Assumptions about results of meditation

Ankush G, modified 1 Month ago at 4/29/22 10:23 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 4/29/22 10:20 PM

Assumptions about results of meditation

Posts: 6 Join Date: 9/3/21 Recent Posts
Hello everyone
Inspired by Dainel’s idea to write down the assumptions I have about the ‘awakened state’, I started to reflect on my initial assumptions which motivated me to start meditating. While I didn’t have the concept of ‘awakening’ and wasn’t chasing a final/permanent state, I had a very pragmatic approach towards meditation and in most of my assumptions I looked at meditation as a skill. My intention behind building a practice was driven mostly by self-improvement, improving my psychological well-being and being better at my work. 

As I have progressed on the path over the last 1 year, some of these assumptions have fallen flat on their face emoticon emoticon and now, I’m wondering which other assumptions will prove to be false as well? Seeking feedback from those who’ve seen their own assumptions fall flat as well so that I can reset my expectations to be more realistic

Here’s a list of SUPERPOWERS I wanted to get out of my regular meditation practice emoticon 
1) Improved mental abilities: As my day-job is very analytical in nature, I’ve always aspired to be sharp and clear-thinking. So the biggest skills I wanted to develop in the process were:
  • Strong focus and concentration - To be able to stay with a problem for longer duration and not get distracted easily
  • Ability to switch context from one topic to another easily so that I can juggle multiple priorities in a day.
  • Faster thinking  - Ability to put 100% of my mind on the ‘thing at hand’ and would have higher mental bandwidth at every moment in time.
2) Access to better mental states
  • A sense of satisfaction  - I had the realization that my mind has a never-ending need for stimulus and there is a constant thought of ‘What next?’ that keeps running in the background. I wanted to be able to dissolve this and be able to feel satisfied in the moment.
  • Capability to get into enjoyable mental states at will so that I don’t binge-watch Netflix when I’m bored.
  • Control over mental energy levels - Capability to invoke higher or lower mental energy levels when needed. Eg At times I’m unable to sleep, but with training I’d be able to lower my mental energy and go to sleep in minutes!
3) Better soft-skills and EQ
  • Freedom from Fear -Eg More confidence when I have to get in front of a larger group as I would be at peace with myself and will not have the fear of ‘being judged’
  • Being more open to feedback and not jumping to self-defense when my ideas are criticized - The insight “I’m not my thoughts/ Ideas’ has helped me a bit here, but it is still an intellectual understanding and not a deep realization. 
  • Being 100% mentally present during my conversations with people - Eg  I would be more receptive to their body-language and other cues and would be more effective in these discussions
  • Better emotional control - Ability to keep my emotional state in check and lot let it influence my decision -making 
4) Higher level of self-discipline - Regular Meditation would bring more discipline in my life which would help me in other aspects of life:
  • LIke better health habits - Eg keeping a regular gym schedule
  • ​​​​​​​Disciplined about healthy eating etc
5) Insulation from future-suffering - While things are great in my life at present, it’ll not be so always as good times and bad times are a part of the cycle of life. Having a strong meditation practice would prepare me to suffer less in those times.
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mrdust, modified 1 Month ago at 4/30/22 1:09 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 4/30/22 1:09 AM

RE: Assumptions about results of meditation

Posts: 48 Join Date: 7/17/19 Recent Posts
Props for coming up with this list. I shared a number of these expectations about meditation, some of them I probably still do.

The biggest turning point for me, after years of moderate practice, was life kicking my ass. At that point my motivation became much less about performance and much more about getting out, for things to hurt less than they did. This was both literal, as there was a lot of physical pain, and figurative - I was clearly adding to the pain by my relationship to it.

Even if my goals changed,  my fundamental approach was still very oriented around achievement and what I would get out of practice. One teacher called it the "athletic model" of meditation, which gave some perspective. 

With practice and good mentorship these attitudes keep loosening their grip. Life is still organized around the project of ending suffering, but helping others end theirs keeps growing in importance.

Anyway, I think that the point of Daniel's exercise is less about disabusing yourself of misguided notions as that's not always possible. I believe it's really about bringing things into awareness. Simply by coming into awareness things gain the ability to be transformed. I don't think it's a huge stretch to say that that is the whole path. Keep bringing into awareness what's not already there...

