Is it worth it?

M, modified 2 Months ago.

Is it worth it?

Posts: 41 Join Date: 3/25/20 Recent Posts
I recently had an experience (described in more detail here) that showed me the totality of what I'm going to give up if I continue down this path. I temporarily cut through some of the main things that drive my actions - my desire to be loved and lust. I didn't even realize how much these things motivate me until experiencing the uncertainty of what to do without them. I mostly felt empty with a little bit of "Oh shit what have I done" and "Wow I think this is actually working" mixed in. 

I'm scared that as I continue down this path, I'm going to continue dissolving my existing motivational structure in such a way that leaves me depressed and confused. I've heard that, for some, love flows in once they cut through enough attachments. I do experience this occasionally. But this time around, I've just been left feeling kind of empty and sad. 

If I continue to meditate, will I really need to give up everything I've ever cared about? Is that the price I need to pay to be free from suffering? Is the end result really worth it?
A. Dietrich Ringle, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Is it worth it?

Posts: 882 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
I think that stream entry is a worthy goal. I would also add that 2nd and 3rd feel the same. As far as the costs, your mind is likely playing tricks on you. You have to buy into the tricks so much that you forget that you had to pay for the show. Then you get part of your money back. 
M, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Is it worth it?

Posts: 41 Join Date: 3/25/20 Recent Posts
Would you mind explaining your metaphor a bit more literally? When you talk about "paying for the show", are you referring to the suffering that comes along with attachment? 
A. Dietrich Ringle, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Is it worth it?

Posts: 882 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
M
Would you mind explaining your metaphor a bit more literally? When you talk about "paying for the show", are you referring to the suffering that comes along with attachment? 
Yes! The costs seem expensive at first. Where you're going there is no worry over money.
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Is it worth it?

Posts: 1014 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
M
I recently had an experience (described in more detail here) that showed me the totality of what I'm going to give up if I continue down this path. I temporarily cut through some of the main things that drive my actions - my desire to be loved and lust. I didn't even realize how much these things motivate me until experiencing the uncertainty of what to do without them. I mostly felt empty with a little bit of "Oh shit what have I done" and "Wow I think this is actually working" mixed in. 

I'm scared that as I continue down this path, I'm going to continue dissolving my existing motivational structure in such a way that leaves me depressed and confused. I've heard that, for some, love flows in once they cut through enough attachments. I do experience this occasionally. But this time around, I've just been left feeling kind of empty and sad. 

If I continue to meditate, will I really need to give up everything I've ever cared about? Is that the price I need to pay to be free from suffering? Is the end result really worth it?


As you progress on the path and begin to let go of long held attachments including attachments to self it can seem to turn your world upside down. That is to some extent inevitable. At first these changes may seem scary, especially if they come one after another in rapid succession. If you feel this is a problem and you are practicing intensely, it might help to practice less (doing more samatha and less vipassana) until you feel more stable. In time you may become familiar with the new way of seeing and recognize the beneficial nature of it.

Also there are many different types of meditation. They may all produce awakening but they also influence the practitioner in their own way. So the quality of conscious existence is not the same for each type of practice.  To make progress you have to practice a lot. Practice can become your default way of experiencing existence. Practice that leads to awakening really leads to awakening + X where X is the quality of consciousness in addition to awakening produced by the practice. When choosing a style of meditation people should think about this and decide if they really want to be using their brain that way 24/7. 

For this reason I think it is better to do just enough samatha type of sitting meditation to quiet the mind so it can focus and then do vipassana in daily life, just observing the activity of the mind noticing the arising and ceasing of dukkha and avoiding intense forms of meditation. I think this is much less disruptive than other types of intense practice.

So, if the way you practice is making you depressed and confused I would recommend you try a differet type of practice.

In the post you linked to you say you were on a Goenka retreat. Did you know Goenka retreats produce a disproportionate number of adverse psychological reactions?

You might try metta meditation and see how that works. In my opinon metta is a powerful way to free a person from the fetter of ill will, and to enable forgiveness.
M, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Is it worth it?

Posts: 41 Join Date: 3/25/20 Recent Posts
Jim Smith Practice that leads to awakening really leads to awakening + X where X is the quality of consciousness in addition to awakening produced by the practice. When choosing a style of meditation people should think about this and decide if they really want to be using their brain that way 24/7. 


Could you explain what you mean by the "quality of consciousness" vs. "awakening"? My thinking was that awakening leads to a particular quality of consciousness. 

For this reason I think it is better to do just enough samatha type of sitting meditation to quiet the mind so it can focus and then do vipassana in daily life, just observing the activity of the mind noticing the arising and ceasing of dukkha and avoiding intense forms of meditation. I think this is much less disruptive than other types of intense practice. So, if the way you practice is making you depressed and confused I would recommend you try a differet type of practice.  


