Difficulties with dispassion

I’m hoping someone here can direct me to any EBT scriptures that address issues relating to deep contemplative ‘feelings’ of dispassion that can arise after meditation.

I initially started my meditation practice by listening to guided meditation podcasts but now find that I can settle down under my own efforts using the breath and bodily awareness techniques to achieve a reasonable degree of concentration as part of my morning puja.

Alternatively I’m open to listening advise that could help me understand this phenomenon and skilful ways of working with them on the path.

I hope this makes sense as I find it hard to articulate the abstract but I do appreciate any insight that one might have to share.



If you feel comfortable, could you elaborate a little more on your difficulties? This might help guide suggestions of EBTs.

Have you done a keyword search of ‘dispassion’ here on SS? If so, which suttas did you read and what did you make of them?

One thing I’ve learned in my own practice is to be wary of misidentifying aversion as dispassion. Just a thought :slight_smile:


Its ok to let go of the guided meditation if it becomes a hindrance to or is simply unnecessary anymore.

It’s helpful to be grounded in the EBTs if you are going to go at it alone…


The trouble with self-assessment of dispassion is that the following terms are semantically close:

  • dispassion
  • equanimity
  • ignorance
  • neutral feeling
  • disillusionment

This creates a challenge of discernment. Is there equanimity here or just blissful ignorance?

To solve this problem, a teacher is VERY helpful. Without direct access to a teacher, one must study the suttas quite carefully. Bhante Sujato’s translations are enormously valuable in their comprehensive and consistent coverage of the EBTs. Bhante takes great care in ensuring consistency. Because of this great care in translation, we can confidently map our internal experiences to each of Bhante’s translated terms. The more suttas we read, the better our understanding. For example, after a while, we might feel comfortable to assert that “I feel equanimity but not disillusionment as described in SN2.23”.

If we search voice.suttacentral.net for dispassion, we end up with a rather vague:

“Mendicants, when the perception of dispassion is developed and cultivated it’s very fruitful and beneficial. …”

In other words, dispassion is used in the general sense to indicate non-attachment to greed, hate and delusion. It’s too general a term. As a start, try searching for:

What you’ll notices is that all these are: 1) associated with dispassion, and 2) quite different


Sure can. When I’ve experienced this it’s been after a rather pleasant meditation and once I’m back doing the regular householder stuff I get a sense that it’s a bit of a waste of time.

I guess a bit of my background before finding the path and meditation would be helpful, so here goes!
I’m Married with children, I was a daily drinker and cannabis smoker and would take shrooms for fun every other month. I was constantly bouncing from one ‘hobby’ to the next and always had distractions a plenty eg music constantly playing, tv always on and mobile phone in hand browsing through sites like reddit constantly. All that changed over 2 years ago and decided I was still not satisfied in life and the way it was going. I don’t know lead me to start but I started meditation using the Headspace app. Well back then I made up my mind that I was going to do the free 10min in 10 days guided meditation sessions, but sitting still for 10 mins felt like eternity and I couldn’t see how it would be of any benefit long term. At around the same time I stumbled upon the BSWA’s YouTube channel and Ajahn Brahm’s Friday Dhamma talks, which I devoured.

Fastward 18 months and I started going to a forest monastery to seek further instruction, I gave up the weed, deleted all non essential apps of my phone, turned the music down low and tv was only on when there was something worth watching and I all but stopped drinking.

Now to the present. I wake most mornings at 4am for puja and a 1 hour sit. I don’t take any drug that has not been prescribed by my doctor, as I can sense small changes in my mind from things like nurofen and paracetamol (not a high but a lightness or lifted sensation!) I’m even cautious of sex and restrain myself unless my wife insists we are intimate as i find it takes a toll on my physical strength as well as my state of mind. I no longer drink alcohol and think that I’m a much better father to my two sons, or at least that’s what they tell me :blush: and I’ve become a my patient and caring husband to my wife. I’ve started eating less and being as generous as I can when I can with what I can. I hope no one thinks from reading this I’m trying to make out I’m anything other than a seeker trying there best on the path.
So sorry for the long story but I hope this is of use to my current investigation into my present meditation phenomenon.



