Stopping thoughts?

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Re: Stopping thoughts?

Postby Ramon1920 » Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:28 am

Meditate with an object. If a thought grabs your attention, don't even let it finish, go back to the meditation object. There are thoughts that are blameworthy, and some are blameworthy sometimes and not others.
When you're meditating, thoughts other than your meditation object are blameworthy and you should stop them as soon as you notice.

The idea of no good and no bad is really crazy. You would have to be crazy to believe such a thing.
The idea that mindfulness is just bare awareness is just a uneducated person's misconstrued version of the teachings.

To quote the Nagara Sutta,

"Just as the royal frontier fortress has a gate-keeper — wise, experienced, intelligent — to keep out those he doesn't know and to let in those he does, for the protection of those within and to ward off those without; in the same way a disciple of the noble ones is mindful, highly meticulous, remembering & able to call to mind even things that were done & said long ago. With mindfulness as his gate-keeper, the disciple of the ones abandons what is unskillful, develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy, develops what is blameless, and looks after himself with purity. With this sixth true quality is he endowed."


For instructions on these wandering thoughts, you should learn about the asavas. There is a sutta that goes into some more detail. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
You should find a commentary on this sutta because the meaning can be hard to understand correctly. Some thoughts will not go away just by looking at them objectively.

"When a monk's fermentations that should be abandoned by seeing have been abandoned by seeing, his fermentations that should be abandoned by restraining have been abandoned by restraining, his fermentations that should be abandoned by using have been abandoned by using, his fermentations that should be abandoned by tolerating have been abandoned by tolerating, his fermentations that should be abandoned by avoiding have been abandoned by avoiding, his fermentations that should be abandoned by destroying have been abandoned by destroying, his fermentations that should be abandoned by developing have been abandoned by developing, then he is called a monk who dwells restrained with the restraint of all the fermentations. He has severed craving, thrown off the fetters, and — through the right penetration of conceit — has made an end of suffering & stress."
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Re: Stopping thoughts?

Postby flavio81 » Thu Jul 25, 2013 6:32 am

Ramon1920 wrote:Meditate with an object. If a thought grabs your attention, don't even let it finish, go back to the meditation object. There are thoughts that are blameworthy, and some are blameworthy sometimes and not others.
When you're meditating, thoughts other than your meditation object are blameworthy and you should stop them as soon as you notice.


If you read Nikolay's posts on the previous page, you'll see this approach did not work for him.

Also, i'm afraid that judging thoughts as good or bad and then trying to "stop them as soon you notice they are bad", is not good advice.

Ramon1920 wrote:The idea of no good and no bad is really crazy. You would have to be crazy to believe such a thing.


Acknowledging thoughts without classifying them into "good" or "bad" and/or dwelling into them is a well-known method to let thoughts go away just as the waves dissolve into the sea.
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Re: Stopping thoughts?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jul 25, 2013 7:00 am

flavio81 wrote:Also, i'm afraid that judging thoughts as good or bad and then trying to "stop them as soon you notice they are bad", is not good advice.
You don't need to stop them. Recognise them as thoughts, as the functioning of mind, and they will just dissolve of their own accord. If a certain thought (or train of thought) recurs constantly and seems impossible to let go of then you can enter into an analysis of the thought. Analyse it in the following way: this thought is useless. Analyse why and how it is useless. This thought is meaningless. Analyse why and how it is lacks meaning. This thought has no essence. Analyse its true nature. If this analysis leads to the conclusion that the specific thought (or thought process) has meaning, (use) value and essence, then feel free to engage in it.
"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: Stopping thoughts?

Postby flavio81 » Thu Jul 25, 2013 7:02 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
flavio81 wrote:Also, i'm afraid that judging thoughts as good or bad and then trying to "stop them as soon you notice they are bad", is not good advice.
You don't need to stop them. Recognise them as thoughts, as the functioning of mind, and they will just dissolve of their own accord. If a certain thought (or train of thought) recurs constantly and seems impossible to let go of then you can enter into an analysis of the thought. Analyse it in the following way: this thought is useless. Analyse why and how it is useless. This thought is meaningless. Analyse why and how it is lacks meaning. This thought has no essence. Analyse its true nature. If this analysis leads to the conclusion that the specific thought (or thought process) has meaning, (use) value and essence, then feel free to engage in it.

:good:
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Re: Stopping thoughts?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jul 25, 2013 7:06 am

You can thank Gendun Rinpoche for that advice (and I can thank my teachers for learning these techniques and having the energy and compassion to pass them on).
gendun rinpoche.jpg
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"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: Stopping thoughts?