Do you think focusing on samatha is really enough to fully free oneself from suffering? It seems like intensive practice would be important to fully cut through attachments, though it is definitely more disruptive. 

In the post you linked to you say you were on a Goenka retreat. Did you know Goenka retreats produce a disproportionate number of adverse psychological reactions?


In the article you linked to, I'm not seeing it say that about Goenka retreats. I just see the story about one girl who committed suicide after one. Is there something else you're thinking of? 

Thanks for the metta suggestion. 
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Is it worth it?

Posts: 1014 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
M
Jim Smith Practice that leads to awakening really leads to awakening + X where X is the quality of consciousness in addition to awakening produced by the practice. When choosing a style of meditation people should think about this and decide if they really want to be using their brain that way 24/7. 


Could you explain what you mean by the "quality of consciousness" vs. "awakening"? My thinking was that awakening leads to a particular quality of consciousness. 


If you spent 5 hours a day for ten years practicing metta, or goenka, or rapid noting, or self inquiry, each of those would have a different effect on your brain. You would have to live with that brain even if you attained awakening. You would have a different experience of existence/consciousness.


For this reason I think it is better to do just enough samatha type of sitting meditation to quiet the mind so it can focus and then do vipassana in daily life, just observing the activity of the mind noticing the arising and ceasing of dukkha and avoiding intense forms of meditation. I think this is much less disruptive than other types of intense practice. So, if the way you practice is making you depressed and confused I would recommend you try a differet type of practice.  


Do you think focusing on samatha is really enough to fully free oneself from suffering? It seems like intensive practice would be important to fully cut through attachments, though it is definitely more disruptive. 

It depends on the person. Some people wake up while crossing the street without ever meditating. Some people could awaken with just samatha, just vipassana and some people might never wake up doing a lot of both.

And there is vipassana in samatha and samatha in vipassana. Every time you get distracted and refocus your attention in samatha meditation you are reminded that you don't control your mind, you are not your mind, your mind is not you. In order to focus in vipassana you have to quiet your mind and concentrate it.

But I am not advocating practicing only samatha. I am advocating doing samatha in sitting meditation and vipassana in daily life. I think both samatha and vipassana are important.

My opinion is that practicing in daily life, watching the activity of the mind is a way to practice intensively without practicing intensively. You can put in a lot of hours but you are not using the brain in a way that is intensely abnormal. You are using your brain pretty much the way it was "designed" to be used. There are other "natural" ways of practicing vipassana. Hunters who have all their senses alert waiting long hours stalking or waiting for prey have experienced awakening.

I am not sure anyone in modern times really believes that meditation will free you 100% from suffering. People say things like "you still have emotions but they don't stick in your mind" or "you still have emotions but you don't overreact", or "it's the aggregates that are crying", or "you are still a mammal".


In the post you linked to you say you were on a Goenka retreat. Did you know Goenka retreats produce a disproportionate number of adverse psychological reactions?


In the article you linked to, I'm not seeing it say that about Goenka retreats. I just see the story about one girl who committed suicide after one. Is there something else you're thinking of? 

Thanks for the metta suggestion. 
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Is it worth it?

Posts: 1014 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Smith

And there is vipassana in samatha and samatha in vipassana. Every time you get distracted and refocus your attention in samatha meditation you are reminded that you don't control your mind, you are not your mind, your mind is not you. In order to focus in vipassana you have to quiet your mind and concentrate it.



And every time you gently come back to the focus of meditation after acknowledging a distraction, you are practicing letting go.
George S, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Is it worth it?

Posts: 2064 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
The honest answer is - you don't really have a choice! You still think you do at this point, but you're on the path now and it will play out the way it needs to based on your conditioning. There will definitely be short-term feelngs of loss and dislocation along the way, but over the medium to longer term you will see a dramatic reduction in suffering. So yes, it is definitely worth it and surprisingly you can trust that the process will lead to an awakening that fits you like a glove! Whether that will mean more or less sex, relationships etc it's not possible to know, but there's no need to worry about it because miraculously it will be exactly what is appropriate for you (and the others around you) emoticon
M, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Is it worth it?

Posts: 41 Join Date: 3/25/20 Recent Posts
I groaned when I saw "you don't really have a choice" - very true. I've tried to think of alternative ways to live and feel ok that don't involve meditation, and I honestly can't at this point. 

​​​​​​​Is there anything in particular that makes you have so much faith in this process and the results? You seem very cheerful about it. 
George S, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Is it worth it?

