Tilakhanna & Fear

Viewing 16 reply threads
  • Author
    Posts
    • #15473
      Embodied
      Spectator

      Hello

      Can a good, well-sinked understanding of Tilakhanna help to overcome fear, i.e. fear that one’s own physical integrity be undermined or any other kind of fear ?

      Thank you !

    • #15479
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Embodied asked: “Can a good, well-sinked understanding of Tilakhanna help to overcome fear..?”

      Fear is two kinds:
      1. Fear of losing things in this life, fear of getting sick, losing loved ones, of ghosts, of bad dreams, etc etc. What we can call “mundane fears”.
      2. But one should fear most is the possible birth in the apayas. Such a suffering will not be limited to a mere 100 years.

      To give a brief answer:
      1. Fear of mundane things can be reduced/eliminated by the mundane eitghtfold path.
      2. Fear of possible rebirth in the apayas may not be truly comprehensible until that mundane path is cultivated and most of the “mundane fears are understood to be relatively insignificant” compared to the more serious one. Then one starts on eliminating those more significant fears.

      In order to work on the more serious fears, one needs to have a relatively calm mindset that is attained via the mundane path. A good indication is when one does not see terrible dreams anymore, for example, and have a general sense of calmness.

      As I mentioned just today under another topic (“Is circumambulation a mere rite or ritual?“), “sila, samadhi, panna” or the mundane path leads to the second more important stage of “panna, sila, samadhi”, as discussed in the post, “Sīla, Samādhi, Pannā to Pannā, sīla, Samādhi“.
      – As, discussed there, “sila” will have a deeper meaning in the second stage; that is an unbreakable “sila” (called the “Ariyakanta sila”) that comes with the comprehension of Tilakkhana.

      All fears are eliminated only at the Arahant stage. It is only an Arahant that is not afraid of even death. In fact, an Arahant is said to be looking forward to the day when all sufferings experienced with this human body ends, and to enter the permanent Nibbana.

    • #15480
      Anonymous

      I just finished reading the dēvaduta Sutta (Majjhima Nikāya 130) where the the Buddha describes the horrifying suffering in niraya. It’s painful to read, but will put perspective into future actions, speech and thoughts.

      With metta,
      donna

      • #15481
        Embodied
        Spectator

        Thank you.I glimpse the connection, but for now i’m more concerned with the fears related to what can happen during our actual bhava.
        Mostly the ones related to physical/body integrity and/or the ones triggered by ego clingings. Of course both are connected…

    • #15482
      Anonymous

      Maybe try thinking of your body as your car and the mind as the driver. Just because it gets dinged up doesn’t mean the driver is getting hurt. Treat it like a car, if it damaged, repair it…until you get to the point where you no longer care about it and look forward to putting it down.

      What has helped me is including the 10 sanyojanas in my metta bhavana, especially, sakkaya ditthi. “May myself and all being be free from the apayas forever by removing the 3 of the 10 sanyojanas, that of sakkaya ditthi, the belief that I am the body and I need to keep it beautiful…”. As I say that, I’m reminded that the body w/o the mind is an inert thing and what I am is more like what is going on in background of thoughts. I realize that once an Arahant, what one is is not even citta vithis (thoughts), rupa or dhamma, etc., but that is as close to Nibbana as I can get right now.

    • #15483
      Embodied
      Spectator

      Yes you got really close to what i’m looking for, mostly with “the belief that I am the body and I need to keep it beautiful…. As I say that, I’m reminded that the body w/o the mind is an inert thing and what I am is more like what is going on…”.

      I created a “mantra” (kind of) that i keep repeating : whatever “I” am, this body is but a transient expression of such “I”.
      However when i recite it i’m aware of what the Buddha said on the self, non-self, etc. Meaning that whatever is there and/or not there, the body is but a transient expression of it.

    • #15484
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Embodied said: “..but for now i’m more concerned with the fears related to what can happen during our actual bhava”.

