Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

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Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

Postby Pete Mcr » Sun Feb 10, 2013 6:36 pm

I'm trying to downsize to improve conditions for clarity, wakefulness, compassion, meditation, less stress, etc. Wondering what to give up, and under what principles. Anyone got experience or suggestions about what and why to jettison their stuff? This is my thinking so far:

Principles
Ditch stuff that exacerbates the 5 Hindrances. Is this enough? I tried the '100 thing challenge' but accumulated more things later when exciting hobbies arose. I think the 5 Hindrance principle can be extended beyond possessions into lifestyle choices, which I hope to be more sustainable. Any suggestions?

Possessions
My possessions are a computer, phone, clothes, walking/camping gear, CDs and several hundred books. I dont own too many other things. I will probably start with getting rid of some books, though not sure which ones to give away. Most relate to my job and I tend to think "I'll come back to that one sometime"...which I sometimes but rarely do. Any experiences/tips on possessions?

LIfestyle
    1) Alcohol: I've not had a whole week without alcohol for many years. Needless to list motives for sorting this out, but I cant think of a Hindrance that it doesn't exacerbate. Last night I had my first night out with friends where I drank alcohol free beer (not as bad as I expected). So, its now a week and 2 days since I drank alcohol... That's quite an achievement. I'm intending to try it for another week, then a month, then 2 months...anyone given alcohol up and have suggestions/feedback?
    2) Buying things: I tend to get heavily absorbed in my hobbies; this costs money, which I don't really have much of. My interests build momentum into strong passions, then fizzle to accompany other past passions on a backbench. My recent fizzling passion was photography books...not cheap. I also impulsively buy snacks/coffee for lunch, which is expensive. So the plan is to reduce lunch to soup and bread, and make use of the library. This should address the Hindrances of desire and worry (about money).
    3) Overworking: a few friends say that I overwork, and this can make me cranky and stressed. Hindrances of ill will and worry get fired up. It seems very difficult to downsize this area without some serious consequences and raising concerns with management, so this is going to take some more thought.
    4) Toxic relationships: there are some that I need to address or simply purge; some are critical, or encourage the above problems
"Eventually we must give up trying to be something special." Chogyam Trungpa
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Re: Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sun Feb 10, 2013 6:39 pm

Replace the alcohol with meditation is the only advice I can give, seriously...when you feel like a drink sit instead. It ain't easy but after a few months i'm not missing the alcohol at all.

For hobbies, I try to just be like a kid playing with toys, forget about them when i'm done...Far as cost, try to see if you can do them with exclusively thrift store equipment heh..
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Feb 10, 2013 7:51 pm

Rather than acquiring and ditching things look at why you always have this wish to acquire (attachment, desire) and ditch (aversion) experiences, objects, and phenomena.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

Postby Jikan » Sun Feb 10, 2013 8:07 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Rather than acquiring and ditching things look at why you always have this wish to acquire (attachment, desire) and ditch (aversion) experiences, objects, and phenomena.
:namaste:


:good:

Give up giving up too.
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Re: Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

Postby kirtu » Sun Feb 10, 2013 8:24 pm

Pete Mcr wrote:Wondering what to give up, and under what principles. Anyone got experience or suggestions about what and why to jettison their stuff?


"Give up attachment to this life, in your mind." - Atisha

Practice that for a while instead of throwing things out (unless you are hoarding and then make a little room first).

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Re: Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

Postby Terma » Sun Feb 10, 2013 8:45 pm

To kind of mirror what Greg was pointing at, I think instead of having to give things up it is good to take a look at the endless cycle of craving, attachment, and then ultimately the suffering that comes along "with it. This is part and parcel of samsara. I think renunciation is great, but I really like the term "renunciation mind", because it is based on the mind of renouncing that which causes suffering.

Of course, the simple thing would be to say "ditch all the things that cause you suffering", but sometimes this wisdom can be pretty subtle and can take quite some time to realize some of the subtle causes for suffering.

On a more practical level since I think you are asking for practical advice, I would really take a look at the things/aspects of your life that present the most hindrances to your path. Is the alcohol something you have a very hard time doing without, for example? Is this adding clarity or more confusion to your practice? Does it bring out the compassionate side of you, or does it bring forth more kleshas (mental affliction, negative emotions, etc.). This is just one aspect and how we can ask a few simple questions to help with this.

Start with a few of the major things that you feel excluding from your life would benefit yourself and others the most. Then go from there. A little at a time. Otherwise some find that they have alienated all of there close friends, and things like that.

