Practices for Morality

Mark, modified 6 Years ago.

Practices for Morality

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
I think the brahma vihara practices are a good help to improved morality. Mindfulness seems to offer the possibility of less reactivity and therefor less destructive behavior.

The hope of not suffering through enlightenment is fairly well extinguished based on the experiences related here. Seeing that it can take some laypeople decades to achieve I was thinking it might be wise to focus on practices that are beneficial to morality.

Would be great to hear about your epxerience and which practices give the most "bang for the buck" 
thumbnail
tom moylan, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practices for Morality

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
howdy mark,
i think your post covers a lot of territory and makes a couple of "false" comparisons.

brahma vihara practices are fab.  so is mindfulness.  each person will most probably benefit from each one more or less at different times in their career.  bramha vihara practices speak directly to the reactivity that you mention so imo are the perfect practice to help us rise above our undisciplined tendencies.

the end of suffering...that's the goal all right, whether you're a theravadan or a vajrayana or secular practitioner.  til the end is reached though, there will be suffering.  how you deal with it, or how you react to it will most likely change as a direct result of your practice though.  by the way, most traditions don't loudly advertise the fine print about the "path" to enlightenment NOT being a linear one.

whatever tradition you follow, from yoga, to advaita you will go through peaks and valleys.  in this forum, most speak openly about the valleys and the peaks and the best routes to both.

the decision which tradition or method to use is a personal one.  using myself as an example i started in a glamour vajrayana tradition.  while interesting and exotic and full of large promises, the tradition was too full of mystery and cultural overlay baggage that strayed to far from my rationally bent mind.  some people love it though and feel they are making progress.

i like the cut and dried, 'try the experiment on yourself' approach here and for me this place has the most bang for the buck.

if you have not read daniel's book yet, you should.  it might be right for you, maybe not.

in any case, good luck and enjoy yourself.

tom
Mark, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practices for Morality

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
tom moylan:
howdy mark,
i think your post covers a lot of territory and makes a couple of "false" comparisons.

brahma vihara practices are fab.  so is mindfulness.  each person will most probably benefit from each one more or less at different times in their career.  bramha vihara practices speak directly to the reactivity that you mention so imo are the perfect practice to help us rise above our undisciplined tendencies.

the end of suffering...that's the goal all right, whether you're a theravadan or a vajrayana or secular practitioner.  til the end is reached though, there will be suffering.  how you deal with it, or how you react to it will most likely change as a direct result of your practice though.  by the way, most traditions don't loudly advertise the fine print about the "path" to enlightenment NOT being a linear one.

whatever tradition you follow, from yoga, to advaita you will go through peaks and valleys.  in this forum, most speak openly about the valleys and the peaks and the best routes to both.

the decision which tradition or method to use is a personal one.  using myself as an example i started in a glamour vajrayana tradition.  while interesting and exotic and full of large promises, the tradition was too full of mystery and cultural overlay baggage that strayed to far from my rationally bent mind.  some people love it though and feel they are making progress.

i like the cut and dried, 'try the experiment on yourself' approach here and for me this place has the most bang for the buck.

if you have not read daniel's book yet, you should.  it might be right for you, maybe not.

in any case, good luck and enjoy yourself.

tom

Hi Tom,

I need to revise my understanding of bramha vihara because I don't see them reducing reactivity - for example I'd expect to react in a more compassionate way (not be less reactive). Maybe you are adding negative connotations to "reactive" or I've misunderstood bramha vihara.

Reading Daniel's book was a little of an electroshock emoticon Before reading his book I was thinking along the lines you mention - that the goal is the end of suffering. But I get the impression from Daniel's book that enlightenment is much more about having a non-dual understanding of the world. It seemed to me that a big motivation for Daniel was to help peole who have passed an A&P experience, they are on a treadmill and there is no getting off i.e to help reduce their suffering.

It seems immoral behavior is going to cause suffering and I wouldn't be surprised if it causes more suffering to someone who is enlightened than someone who is not. Daniel seems to make it clear that morality still needs to be worked on after enlightenment. That is as clear as an indication as we are going to get that suffering is not ended with enlightenment.

Daniel wrote about how we (approx. quote) "wake up to the life we have, so make it a good one". I think that is advice those who have not crossed an A&P could really take to heart.

This leads me to the conclusion (for now) that it would be wise to build concentration and mindfulness with the primary objective of improving morality - not having an A&P. Which in turn led to this post.

