How much do you suffer compared to before?

How much do you suffer compared to before? Tony Norris 6/19/23 5:00 AM
RE: How much do you suffer compared to before? Bahiya Baby 6/19/23 6:33 AM
RE: How much do you suffer compared to before? Conal 6/19/23 9:12 AM
RE: How much do you suffer compared to before? Martin 6/19/23 1:08 PM
RE: How much do you suffer compared to before? Tony Norris 6/19/23 2:33 PM
RE: How much do you suffer compared to before? Martin 6/19/23 6:37 PM
RE: How much do you suffer compared to before? Jim Smith 6/20/23 3:27 PM
RE: How much do you suffer compared to before? Jim Smith 6/21/23 9:08 PM
RE: How much do you suffer compared to before? Tony Norris 6/22/23 1:34 PM
RE: How much do you suffer compared to before? Tony Norris 6/22/23 1:39 PM
RE: How much do you suffer compared to before? Brian 6/30/23 8:13 AM
RE: How much do you suffer compared to before? Tony Norris 6/30/23 9:36 AM
RE: How much do you suffer compared to before? Kevin Andrew 6/30/23 12:19 PM
RE: How much do you suffer compared to before? Dream Walker 6/30/23 5:18 PM
RE: How much do you suffer compared to before? Robert Lydon 7/1/23 12:48 AM
RE: How much do you suffer compared to before? Dream Walker 7/1/23 7:04 PM
RE: How much do you suffer compared to before? Robert Lydon 7/2/23 11:19 AM
RE: How much do you suffer compared to before? Dream Walker 7/2/23 1:25 PM
RE: How much do you suffer compared to before? Robert Lydon 7/4/23 4:52 PM
RE: How much do you suffer compared to before? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/5/23 8:14 AM
RE: How much do you suffer compared to before? Robert Lydon 7/8/23 1:29 AM
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Tony Norris, modified 8 Months ago at 6/19/23 5:00 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 6/19/23 5:00 AM

How much do you suffer compared to before?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 6/9/23 Recent Posts
As reduction & ultimate elimination of suffering is the ulitmate goal of meditation I was wondering how much suffering you guys have eliminated.
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Bahiya Baby, modified 8 Months ago at 6/19/23 6:33 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 6/19/23 6:29 AM

RE: How much do you suffer compared to before?

Posts: 363 Join Date: 5/26/23 Recent Posts
Great question. 

I used to have crippling tension, depression, emotional outbursts, anxiety, fatigue and was just kind of a horrible person to be around. My day to day life since my early teens was pretty oppressively unpleasant and my experience was mostly governed by reactivty, fight or flight, etc. 

On a deeper level than this, which only became clear after a couple paths, I have also often been selfish, prideful, arrogant, cruel, manipulative, scornful and a liar. A lot of that type of stuff, which I wasn’t aware of or really willing to admit, has begun to fall away and has been replaced by compassion, for myself and others, even when I am experiencing suffering. 

These days I'm pretty relaxed most of the time, comfortable in my body, capable of being open and warm with others. I don't have depression or much anxiety. I live a better quality of life, have a much healthier lifestyle and my main motivation is to help people. 

As I'm working through paths there can be difficult dark nights, traumas from my past can arise and require my attention, though my ability to deal with them openly and compassionately has improved greatly. Day to day I’m a pretty cheerful person and that seems to be trending upward.
 
Compared to who I am now, I would describe my past self as entirely incapable of authenticity. That’s kind of what the self is up to. Fabricating inauthentic though profoundly compelling nonsense out of wispy strands of experience. Getting us hooked on our own BS. To practice insight meditation is to begin seeing this process. 

Problems with where I’m at now
-I’m not “done” meditating yet, I haven’t “eradicated all suffering”, I seem to be getting closer ;)
-As I’ve meditated more and more I have tended towards more isolation. That’s also a decision I very consciously made though I didn't necessarily have to. 
-Being in post-conventional stages of development can at times be sort of alienating. I guess I experience a quality of no longer relating to cultural norms and trying to figure out how I now fit into regular society can be a little weird. But tbh... to some extent I've always felt this. It's just more apparent that I would like to help people and helping people involves participating. I hate participating in things emoticon 

(Practicing loving-kindness helps a lot with inclinations towards isolation, in my experience. I’ve only recently adapted this into my routine.)
Conal, modified 8 Months ago at 6/19/23 9:12 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 6/19/23 9:10 AM

RE: How much do you suffer compared to before?

