questions about fear and "advancement"

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questions about fear and "advancement"

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Nov 16, 2012 7:49 am

So without going into my own history to much, I've only recently started getting more serious about meditation after a long period of very sporadic practice, and found (I think) a new Sangha that will be a nice home. This experience lit a fire under me to create my own space and meditate daily.

I don't know where I am at with it all, all I know is that the world has shifted a bit for me, i've experienced some moments of great bliss, I've developed the ability to find the root of harmful emotions quicker, basic stuff, but really nice and welcome changes, and it seems like they came quickly given that i'd been so inactive for a while.

However, for some reason I feel a bit scared by it all. When I think about a concept like emptiness or dependent origination, and I can occasionally intuit it, it's kind of clearer now, in a way it wasn't before, which makes it a little frightening. Especially in regard to my wife and kids, I feel sort of removed from them..not in a way that's bad necessarily, but different enough that it's a bit of a shock. I also get some very..psychedelic I guess would be the word imagery and such, both pleasant and unpleasant. This is not new to me, but since this change the imagery can be much more vivid.

I assume this is normal, does anyone have some general advice for me on working with this fear, shock, whatever you want to call it?
"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: questions about fear and "advancement"

Postby Konchog1 » Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:29 am

On one occasion, Lord Tsongkhapa was teaching Emptiness to a crowd and he saw one man grab his collar in horror. Tsongkhapa pointed to that man and said: "He understands Emptiness".

Yes, it's scary but it's either advance or remain where you are. And you don't want to remain where you are. Do you?
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: questions about fear and "advancement"

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:32 am

Konchog1 wrote:On one occasion, Lord Tsongkhapa was teaching Emptiness to a crowd and he saw one man grab his collar in horror. Tsongkhapa pointed to that man and said: "He understands Emptiness".

Yes, it's scary but it's either advance or remain where you are. And you don't want to remain where you are. Do you?


No, I want to keep going...as much as that's possible for a middle aged guy with a family., I'm definitely better off than I was before.

I guess i'm just worried about dealing with the abrupt change, biting off more than I can chew so to speak.
"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: questions about fear and "advancement"

Postby duckfiasco » Fri Nov 16, 2012 9:03 am

Your post really resonated with my situation lately.

If it means anything, I also have had that odd feeling of surrealness start to creep into my committed relationship. Detachment but not in an unloving way, and kind of a uncertain surprise at the detachment. Things seem on a lot more even keel, bad and good days are a lot more alike than I'd thought they were before.

Another big difference has been when we do argue, the sense of my partner's suffering sticks out like a sore thumb instead of it becoming a battle of storylines. So that's probably a good thing. That gap between an event and the reaction is getting easier to find, and fascinatingly instructive in our relationship.

Anyway, if it feels odd or psychadelic, it's because this isn't the habitual way of operating for many, or for us until recently. Even a whiff of emptiness is the odd duck in a world full of very concrete swans :P

The advice I've read for fear, doubt, shock, hesitation is the same for any other klesha: lean into it with a gentle curiosity, explore its effects, causes, what does it do to your body, what does the energy feel like? That removes a lot of its power. Maybe right then you'll have an experience of emptiness as it dissipates like every other mental formation. I seem to be doing a constant tight-rope balancing act between doubt (what if it isn't...) and fear (what if it IS...). There's a lot of richness and lessons to learn in these kinds of thoughts and emotions.

Good luck :)
Namu Amida Butsu
The Perfect Way knows no difficulties
Except that it refuses to make preferences;
Only when freed from hate and love,
It reveals itself fully and without disguise.
- Sengcan (tr. Suzuki)
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Re: questions about fear and "advancement"

Postby jikai » Fri Nov 16, 2012 9:53 am

my teacher refers to this as 'feeling like a stranger in samsara'. Good luck friend! It can be both wonderful and difficult . Strive on unwaveringly :)
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Re: questions about fear and "advancement"

Postby GarcherLancelot » Fri Nov 16, 2012 10:37 am

Konchog1 wrote:On one occasion, Lord Tsongkhapa was teaching Emptiness to a crowd and he saw one man grab his collar in horror. Tsongkhapa pointed to that man and said: "He understands Emptiness".

Yes, it's scary but it's either advance or remain where you are. And you don't want to remain where you are. Do you?

How does the man understand emptiness all of the sudden?.. .
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Re: questions about fear and "advancement"

Postby zenkarma » Fri Nov 16, 2012 11:53 am

I would recommend some metta. Love is surrender and holding on in situations like you are experiencing, i think makes them more, not less threatening and painful. And i know this is the standard advice :) but i woud go check with a teacher in the tradition that you practice.
My experience with such things has been that when i let go sufficiently to experience what ever was happening, i didnt end up sitting on the couch blissed out all day, but still went to work, did the laundry etc.

