A monk that I admire and trust was talking about using t.v. as a distraction (even as rest) is bad for your practice. If that is true I am definitely guilty. But perhaps his incorrect. Idk. But it has me thinking. I study Dhamma hours a day and work in a kitchen all day as well. I always felt relaxing with moderate t.v. In the evening was just good for me to rest. But he was saying that attitude is wrong although not immoral because you are distracting your senses regardless. Im kind of all over the place with this and feel my practice may not be complete if I enjoy t.v. Any input would be appreciated
The 7th Precept
- To refrain from dancing, singing, playing music, and wearing cosmetics, perfume, and jewellery.
is usually presented as including entertainments like TV. So refraining from TV is certainly is a next level of practice after the 5 precepts.
I personally practice the 5 precepts as a daily practice, and the 8 precepts on Uposatha days. That seems to be a common practice among lay Buddhists.
Good luck with however you proceed!
That is an awesome idea thanx
I remember you being in the rural US?
When I first started keeping uposatha, I struggled around which day to keep it on around work etc until I found a local temple with a weekend lay uposatha program and just followed that.
An alternative to keeping a lunar uposatha or following your closest temple’s uposatha observance day might be to make every Sunday or second Sunday a TV free day—> it’s finding a day you can keep regularly which is the hardest part.
I’m starting to feel my problem is with craving to have THE PERFECT practice. I’ve dealt with it before. I already know I hold the importance of learning and practicing Dhamma over anything in my life and so relaxing for a couple hours of T.V. after work is ok. It pretty much boils down to Mara telling me I’m a bad Buddhist because of such and such. But thank u friends for the input. I’m really starting to feel at home here
There’s a reason it’s called a “gradual path” IMO! Seconding the comment about finding a local or closest temple and following their uposatha or following the lunar calendar. I think some temples will have online programs for uposatha too.
I daresay upavana.org led by Pamutto Bhikkhu might usually have a live Dhamma talk on uposatha nights.
I sympathise. We get into these little habits and routines and we actually think that there is something restful about them. But is it really rest or is it an attempt to fulfil some sensory craving? And what is the outcome of trying to fulfil these sensory cravings? Do we actually feel rested?
In MN54 the Buddha gives a bunch of similes showing the dangers of sensual pleasures. The first one of gnawing on a bone, is probably what many people experience watching TV.
I think that the idea is that if we want to actually rest the mind, we should meditate - letting go of all of the outside world including TV. So inclining our mind in that direction is probably a good idea. I think we can do this by making the TV we watch less and less interesting. All that ‘excitement’ of a cop show or whatever can maybe be replaced by something less stimulating like some ‘slow TV’, then maybe we can go deeper and loose the musical soundtracks, and we might end up with watching a video of a open fire.
It is then just a short step to watching a blank screen
After that we can maybe start to turn inwards and watch the mind.
Technically anything that doesn’t stop dukkha is considered a distraction. A monk once told me that taking my attention off my nose (or breath) is greed (a distraction), there is some wisdom in that.
I would say taking your attention is off your mind (esp thoughts) is leaving yourself unguarded and heedless and therefore a distraction… but easier said than done
If you are keeping the 5 precepts there isn’t a problem. If you are keeping the 8 then ideally you shouldn’t be watching TV. Now the 5 precepts are the minimum we can do as Buddhists. As such they still allow for a lot of intentional actions which are rooted in greed, thus being unwholesome in nature. I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself though for watching TV. It takes time to renounce sensual pleasures. If you keep your virtue, develop your sense restraint and keep meditating then overtime you will naturally indulge less and less as you see that renunciation and meditation is actually more pleasant.
What is the aim of Dhamma practice?
In my view, it is to release oneself from Suffering and Stress aka Dukkha.
The world seeks an escape from Dukkha in various distractions of the Body, Heart and Mind. Yet such distractions, IMO hinder more than they help.
When sentient beings are still not free of greed, and are still bound by greed, a dancer in a stage or festival presents them with even more arousing things. When sentient beings are still not free of hate, and are still bound by hate, a dancer in a stage or festival presents them with even more hateful things. When sentient beings are still not free of delusion, and are still bound by delusion, a dancer in a stage or festival presents them with even more delusory things. And so, being heedless and negligent themselves, they’ve encouraged others to be heedless and negligent.
IMO, success in Dhamma practice comes from trying to unify one’s experience of the Body (sensory experience) Heart (experience of Feelings) and Mind (thinking experience) in real time - becoming whole and staying connected with the present moment as it actually is, without wanting to change it or hold on to it.
In that sense, watching TV can be an excellent tool to build Mindfulness!
When someone can see in real time how the sensory inputs from the TV programming condition the Body, Heart and Mind into varying states of wanting/ not wanting, just that much might be enough for someone to feel disgust at the way that one’s body sensations, emotions and thoughts can be manipulated by external agencies!
And that seeing of the conditioned could conceivably be enough for someone to seek Escape - the Unconditioned.
I watch too much TV, but I don’t beat myself up about it. I don’t feel I can practice continuously.
Well, in every moment you’re practicing something
As Bhikkhu Bodhi says:
“Real renunciation is not a matter of compelling ourselves to give up things still inwardly cherished, but of changing our perspective on them so that they no longer bind us.”
As your practice deepens you may find that tv becomes less compelling, while the quiet mind gets to feel more and more attractive.
I mean practising mindfulness or whatever.
I’ve renounced t.v. And I already renounced music months ago.
An interesting question.
What do monastics do at the end of the day when they aren’t ready for sleep, but they are mentally spent from their day such that they don’t want to do anything serious?
I’m not sure but I sincerely doubt it’s movies or shows, especially those of the world which is 99%
So here is something I am curious about. Ordained monastics are supposed to refrain from listening to music. But in the modern world, where music is present in recorded form, often far more than played live, it is almost impossible not to hear music, even for monastics living in a monastery. For example, at the wat I attend in the United States, on large holidays music is played over loudspeakers as people are assembling for services, when the shared meal is served, during clean-up, etc. Obviously the monks who are present are also hearing the music being piped in over the sound system.
Also, prior to Covid, well-known monastics such as Bhante Sujato traveled around the world to attend any number of events (I recall Bhante Sujato traveled all the way to the United States). Music is played in public spaces such as in airports. It would be nearly impossible to live in the modern world without being exposed to recorded music. Can any human being actually reasonably expect to completely avoid listening to music?
I don’t want much TV. But will watch movies in the theaters, and at home, or TV shows periodically.
Can we be honest though, isn’t using the internet or a computer kind of a similiar situation? It is an illuminated screen, where we control the content we see, and provides “entertainment” in the sense that if we are bored, we may become “unbored” by utilizing the internet or a computer.