CMP wrote:Also about attachment....I don't think people really choose to become attached to things. I think it's a natural phenomenon that human beings experience. I have a dog, and I know he's impermanent, but I'm still attached. And I didn't actively CHOOSE to become attached to him, it just sort of happened over time. Humans are evolutionarily inclined to show favor to their own pets, or spouses, or kids, or even possessions. So how do you just "let go" of attachment?? It seems to be somewhat of an impossible task and I feel that even the people who claim they are not attached to something are just lying to themselves.
The idea is to eventually understand that we are nothing but attachments and aversions. You as the psychosomatic individual you are, are a collection of attachments, 'I like this', 'I don't like that', 'this is good', 'that is bad' etc., the Dharma is suggesting that you inquire into the nature of "I", or "me", what are you, who are you. Not who are you in the everyday conventional sense, but what is it that constitutes 'you'? Is there anything behind the habits? Or is there just habits, if you say there is something more than habits, where is it? The illusion of an individual entity arises out of attachment and aversion, if you can resolve attachment and aversion, which is to say resolve the illusion of 'selfhood', then that is liberation.
CMP wrote:Also, how is suffering merely a product of the mind? Buddhists claim you must be in the "wrong mindset" or "too attached" to something if you suffer because of it....but I think that's absurd. If I drive a spike through someone's head and they start screaming and crying and SUFFERING because of the pain, does that mean it's their fault because they are too attached...?? How can any rational person say such a thing? Are the starving children in Africa suffering just because they are too attached to eating?
The suffering is more so the reactionary, or emotional torment that arises in relation to events and experience. Physical pain isn't exactly what is being referenced in the case of 'suffering'. Suffering is the throes of mental and emotional torment, negative mind states etc. In the most basic sense, we do suffer out of resistance to life, we resist 'what is' and when that occurs we suffer mentally or emotionally. That doesn't mean to throw out resistance altogether, conventional resistance is a useful tool in life. But be aware of that process, what is going on, what is occurring. On the coarse level, don't allow yourself to be a slave to spontaneous subconscious reactions, be mindful of the implications of your reactions, how it makes you feel when you reject something, and if you didn't would you still feel the same way?
On a more subtle level, yes suffering is indeed also addressing physicality, but those realizations only come through increased realization. As Dudjom Lingpa discusses here:
"Still, you might protest that it is unreasonable to hold that the body and the rest of the world have never existed as anything other than mere sensory appearances, since those who understand the empty nature of their bodies still feel pain when touched by fire or water or when struck by arrows, spears, clubs and so forth. The answer to this is the fact that as long as you have not arrived at the state of basic space [space being a metaphor for awakened wisdom] in which phenomena resolve within their true nature, dualistic appearances do not subside, and as long as they have not subsided, beneficial and harmful appearances occur without interruption. In actuality though, even the fires of hell do not burn."
CMP wrote:Also the concept of "living in the moment" made no sense to me. I mean, if we really lived in the moment, would we even bother putting clothes on every day? or going to the bathroom when we poop? Because if we lived in the moment, we would just take it one second at a time and not worry about the future and who might ridicule us. And even if they did ridicule us we would just put it in the past. So does anybody REALLY live "in the moment" or is that just a bunch of clap-trap?
Living in the moment, is more so a matter of being aware of what is going on presently. Not being caught up in thought, thinking about the past, regretting, resentment, longing etc., not thinking about the future, what might come to be, what will happen if such and such does or doesn't occur etc (essentially addressing fear). The idea is to see that the past and the future are merely presently arising thoughts, you cannot access the past nor the future, you are only here now. So dwelling in thought, is essentially dreaming more or less, being distracted in possibilities, potentialities etc.
This individual [Atmananda] wasn't a Buddhist, but his insight is essentially the same as that which we would find in questioning 'time' through being present:
"Time is believed to be composed of the past, present and future. Of these three, the past is past only in reference to the present and the present is present only in relation to the past, future is future only in reference to the present. So all three being interdependent, even for their very existence, it has to be admitted by sheer force of logic that none of them are real. Therefore, time is not.
