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The 1 Siddhi I Truly Desire: Self-Control

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Hi All,

I am just as fascinated by the siddhis as everyone else, and I believe they are very real.

But they mostly seem to deal with manipulating external reality.

The only power I want is internal, and that is the power to control my own behavior.

Morning after morning I sleep in after intending to wake up early. Day after day I let my apartment get more and more disorganized despite my knowledge that a clean living space makes me a happier person.

Year after year I let my close friends slip away out of sheer laziness and a little bit of shyness.

I can see the man I could become, and I can see the little things that I need to do everyday to become him. I know what I need to do, but no matter how hard I try to focus on what I want and how to get there it seems that the self-discipline I need eludes me.

I read in MCTB that setting an intention in a high jhana state can have "magickal" effects - that your can affect the external world through these intentions.

My question is whether or not I can use this same process to affect my character and my behavior. Can I set the attention to be a man of integrity who keeps his commitments and fulfills his responsibilities?

It's a mundane "power" to be sure when compared to the more fantastic feats I've learned about. But I'd gladly give up a life of mind-reading, levitating and pyrokinesis if I could just do the things I know are good for me in my life.

RE: The 1 Siddhi I Truly Desire: Self-Control
Answer
9/26/10 11:40 AM as a reply to Adam F..
Hi Adam,

Before I get started, just wanted to correct a wrong impression you may have gathered that was mentioned in your meditation thread. Leigh Brasington is a male, not a female.
Adam Frisoli:
Hi All,
The only power I want is internal, and that is the power to control my own behavior.

The aspiration that you give voice to here is indeed the end goal of learning and practicing the Dhamma as it was laid out in the Pali Nikayas. Being able to control one's behavior is an extension of mindfulness practice. And mindfulness of the four establishments of mindfulness (of the body, feelings, mind states, and phenomena) within the context of the noble eightfold path (the Dhamma) is the method for doing so, which is outlined in the Satipatthana suttas.

Adam Frisoli:

Morning after morning I sleep in after intending to wake up early. Day after day I let my apartment get more and more disorganized despite my knowledge that a clean living space makes me a happier person.

Year after year I let my close friends slip away out of sheer laziness and a little bit of shyness.

I can see the man I could become, and I can see the little things that I need to do everyday to become him. I know what I need to do, but no matter how hard I try to focus on what I want and how to get there it seems that the self-discipline I need eludes me.

Been there, done that, also. In the past, I have expressed essentially these same thoughts (virtually word for word as expressed here) as I was endeavoring to figure out how to arrive at that point where "I was suddenly becoming the man I always wanted to be, but never knew how to go about becoming."

Adam Frisoli:

I read in MCTB that setting an intention in a high jhana state can have "magickal" effects - that your can affect the external world through these intentions.

My question is whether or not I can use this same process to affect my character and my behavior. Can I set the attention to be a man of integrity who keeps his commitments and fulfills his responsibilities?

From my experience, it would be a fallacy to think or believe that there are "magikal effects" to be had. That said, the practice of setting an intention within the mind prior to an event's anticipated occurrence (such as making an intention before nodding off to sleep that one will "awaken refreshed and clear headed") is well founded in human experience as being effective. It works very similarly to a post-hypnotic suggestion.

Adam Frisoli:

It's a mundane "power" to be sure when compared to the more fantastic feats I've learned about. But I'd gladly give up a life of mind-reading, levitating and pyrokinesis if I could just do the things I know are good for me in my life.

I hear you. I used to have the same fascination with the mysterious "metaphysical" powers that I thought could be developed through meditation (or which were told to me that could be developed thereby). Yet, as I grew older and more experienced about these matters, I arrived at the very same aspiration that you have expressed here. What is more, it is possible to achieve.

RE: The 1 Siddhi I Truly Desire: Self-Control
Answer
9/26/10 1:28 PM as a reply to Ian And.
Ian And:

Before I get started, just wanted to correct a wrong impression you may have gathered that was mentioned in your meditation thread. Leigh Brasington is a male, not a female.


Oops. My mistake. The name threw me off. Not a name you see often these days (at least I don't) but a nice one.

Ian And:

The aspiration that you give voice to here is indeed the end goal of learning and practicing the Dhamma as it was laid out in the Pali Nikayas. Being able to control one's behavior is an extension of mindfulness practice. And mindfulness of the four establishments of mindfulness (of the body, feelings, mind states, and phenomena) within the context of the noble eightfold path (the Dhamma) is the method for doing so, which is outlined in the Satipatthana suttas.


This sounds great. This just became a major new motivation to follow the path for me. I'm endlessly grateful for the promise this holds.

Ian And:
Been there, done that, also. In the past, I have expressed essentially these same thoughts (virtually word for word as expressed here) as I was endeavoring to figure out how to arrive at that point where "I was suddenly becoming the man I always wanted to be, but never knew how to go about becoming."


