Hopelessness

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Monlam Tharchin
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Hopelessness

Postby Monlam Tharchin » Wed Dec 12, 2012 7:16 pm

Since about Saturday, I've been struggling to accept the efficacy of any Buddhist practice. One of those "time to box up the altar" weeks.

I've tried sitting with the growing pain and dissatisfaction. I almost lost it Monday and lashed out in uncharacteristic ways. One of those times where the most exquisitely nasty things to say come to mind. Not too smart to try sitting with all of that, so I've been doing walking meditation instead.

I sometimes doubt enlightenment is possible for me or anyone else, aside from the most devoted practitioners and teachers. They seem to be onto something. The average person? Not so much. Someone on here posted a list of like 20 complex meditations to master before even thinking about enlightenment. Then they couched it with, "don't worry, it may take several lifetimes." Oh, thank goodness! And if it's not that, at the very least it's settling into a worldview in diametric opposition to the one you grew up with and how everyone else around you lives their lives. Usually, things that contradict everything you know are suspect. But Buddhism seems to enjoy a special exception, it's "beyond doubt and belief," "beyond concepts," and any other number of things that make it intractable to people having a crisis of faith.

That was my main allergy to Zen. I've had troubles with specific defilements before, and the solution given at the local Zen place was just to sit, sit, sit. Sit like a statue, the bird that just crapped on your head is beyond concepts.

It's not even that this is an intellectual doubt full of pointless unanswerable questions. As I deal with an undesirable and prolonged home situation and a crumbling marriage, I see Buddhism as not really helping me in everyday life and not really helping anyone else immediately around me, either.

Since we're on pointless questions, long term? Paradoxically hope for enlightenment but give up hope of anything; let's set a goal to draw you in, then say the goal doesn't matter. What the hell? If this were the case in anything else in life, who would stick around? And short term, this weird emotionless gulf and tangible alienation from people around me, whatever my actual feelings towards them may be. It seems like Buddhism sets an incredibly low and incredibly high bar. Work for all beings, but if you do your best and still feel miserable, oh well! There's this undercurrent that it's always just your fault and not a problem with the conceptless, pure, etc. Buddhist teachings. I'm reminded of some serious questions being posed on another forum, and a Zen practitioner replying, "just look at the plum trees in the orchard" or something. All righty then :shrug:

I do recognize the immense benefit and value of Buddhism for some. Just look at all you wonderful people! :) But you wouldn't give a flu vaccine to a person already suffering from pneumonia.

Pema Chödrön says to use the raw energy of doubt, fear, anger, etc. to reconnect with our soft spot and see the ways we protect ourselves. That sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo (sorry Pema!!) Trungpa Rinpoche says to lighten up. Well, I find the whole situation pretty funny, especially since I'm the umptillionth person to go through this exact same thing. It doesn't change the resistance to almost anything Buddhist. I'm posting here because the wonderful people at DW have given helpful, incisive advice in the past :bow:

If Christianity didn't insist so much on a soul and eternity this, eternity that, I'd be getting on the express train to love city. At least it seems the Christians I know act spontaneously out of love and charity. The kindest people I've met have been at churches, not at Buddhist centers. But if I'm allergic to Zen, I'm even more allergic to an eternal soul.

Is there such a thing as not being cut out for Buddhism?

In closing, help!! :toilet: :broke: :rolleye:
Last edited by Monlam Tharchin on Wed Dec 12, 2012 8:05 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Dec 12, 2012 7:52 pm

Ultimately if I am constantly expecting myself to be something, and creating ideas about what I am supposed to feel, a project like that can only end in disaster. These are all just masks we put on to divide and subdivide things, the "you" that thinks you aren't cut to be a Buddhist is just a mask, so is the you that thinks you can be a great Buddhist - they are both nonsense, absolutely unreal, if you pick them up, turn them around and can see..they are just ridiculous, it's like looking at a caricature of a caricature and so are the chain of thoughts that come from them. You can use them for things, but neither one is anything of substance, or contains any Truth with a capital T :smile: . While you can acknowledge them and use them...don't live inside them, and certainly don't make decisions based on them, it's not going to lead anywhere at all.

