Signs of wrong practice.

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Signs of wrong practice.

Postby nirmal » Tue Dec 28, 2010 3:35 pm

Some signs that would indicate that there is wrong practice of meditation.

The selfish desire that others don't progress as fast as oneself.
The desire and longing for swift progress in meditation.
Laughing to oneself
Quick tempered, touchy and very sensitive.
Talking to oneself.
Crazy over gaining supernatural powers.
Tired and doing everything in a hurry including meditation.
Easily excited

Some people are easily excited by nature. Some could just be moody. I don't think having one sign alone is an indication of wrong practice.But prolonged signs are sure an indication of wrong practice.There could be many other signs of wrong practice.Kindly contribute and share.Thoughts welcomed?
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Re: Signs of wrong practice.

Postby Individual » Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:27 pm

Good list, but a few questions.

nirmal wrote:The desire and longing for swift progress in meditation.

This is a bad thing?

nirmal wrote:Laughing to oneself

What about smiling to oneself for no reason or inappropriate laughter?

nirmal wrote:Talking to oneself.

Couldn't it just be a habit, to think out loud?

Some of the other stuff could just be one's personality.

Being overly cold, withdrawn, and disinterested in things could also be a sign of wrong practice too.
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Re: Signs of wrong practice.

Postby nirmal » Wed Dec 29, 2010 8:36 pm

Individual wrote:Good list, but a few questions.

nirmal wrote:The desire and longing for swift progress in meditation.

This is a bad thing?

nirmal wrote:Laughing to oneself

What about smiling to oneself for no reason or inappropriate laughter?

nirmal wrote:Talking to oneself.

Couldn't it just be a habit, to think out loud?

Some of the other stuff could just be one's personality.

Being overly cold, withdrawn, and disinterested in things could also be a sign of wrong practice too.


Aiya Individual, I came across these notes and I was hoping for someone to enlighten me on these signs or perhaps add a few more for the benefit of all.The list is good as it could serve as a guide but it is shaky and could also go either way.
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Re: Signs of wrong practice.

Postby Kyosan » Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:45 pm

nirmal wrote:Some signs that would indicate that there is wrong practice of meditation.

The selfish desire that others don't progress as fast as oneself.
The desire and longing for swift progress in meditation.
Laughing to oneself
Quick tempered, touchy and very sensitive.
Talking to oneself.
Crazy over gaining supernatural powers.
Tired and doing everything in a hurry including meditation.
Easily excited
...

Usually people meditate for a certain period of time so I wonder what they mean by doing meditation in a hurry. Do they mean meditating in the same way but spending less time? People can do the dishes in a hurry to get them done faster but I can't imagine meditating in a hurry. When you meditate you just meditate. If while meditating you think about doing it in a hurry, you are just distracting yourself and not focusing on the object of meditation.
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Re: Signs of wrong practice.

Postby Kyosan » Wed Dec 29, 2010 10:02 pm

nirmal wrote:Some signs that would indicate that there is wrong practice of meditation.

The selfish desire that others don't progress as fast as oneself.
...

In that case, I think persons should ask themselves why they are meditating. Is meditation a competition and are they meditating to impress others or are they meditating for the sake of all sentient beings?
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Re: Signs of wrong practice.

Postby nirmal » Thu Dec 30, 2010 4:05 pm

Kyosan wrote:
nirmal wrote:Some signs that would indicate that there is wrong practice of meditation.

The selfish desire that others don't progress as fast as oneself.
The desire and longing for swift progress in meditation.
Laughing to oneself
Quick tempered, touchy and very sensitive.
Talking to oneself.
Crazy over gaining supernatural powers.
Tired and doing everything in a hurry including meditation.
Easily excited
...

Usually people meditate for a certain period of time so I wonder what they mean by doing meditation in a hurry. Do they mean meditating in the same way but spending less time? People can do the dishes in a hurry to get them done faster but I can't imagine meditating in a hurry. When you meditate you just meditate. If while meditating you think about doing it in a hurry, you are just distracting yourself and not focusing on the object of meditation.


