Progress or Regress?

Discuss your personal experience with the Dharma here. How has it enriched your life? What challenges does it present?

Progress or Regress?

Postby wisdom » Sun Aug 12, 2012 9:38 am

I've been noticing that as time passes, overall I am less afflicted. However when I am afflicted, they seem to be stronger or more powerful and far more sudden and violent. By violent I mean the severity of the affliction itself. I go from a day, or two, or even three of peace, calm, awareness, and so forth, it doesn't even require a great deal of effort on my part. I can meet 100 challenges and just smile at them, nothing phases me, I realize situations are empty so they don't really affect me. I work in a social environment and when other people start panicking I'm unphased and just work to help the people who are in the most stressful situations in order to relieve the stress of the environment I am in.

Then one thing happens that I don't think of as empty and I freak out, suddenly I hate this world, I hate life, and I start asking myself why I bother doing anything at all, why do I even live? Whatever the thing is, its unpredictable, yet each time I can see that it arose because I didn't recognize that particular thing (for whatever reason) as being empty. Yet even as it happens I have this awareness that I'm doing it and I'm asking myself "Why am I thinking or talking like this? This isn't right, this isn't how I really feel, I don't really hate people or myself or life". And almost as soon as such a horrible and violent affliction arises, I remember that its all empty and it just goes away like it was never there. In the end I don't brood over it and return back to a place of balance.

Am I making progress because my overall afflictions are diminishing? Does the general experience of clarity and equanimity when disturbed make little things seem far, far worse than they really are (due to the contrast)? Its not even like the afflictions can keep me trapped, I just experience them and then I look at them, examine them, and watch them dissolve. But while they happen sometimes I even want to end my life, I wish something would happen to just take me from this horrible existence full of horrible people and constant experiences of suffering.

TLDL: As overall afflictions diminish, what afflictions do arise become more and more severe in my experience of them, even if they only abide for a short time. Am I progressing or am I doing something wrong?
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Re: Progress or Regress?

Postby Osho » Sun Aug 12, 2012 11:05 am

We once lived in a house where our garden backed onto that of the Baptist Manse [pastor's house belonging to the church]. That church seemed to get through pastors about one every two years. One guy about thirty-five had a too quiet wife and three youngsters all under ten years old.
Many a summer afternoon we'd be sitting or working out in our back garden when his bellows at his kids playing in their garden would echo across the fence. Things like.. SHUT UP! DADDY IS PRAYING!

Go mindfully dear friend.
No highs. No lows. Just that gentle middle way.
Be kind to yourself, all else will follow.
Chanting is good.
Namo Amida Bu.
More about Mindfulness here
http://bemindful.co.uk/

" A Zen master's life is one continuous mistake."
(Dogen).
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Re: Progress or Regress?

Postby Jyoti » Sun Aug 12, 2012 2:53 pm

wisdom wrote:I've been noticing that as time passes, overall I am less afflicted. However when I am afflicted, they seem to be stronger or more powerful and far more sudden and violent. By violent I mean the severity of the affliction itself. I go from a day, or two, or even three of peace, calm, awareness, and so forth, it doesn't even require a great deal of effort on my part. I can meet 100 challenges and just smile at them, nothing phases me, I realize situations are empty so they don't really affect me. I work in a social environment and when other people start panicking I'm unphased and just work to help the people who are in the most stressful situations in order to relieve the stress of the environment I am in.

Then one thing happens that I don't think of as empty and I freak out, suddenly I hate this world, I hate life, and I start asking myself why I bother doing anything at all, why do I even live? Whatever the thing is, its unpredictable, yet each time I can see that it arose because I didn't recognize that particular thing (for whatever reason) as being empty. Yet even as it happens I have this awareness that I'm doing it and I'm asking myself "Why am I thinking or talking like this? This isn't right, this isn't how I really feel, I don't really hate people or myself or life". And almost as soon as such a horrible and violent affliction arises, I remember that its all empty and it just goes away like it was never there. In the end I don't brood over it and return back to a place of balance.

Am I making progress because my overall afflictions are diminishing? Does the general experience of clarity and equanimity when disturbed make little things seem far, far worse than they really are (due to the contrast)? Its not even like the afflictions can keep me trapped, I just experience them and then I look at them, examine them, and watch them dissolve. But while they happen sometimes I even want to end my life, I wish something would happen to just take me from this horrible existence full of horrible people and constant experiences of suffering.