I just remembered a favorite quote of mine:

"Men are afraid to forget their minds, fearing to fall through the Void with nothing to stay their fall. They do not know that the Void is not really void, but the realm of the real Dharma." -Huang Po
The substance of the Absolute is inwardly like wood or stone, in that it is motionless, and outwardly like the void, in that it is without bounds or obstructions. It is neither subjective nor objective, has no specific location, is formless, and cannot vanish. ~Huang Po
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Re: questions about fear and "advancement"

Postby Zealot » Sat Nov 17, 2012 4:02 am

I share the same fears as my understanding of emptiness grows. Entering samadhi and finding loving-happiness to radiate might help. The wisdom in knowing that others need us compassionate and loving has helped me with this fear as well. Wishing the best Johnny, Duck.

Garcher, that is the Right View. Some people can understand the right view simply by studying, others much practice and train their mind with the help of a teacher.

:namaste:
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Re: questions about fear and "advancement"

Postby lobster » Sat Nov 17, 2012 4:13 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:I assume this is normal, does anyone have some general advice for me on working with this fear, shock, whatever you want to call it?

One day you will tell others what I tell you and my former fearful self . . .
Be a Brave. A dharma warrior.
Trample fear like a redundant demon, replace with protectors, practice and dharma.
For every obstacle there is a prize.
Your rawness is being cooked and you are the chef :stirthepot:

:meditate:
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Re: questions about fear and "advancement"

Postby Sara H » Sat Nov 17, 2012 5:16 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Konchog1 wrote:On one occasion, Lord Tsongkhapa was teaching Emptiness to a crowd and he saw one man grab his collar in horror. Tsongkhapa pointed to that man and said: "He understands Emptiness".

Yes, it's scary but it's either advance or remain where you are. And you don't want to remain where you are. Do you?


No, I want to keep going...as much as that's possible for a middle aged guy with a family., I'm definitely better off than I was before.

I guess i'm just worried about dealing with the abrupt change, biting off more than I can chew so to speak.

We never get more than we can actually handle.

Even if it seems really intense.

If you sit still with fear, it too will pass all on it's own.

It's just like the inscense in my Avatar.

No matter how smoky or intense it is, if you just sit still with it and down act on it or push it away or hold on to it somehow, it will just burn itself away just like the stick.

Though it can be pretty intense. I've had a lot of fear come up in my meditation so this is something I have some experience with.

I've had some things come up where it was like liquid fear, so intense it was all I could do to sit with it, I could barely move.

But it did, and does pass, even if it can be an intense day or few days or even a week or month or so, it will actually pass.

You can have faith in this, because you know the Law of Karma, that things actually do change, including feelings. You've been happy before, joyful, elated, sad, angry, etc.

The feelings will actually pass, so you can be sure you won't feel this way forever, and sooner than you think it will end and pass on.

Like I said, it can be pretty intense, but the fear itself can't hurt you.

What it will want, is for you to act on it somehow, that surely there must be something you need to do or some danger that needs to be averted.

There may actually not be, it can actually just be fear, all on it's own, for no apparent visible reason at all. That's actually quite interesting to find out, that moods can arise, even intensely, almost like the weather, as though they are clouds, or our own weather system in our own body.
It's very interesting to watch them happen and watch them pass, with no reason at all for their seeming existence, at least not at this moment anyway.

One thing you'll notice, will start to happen, is as you refuse to give in to whatever it wants you to do, you'll find that it's "reasoning" for your being afraid starts to shift.

First maybe it's your money bills, or a spiritual fear, really intensely, then no, later it's that thing you need to do... then no, did you leave the lights on?? no, then it's your boss, a family member, etc, etc, etc. It just goes on and on until it eventually gives up and passes.

It's really very interesting to watch.

Let me know if you need any more help.

In Gassho,

Sara H
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: questions about fear and "advancement"

Postby Sara H » Sat Nov 17, 2012 5:52 am

Correction:
That was the Law of Change, not the Law of Karma.

Tired, lack of food brain fart.

