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Noah's_Conceptual_Sandbox

Noah's_Conceptual_Sandbox
Answer
9/28/17 4:25 AM
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RE: Noah's_Conceptual_Sandbox
Answer
9/28/17 4:59 AM as a reply to Noah D.
The premise of the thread is space for my thoughts and dialogue with others concering dharma in all forms, particularly being open to playing with dharmic ideas in unusual ways.

Continuation of old thread: https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5715677

Starting anew due to length of previous one.

RE: Noah's_Conceptual_Sandbox
Answer
9/28/17 4:48 AM as a reply to Noah D.
9.28

Very stressed at work & it will only get worse over the next few months before calming down again.  Having insomnia due to anxiety plus years of a sleep-aid med, up until about six months ago.  I learned from my teacher that, through the development of skills, I could eradicate all types of suffering.  Realizing now that I may have misinterpreted.  I can't have everything - sacrifices are still necessary.  More money, more work, more stress.  More money, frequently in an area with higher cost of living.  Less money, less work, less stress, less resources, more free time, frequently in area with lower cost of living (less fun, more isolated, lower quality of living?).  Similar breakdowns for other areas of life.

I don't think it is possible (at least for me) to have an intenisve job & no stress.  Something about this I am not seeing.  This dukkha aspect.  Not penetrating into the actuality of it.  This is the way things are.  Sacrfices, choices.  Perhaps I've thought I could have my cake & eat it too.  

Enhanced nondual perception makes things easier.  It's helped me get where I'm at.  I don't know if the goal is actually to change myself so much that I adapt to fast-paced job with no stress.  So for now it's: more work coupled with intermittent high stress & insomnia.  Nothing is permanent,  It won't always be exactly like this.  But this 'see-saw' effect of comprimise - I don't think I'm seeing that clearly on a day-to-day basis.  

More broadly I think this is says something about the eightfold path.  The implementation of it is built around the elimination of craving.  If one stops trying to change things, they will still need guidelines to make choices afterwards.  By this I mean the embodiment/integration path, whose order is wisdom -> morality -> concentration.  I kind of thought I could 'bargain with reality.'  Use dharma training to navigate a corporate world & more responsibility & just gain internal flexibility to compensate.  Maybe that is not how it works.  If I want to live in a city, I may need to take a job that will cause me more suffering.  Same for if I want to start strong in my career.  If I'm willing to sacrifice where I live and/or professional acceleration, I could probably do something slower paced.  

I must admit it makes me sad to realize this.  Can't have everything.  Not sure what I want to do.  I'm honestly really grateful for all of the dharma training though.  I'm not miserable by any means.  Just figuring things out.

RE: Noah's_Conceptual_Sandbox
Answer
9/30/17 10:58 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Hi, Noah.

Thanks for starting a new thread on this topic.

I'm a product of the same dilemma you've just described. I have a couple of ideas on it from long experience: 

1) Business people have stress. It's an inevitable part of living according to external influences and pressures. Stress has both negative and positive effects, however. If used as a motivator it can help. If seen as a "bad" thing it can overwhelm. I suggest relaxing into stress and being accepting of it - unless you just cannot get there. Which leads me to...

2) You're thinking the right way about the choices you face. I applaud your self-awareness. My perception of this is it's something you've developed by really working at your practice in various ways. This is going to serve you well over your lifetime. I wish I had done what you've done at your age! I didn't get to it until I was 20 years older than you are. Good for you!

3) Jhanas -- they can help you get to sleep and they can give you a break from stress. They're a  great tool if used effectively, not just a sidetrack on the path.


emoticon

RE: Noah's_Conceptual_Sandbox
Answer
9/30/17 4:59 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
+1 on the advice and on the complement on how fortunate to have done the hard work to be this aware in the 20s.

I find that if I sit before I go to sleep, even into a dreamy state, right up to the point where I'm really ready to crash into sleep, then during that sit a lot of the thoughts, worries, planning, etc. of the day will bubble up and off --- basically I'm letting many of the things that would otherwise wake me up with insomnia off gas before I sleep. 