Posts: 61 Join Date: 6/3/17 Recent Posts
Great reply Bahiya,

I would write something similar myself but I don't think I could do it so well! What I would add is that the whole concept of suffering becomes more and more meaningless as you progress. There are just sensations that don't need that kind of filter or categorisation and can be experienced in the raw rather than having some label placed on them. You also see how restrictive the reactive mechanism of the mind is and how it can be abandoned using fairly simple techniques. This is very liberating.

Conal
Martin, modified 8 Months ago at 6/19/23 1:08 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 6/19/23 1:08 PM

RE: How much do you suffer compared to before?

Posts: 725 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
 That's a good question. As you say, it is the point. Or at least one of the points. The way that it is evaluated by each person will depend on lots of things, including how much suffering they start with. For example, people suffering from major mental health problems when they start meditation will probably experience a greater change than someone whose life is on an even keel at that time. And even the definition of "no suffering" is open for debate, with different people taking different positions on what constitutes suffering. That said, I have a lot of confidence in the existence of a complete end to suffering. 

I'm not there yet but my answer to your question would be "very little." I am usually reluctant to talk about it because doing so can be a way of building up a self-image and can invite comparisons, defensiveness, etc.  There are good reasons why it is generally discouraged in many Buddhist traditions. But as our tradition here is to talk openly, and because I think there is a benefit in knowing that the outcomes of practice can justify the effort, I'll give a run down. For reference, I first started meditating immediately after dealing with depression and anxiety severe enough to be medicated, but not severe enough to be getting formal therapy) and also immediately after getting sober following many years of alcoholism (which required years of group support, but no hospitalization).  That said, I did not take the deep dive into years of constant daily practice until nearly fifteen years after I started my on-and-off exploration of meditation, and which point I was on an even keel, and it was actually then that the changes became much more profound and much faster than in the years where I had been an on-and-off practitioner. 

Currently: I never worry, including about death and dying. It has been years since I have been bored. I am never impatient and never frustrated for more than a second or so. So, for example, it's fine to be stuck in traffic or left waiting for my wife at the shops or standing in a line. I have various chronic aches and pains, and although I will obviously do things like shifting position to reduce pain, there is no distress involved. Last week, while out for a run, I was stung by wasps in four places and, while I did shout "Ow!" as I was being stung, the pain that lingered for next hour or so did not cause any suffering. It was just a sensation among others. I mention this because ten years ago I was also stung multiple times by wasps and I can remember how much it bothered me, bringing up feeling like anger, resentment, and self-pity. 

I can still have physiological anxiety, such as when startled, or if a dangerous situation happens while driving, or even if a train of thought turns into an imagined conflict, but once the stimulus is gone, even though the physiological response such as elevated heart rate and tightened muscles remains for as long as a minute or so, I am not fooled into thinking "I am anxious." Interestingly, even though a train of thought can bring about that response, when I actually have to disagree with someone face-to-face, I don't experience anxiety. 

Although momentary though-triggered anxiety happens, I don't get stuck in loops of thought or imaginary arguments that I can't get out of. That used to be a big thing for me. I used to have these churning thoughts from the moment I opened my eyes in the morning and I would be desperate for them to stop but I just couldn't let go. They remained in a more on-and-off way for many years of serious meditation and went away more-or-less all of a sudden last October. I am still a little shocked each morning as a wake up calm and with any leftover thoughts from dreams just doing their thing, like hearing a neighbor's radio playing.

I am not much bothered by desire. This is a bit of a weird one, because I used to think of desire, such as sexual desire, or desire to win competitions or whathaveyou to be sources of pleasure so, there was some sadness in coming to see it another way. I can still see a beautiful woman as beautiful in the same way that I can see a mountain as beautiful. It's a lovely thing but there is no delusion that I can somehow gain the mountain or possess the mountain, so there is no compulsion, no discomfort. Sensations, including those that make up interests and preferences, and pleasurable and painful experiences come and go but have no hooks. It's not perfect. I eat more snacks than is good for me, and am pulled towards things like reading the news when I planned to be working, and in both cases, I can be dissatisfied with the way I act. 

Also, for reference, for me, it's not just about not suffering. There are other bonuses, which you might want to put under the heading of eliminating the very subtle suffering that comes from experiencing the world as a separate self, or you might want to put under the heading of states, and there are various concentration/unification things (ecstasy, joy, bliss, peace, etc.) and other positive effects. The default resting state is well beyond what I have considered to be peak happiness in the past. It's not just OK, it's actively wonderful. But there is further to go, which is also wonderful. 

