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Morality and Daily Life

Commitment (blind vs. born of the heart)

I feel that without first having a very clear conceptual understanding of "why" I ought to engage in a practice, it's difficult -- if not impossible -- for me to stop personal habits that aren't in line with my ultimate objective of enlightenment.

It seems as though it's a "trial and error" process when it comes to finding out just what I can stick to. But simultaneously, it's equally important to, at some point, draw a personal line that I should not cross, if I wish to actually see results (while I'm still alive -- or, on less dramatic terms, within the next year). I tend to obsess over getting a plan "just right" before I actually start executing it -- I suspect it may be a fairly common symptom amongst many seekers. Is it?

Lately what I've been doing is whenever I get to a place where I intuitively feel the "rightness" of a course-of-action, I try and commit myself to it. It's hard for me to commit myself to a course-of-action without first feeling that intuitive, and highly personal, sense of "rightness" with regard to it.

I think basically, I have to clearly perceive/feel "what's in it for me." If I'm satisfied with what I see, then I'll begin.

This is not a self-righteous sense of "rightness," mind you. There's a wholesome component to it -- it's a feeling that comes from the heart -- a very calm and self-compassionate wish to truly "grow" and be of service to others.

RE: Commitment (blind vs. born of the heart)
7/18/11 8:40 PM as a reply to Rashed Arafat.
Replying to myself here (as an addendum):

I'm suspecting that I may be one of those guys who thinks "Just because I'm feeling it now must make it real."

I guess I'm just trying to ensure to sit at least once a day (for about 40 - 45 minutes). It's hard for me to not act based on my feelings in daily life, but consciousness of that very pattern of behavior, to me, is taking a step back (at least that's what I have to tell myself to believe that there is hope for me).

I'm hoping that a firm commitment to daily meditation (executed properly -- sticking as closely as possible to the instructions laid out in MCTB ) is naturally going to decrease my reactivity.

"Off the cushion," its hard for me to not get sucked into Content. I'm setting up a few "personal moral guidelines" to decrease the chances of that happening.

I think there are certain scenarios that I have going on in my life that just frustrate the hell out of me. Trying to "sidestep" the frustration does not seem to be working, so my current strategy is to just face the frustration "head-on," both on and off the cushion. When it's off-the-cushion, the plan is to not "act out" but just contain the tension.

To not appear so vague I'll provide an illustration: There's a female co-worker who I think is displaying sexual interest in me through her behavior/mannerisms. But every time I ask her to hang out with me (i.e. every time I try to "do something about it"), she becomes non-responsive. To add to that, my degree of interest in her is not so high that I'm just going to keep at it. Hence my strategy is to just (try to) view her and all of our interactions as being "Frustrating Content." Essentially I wish for all the frustration surrounding her to just dissipate.

RE: Commitment (blind vs. born of the heart)
7/19/11 4:13 AM as a reply to Rashed Arafat.
Hi and welcome to the Dho!

i think that you point to an interesting motivational factor. namely, what feels right? what has the ring of truth to it. we all have more or less learned rational filters imposed upon a super complex mix of conditioning that all tends to spit out a generalized "feeling". often the feeling is there before the logical filter kicks in and conditions that process. that causes us too often to "see what we want".

i think your commitment to sit and see through this maelstrom is admirable and never misplaced so good luck!

there are some great pools of wisdom and experience in this forum so use them well. sorry that i'm not one of them so that i will refrain from commenting on your strategy as to how to handle the frustrating feelings. be careful my experience aloofness can be very attractive. :-)

RE: Commitment (blind vs. born of the heart)
7/19/11 10:44 PM as a reply to tom moylan.
Thank you so much for the response, Tom!

I feel like I mustn't be saying something worth responding to, hence the dearth of responses to all of my posts so far. But I'm also afraid that I'm not sufficiently "opening up" and expressing myself from exactly where I'm at -- I've had a few negative experiences in forums where I shared "too much" and then was unable to take people's criticism.

So this time around, I'm starting out slow.

As far as "moving in" when there's a perceived "opportunity" (whether it be with a woman or a business deal), to me it seems like life hardly ever presents us with that much urgency (where if we don't act within a millisecond, then the opportunity's gone forever), but I may be wrong on this one.

This does not exactly belong under the heading of "Morality," but I do not feel like starting a new thread and therefore am going to talk about it below:

I've been frustrated with my Concentration Practice. Daniel talks about how you can access "bliss" through it, but I just haven't hit that spot yet. One of my key goals is to find psychological stability through Concentration Practice, because I consider myself a generally unhappy person.

But I guess I'll just have to "keep at it" because I'm unable to afford psychotherapy (an oft-recommended route on these forums for those of us who whine about being miserable). I've been experimenting a little with St. John's Wort, but the effects are barely noticeable for me, if existent at all. I refuse to go beyond experimentation with herbal supplements because I feel that 90% of depression is based on an unwillingness to squarely face life's legitimate challenges (at least in my case).

