Message Boards Message Boards

Dealing with the Dark Night

I lost an "I" and things are no longer fun and games

Toggle
I first started reading through MCTB over this summer after about a year of practicing concentrative meditation. I had known about it for quite some time but i was not compelled to read it untill i came to a point in my practice where i was thirsty for knowledge so to speak. While reading about the 3 illusions i found the first two reguarding satisfactoriness and permanence relatively easy to grasp but i did not understand the illusion of the self untill today. I was just driving to class today and began pondering. Why do people (including myself of course) constantly strive for things that will not satisfy them and will not last? What compells any life at all to seek survival and reproduction? If i cant answer the simple question of why i want to eat and reproduce how can i know why i do anything at all? I came to the conclusion free will is an illusion and therefore any sense of identity we have based on our decisions or actions or anything at all is also an illusion. Now i dont know how to deal with this knowledge. I feel like everything i ever wanted in life is pointless. I feel like anything i enjoy is just sedation while i am forced by my biology to strive for things i dont know why im striving for. I feel like this thing we are deep down inside is enslaved by the chains of life the chains of biology (which the chains of identity is a subset of) to chase after unsatisfactory things our whole lives. I feel disgusted i want to vomit but at the same time there is a unique pulse of energy running through me. I don't see how suicide isnt the answer i dont know how to keep existing like this. 

RE: I lost an "I" and things are no longer fun and games
Answer
9/18/15 12:31 PM as a reply to Anthony.
Anthony:
I was just driving to class today and began pondering. Why do people (including myself of course) constantly strive for things that will not satisfy them and will not last? What compells any life at all to seek survival and reproduction?

You answered it yourself: biology!
Anthony:
[...] i am forced by my biology to strive for things i dont know why im striving for. I feel like this thing we are deep down inside is enslaved by the chains of life the chains of biology (which the chains of identity is a subset of) to chase after unsatisfactory things our whole lives.

As to how to deal with it: you do have a choice in the matter. You are an intelligent creature. You don't have to slavishly follow what biology compels you to do. You can choose to not go there, not follow the ultimately meaningless demands of biology, and instead go for something meaningful, instead.

Where is the meaning of life to be found? Well if it exists at all, it would have to be something that is always accessible, without fail, unconditionally, wherever you find yourself. Now notice that you aren't ever alive any time other than now - you are no longer alive in the past, and you are not yet alive in the future. So it would have to have something to do with being alive right now.

Can you find any meaning in just the fact and experience of being alive right now? Try contemplating that - ask yourself it and wait for an experiential answer (not a thought-out or intuited answer).

RE: I lost an "I" and things are no longer fun and games
Answer
9/18/15 12:33 PM as a reply to Anthony.
Do you meditate?

RE: I lost an "I" and things are no longer fun and games
Answer
9/18/15 12:40 PM as a reply to Anthony.
Please keep in mind this is a transitory stage, you are not always going to feel this way.  You are suddenly now missing the previous motivations that used to drive you and that you were used to over time.  Now you probably feel a lack of knowing where to go and part of you is mourning the old you and is confused and potentially scared.  It takes some time to sort through it all and settle into a new way of being and get used to it. You may feel some angst as you make the transition but it is temporary, from here you will continue to change and evolve and feel new things.  Give it some time!
-Eva

RE: I lost an "I" and things are no longer fun and games
Answer
9/18/15 12:54 PM as a reply to Anthony.
Anthony - two main thoughts in response.  if you are feeling depressed and having any sort of thoughts of suicide, i would really say go to a doctor or healthcare professional.  i am not trying to be anything other than helpful when saying that, so please keep that in mind. 

setting that aside, i can definitely understand where you are coming from.  I started a slightly similar thread myself: http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5711034 and i got some helpful responses there. 