Yes Kyosan,we can hurry other things up but meditation is just staying calm with no distractions, no thoughts and no desires. Doing meditation hurriedly here could mean that we attempt to chant quickly before starting meditation, and try to settle our minds quickly or even try to get into samadhi quickly but all will end up in failure as desire should not be held on to when meditating.

I don't think that it means that meditating in the same way but spending less time because that is actually a good sign of progress and only if we have the capability to get into samadhi the moment we sit and close our eyes.That needs a lot of practice.We have to have the ability to calm our mind as soon as we sit and that can only be achieved with a lot of regular practice.
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Re: Signs of wrong practice.

Postby nirmal » Thu Dec 30, 2010 4:27 pm

Kyosan wrote:
nirmal wrote:Some signs that would indicate that there is wrong practice of meditation.

The selfish desire that others don't progress as fast as oneself.
...

In that case, I think persons should ask themselves why they are meditating. Is meditation a competition and are they meditating to impress others or are they meditating for the sake of all sentient beings?


The selfish desire that others don't progress as fast as oneself defeats the whole purpose of meditation.Actually we should be extending beneficent activities from ourselves out to all other beings, a natural part of morality.If we want progress, we should work for it and never hope that others don't progress as fast as us.
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Re: Signs of wrong practice.

Postby ground » Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:35 am

When we consider meditation, we cannot stress too much the importance of having the right reasons for taking it up. Meditation — or, as a better translation of samadhi, collectedness — is only one aspect of Buddhist practice, and must, to be successful, go hand in hand with such other practices as generosity, gentleness, nonviolence, patience, contentment and humility. If such genuine qualities of the Dhamma neither exist in oneself initially, nor grow through one's practice, then something is drastically wrong, and only a foolhardy person will try to proceed. The practice of collectedness is based upon firm roots of virtue (sila) and cannot succeed in anyone who does not make a real effort to be strict in keeping the precepts.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el116.html



Kind regards
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Re: Signs of wrong practice.

Postby nirmal » Fri Dec 31, 2010 2:58 pm

TMingyur wrote:
When we consider meditation, we cannot stress too much the importance of having the right reasons for taking it up. Meditation — or, as a better translation of samadhi, collectedness — is only one aspect of Buddhist practice, and must, to be successful, go hand in hand with such other practices as generosity, gentleness, nonviolence, patience, contentment and humility. If such genuine qualities of the Dhamma neither exist in oneself initially, nor grow through one's practice, then something is drastically wrong, and only a foolhardy person will try to proceed. The practice of collectedness is based upon firm roots of virtue (sila) and cannot succeed in anyone who does not make a real effort to be strict in keeping the precepts.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el116.html



Kind regards


Interesting TMingyur.Thanks for contributing.And here some dangers of meditation and some signs too
Quote
There have, for instance, been those who took up meditation as a way to invest themselves with power, so that they could easily sway or hypnotize disciples. Others have seen it as a quick way to gain both disciples and riches. Fame may also be an unworthy motive. All these, as motives for playing with meditation, may easily lead the unwary into illness, and sometimes mental unbalance. There is nothing worse in Buddhist meditation, where a person's own sure experience is of paramount importance, than a half-baked disciple who sets himself up as a master.

This obviously leads on to a further danger — that of pride, of which there are several forms. One such is the pride of the person who has seen manifestations of light during meditation, and supposes this to be the sign preceding mental absorption. Then there is the pride of one who touches on a mental absorption if only for an instant and as a result assumes that he has become a Noble One, and this can be a very powerful factor in convincing himself if not others. Quite ordinary people who take up meditation may beware of the common "holier-than-thou" attitudes: "I make an effort, whereas you . . .," or, "I meditate every day, whereas you . . ." Pride is a great obstacle to any progress, and while it is only a Buddha or arahant who is entirely rid of it, everyone should have the mindfulness to check it.