Actually, thank you for the long story and the inspiration. :pray:


Your description of what you’re feeling actually reminds me of this passage:

"The perception of cessation, when developed and cultivated, leads to great benefit … great sanctuary … great inspiration … great ease. How so? It’s when a mendicant develops the perception of cessation together with the awakening factors of mindfulness, investigation, energy, rapture, tranquility, immersion, and equanimity, which rely on seclusion, fading away, and cessation, and ripen as letting go. That’s how the perception of cessation, when developed and cultivated, leads to great benefit … great sanctuary … great inspiration … great ease.”
~ SN46.76

When we start to get a sense of the depth, power and tranquility of renunciation, we feel less and less “inspired” by the world, and more and more inclined towards seclusion and letting go. The mundane world just can’t compare to the escape.

If that sounds like what you’ve been experiencing, then you’re in luck, because:

When the perception of cessation is developed and cultivated you can expect one of two results: enlightenment in the present life or, if there’s something left over, non-return.

:pray: May you achieve one of those two results soon, my friend! :pray: And leave the ordinary world far behind :smile:


I searched SC site with the word “nibbida” and 76 results came up. The first is SN 22.115.

From your description of yourself, I understand you to be someone who has has gone through a lot in life and has now taken a complete U turn so to say. Also you have probably felt, via your meditation practice, that life is really not what it appears to be on the surface and you have felt the need to further your practice by taking the next step which is to find dispassion nibbida through meditation.

If my above understanding is correct, I suggest that you read the above mentioned Sutta which is about a speaker who speaks to others in such a way that the listener becomes dispassionate about the five aggregates. When someone is dispassionate about the five aggregates having understood their true nature his or her practice gets the momentum it needs ie; to be fully devoted to the N8FP.

SN 22.95 describes the true nature of aggregates beautifully. But IMO you would do a lot better if you first try to understand dependent origination DO perhaps using SN 12.1 and SN 12.2 as starters. When you get a good grasp of DO and meditate contemplating on the arising and ceasing aspect of aggregates you will understand SN 22.95 even better and eventually that understanding about the true nature of the five aggregates will make you dispassionate and hopefully you will be on the path to liberation with diligent practice.
With Metta


I really appreciate the time that people here have given by posting sutta references for me to read and contemplate. I’m not the best at expressing complex ideas and I don’t get to talk to people about such things so it nice to be understood thanks heaps.


Thanks for sharing, Pete.

I’m no expert but I dare say your experience sounds pretty normal. You mention many positives that undertaking the training precepts bring and you enjoy the fruits of generosity and non-clinging.

I don’t know exactly what type of meditation you are practicing. If it is vipassana/mindfulness, then doing all the ‘regular householder stuff’ simply becomes part of the practice: rather than washing the dishes while lost in thought, one aims to wash the dishes mindfully. And so forth and so on (MN10 1.3 gives you the basic idea).

If you are employed, then hopefully your work could be considered in alignment with the path of Right Livelihood. Could you reflect on all the benefits that paid employment brings , for example, the opportunity to support the bhikkhu/bhikkhuni sanga, to help others struggling with poverty, to afford travel to a monastery to listen to the Dhamma etc? Wisely reflecting in this way can gladden and bring peace to the heart.

Just a few thoughts.


I searched SC site with the word “nibbida” and 76 results came up. The first is SN 22.115.

I read somewhere (Lion’s Roar, perhaps) that “nibbida” translates literally to “not finding”. My experience of it is something akin to feeling hungry or noticing it is lunch time, looking in the fridge, and not finding anything that looks worth eating.

When one sees the aggregates, householder life, and worldly dhammas for what they are, there may still be a residual feeling of “I want to want something” and so one may go looking for something to want—and not find anything. I’ve found that for me it manifests as a feeling of a hole or emptiness in my chest where my heart should be; when that sensation arises I like to say, “Craving to not crave.” Then something clicks and says, “Oh, right!” And the unpleasantness of the feeling subsides.

As someone else mentioned, it’s important not to get it mixed up with aversion. Equanimously folding clothes (because it needs to be done to contribute to a harmonious and smoothly working household) is one thing; hating folding clothes and becoming angry that you have to do it because it takes time away from practice is another. Even meditative practice can be subject to paticca samupada.


How interesting! That does indeed fill out the meaning of disillusionment. Not finding the delight in the object of desire anywhere in the universe or time. Thank you.

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