I know what you are going through - just keep going, who the hell cares what anyone else says or thinks about it, they don't have to live in you head, just keep going because you should - you don't really need any more reasoning than that, keep going because you know you should - make the effort to overcome just because you should.
Last edited by Johnny Dangerous on Wed Dec 12, 2012 8:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby lobster » Wed Dec 12, 2012 8:24 pm


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Ayu
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby Ayu » Wed Dec 12, 2012 8:47 pm

I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. -

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Monlam Tharchin
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby Monlam Tharchin » Wed Dec 12, 2012 8:57 pm

What would I prefer? Something that doesn't feel pointless and without benefit to me or anyone around me. I realize this is entirely an attitude, but I'm working with what I have here :tongue: Given the direction of things on a personal level in my life, something is amiss. Generally if you're trying a remedy to a problem and it proves ineffectual, you try something else, no?

Johnny, thank you for your thoughtful reply. I feel like I should be sending you a Christmas card or fruit basket for the times you've slogged through my novels and offered your help :)

If I am making ideas about what is supposed to be happening, it's not consciously. The natural reaction to suffering is to want out of it. That's where I am now. Maybe my idea is "I'm suffering, my relationships are failing, Buddhism should be doing more than just telling me to get over it." I realize 100% this is samsaric in itself, "pain in here, something better out there" but if Buddhism doesn't offer an accessible way to relieve suffering, it doesn't seem like a very compassionate response given that we're only here because we're silly deluded beings in the first place.

It comes back to the whole Zen issue I have: stinky tangible suffering, here are some lofty ideas that you may or may not be able to apply. Hence my reluctant eye towards Christianity, where people seem to be having some measure of metta and renunciation, without the bizarre existential conundrums Buddhism poses. I realize 90% of the US is self-reported Christian, and not 90% of the country is happy and generous :rolling: But in my immediate personal experience, people at Buddhist centers = nice, talkative, helpful, but somehow aloof on a personal level and societal level, with no outreach programs. Ultimately inaccessible, like Buddhism. People at the UCCs I've been to = holy shit am I your son? Thank you for these cookies even though we just met. Gosh, I'd love to come help volunteer sometime. Which seems more appealing to someone suffering from a lack of connection and feelings of love towards others?

I guess my occasional problem is precisely that: Buddhism feels out of reach, inaccessible calculus to a person struggling with basic arithmetic. The dilemma sometimes feels like "perfect metta this lifetime through Christianity, or possibly meaningless floundering with Buddhism."

Ayu, thank you as well. I'll think on your words and reply when I don't have to dash off to make lunch for my spouse :D :cheers:
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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Dec 12, 2012 9:00 pm

Right now there is some UCC member having the exact same kind of existential crises about their religion. Guaranteed. You could probably even find a forum post of it somewhere ;)

I'm curious, beyond "good works" which UCC can do more of due to being bigger and better organized, how do you think they are a better example of compassionate action?

How is their compassion different from Buddhist compassion, if at all?

What is compassionate action anyway? Is feeding the homeless more important than anti-war marches or animal welfare for example, what is a valid expression of compassion for other beings, and why is UCC better at it?

Is it reasonable to base your feelings about Buddhism itself on your relationship to the Buddhism that you perceive as belonging to other people?

If the compassion feels pointless, that's a starting place, you mention that your relationships are in disrepair...maybe it's time to look at those with different eyes? Just like meditation, start with yourself and those you love, and then move outwards.
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby Yudron » Wed Dec 12, 2012 9:25 pm

I'm hearing a lack of simple pleasure in practice. Nobody's going to persist in something they just don't enjoy. I'm not talking about being giddy with bliss every time you sit on a cushion. I mean just enjoying the process of exploration... seeing what unfolds, even when it might be painful or neutral.

For me, the visualization practices in the Vajrayana increase my enjoyment, and also being comfortable in my seating arrangement and having art around me. Honestly, I admire zen a lot, but I needed something more festive.

I rarely give advice on this forum, but you seem to be requesting it. So here goes: For now, I would suggest you do the practice you really think you would enjoy the most, and be most interested in. Don't try to fit a square peg into a round hole-do the practice that you would really secretly like to do.

