Why am I meditating. What is your objective?

Jack Hatfield, modified 7 Years ago at 9/8/14 1:54 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/8/14 1:54 PM

Why am I meditating. What is your objective?

Posts: 98 Join Date: 7/5/10 Recent Posts
After some 4 decades of daily meditating, I have felt in the last few days why not skip meditating and just enjoy. Why do we spend so much time and energy in meditating? Why work towards seeing reality clearly? For me there is usually an inherent pleasure in my daily sits. There is that. But, I also get pleasure playing tennis, walking the dog  and playing music. I read journals of people striving toward SE.Why? Why break phenomena down to the sensate level?
I asked a dharma friend today why he dedicates so much time to meditating. He responded he wanted to be able to cycle through the jhanas and nanas. I asked him why and he didn't have a good answer.

I know I am going through a stage that is probably temporary. I think this questioning is good for me. But...
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Piers M, modified 7 Years ago at 9/8/14 3:06 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/8/14 3:06 PM

RE: Why am I meditating. What is your objective?

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Hi Jack,

Your question:
I have felt in the last few days why not skip meditating and just enjoy

I have sometimes also had thoughts like this, but isn't this just the voice of the Kilesas? Afterall, they never sleep and would love you/I to stop and remain in ignorance.

Piers
J J, modified 7 Years ago at 9/8/14 3:21 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/8/14 3:21 PM

RE: Why am I meditating. What is your objective?

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Because it is my duty, something left undone must be finished, etc.

As the Buddha said: "a task to do with due diligence".

I was initially inclined to answer that I started meditating because I wanted to become a famous teacher, and it is true that I have had those thoughts, but it is not that, that will carry me to the end.

The actual process starts from suffering itself, and ends in Awakening. So it's kind of difficult to point to a reason, some days I don't practice, I am in pain, other days I do practice, and life is better. I prefer life to be better, but there's really no reason, it's kind of my nature, it's just something I do.

It's the nature of a scorpion to sting, the nature of a lion to hunt, and the nature of a yogi to practice! There's really no raison d'etre, I don't even consciously do it anymore, there's no difference between striving and non-striving for me, no separation between practice and daily life, as Dogen said.

Roflcopters,

James
Pjotr Hill, modified 7 Years ago at 9/8/14 3:57 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/8/14 3:57 PM

RE: Why am I meditating. What is your objective?

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I have  been searching for meaning, inner peace but also peak experience for years... searching in extreme sports, partying etc... Meditation has given me a taste of what i think I am looking for, also I find it very interesting (sort of a hobby...). So aiming for SE and later full enlightenment, seems like the most obvious thing to do... Another reason in I realize that not doing it will keep me confused and suffering. (sounds worse than it is, overall I am a happy person). 

Basically I heve a very strong feeling that i want to finish this, and when finished I hope to help others do the same.
Jack Hatfield, modified 7 Years ago at 9/8/14 4:00 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/8/14 4:00 PM

RE: Why am I meditating. What is your objective?

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Piers M:
Hi Jack,

Your question:
I have felt in the last few days why not skip meditating and just enjoy

I have sometimes also had thoughts like this, but isn't this just the voice of the Kilesas? Afterall, they never sleep and would love you/I to stop and remain in ignorance.

Piers
Piers, why is it the voice of the kilesas and not the voice of that inner self that knows?
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Richard Zen, modified 7 Years ago at 9/8/14 9:33 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/8/14 9:33 PM

RE: Why am I meditating. What is your objective?

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The amygdala never gives you the carrot without the stick.  I think some harmless enjoyments are okay but because they are all impermanent, and there is an inherent stress/disatisfaction that happens. When one just enjoys things over and over again and wants them to last forever the neediness begins. Because we all will die someday (impermanence) the best way to face death is with as much equanimity as possible.

What I like about meditation is that I can still enjoy the usual things but I don't have to CLING to them.  If food tastes good I can savour it, but when it's over I can let it go. Pleasant tastes are just pleasant vedana.  This has improved my conventional enjoyment becuase there's less and less of this fixation and intense neediness that ruins conventional pleasure.  I also enjoy having days where I don't have to have any conventional enjoyment.  I can just sit and be happy.  Allowing more options to have relief from excess cortisol brings mental peace.  Constant chasing and striving is the opposite of that.