Experience is the only criterion by which the reality of anything can be decided. Of the three categories of time, past and future are not experienced by any, except when they appear in the present. Then it can be considered only as present. Even this present - when minutely examined - reduces itself into a moment which slips into the past before you begin to perceive it, just like a geometrical point. It is nobody's experience. It is only a compromise between past and future as a meeting point. Thus the present itself being only imaginary, past and future are equally so. Therefore, time is not."
So your present wakefulness is always in this immediacy, everything happens 'right now'... wherever you are or whatever you do, it is always 'right now'. Time, comes into being when thoughts (which seem to be recalling a previous happening) arise in this present moment and this thought (called memory) is then said to be commenting on 'the past'. However, all that is occurring, is an image arising 'right now' which seems to be representing another time. Likewise, thoughts which seem to be projecting events which have not yet come to pass, arise in this present moment and this thought (called an aspiration, hope or fear) is then said to be about 'the future'. However, all that is occurring, is an image arising 'right now' which seems to be representing another time. Lastly, this present moment, is only the present moment in relation to the past and future, the past and future only being presently arising thoughts are never experienced as actual 'times' so therefore the present cannot be the present and time is seen as empty.
If you delve deeply into being present, it can be apperceived that every "moment" is the first moment that has ever been. However a 'first moment' would imply second and third, it's not the first, or the last, nor anywhere in between. It's an utterly timeless immediacy (And even 'the immediate' only exists in reference to the non-immediate, and is therefore negated as anything inherent).
CMP wrote:I tried meditating, but it honestly didn't do much for me. I didn't gain any great experience from it, in fact, I seemed to have a feeling of wasting my time when I could've been actually fixing problems. Where did I go wrong?
It takes time to gain experience from meditation, however experience isn't exactly the point. Here are some good meditation instructions from Dudjom Rinpoche...
Instruction on Meditation By Dudjom Rinpoche:
Since everything originates in the mind, this being the root cause of all experience, whether “good” or “bad”, it is first of all necessary to work with your own mind, not to let it stray and lose yourself in its wandering. Cut the unnecessary build-up of complexity and fabrications which invite confusion in the mind. Nip the problem in the bud, so to speak.
Allow yourself to relax and feel some spaciousness, letting mind be to settle naturally. Your body should be still, speech silent, and breathing as it is, freely flowing. Here, there is a sense of letting go, unfolding, letting be.
What does this state of relaxation feel like? You should be like someone after a really hard day’s work, exhausted and peacefully satisfied, mind contented to rest. Something settles at gut level, and feeling it resting in your gut you begin to experience a lightness. It is as if you’re melting.
The mind is so unpredictable – there’s no limit to the fantastic and subtle creation which arise, its moods, and where it will lead you. But you might also experience a muddy, semi-conscious drifting state, like having a hood over your head – a kind of dreamy dullness.
This is a manner of stillness, namely stagnation, a blurred, mindless blindness. And how do you get out of this state? Alert yourself, straighten your back, breathe the stale air out of your lungs, and direct your awareness into clear space in order to bring about freshness. If you remain in this stagnant state you will not evolve, so when this setback arises clear it again and again. It is important to develop watchfulness, to stay sensitively alert.
So, the lucid awareness of meditation is the recognition of both stillness and change, and the quiet clarity of peacefully remaining in our basic intelligence. Practice this, for only by actually doing it does one experience the fruition or begin to change.
View in Action
During meditation one’s mind, being evenly settled in its own natural way, is like still water, unruffled by ripple or breeze, and as any thought or change arises in that stillness it forms, like a wave in the ocean, and disappears back into it again. Left naturally, it dissolves; naturally.
Whatever turbulence of mind erupts- if you let it be – it will of its own course play itself out, liberate itself; and thus the view arrived at through meditation is that whatever appears is none other than the self display or projection of the mind.