When I first started practice I was so blown away and got very involved that I did give up quite a few things, mostly positive though. I always liked to read, so I began reading a lot of dharma book, commentaries and listened to a lot of dharma talks, for example.

Formal pracitce is great, but I think overall it is the view that makes a good practitioner.
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Re: Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

Postby Thrasymachus » Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:13 am

The more items that you have in your apartment or house, the bigger mental inventory of where things are or might be you are carrying around with you. So de-cluttering the house is the same as de-cluttering the mind.

Alcohol: You only get one body, why prematurely damage and pollute it? I don't understand why everyone spends so much time and effort to live poorly. You say you really get into hobbies and buy stuff for them. Imagine that I kicked or destroyed one of those possessions. You would likely get very irate. But on the other hand if I bought you beers for half a decade, you would likely thank me and consider me your greatest friend! Yet that would be doing serious damage to your one and only body and its organs like the brain and liver, which cannot be replaced unlike your possessions which naturally come and go.

I have given up lots of things: alcohol, drugs, meat, dairy products, driving, eye-glasses. When you are at the point where putting alcohol or drugs into your body is not an option any more, that is when you know you have made progress and are where you should be. Sometimes I rarely dairy cheat, but when I do it, I don't bs myself, I do it admitting to myself it is a low level poison that promotes disease, premature aging and is not really meant for human consumption, but I am gonna try to end that cheating.
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Re: Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

Postby Nothing » Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:57 am

Pete Mcr wrote:Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

There is no "I".....this "I" is the fabrication of the self.....there are no such things as "my possessions".....give up the "I".....and you will be free!
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Re: Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

Postby lojong1 » Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:59 am

CDs yes bye bye. Such an easy place to hide.
I also got rid of a pile of those will-get-to-them-again-one-day books. Hard to do, have not missed them at all. Kept the sutras.
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Re: Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

Postby Pete Mcr » Mon Feb 11, 2013 9:35 pm

Thanks ever so much for your thoughts, there seems something helpful in all of them.

Johnny Dangerous wrote:Replace the alcohol with meditation is the only advice I can give, seriously...when you feel like a drink sit instead. It ain't easy but after a few months i'm not missing the alcohol at all.


Will give this a shot Johnny, instead of dropping into the winestore after a tough day at work... what do you do, though, when say in the pub? Its there that I struggle with, when people are getting rounds in, etc.

gregkavarnos wrote:Rather than acquiring and ditching things look at why you always have this wish to acquire (attachment, desire) and ditch (aversion) experiences, objects, and phenomena.
:namaste:


Thanks for a great meditation question Greg! If I presented to A&E with a broken leg -- not just once time but several times -- then they'd want to know why it was happening. At a glance, the aversion towards stuff (which is most present for me right now) is a mixture between buyers' remorse and panic/resentment about that hobby/passion taking over from everything else, impacting upon my sleep/work/relationships/finances. Why I want total absorption? Maybe for escape (from responsibilities, reality) and to fuel an ambitious ego. Not sure, need more time with this big question.

Jikan wrote:Give up giving up too.


Once I downsize my stuff perhaps!

kirtu wrote:"Give up attachment to this life, in your mind." - Atisha

Practice that for a while instead of throwing things out (unless you are hoarding and then make a little room first).

Kirt


This is something that I'd like to know how to do Kirt! Do you poke skulls around or somehting? I have a workbook called Personal Death Awareness which might help, but are there any Sutras or other means of letting go? I once had an ex-girlfriend cover me in leaves in a cemetery once. I was young, probably a bit drunk. A little off topic, but my mother has always hoarded; recently the council, armed with a skip were pulled in for an intervention, so I am told. Maybe this attachment/purge cycle has origins there, in childhood.

Terma wrote:To kind of mirror what Greg was pointing at, I think instead of having to give things up it is good to take a look at the endless cycle of craving, attachment, and then ultimately the suffering that comes along "with it. This is part and parcel of samsara. I think renunciation is great, but I really like the term "renunciation mind", because it is based on the mind of renouncing that which causes suffering.

Of course, the simple thing would be to say "ditch all the things that cause you suffering", but sometimes this wisdom can be pretty subtle and can take quite some time to realize some of the subtle causes for suffering.

On a more practical level since I think you are asking for practical advice, I would really take a look at the things/aspects of your life that present the most hindrances to your path. Is the alcohol something you have a very hard time doing without, for example? Is this adding clarity or more confusion to your practice? Does it bring out the compassionate side of you, or does it bring forth more kleshas (mental affliction, negative emotions, etc.). This is just one aspect and how we can ask a few simple questions to help with this.