I must also admit that I've been working on a marijuana addiction of sorts (smoking definitely helped with my negative moods, but I realize that in the long run, I'll be better off if I didn't feel like I need a substance to feel independent, and more creative than usual). Funny that I should depend on a drug to feel independent.

I'm a musician, by the way, and a lot of us tend to "get stoned and jam/write music" -- it's a pretty deeply ingrained habit that I have to work away from.

So, I'm hoping that dedication to Concentration Practice, and proactive action with regard to smoking less pot will yield some measure of contentment in my life (and then I can move on to Insight Practice, although I'm still a little unclear on this one).

I've been working through some rough psychological territory lately, and I hope to put it all behind me and actually talk about Practice on these forums in the future.

RE: Commitment (blind vs. born of the heart)
7/20/11 11:51 AM as a reply to Rashed Arafat.
Hi Back,
just a few comments on what you wrote. first of all, i understand your frustration with not experiencing the bliss and rapture which daniel wrote about in his most excellent book. i have been meditating very steadily for over five years and have in that time been at times VERY frustrated with "my" lack of progress. here are all of these young, wet behind the ears upstarts, no damned life experience just busting out with bliss and rapture and happiness and jhanas attainments get my point. it didn't help me a bit and i doubt that kind of questioning will bring you very far.

in the very recent past, ia have begun experiencing some of the stages and states described. these small steps are fun experiences but more importantly for me are proof, in my own personal body-mind laboratory that so far the maps and their promises are real and verifiable. this works. the timetable and experiences are different for everyone so my simple advice, which is also to be found in the MCTB is: read the MCTB, practice according to it, lower your expectations for big events, and realize that negative states can be a sign of progress.

another point you mentioned is psychotherapy. you mentioned that is is an oft repeated suggestion on "these" forums. here, i believe, the approach is, if you believe that you are really depressed or have other psychological problems that seem persistant then getting yourself evaluated (not necessarily doped up) by a professional is a good idea. you wrote that you are a generally unhappy person. i would venture a guess that that statement applies to all of us (who have not attained to the paths) very very often. it is a common characteristic amoung poeple who show up at these types of forums. i fell we instinctively know where the roots of our unhappiness lies and this is a real way to turn that around.

its been quite a few years since i regularly smoked my brain in marijuana. i had the distinct advantage of have no real interest in its effects and so was able to drop it without much ado. i had been smoking, much like you, du to my peer group and the acceptance and overall ubiquity in my environment rather that for the effects which i actually found made me anxious. my personal opinion is: drop it. it may help you to cope with general anxiety or depression, don't know, but a clear and discerning mind is invaluable in this practice imo. it won't take long for you to not miss it and your thinking will clear within a short time.

just a general point about this forum. generally this place focuses on practice, talking about practice, outcomes of practice, problems with short..practice. there are some EXTREMELY kind and competent advisors on this site who will answer your questions about you practice. that is an unbelieveably precious thing. a few years ago an almost impossible thing. the point is. here people don't want to spend time talking about the specifics of ones love life or troubles with the boss, that kind of thing, just practice, methods that kind of stuff. check out the front page and FAQ for closer guidelines.

as you finally wrote, you want to step up your concentration practice and move toward insight. GREAT! thats why were here.
just do it, keep doing it. even when it isn't so comfortable keep doing it. if you hit a practice roadblock, ask a question. keep it simple, don't read more into the instructions than is there and really try to enjoy it. if you want the bliss to come..let it come. feel what feels good and focus on that. you can start insight any time. concentration tends to make it more precise but get used to sitting first.

welcome aboard and know that you can do it


RE: Commitment (blind vs. born of the heart)
7/20/11 2:39 PM as a reply to tom moylan.
Hi Tom,

Thanks for your honest and clear response.

The truth is there's some psychological underbrush that I have to clear up (on my own), before my Practice and my life "become one," so to speak. You are correct about my self-assessment regarding my unhappiness -- I do not believe I need "professional help." It's really more a case of settling on a lifestyle that I believe will be fruitful for me, then "hammering out" practice. (For instance, dealing with my MJ habit, etc. is a more practical way of dealing with my generalized unhappiness than spending money I do not have from my coffee-shop job on a therapist.)

I am with you on how these forums are hardly about Content. I think I may take some time off, get better at Practicing, generally clean up my act, and come back with a refreshed mind.

Thanks for the encouragement, too. It's good to know that the maps work and all. I just have to remember to not "go looking for it" too much when it comes to the different jhanas, etc. -- the trick, it seems, is to let them arise on their own.

What I've got going for me, I'd say, is my meticulous adherence to instructions -- I sit for a SPECIFIC duration every day, and do no more and no less than what's in the instructions in MCTB. It's good, also, to know that what's more important is just doing it, and not worrying in advance -- or in real-time -- about the results.