A clear mind more important than listening to music

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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tiltbillings
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Mar 21, 2013 3:05 pm

manas wrote:
Tilt,

I appreciate that you are trying to help me, by pointing out my aversion to music going on in my head. Thank you for reminding me not to become aversive if such things happen, and to remain watchful. But actually the whole point of this topic, was that I had a realization: that there is an easy way to be rid of the noise: Stop putting it in there, in the first place. Yes, I know it won't fully solve the problem of a noisy mind. But it will help. As I understand it, this practice is part of the Eight Precepts, and is to be encouraged. I am a bit confused as to why you seem to be kind of 'pouring cold water' over this idea (correct me if this is not your intention, but that is the feeling I am getting).

Kind regards :anjali:
When you do something as radical, for a musician, as stopping listening to music because you perceive the music in your head as a burden, you can expect (though it might not happen that way) for a lot of varying internal responses to arise before any real equanimity becomes evident. A quiet environment, fewer distractions, are all important and good things.

There is a story about a fellow, who at a retreat center in the Rockies, got a lovely little cabin in the woods as a place to do his month long practice. It was next to a stream far away from any human distractions. Very lovely, very quiet, a great place to practice, and as he was practicing he heard the stream softly babbling on to the tune of the Star Spangled banner, a tune that he particularly hated. Very annoying, very distracting, so much so that he went out an rearranged the rocks in the stream, thinking that might help. It did not. Some things are burdens only because we let them become burdens. That is worth seeing. Stop the music and then pay attention. It is always an ongoing, empirical experiment, and the sole tool is paying attention. That is all I am trying to say here.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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LonesomeYogurt
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Post by LonesomeYogurt » Thu Mar 21, 2013 4:47 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Some things are burdens only because we let them become burdens. That is worth seeing. Stop the music and then pay attention. It is always an ongoing, empirical experiment, and the sole tool is paying attention. That is all I am trying to say here.
And some things are burdens because they are "sensual pleasures with reference to sensual objects: base, vulgar, common, ignoble, unprofitable."

I remember an interview with Thanissaro once where he said that his guiding principle about what books to read was essentially, "Stay away from anything that will pop up when you close your eyes." You keep pointing to that Ajahn Brahm story, but I missed the part where, after hearing Chah's admonition, he then turns on Top 40 radio. You're right that we must be mindful of mental distractions, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with removing the source of such a distraction so that it may not arise in the future. When a member comes on the forum to express his happiness regarding a decision he's made to further his meditation, it is absolutely inappropriate to respond as you did. It's not particularly meaningful Dhamma advice, but more importantly, it's not beneficial. I know that you are a respected and important member of this forum, and I sincerely value your posts, but your reaction here was not samma vaca.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.

SamBodhi
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Post by SamBodhi » Thu Mar 21, 2013 5:26 pm

manas wrote:...that the music often playing in the background of my awareness, like a soundtrack in my head, has got to go.
:anjali:

As a painter and a musician, I nearly always have something going on. I make ambient music and my most recent set is devoted to sounds that work well for listening to while doing something else. However, in recent days, I have not been listening to music at all when painting and it is so much more rewarding. The sort of painting I do requires a concentration that can't be reached when listening to something else.

Were it not for those who have said my music feels to them like a meditative experience, I would probably feel pretty bad about the sort of distraction I had provided.


with Metta,
SamBodhi
"An inward-staying
unentangled knowing,
All outward-going knowing
cast aside."
--Upasika Kee Nanayon

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marc108
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Post by marc108 » Thu Mar 21, 2013 5:30 pm

i gave up music a few years ago for this exact reason. i found not only did music i had recently heard auto-play constantly during the day when i would prefer silence, but that in meditation music i had not heard for days or even weeks would randomly come up. once in a while i will listen to some music with my girlfriend or driving, but very rarely. i now mostly listen to Dhamma talks instead. i think my meditation and clarity of mind have improved as a result.
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."