Sorry about that. *grins*

In Gassho,

Sara H
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: questions about fear and "advancement"

Postby alpha » Sat Nov 17, 2012 12:39 pm

In general it is maintained that fear or any strong emotion if looked at in the right way can help with understanding and recognition of our true nature.
But this is not that easy.
Anyway,personally i think that any practice we do should lead us in short term to less alienation and reduce the tendency of solidifying .
If our practice leads us in a direction where we feel that we are doing somthing worthy or a place where we think we are full of love ,compassion or we understand emptiness and this sense creates a separation in our life and with our family then i think this is not the right direction to go.
This can only lead to a solidification and strengthening of our sense of self and separation.
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Re: questions about fear and "advancement"

Postby Anders » Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:13 pm

Konchog1 wrote:On one occasion, Lord Tsongkhapa was teaching Emptiness to a crowd and he saw one man grab his collar in horror. Tsongkhapa pointed to that man and said: "He understands Emptiness".


:twothumbsup:

I often reference how the sutras speak about their message of emptiness and how only the great mahasattvas would not be frightened upon hearing such a teaching. Yet, we have hordes of aspiring Buddhists who seem to take all this stuff in their stride without batting an eyelid. What gives?

Being frightened of emptiness is actually a good sign. It shows that it is not just an abstract concept for you, but something close enough that you can actually begin to visualise the impact and consequences such a realisation would have on your own life; and the fears that need to be illuminated and processed to get there.

People who are frightened of emptiness are the ones ripe for cultivating it. Those fears are the gateway to it - Don't look for answers or methods to pacify or subdue your fears. Shed light on them, study them and become familiar with them and they will tell you a lot about what you want to escape that emptiness threatens/promises to invite into and whether those fears are justified or not.

People who aren't frightened of emptiness are either already profoundly awakened or their intellectual understanding is out of sync with the wishes and fears of their own heartmind.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: questions about fear and "advancement"

Postby floating_abu » Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:45 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:So without going into my own history to much, I've only recently started getting more serious about meditation after a long period of very sporadic practice, and found (I think) a new Sangha that will be a nice home. This experience lit a fire under me to create my own space and meditate daily.

I don't know where I am at with it all, all I know is that the world has shifted a bit for me, i've experienced some moments of great bliss, I've developed the ability to find the root of harmful emotions quicker, basic stuff, but really nice and welcome changes, and it seems like they came quickly given that i'd been so inactive for a while.

However, for some reason I feel a bit scared by it all. When I think about a concept like emptiness or dependent origination, and I can occasionally intuit it, it's kind of clearer now, in a way it wasn't before, which makes it a little frightening. Especially in regard to my wife and kids, I feel sort of removed from them..not in a way that's bad necessarily, but different enough that it's a bit of a shock. I also get some very..psychedelic I guess would be the word imagery and such, both pleasant and unpleasant. This is not new to me, but since this change the imagery can be much more vivid.

I assume this is normal, does anyone have some general advice for me on working with this fear, shock, whatever you want to call it?


Fear is just another aspect of so called emptiness.

There was a teacher of old who said, approximately "Is the one who feels fear, fearful or not?"

These things are all just a distraction, your being is much stronger than this.

Just keep going and keep loving your wife, your children, your family: Buddhism is never remote from this aspect of life, unless you choose for example, to become a Theravadan ordained monk, or go on a five year retreat - both of which are not necessary for full blown enlightenment.

As to intuiting, if it is right, if it is ripe, sure it will come.

No stress, no ambition, just the Eightfold Path.

Best wishes,

Abu
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Re: questions about fear and "advancement"

Postby undefineable » Mon Nov 19, 2012 2:13 am

Anders, I'm curious about your post, and wonder which teachers/teachings have informed it. It reminds me of Chogyam Trungpa more than of any other Buddhist teacher, and leaves me with the same impression of a religion that aims to expand human suffering as fully as possible without clear goals. It also sounds like existentialism, a normal reaction to simple nihilism (i.e. the belief that nothing is), or a normal reaction to a sense of 'emptiness' in the usual western sense. Since we know 'emptiness is also form' etc. etc., I'd have thought a more nuanced reaction were possible from the start.

Nonetheless, my own case fits into your framework - up to a point. In fact, I took on Buddhism in early adulthood because -since childhood- I'd not found any means to convince myself that there was any solid 'I'. Atfirst, I'd believed others had solid selves while I lacked one, but as my understanding matured, I realised their 'raw materials' were better balanced towards convincing them and everyone else (just a little atfirst, but enough for the subconscious to 'latch on to' sufficiently to keep up that impression)of their essential existence. I still haven't shifted a fear of dealing with other people, yet here I am starting to realise emotionally that if nothing needs a self then there's nowhere to fall to and nowhere to get (permanently) stuck. {I've quoted elsewhere on this forum from sources that support this view.}

The obvious problem here is that many with full-on mind/brain 'issues' -such as myself as I just described me, along with a proportion of western Buddhists that may be too large- shouldn't -by dint of old and new karma- be able to make much progress along the Path. Nonetheless, since -like the world and his wife- I suffer excruciating mental pain and probably inflict in on others by failing to fully conceal it, I am not awakened; nor, since I spent many years 'afraid of emptiness' while working on understanding it, has my intellectual understanding advanced without taking some of 'the wishes and fears of [my] heartmind' with it.