In continuing the perspective of this view into the activities and events of everyday life, the grasp of dualistic perception of the world as solid, fixed and tangible reality (which is the root cause of our problems) begins to loosen and dissolves. Mind is like the wind. It comes and goes; and through increasing certainty in this view one begins to appreciate the humor of the situation.
Things start to feel somewhat unreal, and the attachment and importance which one signifies to events begin to seem ridiculous, or at any rate lighthearted.
Thus one develops the ability to dissolve perception by continuing the flowing awareness of meditation into everyday life, seeing everything as the self-manifest play of the mind. And immediately after sitting meditation, the continuation of this awareness is helped by doing what
you have to do calmly and quietly, with simplicity and without agitation. So in a sense everything is like a dream, illusory, but even so humorously one goes on doing things. If you are walking, for instance, without unnecessary solemnity or self-consciousness, but lightheartedly walk towards the open space of suchness, truth. When you eat, be the stronghold of truth, what is. As you eat, feed the negativities and illusions into the belly of emptiness, dissolving them into space; and when you are pissing consider all your obscurations and blockages are being cleansed and washed away.
So far I have told you the essence of the practice in a nutshell, but you must realize that as long as we continue to see the world in a dualistic way, until we are really free of attachment and negativity, and have dissolved all our outer perceptions into the purity of the empty nature of mind, we are still stuck in the relative world of “good” and “bad”, “positive” and “negative”actions, and we must respect these laws and be mindful and responsible for our actions.
After formal sitting meditation, in everyday activities continue this light spacious awareness throughout and gradually awareness will be strengthened and inner confidence will grow.
Rise calmly from meditation; don’t immediately jump up or rush about, but whatever your activity, preserve a light sense of dignity and poise and do what you have to do with ease and relaxation of mind and body. Keep your awareness lightly centered and don’t allow your attention to be distracted. Maintain this find thread of mindfulness and awareness, just flow.
Whether walking, sitting, eating or going to sleep, have a sense of ease and presence of mind. With respect to other people, be honest, gentle and straightforward; generally be pleasant in your manner, and avoid getting carried away with talk and gossip. Whatever you do, in fact, do it according to the Dharma which is the way of quieting the mind and subjugating negativities.
CMP wrote:And lastly...the philosophy itself seems to point to suicide as the logical conclusion. This is what led me to nearly killing myself listening to people like Mooji and Eckhart Tolle. If life is suffering, and we become attached to impermanent things, then why cling to our own life? If I'm going to spend 70 or 80 years basically trying to find the white space in my head where there's no desire, what's the point? Why not just kill myself now and get the long tedious process over with? It only seems logical.
Thanks for anyone who can answer.
'The white space in your head where there's no desire' is not the point, nor is it even anything which is an aspect of these teachings. We aren't trying to create detached robots in the dharma, but happy people! Early in my path, I too spent some time with Eckhart Tolle and Mooji, however I didn't interpret their teachings in the way you seem to be. If their teachings aren't resonating with you, then perhaps some other teachers would be better.
Suicide is never, ever, ever the answer. It is a permanent solution to a temporary hardship. My younger brother suffered from debilitating suicidal depression some years ago, and he made it through and is doing wonderful now. While he was sick, he could not see beyond that fog of depression, he had to be hospitalized on numerous occasions because we feared that he would harm himself. So while I do not know your own experience, I have some semblance of an idea of what you are going through, from an objective perspective of course. These teachings are helpful, and they are wonderful, they have improved my life vastly and though I personally haven't struggled with depression, I have been able to sever negative and afflictive emotions through meditation and inquiry, and I am very content with life. The same is available to you, there is no difference between you or I, or you and anyone else. When we strip away our life circumstances and life situations, we are all sentient beings which function in the same way, so application of these teachings, and meditation for you can bring results if you want them to. It may take some time of course, and there must be the desire to be earnest and apply yourself, but it can pay off if you allow it to. I know you don't know me, and I am not a teacher, but if you ever need someone to talk to you can send me a message anytime. Please hang in there, and please try and get some help!