Attachment to a form of practice?

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.]
crown
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Feb 19, 2020 9:20 pm

Attachment to a form of practice?

Post by crown » Thu Feb 20, 2020 3:29 pm

Hello everyone,

I was listening to one of joseph goldsteins talks on dharmaseed.org. It was a sattipathana sutta talk on the hindrance of restlessness.He goes on about one of the possible causes of restlessness being provocative talk and prolonged discussion and how it can disturb seclusion and/or cause agitation. He then proceeds in light of modern day communication and his own particular experience regarding emails.

https://dharmaseed.org/talks/audio_player/96/297.html Around 19:30

He would check his email once a day and with get caught up in it and it would 'disturb' the seclusion. He would say the same about phone calls and letters he would get from family members while on long retreats.

I couldn't help but think that there is something problematic in the statements he is making and maybe even a little bit comical. If checking your email once a day and making a phone call now and again is already considered a disturbance and possible cause for agitation then what would it mean to actually participate in the real world and actual 'real' work.

I can understand when you are on a long retreat and things like this come along that it can throw you off but isn't that simply a signal that you have to be mindful of that too and that you don't cling to any particular retreat experience and deal with whatever is arising in that situation. Perhaps view it as an exercise in flexibility/adaptability of mind.

Sometimes i get the idea that there is still this very subtle attachment to certain meditative experiences and a subsequent possible aversion that arises when having to deal with things like email, phone calls etc. But we are also human beings that engage in the real world and shouldn't the practice help us navigate the world better without retreating from it? Otherwise it seems a bit backwards.

Perhaps even more problematic is when it comes to the letters he would get from family members and that it would take him a while to 'settle'.I think there is a hidden danger here in that, again, a particular meditative experience gets this front row seat above all else that is not warranted. If you are away from home for so long and then you finally get a letter from your loved ones and it occupies you in some way shape or form for the next couple of days then, to me at least, that is not a hindrance but being a human being. It may be a hindrance to a particular form of concentration and if that is your sole aim at a certain retreat i can somewhat understand where you are coming from but in the larger frame it seems counterproductive and not helpful. There should be a fluidity between 'formal' meditation practice and 'real life'.

Would love to hear what you guys think about this.

User avatar
Queequeg
Global Moderator
Posts: 9716
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:24 pm

Re: Attachment to a form of practice?

Post by Queequeg » Thu Feb 20, 2020 4:39 pm

Consider delving into those depths of mind before forming an opinion.
'Household life is confining, a dusty path. The life gone forth is like the open air. It is not easy living at home to practice the holy life totally perfect, totally pure, like a polished shell. What if I were to shave off my hair and beard, put on the ochre robes, and go forth from the household life into homelessness?
When you calm your mind and start unbinding at subtle levels, gaining clear insights about it, penetrating to subtler and subtler levels, you may find even subtle engagement with the world a deep distraction, let alone dealing with emails from someone blazing in the flames of samsara. Your sensitivities are greatly enhanced. They say there are levels of development where one can engage with in samsara without being disturbed. I'm in awe of those who can do that.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

crown
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Feb 19, 2020 9:20 pm

Re: Attachment to a form of practice?

Post by crown » Thu Feb 20, 2020 5:37 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Thu Feb 20, 2020 4:39 pm
Consider delving into those depths of mind before forming an opinion.
'Household life is confining, a dusty path. The life gone forth is like the open air. It is not easy living at home to practice the holy life totally perfect, totally pure, like a polished shell. What if I were to shave off my hair and beard, put on the ochre robes, and go forth from the household life into homelessness?
When you calm your mind and start unbinding at subtle levels, gaining clear insights about it, penetrating to subtler and subtler levels, you may find even subtle engagement with the world a deep distraction, let alone dealing with emails from someone blazing in the flames of samsara.
That is exactly my point. What good is a practice that pulls you out of ordinary existence to the point that dealing with ordinary existence becomes a deep distraction. To me that comes across as a form of attachment and lack of flexibility.

You should be able to rest just the same in awareness whether it be answering emails or sitting in a deep state of meditation. Like the article i posted in the other thread that contains a quote/reaction from ajahn chah in relation to all these profound experiences that are accompanied with these clear insights "well, something else to let go of" or another quote from dogen that is perhaps useful here "if you cling to the form of sitting you will never reach the truth".

I am not denying that these experiences can be valuable in some way or another but to give more importance to one experience over the other is exactly the thing one has to be careful of.

Even joseph himself said it in one of his talks that he would do these long retreats where every once in a while his teacher came to get him to talk to the guests and that at a certain point he even created an aversion towards the sound of the teacher walking toward him knowing that he was about to be interrupted in his deep state of meditation but that eventually he had to learn to be able to switch seamlessly between those activities.