I don't believe you when you say you have lost faith in enlightenment. You are talking like someone who had a bad break up and now you say "f*** all that romance stuff, it's bull S***." But, scratch that same person and one can find a profound romantic.

I read recently that getting good at anything takes 10,000 hours of practice. I read this in relation to chess, but it's probably true in many fields. Most of us have something we enjoy, be it career or hobby that we devote that kind of time to over our lives, don't you think? So, yeah, that is about 20 years if you do an hour a day of practice plus a few weekend retreats a year. Maybe you won't have realization at that point, but I guarantee you that you will be a much happier person than you started out, and you will feel very satisfied at your choice.

Then when you die, you can do it professionally, fearlessly, with complete confidence of future lives.
Author of Buddhist young adult fiction. Vlogger at Wisdom and Compassion: Grandma Yudron's Totally Chill Vlog on Meditation and Tibetan Wisdom Blogger at Very active on Twitter.

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Re: Hopelessness

Postby Konchog1 » Wed Dec 12, 2012 9:45 pm

Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats

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Karma Dondrup Tashi
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Wed Dec 12, 2012 9:48 pm

Last edited by Karma Dondrup Tashi on Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:01 pm

I think when people like Trungpa say to give up hope, they are not talking about having spiritual apathy, but being willing to persist in spite of the demands that are banging around in your crazy monkey head.

Anyway, so much good advice here i'm trying to take some of it to heart too.

So another issue, whatever can be perceived about the relative compassionate actions of Buddhists vs. Christians, which one do you believe carries truth in it? Surely even if one group performs less meritorious actions but holds the truth, you should practice the truth, and simply bring more merit to it, right?
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Ayu
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby Ayu » Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:27 pm

I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. -

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Re: Hopelessness

Postby kirtu » Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:02 pm



"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche

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Re: Hopelessness

Postby kirtu » Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:10 pm



"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche

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viniketa
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby viniketa » Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:02 am

. ~

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Re: Hopelessness

Postby greentara » Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:23 am

Dear Duck, Walking meditation is excellent,
Ajahn Chah says "Let go, let go until the mind reaches the peace that is free from advancing"
When I've got problems and the mind starts the endless chatter I'll do self enquiry but faster still is saying to yourself "drop it, let go!"
Try not to think about enlightenment and nirvana(as interesting as the subject is) stay in the present, in the 'now'!

Sure Chrisitianity has its own lure. devotional paths can make the heart melt. But true devotion means getting rid of this entity you call 'my self' that is really hard and laying all credit and debit at the lords feet. "not my will but thine" very few reach that level. From my experence kind people at the church still have a strong core called 'my self' which at the end of the day is another word for selfish. Christianity has an inbuilt need to prosyletize and spread the gospel so if you don't fully agree they'll be quite firm it's 'my way or the highway'!

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Wayfarer
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby Wayfarer » Thu Dec 13, 2012 3:49 am

In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Re: Hopelessness

Postby windsweptliberty » Thu Dec 13, 2012 3:51 am

My Dharma friend - I am sorry for your distress. Yet, hopelessness is the fertile ground in which sudden realization can happen. Hope is wanting or the desire of a specific outcome. One of the four noble truths states: Suffering can be ended if you stop wanting ie. stop hopeing for enlightenment. Alls good and you are all. It sounds as though you are on the right path.
Last edited by windsweptliberty on Thu Dec 13, 2012 4:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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ground
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby ground » Thu Dec 13, 2012 4:03 am

Hope and fear are the sphere of religions ... buddhism, christianity, islam ... no difference. Nothing can be said against religions since they are the manifestation of human dilemma and being human does not go without this dilemma. Religions are based on belief or some call it faith. Religions are based on cultivation of belief and the corresponding focus. It is a matter of the individual what religion matches its inclinations. :sage:

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Re: Hopelessness

Postby greentara » Thu Dec 13, 2012 4:22 am

jeeprs, I was really into Krishnamurti years ago. Somewhere along the way I found his teaching and his life were at odds, he didn't live the teaching he was mouthing. He was elitist and he did several things that I found distasteful..... I put away all his books and lost interest. I havn't thought about him in ages so it was interesting seeing a quote of his on the forum.

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ground
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Re: Hopelessness

Postby ground » Thu Dec 13, 2012 4:35 am



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