That said, another thing I've gotten used to is there are simply times when I don't sleep well (often around full moons). I no longer make insomnia worse by feeling bad about it. Sometimes the frustration is worse the the missed sleep.

RE: Noah's_Conceptual_Sandbox
Answer
10/1/17 6:23 AM as a reply to shargrol.
I remembered something else -- oddly enough it woke me out my sleep last night! emoticon

One thing I always say to newer employees is that "People will keep giving you work. They don't know everything you are working on and if you just smile and say okay, they won't know you are being overworked. You have limits to what you can do and you are getting paid only so much money. You need to decide when and how, but you will have to say no at a certain point. You have to let them know that you have reached the limit of what you can do. You can ask them for how to prioritize the tasks you have been given, but you need to let them know that you can't do it all. Ironically, people will respect you if you say no -- and they will intentionally or unintentionally walk all over you if you do not."

Sometimes we rehearse a few scenarios, all of which end with them saying different sentences containing the word "no".

Hope this helps someone. I wish I was told this early in my professional working life.

RE: Noah's_Conceptual_Sandbox
Answer
10/2/17 12:28 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Even the Buddha didn't promise the end of all suffering while alive, and he suffered from various pains and stressors until his death. Just sayin'. 

Currently enjoying the audiobook of Great Disciples of the Buddha, which gives some nice details of the trials, tribulations and annoyances of some of the great early practitioners of the dharma.

RE: Noah's_Conceptual_Sandbox
Answer
10/7/17 12:16 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
I remembered something else -- oddly enough it woke me out my sleep last night! emoticon

One thing I always say to newer employees is that "People will keep giving you work. They don't know everything you are working on and if you just smile and say okay, they won't know you are being overworked. You have limits to what you can do and you are getting paid only so much money. You need to decide when and how, but you will have to say no at a certain point. You have to let them know that you have reached the limit of what you can do. You can ask them for how to prioritize the tasks you have been given, but you need to let them know that you can't do it all. Ironically, people will respect you if you say no -- and they will intentionally or unintentionally walk all over you if you do not."

Sometimes we rehearse a few scenarios, all of which end with them saying different sentences containing the word "no".

Hope this helps someone. I wish I was told this early in my professional working life.


Thanks Shargrol.  It's funny to hear you write this. I received this exact piece of advice from: my friend, my dhamma teacher & my work manager last week.  The trick appears to involve saying no or "pushing back" in tactful ways that get other people to do the work for you, shorten/simplify tasks, etc.  My overall goal seems to be do as little work as possible to not get fired & to remain on a path to get promoted eventually.  This is in the context that my job is not my passion & it is not directly a service profession. 

RE: Noah's_Conceptual_Sandbox
Answer
10/7/17 12:24 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Thanks Chris.  I value your advice, I know you've had a lot of experience in both the meditative & business worlds.

I'm a product of the same dilemma you've just described. I have a couple of ideas on it from long experience: 

1) Business people have stress. It's an inevitable part of living according to external influences and pressures. Stress has both negative and positive effects, however. If used as a motivator it can help. If seen as a "bad" thing it can overwhelm. I suggest relaxing into stress and being accepting of it - unless you just cannot get there. Which leads me to...


I think it is my inexperience in business and/or level of dhamma training, but at this point what is working is lowering stress by thinking "what is the worst thing that could happen?" & making back-up plans in case I get fired (even though I am in good standing).  For whatever reason this is what works right now.  I could spend all day choicelessly accepting the fear, vipassanizing it & doing self-enquiry on it, but when the rubber hits the road, I need industrial-strength methods to get to point b.  (Not that this is what you were saying, just reflecting on the toolbox available.)


2) You're thinking the right way about the choices you face. I applaud your self-awareness. My perception of this is it's something you've developed by really working at your practice in various ways. This is going to serve you well over your lifetime. I wish I had done what you've done at your age! I didn't get to it until I was 20 years older than you are. Good for you!


I do feel lucky to have this training when I reflect on it.  I intend to bring that gratitude more to the fore of my day to day mind.

3) Jhanas -- they can help you get to sleep and they can give you a break from stress. They're a  great tool if used effectively, not just a sidetrack on the path.