Related to this is the danger for the person who always looks for so-called progress. He is sure that he is making "progress" because in meditation he sees lights, hears sounds, or feels strange sensations. He becomes more and more fascinated by these as time goes by, and gradually forgets that he started with the aspiration to find the way to Enlightenment. His "meditation" then degenerates into visions and strange happenings, leading him into the realms of occultism and magic. There is no surer way for a meditator to become entangled than this way. Fascinating though all such manifestations may be, they should be rigorously cut down by resorting to bare attention, never permitting discursive thought regarding them, and thus avoiding these distractions.

Among "visions" which one may see, whether they be internal (produced from one's own mind) or external (produced by other beings), there may be for some meditators an experience of the fearful, such as the sight of one's own body reduced to bones or inflated as a rotting corpse. If such an experience occurs, or others of a similar nature, one should withdraw the mind from the vision immediately, supposing that one has no teacher. Visions of the fearful variety which occur to some people may be very useful if rightly employed, but without a teacher's guidance they should be avoided.

Another danger is trying to meditate while one is still too emotionally insecure, unbalanced or immature. An understanding of the value of meritorious deeds or skillfulness will come in useful here. As merit purifies the mind, it will be an excellent basis for mind-development, and both the ease with which absorptions are gained and the ease with which insight arises are to some extent dependent upon merit. Meritorious deeds are not difficult to find in life. They are the core of a good Buddhist life: giving and generosity, undertaking the precepts, help and service to others, reverence, listening whole-heartedly to Dhamma, setting upright one's understanding of Dhamma — all these and more are meritorious deeds which bring happiness and emotional maturity. Merit, one should always remember, opens doors everywhere. It makes possible, it makes opportunities. To have a mind at all times set upon making merit, is to have a mind that may be trained to develop absorptions and insight.

Obviously it follows that to try to practice meditation while all the time retaining one's old cravings, likes and dislikes is, to say the least, making one's path difficult if not dangerous. Meditation implies renunciation, and no practice will be successful unless one is at least prepared to make efforts to restrain greed and hatred, check lust, and understand when delusion is clouding the heart. How far one carries renunciation and whether this involves outward changes (such as becoming a monk or nun), depends much on a person and his circumstances, but one thing is sure: inward renunciation, an attitude of giving-up with regard to both unskillful mental events and bodily indulgence, is absolutely essential.

Often connected with the above dangers is another, to be seen in cases where a man suddenly has an opportunity to undertake a longer period of meditation practice. He sits down with the firm resolve, "Now I shall meditate," but though his energy is ever so great and though he sits and sits and walks and walks, still his mind is disturbed and without peace. It may well be that his own strong effort has much to do with his distractions. Moreover, he has to learn that it is necessary to meditate knowing the limitations of his character. Just as any other worker who knows the limits of his strength and is careful not to exhaust himself, so is the able meditator careful. With mindfulness one should know what are the extremes, of laziness and of strain, to be avoided.

It is through straining or forcing meditation practice that many emotionally disturbed states arise. Sudden bursts of intense anger all over insignificant trifles, fierce cravings and lusts, strange delusions and even more peculiar fantasies can all be produced from unwisely arduous practice.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el116.html
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Re: Signs of wrong practice.

Postby Tashi Nyima » Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:48 am

One of my Teachers, when approached by some beginning meditators with excited reports of seeing lights and hearing sublime sounds, looked at them with profound compassion and said:

"Keep meditating. These things will go away."

Perhaps it is more helpful to focus on signs of proper post-meditation. Do you feel spontaneous compassion for others? Are you more tolerant? Are you more peaceful? Are you aware that all your perceptions are internal mental representations?

"Good meditation" is not a goal. It is merely a way.
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Re: Signs of wrong practice.

Postby Jnana » Wed Feb 09, 2011 9:50 am

Tashi Nyima wrote:One of my Teachers, when approached by some beginning meditators with excited reports of seeing lights and hearing sublime sounds, looked at them with profound compassion and said:

"Keep meditating. These things will go away."

Perhaps it is more helpful to focus on signs of proper post-meditation. Do you feel spontaneous compassion for others? Are you more tolerant? Are you more peaceful? Are you aware that all your perceptions are internal mental representations?

