A Self-inquiry on Emptiness and request for support

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    • #35526
      lodonyo
      Participant

      Again, I will try and list all the factors of this inquiry and request in list format.

      Factors/Context:
      1. My character as I perceive ‘it’ has an addiction to video games and “screen staring”. Either a kind of “cheap jhanic pleasure” or some other form of sukha that likely leads to me suffering but I cannot see it (fully). I’m using this as an example for all sentient beings in general.

      2. Upon listening to teachings about controlling the mind and ‘meditation on emptiness’ I came across the true meaning of these concepts. By “empty” it (hahaha “they”) means empty of inherent existence. Well the term “inherent” actual means “clinging to”, so inherent existence meaning “clinging to existence”. thus meditating on emptiness simply means meditating on the NEGATION of clinging aggregates and thus removal of suffering (and other noble truths).

      3. Reading “the mind perceiving inherent existence is the cause of suffering” reminded me of the pure dhamma so I looked up the pure dhamma and found “Me” and “Mine” – The Root Cause of Suffering” I found that both of these are compatible because the suffering itself is the “inherently existent I” or 5-clinging-thoughtstreams (in which the CAUSE of that suffering is actually tanha for items/existence/vibhava(?))

      Current basis of Confusion:
      1. I know I have an addiction(upadana). Which means I know (on some level) I have the perception of an inherently existent “I”. I view things as “mine” though seemingly attenuated nowadays ‘it’ is still ‘here’.

      2. I also know my addiction is leading to future suffering…well I know the theory anyway, and actually I trust Buddha and those enlightened people that this is the case but I don’t really “KNOW” it truly….

      3. Therefore, I THINK that “meditating on emptiness” or meditating on my upadana(s?) and negating those upadana with anatta nature (there being NO actual “I” to cling to) seems to a solution from some teachers. Even wallasmule thero says to meditate on the “neutral-ness” of all objects we perceive to have some inherent quality of pleasure that we pursue (in this case video games, the body, senses, etc)

      4. The thing is, I DON’T ACTUALLY KNOW IF THESE THINGS ARE CORRECT??? If I knew “OK, this kind of meditation is take away my addictions and upadana” then at least I would KNOW and then be able to bring myself to do those meditations by willpower and logic and even a sense of compassion/loving kindness.

      So, I hope my question is apparent. I put this thread in “meditation forum” hoping my point would be understood. Put in another simple way…

      “I know being attached to 1. this thing called “myself” will LIKELY (based on evidence) lead to suffering. Detachment will lead to the end of suffering. But I am confused as to the proper meditation that will take me/ALL SENTIENT BEINGS/ there…” – due to the confusion of dhamma in general.

      Mahalo, thank you for your comments and guidance.

    • #35527
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Yes. This topic could be confusing. The following are key points to remember.

      1. The perception of “me” and “mine” are GOING TO BE THERE in everyone below the Arahant stage.
      – This is exactly why all living beings go through the rebirth process.
      – So, don’t try to lose upadana by force. It is a long process to get there.
      – The first thing is to get rid of bad habits by seeing the bad consequences of such bad habits.

      2. In brief, that perception (innate feeling) of a “me” CANNOT be removed by willpower.

      3. Instead, we first need to realize that it is UNFRUITFUL to take things as “mine” especially if we tend to do immoral things to get hold of them.
      – When one starts comprehending the anicca nature, one will first realize the truth of the above statement. However, to understand the “anicca nature” one needs to first calm one’s mind by stopping activities like playing video games, watching too much TV, etc.
      – That “seeing” happens at the Sotapanna Anugami stage, and one gets there by learning Dhamma.
      – But even after “seeing that truth” the perception of a “me” WILL NOT go away. It is a step-by-step process to get rid of the “me”/”mine” mindset. That process is completed at the Arahant stage, and there are very few Arahants living today. So, we all are trying to “get there” gradually.

