torn between the material and the spiritual

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Fitter Stoke, modified 8 Years ago at 7/13/13 11:31 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 7/13/13 11:31 AM

torn between the material and the spiritual

Posts: 487 Join Date: 1/23/12 Recent Posts
I’m signed up to go on a 6-day jhana retreat in a week and change. I’ve been really excited about this, since I haven’t been on a retreat in over a year, and I’m expecting the instruction and everything about the retreat to be awesome. I’ve never had the chance to do jhana in an intensive way before, so this is a unique opportunity for me. But now I’m strongly considering canceling.

For the first time in about three years, I’m taking concrete steps toward looking for a new job and moving across the country. This is something I’ve needed to do for a long while and have had so much trouble pulling together the focus and motivation to do. The fact that I’m so enthusiastic, cheerful, optimistic, and energetic about this feels like a golden opportunity. The thought of forcing a shift of focus away from that for a week scares me. I’m afraid of losing my momentum.

Money is also an issue. I’m organized with money. I know I can make the move happen. I also know I can make the retreat happen. But I don’t know what would happen if I tried to make both happen. I’m afraid to pull any resources away unnecessarily at this moment.

I have not put a lot of effort into meditation in the last five months. The retreat could offer a corrective and help me jump-start my practice. Put I’ve hardly put any effort or resources at all into the external circumstances of my life in the last three years. I crave spiritual experiences and knowledge, but this other part of my life seems so damn neglected, and it finally feels like the stars are right for doing something about it. My aspiration for it is really fired up at the moment, and I dread squandering that opportunity.

The retreat center wouldn’t suffer if I canceled. All their retreats are wait-listed, and it’s over a week away. It’s more a question of where my own time and effort is better spent, and I’m strongly leaning toward this gear-shift toward the external circumstances rather than turning inward again.

I get the feeling this sort of conflict is common for yogis. The tug-o-war between the material and the spiritual. Does anyone have useful feedback or advice?
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Nikolai , modified 8 Years ago at 7/13/13 12:06 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 7/13/13 12:04 PM

RE: torn between the material and the spiritual

Posts: 1648 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
What is 6 days of a retreat? You can't move after the retreat? Why not do both? Why fabricate the situation of either or? Afraid of financial instability though is probably prime fertile soil for investigation. If you don't go on the retreat, have a look at that fear.
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Chris G, modified 8 Years ago at 7/13/13 7:33 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 7/13/13 7:33 PM

RE: torn between the material and the spiritual

Posts: 118 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Nikolai .:
What is 6 days of a retreat? You can't move after the retreat? Why not do both? Why fabricate the situation of either or? Afraid of financial instability though is probably prime fertile soil for investigation. If you don't go on the retreat, have a look at that fear.


I think his concern is that, by going on the retreat, he'll lose his current motivation to improve his material circumstances. Without that enthusiasm and motivation, maintaining his life would be more difficult. With that difficulty, his material circumstances would decline or, at least, not improve. With that declining (or lack of improvement) of his material circumstances, further suffering and dissatisfaction will ensue, which he'd like to avoid.

I wrangle with this tension too. There is a certain motivation to do things in the world that meditation sometimes seems to sap.

I don't have a solution, but I think the right way to approach it is to treat the situation as an experiment. You could, e.g., write down what you think will happen (a hypothesis) if you take action X or Y, pick one, do it, observe the results, compare to your hypothesis, and maybe learn something :-)
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Simon T, modified 8 Years ago at 7/13/13 9:46 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 7/13/13 9:46 PM

RE: torn between the material and the spiritual

Posts: 383 Join Date: 9/13/11 Recent Posts
I'm curious to know where they do jhanas retreats. Is that in the U.S.?
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Fitter Stoke, modified 8 Years ago at 7/13/13 10:06 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 7/13/13 10:06 PM

RE: torn between the material and the spiritual

Posts: 487 Join Date: 1/23/12 Recent Posts
Chris G:
Nikolai .:
What is 6 days of a retreat? You can't move after the retreat? Why not do both? Why fabricate the situation of either or? Afraid of financial instability though is probably prime fertile soil for investigation. If you don't go on the retreat, have a look at that fear.


I think his concern is that, by going on the retreat, he'll lose his current motivation to improve his material circumstances. Without that enthusiasm and motivation, maintaining his life would be more difficult. With that difficulty, his material circumstances would decline or, at least, not improve. With that declining (or lack of improvement) of his material circumstances, further suffering and dissatisfaction will ensue, which he'd like to avoid.


You have understood me perfectly. Thank you.

