Past experiences

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    • #21858

      I like to share something personal.

      For me it feels like the valueing and deciding system is often out of controll. It is like people with PTSS. What is for person A just a slamming door, just a loud noise, but nothing special, is for someone with PTSS a life threating experience. The mind, the vottapana citta i think, decides, that this noise is life treatening. It decides to stress responses and high alertness. Ofcourse a slamming door isn’t life-treatening but it is experienced that way.

      I do experience something similar. I have had some traumatic experiences too, and once the mind starts to make those loaded choices on ordinairy sense-input, it is not easy to correct them. Sounds, images, etc. can become highly loaded while there is really no reason. Ofcourse, I know that there is no reason for stress, but vottapana citta does not know! It is hard to deal with this.

      Although extreme, still i think this is how mind works. Most of what we experience is mixed with the past and mixed with emotions, tendencies, thoughts that were there in the past too.

      It is amazing how daily ordinairy sense experiences can be so differently experienced by different people, but also how it can differ in myself from time to time.

      I can see this valueing and deciding system on sense-input in a citta vitthi is not in controll. One does not decide deliberately to so much stress, hyperalertness, fear etc. In some way we are all ‘victims’ of our past, owners of our past behaviour. Yes, I know ‘victim’ is not the right word or approach but in some way we are.

      I think it is very truthful in buddha-dhamma that more than a matter of morality versus immorality, behaviour is a matter of knowledge and vision versus lack of knowledge and vision. There is no immorality wihout lack of knowledge and vision. In the end there are no bad or evil and good persons, only ignorant and wise persons.

      It is not easy to change valueing and deciding systems which operate beyond our controll. One can try EMDR when one has trauma. I am told it will not work with me, unfortunately.

      My own years of experience is that practising buddha-dhamma is very hard when such issues are not tackled first, because they colour the mind too much. Once such unhealthy connections are inprinted in the mind, it is hard to delete them or change them. One will stay tense and not experience a cooling down one in a structural way because of this wrong decision making process.

      I know this is not a therapeutic forum and site, but it might lead to a better understanding and might be helpfull to others too. I think it shows the workings of the mind.


    • #21860

      Hi Siebe.

      You wrote:
      ” I know this is not a therapeutic forum and site, but it might lead to a better understanding and might be helpfull to others too. I think it shows the workings of the mind. ”

      Helping our fellow Dhamma friends in whatever little ways we can so that they can practise the Path with more ease rather than discomfort seems fitting for a Dhamma forum like this.

      Siebe wrote:
      “My own years of experience is that practising buddha-dhamma is very hard when such issues are not tackled first, because they colour the mind too much. ”

      Yes this very true. Practising the Path and Nibbana is indeed difficult without the 4 requisites(food, clothing, medicine, shelter), without a comfortable life. Physical diseases and mental disorders deprive one of a comfortable life, prevents people from practising the Path with ease. They have to try that much harder, put that much more energy/effort(viriya). Which can get exhausting at times.

      I know you how you feel because I struggle with a mental disorder. I have severe ocd/germophobia, so severe to the point I don’t leave my house, and barely leave my room. This drains a lot of my energy. This is one of the reasons why it is difficult for me to concentrate during formal meditation.

      Later when I find the time, I’d like to share how I handle it and what I’ve done recently that drastically improved my conditions/situation.

    • #21889

      Siebe wrote:
      “In the end there are no bad or evil and good persons, only ignorant and wise persons.”

      I don’t know why I missed this yesterday. Very well said! Couldn’t agree more! That is the great message that one can get from reading the background stories of the Dhammapada verses or other suttas.

      So the following will be long. I apologize. It is for Siebe and others who are in similar situations. In case it could help you or anyone else, I thought I’d give more time/effort into describing on what helped me.

      Siebe, in your posts you have hinted a few times your circumstances aren’t the best. I read them as a calling out for help. And now that I know that you suffer from something like PTSS, it makes sense. I’m so sorry you have to suffer this.

      From this older forum topic: Painful and pleasant practice forum topic , you brought up the sutta on the 4 modes of practise. Where the difficulty and speed of one’s practise of the Path is listed.
      1) Hard and slow
      2) Hard but fast
      3) Easy but slow
      4) Easy and fast

      You said you think that 1 probably applies to you. I probably belong to either 1 or 2. Kind of like hard mode in videogames. But regardless of which mode it is, no matter how hard it is, no matter how many times we fall or mess up(not being perfect in our sila), or how far away our moment of magga phala is, the main thing to do is to continue striving. If it is indeed hard mode, attaining magga phala will feel that much better.