      Any stress/fear that is in the mind is has its origins in dasa akusala. This may not be obvious. This is called “tapa” or “heat in the mind”. One really realizes the relief only AFTER one gets rid of it. This is the basis of Satipatthana; see, ” Satipatthana Sutta – Structure“.

      More details in: “Sutta Interpretations“, and the first several sections of “Living Dhamma“.

      It is relatively easy to abstain from killing, lying, etc. There are three harder aspects that people seem not to pay attention to:
      1. Day dreaming or fantasizing about sense pleasures (especially sexual nature). These seem to be harmless, but can lead to so much “heating of the mind”; see, “Correct Meaning of Vacī Sankhāra“.
      2. Getting rid of the 10 types of micca ditthi.
      3. Controlling excess greed and anger.

      When such thoughts creep into the mind, one should immediately get rid of them. That is the basis of Anapana and Satipatthana.

      Embodied said: “I created a “mantra” (kind of) that i keep repeating : whatever “I” am, this body is but a transient expression of such “I”.”

      Chanting by itself will not work. That can keep the mind off of such “bad vaci sankhara” only during that chanting. One needs to keep such vaci sankhara from creeping in to the mind at all times, whenever possible. Initially hard, but will get easier with time.

      • #15485
        Embodied
        Spectator

        @Lal,

        Greed is the least of my worries.
        Anger : yes, there are still some issues at subconscious level.
        As for dasa akusala i’ll have to check point by point.
        My “mantra” : i’m aware of its limitations, it’s but a complement to Tilakhanna bhavana…but it helps in to step back from the body, too…

        Thanks again.

      • #15509
        sybe07
        Spectator

        “When such thoughts creep into the mind, one should immediately get rid of them. That is the basis of Anapana and Satipatthana”. (Lal)

        I know there are schools, like dzogchen, who teach we do not have to change anything which arises in the mind. The idea is: If we understand that thoughts are mere thoughts, they come and go, we do not have to dispel them. They liberate themselves, they go without a trace.

        I have seen the Pali sutta’s deal with this differently. Thoughts are seen as motivations, such as sensual thoughts, ill will thoughts and thoughts of harming. Those thoughts prepare mind to speak and acts in a immoral way.

        When such unwholesome thoughts are mentioned in the sutta’s, the sutta’s are very consistent in how to deal with them. They must be abandoned, dispelled, not tolerated, annihilated. Tolerating such unwholesome thoughts/motivation is seen as a lack of right energy, right diligence, as laziness.

        I came upon a sutta in which this is nicely illustrated with two metapors, SN14.12

        This sutta’s also treats the source of wholesome and unwholesome thoughts.
        I will only mention the two metaphors:

        “Suppose, bhikkhus, a man would drop a blazing grass torch into a thicket of dry grass. If he does not quickly extinguish it with his hands and feet, the creatures living in the grass and wood will meet with calamity and disaster. So too, if any ascetic or brahmin does not quickly abandon, dispel, obliterate, and annihilate the unrighteous perceptions (regarding sensuality, ill will and harming, Siebe) that have arisen in him, he dwells in suffering in this very life, with vexation, despair, and fever; and with the breakup of the body, after death, a bad destination may be expected for him. “Bhikkhus, thought of renunciation arises”

        And

        “Suppose, bhikkhus, a man would drop a blazing grass torck into a thicket of dry grass. If he quickly extinguishes it with his hands and feet, the creatures living in the grass and wood will not meet with calamity and disaster. So too, if any ascetic brahmin quickly abandons, dispels, obliterates, and annihilates the unrighteous perceptions that have arisen in him, he dwells happily in this very life, without vexation, despair, and fever; and with the breakup of the body, after death, a good destination may be expected for him.”

        kind regards,
        Siebe

    • #15489
      sybe07
      Spectator

      Fear plays an important role in my life. I have very much trouble to trust. Trust computers, cars, trust people, trust my own mind, trust the body, trust the world, trust life. I live most of the time with the perception of teror, that everything goes wrong. Up till now i am not able to let go. But i just keep on practising.

