Normal?

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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DCM
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Normal?

Post by DCM » Thu Aug 10, 2017 2:43 pm

Hi, I have a question that I could wait until I go on retreat to ask, but it's bothering me quite a bit. I don't have access to a teacher right now, but it's a work in progress.

I've been practising just over 2 years, and I've been able to considerably lessen my negative actions of body and speech. Problem is my thoughts, there are some pretty bad things popping into my mind every so often that I wasn't really aware of before. I never act upon these evil thoughts, so I'd imagine the Kamma created is quite weak. These thoughts seem to come from nowhere, although I realise they arise due to past conditioning.

My question is; should I be worried, or should I consider seeing a doctor? Has anyone else experienced this? And what helped you?

I'm functional completely normal as before, but these thoughts are stopping me moving forward, as they feel just as bad as committing negative actions of body and speech, if that makes sense! Sorry for the rambling.

DCM.

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BasementBuddhist
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Re: Normal?

Post by BasementBuddhist » Thu Aug 10, 2017 3:09 pm

I think this IS quite normal. Since I started meditating I have begun to notice negative behavior I was only slightly aware of before. I have really had to get a handle on my thoughts about others. I've realized that most of my life I've seen people as a useless waste of time. Inconvenient. Pointless. To the point where I would have been fine with killing a few of them to make my own life better.

This is simply getting to know the mind. If you don't see these things you can't deal with them. To pretend they aren't there is to take a festering wound, put a bandage on it and ignore it. Don't pretend you don't have feelings you have to be a 'good Buddhist'. Then you'll never advance.

You say you'd never follow through with these thoughts. Yay! The only thing I would say is if that suddenly changes, then find someone to talk to.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Normal?

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Aug 10, 2017 4:25 pm

DCM wrote:Hi, I have a question that I could wait until I go on retreat to ask, but it's bothering me quite a bit. I don't have access to a teacher right now, but it's a work in progress.

I've been practising just over 2 years, and I've been able to considerably lessen my negative actions of body and speech. Problem is my thoughts, there are some pretty bad things popping into my mind every so often that I wasn't really aware of before. I never act upon these evil thoughts, so I'd imagine the Kamma created is quite weak. These thoughts seem to come from nowhere, although I realise they arise due to past conditioning.

My question is; should I be worried, or should I consider seeing a doctor? Has anyone else experienced this? And what helped you?

I'm functional completely normal as before, but these thoughts are stopping me moving forward, as they feel just as bad as committing negative actions of body and speech, if that makes sense! Sorry for the rambling.

DCM.
It is very difficult working out what is going on inside another person's mind and offering advice when our only evidence is gained through a brief exchange on the internet. Mental states and ideas are notoriously hard to convey in words, and cultural differences can complicate matters. So I'll restrict myself to a couple of very simple points you might want to consider.

First, the intensity or "seriousness" of the thoughts. If you mean that you get angry with people and have mild short-term fantasies about getting even, harming them, etc., or that you get caught up in sexual or other fantasies based on desire, then yes, that's entirely normal. Lots of people experience this, including monastics. It is not helpful in the practice, of course, and you might want to think about ways of constructively overcoming these thoughts, but no need for medical intervention. If, on the other hand, you are experiencing very strong urges that you feel you might not be able to control in the future; or if you have distractingly vivid images or sounds just popping into the mind for no apparent reason (as in PTSD, for example) then it is worth seeking help.

Second, it is not clear from your post whether these thoughts were always there, and only now are you becoming aware of them. If so, then that's one of the results of the practice - especially practice in which one begins to exercise a lots of self-restraint. No problems, keep on going, and look for how to lessen these thoughts. They are a sign of developing insight! If, on the other hand, you think that these types of thoughts are new, then that might be a sign that your current type of practice is not so suitable for you.

DCM
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Re: Normal?

Post by DCM » Thu Aug 10, 2017 6:56 pm

I think maybe because I've been practising self-restraint; whereas before I started practising I was fully indulgent in sense pleasures such as; enjoying drinking alcohol, smoking, eating various foods, watching entertainment and sex. I have not drank alcohol for or smoked for over 2 years, now eat mainly for necessity, do not watch TV and will only watch shows if my wife has booked an evening somewhere, and no longer enjoy any form of sexual contact, I feel as though I'm only left with my thoughts and perceptions. I may have pushed to much too soon, as I have had similar thoughts in the past, but have then indulged in a sense pleasure to direct my mind elsewhere,

I do feel as though it is necessary for me to focus on my thoughts in order to understand their origination, but some days it just feels a bit of a struggle. I'm practising body based awareness daily, which is helping me centre myself when these thoughts do arise, I guess I'm just looking to see if others, when practising self-restraint, have been attacked from more intense negative thoughts than when they were not practising self-restraint?