Ian And:
From my experience, it would be a fallacy to think or believe that there are "magikal effects" to be had. That said, the practice of setting an intention within the mind prior to an event's anticipated occurrence (such as making an intention before nodding off to sleep that one will "awaken refreshed and clear headed") is well founded in human experience as being effective. It works very similarly to a post-hypnotic suggestion.


I am a natural skeptic as well. However, I've started to open my mind somewhat in regards to the siddhis. Some on the DhO seem fully convinced:
http://dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/1011873

Of course, it doesn't matter much if the power or real, because what I desire can be had without "supernatural" means.

I will continue to make intentions in my life. However, when they don't work it is very disappointing and puts me back into resignation to a mediocre life. It just seems like most people of integrity have years of good habits supporting them, whereas I'm held back by my years of bad habits. You tell me that it's possible, however, and I believe you. Self-discipline, here I come.

Ian And:
I hear you. I used to have the same fascination with the mysterious "metaphysical" powers that I thought could be developed through meditation (or which were told to me that could be developed thereby). Yet, as I grew older and more experienced about these matters, I arrived at the very same aspiration that you have expressed here. What is more, it is possible to achieve.


I will use this information to remind myself of the possibility of success. Thanks, Ian.

Seems to me that there are three things necessary when working toward a life of integrity: knowing what to do, knowing if you're doing it (that is, being mindful enough from moment to moment to remind yourself of what you should be doing), and finally, the most difficult step (for me): actually doing the thing necessary no matter what.

RE: The 1 Siddhi I Truly Desire: Self-Control
Answer
9/27/10 3:11 AM as a reply to Ian And.
Ian And:
Adam Frisoli:
I read in MCTB that setting an intention in a high jhana state can have "magickal" effects - that your can affect the external world through these intentions.

My question is whether or not I can use this same process to affect my character and my behavior. Can I set the attention to be a man of integrity who keeps his commitments and fulfills his responsibilities?


From my experience, it would be a fallacy to think or believe that there are "magikal effects" to be had. That said, the practice of setting an intention within the mind prior to an event's anticipated occurrence (such as making an intention before nodding off to sleep that one will "awaken refreshed and clear headed") is well founded in human experience as being effective. It works very similarly to a post-hypnotic suggestion.

Actually, the word I was looking for, rather than "intention" was "resolution" as in "making a resolution." Just wanted to correct that. It involves intending something, as I'm sure you may already be aware.

Also, I'm sorry, but I meant to respond to the second part of the quote above, but overlooked it. The part about affecting character and behavior using resolutions. I have tried that nominally, but did not have much success with it. Your experience may differ; although you may just have to wait and see (but don't be disappointed if it doesn't quite work for that).

What I found works for that is a combination of mental faculties that can be developed and cultivated, starting with mindfulness. There is such a phenomena known as the "taints" (or "mental defilements") which are conditioned unwholesome behavior patterns that need to be rooted out of the psyche. This can be accomplished by becoming aware of these mental defilements, becoming conscious of their movement within the mental sphere when they are occurring and simply refusing to respond to them. Most times, they are played out during moments of unconscious reactions (as in knee-jerk reactions that we have to things or phenomena we may have an aversion for or some such). This part of the training is generally talked about in the traditional literature as the "purification of the mind." Satipatthana practice also addresses this.

Within one explanation of satipatthana practice (in Nyanaponika Thera's book [url=http://amazon.com/o/ASIN/0877280738/thomelio-20 title="The Heart of Buddhist Meditation"]The Heart of Buddhist Meditation), there is the practice of what he calls "bare attention." This practice helps one to begin dealing with the unconscious part of the mind. There's an excerpt of this practice of "bare attention" from the book that I transcribed and posted in another forum. The same forum as in one of the links I gave you about your questions on jhana. Thirdjewel. The excerpt begins the third post down in The Importance of Using Satipatthana in Training thread in the "Theravadan Talk" forum. But you'll have to use the instruction I gave in that other post in order to get into the forum. I'll reprint them for you here below.

When you get there you will need to use the following log-in instructions to enter the forum. Once you are logged in, if you copy the link above into your clip board and paste it into the browser destination bar once you are in the forum and click on it, it will take you directly to the thread. Otherwise, you can click on the "Theravadan Talk" forum and look for the thread in the sticky posts at the top of the forum::

http://thirdjewel.myfreeforum.org
Login name: thirdwheel
Password: thirdwheel

They ask that you not post anything while using this log-in to check things out. If you would like to join, there is a "Join (free!)" link at the top of the forum index page in the link above.


You should find that paying "bare attention" to phenomena helps you to begin getting control of the mind and it's unwholesome reactionary patterns. I would recommend finding Nyanaponika's book (it's not that expensive) and reading it. There's a lot more to this in it that pertains to this practice that you should find helpful.