Start with a few of the major things that you feel excluding from your life would benefit yourself and others the most. Then go from there. A little at a time. Otherwise some find that they have alienated all of there close friends, and things like that.

When I first started practice I was so blown away and got very involved that I did give up quite a few things, mostly positive though. I always liked to read, so I began reading a lot of dharma book, commentaries and listened to a lot of dharma talks, for example.

Formal pracitce is great, but I think overall it is the view that makes a good practitioner.


Thanks Terma, you're right, I'm looking for practical ideas for renunciation but to do it successfully I'll need to address this sticky cycle. Going to start quite with alcohol because its often been a royal pain in the arse. I dont have a physical dependency, but part of me fears that Im turning down the possibility of exciting adventures! It negatively affects my practice for sure, by covering up those subtle causes of suffering that you mention, but also by bringing its many other causes of suffering...physically, financially, and how I can behave when drunk (don't ask). I hold out hope that an alcohol-free me can both practice and have fun.

Thrasymachus wrote:The more items that you have in your apartment or house, the bigger mental inventory of where things are or might be you are carrying around with you. So de-cluttering the house is the same as de-cluttering the mind.


Yes, this is my hope!

Thrasymachus wrote:Alcohol: You only get one body, why prematurely damage and pollute it? I don't understand why everyone spends so much time and effort to live poorly. You say you really get into hobbies and buy stuff for them. Imagine that I kicked or destroyed one of those possessions. You would likely get very irate. But on the other hand if I bought you beers for half a decade, you would likely thank me and consider me your greatest friend! Yet that would be doing serious damage to your one and only body and its organs like the brain and liver, which cannot be replaced unlike your possessions which naturally come and go.


Lifetime of free beer, dont kick my stuff please! Yes, my logic is inside-out, and I'm usually health conscious until a weekend boozing. Luckily Ive rarely drank hard enough to do big damage, and not clinically in the 'hazardous' category. Over recent last couple of months I sometimes drank moderately mid-week as well as heavily in the weekend, so it could easily get out of hand. Its mainly this ongoing fog and effect on my practice/motivation/clarity and some unskillful actions that mainly concern me now.

Thrasymachus wrote: I have given up lots of things: alcohol, drugs, meat, dairy products, driving, eye-glasses. When you are at the point where putting alcohol or drugs into your body is not an option any more, that is when you know you have made progress and are where you should be. Sometimes I rarely dairy cheat, but when I do it, I don't bs myself, I do it admitting to myself it is a low level poison that promotes disease, premature aging and is not really meant for human consumption, but I am gonna try to end that cheating.


I gave up milk and drank rice milk instead, but was then told it had arsenic in it; soya damages rainforests and grows me man-boobs. So im back on milk..does having a bowl of cereal cause you a similar standstill before the day has even started?

Nothing wrote: There is no "I".....this "I" is the fabrication of the self.....there are no such things as "my possessions".....give up the "I".....and you will be free!


Nothing: I look forward to this attitude some day, just figuring out how to get there... okay, so moving the 'things in this room' to another place (charity shop, other people's rooms), you don't think this might help break down the attachment to possessions and fabrication of "I/self"?

lojong1 wrote:CDs yes bye bye. Such an easy place to hide.
I also got rid of a pile of those will-get-to-them-again-one-day books. Hard to do, have not missed them at all. Kept the sutras.


Is turning them into mp3s a cop-out?! :shock:
"Eventually we must give up trying to be something special." Chogyam Trungpa
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Re: Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

Postby Nothing » Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:28 am

Pete Mcr wrote:I look forward to this attitude some day, just figuring out how to get there... okay, so moving the 'things in this room' to another place (charity shop, other people's rooms), you don't think this might help break down the attachment to possessions and fabrication of "I/self"?

Saying and doing are two very different things.....attachments are conditioned by the mind, the source itself hence it is the mind that needs to be set free.
One can have an empty room with no contents in it.....does not mean one is free!
When the mind is free one can have possessions but is not attached to them!
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Re: Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:49 am

It's easy to over complicate something like this I think, or to get involved in lifestyle politics that sometimes involve the same kind of grasping you are trying to leave behind.

I've been trying to make the same kinds of changes you are, personally I just decided to wholeheartedly make a go of following the Five Precepts.