All in all, it's well worth it. 


 
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Tony Norris, modified 8 Months ago at 6/19/23 2:33 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 6/19/23 2:33 PM

RE: How much do you suffer compared to before?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 6/9/23 Recent Posts
Thank you for the thoughtful replies.

@Martin 

You say "I am not much bothered by desire. This is a bit of a weird one, because I used to think of desire, such as sexual desire, or desire to win competitions or whathaveyou to be sources of pleasure so, there was some sadness in coming to see it another way. I can still see a beautiful woman as beautiful in the same way that I can see a mountain as beautiful. It's a lovely thing but there is no delusion that I can somehow gain the mountain or possess the mountain, so there is no compulsion, no discomfort. Sensations, including those that make up interests and preferences, and pleasurable and painful experiences come and go but have no hooks. It's not perfect. I eat more snacks than is good for me, and am pulled towards things like reading the news when I planned to be working, and in both cases, I can be dissatisfied with the way I act."

So you could say you're reached a very high level of non-reactivity but you are still somewhat susceptable to some "pulls" (to be informed, to be well fed, etc)?

To ask another question was there a particular point where you felt the journey became easier?  Like biking hard to the crest of a hill & then going downhill, where you were pulled by the efforts of your previous action (and could further accelerate via more effort if need be but it wasn't as critial)?
Martin, modified 8 Months ago at 6/19/23 6:37 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 6/19/23 6:37 PM

RE: How much do you suffer compared to before?

Posts: 725 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
I should mention that I'm not a teacher and so I am not much good at explaining. It's a bit like trying to describe music using only words, some people can do it, and some people can understand those kinds of explanations, but I have to just listen to the song :-)

It's not really non-reactivity for me. If anything, I might say there is more reactivity, it's just of a different kind. But, yes, that's right. There are fewer things that I get stuck on these days. 

There were definitely some big top-of-the-hill moments. But it's not just one hill :-) If we are going with the bike metaphor, I'd say it got easier as my legs got stronger and I got better at riding a bike. 
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 6/20/23 3:27 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 6/20/23 3:02 PM

RE: How much do you suffer compared to before?

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Tony Norris
As reduction & ultimate elimination of suffering is the ulitmate goal of meditation I was wondering how much suffering you guys have eliminated.


A lot.

I don't know how to quantify it. I know I do not want to go back.

If you go indoors after being outside your eyes adjust. So subjective reports might tend to underestimate the effect anyway. (The human range of sensation can extend over several orders of magnitude. Someone might start out feeling like crap x 10^6, then start meditating and feel 100 times better and now only feels like crap x 10^4 - still s***ty.)

A few objective things I can say are - after I started meditating I stopped thinking it was right and normal and justified to "win" in conflicts with other people. The proper thing to do seemed to be compassionate and find a fair compromise because otherwise I hurt myself. Bad intentions had bad results even if it looked superficially like I was doing something good.

Another thing I noticed after a longer while was that I stopped getting annoyed at the corporate drones reading double-speak scripts to me when I called tech support. I now thought of them as victims of the system who were only trying to scrape together a living. I wondered at myself being calm and relaxed keeping friendly tone of voice when in the past I would have been annoyed by their uncomprehending-unhelpfulness. I can't say exactly when the change occurred but if I had to identify the most important milestone in my practice I would say this is it. To me it was more significant (it was a permanent change) than feelings of not having a self. 

I was also baffled during covid that people would hoard items from the grocery store. It seemed natural to me not to take too much because other people would need some. (Part of apparent hoarding was supply chain issues from people staying home rather than going out to work but there was real hoarding too.)

On the other hand, these kinds of changes were distinctly unhelpful to me in grad school because it didn't seem important to me to defend myself during oral examinations. And in relationships, both people have to stand up for their own interests or you get one person taking advantage.
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 6/21/23 9:08 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 6/21/23 8:24 PM

RE: How much do you suffer compared to before?

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
One thing that was huge for me was all the little things that add up to something big. Lots of little subtle thoughts one is barely or not even fully conscious of. They weigh you down and you don't even recognize it like you do with a bigger problems. When you start to recognize those different, unrelated, ten thousand pin pricks that add up to a large pain, and let go - it's hard to explain but for me it was a huge huge improvement. 