      I have examined this theme of fear in the Sutta-pitaka. Now i have been given the oppertunity to share some information:

      fear which is conducive to the goal of Nibbana

      there is a kind of fear which is good, this is the fear of wrong doing, otappa. In the texts it is often mentioned together with moral shame, hiri.
      They are seen as protectors. They protect from going immoral ways. They protect from downfall.
      Hiri is seen a manifestation of self-respect. Respecting oneself one stays away from immoral unworthy deeds.
      Otappa is seen as a manifestation of respecting others, wanting to do no harm to them, because there is respect for others welbeing.

      Seeing fear in the slightest moral faults is a quality which is often mentioned in the sutta’s.

      Fear as something positive is also mentioned in MN49. Here it is said the Buddha saw fear in any form of existence. This is seen as conducive to the goal of Nibbana.

      fear which is not conducive to the goal of Nibbana

      there are mentioned four ways of going wrong; chandagati, dosagati, mohagati and bhayagati. It are ways to express how we, or mind, takes a wrong way/route under the influence of greed, hate, delusion and fear.

      Bhayagati is going wrong due to fear, due to shiness, due to lack of selfconfidence, due to nerves, being timid etc. What needs to be done in a certain situation is not done because of that bhayagati, the influence of fear on the mind and behaviour. I feel this is happening a lot.

      The causes for fear are treated differently but in fact it all comes down to attachment. How can there be fear without attachment?

      a cause for fear is:

      -immoral behaviour/the fool (MN115)
      – sakkaya ditthi (SN22.7). Identified with the the khandha’s, one fears change. If one thinks thoughts like “this youthful body that is me”, or” this health and strenght is me” then one will ofcourse fear the changes which will certainly occur. This kind of fear i have, with regard to external and internal matters. I did no used to have this so extreme but this has devoloped during time.
      -Dhammapada 212-216 mentions loved ones, affection, attachment, craving, sensual desire as causes for fear. Ofcourse one will fear change or disappearance of what one loves and feels affection for.
      -SN2.17 makes clear that without letting go of everything there will Always be some fear of loosing something. How accurate, right?
      -Udana 3.10 mentions Delight as cause. I think because one fears the end of what one takes delights in.
      -fear of death is treated in AN.4.116 and AN4.184 there is no fear of death when immorality is abandoned and morality is developed

      This is a short summery of what i once examined.

      kind regards,
      Siebe

      • #15490
        Embodied
        Spectator

        @Sybe07,

        Yesss…to let go of… So many things. Besides, Sutta Piṭaka it’s my preferred one.

        Thank you !

    • #15493
      y not
      Participant

      Sybe:

      This is interesting.

      “. there are mentioned four ways of going wrong; chandagati, dosagati, mohagati and BHAYAgati. It are ways to express how we, or mind, takes a wrong way/route under the influence of greed, hate, delusion and FEAR.”
      (My Capitals).

      The introduction (to my mind) of the elememt of fear is new to me to the extent of its occurence in the Suttas as an indication of its leading, or otherwise, to Nibbana. Quoting you furher:

      “.. Bhayagati is going wrong due to fear, due to shiness, due to lack of selfconfidence, due to nerves, being timid etc. What needs to be done in a certain situation is not done because of that bhayagati, the influence of fear on the mind and behaviour. I feel this is happening a lot.” Now then, whence ( woher?) this fear? And how to remove it?
      And….” I feel this is happening a lot?” Do you mean you feel it is happening all around you? In you? Or both?

      Many years ago these two words popped into my mind; Atyatar Bhayam. Or Adhyatar Bhayam, or Adhiyatar Bhayam. I am sure you get the sound of it. I knew from Sanskrit that Bhayam means fear, or from fear or having to do with fear either as a cause or as an effect. I tried searchibg for clues about what the first could possibly mean, but except for Adhi (higher, best, unsurpassed, utmost etc) I made no headway.

