Does enlightment make one less neurotic in ordinary living?

Sax Ma'am, modified 6 Years ago at 11/9/15 9:37 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 11/9/15 9:37 AM

Does enlightment make one less neurotic in ordinary living?

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Does enlightment  make one less neurotic in ordinary living?
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Ian And, modified 6 Years ago at 11/9/15 10:30 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 11/9/15 10:25 AM

RE: Does enlightment make one less neurotic in ordinary living?

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Depends upon what definition of "enlightenment" you are referring to.

It seems a bit presumptuous of you to assume we here understand your mind and way of thinking when this is only your third post on the forum (and the first that I have read).

Mind expanding upon that term in the question you asked?
Sax Ma'am, modified 6 Years ago at 11/9/15 11:19 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 11/9/15 11:17 AM

definitions

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Depends upon what definition of "enlightenment" you are referring to.

It seems a bit presumptuous of you to assume we here understand your mind and way of thinking when this is only your third post on the forum (and the first that I have read).

Mind expanding upon that term in the question you asked?


For definition of enlightenment, let's say Daniel's definition, as described in MCTB.  (I know he mentions other people's ideas of enlightenment.  I mean his.)

By neuroticism I mean non-adaptive traits/behaviors/emotions such as excessive anxiety and unreasonable fears.  The current meaning of neuroticism seems to indicate a personality trait, "psychology characterized by anxiety, fear, moodiness, worry, envy."  When I first learned about the term, I think it was described as mal-adaptation to the environment with those kinds of emotional disturbances resulting from the mal-adaptation.  So there's been a move toward seeing neuroticism as something fundamental.

But I could look up psych stuff all day.  Here, I'm interested in what people have experienced.
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Ian And, modified 6 Years ago at 11/9/15 12:09 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 11/9/15 12:07 PM

RE: definitions

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Sax Ma'am:

For definition of enlightenment, let's say Daniel's definition, as described in MCTB.  (I know he mentions other people's ideas of enlightenment.  I mean his.)

Mind quoting that definition, if you please. It's been a while since I read his material, and I don't readily recall what he said. And my time is more valuable to me than to go traipsing back through his book to find a definition.

Thank you.
Sax Ma'am, modified 6 Years ago at 11/9/15 1:20 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 11/9/15 1:20 PM

RE: definitions

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Mmm.  I'm not sure he gives a definition.  More like reaching a particular milestones in a series of them.  But I'll take a look and see what I can find.
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Ian And, modified 6 Years ago at 11/9/15 3:01 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 11/9/15 2:59 PM

RE: definitions

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Sax Ma'am:
Mmm.  I'm not sure he gives a definition.  More like reaching a particular milestones in a series of them.  But I'll take a look and see what I can find.

Oh my. You mean you yourself don't even know what you are talking about?

All I'm looking for is a definition that you yourself ascribe to. That's all.

What do you accept as the meaning of the word "enlightenment" when you use it in your question.

Before I can supply a reply, I need to know how you view this – for lack of a better word – "achievement."
Sax Ma'am, modified 6 Years ago at 11/9/15 4:21 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 11/9/15 4:21 PM

RE: definitions

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Forgive me for thinking that the commanly stated goal of Buddhist meditation, enlightenment or nirvana, is a common term in this discussion forum and that there are those who claim this achievement.

Do you feel that you have experienced enlightenment in any relevant sense?  If so, has it made you less neurotic in ordinary living?

Do you believe that someone who has not had this experience/achievement is the one to define it?

I couldn't find what I was looking for in MCTB (Kindle search not as handy as I hoped it would be).  Found this on the web and I think it captures somewhat what I remember reading there.

"Enlightenment- The Wisdom of Emptiness... The wisdom
that arises from the direct experience of all phenomena being
empty of independent existence."  (from here: http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma6/enlightnirvana.html)

Maybe it makes more sense to learn if someone's answer is "YES" and then I could pursue what that person means.

The question:  Does enlightment  make one less neurotic in ordinary living?
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Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 11/9/15 4:25 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 11/9/15 4:25 PM

RE: Does enlightment make one less neurotic in ordinary living?

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Sax Ma'am:
Does enlightment  make one less neurotic in ordinary living?


The thing that happened to my mind after a lot of intense meditation for an extended period did make me less neurotic.  I was starting with a lot of neuroses, and now I have less.  I am finding that I am more capable of taking action to channel/manage my energy.  However, the my high octane personality still requires these external congruencies to feel peace (meaning, it did not just automatically become quiet all the time).  The difference is that such a positive change to my life is now even an option, which is wonderful!
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Ian And, modified 6 Years ago at 11/9/15 10:35 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 11/9/15 10:33 PM

RE: definitions

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Sax Ma'am:
Forgive me for thinking that the commanly stated goal of Buddhist meditation, enlightenment or nirvana, is a common term in this discussion forum and that there are those who claim this achievement.

The term itself may be a common term used in various Buddhist fora, but that doesn't mean that its definition is commonly understood or held by each individual who uses it. All I was endeavoring to clear up was the definition of the word that you were going by.