In the interest of honesty - I can get into a 'decent' jhanic state when the conditions are right & sit in it for a long time.  However, the "soft" jhanic states that I have access to at any time (including when I am restless at night) do not knock me out :/

RE: Noah's_Conceptual_Sandbox
Answer
10/7/17 12:30 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel:

Even the Buddha didn't promise the end of all suffering while alive, and he suffered from various pains and stressors until his death. Just sayin'. 

That's a fair callout.  I would say my goal is to get to a "good enough" point of automatic worldly functioning, open knowing & mood regulation.  Once I'm there maybe I'll decide to keep attempting to deepen the practice, or perhaps to coast, or perhaps some other option that I can't see right now.

Edit: I wanted to add that I have no reason to believe that this "good enough" point is not possible.  This is based off of the amount of transformation I have experienced in a little over 4 years.  At this rate I should be able to hit my 'price' within a few more years.
Currently enjoying the audiobook of Great Disciples of the Buddha, which gives some nice details of the trials, tribulations and annoyances of some of the great early practitioners of the dharma.

Thanks.  I will check this out.

RE: Noah's_Conceptual_Sandbox
Answer
10/7/17 12:52 AM as a reply to Noah D.
10.6

*I wrote a bunch of stream of consciousness on different topics here.  Too lazy to organize.

"Not my problem" is my new best friend emoticon  Tentatively, I have solved my insomnia through this attitude.  The short explanation is that I stopped getting stressed out.  The long is that I have been processing the impressions of the day in my head as I go to sleep.  Having these vibrations bouncing around prevented me from sleep.  Realizing that most of these issues are actually unrelated to my personal responsibility to myself is a solve.

So, my responsibility is essentially to provide myself food, shelter, clothing & medicine, now & in the future.  It is also to ensure that I don't die from illness, injury, excess cold, excess heat, thirst or hunger.  I have no dependents as of now.  My job is simply a means to provide those things for myself.  

Sleep is more pressing to those survival needs than my job is.  Insomnia is bad for the brain, bad for the body.  When I let myself have insomnia because I am trying to accomplish more at my job or in my daily life, I am essentially moving too high on Maslow's heirarchy of needs.  The very mechanism through which I am attempting to accomplish the higher, career needs is undermining the lower, physical survival needs.

I started reading the Mr. Money Mustache blog, as well as some of Vinay Gupta's resilience stuff.  The idea for MMM is that if you can save/invest 25 times your living expenses for one year, you can retire & live off of the accrued interest from your investments.  The goal is to reduce your living expenses & increase your satisfaction with the money you do spend.  This is *remarkably* compatible with what I have learned from Dhammarato & with the teaching on renunciation in general. 

It has not been until recently that I would have been ready to hear something like this.  Learning to be happy through living off of less simply did not make sense to me before I cleared a ton of 'shit' out of my 'energy system' (or however you want to frame it).  But now, the very participation in the moment is inherently pleasurable or complete, so it makes perfect sense to simplify the contents & patterns of those moments.

Zooming out a little more, I see more parallels with what has happened with the seattle pragmatic group & with these resilience/independence strategies.  It is about removing centralization, heirarchy, monetization, consumerism, rigid rules & filters, while increasing efficiency, honesty, direct mechanisms, peer-contribution, mutual gains & individual independence.  I have noticed in a short time it is possible to facilitate quite a few different dharma groups in various cities & countries.  After a few short weeks, people begin to report progress in their practice. 

There is obvious benefit to a group of cheerleading dharma friends getting together to talk openly about practice, being technique/phenomenlogy driven, etc.  There is obvious benefit to learning to save enough to live off of indefinitely, learning to live a healthier lifestyle, etc.  Vinay Gupta has some cool stuff like hexayurts (a cheap, permanent, weather-proof structure that he claims can solve the world's housing crisis) & etherium (a type of block-chain currency that he helped create which is now fairly popular).  The interesting thing about these things is that they do not require governments or corporations to run.  People can bootstrap them to get them going.  They both relate to survival.  I see the formation of grassroots sanghas, as well as the connection between grassroots sanghas, as belonging to a similar vein: open source dharma for the entire world in a way that avoids common pitfalls (it doesn't cost money, there's no teacher).