      Where exactly in the Suttas are these FOUR agatis mentioned,if I may ask?

      y not
      .

    • #15495
      sybe07
      Spectator

      Hi ynot, references are:

      -‘What are the four causes of evil from which he refrains?
      Evil action springs from attachment, it springs from ill-will, it
      springs from folly, it springs from fear. If the Ariyan disciple
      does not act out of attachment, ill-will, folly or fear, he will not
      do evil from any one of the four causes.’ DN31§5, translation Walshe

      -“Bhikkhus, there are these two kinds of assemblies. What two?
      The dregs of an assembly and the cream of an assembly. And what is the dregs of an assembly? The assembly in which the bhikkhus enter upon a wrong course on account of desire, hatred, delusion, or fear is called the dregs of ann assembly. “And what is the cream of an assembly? The assembly in which the bhikkhus do not enter upon a wrong course on account of desire, hatred, delusion, or fear is called the cream of an assembly. “These, bhikkhus,are the two kinds of assemblies. Of these two kinds of assemblies, the cream of an assembly is foremost” AN2.46, translation Bodhi

      -“Bhikkhus, there are these four ways of taking a wrong course. What four? One takes a wrong course because of desire, because of hatred, because of delusion, or because of fear. These are the four ways of taking a wrong course.” If through desire, hate, fear, or delusion one transgresses against the Dhamma, one’s fame diminishes like the moon in the dark fortnight.
      AN4.17, translation Bodhi

      -See also AN4.19 + 4.20

      -“Bhikkhus, one possessing five qualities should not be appointed an assigner of meals.What five? He enters upon a wrong course because of desire; he enters upon a wrong course because of hatred; he enters upon a wrong course because of delusion; he enters upon a wrong course because of fear; he
      does not knoW which [meal] has been assigned and which has not been assigned. One possessing these five qualities should not be appointed an assigner of meals. a fragment of AN5.272, translation Bodhi.

      I personally feel fear is not getting very much attention but plays a key role in my life. Some say fear is an aspect of dosa. But i have not found sutta references for this yet. Fear is mentioned apart from dosa.

      I think fear is often a motive of not doing the right thing. Not telling something which needs to be told. Not making contact with somebody while that would be appropriate. Not making that important step while you feel inside one needs to make that step. That kind of things.

      I will post a seperate post on removing fear from sutta perspective. Otherwise this is becoming to long.

      kind regards,
      Siebe

    • #15497
      y not
      Participant

      Sybe:

      Yes, please do. Looking forward.
      Meanwhile I will follow the leads you have given..

      For now I can only say that it looks to me that fear may have more to do with lobha (in a very subtle sense)than dosa, in the way of there being advantage, or happiness, or a ‘good return’ to oneself in ..” DOING the right thing. TELLING something which needs to be told. MAKING contact with somebody while that would be appropriate. MAKING that important step while you feel inside one needs to make that step.”

      Because, the right thing for whom? That is, the right or good or beneficial results in the long term , for whom ?; for the other or for oneself? If one feels that the other will be all the better for it that that thing is not done, that contact is not made, that that important step is not taken… one feels this to be ultruism of the highest order….or, or.. could it be just an excuse to give ground to and thus justify that fear?

      thank you

      y not

    • #15501
      sybe07
      Spectator

      Overcoming fear

      -1. Due to mindfulness of the body.

      This is said in MN119. In this sutta mindfulness of the body is explained. It consists of (in short): 1. Breath-meditation; 2. awareness of the four postures (awareness of walking, standing, sitting, lying down); 3; doing everything with full awareness, such as eating with attention, urinating, extending limbs, all kind of acts; 4. Reviewing the body parts and there foulness; 5. Contemplating the elements of the body; 6. Contemplating the decay of the body in nine phases of decomposition, realising our own body is of the same nature.. 7. Abiding in the four jhana’s.