"Good meditation" is not a goal. It is merely a way.


:good:
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Re: Signs of wrong practice.

Postby Adamantine » Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:42 am

Yeshe D. wrote:
Tashi Nyima wrote:One of my Teachers, when approached by some beginning meditators with excited reports of seeing lights and hearing sublime sounds, looked at them with profound compassion and said:

"Keep meditating. These things will go away."

Perhaps it is more helpful to focus on signs of proper post-meditation. Do you feel spontaneous compassion for others? Are you more tolerant? Are you more peaceful? Are you aware that all your perceptions are internal mental representations?

"Good meditation" is not a goal. It is merely a way.


:good:


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Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: Signs of wrong practice.

Postby Tashi Nyima » Wed Feb 09, 2011 3:30 pm

Without getting overly technical, it is important to recognize that there is no direct perception in ordinary consciousness. Let us take the sound of a bell as an example. From a western scientific standpoint (which is not too different from the Buddhist understanding, putting aside for now the ultimate reality of the bell and the sound), when the clapper strikes the body of the bell, a vibration is generated. This vibration sets particles of air in motion, which in turn strike the cilia in the ear.

The subtle vibrations of the cilia are transmitted to the tympanic membrane, and then to the minuscule bones inside the ear. These vibrations then reach the auditory nerve. Now, the nerve does not have any other capacity than to 'fire' impulses of specific amplitude and frequency in particular sequences. This set of impulses reaches the brain, and the brain presents them to the mind. It is the mind that interprets the raw data of the nerve impulses, producing an internal mental event that we recognize as sound.

All sense perceptions are similar. Ultimately, all perceptions are mere internal mental events, whatever the sense organ that mediates them. From this brief and necessarily over-simplified account, we can easily deduce that the mental state of the perceiver has a significant and determinant influence on perceptions.

Agitation distorts perception. We've all had the experience, or have witnessed a similar occurrence in others, when we're frantically looking for something and cannot see it, even 'though it is in plain view. Perhaps it was a set of keys, or an important piece of paper, or our sunglasses.

We cannot see this object that is right in front of us, not because our sense organs (in this case, the eyes) are malfunctioning, but because our mind is agitated, distracted. The cause of the distraction can be an intense emotion, or the false belief (wrong view) that the object is elsewhere.

If we can regain our composure, the object becomes plainly visible.

Every one of our perceptions --how we "see" other sentient beings, objects, and ourselves-- is subject to this phenomenon: when the mind is agitated, we cannot perceive clearly.

What does this have to do with meditation? Everything!

Our minds are habitually agitated by attachment, aversion, and indifference. They are also grossly deluded by wrong views about ourselves and others. The combination of afflicted emotions and wrong views guarantees that our perceptions are --at best-- imprecise, and --at worst-- completely unreliable. Without peace and clarity, we cannot perceive correctly.

Shamatha (calm abiding) is the meditative approach to cultivate peace. Vipassanna (insight) is the meditative approach to cultivate clarity. Both are necessary.

Now, meditation is not undertaken for itself. It is not a goal. It is not even an 'experience' with intrinsic spiritual value. It is a means to remove the distortion caused by afflicted emotions and wrong views.
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Re: Signs of wrong practice.

Postby Dharma Atma » Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:09 pm

Hi guys! I'd like to ask for an advise...
I've been practising shamatha about a year ago. The practice of mine was growing well and I perfectly felt it: I became more conscious, attentif in full sense of the word, calm; the progress started occuring in dreams, conscious dreams became more often guests in my sleep... The best of it was, I started to understand emptiness more and more deep, claire.
But after that some events had taken place in my life, so I had to stop practisine for a while.
Now I've decided to practise again, but I feel that my feeling of the shamatha process itself is somehow another. My concentration seems to be so weak that I can't even concentrate for 10 seconds...
Does anyone know how to "prepare" the mind for better concentration? Mine is so weak that I can't use shamatha to make it better. How's it possible to return the lost progress in practice?
Thank you d'avance :)

PS: Excuse me for my bad English. I live in Russia and use it very rarely (alas! last time it happened in August 2010).
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Re: Signs of wrong practice.