You are correct that the decision of which tradition to use is a personal one, but it would be wise to gather information about the various traditions so as to make a decision rather than roll a dice. I hoped this thread might point out some practices that people found particularly beneficial for morality (I use the term as used by Daniel in his book). I really appreciate the "hard core" style of the forum and if I'm lucky some will have some "hard core" morality practises to share!

Enjoy yourself is an interesting remark  - Daniel's book makes it pretty clear that is not what it is about emoticon It does seem to involve a lot of luck - thanks for the kind wishes.

Thanks for jumping in the ring!

    Mark
thumbnail
tom moylan, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practices for Morality

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
hmm. reactivity to me implies untempered or automatic response to a particular situation.  before we see that certain of our reactions are based on selfish, ego based tendencies, those reactions tend to be less than wholesome.  the brahma viharas of loving kindness, compassion, equanimity help us develop a different baseline of dealing with the world which is generally less egocentric.  but in fact you are right, a reaction is not necessesarily negative.

i think dan's book is much broader and comprehensive take on contemplation practices than the credit you give it.  for instance there are large parts of it devoted to the stages before the A&P.  the focus on the dark night stages are missing in virtually every meditation book one cares to read so to me its no wonder that there is a strong emphasis on this especially given the difficulties most serious contemplatives are bound to face at one time or another.

re: morality:  did you read about the three trainings?  if so you will recal that the 'first and last training is sila'  or , morality.  this is not given the short shrift you imply.  as far as your supposition that immoral behaviour would cause more trouble for one who is enlightened than for one who is not is a little circular.  i think you are suggesting that, 'because one is enlightened they would feel more guilt because they would know better'.  if that is what you are saying i would back up a bit and submit that by the time one has done the work of getting enlightened the might understand the implications of bad behaviour better than we worldly folks but wouldn't necessarily die of guilt DUE to their glowing status.  maybe i'm misunderstanding you though.

 as to the quote of daniel: "wake up to the life we have, so make it a good one".  that is good advice wherever you are.  the point to me in that statement is that we should not destroy the good things we have in our life including our morality in the search for something that we don't understand clearly in the first place; namely enlightenment.

i think you have somehow gotten the impression that the A&P event is a goal in and of itself. while it can be a spectacular waypoint it is just one wave of your experience and not the finish line. but whatever you understand about what you have read i think your conclusion is right: working on concentration and mindfulness is a really good thing to do.

i think enjoying oneself is really important.  it doesn't imply hedonism but for my money joy beats worry and depression any day and bringing that to practice helps me a lot.  if the goal is the end of suffering diesn't it make sense to start with that attitude?

since we're on the subject of suffering.  pain is not equal to suffering.  shinzen young says that suffering is pain times resistence to it.  enlightened people have as much pain as anyone else but the suffering is reduced, at least in theory.  the whole second arrow thingy.

take care, and enjoy yourself.  btw i aint in a ring.

tom
Mark, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practices for Morality

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
Hi Tom,

I suspect that you'll see yourself and many people around you have wholesome reactions - we are not all bad all the time ;)

Daniel's book is broad and I was not trying to imply it is narrow. The first section has a lot of value in ragards to morality. As I've understood it Daniel's motivation was not to produce the broadest text possible but to address perceived shortcomings in the available literature - something I think he does extremely well.

I think I made direct reference to the three trainings when I wrote progress on morality continues after enligtenment.

You are reading too much with the "short shrift" - I would not be asking the question on this forum if I thought it was not something perceived as essential to the practise. 

I'm not suggesting someone would feel more guilt because they were labelled as enlightened but because they were enlightened they could have a much better ralization of the harm and consequences of immoral behavior.

Daniel does stress the risk of messing one's life up during the Dark Night etc. But I think the expression is a wise one beyond just avoiding damage - I think we could see the gradual training as promoting the building of morality (or a good life) too.

I don't think the A&P event is the goal - Daniel's book is pretty clear about that. The goal of the practices is to become enlightened - but the process can vary a lot.  

The risk of focusing on enjoying oneself is pretty well explained in Daniel's book. I'm assuming you have that in mind. I like to think of balancing effort and enjoyment, sometimes you need to put in hard yards and it is not always fun but that needs to be balanced with enjoyment to keep motivation. The concentration practices seem particularly relevant there.

Yes pain is not neccessarily suffering - you don't need to be very far along the path at all to get good results in regards to physical pain. That much I can vouch for.

If you have more on the practises in regards to morality I'd love to hear about that.

Enjoy yourself and thanks for not going for the knockout ;) (that is a joke) (he said sarcastically) (I feel a recursion coming on...)