      When this mindfulness of the body has been repeatedly practised, developed, cultivated, used as a vehicle, used as a basis, established, consolidated, and well undertaken, these ten benefits may be expected. What ten? These are listed in the sutta. One of them (ii) is:
      – “One becomes a conqueror of fear and dread, and fear and dread do not conquer oneself; one abides overcoming fear and dread whenever they arise. (MN119)

      -2. Ending sakkaya ditthi.

      I personally think this is the key.

      This is treated in SN22.7. The mechanism, in my own words ofcourse, is that due to sakkaya ditthi we are in a negative way obsessed with changes in what we feel, perceive, experience. We are afraid of changes. Changes are normal, a fact of life, but in a psychological sense it is very hard to endure, i find.

      For example, the body changes, from relative young to old, from strong to weak, from healthy to sick. And all this change comes with much worry, much fear, feelings of unsafety, anxiety.

      I think the main cause is sakkaya ditthi. We are identified with this body. This is one kind of sakkaya ditthi (i am this body). So when the body changes and it becomes old and sick this becomes something very personal and dramatic. This dramatising effect is, i belief, due to sakkaya ditthi. Sakkaya ditthi makes everything so personal.
      Change becomes a drama while change is just a fact of life. When sakkaya ditthi ends all those changes in what we feel, experience, perceive do not make us worry anymore.

      -3. contemplating the qualities of the three gems, the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. (SN11.3)

      Siebe

    • #23995
      Tobias G
      Participant

      I wonder what is fear in relation to kilesa? Is fear a kilesa or upakilesa? Is it part of dosa or moha? Is it part of panca nivarana (e.g. thina middha or uddacca-kukkucca)?

    • #23996
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Fear, confidence, sadness, elation are all associated with the “mindest” at the given moment. The mindset here is not a kilesa or upakilesa, but arise DUE TO kilesa and upakilesa. Elation is not joy (piti), but a “state of mind” like sadness.

      Those can become one’s gati (bhavanga) for the next life, if the mindset at the cuti-patisandhi moment is one of those.
      – Fear and sadness are associated with births in lower realms.
      – Confidence and joy associated with births in higher realms.
      – A neutral state of mind (upekkha) can be associated with brahma realms and optimized for an Arahant.

      This is why all beings in lower realms have subconscious fear and/or sadness. Those in higher realms have a pleasant state of mind in bhavanga.

      Bhavanga is an important concept: “Bhava and Bhavanga – Simply Explained!” and “State of Mind in the Absence of Citta Vithi – Bhavanga“.

    • #24016
      cubibobi
      Participant

      Hi all,

      A couple of points in this discussion resonate with me due to some recent experiences and discussions I had with some people around me. I’d like to share them, and have question at the end.

      @Lal
      “Fear is two kinds:
      1. Fear of losing things in this life, fear of getting sick, losing loved ones, of ghosts, of bad dreams, etc etc. What we can call “mundane fears”.
      2. But one should fear most is the possible birth in the apayas. Such a suffering will not be limited to a mere 100 years.”

      I do have my share of “mundane fears” and phobias, and they are limiting and debilitating when they get out of hand.

      More recently, the fear of birth in the apayas is taking over more, and interestingly, it’s not debilitating at all. On the contrary, it serves to motivate to work for the sotapanna stage.

      My fear of rebirth in the apayas is getting stronger because I am more and more convinced of rebirth, due mainly to two reasons:

      1) I spent more time reading reincarnation (a more commonly used term) accounts — writing by Brian Weiss, Carol Bowman, Walter Semkiw, Edgar Cayce, etc.
      2) I realized that alternative views of rebirth — an eternal state somewhere, or nothingness — are ridiculous since they are contrary to the law of kamma.