Postby Ramon1920 » Thu Jul 25, 2013 7:59 am

flavio81 wrote:
Ramon1920 wrote:Meditate with an object. If a thought grabs your attention, don't even let it finish, go back to the meditation object. There are thoughts that are blameworthy, and some are blameworthy sometimes and not others.
When you're meditating, thoughts other than your meditation object are blameworthy and you should stop them as soon as you notice.


If you read Nikolay's posts on the previous page, you'll see this approach did not work for him.

Also, i'm afraid that judging thoughts as good or bad and then trying to "stop them as soon you notice they are bad", is not good advice.

Ramon1920 wrote:The idea of no good and no bad is really crazy. You would have to be crazy to believe such a thing.


Acknowledging thoughts without classifying them into "good" or "bad" and/or dwelling into them is a well-known method to let thoughts go away just as the waves dissolve into the sea.


Meditation is a hard won skill. A lot of people try to drag the attainments down to their level so they're easy to reach, but that doesn't get them anywhere; it just gives them an excuse to not make an effort. I remember once I told someone I was struggling to get into first jhana and they told me that was strange because getting into first jhana is so common!

Well known doesn't count for anything. There are people right now saying LSD is enlightenment, their nonsense is well known. There are people chanting hare krishna to get enlightenment, their nonsense is well known. There are people praying to god(s) for eternal salvation, their nonsense is well known.

There is a large body of teachings especially for Dharma day care centers where people have chided their teachers whenever the teacher makes the mistake of taking their intentions to end their neurosis seriously. So instead the teachers give them half baked instructions aimed just at mitigating the neurosis. So how can you make people that aren't willing to use sense restraint or renunciation sit in a group for 30 minutes without getting frustrated and giving up? Tell them to just watch their thoughts. Don't even attempt to deal with them in the 30 minute window, just watch.
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Re: Stopping thoughts?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jul 25, 2013 8:07 am

Ramon1920 wrote:Meditation is a hard won skill. A lot of people try to drag the attainments down to their level so they're easy to reach, but that doesn't get them anywhere; it just gives them an excuse to not make an effort. I remember once I told someone I was struggling to get into first jhana and they told me that was strange because getting into first jhana is so common!

Well known doesn't count for anything. There are people right now saying LSD is enlightenment, their nonsense is well known. There are people chanting hare krishna to get enlightenment, their nonsense is well known. There are people praying to god(s) for eternal salvation, their nonsense is well known.

There is a large body of teachings especially for Dharma day care centers where people have chided their teachers whenever the teacher makes the mistake of taking their intentions to end their neurosis seriously. So instead the teachers give them half baked instructions aimed just at mitigating the neurosis. So how can you make people that aren't willing to use sense restraint or renunciation sit in a group for 30 minutes without getting frustrated and giving up? Tell them to just watch their thoughts. Don't even attempt to deal with them in the 30 minute window, just watch.
Sorry to hear of your negative experiences Ramon. May I ask who your teacher is?
"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: Stopping thoughts?

Postby Ramon1920 » Thu Jul 25, 2013 8:35 am

I adhere to a certain amount of anonymity online. I do not tell people personal specifics or expect them.

I have 6 primary teachers.
1 from the Thai Forest tradition, 1 from the Burmese Theraveda tradition from whom I learn the Nikayas, 2 from Geluk, 1 from Nyingma, and of course Buddha Shakyamuni though we don't talk much. :rolling:
I have gone to some common teachings for Kagyu and Sakya, but I can't say I have a primary teacher of that kind.

My basis is in the Mahayana, but because there is a Bodhisattva vow requiring me to seek out concentration and I have instructions to "study, study, study", I have taken up studying the nikayas and sought out teachings that solidify my basis.
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Re: Stopping thoughts?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jul 25, 2013 9:34 am

And one of these teachers told you that the practice of watching ones thoughts is "half baked instructions aimed just at mitigating the neurosis"?

As for this practice of judging thoughts and stopping their arising. How can this be helpful when thoughts actually never stop? Wouldn't it mean spending a inordinate amount of time and energy on a fruitless and impossible task? How would this practice then apply in daily life when we require thought in order to function? Are you sure that the instruction was not just to be aware of your clinging/grasping to thoughts and streams of thought and letting go of the grasping/clinging to the thoughts? I guess if one comes from a tradition that stresses renunciation... :shrug: But how can one renounce the essential function of their mind?
"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: Stopping thoughts?