The envy aspect also exists. Because people compete for these similar enjoyments, there is a lot of rivalry that is quickly created that sours those goals. A lot of our stress comes from how we are with other people. To compete with everyone means everything is a zero sum game. Competition has it's place but at some point there needs to be relief from the self-measurements.
J J, modified 7 Years ago at 9/8/14 10:21 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/8/14 10:21 PM

RE: Why am I meditating. What is your objective?

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Hello,

We cannot give you a "reason" as to why one should meditate, it would be like if someone asked: "why do you get up and brush your teeth in the morning?" I couldn't answer the question, we do it for the sake of itself, I strive because... just because.

Now if you're asking; what is the reason for formal daily meditation? And whether or not that is blending with daily life, I get the feeling your practice is blending with your daily life, then I don't know...

Regardless of how Awakened you are, continue to practice, if before Awakening, you sat for 30 minutes a day, I would see no reason to change your habits, it's just there, a pleasant abode, as the Buddha would call it.

I never sat formally for specified amounts of time, I practiced at all times during the day, I see no reason to change that.
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Teague, modified 7 Years ago at 9/8/14 10:29 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/8/14 10:29 PM

RE: Why am I meditating. What is your objective?

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Call me a traditionalist, but I do it to escape samsara, especially if rebirth is true.  I like my life just fine now, but I seriously lucked out.  I mean, to even have a life where one can really practice this stuff is really rare.  Meditation is definitely a lot of work, but it does pay dividends.  Like the Buddha said, this path is benneficial in the beginning, benneficial in the middle, and benneficial in the end.
-T
Eva Nie, modified 7 Years ago at 9/9/14 12:28 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/9/14 12:28 AM

RE: Why am I meditating. What is your objective?

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Ooh, that's such a great question!  I've wondered that too.  What makes different people decide to sit and meditate a lot instead of doing something that might sound more fun?  I've heard in some methods, meditation is expected to be predominantly pleasant so that would make sense.   Maybe if you grew up with certain belief systems that it would lead to nirvana, that makes sense.  But if you didn't grow up with it, what causes one to choose to adopt it?  And then to stick with it?  Maybe if one were to see results after a while, that would make sense, if it works for something, that would lead to motivation.  Also, I suspect some eleements of gaming exist for many, there are tasks, stages, attainments, a hierarchy, etc to strive for and with the maps, you can also compare yourself to others and see how far along in the video game you might be.  10,000 bonus points for every clearly observed cessation!  Dark night?  Go straight to jail, do not pass go!  Someone should make a Buddhist version of Super Mario Bros with a little guy in an orange robe who has to dodge cravings and distractions while hunting for fruitions.  Of course, if a real Buddhist plays it, then you automatically loses due to complete distraction which is the true evil nature of the game in the first place!  ;-P  Then there is religion which for some people that involves meditation, kind of a thing of belief systems multiplied!

For me, probably there have been a variety of vague motivations in the past, including the usual ones like gaining power and doing something that was 'cool,' but those motivations didn't last long and the only power you get is the ones you had all along but were just too stupid to know how to use.   It's the same powers everyone has too.  

The main motivation that keeps me going in the esoteric arena that came first and has lasted is curiosity.  I am curious how things work, my mind, other people's minds, the nature of reality, the origins of cancer, why do hard working people fail and lazy people succeed etc.  It's like when a tooth falls out, the tongue just has to keep going there and checking out the gaping hole, even when it's creepy, curiousity just can't leave it alone even if it seems pointless or painful at the time.  My secondary motivation in recent years has been that self inquiry has helped me straighten out a lot of counterproductive behavior and thoughts and be much more relaxed over all.  But that has only really shown itself clearly in recent years.  Before that, for the most part, I didn't really expect to get much tangeable out of my curiosity.
-Eva
x x, modified 7 Years ago at 9/9/14 5:09 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/9/14 5:09 AM

RE: Why am I meditating. What is your objective?

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a blend of ambition, curiosity, heartfelt longing, wonder, frustration, and trust... plus a blend of habit and dedication which kinda reminds me of the saying "in for a penny, in for a pound"... plus a bit of irreverentness: why did the meditator meditate? to get to the other side!
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Eric M W, modified 7 Years ago at 9/9/14 8:55 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/9/14 8:55 AM

RE: Why am I meditating. What is your objective?

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I meditate to be free of suffering.

There are lots of interesting things as well-- jhanas, nanas, powers, cessations, all that is wonderful. But the bottom line of the whole thing is this-- the more I note, the less I suffer.
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Psi, modified 7 Years ago at 9/9/14 9:13 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/9/14 9:13 AM

RE: Why am I meditating. What is your objective?