In spite of all this newfound inspiration, I'm mostly just learning to let things be.  I don't need to do more, I need to do less.  It's not my job to save the world, it's my job to keep this mind-body going & that's about it.  The rest is just extra software programs I've installed over time.  Most of it's malware anyway.  Nothing to do, nowhere to go.  I can smell this vast static as I lay down on my pillow.  I smile & look at the demons of responsibility.  With one wink, they writhe in pain & die away.

RE: Noah's_Conceptual_Sandbox
Answer
10/7/17 10:01 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Noah, I think you have the right idea - the combinatoin of practice and practical/behavioral strategies will help you a lot as you navigate your day. Silver bullets only work on werewolves.

RE: Noah's_Conceptual_Sandbox
Answer
10/9/17 1:25 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Right lifestyle (or livelihood) is starting to make more sense.  My ignorance of it explains my pendulum-swing from excitement about career to dread of it within a few months.  

My teacher has previously made it clear to me that right lifestyle is about handling the four requisites correctly.  This includes the way one secures them (i.e. having an ethical job).  Money represents food, shelter, clothing & medicine in the future.  Therefore, proper handling of money is proper handling of the requisites.  The direct dealings with the requisites simply involves taking necessary amounts of things to sustain the body-mind.  

It seems sort of like burning a candle from both ends: stash money away to secure requisites in the future & use only a small, necessary amount of them in the present.  Planning for an early retirement fits perfectly here, which my teacher calls "planning your exit."  If there is excess money past that which is needed to sustain the body-mind till death, donating to effective-altruism causes is the obvious choice for it.

When I am at work, my time there represents the money that is going into my bank account.  That money represents the maintenance of me.  Other things also contribute to this maintenance.  Things like exercise, diet, disaster/emergency preparedness, car/home care, etc.  These habits mostly just help avoid unnecessary loss of resources.  

I have felt a bit angry these past couple of weeks.  This may be a reaction against feeling anxious, like an emotional see-saw.  This anger has made me feel detached from my job.  However, that is all emotionally driven.  It would be foolish for me to purposely leave my job at this time.  But it is also foolish for me let it stress me out.  It is true that I could find another job & pivot/adapt if my current one ended.  However, the accumulation of resouces it provides is pretty good.  So I should try to keep doing it.

This necessitates probably focusing on what works rather than what feels good.  Business is never going to make me feel good.  Business is dukkha.  Stop trying to "get a handle" or "get some certainty" about it.  

I'm thinking of a martial arts analogy.  I tend to be really OCD & process focused in my work.  When I have time, I can do a task really well.  When I don't have time, it drives me nuts.  I'm sort of like a karate-player in this way.  Karate is very focused on forms: performing one form again & again, one gradually builds up their spirit & hones a slew of other skills which would transfer to a fight (supposedly).  On the other end of the spectrum, you have pressure point fighting.  A system of pressure point fighting would be only based on preparing for & ending a real fight as quickly as possible, by any means necessary.  The perfection of the spirit is secondary to defending oneself using as little work as possible.  

Perhaps I need to be more of a pressure point fighter at work.  Meaning, spend as little time there as possible (stay within 40 hour work week), being maximally efficient & efficacious for the goals of the business & ultimately not allowing it to stress me out because I would be OK if I lost the job.  

Cool - I'm going to go with that.

RE: Noah's_Conceptual_Sandbox
Answer
10/9/17 11:34 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Hey Noah,
What do you think about earning a living in doing things that are meaningful to you, that you enjoy and are passionate about?
Why do you think that the act of earning money necessarily has to be unpleasant?

Adrian

RE: Noah's_Conceptual_Sandbox
Answer
10/9/17 1:08 PM as a reply to Adrian.
Adrian:
Hey Noah,
What do you think about earning a living in doing things that are meaningful to you, that you enjoy and are passionate about?
Why do you think that the act of earning money necessarily  has to be unpleasant?

