the effects of practices and contemplations.

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  sybe07 4 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #21906

    sybe07
    Spectator

    The Buddha apparantly once instructed to contemplate on foulness (of the body. Many bhikkhu’s started practicing this. When the Buddha returned from retreat he saw the Sangha was diminished. What happened? Due to this practice many bhikkhu’s committed suicide.
    https://suttacentral.net/sn54.9/en/sujato

    I think this is an example of a serieus issue. The issue of the effect of certain practices on us. Ofcourse contemplations, lessons, practices are not meant make us (more) depressed or (more) anxious but the example in the sutta shows it might happen.

    When it turns out to be that recommended practices or contemplations lead to unhappiness, what to do? Does one have to continue? Is it only a temporary symptom that will dissappear? What is temporary? Or, does one have to be alarmed when one becomes unhappy and stop? What is wise?

    The sutta’s describe that an element of happiness is, at least, very important to make any progress. I belief this is very true. I can see for myself that an unhappy mind is not able to concentrate. Being unhappy, mind is in a search mode. It cannot really settle, calm down.
    A sutta which describes this role of happiness is:
    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.023.bodh.html

    Therefor, i belief, searching happiness in life cannot really be in conflict with buddha-dhamma. Happiness and joy are necessities to practise the buddha-dhamma and make any progress. Ofcourse i understand it is a kind of happiness the sutta’s talk about (piti and sukha). We are not talking about sense-pleasures. But an unhappy mind is a serieus obstacle, at least, this is my own experience.

    When mind becomes (increasingly) unhappy due to contemplating the repulsiveness of the body or food, or contemplating the suffering filled world, the inevitable death, breath-mediation, or even the not trustworthy character of the conditioned, whatever one practices, what to do? What is wise?

    What are your thoughts (or experiences) on this?

    Siebe

  • #21907

    Lal
    Keymaster

    “When it turns out to be that recommended practices or contemplations lead to unhappiness, what to do? Does one have to continue?”

    Those bhikkhus (and the translator too) misunderstood the instructions given by the Buddha.
    – In any case, if a given procedure does not help, there in no point in pursuign that particular approach. There are many different techniques to choose from.

    “Therefor, i belief, searching happiness in life cannot really be in conflict with buddha-dhamma. Happiness and joy are necessities to practise the buddha-dhamma and make any progress. Ofcourse i understand it is a kind of happiness the sutta’s talk about (piti and sukha). We are not talking about sense-pleasures. But an unhappy mind is a serieus obstacle, at least, this is my own experience.”

    That is true.
    But the whole point in pursuing Buddha Dhamma is to realize the bad consequences of GETTING ATTACHED TO sense pleasures.
    – But that does mean one needs to avoid sense pleasures, and live like those ascetics who endured suffering in hopes of getting rid of sense pleasures.
    – That “giving up” HAS TO come through understanding: That in the end such sense pleasures only lead to suffering. That is the hard part.

    This is why I keep saying that one must follow the Path step-by-step:
    Is It Necessary for a Buddhist to Eliminate Sensual Desires?

  • #21910

    Christian
    Participant

    Buddha Dhamma is not to be happy but realizes that there is no happiness to be gained from this world.

  • #21913

    sybe07
    Spectator

    Yes, Lal. In this nice sutta Buddha explains what is the cause for the defilement and purifications of beings.
    https://suttacentral.net/sn22.60/en/bodhi
    Just like you say in many posts.

    Because there is also pleasure and not only suffering, we become captivated by that pleasure. By being captivated beings become defiled. And because there is also suffering in life beings experience a certain kind of revulsion (?, often translated like that) or turning away of what causes that suffering. Non-attractiveness. Because of this beings become dispassionate towards it and are purified. That is, in short, the mechanism presented.

    It is hard not to be captivated by sense-pleasures, especially when you are unhappy. Then it is almost impossible. It is like being in a trap. Because one is unhappy one starts enjoying sense-pleasures to end that suffering. And by doing so one stays unhappy. The trap of addiction. Hook and bait.