      At the same time, I came across another view by some buddhists: there’s no need to consider the afterlife; what’s important is the “here and now”. You take care of the “here and now”, and you don’t waste energy worrying about the afterlife. Elsewhere I’ve seen the term “secular buddhism”, and I think this view is related to that. Personally, I find this view uninspiring.

      @Lal
      “…When such thoughts creep into the mind, one should immediately get rid of them. That is the basis of Anapana and Satipatthana.”


      @sybe07

      “I know there are schools, like dzogchen, who teach we do not have to change anything which arises in the mind. The idea is: If we understand that thoughts are mere thoughts, they come and go, we do not have to dispel them. They liberate themselves, they go without a trace.”

      I recently listened to a teaching of exactly this: mere observation of phenomena, including thoughts. It wasn’t dzogchen but a Satipatthana teaching. dhammanupassana was taught as mere observation of dhamma (translated as “mental content”) to see them come and go in order to realize the transient, impersonal nature of them.

      As an aside, Kāyānupassanā was taught as mindfulness of the body, for example, of walking (lifting a foot, putting it down, lifting the other foot, etc.); breath meditation was taught as anapana as a subsection of Kāyānupassanā.

      I did practice this way for quite some time, and did watch things “come and go”, but my problem was the “come” part. Bad thoughts did “go”, but they also “come” again. I did not reach the stage of “…They liberate themselves, they go without a trace.”

      So, just a few input, but I do have a question:

      For the view of “not caring whether or not there is rebirth”, sort of “taking the 5th on rebirth”, is it a micha ditthi?

      Thank you all,
      Lang

    • #24018
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Lang wrote:
      @Lal
      “…When such thoughts creep into the mind, one should immediately get rid of them. That is the basis of Anapana and Satipatthana.”

      It is IMPORTANT to note that I was referring to SPECIFIC thoughts with greed, hate, or ignorance. Such thoughts should be stopped as soon as they arise.
      – One SHOULD NOT get rid of all thoughts. In fact, one should CULTIVATE good (moral) thoughts with the opposites (benevolence, compassion, and wisdom).
      – Those two encompass the real Anapana or Satipatthana Bhavana.

      Lang asked, “For the view of “not caring whether or not there is rebirth”, sort of “taking the 5th on rebirth”, is it a micha ditthi?”

      If one does not believe in rebirth one is not a real Buddhist, because what the Buddha taught was how to stop the suffering-filled rebirth process.
      – Some people get upset when I point this out. But I MUST point out such key facts about Buddha Dhamma; see, “Buddhism without Rebirth and Nibbana?“.

    • #24080
      cubibobi
      Participant

      Just one quick follow-up on this, and it has to do with dreams (the bold texts are mine), since this is something I experience a lot.

      @Lal
      “Fear is two kinds:
      1. Fear of losing things in this life, fear of getting sick, losing loved ones, of ghosts, of bad dreams, etc etc. What we can call “mundane fears”.


      “A good indication is when one does not see terrible dreams anymore, for example, and have a general sense of calmness.”

      Are dreams mano viññāna?

      We’ve been having good discussion on viññāna in relation to the current “origin of life” series, and I’m wondering if dreams are considered viññāna.

      Thank you,
      Lang

    • #24081
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Lang asked: “Are dreams mano viññāna?”

      They are mano viññāna, but they arise from kamma vipaka. Just like all cakkhu, sota, ghana, jivha, kaya mano viññāna arise due to kamma vipaka.

      Dreams cannot make kamma. Only mano viññāna done via sankhara are responsible for kamma generation; see, “Viññāna – What It Really Means“.
      – I emphasized this under another topic today.

      In the language of Abhidhamma, we do not generate javana citta while we dream. Kammā are done with javana citta.
      – Another way to see this is: when we see dreams we cannot make decisions.
      – Yet another way to see it is, “avijja paccaya sankhara” followed by “sankhara paccaya viññāna” does not take place in dreams.

Viewing 16 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.