  Mark 
thumbnail
tom moylan, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practices for Morality

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
howdy mark,
as far as practices that i have experiences with that help foster the BVs tonglen is the standard vajrayana practice and is very powerful.  i haven't done it in a while but it is roughly translated as "giving and taking" where you visualize others, in varying levels and give them your good karma and take their bad karma.  i'm sure big-brother google can help you there with more details bute here's the wikipedia link.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonglen

whirled peas
Mark, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practices for Morality

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
tom moylan:
howdy mark,
as far as practices that i have experiences with that help foster the BVs tonglen is the standard vajrayana practice and is very powerful.  i haven't done it in a while but it is roughly translated as "giving and taking" where you visualize others, in varying levels and give them your good karma and take their bad karma.  i'm sure big-brother google can help you there with more details bute here's the wikipedia link.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonglen

whirled peas
Thanks Tom! I'd never heard of Tonglen.
thumbnail
bernd the broter, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practices for Morality

Posts: 376 Join Date: 6/13/12 Recent Posts
Mark:
I think the brahma vihara practices are a good help to improved morality. Mindfulness seems to offer the possibility of less reactivity and therefor less destructive behavior.

The hope of not suffering through enlightenment is fairly well extinguished based on the experiences related here. Seeing that it can take some laypeople decades to achieve I was thinking it might be wise to focus on practices that are beneficial to morality.

Would be great to hear about your epxerience and which practices give the most "bang for the buck" 
I'm not sure what you're asking for.
Do you want a comparison of the different brahma viharas?
If I understand them correctly, then Metta is the most basic one of {Metta, karuna, mudita}. So starting with karuna/mudita doesn't make much sense.
In my experience, equanimity is developed to a very(!) high degree as a side effect of Noting practice, so I don't see the need to develop that separately.

More ideas:
-Metta came 'naturally' to me after practicing Vipassana for about 600 hours. Maybe the closing short Metta sessions after each Vipassana session, adding up to hours in total, got me interested. Maybe not. Somehow I'm convinced that I could really benefit from Metta only on the basis of the practice I'd done before. If you're interested, you can read more about Metta practice in my practice log.
-Metta is traditionally said to be the antidote to anger. So I'd guess how helpful it is for you is determined by how much anger you harbour. It's definitely helpful for me.
-Vipassana means you're getting to know your mind very well. This leads to insight about what happens in your mind (not only about the 3Cs). I'm quite convinced that these things benefit morality as well.

One more thing: In my experience, well-done Insight practice leads to faster changes than Metta practice. But maybe that's just me.
Mark, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practices for Morality

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
Hi Bernd,

I'd like to learn about practises which are effective for improving morality. Also interested in hearing about people's experiences in that regard. 

I'm aware of the different brahma viharas. I'd be most interested in hearing of any other techniques.

I became interested in metta after hearing of the 3 buddhist personality types e.g. 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elana-miller-md/personality-types_b_4125852.html That also got me more interested in buddhism as my orignal interest was vipassana.

The concept of satipatthana is one that I've not been able to get a good grasp of. Someone told me "just do satipatthana" but I did not get a lot more information. It seems the vipassana/samatha practises fit under satipatthana and there is the idea of doing things "off the cushion" also.

I assume that noting is going to be very good for progressing on the path but I wonder if vipassana without noting e.g. resting with an object and observing distractions, "letting them go" and returning to the object, is going to be more effective in terms of reducing reactiivty off the cushion.

MCTB is clear on the importance of focusing on the 3Cs. I get the impression that is about pursuing a non-dual view ASAP. The effectiveness of noting makes a lot of sense in that regard. 

Would be great to hear more about the benefits of various techniques off the cushion.

Thanks.


 
thumbnail
Daniel M. Ingram, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practices for Morality

Posts: 3176 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Practices to increase morality?

Hang out with kind, sane, good, caring, professional people doing some valuable service for those who really suffer to try to aleviate it in a setting where you really see and interact with the people you are helping.

I think that does a ton to help with morality.

It makes you realize how good you have it.

It makes you realize how bad things can get and provides impetus to keep yourself healthy and take care of yourself and those you love.

It reinforces your sense of self-worth such that you value yourself and those you work with: this helps you care for yourself better.

It provides the good example of good behavior in from those around you for you to emulate and learn from.

It makes you realize that helping people is really one of the big keys to a satisfying life for most people.

My two cents, anyway.
Mark, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practices for Morality

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
Practices to increase morality?

Hang out with kind, sane, good, caring, professional people doing some valuable service for those who really suffer to try to aleviate it in a setting where you really see and interact with the people you are helping.

I think that does a ton to help with morality.

It makes you realize how good you have it.