As an overall matter, i would try to drop some of these negative thoughts, because they are simply not helpful beyond a certain point.  there is value to seeing unsatisfactoriness, but you need to balance that out with loving-kindness and maybe a sense of devotion.  also try to cultivate a sense of steadfastness and equanimity in the face of this dark period.  it won't last forever.  they are just thoughts so try to recognize the thoughts as not-self.

over time, i would try to see how meditation can lead to  freedom, love, and positivity, instead of disgust and depression.  in  for me, it has been a bit of an adjustment.  it has taken a little while, but i now have an overall very positive day-to-day experience even though my sense of free will is very attenuated. 

personally, i have found it helpful to have that sense of devotion and even (surprisingly for me) a sort of mysticism (this is all 'buddha nature', everything is 'love' and 'knowing' etc.).  in doing this, i have found it helpful to be inspired by other spiritual traditions, such as direct path, or even christian mysticism.  they emphasize more of a sense of 'oneness' that has been helpful to cultivate, especially with the sense of free will diminishing.

take it easy, focus on the positive

RE: I lost an "I" and things are no longer fun and games
Answer
9/18/15 1:29 PM as a reply to Anthony.
I find it hard to evaluate what it exactly you're going through.
For example, I came (without any sort of meditation practice) to the
conclusion that "Damn, free will doesn't exist, now what?" at age 15,
then was desperate for 3 days, then sort of forgot about the whole thing.
In contrast, what you experience might as well be something more serious, possibly related to real meditation experiences.

In any case, my first thought after reading your text was "Welcome to the human condition. You're not alone in this."

As someone said, Brahmavihara practice is good. It also points to the
answer to what may motivate you after you've seen through the useless
craving of the mind: Compassion. Which is a function of understanding
suffering.

Any of this helpful?

RE: I lost an "I" and things are no longer fun and games
Answer
9/18/15 2:38 PM as a reply to Anthony.
Fantastic thread title! Last sentence makes me sad.

Please keep reaching out! Get professional help if you need it. You are not alone and you are loved! I don't mean to blow anything out of proportion - I and many others just want the very best for you.

That said - I have a suggestion - look into the nature of dukkha a little bit more.

How do you know no-self/lack of free will/slavery to biology is a "bad thing"? Literally, how do you know? Physical sensations? Thoughts/beliefs/stories? How are they related? Check them out. What are they saying? Something about how life should be better - maybe something about how life should have meaning - maybe about how you deserve things to be different than they are? Is there some demand in there? Some entitlement, self-pity, anger, fear? What basis do any of these beliefs/feelings/stories have? Where is all this coming from? Maybe some view that life should/could be satisfactory? How valid is that view? What are the costs/benefits of holding such a view?

Last note. Unsatisfactory ≠ unenjoyable. Love, peace, pleasure, compassion, even happiness itself cannot satisfy - but so what - they are still awesome.  

I hope this helps and I'm wishing you the very best! :-)

RE: I lost an "I" and things are no longer fun and games
Answer
9/18/15 4:38 PM as a reply to Anthony.
Anthony:
I feel disgusted i want to vomit but at the same time there is a unique pulse of energy running through me.

If you have not read this section yet I would do so now.
MCTB 8. Disgust
If this is the first time experiencing this nana, or if it is just a really intense episode, realize that this too is impermenent and will change.
Anthony:
I don't see how suicide isnt the answer i dont know how to keep existing like this. 
Making simple decisions of any sort during this phase of practice is a bad idea. Making reactive life changing choices is a horrible idea.
Everything looks different to how it really is. Thoughts are thoughts - not necessarily how things are, although it certainly feels like the thoughts are true.
Suicidal thoughts can result when we experience too much pain, without having enough resources to cope.
We therefore have two ways to get us through this horrible time:

Reduce our pain

Increase our coping resources
http://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/suicidal.htm


Please reach out to anyone for help if you are activly contemplating self harm of any kind; friends, family, doctors or if you wish to just chat with a sympathetic ear call your local crisis center, thats what they do 24-7. They are pros and will chat at whatever level you want to take it.
1 (800) 273-8255 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Please keep on posting, many of us have been where you are and have moved thru these phases and learned from them.
Good Luck,
~D

RE: I lost an "I" and things are no longer fun and games
Answer
9/18/15 4:55 PM as a reply to Anthony.
Anthony:
While reading about the 3 illusions ... i did not understand the illusion of the self untill today.
...I came to the conclusion free will is an illusion and therefore any sense of identity we have based on our decisions or actions or anything at all is also an illusion.
So I am going to point out something to you. You are not your thoughts.
You think you are your thoughts as they are persuasive and cause emotions but they are not you. You do not own your thoughts. They arise and pass just as all other phenomena. They are impermanent.

THIS IS THE ILLUSION OF SELF!!!!!!