    Even when one sees the danger of this addictive pattern, it is still hard to end it, because of the unhappiness one does not want to experience.

    When i am happy, sense-pleasures are clearly less captivating. I also think love plays a very great role. When one does not feel loved, appreciated, lonely, craving and thapa is probably there all the time. One wants to end that suffering by eating something nice, hearing something nice, seeing something nice. Brrr…this pattern is hard to break.

    I also think boredom is a trigger. One can start grasping at sense-pleasures just out of boredom. One does not want to feel the suffering of boredom. But when one has some task to do, one does not even think about sense-pleasures. There is not even a longing for sense-pleasures at that moment, is my experience. Distraction or just having something to do is important.

  • #21914

    Lal
    Keymaster

    Yes, Siebe. All you say are correct. That sutta is a good reference too.

    If sense experiences are not pleasurable, humans will not be tempted by them. When they do immoral things to get those sense pleasures, they commit kamma that lead to rebirth in the apayas.

    It is hard for a normal human to avoid such kamma WHEN sense pleasures are HIGHLY attractive, i.e., when temptations become STRONG.
    – This is why a permanent change in mindset of at least a Sotapanna Anugami is needed. Such a mindset will automatically reject such bad actions at the vottapana citta (in the Abhidhamma language). So, one will not have to consciously avoid such “apayagami actions”.
    – The tendency to have temptations for certain sense attractions are embedded in one’s gati. Those gati need to be reduced by doing real Anapana/Satipatthana. Then it will become easier to grasp the Tilakkhana and get to the Sotapanna stage.

  • #21915

    sybe07
    Spectator

    Yes, i see what you say Lal. Sense-desires, when really strong (kama chanda) really can make you immoral, inhumane, unscrupulous. I belief it is not fictional that, while becoming like an animal as a human under influence of kama chanda, after death one can foresee an animal birth, or even worse because of that energy.

    When i look back i can see such moments in my life, unfortunately. Now it is better, but i cannot attest with certainty i am safe yet.

    Siebe

  • #21939

    upekkha100
    Participant

    Hi Siebe.

    If that method does not seem beneficial, what about khanti(enduring, forbearing, tolerance, patience)?

    And what about the 7 techniques outlined in the Sabbasava Sutta?

    Sabbasava Sutta MN 2 (All asavas/defilements)

    Sutta description:
    “The diverse problems of the spiritual journey demand a diverse range of responses. Rather than applying the same solution to every problem, the Buddha outlines seven methods of dealing with defilements, each of which works in certain cases.”

    Here are the specific ones that might be useful to you:
    2. Defilements Given Up by Restraint

    And what are the defilements that should be given up by restraint? Take a mendicant who, reflecting properly, lives restraining the faculty of the eye. For the distressing and feverish defilements that might arise in someone who lives without restraint of the eye faculty do not arise when there is such restraint. Reflecting properly, they live restraining the faculty of the ear … the nose … the tongue … the body … the mind. For the distressing and feverish defilements that might arise in someone who lives without restraint of the mind faculty do not arise when there is such restraint.

    For the distressing and feverish defilements that might arise in someone who lives without restraint do not arise when there is such restraint. These are called the defilements that should be given up by restraint.

    4. Defilements Given Up by Enduring

    And what are the defilements that should be given up by enduring? Take a mendicant who, reflecting properly, endures cold, heat, hunger, and thirst. They endure the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, and reptiles. They endure rude and unwelcome criticism. And they put up with physical pain—sharp, severe, acute, unpleasant, disagreeable, and life-threatening.

    For the distressing and feverish defilements that might arise in someone who lives without enduring these things do not arise when they are endured. These are called the defilements that should be given up by enduring.

    5. Defilements Given Up by Avoiding

    And what are the defilements that should be given up by avoiding? Take a mendicant who, reflecting properly, avoids a wild elephant, a wild horse, a wild ox, a wild dog, a snake, a stump, thorny ground, a pit, a cliff, a swamp, and a sewer. Reflecting properly, they avoid sitting on inappropriate seats, walking in inappropriate neighborhoods, and mixing with bad friends—whatever sensible spiritual companions would believe to be a bad setting.