It came from practicing in daily life, and that's one reason I am an advocate for practice in daily life.
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Tony Norris, modified 8 Months ago at 6/22/23 1:34 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 6/22/23 1:34 PM

RE: How much do you suffer compared to before?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 6/9/23 Recent Posts
Hi Jim, makes sense.

When I was younger I was fixate on one thing and imagine if I could get that sorted everything else would fall into place but realizing now that life is more complicated and all aspects require my attention.

​​​​​​​By the way, if anyone would be willing to audio chat (Skype, WhatsApp, etc) about some things please let me know.
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Tony Norris, modified 8 Months ago at 6/22/23 1:39 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 6/22/23 1:39 PM

RE: How much do you suffer compared to before?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 6/9/23 Recent Posts
Don't know if we can private message each other on here but people can message me via Facebook (I try not to use it much but it's useful for messaging). Thanks

​​https://www.facebook.com/tony.norris.again
Brian, modified 7 Months ago at 6/30/23 8:13 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 6/30/23 8:13 AM

RE: How much do you suffer compared to before?

Posts: 110 Join Date: 1/21/19 Recent Posts
I used to be very gloomy, anxious, fearful, not friendly at all.

These days, I can find extreme happiness the instant I remember to look for it. If I'm explaining this to friends and I check internally to make sure I'm telling the truth, I feel like I'm vaping MDMA and the feeling can be so strong I might burst out laughing. If I'm interacting with someone and we have a wholesome and funny exchange, my smile connects with my inner happiness so strongly it's like my face can't express it, but it's so strong it practically flies out of my head and controls the mind of other people who see my face.

I don't think I have any detectable level of envy. Greed is maybe 1% of what it used to be. I never get lonely. Sometimes I get irritated and even swear, but then I instantly go look for the anger and there's actually nothing there, it's like I'm just acting out an old habit. I tend to just be completely satisfied with my living arrangements. I keep being satisfied with less. When I turn on the faucet and water comes out, I feel very fortunate.
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Tony Norris, modified 7 Months ago at 6/30/23 9:36 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 6/30/23 9:36 AM

RE: How much do you suffer compared to before?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 6/9/23 Recent Posts
Sick.

Yeah MDMA is great to show a person what their brain is capable of feeling.

I wish I could feel like that all the time (but maybe not quite as trusting, with a bit more of a guard up but not a tight, anxious feeling guard just not quite as melty/open, just alert, accepting openness lacking my usual background irritation with reality and my internal bodily and mental state 
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Kevin Andrew, modified 7 Months ago at 6/30/23 12:19 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 6/30/23 12:19 PM

RE: How much do you suffer compared to before?

Posts: 82 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
I can say that the amount of dukkha I am challenged by has been greatly reduced. I see the arising of many instances even if I cannot be fully equanimous with each. The duration of explicit episodes is greatly reduced. In a few cases related to my personal history some forms rarely arise anymore. Even the more difficult forms which appear to require deeper digging, for instance blinding rage, are being attenuated.

I can't put any kind of number on it but 'before me' is a ghost in my present experience, largely replaced by peace and gratitude. 
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Months ago at 6/30/23 5:18 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 6/30/23 5:18 PM

RE: How much do you suffer compared to before?

Posts: 1643 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Tony Norris
As reduction & ultimate elimination of suffering is the ulitmate goal of meditation I was wondering how much suffering you guys have eliminated.
Suffering? Is that the best translation of dukkha that you have found?

I have eliminated exactly 68.549% of a bad translation of the ultimate goal! Woot!

How would you measure such a thing?
​​​​​​​~D
Robert Lydon, modified 7 Months ago at 7/1/23 12:48 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/1/23 12:48 AM

RE: How much do you suffer compared to before?

Posts: 71 Join Date: 6/19/23 Recent Posts
Simple Dream Walker. Occurrence, duration and intensity. How many occurrences of unsatisfactory-ness in a day. How long are you in that state of unsatisfactorily-ness vs contentment/equanimity? How intense on a scale of 10-0, 10 being the most and 0 being none. Do you have unsatifactory-ness towards this post?

To me, the answer isn't clear until you have ultimately overcome dukka. Keep on tending the best you can and accumulate insight. Better investment of your energy.
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Months ago at 7/1/23 7:04 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/1/23 7:04 PM

RE: How much do you suffer compared to before?

Posts: 1643 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Robert Lydon
Simple Dream Walker.