TLDL: As overall afflictions diminish, what afflictions do arise become more and more severe in my experience of them, even if they only abide for a short time. Am I progressing or am I doing something wrong?


Whenever the thought of ending one's life arise, it is time to examine what it is that you lack emotionally and physically, since you already familiar with the dharma and clearly they didn't meet what you are lacking inside. Once the lack is discovered, try to fulfill that in real life if that is within your ability, while you are doing that, you can still maintain your dharma practice. Try not to impede your decision to meet what you are lacking due to consideration for what is being advised in the dharma, because that could also be the potential cause of your thought of terminating your life in the first place.
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Re: Progress or Regress?

Postby Yudron » Sun Aug 12, 2012 3:25 pm

Well, the first thing I want to say is that if your thoughts are going beyond "why should I even live" to making plans to end your life, please seek professional psychological help immediately. This can include calling a suicide prevention hotline, or taking yourself to an emergency room, then establishing a relationship with a mental health professional.

If this is general ennui triggered by certain events, I would suggest keeping a journal for a while -- at minimum writing down specifically what events are triggering these strong feelings in you. Do this for a week or so, and look for a pattern. My hunch is that you will find that there is a common theme to what "pushes your buttons" and that theme is not present in the seemingly stressful events in your life that don't trigger you at all.

My suggestion, as an unenlightened person who is not a teacher, is that you not try to make an effort to make these strong feelings go away, such as forcefully trying to convince yourself that they are empty. Instead, view them as a real gift... because something in them signifies the core of your most precious karmic habit. If you were spaced out and unaware of them you would be clueless about what the raw material you are working with, eh? Then, if you can I would suggest talking to your lama about it. Real wisdom lamas are very interested in this kind of stuff as opposed to the BS questions we usually ask them, and it is your lama's job to guide you about how to liberate and transform this.
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Re: Progress or Regress?

Postby Kunga Lhadzom » Sun Aug 12, 2012 4:28 pm

Yes, when you suppress your true emotions/feelings, they have a way of getting out (like a volcano). I do this also. The effects are devastating. But ironically, when i just "be myself",
i can get very out of hand, and cause a lot of distress for myself and others. I guess our progress is 2 steps forward, one step back, learn to have compassion for yourself, as your heart breaks with compassion for others. Now I'm leaving to go get a massage .... :namaste: :heart: :hug:
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Re: Progress or Regress?

Postby Andrew108 » Sun Aug 12, 2012 6:43 pm

You are doing really well. Definitely making progress. One thing though. When thoughts come up we tend to see them as subtly different to emptiness. We then look and apply emptiness as an antidote or understanding after the thought or emotion. This is good but leads to the problem you describe.
In Mahamudra there is talk of thought and emptiness being coemergent. This basically means thought and emptiness are not different. Emptiness as appearance . Emptiness as awareness. Emptiness as thought. Emptiness as self and other. Not one coming after the other. It's hard to get this but really quite essential.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: Progress or Regress?

Postby Jesse » Sun Aug 12, 2012 8:56 pm

Then one thing happens that I don't think of as empty and I freak out


Happens to me all the time! For me the key has really been maintaining mindfulness of what's going on inside my mind. What I thought to be sudden 'outbursts', I've discovered are preceded by a chain of other mental events.. you have to discover what leads up to losing control. Once you are able to spot these event before they gain momentum you can stop them.

Am I making progress because my overall afflictions are diminishing? Does the general experience of clarity and equanimity when disturbed make little things seem far, far worse than they really are (due to the contrast)?

Don't let it bother you so much, as long as you are striving to overcome your afflictions you are progressing. Of course once you've experienced equanimity, losing control of your mind will seem far worse an experience than it would otherwise.

But while they happen sometimes I even want to end my life, I wish something would happen to just take me from this horrible existence full of horrible people and constant experiences of suffering.

Been there plenty too, and I know how horrible it is.. but exactly what your doing will accomplish just that. Keep practicing and you will find your peace, suffering really is our best teacher.
"We know nothing at all. All our knowledge is but the knowledge of schoolchildren. The real nature of things we shall never know." - Albert Einstein
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Re: Progress or Regress?