      I have no idea of exactly knowing what you’ve been through or what your daily struggles are like, and it would be wrong of me to do so. We really have no idea what others could be going through. But I can sort of relate to the phenomena of having harmless everyday insignificant sense inputs causing stress on one’s mind, in your case a loud slamming door, in my case silly things like hearing someone sneezing/picking or blowing their nose/or not washing their hands long enough in the bathroom is enough to ruin my day sometimes, to the point that it will become the recurrent topic I’ll keep thinking about for the rest of the day, come back when I’m trying to contemplate. Fearing that I’ll encounter more similar inputs, I lock myself in my room for most of the day so my mind does not max out on stress. This has been going on for the past 6 years and continuing.

      On my practise, it has impacted me the following ways:
      1) My momentary focus on everyday things was bad. Example: when wearing my socks, brushing my teeth, brushing my hair, opening fridge door, I would not focus on that task at hand, I’d do all these activities while thinking about numerous other topics, jumping from one topic to another.
      2) Even formal breath meditation(which is recommended for those with ocd/anxiety disorders) is difficult. I can’t successfully focus on consecutive breaths.
      3) My body is always clenched/tense, especially in abdomen area. As if always on flight or fight setting.
      Thus tapa(heat/agitation of the mind) is quite high and recurrent for most of my day, especially when I leave my room or house.

    • #21890

      I’ve read a few topics here where others shared their personal struggles. I’d get curious because I could relate and would look forward to the answers to get some ideas on how to resolve the situation. Ideal situation would be if we could truly help each individual for their unique situation, a solution customized just for them, a practical solution. Unfortunately that can’t always be done, especially over the internet. So the next best we could do is give advise that we think could most likely help. One of the common answers given for peoples struggles is: cultivating metta. And I know if this is suggested, to many it will probably seem like a broken record or meaningless, or think “this is not gonna be of much practical help.” I know that in my case, whenever I read “metta bhavana” as the answer, I acknowledged that advise and nodded in agreement in my mind, but in reality it went through one ear and out the other. I did not truly take it to heart.

      My metta bhavana for the longest time has been a fail and waste of time. I’d have a long list of good wills that I’d wish for all sentient beings. I’d try to say them everyday. But I’d skip a lot of days. I did not stick to it. Even when I did recite the good wills, I said the majority of them with no feeling. There truly was no metta nor karuna in my mind when I recited those. They were empty, meaningless words. Out of all the good wills, I noticed one of them induced a deep noticable feeling within me- when I wished that all would become Sotapanna. I wondered why out of all of them , only this one would consistently evoke an emotion within me. Gave me goosebumps. I felt karuna rise in my mind. I considered this the only successful moment in my entire metta bhavana. I thought if only the rest of the good wills induced the same feeling.

      I think the reason wishing the Sotapanna stage for others had more impact on me than the other wishes is because the Sotapanna stage had many important implications: never being reborn in apayas, the worst types of suffering completely eliminated, destined for Paribbana-the ending of all suffering.

      While both metta and karuna are similar, they are different. Metta is wanting happiness for others, karuna is wanting the easing/ending of others’ suffering.

      While both are good, I feel I can more easily induce karuna within me rather than metta. For example, if I saw two scenarios:
      1) A parent giving their child a birthday present
      2) Someone giving food to a homeless person

      2 would make me more happy.

      I feel more happy easing other suffering rather than giving them things that might make them temporarily happy like watch/dress.

      So I decided to instead focus on karuna rather than metta. Focus on the suffering of others. Because I noticed this is what triggers/awakens/induces my karuna cetasika, or the sleeping compassion within my mind.

      Staying away from dasa akusala is necessary and praise worthy. However it is not everything. This will not be enough to get closer to Sotapanna stage. One can’t simply just stay away from immorality. They have to cultivate good qualities within their minds as well. Anapana: Discard the bad qualities/asobhana cetasika. Cultivate the good qualities/sobhana cetasika. Like removing weeds from someones garden in addition to planting the fruit seeds. One needs to do both. I’ve been doing the “apana” in anapana quite right this time(staying away from dasa akusala, weakening bad qualities), but not doing the “ana” much(cultivating good qualities like karuna).

      Some event happened last fall which gave me a sense of urgency. Like there is not much time left. I could go anytime. So I thought that if that time might be coming soon, I need my mind to be in a good state. The most beautiful states of mind one can have is metta/karuna. So I thought I can’t neglect/slack off on cultivating metta/karuna anymore.