Posts: 2064 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Because I saw that it worked for other people and, despite my doubts, was based on solid reasoning which I could test step by step through practice, and it worked for me (despite all the feelings of pain, confusion and loss along the way)
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Stefan R, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Is it worth it?

Posts: 176 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Magic 8-ball says:

Reply Hazy. Try Again Later
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Is it worth it?

Posts: 281 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
     In his comments on The Yoga Sutta of Patanjali, Georg Feuerstein makes the point that to be able to restrict the fluctuations of the mind, practice and dispassion are necessary. Practice entails techniques of interiorization and unification and dispassion is the letting go of the hunger for the external world of multiplicity. A fine balance has to be maintained. If there is practice without dispassion, the result will be ego-inflation, hunger for power, and even more entanglement in worldly concerns. But if dispassion is not tempered by interiorization and unification the energies released by turning away from mundane objects will not have an outlet and may cause confusion in body and mind.      
     I believe that perhaps the goal of becoming a better human being should always be kept forefront so that this balance is maintained. Being a better human also means keeping in mind the needs of other people. Think about this when you exercise the freedom to choose that results from this process. The excesses of almost everything will fall away but the basic needs will not disappear. The need for love and lust included.      
​​​​​​​     I married very young and also started practice very young. During a monkish phase, which reminds me of what you are going through, my lust was very diminished until I was reminded by my wife that the game wasn't over. I found it quickly and four children later it was still strong.
​​​​​​​     You won't become a robot. Practice well, practice right.
M, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Is it worth it?

Posts: 41 Join Date: 3/25/20 Recent Posts
Thanks for your thoughts. What do you mean by interiorization? Also, why do you think the basic needs won't disappear? What makes you consider love and lust to be basic needs as opposed to mere attachments? 
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Is it worth it?

Posts: 281 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
Love and lust are biologically engrained. Think of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. There is always a possibility of exaggerating those needs with our tendency toward attachment. Interiorization/introspection is the ability we develop to become aware of body/mind phenomena. The rest is a learning process. Sometimes you zig sometimes you zag until you finally come to a middle point.
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Kaloyan Stefanov, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Is it worth it?

Posts: 69 Join Date: 2/18/21 Recent Posts
Others above me have already shared some great points that I support wholeheartedly.

Is it worth it? Yes, it will most likely be worth it for you.

Is it the end of your world (ala Adyashanti)? Most likely yes emoticon What your world will look like afterwards - we don't know. Might be completely different in terms of life circumstances, or might be almost the same, but viewed through a completely different lense.

Do you have a way to stop and go back? What George said - No, you likely don't really have a choice, you are on the path emoticon Might as well do it and have as much fun as possible during and after emoticon Good luck, may you find an awakening that fits you like a glove (well said George!) and that benefits others as well!
Adi Vader, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Is it worth it?

Posts: 39 Join Date: 6/29/20 Recent Posts
Many of our motivations are polluted by greed and hatred. We want to become successful because we want to possess the deliciousness of the trappings of success. We want to succeed becasue otherwise we will be left behind in the rat race - what will people think about us - stupid loser!

But these are pollutants. Accompanying these is often simple rational evaluation - I am a human being, I need food, shelter, electricity. It is better to be housed than to be homeless. Earning an income gives me the ability to provide protection to my loved ones. Such clean straight forward motivations don't drop away. If they drop away its becasue we buy into some strange notion of what it means to be an 'awakened being'.

Stay simple, stay rational, look out for yourself and your loved ones and regularly practice relaxing, putting down, withdrawing participation from the greed and hatred.

​​​​​​​You will be fine! 
T DC, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Is it worth it?

Posts: 393 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
I read your description of the experience, and it sounds less like a realistic preview of future attainment than a temporary experience in meditation.  Yes there are things we give up on the path, but mostly just our neuroses, and nothing we need.  Genuine success on the spiritual path, while it may have it's ups and downs, trends toward making us more functional and well rounded individuals, healthy attitudes toward sex and love included.
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Not two, not one, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Is it worth it?

Posts: 941 Join Date: 7/13/17 Recent Posts
Just to add to what T DC said ...  the process can be kind of disorienting. 

A metaphor - imagine you have a prized vintage car, and you decide to strip it down and improve it.  So you disassemble everything to clean it and then suddenly you look at all the bits spread over the floor of your workshop and go "Holy shit where's my car?  I used to have a car and now it's goooooonnne!  Who took my car .... Ahhhh!" 

Then you slowly and lovingly put the car back together, and the rust is sanded out, the paint is bright, you've put in a really great electric power plant, and it's just what it was supposed to be in the first place.