Do you often feel that whatever you are doing (working, social engagements etc) is a complete waste of time and you’d rather be on a retreat full time? And if so how do you deal with this if you can’t actually go off on retreat? For example I accepted to do some travelling and work because someone insisted and I did not want to let them down; now I feel I am trapped for a week in a situation that is a total waste of time (there are a lot of social events involved); whereas I could have used that time meditating. The trouble is that this is making me feel grumpy and regretful of not having made a different decision; which are not a very wholesome states… So does this happen to you and if so how do you deal with this?
Do you feel like whenever you are not meditating you are wasting your time? And how do you deal with this?
Yes, and then I meditate on my grumpyness
Awareness indicates that we learn from our patterns of reactions to certain things and learn from them, as well as offer better responses next time. This might include coming to the realisation that we cannot please everyone in our lives, and hope to reach the ending of suffering. [stopping negative states arising in the future]
See that the currently arisen regret could not have been avoided under the circumstances the decision had to be made - the causes and effects could not have given rise to a different decision. It’s not your fault. Let go of the desire to be (bhava tanha) in this case, somewhere else, as good as it sounds it isn’t realistic so best to let go of it. [removing arisen defilements].
Also remove aversion to the social events. Perhaps developing metta to those who are coming together in a harmless way to be in each other’s company- develop a more compassionate stance. Fear or anxiety can be overcome by letting go. [developing the wholesome]
See this and other events in life as opportunities to develop your practice. Also plan in advance for seclusion [protecting and further developing wholesomeness]. Within [ ] are Right effort of the Noble Eightfold Path.
yes, I realise this, but I feel anxious and physically tense when I know people expect something of me which I don’t want to do, so in the end the easiest thing has been to just please them. But you are absolutely right one cannot please everyone so I should learn to say no.
that’s a really great point; if we feel that things could not have been different then regret goes away. The idea of free will is actually quite harmful as one can keep torturing oneself with thoughts such as: ‘I’ve done this whereas I should have done that etc’. Feeling that things had to be this way because cause and effects takes away the regret, and in other situations the guilt etc.
Be clear about the request- is it in your and their best interest (ie Kalama Sutta)? If not become aware of your need to receive approval or appease them. Challenge those thoughts, with your right view, of the matter. Keep doing this each time it happens. Each subsequent time the urge to do so will become less and less stronger until one day something similar will again be requested and you will come to realise that the desire to please has been removed.
Yes, exactly. Guilt is strongly linked to a sense of self as well. If the self is seen to be false, then the sense of self can be gradually rubbed away as well, using methods mentioned above.
Know the 5 hindrances and the 5 aggregates that the Buddha said are “Not Yours” so you can put them down. It is great to do retreats but the mindfulness needs to carry forward into daily life. Even the Buddha wasn’t on perpetual retreat, however, he was perpetually mindful of one of the 4 foundations Of mindfulness.
This is something I have to work on also. I notice my mind can sink back into suffering rather quickly after retreats and longer retreats but that just means the work has been brought before us. It doesn’t stop after the meditation or retreat is over these hindrances and this delusion. It’s important that we use every opportunity to be mindful of whatever is presenting itself and also use Right Effort to quell unwholesome mind states and Metta to arouse wholesome mind states in every moment.
Even living at a monastery, you still have chores. When I stayed at Nanachat , we had to sweep every morning on an empty stomach after waking up at 3am. We also had to follow the program at the monastery and help clean the monastery and back paths regularly. So much opportunity for mindlessness, but you try your best to keep the awareness within and do what is required in peace, letting go agitation.
PS this is morning just advice for you, but also a big huge note to self also.
I hope this helps.
I have that as well, the pain can be useful, it helps me to be more and more careful to be sure that I don’t agree to do something I don’t really want to do. It’s hard because sometime we want to say yes because we always said yes or because we don’t want to displease people etc… It requires a lot of alterness while talking to people.
But I have reduced my social involvments a lot, and don’t have any regrets or doubts on the benefits of this. One can be perceived as anti-social or weird but that is their perception, their issue to deal with, I don’t really mind nowadays (still a bit though, I’m not completely free from that yet^^)
But I’d love to be in your situation actually, right now I don’t have a strong motivation to meditate and miss the times when I had a lot of energy and motivation for it. I’m working on getting back there, trying to find the way, gently
What a great thread. Thank you for sharing your dilemma and thereby establishing the conditions that are giving rise to all the helpful replies.