      So, I think you picked one of the deeper/complex posts to start.
      – I would recommend starting learning more basic concepts first in the “Living Dhamma” section.
      – In particular, read the post “Is It Necessary for a Buddhist to Eliminate Sensual Desires?

      Now, to get rid of the habit of playing too many video games, you can use a simple approach.
      – Just think about the bad consequences of continuing that habit. You are wasting valuable time on an activity that does not lead to any real benefit.
      – Furthermore, activities such as playing video games and watching too much TV lead to an agitated mind. I guess you have realized that.
      – Try to break that habit by switching to a better activity like reading or exercising (even walking is beneficial).
      – When you start calming the mind, you will be able to learn Dhamma easier.

      I do not know the background of you or anyone else. Some people have had some exposure to Buddha Dhamma (Buddhism) and some may not have any background. The post that you referred to is suited for someone with a good background in Buddha Dhamma.
      – So, one needs to look at different sections on the website decide “where to start”.

    • #35564
      lodonyo
      Participant

      Aloha Lal,

      Thank you for such a thorough answer. Normally, I would not need to reply, but you wrote something the basically triggered the “crux” is my issue. I THINK you also kind of alluded to the remedy as well so I just wanted to reply in kind.

      “Just think about the bad consequences of continuing that habit. You are WASTING VALUABLE TIME ON AN ACTIVITY that does not lead to any real benefit.”(capitals inserted)
      – This is just it, I seem to be confused and bewildered by what is “meaningful”?! A dharma teacher of mine has a course called “making a suffering life meaningful”, and in it he mentions the exact same thing…that we are essentially wasting our time by not working on giving up our attachment to “this” life (in favor of looking at our life as potential to change our attitude/gathi/character vs. focusing on sense pleasures).
      — So this is why I mentioned the confusion about the meditation. What behavior is useful and not useful? If I knew that I would essentially know what “anapana” is right? Anyway this is your general point to learning more dharma so I understand.

      “Try to break that habit by switching to a better activity like reading or exercising (even walking is beneficial)…When you start calming the mind, you will be able to learn Dhamma easier.”
      – I think I understand that what you are basically saying is…”meditation on the uselessness of addictive activities with no fruit > engage in wholesome activities > then when the mind calms down learn more dharma”.
      — I can see the logic in this, it’s very simple to understand. The “fruitlessness” is really what I need to meditation on, hence what you said about the tilakhanna. Walking, yoga, qigong actually have long-term fruits, many other things do. It’s almost as if there is a spectrum, as if changing habits that produce better and better fruits will eventually lead to the ultimate…I don’t think you’re saying that but I can at least understand the idea of changing out fruitless habits with fruitful ones – even in a mundane sense.

    • #35568
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Hello lodonyo,

      I am glad that you did not take my answer the wrong way. Some people get upset when I point out certain things.

      There are always two sides to issues like this.

      1. On the mundane side, we need to live a healthy, comfortable life.
      2. When we contemplate the rebirth process and the possible future suffering, we need to realize that any type of joy that we may enjoy is of limited duration.

      Those two MUST BE balanced.
      – Without living a healthy, comfortable life, we will not able to spend time learning Dhamma and practicing.
      – Think about a very poor person or a person who is not well most of the time. Their minds will be distracted handling issues related to those issues. They will not have a calm, peaceful mind that is required for learning/practicing Buddha Dhamma.

      But living a comfortable life does not mean unnecessary “enjoyments” like video games or watching TV all the time. Those are wasteful activities.
      – In fact, once one gets used to living a simple life, one would not want to have anything to do with such wasteful activities. Peace of mind is infinitely better than having an agitated mind playing video games.
      – When you start learning deeper aspects of Dhamma, you will want to spend ALL your time figuring out those subtle issues. You will not even think about “mundane pleasurable activities”. Once one gets traction, there is no turning back. I know that not only from my experience but also from the experience of several others who have made such drastic changes in their lives.