Postby Son of Buddha » Thu Jul 25, 2013 12:13 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:And one of these teachers told you that the practice of watching ones thoughts is "half baked instructions aimed just at mitigating the neurosis"?

As for this practice of judging thoughts and stopping their arising. How can this be helpful when thoughts actually never stop? Wouldn't it mean spending a inordinate amount of time and energy on a fruitless and impossible task?How would this practice then apply in daily life when we require thought in order to function? Are you sure that the instruction was not just to be aware of your clinging/grasping to thoughts and streams of thought and letting go of the grasping/clinging to the thoughts? I guess if one comes from a tradition that stresses renunciation... :shrug: But how can one renounce the essential function of their mind?


The thoughts stop as a result of the practice,the only thing being left is the awareness
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Re: Stopping thoughts?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jul 25, 2013 12:46 pm

Son of Buddha wrote:The thoughts stop as a result of the practice,the only thing being left is the awareness
You cannot stop thoughts, all you can do is increase the time period between sucessive thoughts. As soon as you need to function (eg eat something, or go to toilet) thinking will arise again. So we see that trying to stop thoughts is a complete waste of time.

Actually, now that I thought about it :tongue: "complete waste of time" is an overstatement. It can teach us the extent to which we can control the thinking process. It can show us that we are not slaves to the process. This is extremely valuable.
"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: Stopping thoughts?

Postby Ramon1920 » Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:28 pm

I do not like bringing my personal teacher's instructions as proof of something. Doing so sets a bad example and opens the door to squabbling over whose teacher is more reliable. The Buddha is most reliable, all the others are varying degrees of iffy.

Knowing that I expect no one to put any weight on what my individual teacher said here. Yes, one of my teachers told me and others this. It is not uncommon for him to build his teachings around common misunderstandings. He actually reads popular Buddhist books and then points out their inconsistencies with the Buddha's teaching. He's saved me and a lot of other people a lot of confusion because he cares enough to point out their mistakes even if that means he doesn't attract a large following.

You can stop thoughts. You can calm down so they will subside, you can use sense restraint so they aren't triggered, you can use renunciation so you're not interested in their subjects and they lose momentum, you can use wisdom realizing emptiness to undermine their subject as being valid, you can use your will to stop them mid thought, you can use the winds like a game of wack-a-mole and keep them from arising in the first place, you can use jam your tongue against the roof of your mouth and with force of will block it out, or you can jam the verbal fabrication with spam by filling your mind with repeating words or sounds; there are tons of methods that work to make thoughts stop.

"You cannot stop thoughts, all you can do is increase the time period between sucessive thoughts." This statement is simply not true, but I understand the potential use for telling students to see thoughts that way.

There is an idea that Vajrayana is devoid of renunciation. The reality is you cannot even become established in Vajrayana without renunciation. And what is Vajrayana if you're not established in it? Just rituals and a very fast way to hell.
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Re: Stopping thoughts?

Postby Son of Buddha » Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:36 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Son of Buddha wrote:The thoughts stop as a result of the practice,the only thing being left is the awareness
You cannot stop thoughts, all you can do is increase the time period between sucessive thoughts. As soon as you need to function (eg eat something, or go to toilet) thinking will arise again. So we see that trying to stop thoughts is a complete waste of time.

Actually, now that I thought about it :tongue: "complete waste of time" is an overstatement. It can teach us the extent to which we can control the thinking process. It can show us that we are not slaves to the process. This is extremely valuable.

Yes you can....in meditation thought formation will cease(thoughts stop)

Seems like what your talking about isnt about meditation,but everyday average human life.
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Re: Stopping thoughts?

Postby flavio81 » Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:38 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Son of Buddha wrote:The thoughts stop as a result of the practice,the only thing being left is the awareness
You cannot stop thoughts, all you can do is increase the time period between sucessive thoughts. As soon as you need to function (eg eat something, or go to toilet) thinking will arise again. So we see that trying to stop thoughts is a complete waste of time.

Actually, now that I thought about it :tongue: "complete waste of time" is an overstatement. It can teach us the extent to which we can control the thinking process. It can show us that we are not slaves to the process. This is extremely valuable.