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Jack Hatfield:
After some 4 decades of daily meditating, I have felt in the last few days why not skip meditating and just enjoy. Why do we spend so much time and energy in meditating? Why work towards seeing reality clearly? For me there is usually an inherent pleasure in my daily sits. There is that. But, I also get pleasure playing tennis, walking the dog  and playing music. I read journals of people striving toward SE.Why? Why break phenomena down to the sensate level?
I asked a dharma friend today why he dedicates so much time to meditating. He responded he wanted to be able to cycle through the jhanas and nanas. I asked him why and he didn't have a good answer.

I know I am going through a stage that is probably temporary. I think this questioning is good for me. But...
Of course your question hinges upon what type of meditation is practiced, i.e. Tranquility or Insight, or Tranquility and Insight, plus length and quality of formalsitting, is mindfulness carried on throughout one's daily activities keeping spiritual progression , is one using the "letting go" and substituting skills practiced in meditation also in their daily life activities , and numerous other factors.  Anyway I found this link, I will try to formulate a more personal reponse later.

http://www.ineedmotivation.com/blog/2008/05/100-benefits-of-meditation/Physiological benefits:1- It lowers oxygen consumption.2- It decreases respiratory rate.3- It increases blood flow and slows the heart rate.4- Increases exercise tolerance.5- Leads to a deeper level of physical relaxation.6- Good for people with high blood pressure.7- Reduces anxiety attacks by lowering the levels of blood lactate.8- Decreases muscle tension9- Helps in chronic diseases like allergies, arthritis etc.10- Reduces Pre-menstrual Syndrome symptoms.11- Helps in post-operative healing.12- Enhances the immune system.13- Reduces activity of viruses and emotional distress14- Enhances energy, strength and vigour.15- Helps with weight loss16- Reduction of free radicals, less tissue damage17- Higher skin resistance18- Drop in cholesterol levels, lowers risk of cardiovascular disease.19- Improved flow of air to the lungs resulting in easier breathing.20- Decreases the aging process.21- Higher levels of DHEAS (Dehydroepiandrosterone)22- prevented, slowed or controlled pain of chronic diseases23- Makes you sweat less24- Cure headaches & migraines25- Greater Orderliness of Brain Functioning26- Reduced Need for Medical Care27- Less energy wasted28- More inclined to sports, activities29- Significant relief from asthma30- improved performance in athletic events31- Normalizes to your ideal weight32- harmonizes our endocrine system33- relaxes our nervous system34- produce lasting beneficial changes in brain electrical activity35- Cure infertility (the stresses of infertility can interfere with the release of hormones that regulate ovulation).
Psychological benefits:36- Builds self-confidence.37- Increases serotonin level, influences mood and behaviour.38- Resolve phobias & fears39- Helps control own thoughts40- Helps with focus & concentration41- Increase creativity42- Increased brain wave coherence.43- Improved learning ability and memory.44- Increased feelings of vitality and rejuvenation.45- Increased emotional stability.46- improved relationships47- Mind ages at slower rate48- Easier to remove bad habits49- Develops intuition50- Increased Productivity51- Improved relations at home & at work52- Able to see the larger picture in a given situation53- Helps ignore petty issues54- Increased ability to solve complex problems55- Purifies your character56- Develop will power57- greater communication between the two brain hemispheres58- react more quickly and more effectively to a stressful event.59- increases one’s perceptual ability and motor performance60- higher intelligence growth rate61- Increased job satisfaction62- increase in the capacity for intimate contact with loved ones63- decrease in potential mental illness64- Better, more sociable behaviour65- Less aggressiveness66- Helps in quitting smoking, alcohol addiction67- Reduces need and dependency on drugs, pills & pharmaceuticals68- Need less sleep to recover from sleep deprivation69- Require less time to fall asleep, helps cure insomnia70- Increases sense of responsibility71- Reduces road rage72- Decrease in restless thinking73- Decreased tendency to worry74- Increases listening skills and empathy75- Helps make more accurate judgements76- Greater tolerance77- Gives composure to act in considered & constructive ways78- Grows a stable, more balanced personality79- Develops emotional maturity
Spiritual benefits:80- Helps keep things in perspective81- Provides peace of mind, happiness82- Helps you discover your purpose83- Increased self-actualization.84- Increased compassion85- Growing wisdom86- Deeper understanding of yourself and others87- Brings body, mind, spirit in harmony88- Deeper Level of spiritual relaxation89- Increased acceptance of oneself90- helps learn forgiveness91- Changes attitude toward life92- Creates a deeper relationship with your God93- Attain enlightenment94- greater inner-directedness95- Helps living in the present moment96- Creates a widening, deepening capacity for love97- Discovery of the power and consciousness beyond the ego98- Experience an inner sense of “Assurance or Knowingness”99- Experience a sense of “Oneness”100- Increases the synchronicity in your life

Psi
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Piers M, modified 7 Years ago at 9/9/14 12:43 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/9/14 12:43 PM

RE: Why am I meditating. What is your objective?