Sax Ma'am:
I couldn't find what I was looking for in MCTB (Kindle search not as handy as I hoped it would be).  Found this on the web and I think it captures somewhat what I remember reading there.

"Enlightenment - The Wisdom of Emptiness... The wisdom
that arises from the direct experience of all phenomena being
empty of independent existence." 

By neuroticism I mean non-adaptive traits/behaviors/emotions such as excessive anxiety and unreasonable fears. The current meaning of neuroticism seems to indicate a personality trait, "psychology characterized by anxiety, fear, moodiness, worry, envy."

The question: Does enlightment make one less neurotic in ordinary living?

So now we get down to the question you asked.

I can work with these two definitions. The honest answer to your question is an ambiguous one, based upon my experience and observation. And that is because it depends upon the individual one is observing and how much work they have done on themselves to overcome elements of their neurotic behavior. In my experience, enlightenment alone is no guarantee that one's neurotic behavior will always eventually fade away on its own. If one does not take care to observe it and remove it, it will remain as an underlying condition, and may pop up at any time.

I'll give you an example. I trained with a man who, if he didn't outright claim it, certainly implied that he was enlightened (at least according to some definition that he had in mind, and I don't think it would be too far from the truth to say that he would agree with the definition mentioned above). When I first met him one of the things that impressed me was that he definitely appeared to be someone who had his life together. Things simply didn't seem to bother him too much. He was intelligent, knowledgable, polite, very capable in a wide variety of areas of life (could make and sew his own clothing, knew auto mechanics, was knowledgable about farming having grown up on a farm, as well as being capable in many other areas), a priest, and always seem to be able to answer intelligently any question you put to him.

He didn't seem to be afraid of many things and was always pushing us (his students) to achieve more and more. He knew how to probe and uncover traumatic pain in his students to help them "blow off" the energy valence that was holding them psychologically hostage. He was quite gifted in that ability. He never let anything become an insurmountable obstacle in his life (and I witness many circumstances in which he overcame things that might have laid a lesser man down in defeat). He possessed a can-do personality.

So far, he sounds like an ideal teacher, yes? Like someone that one might like to emulate. Those were all the positive impressions I had of him during the first two years of our association. He could also, to use a phrase, "throw the fear of God" into you if you did something that he didn't approve or he wanted to correct your behavior. At the same time, he was very charismatic and likeable. He could also (I later learned) be a control freak.

However, when he accepted you into his circle of associates, and you got him alone, the truth would occasionally come out. He would admit that much of his public personality was an act, and that this was how you "played the game" that life dealt you. Then, when you lived with him for seven years, as I did, you were privy to many more inconsistencies in his behavior.

Also, he was clairvoyant. Had been born with that ability. And much of the time considered it a curse (as well as a blessing) that he had to live with. It cause him a great deal of stress with which he had to deal. As a result of this resistance to being able to see "pictures" all the time and having no way to turn them off, he developed certain defense mechanisms. In order to slow the pictures down so that he could have an occasional respite from them, he found that smoking pot and drinking beer helped "bring him down" from the raw high energy level that was his normal conscious environment. As a result, he had become an alcoholic. Both the pot and the alcohol acted as a kind of depressant on his unmedicated nervous activity.

My father had been an alcoholic who socialized with other alcoholics, so I was well familiar with an alcoholic's behavior. The only thing that kept me hanging around him (in addition to wanting to soak up as much knowledge as I could) was that he also seemed to be able to function proficiently while under the influence, and for the most part did not lose his reasoning ability as many alcoholics that I knew were not able to do. Still, though, it took its toll on him over the years that I knew him, and was a contributing factor to my eventually leaving him.

From the above description, it may sound like he was a complete fake and a fraud. But that, too, would not be the whole truth either. There were many good qualities about him, and during his time, he ended up helping quite a few people over their mental illnesses, myself included. Yet, what he was never quite able to do was to do the work necessary to help himself.

I'll give you an example of one of his irrational fears. One day he and I and one of the Brothers in the Order I was in were all sitting around a kitchen table talking. A yellow jacket wasp found its way into the kitchen through a hole in the window screen and as soon as he realized it, he jumped up and started screaming for one of us to kill it. He had been stung by one when he was a child, and was deathly afraid of them. I got up very calmly, found an empty jar and was able to capture it against the wall. I put some cardboard over the end of the jar and took it outside to release it. I knew that if you didn't become excited and provoke the insect, that it likely wouldn't attack you. And that is how I remained so calm. We all had a good laugh after it was over.

But his example is an extreme example. Yet, too, it is also illustrative. By extreme I mean, he was an extraordinary person set into extraordinary circumstances. In one's lifetime, you would be lucky (or unlucky, depending on the circumstances) to meet and get to know a person like him. He's a one in a million type person. Extraordinarily rare. So, perhaps he's not an exemplary model for the question you had in mind. Yet, he does illustrate my point quite well.