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tiltbillings
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:04 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Some things are burdens only because we let them become burdens. That is worth seeing. Stop the music and then pay attention. It is always an ongoing, empirical experiment, and the sole tool is paying attention. That is all I am trying to say here.
And some things are burdens because they are "sensual pleasures with reference to sensual objects: base, vulgar, common, ignoble, unprofitable."
An earworm, a primary player in this topic, is a burden only if one makes it a burden, and seeing an earworm that has arisen as a burden, as a block to awareness, as an annoyance, as a distraction, and making one unhappy and then one wants it gone -- all of that is aversion. If renunciation is motivated by such aversion, then one needs to be aware of that, and that, then, is part of what one works with.
I remember an interview with Thanissaro once where he said that his guiding principle about what books to read was essentially, "Stay away from anything that will pop up when you close your eyes."
Which includes much of life.
You keep pointing to that Ajahn Brahm story, but I missed the part where, after hearing Chah's admonition, he then turns on Top 40 radio.
" he then turns on Top 40 radio." Damdifino what you are talking about here; your statement is less than clear.
You're right that we must be mindful of mental distractions, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with removing the source of such a distraction so that it may not arise in the future.
But the real source of such distractions and aversion, as Ajahn Chah made clear, is in oneself. Removing distractions in order to meditate more effectively is a reasonable thing, but one needs to be willing to be aware of one's motivation when one chooses to act in a particular way. And one's motivation may be very mixed, indeed, and since motivations are not always immediately obvious, that is stuff that one should be willing to look at as it presents itself.
When a member comes on the forum to express his happiness regarding a decision he's made to further his meditation, it is absolutely inappropriate to respond as you did. It's not particularly meaningful Dhamma advice, but more importantly, it's not beneficial. I know that you are a respected and important member of this forum, and I sincerely value your posts, but your reaction here was not samma vaca.
Thank you for sharing your opinion, but I simply do not agree with what you are saying here. My point is simply that one needs to be willing to look a bit more deeply at why one does something as that plays itself out in one's life. Just because renunciation is a virtue does not mean that such an action should not be looked at as to why it is undertaken.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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LonesomeYogurt
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Post by LonesomeYogurt » Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:27 pm

tiltbillings wrote:An earworm, a primary player in this topic, is a burden only if one makes it a burden, and seeing an earworm that has arisen as a burden, as a block to awareness, as an annoyance, as a distraction, and making one unhappy and then one wants it gone -- all of that is aversion. If renunciation is motivated by such aversion, then one needs to be aware of that, and that, then, is part of what one works with.
It is not aversion to identify something is a distraction and hindrance to meditation and then take steps to remove that hindrance. The aversion you are attempting to highlight is just not there.
Which includes much of life.
It certainly includes sensual indulgence.
Damdifino what you are talking about here; your statement is less than clear.
What I mean to say is, while that story is obviously a good lesson in dealing with things as they come, it does not imply that sense restraint is somehow unnecessary. I guarantee you, if someone asked Ajahn Chah whether or not they should listen to music, he would advise them not to.

There is more to meditation than just equanimity, and it is no sign of aversion should one turn away from a lesser happiness in order to facilitate easier access to a greater one. The OP is not trying to remake the world in his image or somehow banish these earworms from existence; he's just trying to take pragmatic steps to reduce their occurrence by following a set of restrictions enshrined in the precepts themselves. Why do you think the eighth precept exists if not for exactly this reason?
But the real source of such distractions and aversion, as Ajahn Chah made clear, is in oneself.
The source of the aversion is in oneself, but the distraction is obviously external. Even the Buddha went off into the forest to meditate. If all distractions are purely internal, why didn't he hang out in the city or do Jhana in the marketplace?
Removing distractions in order to meditate more effectively is a reasonable thing, but one needs to be willing to be aware of one's motivation when one chooses to act in a particular way. And one's motivation may be very mixed, indeed, and since motivations are not always immediately obvious, that is stuff that one should be willing to look at as it presents itself.
I absolutely agree.
Thank you for sharing your opinion, but I simply do not agree with what you are saying here. My point is simply that one needs to be willing to look a bit more deeply at why one does something as that plays itself out in one's life. Just because renunciation is a virtue does not mean that such an action should not be looked at as to why it is undertaken.
And there is no reason to assume this action is being taken for any reason other than one's desire for more effective and distraction-free meditation. What you are calling aversion is nothing more than pragmatism.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.