It makes you realize how bad things can get and provides impetus to keep yourself healthy and take care of yourself and those you love.

It reinforces your sense of self-worth such that you value yourself and those you work with: this helps you care for yourself better.

It provides the good example of good behavior in from those around you for you to emulate and learn from.

It makes you realize that helping people is really one of the big keys to a satisfying life for most people.

My two cents, anyway.

Hi Daniel,

Thanks very much - that is a massive point you're making. In the Buddhist tradition there are the Grounds for Making Merit - generosity (dana), morality, meditation. Dana seems to be associated more with giving gifts rather than service but I wonder if that is my misunderstanding ?

You raise two points - who we hang out with. Reminds me of a quote (forget who) - "you are the average of the five people you spend most time with"

The second - being of service to others. I'm not sure X Buddhism puts the same emphasis on that as other traditions. Interested in your thoughts on that. 

In any case I agree wholeheartedly with what you're saying and those ideas deserve to be somewhere near the top of the list. It hits where it hurts so I guess we can call it hard core morality ;)

  Mark



 
thumbnail
Daniel M. Ingram, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practices for Morality

Posts: 3176 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
What is X Buddhism?


I personally have been doing service stuff since I was a kid and found it extremely useful for growth for myself, as well as the good it hopefully did for others.

We did lots volunteer service when I was in the Boy Scouts, numerous service trips and projects when in my church youth group, did service in high school at the School of Science and Math, volunteered at the front desk of an ER in my early 20's, did a year of full-time volunteer service in India in my mid 20's working in a street clinic and doing rural health education at my own and my family's expense, volunteered with the Red Cross when I got home, volunteered with state public health department for a summer doing viral reserach there, did service while in medical school in various capacities (cooked in a soup kitchen, worked in makeshift clinic in rural Guatemala, etc.), and since then have provided tons of free care to people who come to the ER and can't/don't pay, which some places I have worked has been nearly half of the patients. I run this forum for free, paying for all of it myself, and put more money into it than I make off of my book, which I also give away for free in electronic format, and also charge nothing for the numerous dharma Skype conversations, emails, phone calls, and the like that I do to help people learn this stuff. Thus, I volunteer basically every single day to help people in what ways I can and find it useful for my own practice.

What sort of situation did you grown up in that service wasn't emphasized as being really important?

What sort of spiritual practitioners are you hanging out with that don't value the daily dana of time, money and other resources to help others as a key part of practice? I might consider trading up to better company if possible.

I personally may be guilty of so taking all of that for granted that I don't think about it much and generally don't mention it, but it has been an essential part of skillful practice.
Mark, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practices for Morality

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
What is X Buddhism?


I personally have been doing service stuff since I was a kid and found it extremely useful for growth for myself, as well as the good it hopefully did for others.

We did lots volunteer service when I was in the Boy Scouts, numerous service trips and projects when in my church youth group, did service in high school at the School of Science and Math, volunteered at the front desk of an ER in my early 20's, did a year of full-time volunteer service in India in my mid 20's working in a street clinic and doing rural health education at my own and my family's expense, volunteered with the Red Cross when I got home, volunteered with state public health department for a summer doing viral reserach there, did service while in medical school in various capacities (cooked in a soup kitchen, worked in makeshift clinic in rural Guatemala, etc.), and since then have provided tons of free care to people who come to the ER and can't/don't pay, which some places I have worked has been nearly half of the patients. I run this forum for free, paying for all of it myself, and put more money into it than I make off of my book, which I also give away for free in electronic format, and also charge nothing for the numerous dharma Skype conversations, emails, phone calls, and the like that I do to help people learn this stuff. Thus, I volunteer basically every single day to help people in what ways I can and find it useful for my own practice.

What sort of situation did you grown up in that service wasn't emphasized as being really important?

What sort of spiritual practitioners are you hanging out with that don't value the daily dana of time, money and other resources to help others as a key part of practice? I might consider trading up to better company if possible.

I personally may be guilty of so taking all of that for granted that I don't think about it much and generally don't mention it, but it has been an essential part of skillful practice.

I used the term X Buddhism to refer to all the different types of Buddhism e.g. Thervada, Secular etc. In an objective world "Buddhism" might be clear but people are tempted to read their flavor into it. I saw that use somewhere else.

I'm glad this conversation may be of use to you too. I think you'll find your history with volunteer service is exceptional. You might also mention it more often as I think it does not get the sort of attention other aspects of Buddhism receive. Perhaps that aspect can be mentioned in the upcoming relesae of your book.

