Buddha Dhamma without anxiety? Is it possible?

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    • #15808
      Eric
      Participant

      Sorry for the probably silly question(s) but– I will try to be brief: (and obviously failed again, sorry)

      1) Sense pleasures = agitation of mind = a few examples…
      1a) Listening to music/soundscapes I like (even if heavy metal) and lectures* by the likes of Alan Watts & Eckhart Tolle (while doing dishes/etc) = badwrong? I should feel guilty and stop? Is it okay/right to justify: “Well, yes, this is bad… BUT forcibly ‘renouncing’ before I am ‘ready’ will just make things worse, make myself anxious and even more agitated, so keep having fun while it lasts.”?
      1b) Watching YouTubes/etc about Star Trek/etc every so often = badwrong? I should feel guilty and stop?…
      1c) Computer/Internet fun (whether forums or Photoshop or sharing photos of latest meal** on FaceBook) = badwrong?…
      1d) Cooking, restaurants, looking forward to and indulging in delicious food** & drink in general = badwrong?…
      * Powerful monkey-mind here (so many bad memories, so many fears about the future…), this is the only way I’ve learned to calm down enough, to keep the Bad Thoughts at bay long enough, so I can focus on finishing the dishes and other chores etc…
      ** These are very deeply-ingrained habits: I’ve a very bad love-hate relationship with food, (especially junk-food) often to the point of borderline eating disorders. Spend a large part of my life battling my belly etc.

      2) I’m scared out of my mind about niraya, considering my personal history. Less so about the other ones but they make me quake in my boots, too. I’m sure I had a question but now I don’t remember. Just please-please-please offer any kind and helpful words so I’m not so terrified, at least to calm me down enough so I don’t throw my hands in the air, lose all hope, and resign to billions of years of torture by dudes in red spandex!

      3) After 30 years of stone-cold, religion-hating atheism, I don’t know how to “do” faith. They say faith is “letting go” and so forth, but that kind of talk just goes right over my head. (I’ve never learned how to “let go”, to “forgive”, and so on) They also say don’t mechanically recite prayers and precepts and such, but what else do I do? What actions can I then take in between occasions to help grannies across the street? The other 40 hours of the week I’m just shopping, eating, and/or sitting alone in my apartment with my computer… (Night shift; nothing to do outside most hours I’m awake.)

      4) Meditation. Should I or shouldn’t I? Maybe I haven’t read enough, but I’m getting mixed messages: “Okay, metta bhevana– oh wait, says here that’s useless until after one’s entered the stream, okay… so… breath meditation– oh wait, that’s ‘useless’, okay, so… ARGH!!” sound of ripping out my hair

      5) How do I know whether or not I believe/accept the truth of something? At least one page here says it’s impossible to even start on mundane Pathfinding until one removes all ten micca dithi, including the likes of not accepting that there are beings with instantaneous births. Before this site, I hadn’t even considered it, never thought about it. So if you ask me, I just think, “Um, well, I guess so, Buddha said so therefore it must be true.. maybe??” So am I screwed? Because of this one little thing I should just try to work on a more fortunate rebirth– oh wait, several posts here say that’s superbadwrong, furthermore I’m almost certainly not going to get one anyway AAAAAARRRGGHHH!! sound of going bald

    • #15809
      Eric
      Participant

      6) Addendum to #3 and #4: what do I do when I’ve read-read-read to the point of stress and headache? Is it “okay” then to do the music or mindless-Internetting things to relax? Or meditate, even “useless” ones?

      7) Since almost everyone are suffering in the lower four realms with little or no chance of escape, that all non-Nibbanic happiness always ultimately leads to suffering, that this fully-automatic Universe seems to be set up that the one and only point of morality is to get out of the rebirth process, among other things, should one take a hostile stance towards The World? Consider existence The Devil and The Enemy?

      • #15811
        Embodied
        Spectator

        Hi,

        Some of your questions are quite interesting. Buddhism also serves the “cause of life” but a weighted one…try to find the time to practice formal sessions every day.
        Formal sessions will put you in the right track. I got a “formal session scheme” from @Tobias not so long ago but it might not be adapted to you.

        By the way : anxiety it’s a form of greed linked to some kind of dispersal in your case. This is not to judge you, just trying to help.

        Metta

    • #15814
      Eric
      Participant

      Anxiety’s a form of greed? Hmm, never thought of it that way before. After pondering your post a bit it makes sense: I’m WAY too greedy to cross the finish line barely out of the gate, even moreso before I’ve stepped onto the track! I’ve always been this way, always been the kind to dive right into the deep end head first. You’d think I’d’ve learned that lesson by now after my recent episode of getting so gungho on losing that last bit of flab on my thighs and belly (thanks to attachments to my looks & health, in that order) my doctor practically ordered me to stop intermittent fasting and start strength training. (May my recent experiences serve as a warning for all your endeavors.)

      Anyway, I’ve calmed down (sorry for the outburst, again) and considering my lifestyle, situation, quirks, weaknesses and strengths, I’m going to…

      1) Follow the 80/20 Rule: 80% of results come from 20% of effort. Since I seem to have more viriya than the rest of my mental faculties put together, I need to be religious about the 80/20 Rule, in all my endeavors.

      2) Don’t sweat the small stuff, don’t worry about any holes but the big ones and let the small ones take care of themselves eventually. First big hole I’ll attempt to patch by repeatedly reflecting on my conscious thoughts — take away perpetual stimulus of entertainment and here comes a flood of peleema. I’ll keep close watch on my mental consciousness for all those seemingly sourceless surges of negativity (especially anger) to which I’m very prone.

