mint wrote:It's hard to place where I am in my practice right now. I, too, have a sense of giving up but it's not because of laziness - it's more of a sort of nihilism, a sense of pointlessness. I have wondered if it might be clinical depression, but that doesn't seem right as I don't feel depressed but just bored with everything. There's nothing new under the sun and that whole bag.
After you've tried everything, then there is nothing left to do but to try doing nothing.
The ambivalent feeling that arises with dharma practice is very very common.
Actually, it's not really what it seems. It's rather like a fork in the road,
or a sort of invitation to move onto the next level.
What is being experienced is the fact that in a sense, everything we do entertains us to some degree. We get off on it. It is rewarding. We get something out of it, and so on. This is the habit of grasping mind. Even dharma activity is like this. Meditation is relaxing. Chanting is exotic. Devotion makes us feel pious. Whatever. We are wired for reward stimulus one way or another.
At some point, as was mentioned, the dissatisfaction with samsara starts to develop. And when that happens, this way of engaging in dharma is no different from movies or music or anything else we have grown weary of. So, we feel as though we want to give up on dharma, but in fact what we want to do is to give up on dharma as just another source of entertainment.
There is a term that is used by speakers of British English. When something is interesting, or perhaps amusing they say it is diverting
, literally, that it distracts you (diverts your attention) for a moment from being bored, or from some usual preoccupation. So, movies and TV and music and dharma are all diverting. But diversions get boring too, after a while, regardless of what they are.
The funny thing about dharma is that it bounces back onto itself. When you become bored with dharma, dharma becomes a source of suffering, because being bored is a type of suffering. But as soon as this happens, the 'truth of suffering'
suddenly becomes painfully clear again, and you return to dharma, to dharma activity and practice, but now you have just cut through another layer of stuff. And because of the truth of suffering, you can never escape it except through dharma, because dharma is what brings you to the end of suffering.
So, I think getting bored with dharma stuff is actually a very good sign. It shows that a more serious level of practice, one that is more authentic and is actually developing. Because what you want is the real thing, the real dharma that liberates you, and not just some silly routines. And this will happen again and again, as you cut through all your concepts about yourself. It's very cool.