It's one thing to kind of do them, but it's another kind of effort if you actually try to be mindful of them constantly. Seriously, can't hurt to just start from here and mindfulness of the eightfold path before making any big, specific decisions.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

Postby lojong1 » Tue Feb 12, 2013 4:10 am

I have been thinking of giving up my alcohol-free lifestyle, for the sake of longevity. One glass of red wine per day? Eek. I'll be careful.
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Re: Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

Postby maybay » Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:13 pm

Reduce expenses and liabilities, and climb the hierarchy of assets (material > people > knowledge > identity).
People will know nothing and everything
Remember nothing and everything
Think nothing and everything
Do nothing and everything
- Machig Labdron
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Re: Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

Postby Asoka1944 » Tue Feb 12, 2013 7:51 pm

Hi,
For what it's worth, here's the little trick I try to play with myself:
Ask, How would I feel if this were lost, smashed to pieces, stolen
or otherwise went missing? If I would be upset, It owns me as
much as I own it, and it is better cast off; if on the other hand
I can say, No problem, I'd be OK without it, it can stay. For me,
it's not the number of things in the room, but my relationship
to or with them. Just a thought. As for drinking, likewise, if I
feel a need for a drink, I am probably looking to purposely
cloud the mind, and would be better off without; however,
the occasional scotch is scarcely a serious breakdown of the
precept. Again, these are hardly advice for you, just sharing
my own ponderings on the matter. I should also say that I
find it much easier to think about finding good homes for my
excess stuff than I do to think about discarding it. Perhaps
that's a cop out.
Michael
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Re: Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

Postby Yudron » Tue Feb 12, 2013 10:52 pm

One haighy regarded Khenpo told a group of yogins that his idea of fun is staying home and reading Dharma books and practicing. He is disconcerted that many American people's homes he goes to look uncomfortable, like no one lives there. He talks to the people who live there and find out that their "home" is someplace they hardly spend any time in. They are always out, doing this or that.

He recommends practitioners stay home and make home a comfortable place to be.
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Re: Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:38 pm

Yudron wrote:One haighy regarded Khenpo told a group of yogins that his idea of fun is staying home and reading Dharma books and practicing. He is disconcerted that many American people's homes he goes to look uncomfortable, like no one lives there. He talks to the people who live there and find out that their "home" is someplace they hardly spend any time in. They are always out, doing this or that.

He recommends practitioners stay home and make home a comfortable place to be.


:thumbsup: :thumbsup:
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

Postby Pete Mcr » Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:40 am

Just found this book on attachment which could be helpfulHooked

Nothing wrote:One can have an empty room with no contents in it.....does not mean one is free!


Love this. I can often be hard on myself about owning stuff, and this really brings out the logic in this thinking. I now feel I want to clear my plate a bit, but the priority is consider what all these attachments are about...even an empty room wont last for long, knowing my ways!

Johnny Dangerous wrote:It's easy to over complicate something like this I think, or to get involved in lifestyle politics that sometimes involve the same kind of grasping you are trying to leave behind.

I've been trying to make the same kinds of changes you are, personally I just decided to wholeheartedly make a go of following the Five Precepts.

It's one thing to kind of do them, but it's another kind of effort if you actually try to be mindful of them constantly. Seriously, can't hurt to just start from here and mindfulness of the eightfold path before making any big, specific decisions.


Minimalism could probably become an obsession too. I've been considering the Five Precepts. I'm not Charles Manson or anything, but if I cant commit to the 5th about intoxicants, then all the others are doomed. If can keep this up for a while, then the others sort of slot into place. I wish you luck and strength in your following of them, and interested in hearing how it goes.

Asoka1944 wrote:Hi,
For what it's worth, here's the little trick I try to play with myself:
Ask, How would I feel if this were lost, smashed to pieces, stolen
or otherwise went missing? If I would be upset, It owns me as
much as I own it, and it is better cast off; if on the other hand
I can say, No problem, I'd be OK without it, it can stay. For me,
it's not the number of things in the room, but my relationship
to or with them.


Will try this...though it sounds pretty challenging. I had a feeling recently that my things somehow "owned me" when I thought about going travelling. Its more complicated than this, work being the main problem, but stuff was there as obstacle. Its crazy really. Buddha travelled around a lot didnt he? I have a bag and shoebox of really sentimental stuff (letters, random little things) that I'm wondering what to do about at the moment. I might learn more from not destroying it.

Yudron wrote:One haighy regarded Khenpo told a group of yogins that his idea of fun is staying home and reading Dharma books and practicing. He is disconcerted that many American people's homes he goes to look uncomfortable, like no one lives there. He talks to the people who live there and find out that their "home" is someplace they hardly spend any time in. They are always out, doing this or that.

He recommends practitioners stay home and make home a comfortable place to be.