The definition of enlightenment that you chose to associate yourself with – "the wisdom of emptiness" – is only applicable to lessening one's neuroses to the degree that one can maintain their awareness of this truth throughout their life's journey, and the degree to which they are able to work on eliminating their own demons, which in truth may take a lifetime to do.

But for a general answer to your question that may be applicable to the common ordinary man or woman, it is conceivable that the "enlightenment" as defined may very well eliminate many of the neurotic tendencies that are common ailments to any human being. Enough such that they are able to experience more moments of happiness and contentment than of restlessness and worry.

In the end, it is up to the practitioner to take responsibility for his (or her) own psyche's well being. There are no guarantees in this life. It's all up to you how you deal with things.

In peace,
Ian
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Richard Zen, modified 6 Years ago at 11/9/15 10:40 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 11/9/15 10:40 PM

RE: Does enlightment make one less neurotic in ordinary living?

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Sax Ma'am:
Does enlightment  make one less neurotic in ordinary living?


Basically you attenuate rumination to a very low level. Having fight or flight responses to control uncontrollable circumstances is what is being targeted.
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Jake , modified 6 Years ago at 11/10/15 12:38 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 11/10/15 12:36 PM

RE: Does enlightment make one less neurotic in ordinary living?

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@OP: great question. @ everyone else: wonderful replies!

Ian your story was fascinating to me. It sounds like there are many more where that came from; have you written or blogged any autobiographical dharma stuff in one easy to find location? that would be cool.

Sax, I like this question because it points to things I just don't know. basically, What's the relationship between waking up and growing up?

Lots of answers have been put out there by various folks. Having some personal experience with both, at this point currently, I'm leaning twoards a synergistic view.

Awakening seems to make growing up easier, if one is inclined to apply it in that direction. As Ian stated this is correlated with one's willingness to apply that wisdom of emptiness throughout the normal journeys of this mortal life in relationship with people and circumstances. Somehow waking up (even partially, provisionally; -- all i can speak to) affords some inner resiliency and flexibility to work with what's coming up such as difficult neurotic emotions and behaviors.

However, it can conversely by a convenient place to hide from it all as well. There was a period for me after initial awakening (stream entry a la MCTB-) in which "I" felt like a kind of formless sphere of timeless consciousness which surrounded this bubble of conditional experiences (all thoughts, feelings, sensations, perceptions). Nothing could bother me becuase nothing could touch me. It felt almost like I was in a cave looking out at the world and all the weather and events out there just couldn't affect my wellbeing in the cave. In Zen there's a saying to watch out for the 'ghost cave of emptiness' and I think this is what they are talking about. It's also called spiritual bypassing- using spiritual states or concepts to bypass developmentally appropriate tasks on the mortal, relational level.

So YMMV.

All in all I've found awakening to support growing up and becoming more functional and warm etc. however, I've always been oriented to that kind of growth so maybe that's just how I have tended to utilize awakening.
Sax Ma'am, modified 6 Years ago at 11/12/15 4:30 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 11/12/15 4:30 PM

RE: Does enlightment make one less neurotic in ordinary living?

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Thanks to those who have shared answers!
Jinxed P, modified 6 Years ago at 11/12/15 7:07 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 11/12/15 7:07 PM

RE: Does enlightment make one less neurotic in ordinary living?

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Bhante G (Author of mindfulness in plain english) told me that he never worries. Not even in extreme situations - like being in a burning plane or being stalked by a mountain lion. The only negative emotion he says he sometimes experiences is irritation, but it never leads to anger.
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Richard Zen, modified 6 Years ago at 11/12/15 9:31 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 11/12/15 9:31 PM

RE: Does enlightment make one less neurotic in ordinary living?

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Sax Ma'am:
Thanks to those who have shared answers!

I would also say that a person becomes less a complainer of cause and effect, and becomes more an investigator of cause and effect.
Eva Nie, modified 6 Years ago at 11/14/15 8:28 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 11/14/15 8:28 PM

RE: definitions

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Ian, that's pretty interesting but I think it kind of illustrates how a person can be psychic, intelligent, and charismatic, but not actually highly enlightened.  I think it also shows how a skillful person can put on the enlightenment act and convince many but still not be enlightened.  I think in the end, enlightenment truly is about peace of mind and how the mind works and processes, other advantages like skills are a side effect of that.  But not everyone who has skills is enlightened.   I do think those that are truly enlightened and not just pretending like it, they probably become less neurotic over time.  To compare and see a change, you'd need to know the before and after states as well though.  ;-P 

But i also think that enlightenment is not going to come and wash away all your neurosis for you or come to you if you are all screwed up in the head right now.  I think you will need to fix your crap at least to a goodly extent before you can reach later stages in the path.  If you are unstable, then running too much power or energy is just going to fry the circuits, you will need to get yourself in good working order before you can expect to crank up the power safely.  That's just my opinion though.  But I've said it many times, I think it is the wrong attitude to hope that enlightenment will come and fix your crap for you like magic, I think instead the realistic attitude is you need to work on fixing your stuff yourself such that enlightenment will have a clear road to arrive, at which point its benefits will give you added tools to continue with that same work.  
-Eva 

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