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Jack Hatfield: "Piers, why is it the voice of the kilesas and not the voice of that inner self that knows?"

In a rare translation of a talk Acariya Mun gave in the 1930s I think, he basically said that the Kilesas have a firm grip on almost all sentient beings which is what keeps them rolling and rolling in Samsara for aeons and aeons. For a being to look at their defilements and see them for what they are and manage to uproot them is so very very difficult and rare. Which is why so few do.

It was a very slim book, more a booklet really only a few pages long and unfortunately I no longer have it in my possession...

There are some good answers on this post and you probably know the answer to your own question anyhow after 40 years, which is a considerable portion of your life.

-Piers
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Jake , modified 7 Years ago at 9/9/14 5:31 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/9/14 5:31 PM

RE: Why am I meditating. What is your objective?

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Jack Hatfield:
I have felt in the last few days why not skip meditating and just enjoy. Why do we spend so much time and energy in meditating? Why work towards seeing reality clearly? [...]
I know I am going through a stage that is probably temporary. I think this questioning is good for me. But...
Great question.

For me it's mostly maintenance just like daily hygeine stuff, eating, sleeping, etc. There appears to be intrinsic value in maintaining a certain level of clarity, openness, gentleness, attentional aptitude. 

Then there are the 'shifts', the baseline shifts in those qualities. Those are great! 

But I guess I don't ultimately put too much stock in formal practice. I have always been more inclined to live well and clearly, as best I can, in everyday life stuff; and formal practice and baseline shifts are really supports for that. At  best. They also can involve a lot of subtle traps. 

I was blessed/cursed from way way back with catching glimpses of a way of being that is so perfectly complete and easy and pure and perfect that no baseline shift so far has come close to it, no conditional state that can be nailed with formal practice can touch it, but baseline shifts and formal practice have helped me to gradually drift in that "direction", existentially. More moments are more like 'it'. The further I drift in that direction the less motivated I am to 'change' or 'cultivate' (so: why practice? I honestly don't know!! But I do it... or it does me). The paradox is that through the gradual drifting in that direction, the glimpses have become more frequent (though they come and go in waves). So I guess I find intrinsic worth in continuing to drift in that direction. 
Eva Nie, modified 7 Years ago at 9/9/14 7:43 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/9/14 7:43 PM

RE: Why am I meditating. What is your objective?

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Jack Hatfield:

I know I am going through a stage that is probably temporary. I think this questioning is good for me. But...
Come to think of it, yeah, 4 decades is a long time, sounds like something must have changed with you recently that has changed your way of thinking?
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Psi, modified 7 Years ago at 9/11/14 12:05 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/9/14 11:36 PM

RE: Why am I meditating. What is your objective?

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Jack Hatfield:
After some 4 decades of daily meditating, I have felt in the last few days why not skip meditating and just enjoy. Why do we spend so much time and energy in meditating? Why work towards seeing reality clearly? For me there is usually an inherent pleasure in my daily sits. There is that. But, I also get pleasure playing tennis, walking the dog  and playing music. I read journals of people striving toward SE.Why? Why break phenomena down to the sensate level?
I asked a dharma friend today why he dedicates so much time to meditating. He responded he wanted to be able to cycle through the jhanas and nanas. I asked him why and he didn't have a good answer.

I know I am going through a stage that is probably temporary. I think this questioning is good for me. But...
Hello Jack,

Why am I meditating and what is my objective?

Great question , I too have asked myself this.

Mental training, for me meditation is a form of mental training, and as that form of training it has to have a purpose and be functional, if not, why do it?  Meditation can be used to develop skill sets.  One is the ability to "let go", what does this mean?  To me to "let go" is a skill that works llike this.  To sit down and be still, then be aware of the breath, (abdomen, nose tip, naso-pharynx, whatever) then when a thought of sensation arises into the awareness, gently "let go" immediately of whatever arises and return the awareness to the breath. In this way, and through practice one will develop the skill of "letting go" and/or abandoning, then simultaneously develop the skill of substitution, i.e. ( substituting the random arising sensation, feeling, thought, phenomenon) with the breath. 