I would guess that I grew up like the majority in the west - with parents busy trying to get ahead and a focus on the nuclear family. Helping someone you know was prioritized over helping someone you don't. I guess that is the model I saw. The last time I really wanted to do something social was being a prison visitor, but on closer investigation I realized that a lot of the support would be of people on the fringes of the prison system (typically sexual preditors) and I just didn't feel up to the task. In the past I've seen entrepreneurial activities as having a strong social aspect - peolpe often don't realize the motivation of many entrepreneurs is not primarily financial.

I don't hang out with spiritual practintioners at the moment (beyond internet forums). I'm in a small town in France. But I was fortunate to meet a woman teaching the dhamma for dana early this year and that opened a door which remains open.

I'm not sure why you thought I was not hanging around with people who want to help others in their practise. I guess my previous message was not clear. I was trying to say that social engagement is not something put front and center in the buddhist practises. Clearly there is a lot of generosity in Buddhism with the sharing of the teachings and the notion of dana.

Not to pick holes in DO there are 186 threads on "morality and daily life" while "insight and wisdom" have 1441. That might indicate an imbalance (and an understable one). I'm not at all saying people who are Buddhists are not actively engaged socially. It also might be more my misunderstanding than the reality! For example the right livlihood is often presented as what not to do rather than what to aspire toward, likewise for right speech but again I may be misinformed.

It is tough to see what is right under our noses. Your story of serving the larger community is inspiring.
thumbnail
b man, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Practices for Morality

Posts: 201 Join Date: 11/25/11 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
Practices to increase morality?

Hang out with kind, sane, good, caring, professional people doing some valuable service for those who really suffer to try to aleviate it in a setting where you really see and interact with the people you are helping.

I think that does a ton to help with morality.

It makes you realize how good you have it.

It makes you realize how bad things can get and provides impetus to keep yourself healthy and take care of yourself and those you love.

It reinforces your sense of self-worth such that you value yourself and those you work with: this helps you care for yourself better.

It provides the good example of good behavior in from those around you for you to emulate and learn from.

It makes you realize that helping people is really one of the big keys to a satisfying life for most people.

My two cents, anyway.

been thinking about the nature of my job a fair amount recently. Over the last 4 years I have gone from working in a world class law firm in one of the busiest cities in the world, to working in a private wealth fund in one of the busiest cities in the world, to working on a boat on a war torn island in the middle of the indonesian islands, to working in a Financial software company back in said big city, to working on a farm in a desert hot barren cactus farm in the middle of the pacific ocean, to painting a house in the middle of the jungle in central america, to working in a tiny fishing village in central america, back to working in a large corporate media company in said big european city, to working in a inner city social housing effort.

the point being, I have been fortunate (and stupid) enough to work quite hard doing jobs I dont necessarily like, for the privilage of then being able to work abroad doing other things which are fun and different. and because of that Ive seen some strange extremes over the last 5 years in terms of working situations. Whats also been interesting is that this pretty much spans the timeframe since my first 10 day vipassana retreat, and whats been troubling me is that I seem to be struggling more and more with the thought of staying engaged with the office type stuff, and (probably as most do who work in offices) think about changing for another lifestyle, but Im finding it hard to commit to taking that risk, without some decent savings behind me, due to feeling the pain of not having "enough" over some of those periods travellign, being pretty defenseless, having to sleep on floors, sometimes working in very hot conditions in return for very little (very small amounts of food or very poor quality place to sleep) and yet I was happy a large proportion of the time. There was almost a surrender to it, because of the lack of money, I had to find a way to make it work. In a way I felt like this was my test for whether I could handle being a monk, and the answer I decided was a resounding "maybe, but I probably dont want to suffer like that longer term". Which has got me to wondering this: Was the large amount of peace I felt due to the surrender, and could it be possible that the little part of me that always knew he could always hop on a bus or two and a plane and head home for a nice meal and warm shower and love from family members, actually the thing that made me miserable, because I was never fully commited perhaps? Would going to live in a monestry be any easier? Maybe if I just made the descision and decided wholeheartedly in that was what I was doing for a good while, at least, and there was no turning back, then would things be easier if I just did that? I.e More committed = Less suffering? at least until reaching 1st or 2nd path for example, and then reassessing the situation, perhaps....

or am I fine, just keepign things ticking over, making progress, keeping the career ticking along, getting to go on great adventures from time to time, being patient with progress, all in good time etc etc?

maybe a good bit of volunteering would really go a long way to ofset the aversion I am increasingly feeling towards living and working in the inner city life. It is something Ive been considering for while and just when I feel getting involved with something, another dark night cycle will hit and I will just want to lick my wounds instead! 

Breadcrumb