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convivium
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Post by convivium » Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:36 pm

i'm glad to see the ajahn chah quotes posted without any context have sparked some discussion. music isn't really a need, however much it may seem to be to certain people in certain circumstances. vinaya followers need to be content with having needs for survival met, and not seek that which satisfies only self-interested wants. but for lay people or ordinary people, art and music can at least provide significant means to cope with daily life. sometimes we can't just go beyond coping in daily life. as far as escapism or means to subdue the aversion and craving of the will go, great art and music are among the most suitable alternatives to meditation in my experience.
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php

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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Post by Mr Man » Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:53 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote: I guarantee you, if someone asked Ajahn Chah whether or not they should listen to music, he would advise them not to.
???

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tiltbillings
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:53 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:An earworm, a primary player in this topic, is a burden only if one makes it a burden, and seeing an earworm that has arisen as a burden, as a block to awareness, as an annoyance, as a distraction, and making one unhappy and then one wants it gone -- all of that is aversion. If renunciation is motivated by such aversion, then one needs to be aware of that, and that, then, is part of what one works with.
It is not aversion to identify something is a distraction and hindrance to meditation and then take steps to remove that hindrance. The aversion you are attempting to highlight is just not there.
All I can go by is what is written, and in this our opinions are going to vary.
Which includes much of life.
It certainly includes sensual indulgence.
And so much more.
Damdifino what you are talking about here; your statement is less than clear.
What I mean to say is, while that story is obviously a good lesson in dealing with things as they come, it does not imply that sense restraint is somehow unnecessary. I guarantee you, if someone asked Ajahn Chah whether or not they should listen to music, he would advise them not to.
I never said, I never would say, sense restraint was unnecessary or without value, but even more important is to learn how to relate to one's earworms rather than trying manipulate the environment so that might not arise again. It is a balancing act.
There is more to meditation than just equanimity, and it is no sign of aversion should one turn away from a lesser happiness in order to facilitate easier access to a greater one. The OP is not trying to remake the world in his image or somehow banish these earworms from existence; he's just trying to take pragmatic steps to reduce their occurrence by following a set of restrictions enshrined in the precepts themselves. Why do you think the eighth precept exists if not for exactly this reason?
The description was not a turning away from a lesser happiness, but, rather, trying to do away with a perceived cause of earworms, earworms being identified as a burden, an unwanted distraction, but what about the earworms that arises, as they are wont to do, well after no music has been listened to?

That he is trying something is fine, but my point is that when one does this is to be open to what arises as a result, and part of what arises is going to be dependent upon motivation.
But the real source of such distractions and aversion, as Ajahn Chah made clear, is in oneself.
The source of the aversion is in oneself, but the distraction is obviously external. Even the Buddha went off into the forest to meditate. If all distractions are purely internal, why didn't he hang out in the city or do Jhana in the marketplace?
I have have spent time in deciduous and subtropical forests. They can both, during the spring and summer months, be very noisy, indeed. The issue here is learning how to deal with these annoyances, burdens, distraction, because one cannot always control one's environment.
Thank you for sharing your opinion, but I simply do not agree with what you are saying here. My point is simply that one needs to be willing to look a bit more deeply at why one does something as that plays itself out in one's life. Just because renunciation is a virtue does not mean that such an action should not be looked at as to why it is undertaken.
And there is no reason to assume this action is being taken for any reason other than one's desire for more effective and distraction-free meditation. What you are calling aversion is nothing more than pragmatism.
In your opinion.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Post by convivium » Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:56 pm

there is an argument which goes like something as follows:
mantras, music, chants, etc. are artificial vibrations.
artificial vibrations obscure discernment of natural vibrations (we need to see things as they are, not how we want them to be)
mindfulness of natural vibrations (vedena, in some sense isolated from sankara) is necessary to achieve heightened discernment of phenomena.
heightened discernment of phenomena is necessary for enlightenment, etc.
this argument is great for more advanced practitioners, or monks.
however, for ordinary people, sankara is always clouding or smoking up vedana in one way or another.
it seems better and healthier to condition a calm (albeit 'artificially' fabricated) form of sankara to cloud or smoke up our discernment of vedena qua vedana, rather than letting a neurotic, crazed, stressed one do so out of control (this is why people do what people do i.e. seek ways to escape). so, as ordinary people, we should at least choose more skillful ways to escape (great art, music, heightened thinking, etc) when we are at the borderline of otherwise choosing unskillful ways to cope, and cannot establish sati, etc.
Last edited by convivium on Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php