Postby wisdom » Mon Aug 13, 2012 8:48 am

Yudron wrote:Well, the first thing I want to say is that if your thoughts are going beyond "why should I even live" to making plans to end your life, please seek professional psychological help immediately. This can include calling a suicide prevention hotline, or taking yourself to an emergency room, then establishing a relationship with a mental health professional.


Thankfully its not really a consistent, brooding problem. Generally I am balanced, serene, calm, aware, without being overly happy or overly sad. When a negative thought or pattern of thoughts arise, usually I understand the pattern as you mention and can either just let it flow through my awareness without attachment or observe it and when I see it watch it dissolve.

Yudron wrote:My suggestion, as an unenlightened person who is not a teacher, is that you not try to make an effort to make these strong feelings go away, such as forcefully trying to convince yourself that they are empty. Instead, view them as a real gift... because something in them signifies the core of your most precious karmic habit. If you were spaced out and unaware of them you would be clueless about what the raw material you are working with, eh? Then, if you can I would suggest talking to your lama about it. Real wisdom lamas are very interested in this kind of stuff as opposed to the BS questions we usually ask them, and it is your lama's job to guide you about how to liberate and transform this.


Its true, it is a gift and I certainly approach it as such. I am happy that I'm aware of it and I hope I can get to the root of the problem because for the most part each time I get angry like that I am breaking my vows, and have to repair my samaya and so forth. Which is fine but I'd rather not do any of that. Yet its a thing I am willing to undertake for the benefit of all sentient beings, and I am more than happy to experience these sufferings for their benefit if it means that in the end I can free myself in order to be of service to them.
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Re: Progress or Regress?

Postby wisdom » Mon Aug 13, 2012 9:00 am

ghost01 wrote:Happens to me all the time! For me the key has really been maintaining mindfulness of what's going on inside my mind. What I thought to be sudden 'outbursts', I've discovered are preceded by a chain of other mental events.. you have to discover what leads up to losing control. Once you are able to spot these event before they gain momentum you can stop them.


Yep, it seems like each time I get one of those chains and integrate it with awareness, another one arises and a different set of problems befalls me. Which I suppose is just the nature of how it goes. Each time my overall ability to become afflicted diminishes, but each new problem I confront is like a bigger and bigger inner demon, something more deep and more dirty than the one before it.
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Re: Progress or Regress?

Postby purplelotus » Mon Aug 13, 2012 11:25 am

Hi Wisdom

I have noticed a similar thing. I haven't felt suicidal but when I lose it I really do. However, I have noticed if at these times I can sit down and meditate I can use that energy and my meditation is really successful and completely turns my mind around. I think (this is only a guess as I am no adept) that we may be loosening energies that are coming up and we can use these rather than be controlled by them) but it aint easy.

Just keep practising and don't worry. Try and be aware of the good and the bad without judging or beating yourself up just let it go. Try not to grasp either way.

Hope that helps.

Best wishes

P
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Re: Progress or Regress?

Postby purplelotus » Mon Aug 13, 2012 11:29 am

Just had another thought. By meditating we are making the mind stronger and less scattered so maybe our anger also becomes stronger. I think this is why it is so important to meditate on bodhichitta. It would be interesting to hear from an experienced meditator on this point?

P
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Re: Progress or Regress?

Postby Andrew108 » Mon Aug 13, 2012 11:51 am

View and meditation have to be brought closer together. In the end they are not different. It would be good to ask your teacher how it is that view and meditation are not different.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: Progress or Regress?

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:02 pm

IMHO: space, nonresistance and love are the same thing. Wisdom and method - same thing.

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Re: Progress or Regress?

Postby lobster » Fri Sep 21, 2012 11:25 am

Am I progressing or am I doing something wrong?


You are doing good. You are inspiring.
My sister is continually going here . . . :toilet:
If she does not get abducted by her own thoughts/karma or aliens :alien:
she will arrive here :twothumbsup:

When things are :tantrum: that is our greatest challenge. That is easily said.
If we have tools and a practice and a refuge, we can get through :thumbsup:

I would remind you of the four noble truths (Lobster style)

1. Shit happens
2. The *uck stops here
3. We have a plan
4. 'To do' list only has eight things on it :woohoo:
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