Not a waste of time at all if you consider the part in bold. Additionally, 'mental calmness through fixation' (i.e. zhine) practices can be considered a kind of pre-requisite or preparation for Dzogchen teachings.
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Re: Stopping thoughts?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Jul 26, 2013 8:12 am

Ramon1920 wrote: Knowing that I expect no one to put any weight on what my individual teacher said here. Yes, one of my teachers told me and others this. It is not uncommon for him to build his teachings around common misunderstandings. He actually reads popular Buddhist books and then points out their inconsistencies with the Buddha's teaching. He's saved me and a lot of other people a lot of confusion because he cares enough to point out their mistakes even if that means he doesn't attract a large following.
That is excellent to hear! :twothumbsup:
You can stop thoughts. You can calm down so they will subside, you can use sense restraint so they aren't triggered, you can use renunciation so you're not interested in their subjects and they lose momentum, you can use wisdom realizing emptiness to undermine their subject as being valid, you can use your will to stop them mid thought, you can use the winds like a game of wack-a-mole and keep them from arising in the first place, you can use jam your tongue against the roof of your mouth and with force of will block it out, or you can jam the verbal fabrication with spam by filling your mind with repeating words or sounds; there are tons of methods that work to make thoughts stop.
Now you used the correct term: calm, not stop. One can calm the mental processes, but one cannot stop them. Mental processes are a prerequisite of sentience, only non-sentient phenomena have no mental processes. Normally the metaphor used is one of mental processes starting off as a tumultuous water fall, then becoming a quick flowing river and then becoming like the surface of the great ocean (where even the smallest disturbance is discernable). The metaphor of a dry and barren dust bowl is never used.
There is an idea that Vajrayana is devoid of renunciation. The reality is you cannot even become established in Vajrayana without renunciation. And what is Vajrayana if you're not established in it? Just rituals and a very fast way to hell.
Yes, well, you won't see me promoting that view. My main Vajrayana teacher was ordered by his teacher Gendun Rinpoche, to go practice in a Burmese tradition before allowing him to enter Vajrayana practice. ;)
"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."
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Re: Stopping thoughts?

Postby Ramon1920 » Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:52 am

AHHHH! I wrote a good response and didn't post it before I closed the page.
Okay :focus:

You can stop thoughts. When I say stop I don't necessarily mean permanently, though I think that is possible also.

Ask your lama about the clear light, particularly the unification of mother and child clear light. These are states that confirm what I've said and more is possible.
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Re: Stopping thoughts?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Jul 26, 2013 5:15 pm

For whatever reason with focusing on an object like breath, I can never stop analyzing or trying to change things, but with the "natural shamatha" as i've seen it called, where there is no object, it is easier for me to not try altering anything, and not get caught up in things. No idea why this is..maybe it was starting out with Zen practice, but having a single object always kind of wires my mind up.

Another thing that helps me is if I feel I am getting caught or stuck on a given thing, say trying to not alter thoughts, I try to clearly see the act of doing that, feels like there is a volitional action behind aversion to altering thoughts also..paradoxical as it may seem;) It all works better for me if I give up a bit a just sit there...not advice that will work for everyone i'm sure.

It's really good if you can find a teacher for stuff like this as I imagine the answer is pretty unique to the person.
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Re: Stopping thoughts?

Postby Ramon1920 » Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:45 pm

There is a kind of psuedo concentration that is warned about in the Vajrayana and Theraveda schools that lacks attention and just spaces out. It looks like concentration outwardly, it seems like concentration because the thoughts stop, but it isn't because it lacks the sharp attention. I've heard this called delusion concentration, but there are other terms I don't remember right now.

It is good that you notice it Johnny, there is an intentional element even when just watching thoughts or the breath. Concentration is a fabrication, it is a truth of the will, it doesn't exist unless you put effort into it.

When you start meditating teachers focus on giving you instructions to clear things away, but that is just dealing with the hindrances. The real work of meditation is to stabilize and concentrate the mind so it becomes clear and powerful enough to cut through the false appearances of inherent existence and all the half baked concepts and experiences that hang from it. And in the process of learning to become concentrated you learn about how you have been and how you may stop feeding on ideas, sensuality, activities, etc. Dealing with the hindrances is not enough to make the mind concentrated.

I know this is unsolicited advice here, I just think it would be a waste if you never heard about concentration.
I can probably find some Vajrayana based references for this. It's been a while though so I will have to dig through a lot to find the passages I remember. I remember one where some Indian teacher told his future student who could sit for 10 days straight about this. I read this at least 10 years ago so it will take some time for me to recall.
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Re: Stopping thoughts?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat Jul 27, 2013 1:58 am

Stopping thoughts is easy. The first thing you have to
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Re: Stopping thoughts?

Postby flavio81 » Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:49 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Stopping thoughts is easy. The first thing you have to


:rolling:
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