Would like a sutta suggestion for practical ways of dealing with worry

Hey everyone first time poster.

i was directed to ask this here by bhante sujato at a recent friday talk of his.

i was wondering if someone could point me to some relevant suttas. is there any practical advice for relieving worry of the future? Bhante suggested that worry of the future could likely be tied to a misplaced sense of self.

thank you for any help!

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don’t fear good deeds, for ‘good deeds’ is a term for happiness

~ Iti22

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MN101
“Suppose that a man is in love with a woman, his mind ensnared with fierce desire, fierce passion. He sees her standing with another man, chatting, joking, and laughing. What do you think, monks: As he sees her standing with another man, chatting, joking, and laughing, would sorrow, lamentation, pain, disuffering, and despair arise in him?”

“Yes, lord. Why is that? Because he is in love with her, his mind ensnared with fierce desire, fierce passion…”

“Now suppose the thought were to occur to him, ‘I am in love with this woman, my mind ensnared with fierce desire, fierce passion. When I see her standing with another man, chatting, joking, and laughing, then sorrow, lamentation, pain, disuffering, and despair arise within me. Why don’t I abandon my desire and passion for that woman?’ So he abandons his desire and passion for that woman, and afterwards sees her standing with another man, chatting, joking, and laughing. What do you think, monks: As he sees her standing with another man, chatting, joking, and laughing, would sorrow, lamentation, pain, disuffering, and despair arise in him?”

“No, lord. Why is that? He is dispassionate toward that woman…”

“In the same way, the monk, when not loaded down, does not load himself down with pain, nor does he reject pleasure that accords with the Dhamma, although he is not infatuated with that pleasure.

SN42.11
Then Bhadraka the village chief went up to the Buddha, bowed, sat down to one side, and said to him:

“Please, sir, teach me the origin and cessation of suffering.”

“Chief, if I were to teach you about the origin and ending of suffering in the past, saying ‘this is how it was in the past,’ you might have doubts or uncertainties about that. If I were to teach you about the origin and ending of suffering in the future, saying ‘this is how it will be in the future,’ you might have doubts or uncertainties about that. Rather, chief, I will teach you about the origin and ending of suffering as I am sitting right here and you are sitting right there.

“What do you think, chief? Are there any people here in Uruvelakappa who, if they were executed, imprisoned, fined, or condemned, it would cause you sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress?”

“What’s the cause, chief, what’s the reason why, if this was to happen to some people it could cause you sorrow, while if it happens to others it does not?”

“The people regarding whom this would give rise to sorrow are those I desire and love. The people regarding whom this would not give rise to sorrow are those I don’t desire and love.”

“With this present phenomenon that is seen, known, immediate, attained, and fathomed, you may infer to the past and future: ‘All the suffering that arose in the past was rooted and sourced in desire. For desire is the root of suffering. All the suffering that will arise in the future will be rooted and sourced in desire. For desire is the root of suffering.’”

MN2
Mendicants, I say that the ending of defilements is for one who knows and sees, not for one who does not know or see. For one who knows and sees what? Proper attention and improper attention. When you pay improper attention, defilements arise, and once arisen they grow. When you pay proper attention, defilements don’t arise, and those that have already arisen are given up.

And what are the defilements that should be given up by seeing? Take an uneducated ordinary person who has not seen the noble ones, and is neither skilled nor trained in the teaching of the noble ones. They’ve not seen good persons, and are neither skilled nor trained in the teaching of the good persons. They don’t understand to which things they should pay attention and to which things they should not pay attention. So they pay attention to things they shouldn’t and don’t pay attention to things they should.

This is how they attend improperly: ‘Did I exist in the past? Did I not exist in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? After being what, what did I become in the past? Will I exist in the future? Will I not exist in the future? What will I be in the future? How will I be in the future? After being what, what will I become in the future?’ Or they are undecided about the present thus: ‘Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? This sentient being—where did it come from? And where will it go?’