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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:59 pm

convivium wrote:there is an argument which goes like something as follows:
mantras, music, chants, etc. are artificial vibrations.
artificial vibrations obscure discernment of natural vibrations (we need to see things as they are, not how we want them to be)
mindfulness of natural vibrations (vedena, in some sense isolated from sankara) is necessary to achieve heightened discernment of phenomena.
heightened discernment of phenomena is necessary for enlightenment, etc.
this argument is great for more advanced practitioners, or monks.
however, sankara is always clouding or smoking up vedana in one way or another.
it seems better and healthier to condition a calm (albeit fabricated) form of sankara to cloud or smoke up vedena qua vedana, rather than letting a neurotic, crazed, stressed one do so out of our control. this is why people do what people do (seek ways to escape). we should at least then choose more skillful ways to escape (great art, music, heightened thinking, etc) when we are at the borderline of otherwise choosing unskillful ways to cope, and cannot establish sati, etc.
Now, if you could just say this a bit more clearly. . . .
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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convivium
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Post by convivium » Thu Mar 21, 2013 9:09 pm

Now, if you could just say this a bit more clearly. . . .
the first or second argument or both?
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php

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convivium
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Post by convivium » Thu Mar 21, 2013 9:11 pm

the metaphor of smoke or clouds is how i describe viewing mental formations of all kinds from the frame of reference of vedena.
"And how does a monk remain focused on feelings in & of themselves? There is the case where a monk, when feeling a painful feeling, discerns, 'I am feeling a painful feeling.' When feeling a pleasant feeling, he discerns, 'I am feeling a pleasant feeling.' When feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he discerns, 'I am feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling.'

"When feeling a painful feeling of the flesh, he discerns, 'I am feeling a painful feeling of the flesh.' When feeling a painful feeling not of the flesh, he discerns, 'I am feeling a painful feeling not of the flesh.' When feeling a pleasant feeling of the flesh, he discerns, 'I am feeling a pleasant feeling of the flesh.' When feeling a pleasant feeling not of the flesh, he discerns, 'I am feeling a pleasant feeling not of the flesh.' When feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling of the flesh, he discerns, 'I am feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling of the flesh.' When feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling not of the flesh, he discerns, 'I am feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling not of the flesh.'

"In this way he remains focused internally on feelings in & of themselves, or externally on feelings in & of themselves, or both internally & externally on feelings in & of themselves. Or he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to feelings, on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to feelings, or on the phenomenon of origination & passing away with regard to feelings. Or his mindfulness that 'There are feelings' is maintained to the extent of knowledge & remembrance. And he remains independent, unsustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on feelings in & of themselves.
...
the metaphor of the artificial is something i am quoting from goenka...
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php

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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Post by manas » Thu Mar 21, 2013 10:38 pm

tiltbillings wrote:I am sorry for offending you with what i wrote, which certainly was not my intention. I think, however, you might want to go back and look at what you wrote.
"music running in my head a lot of the time has become a burden" Also, you might want to consider what else I said.

Given that music has been an important thing in your life, your stopping listening to music is not going to make the unwanted earworms go away. Stopping listening to music may be, for any number of reasons, what you need to do. Maybe, but far more importantly, learning to pay attention, with lightness, to your mind's functioning is even more directly to the point, particularly since you cannot always control your envirnment, nor can one necessarily control what pops up in the mind, but we can cultivate the mindfulnees, the attention, that allows us to let go of, not by force of will but by arising insight, those things that are distractions and our negative responses to them. Probably the best thing posted in this thread is this: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 20#p236621

Again, my apologies.
Apology accepted, no worries. :anjali:

Actually I agree that ultimately the 'burden' is my holding on to either the physical sound, or the recollection of it. Yes, I can see how there is a process going on here. But it's going to be easier to learn how to deal with the earworms in a skilful way, if there is more silence around me.
Knowing this body is like a clay jar,
securing this mind like a fort,
attack Mara with the spear of discernment,
then guard what's won without settling there,
without laying claim.

- Dhp 40

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tiltbillings
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Re: A clear mind more important than listening to music

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Mar 21, 2013 10:45 pm

manas wrote: But it's going to be easier to learn how to deal with the earworms in a skilful way, if there is more silence around me.
And no one -- at least I -- would not deny that.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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