watching or mulling over themes which might contribute to that? You might want to try just immersing yourself in good news stories and inspirational texts, and the sorts of social interactions that give rise to wholesome feelings.

Good luck, anyway - I wish you all the best with it.

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binocular
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Re: Can you help me work through this?

Post by binocular » Mon Jan 29, 2018 6:16 pm

Myotai wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:44 pm
What did I do to warrant such a shift?
Unquestioning faith in a particular doctrine (esp. one that teaches fire-and-brimstone, now-or-never, all-or nothing) can result in such feelings of gloom and failure.

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Myotai
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Re: Can you help me work through this?

Post by Myotai » Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:28 pm

binocular wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 6:16 pm
Myotai wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:44 pm
What did I do to warrant such a shift?
Unquestioning faith in a particular doctrine (esp. one that teaches fire-and-brimstone, now-or-never, all-or nothing) can result in such feelings of gloom and failure.
....I think youre right there! :(

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Myotai
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Re: Can you help me work through this?

Post by Myotai » Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:39 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 1:53 pm
Hi Myotai,

Sorry to hear things don't seem to be going so well....

Thanks for such a kind and considered reply to my post. I think it warrants a reply to your point re not knowing what my practice is. Mainly Mahasi style, sometimes a more Zazen approach (Shikantaza). I sit daily, early morning 5am and have for quite some time now. With regards to having access to a teacher, no not really. Those I could ask are on retreat and others I thought may help seem to have drifted out of my reach - literally and metaphorically. So pretty much a loan worker now.

Fact is, apart from what I now 'know' (borne from my time studying Madhyamika and so on) my mind is still as stuck as it was 20 years ago.

Thanks again....

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ganegaar
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Re: Can you help me work through this?

Post by ganegaar » Tue Jan 30, 2018 7:41 am

on the positive side, the very fact you say here is the very fact that you have achieved!. you say that your mind has not progressed, but to say that itself, you must have progressed!.
perhaps you got attached to the very thing you are practicing to get detached from, few friends of mine in this forum just reminded me of the all too important instruction in satipattana sutta - "without being attached, with no distress, .."
Sīlepatiṭṭhāya naro sapañño, cittaṃ paññañca bhāvayaṃ;
Ātāpī nipako bhikkhu, so imaṃ vijaṭaye jaṭanti.

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