Sam, These thoughts do feel like they just flash up, but I quickly disregard them as non vitreous and feel disgust towards them.

DCM

SarathW
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Re: Normal?

Post by SarathW » Thu Aug 10, 2017 9:50 pm

My question is; should I be worried, or should I consider seeing a doctor?
It appears that you are practicing mindfulness to some extent. (right effort and right mindfulness)
You are aware of the pros and cons of your thoughts.
This is the process just before first Jhana.
In first Jhana you have only wholesome thoughts. (loving kindness)
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

paul
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Re: Normal?

Post by paul » Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:14 pm

The defilements do intensify when they are in danger of being attenuated or removed, this can be seen in the Buddja's victory over Mara, which occupied six years before enlightenment and one year afterwards. Do not seek secular help for a religious problem, the aim of psychology is simply to make you a functioning member of society, the aim of the dhamma is to make you detached from conventional life, they are opposite goals.

DCM
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Re: Normal?

Post by DCM » Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:53 am

Thankyou all for your replies, they have given me the confidence to strive on, I am determined to break through the defilements, and my faith in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha grows by the day. It's a tough slog for sure, but there have been moments where i get the sense that it is worth the hardships.
Love DCM.

Reductor
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Re: Normal?

Post by Reductor » Fri Aug 11, 2017 6:51 am

DCM wrote: Sam, These thoughts do feel like they just flash up, but I quickly disregard them as non vitreous and feel disgust towards them.
You think the thought, know it is inspired by defilement, then feel disgust... but feeling disgust is inspired by defilement. Have you noticed that? I suspect you feel disgust with the thought because you've come to think of yourself as a certain person who doesn't or mustn't it shouldn't or wouldn't think these things, so you feel aversion to them when you notice them.

You'll have to look into that reaction of disgust. If thoughts are conditioned, then they arise -- you don't need worry over them, nor feel disgust. If you watch the thought, it goes away. Now watch the sense of disgust. It goes away, too. In the end, all these things, and even desire, goes it's own way.

As to the normalcy of these things: all sorts of things are normal. I relished violence in my youth, but today I think nothing of saving a spider and flies. A genuine wish for them to be happy arises in me easily without coaxing. Yet still, rare though they are, very violent thoughts do also arise for me, and sometimes I'm drawn into them for a time. Then I draw back, remind myself that they will dissapate if I withdraw from them, and remember that dwelling on them now will make them more likely to arise again in the future, and so the kammic force will be magnified over time to who-knows-what consequence.

DCM
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Re: Normal?

Post by DCM » Fri Aug 11, 2017 2:46 pm

That's sound advice reductor, the feeling of disgust is used to counter any attatchemnt that may follow these thoughts, but there is a level of aversion that I need to cool for sure, I will try and be more patient maybe and wait for them to subside. Like you said they are conditioned from previous habits, ones I no longer have, and as long as I don't follow these thoughts, surely over time they will lessen.
Best Wishes
D

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TreeSleeper
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Re: Normal?

Post by TreeSleeper » Sun Aug 13, 2017 3:17 pm

Yeah, it's because you're cleaning up the the more coarse and overtly delusional aspects of your actions and speech so you're starting to notice your latent desire to murder. The desire to kill is an everyone. Through societal evolution we've hidden and sublimated our basic desire to attack and kill. That desire hasn't gone anywhere , it's just hidden, shrouded in a veil of delusion. Once the delusion starts to go away, it pops up from hiding. That's why your noticing it now. Had you the means, you would act on these thoughts. But thousands of years of conditioning have made you fear it, so much so that you can't even admit to yourself that you have the desire. But the point isn't to repress them or pretend there not there, what you have to do is remove the underlying tendency to anger. Remove your anger, remove your hatred. Eventually you'll see that you do actually want to kill, when you see that clearly without any veil of delusion covering it, it'll vanish, because you know that killing is a bad idea, you won't need to repress it, you'll no longer want to do it. There's no need to repress it or hide it from yourself, you can just be aware of it. It remains when you aren't aware that you have the anger or whatever it is. An Arahant doesn't have negative thoughts because they no longer have any hatred or anger for anybody or anything. That's the direction you want to head in. As you make more progress you'll notice that angry thoughts won't arise as often, until they eventually don't arise at all, you'll notice that you don't have to desire to hurt anything. You become pure. You don't think of hurting anyone anymore, killing someone doesn't make any sense at that point. This is the path to freedom, to stilling, to cooling. When you no longer have any anger in your mind, you'll start to fade out of this world, heading towards Nibbana. Good luck.

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