Meditation and Pain

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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Meditation and Pain

Post by Tirisilex » Tue Jan 31, 2017 9:54 pm

OK.. I've seen 2 amazing things from meditation. The first is from the Vietnam War. Some monk in protest of the war burned himself alive. Fire is like the worst kind of pain and he sat there without flinching, screaming, or moving. Totaly blocked out the pain. I also sawa video of a Buddhist Monk having Brain Surgery without any anethesia.. He just laid there talking to the Doctors.
So.. My Question is.. Are they Blocking the pain so they dont feel it? Or are they feeling the pain but learned not to react to it?

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Re: Meditation and Pain

Post by muni » Wed Feb 01, 2017 10:08 am

For the first example, prayers for those so desperate, may these painful lost be avoided by compassionate guidance and practices of the liberating teachings. _/\_
The second example is another case.
I would say we cannot answer these, or we have to have a similar experience.

Beside these two extreme cases, there are every moment fellows going through huge pains/suffering.
In practice meditation, whether on an object or whether objectless; thoughts are not connecting with the object/’objectless', but simple empty mind does. I mean, when thoughts are connecting with the pain, the pain turns overwhelming, since there is then dualism. We and the pain. While naked/empty mind – pain connection, without comments or reacting dualistic thoughts is helping. In case of very strong experienced pain is completely surrendering the option while protesting thoughts or wanting to get rid of the pain can increase the experience.
Then of course there are painkillers. May all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.

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Re: Meditation and Pain

Post by Tirisilex » Mon Feb 06, 2017 3:21 am

I'm not saying that I condone with the the monk who burned himself had done. Just that it was an amazing feat just the same. It was this very thing that made me decide to be a Buddhist because in Christianity there is a Hell.. and this Buddhist prooved to me that the pain of fire can be dealt with with mind. So no Christian Hell can hold a Buddhist prisoner. I'm just wondering how he did it I'm not looking to light myself on fire as well nor would I encourage it.

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Re: Meditation and Pain

Post by Karma Dondrup Tashi » Mon Feb 06, 2017 3:39 am

The first example you are referring to is probably Thich Quang Duc, a South Vietnamese monk who self-immolated to protest the oppression of Buddhists in that country.

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Re: Meditation and Pain

Post by Zhen Li » Mon Feb 06, 2017 4:40 am

On the whole, scripturally, I understand the burning of one's body as a figurative model for showing the superiority of upholding the sūtras over acts of physical/bodily devotion.

There is the case of Bodhisattva Sarvarūpasaṃdarśana in the Lotus Sutra, who, after having paid homage to the Buddha with all sorts of fine substances concluded that this was not equal to the offering of his own body to the Buddha, so after having inhaled fine substances, he set his body alight for twelve hundred years, while not hurting or feeling pain, etc., after which he was reborn in the Buddha Land of Candrasūryavimalaprabhāśrī. He becomes, in the future, the Bodhisattva Bhaiṣajyarāja.

However, the Buddha explained thereupon that receiving and holding to a single four-line verse of the Lotus Sūtra is of greater merit than filling the cosmos with treasures and offering them to the buddhas, bodhisattvas, and arhats, as the Lotus Sūtra is the king of all sūtras.

To excerpt a summary of Tao-sheng's commentary to Chapter 23 from the website linked in my signature, citing Kim's translation thereof:
Tao-sheng points out that this is not meant as a literal indication that proper practice is burning one’s body. Rather, one’s body is the most attached-to and treasured of a human’s values and possessions. This attachment causes pain, duḥkha, inherently. So, if we have the body, and we are attached to it, we are already always burning. If one understands and practices the principle of the Lotus Sūtra, even though one is always burning, by having a human body, one does not really burn, because one is not truly attached to it. If we use our bodies to practice the Dharma, we will, while burning, not hurt, and be offering that burning body to the triple gem, just like Bhaiṣajyarāja Bodhisattva. (Kim, 524) Tao-sheng also points out that the example of Bhaiṣajyarāja Bodhisattva was used just because there are many people who engage in antinomian spiritual practices, like self-immolation, cutting oneself, and so forth. While these do not [inherently] result in spiritual progress, Bhaiṣajyarāja was reborn in the Buddha Land again as a result of the good merit of the offering to the Dharma. (Kim, 524-5)
As for the decline of Dharma, while we can help to prolong its existence through preservation and propagation, burning is not acting according to the above precedent, which is not the cause of Sarvarūpasaṃdarśana's death, and which was instead an offering to the Buddha. Instead, if one does not have the power to prevent burning to death, one will be committing suicide, which is tantamount to violating the first precept or the most grave parajika offence. There are many deeds one can do in one's lifetime that will be more productive than resisting the inevitable, that even the Buddha announced as being a surety.

As regards genuinely being able to endure pain, mindfulness and a dissociation of self from the aggregates is the ideal way to do this.

When you see feeling arise, but do not identify with it, you will find that you can observe it just as you would observe a neutral event in the objective world. The ability to do this, is certainly desirable as a practitioner. The seeking out of opportunities to test oneself, however, may not be what is desired. If this is what you find is motivating you, you may be motivated by adrenaline, which is of course exciting, but not the same as the equanimity resulting from meditation.

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Re: Meditation and Pain

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Mon Feb 06, 2017 4:56 am

Worth remembering that the purpose of any practice in Buddhism, such as meditation, is to benefit other beings and to free them from the rounds of birth and death.
Unusual abilities can be a distraction.
OM PADMO USHNISHA VIMALE HUM PHAT (Lotus Pinnacle of Amoghapasha)
OM HANU PHASHA BHARA HE YE SVAHA ("Just by Seeing" Mantra)
AH AAH SHA SA MA HA (Six Syllables of Clairvoyance Mantra)

The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have unobstructed vision in all directions.
Everything is in their presence; and I stand in front of them. -- Shantideva

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Re: Meditation and Pain

Post by Tirisilex » Mon Feb 06, 2017 7:42 pm

If I can learn how to not experience pain.. like from stubbing my toe. Or any kind of pain.. Wouldnt that be helpful to teach others how to end their pain. How is my question a distraction from dharma?

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Re: Meditation and Pain

Post by Jeff H » Mon Feb 06, 2017 8:38 pm

Tirisilex wrote:If I can learn how to not experience pain.. like from stubbing my toe. Or any kind of pain.. Wouldnt that be helpful to teach others how to end their pain. How is my question a distraction from dharma?
The suffering (dukha) Buddha taught is not primarily about that kind of pain.

He taught three levels of suffering: Manifest suffering (overt pain); Changing suffering (what we mistakenly call pleasure, which is no more than a temporary respite); and Pervasive suffering.

The last one is the most important. It means that because we have been born with these bodies and our disturbed minds, our very being is in the nature of suffering.

Dharma teaches us how to be released from pervasive suffering. In Mahayana the motivation is, having realized how undesirable and unnecessary it is for ourselves, to release all beings from their pervasive suffering first.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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