Thanks Yudron, this sort of helps find the middle ground in all of this. I put up a framed a photo I took in Thailand last night. If you were to see it, its just a part of the big reclining Buddha in Bangkok. But I lost almost eveything on that holiday -- phone, money, cashcard, ebook reader, relationship with brother, health (i came off a motobike and wound went septic, and got ill twice). A broken man. Felt lucky to arrive at the airport with a passport and sandals. The photo brings a homely feel with some sort of tough experience. Saying that, I wouldnt be surprised if it falls off the wall onto my head when I'm sleeping!
"Eventually we must give up trying to be something special." Chogyam Trungpa
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Re: Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

Postby Arjan Dirkse » Sat Feb 16, 2013 1:30 am

Give up giving up ;)


edit: ahaha i see someone else already said what I said. D'oh!
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Re: Possessions, lifestyle: what should I give up?

Postby Pete Mcr » Sat Feb 16, 2013 11:31 pm

Arjan Dirkse wrote:Give up giving up ;)


edit: ahaha i see someone else already said what I said. D'oh!


Thanks Arjan, echoed elsewhere and it could just be the key.

Over the week, I've been really trying to understand what the hell is the cause of my suffering...I got little beyond a surface/intellectual level of it. But today went to library and found a passage that resonated with me on a more emotional level from Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chogyam Trungpa. I quote at length because it chimes with what some of you were saying above, and because I feel a need to appreciate what he's saying:

Chogyam Trungpa wrote:It is important to see that the main point of any spiritual practice is to step out of the bureaucracy of ego. This means stepping out of ego’s constant desire for a higher, more spiritual, more transcendental version of knowledge, religion, virtue, judgement, comfort or whatever it is that the particular ego is seeking. Whenever we have a dualistic notion such as, "I am doing this because I want to achieve a particular state of consciousness, a particular state of being," then automatically we separate ourselves from the reality of what we are. One must step out of such spiritual materialism.


He then describes a pattern so close to my fickle nature that I was quite stunned when reading it:

Chogyam Trungpa wrote:If we do not step out of spiritual materialism, if we in fact practice it, then we may eventually find ourselves possessed of a huge collection of spiritual paths. We may feel these spiritual collections to be very precious. We have studied so much. We may have studied Western philosophy or Oriental philosophy, practised yoga or perhaps studied under dozens of great masters. WE have achieved and we have learned. We believe that we have accumulated a hoard of knowledge. And yet, having gone through all this, the is still something to give up. It is extremely mysterious! How could this happen? Impossible! But it is unfortunately so. Our vast collections of knowledge and experience are just part of ego's display, part of the grandiose quality of ego. We display them to the world and, in so doing, reassure ourselves that we exist, safe and secure as "spiritual" people.


Chogyam Trungpa then compares this pattern with antiques: in isolation they appear beautiful. So beautiful that I might want to buy another antique, to make the room more beautiful. Add another antique. And another...Til in the end, in their multiplicity, they appear chaotic, overwhelming, unsightly.

Chogyam Trungpa wrote:The beauty of the object did not radiate out any more, because it was surrounded by so many other beautiful things. It did not mean anything anymore. Instead of a room full of beautiful antiques we created a junk shop!


Exchange 'antiques' for books, and its pretty much me, or at least 11 years of me. I have often given up past paths, which could be enlightening if maintained, after becoming dissatisfied or, more often, distracted (by another path). The pattern is a constant, a constant tussle between pursuing a creative path or pursuing an intellectual/spiritual path (e.g. music vs philosophy, philosophy vs psychotherapy, one form of psychotherapy vs another). There is a strong part of me that wants something beyond 'ego', and I believe that I don't regret too many of these changes. But this pattern of giving up many paths could suggest I'm turning paths into ego entertainment. A concern is that I/my ego could do this next with Buddhism and that I'll find myself in that lost place again.

Anyone had a similar experience?

Chogyam Trungpa suggests meditation offers a way out of this ego trip and also says
Chogyam Trungpa wrote:In order to develop an appreciation of your [antique] collection you have to start with one item. One has to find a stepping stone, a source of inspiration.{...} Because we have so many possessions in our collection, a large part of the problem is that we don't know where to begin. One has to allow one's instinct to determine which will be the first thing to pick up.


Sooo, rather than just ditch stuff, I think I need to follow through and stay resolute with a certain path, clear my plate, digest it, and go easy on starting several books on Buddhism all at once. How do people stay resolute, practically speaking? How do people give up giving up?

Now to make Chogyam Trungpa's words a beautiful antique rather than throwing them in a junk shop!
"Eventually we must give up trying to be something special." Chogyam Trungpa
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