      Yes. As you have stated, understanding anicca/anatta nature will automatically get your mind off of such “pleasurable but meaningless activities.”
      – There is a different type of “pleasure” associated with a mind free of craving for such “mundane pleasurable activities”. That pleasure is of different nature, but long-lasting.
      See, “Nirāmisa Sukha

    • #35611
      TripleGemStudent
      Participant

      Hi Iodonyo,

      In regards to meditation, something to keep in mind is that meditation isn’t limited to just sitting down crossed legged with eyes closed. From my own observation, this is one of the major mistakes meditators make today. One can meditate in any of the four postures. In one of Lal’s post he writes that “Just contemplating on good thoughts and suppressing bad thoughts as they arise throughout the day is also meditation (this was the original definition of Bhavana).

      Do you think one should just limit themselves to doing this while just sitting down? Depending on how the person defines what meditation is, from my own experience, one still can meditate while playing video games. Is this something that I would recommend to someone? Not really, but if someone is already in the process of playing a video game and has given in to their cravings. We still can find ways to bring the Buddha Dhamma into practice while playing video games or in almost of our everyday activities. If we ever get far enough into this discussion, I might share my experience of playing video games and what the Buddha dhamma has done for me in this regards.

      You wrote “The thing is, I DON’T ACTUALLY KNOW IF THESE THINGS ARE CORRECT???”

      I’m glad to see that you’re asking such a question. A piece of advice that I can share with you is that while walking on any spiritual path, the most important person that we need to convince whether what we’re learning is correct or not is ourselves.

      Hopefully some of the following posts will help you to gain some idea’s on how to figure out what you’re learning if they are correct or not.

      How do we decide which view is wrong view?

      Key to weeding out bad versions of the dhamma

      Foundation of dhamma

      Non perceivability and Self-Consistency

      This might not be directly related to video games, but I believe this post might be helpful in regards to what you and Lal were discussing.

      Cravings and reducing their tendencies

    • #35768
      raj
      Participant

      This is an attempt to share my positive experiences and hear from other meditators so that we can all progress on the 8 fold noble path.
      I am a vipassana meditator (Goenka school) and was struggling to maintain my daily quota of meditation, which is a qualification requirement to sit for the long courses (20,30 days) and they also have 45,60 and 90 days. But for the past few days I look forward to doing it!
      I was a dedicated follower of the vedic school from my early 20’s and had learnt hundreds of hymns for the next 30 years or so, and I don’t see any use in chanting them, now that I have started to follow the teaching of the buddha.
      So I decided to start learning some basic suttas and started with Karaniya metta sutta. It probably took me a couple of months and after hearing it many times every day, I have almost memorized it.
      I decided to do the Rattna sutta next. I listen to it atleast 5 times a day and sometimes more.
      All these positive vibrations are helping me with the meditation.
      There was a plague or epidemic in the city of Vaishalli and the Buddha visited the city out of his causeless mercy. He taught this sutta to the Ven. Ananda, who travelled to various parts of the city and chanted this sutta, and city got rid of the disease.
      If this sutta can rid a city of a plague, imagine what it can to us!
      I have also heard a lecture by the Ven. Bhikku Bodhi on the 4 types and aid to meditation. It was a while back, and I think it was 1. Metta bhavana, 2. Buddhanusati (meditating on the qualities of the Buddha) 3. Marananusati (the temporary nature of the body) and one more.
      Also for the past one week or so, I don’t listen to any current politics on news ( I realized these people just throw dirt on each other, and it is a contribution to wrong speech, so I just read headlines and just hear news on health issues). I spend my time listening to spiritual talks and different chantings.
      The reduction of material vibration and the increase of spiritual vibration has done the trick.
      Hopefully I will be able to maintain it, because this is a wonderful experience and the other was just boring and same old thing.
      The pandemic is an added bonus, because I don’t know if and when I will end up in the daily stats and how much time I have in this life to practice the Dhamma. It has had a good positive effect on me.
      This past week has been more spiritually productive than attending a long retreat!

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