Postby meindzai » Thu Mar 03, 2011 10:45 pm

When I read "wrong practice" for some reason this is the first image that popped into my head:
Image
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Re: Signs of wrong practice.

Postby Tilopa » Fri Mar 04, 2011 3:10 am

Spending too much time on internet forums!
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Re: Signs of wrong practice.

Postby ZenLem » Sun Apr 17, 2011 7:16 pm

Tashi Nyima wrote:One of my Teachers, when approached by some beginning meditators with excited reports of seeing lights and hearing sublime sounds, looked at them with profound compassion and said:

"Keep meditating. These things will go away."

Perhaps it is more helpful to focus on signs of proper post-meditation. Do you feel spontaneous compassion for others? Are you more tolerant? Are you more peaceful? Are you aware that all your perceptions are internal mental representations?

"Good meditation" is not a goal. It is merely a way.


I like this, because to me it is a reminder that I don't always "know" what's going on in my meditations, maybe I don't ever really, yet after it's done, things in my life improve, by some measure beyond my perception.
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Re: Signs of wrong practice.

Postby LastLegend » Sun Apr 17, 2011 7:42 pm

Very good thread. Keep posting folks.
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)
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Re: Signs of wrong practice.

Postby Dechen Norbu » Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:57 am

Hello there, Russian friend!

It's always a good idea to check diet, lifestyle and amount of sleep.
If you are eating too much, to little, incorrectly, if your life is too stressful or too lazy, too angry or too frivolous, and if you are sleeping too much or too little, try to fix these aspects. Lifestyle and sleep are usually the main reasons one's concentration goes down the drain (besides lack of practice). There's always the option of seeing a tibetan doctor or something. Usually they deal well with this sort of unbalances if that's the case.
That said, perhaps you should start again with very small sessions that you repeat as often as possible during the day, maybe preceded by some respiratory exercises when you can. Don't worry too much about the duration of the sessions. It's more important that for now you search "quality" over "quantity", without raising your expectations. Searching for quality doesn't mean getting anxious. All sessions are good sessions, even if the only progress is noticing how agitated/dull our mind is. The good news is that it can always be improved with persistence and good technique, so no worries.
Try to balance focus and relaxation, initially stressing relaxation a little more without becoming numb and keeping a good posture (while not getting overly concerned about this). When you start losing focus in the object of attention (breath, visualization or whatever it may be), give it a little jolt of clarity, sharpening attention without getting excited. It needs some experience to find balance, but unless something is going wrong anyone can do it. It's important you discover what's being the main obstacle to your practice. Agitation or torpor? Act accordingly to slowly overcome these hindrances.
Best advice is finding a good teacher, of course.

Good luck!
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Re: Signs of wrong practice.

Postby Pacific » Tue Apr 19, 2011 2:20 am

Dechen Norbu wrote:
Don't worry too much about the duration of the sessions. It's more important that for now you search "quality" over "quantity", without raising your expectations. Searching for quality doesn't mean getting anxious. All sessions are good sessions, even if the only progress is noticing how agitated/dull our mind is.

yep ... Just keep meditating, keep practising, aware of all mental states. I do like the Ogha-tarana Sutta in this regard it's helped me a lot with right effort - and part of it goes:
I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi in Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's monastery. Then a certain devata, in the far extreme of the night, her extreme radiance lighting up the entirety of Jeta's Grove, went to the Blessed One. On arrival, having bowed down to him, she stood to one side. As she was standing there, she said to him, "Tell me, dear sir, how you crossed over the flood."
"I crossed over the flood without pushing forward, without staying in place."
"But how, dear sir, did you cross over the flood without pushing forward, without staying in place?"
"When I pushed forward, I was whirled about. When I stayed in place, I sank. And so I crossed over the flood without pushing forward, without staying in place."


as Ajahn Brahm and my own teacher have said many times, there's no such thing as a bad meditation...
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