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Mental repression as method not encouraged – really? - Dhamma Wheel

Mental repression as method not encouraged – really?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Jaidyn
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Mental repression as method not encouraged – really?

Postby Jaidyn » Sat Oct 29, 2011 7:36 am


nameless
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Re: Mental repression as method not encouraged – really?

Postby nameless » Sat Oct 29, 2011 10:50 am


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Jaidyn
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Re: Mental repression as method not encouraged – really?

Postby Jaidyn » Sun Oct 30, 2011 2:55 pm


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Modus.Ponens
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Re: Mental repression as method not encouraged – really?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sun Oct 30, 2011 4:06 pm

As was explained in your very first post, the thought is not repressed/supressed. It's met with its oposite: for exaqmple, anger is met with metta, or envy is met with rejoycing. Only the application of the oposite is vigorous.

I've also heard it explained as "crushed with mindfulness", which means being vigorously mindful of the unwanted thought.
He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

santa100
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Re: Mental repression as method not encouraged – really?

Postby santa100 » Sun Oct 30, 2011 4:25 pm


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mikenz66
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Re: Mental repression as method not encouraged – really?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Oct 30, 2011 6:43 pm


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Alex123
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Re: Mental repression as method not encouraged – really?

Postby Alex123 » Sun Oct 30, 2011 7:53 pm

As I understand it,

Those suttas were taught to the monks who had to observe very strict celibacy. So the Buddha taught them many emergency methods that can temporarily deal with lust that arises.

Ultimately, of course, one has to develop insight which will eradicate the cause for lust's arising. But before then, emergency methods may be needed. It is better to suppress lust than to suffer defeat. It is better to suppress anger so not to harm or kill someone. Even though suppression is not the path, it can and should be used in emergency situations.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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manas
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Re: Mental repression as method not encouraged – really?

Postby manas » Mon Oct 31, 2011 3:27 am

Hi all,
I recalled that the various methods being discussed here are placed in order, with the best method being 'thought substitution' (the good peg driving out the bad one) with the last option being supression by force. So it would appear that, in the Buddha's opinion, immediately knocking out one thought with another one is not considered supression, rather just a skilful way to be rid of the unwholesome thought:

The Removal of Distracting Thoughts
(Vitakka-Santhana Sutta)

Thus have I heard. At one time the Blessed One was staying at Savatthi, in Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's Pleasance. The Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying, "Bhikkhus," and they replied to him saying, "Reverend Sir." The Blessed One spoke as follows:

"Five things should be reflected on from time to time, by the bhikkhu who is intent on the higher consciousness. What five?

When evil unskillful thoughts connected with desire, hate, and delusion arise in a bhikkhu through reflection on an adventitious object, he should, (in order to get rid of that), reflect on a different object which is connected with skill. Then the evil unskillful thoughts are eliminated; they disappear. By their elimination, the mind stands firm, settles down, becomes unified and concentrated, just within (his subject of meditation).

Like an experienced carpenter or carpenter's apprentice, striking hard at, pushing out, and getting rid of a coarse peg with a fine one, should the bhikkhu in order to get rid of the adventitious object, reflect on a different object which is connected with skill. Then the evil unskillful thoughts connected with desire, hate and delusion are eliminated; they disappear. By their elimination the mind stands firm, settles down, becomes unified and concentrated, just within (his subject of meditation).

If the evil unskillful thoughts continue to arise in a bhikkhu, who in order to get rid of an adventitious object reflects on a different object which is connected with skill, he should ponder on the disadvantages of unskillful thoughts thus: Truly these thoughts of mine are unskillful, blameworthy, and productive of misery. Then the evil unskillful thoughts are eliminated; they disappear. By their elimination, the mind stands firm, settles down, becomes unified and concentrated, just within (his subject of meditation).

Like a well-dressed young man or woman who feels horrified, humiliated and disgusted because of the carcass of a snake, dog, or human that is hung round his or her neck, should the bhikkhu in whom unskillful thoughts continue to arise in spite of his reflection on the object which is connected with skill, ponder on the disadvantages of unskillful thoughts thus: Truly, these thoughts of mine are unskillful, blameworthy, and productive of misery. Then the evil, unskillful thoughts are eliminated; they disappear. By their elimination, the mind stands firm, settles down, becomes unified and concentrated, just within (his subject of meditation).

If evil, unskillful thoughts continue to arise in a bhikkhu who ponders on their disadvantageousness, he should in regard to them, endeavor to be without attention and reflection. Then the evil unskillful thoughts are eliminated; they disappear. By their elimination, the mind stands firm, settles down, becomes unified and concentrated, just within (his subject of meditation).

Like a keen-eyed man shutting his eyes and looking away from some direction in order to avoid seeing visible objects come within sight, should the bhikkhu in whom evil, unskillful thoughts continue to arise in spite of his pondering on their disadvantageousness, endeavor to be without attention and reflection as regards them. Then the evil, unskillful thoughts are eliminated; they disappear. By their elimination, the mind stands firm, settles down, becomes unified and concentrated, just within (his subject of meditation).