When they attend improperly in this way, one of the following six views arises in them and is taken as a genuine fact.

Or they have such a view: ‘This self of mine is he who speaks and feels and experiences the results of good and bad deeds in all the different realms. This self is permanent, everlasting, eternal, and imperishable, and will last forever and ever.’ This is called a misconception, the thicket of views, the desert of views, the trick of views, the evasiveness of views, the fetter of views. An uneducated ordinary person who is fettered by views is not freed from rebirth, old age, and death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress. They’re not freed from suffering, I say.

SN12.20
“Bhikkhus, I will teach you dependent origination and dependently arisen phenomena. Listen and attend closely, I will speak.”

“And what, bhikkhus, is dependent origination? ‘With birth as condition, aging-and-death comes to be’: whether there is an arising of Tathagatas or no arising of Tathagatas, that element still persists, the stableness of the Dhamma, the fixed course of the Dhamma, specific conditionality.

A Tathagata awakens to this and breaks through to it. Having done so, he explains it, teaches it, proclaims it, establishes it, discloses it, analyses it, elucidates it. And he says: ‘See! With ignorance as condition, bhikkhus, volitional formations.’

“Thus, bhikkhus, the actuality in this, the inerrancy, the nototherwiseness, specific conditionality: this is called dependent origination.

“And what, bhikkhus, are the dependently arisen phenomena? Aging-and-death, bhikkhus, is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, subject to destruction, vanishing, fading away, and cessation. Birth is impermanent … Existence is impermanent … Clinging is impermanent … Craving is impermanent … Feeling is impermanent … Contact is impermanent … The six sense bases are impermanent … Name-and-form is impermanent … Consciousness is impermanent … Volitional formations are impermanent … Ignorance is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, subject to destruction, vanishing, fading away, and cessation.

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MN 19 is a wonderful sutta that can help us understand and deal with unwholesome thoughts.

“Mendicants, before my awakening—when I was still unawakened but intent on awakening—I thought: ‘Why don’t I meditate by continually dividing my thoughts into two classes?’ So I assigned sensual, malicious, and cruel thoughts to one class. And I assigned thoughts of renunciation, good will, and harmlessness to the second class.

Then, as I meditated—diligent, keen, and resolute—a sensual thought arose. I understood: ‘This sensual thought has arisen in me. It leads to hurting myself, hurting others, and hurting both. It blocks wisdom, it’s on the side of anguish, and it doesn’t lead to extinguishment.’ When I reflected that it leads to hurting myself, it went away. When I reflected that it leads to hurting others, it went away. When I reflected that it leads to hurting both, it went away. When I reflected that it blocks wisdom, it’s on the side of anguish, and it doesn’t lead to extinguishment, it went away. So I gave up, got rid of, and eliminated any sensual thoughts that arose.

Then, as I meditated—diligent, keen, and resolute—a malicious thought arose … a cruel thought arose. I understood: ‘This cruel thought has arisen in me. It leads to hurting myself, hurting others, and hurting both. It blocks wisdom, it’s on the side of anguish, and it doesn’t lead to extinguishment.’ When I reflected that it leads to hurting myself … hurting others … hurting both, it went away. When I reflected that it blocks wisdom, it’s on the side of anguish, and it doesn’t lead to extinguishment, it went away. So I gave up, got rid of, and eliminated any cruel thoughts that arose.

Whatever a mendicant frequently thinks about and considers becomes their heart’s inclination. If they often think about and consider sensual thoughts, they’ve given up the thought of renunciation to cultivate sensual thought. Their mind inclines to sensual thoughts. If they often think about and consider malicious thoughts … their mind inclines to malicious thoughts. If they often think about and consider cruel thoughts … their mind inclines to cruel thoughts.

Habituated thinking creates neuropathways in the brain. And just as sensual thoughts release hormones and neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, stress from restlessness and worry does the same. This kind of thinking becomes habituated and can be dealt with as the Buddha described here in MN 19 and by applying the Seven Factors of Awakening.