    For the distressing and feverish defilements that might arise in someone who lives without avoiding these things do not arise when they are avoided. These are called the defilements that should be given up by avoiding.

    6. Defilements Given Up by Dispelling

    And what are the defilements that should be given up by dispelling? Take a mendicant who, reflecting properly, doesn’t tolerate a sensual, malicious, or cruel thought that has arisen, but gives it up, gets rid of it, eliminates it, and obliterates it. They don’t tolerate any bad, unskillful qualities that have arisen, but give them up, get rid of them, eliminate them, and obliterate them.

    For the distressing and feverish defilements that might arise in someone who lives without dispelling these things do not arise when they are dispelled. These are called the defilements that should be given up by dispelling.”

  • #21940

    upekkha100
    Participant

    Also from this PureDhamma post:
    The Sōtapanna Stage

    Here is the part about the Sabbasava Sutta:

    “Key Points from the Sabbāsava Sutta

    The key to attaining Nibbāna is to remove the āsavas (residue from fermentation of bad thoughts/habits over many sansaricbirths). This will be discussed under the key Dhamma Concepts.

    In the Sabbāsava Sutta, the Buddha listed seven steps to remove the āsavas and to purify the mind thus paving the way to Nibbāna. These seven steps are listed below:

    1. Removal by clear vision (“dassanena pahathabba”, where dassana is vision and pahathabba is removal). This is clear understanding of anicca, dukkha, anatta.
    2. Removal by the restrained use of the senses (“sanvarena pahathabba”, wheresanvara is disciplined use of the sense faculties: not to over-indulge in the senses).

    3. Removal by good and frequent associations (“patisevana pahathabba”, where sevana is association: for example, with good friends and good deeds).

    4. Removal by tolerance and patience (“adhivasana pahathabba”). For example, even if one is tempted to steal because one is hungry, one should contemplate the consequences and bear the hunger.

    5. Removal by staying clear of “bad influences and environments” (“parivajjana pahathabba”). One needs to avoid bad friends, bad locations for living (due to floods, bad neighbors, etc), avoiding unsuitable times to go out, etc.

    6. Removal by getting rid of certain things (“vinodana pahathabba”). One needs to get rid of bad thoughts that come to mind, for example, for excessive sense pleasure, hate, etc.

    7. Removal by meditation (“bhavana pahathabba”). When one has the clear vision in #1, it becomes apparent what to contemplate on.”

    When applied in real life practically and consistently, those techniques work.

  • #21954

    sybe07
    Spectator

    -“If that method does not seem beneficial, what about khanti (enduring, forbearing, tolerance, patience)? And what about the 7 techniques outlined in the Sabbasava Sutta?” (see above description of 7 techniques) upekkha100

    Hi Upekkha,

    Just some thoughts,

    In general the buddha taught these four ways of practice:
    -Painful practice with slow insight,
    -painful practice with swift insight,
    -pleasant practice with slow insight, and
    -pleasant practice with swift insight.

    https://suttacentral.net/an4.162/en/sujato

    So, i belief that it will be not realistic for certain persons that practicing buddha-dhamma will be easy, pleasant, comfortable for them. It will come with challenges, pains, difficulties, obstacles.

    What if these become so overwhelming? Does that mean one practices in a wrong way? What to do? What is wise? In general one says, here comes the role of an experienced teacher into play.

    I am not an experienced teacher but i have some thoughts about this. I think it is wise not to compare oneself with the Buddha or other persons progressing on the Path. The Buddha was clearly a very special person just like his main pupils. This might inspire, but i think it is wise to be realistic and not compare ones own abilities with their capacities. Especially when one has mental issues, based on my own experience, one needs to be realistic and see for oneself what does work and does not work. Ones must estimate ones own abilities in a realistic manner.

    I think it is not wise to push and insist that certain practices must work for oneself because they also lead to great fruit to others. One must see for oneself how it turns out.

    I feel it is very important to be friendly and compassionate to oneself.

    Siebe

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