      3) Some of the small stuff I’ll try to avoid worrying about: wrong views about gandhabbas and so on & heat-but-not-fire sense-pleasures. (I’ll go ahead and occasionally enjoy my junk food, video games, anime and such as I have been — only which I’ve bought though, no more piracy!)

      4) Dhamma and meditation are medicine, not a diet. In other words: don’t force it as that’ll just distress me more. For example, if I’ve been reading so much it’s making my head spin, STOP and follow the advice in Morrowind: “You should rest and meditate on what you have learned.”

      5) Otherwise just stick to avoiding/stopping the Ten Immoral Acts, breaking the Five Precepts as much as I can, and whenever I get a chance do one of the Ten Meritorious Deeds. Have faith that avoiding the Ten and upholding the Five will bring me 80% the way there. And think of it the same way as sticking to a nutrition/meal plan: long-term, as in once I get the ball rolling after a few weeks of effort don’t expect to notice even the slightest change until months have passed.

      6) After a while, then I’ll start working on minor bad (but not necessarily immoral) habits since all my major/immoral ones will be mostly covered by avoiding the Ten and upholding the Five.

    • #15829
      Lal
      Keymaster

      @Eirc: What we need to understand is the priority of things to do, which tasks to focus on. Worries about spending time on watching TV, internet, movies, will go away when one understands what the priorities should be.

      I have explained this in various posts, and mentioned in this in response to a previous question of yours. But since this is an important issue, let me put this from a different point-of-view.

      A key concept that has been hidden is “gati” (or “gathi”). Based on our actions, speech, and thoughts (which are kaya, vaci, and mano sankhara), we accumulate various gati, which can be loosely translated as habits/character, but more like moral character.

      Let us take person X. If X is capable of doing actions suitable for an animal, he has “animal gati”. These could lie in a broad range, for example, vicious animals kill, so if X can kill (especially a human), then he has gati suitable for an animal. On the other hand, if X has cultivated rupavacara jhana, and enjoys getting into rupavacara jhana, then he has cultivated gati suitable for a rupavacara brahma.

      X may have many different gati, but one of the strong ones will determine the bhava that is grasped. So, if X has strong vicious gati suitable for an animal, X is likely to grasp a bhava in the animal realm. On the other hand, if X has dominant gati of a rupavacara brahma, he would grasp that bhava and will be born a brahma to enjoy jhanic pleasures (which are of course temporary).

      I really recommend everyone to watch the movie “Earthlings”,at the following site: “Nationearth.com
      (Warning: There are many scenes that are highly disturbing to the mind).

      So, animals in general undergo much harsh suffering than humans. So, such suffering is possible for X, if X has some kind of “animal gati”. If X is a serial killer, he has gati suitable for much harsher realms in the niraya. If X has “excessively greedy gati” (and thus can commit immoral things to get them), X could grasp a “preta bhava” and be born a preta. It must be noted that just engaging in normal sense pleasures do not belong to this category (so watching TV or going to movies is not a problem here; they are not “apayagami actions”).

      So, if one is habitually doing strong dasa akusala, one has ‘apayagami gati”. Here apaya includes the lowest four realms of niraya, preta, asura, and animal. By following the Eightfold Path, X can get rid of such “apayagami gati”. Then one becomes Sotapanna. However, one needs to remove the 10 types of micca ditthi and also comprehend Tilakkhana. That comes AFTER making sure one abstains from those “apayagami actions”.

      The next higher 7 realms are the higher realms of the kama loka: human realm and the 6 deva realms. One gets a human or deva bhava by cultivating “human gati” or “deva gati”. But there is still suffering in these realms, even though less than in the apayas. As long as X is attached to sense pleasures, X will have those gati. When one comprehends the long-term dangers of sense pleasures, one would get rid of such gati, and attain the Anagami stage (via Sakadagami stage; I am making this brief).

      Once one becomes an Anagami, birth is still possible in the 16 rupavacara brahma realms and the 4 arupavacara brahma realms. Even though suffering in those realms are much less, there is still suffering there. When one realizes that eventually, one loses “upadana” for such bhava also, and one attains the Arahant stage. That is Nibbana. However, one should not even think about the Sakadagami stage until one is a Sotapanna/Sotapanna Anugami.

      That is a basic outline. Of course, there are so many details. Those gati and bhava are fueled by Paticca Samuppada cycles that run each time X commits an akusala kamma (which cultivate apayagami gati) or punna kamma (which cultivate gati suitable for human and higher realms).

      These set of gati are also called “asava”. When all gati are removed, one becomes an Arahant. Then one will not grasp any bhava. This is why Nibbana is also called “asvakkhaya” or getting rid of asava. Again, DO NOT even contemplate about anything higher than the Sotapanna stage. People get scared about “getting extinct”. One must take one step at a time. One can always stop at the Sotapanna stage! But it is good to get that overall world view of the Buddha.

      Now, it is good idea to expand on the above outline by finding and reading posts on gati (gathi), bhava, jati, etc., the key words that you need to get a good idea about.

      Once that is done, and the above world view becomes clear, one can make an “action plan” and decide what tasks to be undertaken first.

      It is obvious that the first priority would be to avoid births in the apayas. So, one needs to make sure that one abstains from actions, speech, and thoughts that could lead to four types of “apaya bhava”, so to speak. These are the strongest versions of dasa akusala.

      Please feel free to ask questions. I can direct to appropriate posts to learn any concepts that are not clear. I think this is a good undertaking for anyone who is interested in making an action plan to follow the Path systematically.

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