If evil, unskillful thoughts continue to arise in a bhikkhu in spite of his endeavor to be without attention and reflection as regards evil, unskillful thoughts, he should reflect on the removal of the (thought) source of those unskillful thoughts. Then the evil, unskillful thoughts are eliminated; they disappear. By their elimination, the mind stands firm, settles down, becomes unified and concentrated, just within (his subject of meditation).

Just as a man finding no reason for walking fast, walks slowly; finding no reason for walking slowly, stands; finding no reason for sitting down, lies down, and thus getting rid of a posture rather uncalm resorts to a restful posture, just so should the bhikkhu in whom evil, unskillful thoughts arise, in spite of his endeavor to be without attention and reflection regarding them, reflect on the removal of the (thought) source of those unskillful thoughts. Then the evil, unskillful thoughts are eliminated; they disappear. By their elimination, the mind stands firm, settles down, becomes unified and concentrated, just within (his subject of meditation).

If evil, unskillful thoughts continue to arise in a bhikkhu in spite of his reflection on the removal of a source of unskillful thoughts, he should with clenched teeth and the tongue pressing on the palate, restrain, subdue and beat down the (evil) mind by the (good) mind. Then the evil, unskillful thoughts connected with desire, hate and delusion are eliminated; they disappear. By their elimination, the mind stands firm, settles down, becomes unified and concentrated, just within (his subject of meditation).

Like a strong man holding a weaker man by the head or shoulders and restraining, subduing and beating him down, should the bhikkhu in whom evil, unskillful thoughts continue to arise in spite of his reflection on the source of unskillful thoughts, restrain, subdue and beat down the (evil) mind by the (good) mind, with clenched teeth and the tongue pressing on the palate. Then the evil, unskillful thoughts connected with desire, hate and delusion are eliminated; they disappear. By their elimination, the mind stands firm, settles down, becomes unified and concentrated, just within (his subject of meditation).

When, indeed, bhikkhus, evil unskillful thoughts due to reflection on an adventitious object are eliminated, when they disappear, and the mind stands firm, settles down, becomes unified and concentrated just within (his subject of meditation), through his reflection on an object connected with skill, through his pondering on the disadvantages of unskillful thoughts, his endeavoring to be without attentiveness and reflection as regards those thoughts or through his restraining, subduing, and beating down of the evil mind by the good mind with clenched teeth and tongue pressing on the palate, that bhikkhu is called a master of the paths along which thoughts travel. The thought he wants to think, that, he thinks; the thought he does not want to think, that, he does not think. He has cut down craving, removed the fetter, rightly mastered pride, and made an end of suffering."

The Blessed One said this, and the bhikkhus glad at heart, approved of his words.

(link to sutta and the commentary: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el021.html)

:jedi: ... :namaste:
Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."

nameless
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Re: Mental repression as method not encouraged – really?

Postby nameless » Mon Oct 31, 2011 3:52 pm

Keeping in mind, again, that it is a section on right effort under the concentration group.

It is not that you have an unskilful thought, you suppress it, and that's that. It is a method for concentration, so if you need concentration, you suppress it so you can develop concentration. I think day to day life has a lot of examples, most commonly exams I suppose, where the most skilful thing is to drive all those distracting thoughts away and focus on the exam during the time given. Also, life goes on, you can be sure that it will come up again, and when it comes up again you have the chance to deal with it with all those other methods again, failing which you suppress again, and maybe next time it will be different.

I think a few assumptions need examining. The assumption that 'new' knowledge is better than 'primitive' knowledge, the assumption that psychologists know better, even the assumption that suppression is primitive (it is rather sophisticated, having a thought, recognizing it, evaluating it, deciding it is unwanted, pushing it away).

And I say that coming from being involved in psychology. But in the scope of this post, suffice to say that in order to examine if suppression as a last resort is suitable or not, one would need to do research involving an unskilful thought, applying all methods, and measuring the outcome. But it's not that simple; because it is prescribed as a last resort, possibly a lot of participants won't reach that stage, having relieved themselves of the unskilful thoughts through the other methods; you can't make them do suppression because that goes against what we are trying to measure (suppression as a last resort). Only measuring those participants that reach the suppression stage will itself have problems because the sample will be biased. Then there is the problem of measuring the outcome, what do we measure and how? I suppose as a section on concentration, measuring the participants ability to concentrate would be a reasonable goal.

And of course, if I actually did such a study and tried to publish it it would be met with all sorts of criticism, because I'll admit it's not a good study. But what I'm trying to say is, for psychology to actually claim that something is or is not helpful is a complicated matter, not just "psychologists seem to not support suppression as a method". Also, even if they do not support suppression in itself as a method, the method in the passage is not JUST suppression, but trying all four methods and then suppression if none of them work.

Edit:
But really, you can only know from trying out for yourself, not from preconceived notions about whether suppression is good or not or what psychologists say.
Try it for yourself.
When there are unskilful thoughts, go through all the four methods, see how they work.
When they don't, look at the situation. Does it seem ok to suppress? Even if it doesn't, try it a number of times, see if it works.
Then evaluate the situation based on experience.

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Jaidyn
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Re: Mental repression as method not encouraged – really?

Postby Jaidyn » Mon Oct 31, 2011 7:58 pm


nameless
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Re: Mental repression as method not encouraged – really?

Postby nameless » Tue Nov 01, 2011 2:52 pm



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