For a related line of inquiry, check out theses dharma talks by Rob Burbea, called "Questioning Awakening"

https://dharmaseed.org/teacher/210/talk/26010/

https://dharmaseed.org/teacher/210/talk/26007/

https://dharmaseed.org/teacher/210/talk/26009/
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Siavash ', modified 1 Month ago at 4/30/22 7:15 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 4/30/22 7:15 AM

RE: Assumptions about results of meditation

Posts: 1522 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
I thought the path is about losing, not gaining emoticon
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Sigma Tropic, modified 1 Month ago at 4/30/22 9:45 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 4/30/22 9:45 AM

RE: Assumptions about results of meditation

Posts: 328 Join Date: 6/27/17 Recent Posts
I know you meant this to be a sort of pointing out of silly ideals or goals of what meditation can or cannot do, and honeslty reading your list of requirements for stuff you think you ought to get from meditation, I'm not sure if you're asking others whether they have disproved some of the things on your list or whether you've found them to be reasonable attainable goals. Have you attained any of these? Reading your list from my reading it seems like a pretty decent set of goals, with a couple points where I would say maybe some clarification through practice will maybe make you phrase it a different way,but this seems fine. 
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 4/30/22 10:35 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 4/30/22 10:35 AM

RE: Assumptions about results of meditation

Posts: 4417 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
JMHO, but those objectives aren't the main goal of meditation in Buddhism. They can be side effects along the path, but you get them by way of awakening, which is way better than the sum of those parts.

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Martin, modified 1 Month ago at 4/30/22 4:31 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 4/30/22 4:31 PM

RE: Assumptions about results of meditation

Posts: 443 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Thanks for posting the Rob Burbea talks. That is some exceptionally good stuff!

As for Ankush's list: I think it's pretty cool to have such a well-thought-out list, actually written down in black and white. My guess is that many, if not most people, want all of the things on this list, whether or not they are meditators, but few people know that they want them. I have certainly wanted a lot of those. I think there is an intrinsic advantage to knowing what you want at a particular moment in time. 

Also, there is a funny thing that happens with these sorts of goals of wanting to be a certain way in the future. When I do this, I want to be a different person because the present self imagines that the future self will enjoy being such a person. Regardless of whether this will actually be the case, any satisfaction will accrue only to a person who does not yet exist. The present self, who is imagining it, will not be there to enjoy it. Angelo DiLullo calls this kind of thing living in virtual reality. It's fun to notice it happen and notice how it fades away when it is noticed. 

Of course, Ankush wrote out a list in a well-disciplined way, and was clear about what he was doing. He was being mindful, rather than just allowing a fantasy future to take hold of his mind (VR). But being reminded of goals and expectations for the future is also a reminder of the present, which kind of speaks to the first item under Ankush's Heading No. 2. It's funny to wish that, in the future, we will be able to stop wishing for things in the future. I like it! There is a paradoxical aspect to it that feels very instructive to me. 

In any case, Ankush is seeking feedback and what I can say is that, after quite a few years of meditation, some of the goals Ankush mentions have been achieved for me, others have not, and still others have moved off the screen. It's like when someone works hard to get their financial life in order, with the stated goal of improving their credit rating, so they can borrow money more easily, and then, when their financial life is in order, the credit rating is not really a big deal anymore, because they don't need to borrow money. 
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Ni Nurta, modified 1 Month ago at 4/30/22 5:03 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 4/30/22 5:03 PM

RE: Assumptions about results of meditation

Posts: 930 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
  • Capability to get into enjoyable mental states at will so that I don’t binge-watch Netflix when I’m bored.
Forget about it. This is not how it works!

When you are dispassionate to clinging and do not create attachments then whatever pleasure you would have in mind for yourself when watching Netflix will be consumed immediately. Then might might create additional incentives but it only means you experience more pleasure. You watch movies because it is pleasant thing to do so you do it. When you cannot watch it you already experienced pleasure from idea you would and are not attached to idea you would.

More crude example, you meet girl, small talk seem to go very well. Normally if nothing happened you would experience suffering because you already would create attachment to the idea you will do something together. When you are dispassionate to attachments you already experience more joy just because there is just opportunity, nothing have to happen. If it doesn't happen then you do not feel like you lost something. Further fun activities were never given and even if they were certain you would not expect it because no attachments would be created in your mind. If however action did happen then guess what, you would have fun, much more than with attachments.

In fact the more person is passionate to using this attachment/clinging mechanism the less enjoyment they experience in life. They will eg. order some item online, they will prevent themselves from experiencing joy until the moment item is received. But when it is received person feels nothing, only need to order new item. When attachment is not there doesn't mean you won't order bunch of items, you will just experience more joy doing it. Package is delayed... you would still anticipate item with joy. Any unpleasantness if it arose will be at most momentary acknowledgement.

