making meaning of life

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
[N.B. This is the forum that was called ‘Exploring Buddhism’. The new name simply describes it better.]
Post Reply
Posts: 85
Joined: Mon Jul 01, 2013 6:31 pm

making meaning of life

Post by dimeo » Sun Apr 27, 2014 3:58 pm

What does Buddhism say about one's act of making meaning of life experiences?

Are there any suttas / sutras, teachings, dharma talks or comments anyone might share with me about this?

This morning I wake up to discover my mind is still processing yesterday's social experiences.
I realize I have been (unconsciously) trying to "make meaning" of everything that I've experienced.
And in realizing this ( I'm faced with choices) and feel uncertain. :shrug:
At the moment I feel like I'm in a rather unfamiliar (fuzzy) mental space right now.
This is hard to describe! I'm not sure what I'm expressing... but here goes...

What is the "right thought" of the buddha-nature when experiencing what other people say and do?
- I can focus on the positive moments scattered throughout my days :cheers:
- I can 'make meaning' that leads to my own unhappiness... :stirthepot:
- I can let the experience come and go without grasping at anything.... :meditate:

When I experience an event, I have the opportunity to
- assume the best of other people (play naïve)
- add up the apparent 'facts' of 'reality' and jump to a conclusion
- I can just go back to the breath and maintain my meditative empty state of mind (equanimity).

For example, I may see or hear something that I apparently dislike which leads me to feel further pain or unhappiness with "the way things are" in my life, such as....

- If I see an one acquaintance texting another friend of mine who apparently lied when they said to me they don't have a cellphone.

- If I hear my spouse describe their story of how we first met... I can quickly conclude that my parter has negative feelings about our relationship.

- I watch a friend apparently ignore me while conversing. This subtle behaviour is something that I may 'make meaning' of that ends up me concluding this person I thought was a friend, really doesn't value me.

- I am confronted by a subordinate co-worker who is completely overstepping the job responsibility they have (again), keeping me from doing mine properly, and bossing me around .... it makes my blood boil.... :evil:

While we are travelling the path that leads to awakening, we practice "right thought".
I understand a large part of this involves "unlearning", as we discover how to 'wake up' to the true nature of reality.

The more I am willing to learn and practice the eightfold path... there's a part of me that is wondering if I'm not 'turning off' parts of my mind that would have reacted more quickly. I fear I might be getting 'dumber' :rolling:
Am I performing my own mental lobotomy with a psychological scalpel? :rolleye:

User avatar
Posts: 1083
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:03 pm
Location: Germany

Re: making meaning of life

Post by Kaccāni » Sun Apr 27, 2014 5:03 pm

If you´re in doubt that´s a good start.

Who is it who needs meaning?
Shush! I'm doing nose-picking practice!

Posts: 1358
Joined: Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:50 pm

Re: making meaning of life

Post by KonchokZoepa » Sun Apr 27, 2014 5:18 pm

i would recommend FPMT's Lama Zopa Rinpoches book '' making life meaningful ''.

This would direct your thought to selfless service, loving kindness and compassion.

i can relate very well to part of your text. and at the end i noticed that you suffer because it is about you. so what if your spouse has negative feelings about your relationship. instead of thinking bad about her or wallowing in distrust and pain or whatever, focus on the positive side and do something good and start working to heal the situation. if you focus on your self and try solve things self righteously that doesn't necessary work. i understand that in work situation you need to be somewhat responsible of yourself and keep things in good order so you could use wrathful methods but still have the motivation to help and correct the situation to be more positive for all etc… :)
If the thought of demons
Never rises in your mind,
You need not fear the demon hosts around you.
It is most important to tame your mind within....

In so far as the Ultimate, or the true nature of being is concerned,
there are neither buddhas or demons.
He who frees himself from fear and hope, evil and virtue,
will realize the insubstantial and groundless nature of confusion.
Samsara will then appear as the mahamudra itself….



User avatar
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Dec 07, 2013 5:27 pm

Re: making meaning of life

Post by greenergrasses » Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:29 pm

I agree with KonchokZoepa's, the suffering you express sounds as though it arises from the ego and perhaps a conscious effort to shift the focus from the perceived negative to a more neutral and empathetic perspective may help alleviate you feelings of mistrust, resentment, even betrayal. I find it helpful to remind myself that His Holiness says that "In most cases, asserting oneself only leads to disappointment, or to conflict with other egos that feel as exclusively about their existence as we do about our own. This is especially true when a strongly developed ego indulges in capricious or demanding behavior. The illusion of having a permanent self is a secret danger that stalks us all..." and Sogyal Rinpoche's "Lifetimes of ignorance have brought us to identify the whole of our being with ego. Its greatest triumph is to inveigle us into believing its best interests are our best interests, and even into identifying our very survival with its own. This is a savage irony, considering that ego and its grasping are at the root of all our suffering".
The language you use (" watch a friend apparently ignore me while conversing", "a subordinate go co-worker overstepping (again)", "I hear my spouse.. and conclude they have negative feelings") suggests that the negativity your are experiencing is rooted in an inflexible perspective. Thankfully, perspective can be shifted by striving for empathy and compassion and, perhaps most importantly, acceptance that our experiences and reactions - and any resulting conclusion or attempt to "make meaning" from them - are but one interpretation and not the only truth.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: The Cicada and 55 guests