Gratitude for the Buddha’s hard won wisdom and compassion! :pray:

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MN 4 is where the Buddha describes how he overcame fear.

As I was staying there a deer came by, or a peacock snapped a twig, or the wind rustled the leaves. Then I thought, ‘Is this that fear and dread coming?’ Then I thought, ‘Why do I always meditate expecting that fear and terror to come? Why don’t I get rid of that fear and dread just as it comes, while remaining just as I am?’ Then that fear and dread came upon me as I was walking. I didn’t stand still or sit down or lie down until I had got rid of that fear and dread while walking. Then that fear and dread came upon me as I was standing. I didn’t walk or sit down or lie down until I had got rid of that fear and dread while standing. Then that fear and dread came upon me as I was sitting. I didn’t lie down or stand still or walk until I had got rid of that fear and dread while sitting. Then that fear and dread came upon me as I was lying down. I didn’t sit up or stand still or walk until I had got rid of that fear and dread while lying down.

Bhante Sujato mentioned to you about not-self, one of the Three Characteristics/Marks. Meditative insight into the Three Characteristics and cultivating their opposites can go a long way.

Insight: Not-self
Cultivation: Sila, effort, confidence, restraint, strength

Insight: Impermanence
Cultivation: Commitment, steadiness, relinquishment

Insight: Unsatisfactoriness
Cultivation: Disenchantment, dispassion, contentment, joy

Why not read the Aniccavagga in the SN? :slight_smile: It includes things like impermanence and non-self in the three times. Why not read the whole Saḷāyatanasaṁyutta? :slight_smile:

Maybe the metta sutta can be of use.

I feel directing the mind towards love, compassion, goodness is a very good cure for worry and other burdensome states. In my experience it immediately relieves, even if one just for one moment directs the heart to love, compassion and goodness.

I also very much like the idea that we are all Buddha’s but only lost in adventitious defilements, lost in a wrong sense of self, protecting what is only burdensome. It makes the mind happy to know that in our hearts we are all Buddha’s. Essentially there is nothing wrong with you, me or others.

It also leads to a sense of forgiveness of ones own mistakes and others.

It is a very powerful notion, i feel, that all unwholesome states have ignorance as forerunner. For me this also means that this life is not about good and evil, about rewards and punishments, about imitating this or that, but about learning. And learning does also not have to be so peaceful and easy. It can also mean falling deep, hitting rock bottem, being in pains, making mistakes, making huge mistakes, doing evil and making good, saying sorry, growing, growing-pains, pure foolishness, some wisdom sometimes etc. It is all about learning, i feel.

If you accept of yourself that you and others may learn and make mistakes that can help to relief some worry.

If you worry you can also contemplate about the qualities of a noble person you have a heart-connection with. I think the most important thing is to develop those heart-qualities. In some special way, i feel, that in those heart-qualities like goodness, love, there is also faith or some kind of natural effortless trust. It drives away worry.

Maybe you are for some special reason concerned about the future and you might need some special advice, I wish you well.

MN 131 is a lovely starting point.

Don’t run back to the past,
don’t hope for the future.
What’s past is left behind;
the future has not arrived;

and phenomena in the present
are clearly seen in every case.
Knowing this, foster it—
unfaltering, unshakable.

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What about the future? Your own well-being or “where the world is headed”? Both? Neither?

Worry is one of the five hindrances and its overcoming is part of the structural basis of the attainment of tranquillity. The formal recommendations for this are listed in Majhima Nikaya 20, and in the book “The Five Mental Hindrances and Their Conquest.” The broader understanding begins with studying the third tetrad of the Anapanasati sutta and its implications when carried forward to the third foundation of mindfulness.

" [10] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in satisfying the mind.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out satisfying the mind.’ [11] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in steadying the mind.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out steadying the mind.’ [12]"—Majhima Nikaya 118

To harness the power of Buddhism in overcoming the hindrances they have to be thoroughly understood from the Buddhist perspective.

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