Watch the thoughts and see. Its like saying your breath is you because you can sometimes hold it. Preposterious.
There are many other self illusions.
Whether there is free will or predestination can be discussed forever and has been...they are just passing thoughts.
~D

RE: I lost an "I" and things are no longer fun and games
Answer
9/19/15 9:03 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:

If you have not read this section yet I would do so now.
MCTB 8. Disgust
If this is the first time experiencing this nana, or if it is just a really intense episode, realize that this too is impermenent and will change.


The impression that I got from reading Anthony's post is that his ideas are a result of philosophising and not of meditation. If this is the case, I think it would be misleading to diagnose him as having experienced this or that nana. I may be wrong of course, that is why I've asked if he meditates.

RE: I lost an "I" and things are no longer fun and games
Answer
9/29/15 4:27 AM as a reply to Anthony.
Hi Anthony,

I wanted to let you know you are not alone to be hit by such a profound (spiritual) crisis through engaging in Meditation, Mindfulness and the process of Insight.

I started meditating casually about 4 years ago and progressed onto mindful observation/investigation of sensations arising and passing in my mind and body. This all fascinated me and seemed to make life become easier than I'd ever experienced it in my 25+ years as an adult. I couldn't have been more delighted about this, and I believed Meditation and Mindfulness to be the single best thing I'd ever happened across. I was wary of some of the stuff Daniel warns about in MCTB, but I hoped that not practicing too diligently or hard would keep me out of trouble.

However, about 3-4 months ago fear started to manifest regularly. No problem, I thought, I can handle this with Mindfulness—and initially I did. However, over some weeks fear escalated and eventually was crippling for me. There was a lot happeneing all at once: as well as fearfullness/terror, I was kept awake at night by jerking movements and would struggle at times just to brush my teeth, such seemed to be the lack of control I would have over my movements. My thoughts were predominantly dark and I plunged into despair and hopelessness virtually daily. I spent a month or two in a fog, and was signed off work.

A parallel, perhaps, with the source of your fear was a view that I had constructed via Mindful Reflection that all concepts were without any concrete foundation whatsoever, and this new view really scared me by taking any meaning for existence completely out of life.

I consulted experts from this website who gave good advice, strongly suspecting I had entered the Dark Night. I also sought help from a local Psychotherapist and my General Practitioner.  My Psychotherapist advised me that though I was struggling I would personally find my way through this. He didn't tell me what I had to do specifically, but gave me the confidence to look at myself and search for my way out.

I endeavoured hard to accept this period was not going to last forever and mindfully moved forward a moment at a time—and over time things evolved and life started to become more comfortable again. Through this mindful period I became aware of ways in which I was keeping myself trapped in this state (e.g. identifying with and believing thoughts such as "I will never again feel happy"). These thoughts manifested often but I suspected they weren't really me, and I became resolute not to identify with them as me.

And all dark thoughts that suggested the future would never see me come through this were ultimately wrong: I am absolutely fine now.

My advice would be to look after yourself, take it easy, believe that this difficult period will not be permanent, be patient and be mindful. Seek advice from experts on these forums as well as medical professionals etc. and you can and will come through fine. Periods like these are, I believe, a process of personal development and we ultimately emerge with improved wisdom and as stronger people.


There's much more to life than blindly following our impulses, and I'm confident you'll see this youself soon. I wish you the best of luck with your journey through this.



Take care, you're worth it.


Ali
==

RE: I lost an "I" and things are no longer fun and games
Answer
9/19/15 6:10 PM as a reply to Anthony.
Thank you all for the helpful advice. Today is a better day. I am starting to see how these concepts can apply to the positive and not just the negative. The good vibes are also very helpful. Thank you all.

RE: I lost an "I" and things are no longer fun and games
Answer
9/19/15 10:40 PM as a reply to Anthony.
Anthony:
Thank you all for the helpful advice. Today is a better day. I am starting to see how these concepts can apply to the positive and not just the negative. The good vibes are also very helpful. Thank you all.


You aren't alone, we are all here for you.  :-)
-Eva

RE: I lost an "I" and things are no longer fun and games
Answer
9/20/15 1:42 AM as a reply to Anthony.
Anthony, I am very happy that you are feeling better today! emoticon

If you are prone to this big emotional / perceptive / conceptual shifts, it is very important for you to practice correctly. MCTB explains very well, so you know why.  If you feel like sharing your practice, you can get a lot of help on here emoticon