Adrian

Sounds like a pipe dream :p

RE: Noah's_Conceptual_Sandbox
Answer
10/9/17 4:54 PM as a reply to Noah D.
I have similar issues of getting stressed about work, something I've found helpful is trying to change my attitude to treat it like a game. You get better at games by relaxing and trying things out and trying to get in the zone and shrugging off failures. Work isn't necessarily any different if you approach it the right way. Something that helped me learn this is observing other people who seem to thrive on the parts of work I find stressful, and try to figure out what they're doing. The most productive, efficient people are often also the most fun to work with, they aren't the people frowning and stressing out and beating themselves up.

RE: Noah's_Conceptual_Sandbox
Answer
10/9/17 9:12 PM as a reply to Adam.
Adam:
I have similar issues of getting stressed about work, something I've found helpful is trying to change my attitude to treat it like a game. You get  better at games by relaxing and trying things out and trying to get in the zone and shrugging off failures. Work isn't necessarily any different if you approach it the right way. Something that helped me learn this is observing other people who seem to thrive on the parts of work I find stressful, and try to figure out what they're doing. The most productive, efficient people are often also the most fun to work with, they aren't the people frowning and stressing out and beating themselves up.
Thanks Adam.  I have found similar things to be helpful as well.  Solid pointers.

RE: Noah's_Conceptual_Sandbox
Answer
10/10/17 11:51 PM as a reply to Noah D.
10.10

I think I may understand the underlying intention behind the precepts, at least for me.  Commonly, they are thought of as preparation for meditation.  They seem more to be a result of prolonged practice or a way of expressing the fruit of practice.  

I feel this delicious silence cutting into more & more of my day.  The pull towards stillness, physically & mentally.  This is permeating my consumption of food & water, my handling of the body, of my money, my living space, car, etc.  This responsible action allows the muscle of self in increasingly subtle forms to relax - the deep tissue & fascia of ego.  

The precepts, as well as guarding the sense doors, is a way to preserve & grow this silence, like watering a plant.  Communicating in ways which harm others disturbs this oasis.  I process other people's cues & then they bounce around in my head later.  I think as things are getting smaller in here I am more sensitive to these impressions, at least sometimes.  

RE: Noah's_Conceptual_Sandbox
Answer
10/16/17 8:12 AM as a reply to Noah D.
10.16

Over the past couple weeks, it feels like I can now keep my head inside a turtle shell.  After bringing my attention back to the breath for awhile, that became a solid diversion.  As more pointed distractions arose, they would pull me away from the breath.  This degree of distraction actually gave me insomnia.  Purposefully detachment became necessary.  Reasoning at the level of the problem: "I'm not worried about x, because I would be fine without it due to y."  This seems to have cured the insomnia. 

Doing samatha practice at a friends house last weekend, I found that I suddenly could concentrate.  This hasn't abated.  It has developed into a sense that I can retract into a protective shell and abide there for as long as I need to.  Within it, thoughts, emotions & external perceptions do not disturb.  It feels quite practical as it allows me to abide seemingly indefinitely without engaging with any other stimuli.  I can imagine potential criticisms upon reading this of course.  That is okay.

I am not talking about the ability to have choiceless awareness of unpleasant sensations, or nondual perception of the defilements.  This is a fairly popular modality amongst advanced meditation practitioners.  For some reason they see it as the be-all-end-all, when really it is merely a useful counterbalance against overly-suppressive Western misinterpretation of classic Buddhism (see Than Geoff's Buddhist Romanticism for more on that).  I'm specifically speaking to having both a choicless, nondual surrender into the field and the ability to abide free of defilements simultaneously.  

RE: Noah's_Conceptual_Sandbox
Answer
10/16/17 2:14 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Even the Buddha didn't promise the end of all suffering while alive, and he suffered from various pains and stressors until his death. Just sayin'. 

Currently enjoying the audiobook of Great Disciples of the Buddha, which gives some nice details of the trials, tribulations and annoyances of some of the great early practitioners of the dharma.
Why even practise then, when probably the greatest meditation practioner in history still suffered? Life seems like a futile waking nightmare that leads nowhere if a way to cut suffering at the root doesn't actually exist.