For all the 'macho talk', I feel those of us who've somehow got past the 'collar-grabbing' stage should be willing to help dispel some of the misunderstandings of those new to emptiness, alongside any confirmation we may give of the challenges. As a common example, in 'visualis[ing] the impact and consequences such a realisation would have on your own life', I originally imagined everyone to be cold, dead, and robotic as a consequence of emptiness. Now the reverse seems true.
Last edited by undefineable on Mon Nov 19, 2012 2:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: questions about fear and "advancement"

Postby undefineable » Mon Nov 19, 2012 2:57 am

To the OP: The comment about 'wife and kids' sounds a bit like what I was just saying - I found it hard to see how the dharma could help one feel closer to others, and I'm in the same position as you are now vis-a-vis meditation, so while I can't feel/radiate any 'warm glow', ideas like bodhichitta etc. don't seem so absurd.

Also, all these experiential ups & downs sound more 'middle path' -i.e a more likely result of Buddhist practice- than the kind of psychotic terror I sometimes feel (by my own eccentric misinterpretation, I trust :rolleye: ) led to expect. I guess a good teacher would help find the right balance between 'biting off more than I can chew' and biting off nothing at all.
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Re: questions about fear and "advancement"

Postby futerko » Mon Nov 19, 2012 7:49 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:However, for some reason I feel a bit scared by it all. When I think about a concept like emptiness or dependent origination, and I can occasionally intuit it, it's kind of clearer now, in a way it wasn't before, which makes it a little frightening. Especially in regard to my wife and kids, I feel sort of removed from them..not in a way that's bad necessarily, but different enough that it's a bit of a shock. I also get some very..psychedelic I guess would be the word imagery and such, both pleasant and unpleasant. This is not new to me, but since this change the imagery can be much more vivid.

I assume this is normal, does anyone have some general advice for me on working with this fear, shock, whatever you want to call it?


It's important to re-integrate any 'realisations'. The first time you see a mantra it looks like a string of syllables, after 500,000 times it acquires all sorts of fantastic magical properties, then after 1 million times it looks just like a string of syllables again.

I would describe alienation as feeling lonely in a crowd, but separation as being able to be alone without the idea of loneliness ever occurring to you. This is a position of strength from which you are able to meet others without feeling compromised. There is something scary and quite vertiginous about it at first, but after persevering for a while, and integrating to maintain a whole "self" (rather than dividing yourself into the spiritual self versus homebody), I'm sure the benefit will be felt by all around you.
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: questions about fear and "advancement"

Postby muni » Mon Nov 19, 2012 11:13 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:S
I assume this is normal, does anyone have some general advice for me on working with this fear, shock, whatever you want to call it?


Hello Johnny, :namaste:

We are nature like all and everything, the Buddha had compassion/love for all through his understanding, he said to not be afraid. All is okay.

One way maybe is to just look to the fear, this can be enough or we can apply our teachings of analysis like you explained already. Also good is to find where the holding onto the fear start.
I heard about to imagine an open space where the fear is felt, fresh air space, allowing that fresh openess, then the knot of fear and all experiences which were seemingly so strong, fades in spaciousness, restoring peace. :meditate:

Family can never be separate, the love for them and all is only *wonderful* without the pain of attachment.

This is only two coins, a teacher can help better.

:namaste: :yinyang:
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Re: questions about fear and "advancement"

Postby jconnar » Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:22 am

Don't fear, there are others that have gone before you.

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Re: questions about fear and "advancement"

Postby muni » Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:03 am

Also was so thinking, when dependence-emptiness is frightening, impermanence is great practice as well. In fact I see there the same teaching in reflecting.

In daily life there is fresh bread-old bread, hot coffee-cold-coffee, new cloths- old cloths, seasons scenery... Change shows all ( created-compounded) things are impermanent, they cannot be everlasting hard disks on themselves. They are like passing clouds in the sky. And so there is also the sky or awareness-nature. Therefore not nothing.

There were practicioners who took awareness of impermanence constantely as their practice with deep appreciation of the human life to can do so.

Or expanding love for family to everyone...I mean change of practice can possible help us. We can give it a try and not get stuck on a practice till fear arise.

We should take care of ourselves, not too sever, not too soft;

Two simple coins, if not helpful, here is the dust bin: !_!

:namaste:
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