Ok, enough with examples.
Just remember these are idealized examples. Something which happen for most stuff but in some cases it can be realized mind still creates attachment. Skillful thing to do see it. Mind that knows how these things work is dispassionate toward attachments and will self correct when you are mindful.

And most important: You claim path when you have required qualities (become more and more dispassionate and thus more joyful) and magically get changes when you get the path that has nothing to with observing effects of phenomena toward which you get dispassionate.

Meanwhile in real world a lot of changes do happen during fruition which is reconfiguring mind based on self observations so it might be that you get fruition and magically some things which before seemed irresistible you find yourself dispassionate towards. Just when you get pip pip pip blip make sure to do basic testing if that did anything. I mean after 1st path because it is convention that person is assumed to be 1st path after first fruition even if they lost zero fetters in the process. I would say it takes years to get 1st path, literally the same as 2nd, 3rd and 4th but thankfully I do not invent rules emoticon
George S, modified 1 Month ago at 5/1/22 9:21 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/1/22 9:17 PM

RE: Assumptions about results of meditation

Posts: 2458 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
The thing about having goals and intentions is, you have to be very careful about how you formulate them. This is the realm of magick – trying to make your wishes come true. What you omit from your wish is as important as what you include. You should imagine that your wishes will be granted by an imp with a twisted sense of humor, who grants your wish in the way you least expect/want it by taking advantage of the things that you fail to specify!

To give you an example, when I started meditating I was working as a trader and could see that my performance was negatively impacted due to emotional reactivity. So one of the goals I had in meditation was to improve my emotional awareness. Well I did develop more emotional awareness, and that did briefly improve my trading performance … but due to my increased emotional awareness, I became aware that my desire to be more successful was based on deep-seated feelings of shame and inadequacy. As I became more aware of those emotions, they started to release and I lost the desire to be more successful! Now I spend most of my time as a househusband, looking after my children and doing the food … while my wife has the successful career XD

Another goal I had when I started meditating was a strong desire to become enlightened, or at least what I narcissistically imagined being enlightened would be like. As it turned out, part of waking up was realizing that the individual I had imagined would become enlightened doesn’t actually exist in the way I thought it did, so that was a buzzkill for the ego XD

1) Improved mental abilities: As my day-job is very analytical in nature, I’ve always aspired to be sharp and clear-thinking. So the biggest skills I wanted to develop in the process were:
  • Strong focus and concentration - To be able to stay with a problem for longer duration and not get distracted easily
  • Ability to switch context from one topic to another easily so that I can juggle multiple priorities in a day.
  • Faster thinking  - Ability to put 100% of my mind on the ‘thing at hand’ and would have higher mental bandwidth at every moment in time.

The obvious loophole here is that some of those improved mental abilities might cause you to lose interest in your day-job!

A sense of satisfaction - I had the realization that my mind has a never-ending need for stimulus and there is a constant thought of ‘What next?’ that keeps running in the background. I wanted to be able to dissolve this and be able to feel satisfied in the moment.
Capability to get into enjoyable mental states at will so that I don’t binge-watch Netflix when I’m bored.

Fine, but be aware that your life, career etc might look very different if you spend more time being satisfied in the moment!

Being 100% mentally present during my conversations with people - Eg I would be more receptive to their body-language and other cues and would be more effective in these discussions

​​​​​​​Being more mentally present when with other people might not make you more “effective” in the way you imagine!

The point I’m trying to make is – when formulating a wish, try to get clear about what you really want and the hidden assumptions and omissions underlying your wish. Magick is powerful stuff and should be handled with care. Alan Chapman's Advanced Magic for Beginners is a good guide for how to formulate and manifest intentions. Start with small intentions to develop a sense how the imp thinks and how to formulate intentions with the least possibility for ambiguity. When I was 35 I wrote down a 10 year wish list for my life with very specific material goals. They all got fulfilled to a T, but not at all in the way I expected and I was very unhappy. All of the work goes into formulating the intention, and often that means figuring out that you don’t really want what you think you want, or are not willing to accept the consequences. Personally I don’t bother much with this kind of stuff any more. It’s much easier to be happy with things as they are and leave the rest up to fate, rather than mess around with the unforeseen consequences of trying to game karma. If I’m experiencing something challenging then I might formulate an intention like ‘let me experience what I need to experience’, which is basically what’s happening anyway but I’m just being explicit about it.

The best wishes are non-material unselfish wishes like ‘be more happy’, ‘be more loving’, ‘be more connected to others’ etc. But fulfilling those kind of wishes is more a question of giving up resistance to what’s already present than attaining something in the future, and that will naturally happen as a result of meditation practice anyway ...

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