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Content, but still motivated? Or...finding the drive for higher-educa

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So, when you see into the 3 Characteristics, and you are basically fine with where you are in life materially, you have your basic needs met, are comfortable, have time to practice, etc...how do you find the drive to undergo more conventional "self-improvement projects"?

I'm talking about going back to school, pursuing advanced degrees, changing careers, etc...or on the other side, downshifting further, simplifying further, un-jobbing, or taking a position that is more "manual labor" to free your mind for more contemplative work?

Right now I work in an office, draw a handsome salary, have plenty of opportunities for practicing at work (interesting boss/co-workers), get vacation, health benefits, etc.

I'm taking advantage of my company's tuition reimbursement to work on a certificate program at a progressive environmental school...something that has brought up lots of shadowy stuff to work on...fear of death, fear of environmental/economic collapse, etc.

And I'm considering switching it all up to spend three years learning how to practice Trad Chinese Med...


But at my core I'm having a difficult time really feeling out why I need to do any of it? Not from a dark/depressed way, but from a "I'm fine with what I have, so why put forth the effort to change?" type angle.

The answer I come up with is: it's part of practicing Sila.

If I can be of more use to the world by learning more, moving into an occupation that creates less suffering, then I am doing something skillful...which will help others, and help my practice.

But I can be very helpful to others in my current work too...of course...everywhere I go, there's the opportunity to wake up, and the opportunity to help others wake up, alleviate suffering, etc.


Anyone else go through this? Is it just part of where I am on my own personal Progress of Insight?

RE: Content, but still motivated? Or...finding the drive for higher-e
Answer
12/22/10 8:34 PM as a reply to Daniel Williams.
I wonder this too. Especially from Arahats / Actually Free people. Why do anything when nothing affects you?

As an Arahat you still experience emotions and such, so I can see why one would prefer feeling pleasant things as opposed to unpleasant ones, but ultimately why would it matter? What is it that is preferring the pleasant things?

There is a mental disorder wherein you lose the ability to feel emotion. I heard that people who have this cannot make decisions. If you ask them to choose between chocolate chips cookies and oreos, they will struggle for an hour, making up pros and cons for each, but ultimately just be unable to decide. Actually Free people don't seem to have this issue, so they must be doing something else.

RE: Content, but still motivated? Or...finding the drive for higher-e
Answer
12/23/10 10:24 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Beo Beoman:
Actually Free people don't seem to have this issue, so they must be doing something else.


Maybe they prefer choosing to not-choosing?

In my little dilemmas (and I choose that word carefully...two paths, neither perfect), I'm working on doing a bit of analysis and quiet reflection to get clear on what is attracting me to one option vs. another, seeing if there's anything lurking in the shadows, dark compulsions, etc.

If there really isn't something that distinguishes one path as "better" for me, then I just have to pick one, and be done with it, confident in the fact that whatever I choose will be okay in the sense that it will be what comes next, will arise, will pass, and something else will happen. There shouldn't be any anxiety around making the "wrong" choice, just an intention towards making the most useful choice.

It can be quite confusing. And I do sometimes feel like I'm looking at multiple glasses of milk and trying to choose when their essences looks basically the same...

In the end I guess I have to see that the choice isn't permanent, the chooser isn't permanent, and maybe only the intention to be free from suffering and to free others from suffering remains...so the "what" doesn't really matter...as long as the most basic needs are met.

Interesting.

Other thoughts?

RE: Content, but still motivated? Or...finding the drive for higher-e
Answer
12/23/10 2:04 PM as a reply to Daniel Williams.
Also, the latest BuddhistGeeks post speaks to all this:

http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2010/12/the-mirage-of-self/

Especially the part about "Feeling Tones":

KF: Yes. It is possible to get caught up in a kind of austerity campaign and beat yourself up every time you have a pleasant experience. That is not what we are after at all because when the objective is to dis-embed from the experience and see it all as arising and passing away and referring back to no one, what difference does it make to you whether it is pleasant or unpleasant? You are certainly not going to favor unpleasant over pleasant. That would not only be counterproductive in terms of enlightenment, it would just be counter-intuitive and foolish, walking around seeking displeasure because you think there is something virtuous in that. That is ridiculous and just another place to be stuck. We’re not going to favor heaven over hell but neither are we going to favor hell over heaven.

JG: At the same time, the Tibetans have a prayer which runs something like “May I have enough suffering that I can discover enlightenment.” So in that there is some recognition that suffering carries with it the incentive to try to find another way or to try to dis-embed. Likewise, the downside of pleasurable states is they do not have that incentive; in fact, we have an incentive to go the other way and cling.