Its difficult to retain the benefits that are to be had on retreat, when outside of that setting. A few things that can be helpful is reducing one’s social commitments. The Buddha said ‘a person who takes on burdens that isn’t his is a fool, as is a person who doesn’t take on the burdens that are his’ (Dhp, I assume). We need to not jump into entanglements, but equally not ignore that which we have to do. Some of our social engagements like employment etc is keeping alive and therefore forming a foundation for the practice as are some of our relationships and family. But we can tweak the frequencies of interaction, if possible. This is assuming all the free time generated is being put to practice! Having said that, its not entirely possible to be very precise about it.
Another thing that helps mindfulness is working on one’s defilements, outside of retreat. You will quickly see that they need to be worked on as and when they arise, which in turn requires mindfulness. When focused on something mindfulness remembers that we are working on a certain issue, and one definition of mindfulness is memory of course. This allows it to come up each time, say anger or craving arises (there are other defilements of course like jealous, stubbornness, etc.). We can use various methods to work on such defilements. This eventually creates a quieter calmer mind, and leads to ‘mind release’ or cetovimutti, along with the sitting practice. Right effort in this manner, becomes the precursor to Right mindfulness, which leads to Right unification. These belong to the samadhi component of the N8FP.
Staying in touch with the dhamma also helps, for example listening to Ajhan’s dhamma talks inculcates a certain sense of peace and contentment/right view. It’s very useful to have their sermons available to us.
Reading the suttas frequently also helps. We are, alternatively, bombarded by sights and sounds designed to generate craving which strengthens ignorance (avijja). The suttas take us to a place in our minds where the truth is present as well as peace.
Remind myself of Sayadaw U Tejaniya’s book as well as Thict Naht Hanh’s classic “Miracle Of Mindfulness.”
The elements of daily life can and should be a meditation too.
Developing the faculties of faith (sadda), morality (sila), learning the dhamma (suta), geneoristy (caga), mindfulness (sati), unification of mind (samadhi), wise contemplation (yonisomanasikara), and insight (panna) are never in vain. They will lead to Nibbana, if someone wishes so, even at the point of death, according to the EBTs (sutta?).
After learning the Satipatthana Sutta is not authentic, yeah I kind of do feel I have been wasting time.
You learn true satipattana by diy, investigate you know. Dont give up, - there are 2600 years histore of kalyana mittas who dedicated their flesh and energy to keep the path just visible enough for us totally lost ones
We should measure our ‘waste of time’ not in terms of which text or technique is authentic or not, but in terms of whether we see in ourselves bad qualities decreasing and good qualities increasing as a result of study and practice.
In the end of the day, the only way to gauge our progress in the path is to reflect whether or not we see our own suffering lessening.
This is to me what protecting oneself means as per in Dhp 157-166:
Also, I recommend you check AN10.94, as it provides a very concise thumb rule for one to decide whether or not certain practices, endurance and techniques are or not worth pursuing:
When undergoing certain mortifications, unskillful qualities grow while skillful qualities decline. I say that you shouldn’t undergo those mortifications.
When undergoing certain mortifications, unskillful qualities decline while skillful qualities grow. I say that you should undergo those mortifications.
When undertaking certain observances, unskillful qualities grow while skillful qualities decline. I say that you shouldn’t undertake those observances.
When undertaking certain observances, unskillful qualities decline while skillful qualities grow. I say that you should undertake those observances.
When trying certain efforts, unskillful qualities grow while skillful qualities decline. I say that you shouldn’t try those efforts.
When trying certain efforts, unskillful qualities decline while skillful qualities grow. I say that you should try those efforts.
When giving up certain things, unskillful qualities grow while skillful qualities decline. I say that you shouldn’t give up those things.
When giving up certain things, unskillful qualities decline while skillful qualities grow. I say that you should give up those things.
When being liberated with certain kinds of freedom, unskillful qualities grow while skillful qualities decline. I say that you shouldn’t be liberated with those kinds of freedom.
When being liberated with certain kinds of freedom, unskillful qualities decline while skillful qualities grow. I say that you should be liberated with those kinds of freedom.”
Yes if you think meditation is another chore of your life.
I put more effort and faith into meditating than chores.
Too much effort is counter productive.
You have to balance the five faculties.
Every moment of life is an opportunity to notice how we are progressing on the path of ending dukkha and what exactly we have to work on. The work is done outside the cushion so meditation is only a small part of the practice. Be mindful not to use the meditation as a way of escaping the real work which is to transform yourself by eliminating one by one the non-essential-Desires, the 128 aversions and the countless delusions.