There's a side to this I forgot, though:

MCTB:
“Psychic powers” can also arise spontaneously from insight practice, particularly at stage 4. The Arising and Passing Away and sometimes at stage 11. Equanimity (see The Progress of Insight later). While the fourth jhana is traditionally said to be the basis for the psychic powers, simply getting so strongly into the first jhana that you can no longer perceive a body coupled with the previous intention to have these experiences can sometimes be a sufficient to make them occur. Get really into the jhana, leave it, resolve to have these experiences, and see what happens. Repeat as necessary.


I already have a very strong intention. If I went into an isolated place, cultivated a strong jhana, and came out of it, could I form an even more powerful, more effective intention?

What's the level at which the mind most clearly, most efficiently understands and carries out such an intention? Do I say, "I want to achieve X by date Y"? Is it better to go into jhana, come out, and look at a scrap book of images associated with my goal?

I'd like to hear from people who have experience with resolutions in connection with very strong jhana. Did you work at the level of language? Images? Sounds? Smells?
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Mind over easy, modified 8 Years ago at 7/14/13 2:38 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 7/14/13 2:38 PM

RE: torn between the material and the spiritual

Posts: 239 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts
I'm actually in a similar situation. I'm moving into the city for this upcoming semester, and I happened to get really unlucky in that at the start of the summer, I had a boss who was cutting pay out of my paycheck and generally telling a lot of lies to keep me on and waiting for the big bills to show. I just recently quit, and I essentially spent all the money from that job just to keep gas in my tank. Now I'm looking for another job, but I have my first ever meditation retreat (Goenka) in 10 days, so I'm nervous to apply for a job when I'll end up being gone for 10 days and possibly miss callbacks. Either way, once I get back, I'll have 3 weeks to find a job and make some money before I have to move in, and then there will be a full credit load waiting for me at college, plus the need to work that much more. So I've actually been thinking about these things too. It seems tough sometimes to balance effective practice with "the real world". Practice costs time and effort, and "the real world" can already take a nice hefty chunk of your time and effort. And all the while, the question is of happiness... which pursuits will actually make me feel secure and at a good place?

I've decided to stay with going on this retreat. I'm not sure what your current setup is, but even if I can get away from my daily routines and responsibilities enough to pack in some intensive seated practice, I've definitely never had the chance to spend ten days in relative silence, practicing all day, with nothing else to pull me away, surrounded by people who have some sympathy for what I'm doing.


I’m strongly leaning toward this gear-shift toward the external circumstances rather than turning inward again.


I can feel ya on this, I have this feeling sometimes. You said it was a jhana retreat... I think jhana can act as a bridge between morality and insight. You can take your mind after jhana and stick it into going through some unusually deep cycles of insight, or you can take it back to the drawing board and form plans/intentions/resolutions for your life. Typically, I've taken the former option, as I'm very interested in making progress in insight when I'm able to, but I ought to take the latter option more often, since in the end, morality is the level at which there isn't any point to stop developing, or as Daniel says, morality is the first and last training. I'd say... go for the retreat! Then use the sharp mind to hone in on whatever intentions or resolutions you'd like to make for your life.

Good luck with it all! And also, thank you for all your great advice in the past.
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Andrew K, modified 8 Years ago at 7/15/13 7:06 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 7/15/13 7:06 AM

RE: torn between the material and the spiritual

Posts: 52 Join Date: 2/27/12 Recent Posts
Fitter Stoke:


I already have a very strong intention. If I went into an isolated place, cultivated a strong jhana, and came out of it, could I form an even more powerful, more effective intention?



this is the way i tend to think about things. i'm not a strong jhana practitioner, but afaik, strong intentions are strong intentions regardless, and i would imagine that jhana powers simply amplify them. i doubt it's helpful to worry that you need to get to X level jhana in order for your intentions to be effective, the world is basically populated with people making their lives happen through the power of their intention.

i don't see why there is a split between material and spiritual. you are a spiritual seeker and matter is the foundation of everything. when i get back from retreats (all goenka in my case), i usually feel more connected and fired up to take on life (in whichever dimension feels right at the time, be it worldly or inwardly), so personally i see no reason why after you finish your jhana retreat, you wouldn't take that great practice and use it towards helping reduce the suffering in your life by making this great move and this great job. supposing the retreat was beneficial, instead of getting depressed and forgetting about the move, instead you'd feel great and have even more resources (jhana) to make it happen, right?



given that you are afraid of losing your motivation to make the move, maybe it's worth reflecting on what youre motivation to make the move actually is. ie. is it some inpure motive that you think might disappear on the jhana retreat? if so, that's a good thing right? (i'm playing devil's advocate here).

if your motive to make the move is actually a positive one, in order to reduce the suffering in your life and of those who care about you (which seems to obviously be the case), then i can only see that going on retreat would strengthen your resolve to make this happen!


my2c

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