KF: Yes. That is also covered in the teachings on the six realms of existence. The reason it is thought that the human rebirth is the most fortunate rebirth is that to be reborn as a god does not give you the incentive to awaken. Why would anybody want anything other than pleasure? So it is much more likely that a god will just remain embedded in the pleasant experience. On the other side of the coin, a hell being is so busy being embedded in anger or pain that there is very little opportunity for awakening there. But because the human realm has this good, wholesome mix, you could say, of all of the realms—and in fact you can look at the teaching of the six realms and see that they are all contained within the human realm—we have the opportunity here on Earth to awaken. We have some horrible states of unpleasantness, divine states of pleasantness and everything in between. In all of this there are moments where you can insert the wedge of attention, mindfulness, see something clearly and dis-embed from the experience.

When you have dis-embedded once, even for a moment, it is more likely that you will dis-embed the next time. What you said brings to mind something my teacher, Bill Hamilton, said early in my vipassana practice, when I was getting kind of addicted to pain. Pain gave me this very clear object when I was sitting. I would want to sit for a long time and kind of groove on the pain. I felt really good about it. It made me feel kind of tough. I was getting this warrior mentality and getting very concentrated. His comment was, “You don’t have to go looking for suffering. There’s enough coming down the pike.”

For me, the more I do this practice, the more I find that the really interesting challenge is to be awake in any situation. To have this full range of heaven and hell and everything in between and to always find a way to be awake within it—that is so interesting.

JG: The neutral territory, for example, is probably interesting and challenging in ways that a lot of us don’t appreciate.

KF: Yes, because according to Buddhist theory, the neutral part is what we are going to ignore. For background here, you’re talking about feeling-tone. The Pali word is vedana. Feeling-tone refers to the aspect of pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. Every feeling in the body has built into it this aspect of being either pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral in the moment of its arising. This is not a reaction. This is not some reaction we have to the sensation—this is inherent in the phenomenon itself when it comes up.


I will agree. When the unpleasant/neutral/pleasant continuum expands mightily in the direction of most things being neutral (through the dis-embedding process and seeing in this modern world how little true pain many of us have and how much the sense-pleasures aren't permanent and therefore not really that pleasurable)...(I'm thinking something like, most of the time people experience 60%/10%/30% and maybe after gaining a certain level of insight that shifts to 20%/60%/20%)...anyway, when that happens and most of your experiences move into the "neutral" feeling tone, then this whole vast world of possibility opens up to experience anything without fear of 1) suffering dependent on unpleasant or 2) suffering from attachment to pleasant. I guess that's the practice of accepting things as they are and really being okay with it...not turning away.

Which leads me right back to...from a Sila/Samahdi/Prajna...you focus on the Sila...on choosing the actions that most benefit the world, because at a certain level, you stop being so concerned about how much they benefit you...and what you're able to handle, the difficulty, depends on your level of enlightenment...so what I need to shine insight onto is:

1) where am I? what can I honestly handle without being overwhelmed given my relative level of englightenment?

2) where can I be of most use to easing other sentient-being's suffering in the world?

and since I'm married and have a cat

3) what actions fit with the above two, but also honor the comittments I've made to sustain the physical comfort and security of my loved ones?

RE: Content, but still motivated? Or...finding the drive for higher-e
Answer
12/30/10 2:47 AM as a reply to Daniel Williams.
I decided to do what is my dharma, what comes naturally for me. My nature and my purpose and my duty and what fulfills me, the value I can add to life and the beauty I can show are all part of my dharma.

"2) where can I be of most use to easing other sentient-being's suffering in the world?"

Many people transcend their badness, but most can't do the same with their goodness and get stuck. You cannot make everyone happy. Good and bad are points of view, feeling good or bad about something depends on your conditioning, commonly known as education.
When you act or think about it, look at your attitude
If you don't love what you do, leave it for someone for whom it is his dharma, because that person
- will love to do it (it's his purpose) and hence
- will do it excellently, giving something unique to the world and
- learn and grow naturally.
That's how life works: it grows abundantly. Own your reality and integrate your heart, head and hand, and don't get stuck on what other people think is good. Life is not good or bad, and you're a unique and beautiful of life. What you will do, some will appreciate, some will benefit from it, others will oppose you and hate you for what you did. Learn to enjoy yourself, and act in a way that the fire of life keeps shining brightly within you. The opposite looks like a pale, juiceless person who was taught how to be good a good boy, fulfilling other peoples' expectations.