    • #21891

      So I revamped my methods.
      Karuna bhavana procedure:
      1) I can’t just do the bhavana here and there, skip some days, just do it when I feel likenit. Be strict about it. Do it everyday. Not skip.
      2) 3 times or more per day. As much as possible throughout the day
      3) Not mechanically, with no feeling. Each good will, not only one of them, recited it in a way so that I sense/feel the karuna. So that the karuna bhavana actually counts.
      4) Share the merits of that karuna bhavana and all of my good deeds with all sentient beings.

      One of my strategies to induce/trigger karuna is thinking or watching others suffering. Then recite the good wills. The suffering could be real or even fiction. Like your favorite movie, show, book, etc, where you saw a really heart wrenching event that made you cry. I imagine we’ve all been through something like this fictional character and worse many times rebirth after rebirth. It really works. At least for me it does. I feel the karuna within me. When I do this my karuna bhavana and recital of the good wills is a success. I can see the stark difference between this and when I don’t think about others suffering.

      And a side note. The karuna bhavana does not have to be formal, like when sitting down. But whenever you get the chance(after you wake up, before you sleep, before eating, before drinking water, before brushing your teeth). Just choose 3 short wishes that really induce your compassion, and then wish it for all sentient beings.

      The Okkha sutta says between someone serving food once in morning, once midday, and once evening vs someone radiating even a little bit of metta once in morning, once midday, and once in the evening-the latter would be more fruitful.

      Okkha Sutta: Serving Dishes
      “”Staying at Savatthi. “Monks, if someone were to give a gift of one hundred serving dishes [of food] in the morning, one hundred at mid-day, and one hundred in the evening; and another person were to develop a mind of good-will — even for the time it takes to pull on a cow’s udder — in the morning, again at mid-day, and again in the evening, this [the second action] would be more fruitful than that [the first].”

      I’ve been doing this for about the past 3 months, and also sharing the merits of my good deeds and bhavana with all sentient beings everyday, pretty strict to the routine.

      And these are the results/clear changes within me:
      For the first time after a long while:
      1) Momentary awareness has improved. When doing everyday tasks, I am more able to focus on that task.
      2) I can actually concentrate on my breath. Getting better at not breaking the concentration too, like holding focus on the consecutive breaths. (This is also to help produce gaba, which helps with ocd and other anxiety disorders.)
      3) I feel my body is more relaxed. Not as clenched/tense.
      4) I feel the goosebumps and feel the karuna for not only one good will but majority of them, and many times all of them, as if I’m able to sustain on karuna for that duration.

      I think I was able to achieve all that because my dosa/asavas have reduced/weakened. That is why my concentration improved. Due to diligently doing the karuna bhavana everyday these past three months.

      Lobha/dosa/moha are the akusala, and asavas and pancanivrana.
      They are what hinder our meditation, concentration, samadhi, and practising the Path .

      The Buddha said the antidote to dosa is adosa.
      Metta/karuna are very strong versions of adosa.
      Thus some of the greatest antidotes to dosa/asavas.
      Means they will help in reducing and weakening the dosa from our minds.

      I have noticed my hatred is not what it used to be. I feel it melting away.

    • #21892

      Benefits of Metta/karuna cultivation:
      -Reduction/weakening of dosa
      -Metta is considered a kind of giving. Thus it is dana. Thus opposite of lobha. Thus it would not only weaken/reduce dosa but weaken/reduce lobha as well. That’s 2/3 akusala mula.
      -Cultivating metta and karuna weakens or perhaps even totally delete many past bad kamma. Sharing the merits also has the same effect.
      -Not only weaken/delete past bad kamma. But is highly meritorious. Merit=good kamma. Good kamma=blessings/protection/good luck/miracles. You’ve heard stories of sick people getting miraculously cured. Miracles are nothing more than peoples’ past good kamma coming to fruition. What you and I are going through now is probably a bad kamma vipaka. Hopefully doing this could cut its duration shorter than it was supposed to be.

      11 Benefits of metta
      Metta (Mettanisamsa) Sutta

      Just how meritorious metta is:
      Velāma Sutta

      All this is to encourage others like me who whenever hear the advise of “metta/karuna” would not totally heed it but neglect it or are slacking off on cultivating it. Majority of the bhavana was informal, not even formal. Did not even take that long, just divided into at least 3 times throughout the day. I want to show it has clear results. I’ve experienced them. And it’s only been three months. I wonder what the results will be one year from now.

      Siebe, if you feel you want to share more and just talk about your situation, and think it might not be suitable for the forum, I’m here to hear you out, you are welcome to contact me by email: [email protected]

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