Later, when skill was developed, the mind eventually quiets down and pleasantness will arise, then the mind, abandons the breath and substitutes with the pleasantness and stillness.  I will stop there , as you are probably an advanced meditator, but this is part of explaining whay I meditate.

So anyway, I meditate to practice this skill, and to stay practiced at this skill, for, to me it is important, for before and after formal meditation, my mind is in training to use this skill to abandon unwholesomeness and substitute with wholesomeness.  Mostly, the mind just stays in the bare attention or thoughtless awareness mode, due to impersonal processes, the mind will eventually "run" on it's own, and for the most part unwholesome thoughts or moods will be abandoned before they can even start up (pre-craving, for the dependent origination bunch)

So, doing this for several years, I would not know what would happen if I stopped formal meditation, (several times daily, even if I can only get a 10,20, or 30 minutes session at a time), or near constant mindfulness , probably not wholesome outcomes, if I stopped meditating.

This is not to say I do not have work to do or anything, But I have experienced a great lessening of mental turmoil and having had already been through the easily angered (edited definition,more apt) personality phase, the greedy wanting of money phase, the hedonistic pleasures of drugs and alcohol phase, etc.  I would say mental contentment is far nicer, and I would also say that after searching many, many paths, that what the Buddha taught is a reality as far as I have experienced, and I am very grateful to have stumbled across the teachings.  

So, to sum up, I guess the answer to why do I meditate and what is my objective?

Fear, fear of back-sliding, and my objective is to keep pushing up-current, greed and hatred have led me around long enough in this life, enough is enough...  Actually, upon further reflection, there really doesn't seem to be any fear of back-sliding anymore, which is kinda strange, it's like all the previous personality habits is gone now, but wisdom states to keep doing what works.

Besides, there is enough greed and hatred in this world, and I've always rooted for the underdogs... 

Psi Phi
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Florian, modified 7 Years ago at 9/10/14 6:06 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/10/14 6:05 AM

RE: Why am I meditating. What is your objective?

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Jack Hatfield:
After some 4 decades of daily meditating, I have felt in the last few days why not skip meditating and just enjoy. Why do we spend so much time and energy in meditating? Why work towards seeing reality clearly?


Me: to stop fooling myself. I don't want that any more. Besides, like you, I like certain aspects of certain ways of meditating. No accounting for tastes.

For me there is usually an inherent pleasure in my daily sits. There is that. But, I also get pleasure playing tennis, walking the dog  and playing music. I read journals of people striving toward SE.Why? Why break phenomena down to the sensate level?


I do it to ferret out the areas where I continue to fool myself.

I think this questioning is good for me. But...


In my book, "But..." is wonderful! Not in itself, but because finding a "But..." is half the work of finding another area of self-foolery. It's a sure indicator that there is something worth a very close look.

Cheers,
Florian
Jack Hatfield, modified 7 Years ago at 9/10/14 10:40 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/10/14 10:39 AM

RE: Why am I meditating. What is your objective?

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Several things have contributed to my recent questioning. One was that last week I took part in a U. of Chicago study of experienced meditators. They had asked me how many hours of meditation I had. and I came up with over 9,000 hours. I then wondered what I had gained from this commitment of time. The second thing was thinking about the Pragmatic Dhamma teachers I have been exposed to. They seem overly concerned, in my opinion, with destroying the superman fantasy without replacing it with anything positive. For instance, I am rereading Daniel’s excellent book. It is great on technique. But, a take away was, why did I ever get involved with something like this. It only leads to more suffering. Another prominent teacher asked me what my meditation goals were. I answered, to reduce the power of the taints. This was gently skipped over. I interpreted this as meaning it wasn’t important to him.
 
I will continue meditating. Partly because of habit. Partly because that is what I do. Partly because it is interesting. Partly because I want to reach a state of meta-peace.
 
One post asked what my practice was. Every day I do one session of 4 Foundations noting, one session of non-dual meditation with self-inquiry added in at times and one session of whatever my mind wants to at the time which is usually 4 Foundations Noticing without labeling.
 
As a side note, the U. of Chicago people took my DNA sample. In their words, they “are interested in genetic similarities of people attracted to meditation.” Interesting.
Banned For waht?, modified 7 Years ago at 9/11/14 1:57 PM
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RE: Why am I meditating. What is your objective?

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