Occurrence ...How many occurrences of unsatisfactory-ness in a day.
duration- ... How long are you in that state of unsatisfactorily-ness
intensity- ...on a scale of 10-0, 10 being the most and 0 being none.
That IS simple Robert. How do you go about scoring this currently to create your baseline?

Do you have unsatifactory-ness towards this post? To me, the answer isn't clear until you have ultimately overcome dukka.
Quite unclear indeed.

Keep on tending the best you can and accumulate insight. Better investment of your energy.


Great advice Robert, glad to chat on topic with you as always,
~D
Robert Lydon, modified 7 Months ago at 7/2/23 11:19 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/2/23 11:19 AM

RE: How much do you suffer compared to before?

Posts: 71 Join Date: 6/19/23 Recent Posts
Hello Dream Walker,

Should I assume everything is sarcasm from you or can you give me a special symbol when you are being authentic/sincere? Something like a *? Otherwise, it is hard to have a fruitful dialog with you because I am unsure of your sencerity. Right now I have you pegged at 100% sarcasm and I would love to recalibrate. If that is true. Otherwise, I have an entirely different response for you. I don't want to assume and then I'll get you disliking me if that has not already been achieved already. Any unsatisfactory-ness in there?

Metta
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Months ago at 7/2/23 1:25 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/2/23 1:10 PM

RE: How much do you suffer compared to before?

Posts: 1643 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Robert Lydon
Hello Dream Walker,

Should I assume everything is sarcasm from you or can you give me a special symbol when you are being authentic/sincere? Something like a *? Otherwise, it is hard to have a fruitful dialog with you because I am unsure of your sencerity. Right now I have you pegged at 100% sarcasm and I would love to recalibrate. If that is true. Otherwise, I have an entirely different response for you. I don't want to assume and then I'll get you disliking me if that has not already been achieved already. Any unsatisfactory-ness in there?

Metta


*To stay on topic, This is thought provoking but I am unsure how you would achieve this in detail-

Occurrence ...How many occurrences of unsatisfactory-ness in a day.
duration- ... How long are you in that state of unsatisfactorily-ness
intensity- ...on a scale of 10-0, 10 being the most and 0 being none.

1)How do you go about scoring this currently to create your baseline?
2)Would the scoring be the same after some shift or would you have to change the scoring afterwards to reflect the new information?
Thanks,
Metta to you too
~D*
*p.s. Occurance and intensity seem like they would be subjective, so i assume it could only be calibrated to yourself and not really comparable with others.
Lets say that post shift unsatisfactoryness goes down but your ability to notice that state goes up to double the sensitivity....what then? hmmm, provoking more thoughts...thanks*
*PPS- You would have to have a wrist watch for instant input and an app to record duration, occurance would be a subset of duration input then intensity slider bar after capture.....wouldn't it be funny as hell if the inputing action to the app screwed up the unsatisfactoryness due to mindfullness distraction of capturing? HAHAHA....this is great!*
*PPPS- Collapsing the quantum state of dukkha by observing it.....this could work and be a great mindfulness tool!*
Robert Lydon, modified 7 Months ago at 7/4/23 4:52 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/4/23 4:52 PM

RE: How much do you suffer compared to before?

Posts: 71 Join Date: 6/19/23 Recent Posts
You might be on to something*
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 7 Months ago at 7/5/23 8:14 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/5/23 8:14 AM

RE: How much do you suffer compared to before?

Posts: 7134 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Dream Walker and Robert Lydon, you are both derailing the thread. Please back off, both of you! 

Dream Walker, if you find that a question is not to your liking, you are under no obligation to answer it. If you wish to convey a nuance to the question, there are ways of doing that without using sarchasm. As you can see, others have found the question reasonable. 

Robert Lydon, I have no interest in silencing people, but if you turn thread after thread into a battle with Dream Walker, that's not very respectful to those who wish to maintain an on-topic conversation. 

Linda Ö
​​​​​​​DhO moderator
Robert Lydon, modified 7 Months ago at 7/8/23 1:29 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 7/8/23 1:29 AM

RE: How much do you suffer compared to before?

Posts: 71 Join Date: 6/19/23 Recent Posts
Hi Linda, I can appreciate you stepping in but I am hoping for more feedback. How did I make this thread a battle with Dream Walker? My posts are all on topic in my opinion other than tending to the nature of the conversation around sarcasm. We are both actually trying to evaluate the quantification of suffering through measurable means. I think we are settling on a subjective self-report via a likert scale. I think Daniel would appreciate such an approach but I don't want to speak for him.

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