3 characteristics

I feel scared from my insight meditation. I’ve started to get thoughts coming from my being while meditating saying not mine and I sense everything is suffering and life feels like a dream it seems like my ego is seeing the three characteristics very clearly and it doesn’t like it. It feels scarey I’m seeing firsthand that there is no happiness in this world and My mind doesn’t like it. I’ve been meditating for 13 years so I have some wisdom accrued over time. Has anyone else felt like this if so what do you do? I never do jhana but I do do metta, but even metta I could sense was suffering.


Greetings Marty :slight_smile:

Do you have a ‘real life’ sangha or any Dhamma friends with whom you can speak to about this? I ask because this is such a very difficult topic to address over the internet, with people who don’t know you, and cannot gain a proper understanding from only a few words printed on a screen.

The things you describe could be the result of many different things, and may or may not be related to meditation. It may be arising as a result of what else is happening in your world at the moment, and the things that your mind is focusing on.

Never-the-less if you are feeling scared during meditation, feeling any negative effects, then I would advise to stop it, until you have a better grasp on what is happening :slight_smile: As you say, you have been meditating for a long time, so you know when something is not right :slight_smile:

The most important thing is to be kind to yourself, and then to gently investigate where this stuff is coming from. This is where an external perspective from those who know you, or at least can interact with you, is the best way to go.

much metta


It maybe the beginning of nibbida since forever a being sees things as permanent, satisfying and sees experiences and feelings as belonging to a self. I’ve come back to my daily meditation schedule and seeing life like this is unnerving seeing things in this way. I have no external pressures or issues maybe I should just rest my mind and body in awareness and see that awareness is still there.

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Nibbida doesn’t really result in being scared though :slight_smile:

I would strongly advise to rest and take your time. Taking time to assimilate experiences is always a good approach. That and gentleness of practice will not go wrong. Pushing too hard, especially when feeling negative effects, on the other hand, may have negative consequences :slight_smile:

And also to speak to to someone in person - as any replies here can not fully address your situation - and can only be based on the most general assumptions. For things of this nature - you would want more precise and accurate feedback than can possibly be given over an internet forum :slight_smile:

That is also one of the reasons that we don’t encourage any personal practice discussions, and keep the focus on Suttas etc.

May you be well and free from suffering :anjal: :slightly_smiling_face: :sunflower:


Thank you, I’m sorry I should have read the outline for discussion. May you also be well :pray:

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No problems at all. Wishing you good progress with your practice :slight_smile:


I would echo what @Viveka said in finding support from friends/community.

To touch on the suttas though… There are those examples where the Buddha teaches to non-monastics and their reaction is they fall down on the ground, clutching their breast, wailing “I will be destroyed!”. Perhaps that isn’t an over-reaction, perhaps they really saw what the Buddha was referring to, and because of that they were distraught. Because to them it means the destruction of their self, their ego, because of commonplace identity-view. With the right view, it’s relief because it means the extinguishment of dukkha…


Typically, recollection of the Buddha is an excellent counter to fear on the path. Recall that the Buddha has walked this path before. He’s made it to the end, and discovered there is a Beyond all this. Recall the Buddha’s great compassion and how much you’ve benefited from it. Allow your heart this refuge: Iti pi so Bhagava… :heart:


As you search for support from teachers and sangha as recommended, perhaps a gentler perspective might help as described in SN54.9?

Ānanda, why does the mendicant Saṅgha seem so diminished?”
Ānanda told the Buddha all that had happened, and said:
“Sir, please explain another way for the mendicant Saṅgha to get enlightened.”


The couterpart to understanding dukkha, is that spiritual development in the Buddhist way should be happy/joyful. Of course, the ultimate expression of this is jhanas, but there are many lesser joys that can be cultivated such as the joy of living ethically, the pleasure of a calm/tranquil body in breath meditation, etc.


That is a common misconception, the ultimate source of joy is insight:

“And what are the six kinds of renunciation joy? The joy that arises when — experiencing the inconstancy of those very forms, their change, fading, & cessation — one sees with right discernment as it actually is that all forms, past or present, are inconstant, stressful, subject to change: That is called renunciation joy. (Similarly with sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, & ideas.)”–-MN 137

Furthermore joy arises before jhana (MN 39) as a result of overcoming the hindrances and is the source of jhana, as described in the progression of the seven factors of awakening.

“Seeing that they have been abandoned within him, he becomes glad. Glad, he becomes enraptured. Enraptured, his body grows tranquil. His body tranquil, he is sensitive to pleasure. Feeling pleasure, his mind becomes concentrated.”

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How is the rest of your spiritual practice? The other aspects of the noble eightfold path, I mean.

Buddhism is not a meditation only path, and if only meditation is cultivated, but the rest is ignored or downplayed, it may yield negative results. For instance, one needs to be psychologically ready for insight into the emptiness of self, or one may end up in a mental hospital with a disease no doctor can cure, because the insight is legitimate, but the mind isn’t ready for it. This is stream entry’s evil twin. If at all possible I’d recommend finding a dharma-teacher with a few decades of meditation experience under their belt.

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That’s only the start of the process, the practitioner should then naturally develop detachment, but to do that they need to have an alternative destination. That means cultivating a sense of peace apart from worldliness, and even having a conceptual understanding of that will be sufficient to begin with. If they have an understanding of conventional and ultimate reality that facilitates the transition. That understanding is necessary to embark on the path of insight, and should have been cultivated first.
They have to come to an acceptance that conventional reality has a limited authority because it has been arrived at by common human consensus. The problem is that it assumes an ultimate position, and that is the delusion that must be reversed:

“Just as, with an assemblage of parts,
The word ‘chariot’ is used,
So, when the aggregates are present,
There’s the convention ‘a being.’”—SN 5.10