Now of course this seems in opposition with what he said about the emails but i don't think that is necessarily the case. I think he is simply pointing out that an activity however seemingly small and innocuous can still get you 'caught'. I think if you would press him on the issue he wouldn't say that you can't write emails or have phone calls in an abiding way. He is also talking about it in the context of a long retreat and then suddenly being confronted with these realities.

I am just using the way he said it in that particular 'lecture' as an example of how it may be interpreted in a way that is not helpful and perhaps even harmful and discussing the more fundamental problem of attachment to certain experiences.

User avatar
Queequeg
Global Moderator
Posts: 9716
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:24 pm

Re: Attachment to a form of practice?

Post by Queequeg » Thu Feb 20, 2020 6:27 pm

crown wrote:
Thu Feb 20, 2020 5:37 pm
Queequeg wrote:
Thu Feb 20, 2020 4:39 pm
Consider delving into those depths of mind before forming an opinion.
'Household life is confining, a dusty path. The life gone forth is like the open air. It is not easy living at home to practice the holy life totally perfect, totally pure, like a polished shell. What if I were to shave off my hair and beard, put on the ochre robes, and go forth from the household life into homelessness?
When you calm your mind and start unbinding at subtle levels, gaining clear insights about it, penetrating to subtler and subtler levels, you may find even subtle engagement with the world a deep distraction, let alone dealing with emails from someone blazing in the flames of samsara.
That is exactly my point. What good is a practice that pulls you out of ordinary existence to the point that dealing with ordinary existence becomes a deep distraction. To me that comes across as a form of attachment and lack of flexibility.
What is ordinary? I think you're assuming a universal meaning there. My ordinary and your ordinary may have very little in common.

Again, I'd suggest you explore those states before forming an opinion. You're assuming an attachment. If I'm trying to build a tree house, just because I'm using a hammer doesn't mean I'm attached to the hammer, but I'll tell you, its damn hard driving nails with a bare hand, and only marginally better with a rock.
You should be able to rest just the same in awareness whether it be answering emails or sitting in a deep state of meditation.
Can you do that?
Like the article i posted in the other thread that contains a quote/reaction from ajahn chah in relation to all these profound experiences that are accompanied with these clear insights "well, something else to let go of" or another quote from dogen that is perhaps useful here "if you cling to the form of sitting you will never reach the truth".
Again, you're over generalizing and assuming attachments. In some they may be there. In others they may not.
I am not denying that these experiences can be valuable in some way or another but to give more importance to one experience over the other is exactly the thing one has to be careful of.
Oh, there are most definitely some experiences that are better and more beneficial than others, and being attached to those better experiences is not categorically a bad thing. Buddha did not reject those who proceed on the path through a naive attachment to the Buddha. Of course, that attachment will need to be released at some point, but as the Buddha said about those who proceed on the basis of faith, "Here some bhikku progresses by a measure of faith and love. In this case bhikkus consider thus: 'Friends, this bhikku progresses by a measure of faith and love. Let him not lose that measure of faith and love, as he may if we take action against him by repeatedly admonishing him.' Suppose a man had only one eye; then his friends and companions, his kinsmen and relatives, would guard his eye, thinking: 'Let him not lose his one eye.' So too some bhikku progresses by a measure of faith and love."
I am just using the way he said it in that particular 'lecture' as an example of how it may be interpreted in a way that is not helpful and perhaps even harmful and discussing the more fundamental problem of attachment to certain experiences.
The way I see it, its a case by case consideration. I'm not assuming that someone who has entered a long retreat is doing so because they're attached to a practice. I've had enough experience practicing and with navigating life as a layman with the weight of middle age responsibility - spouse, children, parent, siblings, etc., clients, employees, maintaining all the things needed for this household life - on my shoulders while doing my best to engage in practice as deeply as possible to know that leisure and quiet is needed to cultivate certain states of mind. Study any serious meditation manual and there are preliminary instructions to put aside all mundane tasks, even study, when entering a period of intense practice.

As a fellow DharmaWheeler put it, Dharma is not for a better samsara.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

SteRo
Posts: 461
Joined: Fri Sep 13, 2019 12:29 pm

Re: Attachment to a form of practice?

Post by SteRo » Thu Feb 20, 2020 6:59 pm

crown wrote:
Thu Feb 20, 2020 5:37 pm
... What good is a practice that pulls you out of ordinary existence to the point that dealing with ordinary existence becomes a deep distraction. To me that comes across as a form of attachment and lack of flexibility.
Yes and no.

Yes, you are right.

No because in order to get to a certain level of practice you have to have seclusion. Desiring calm and non-disturbance in the context of meditation practice is beneficial. Attachment to sensual pleasures the world pursues is a hindrance for meditation.
The five hindrances in context of meditation are:
sensual desire
ill-will
sloth and drowsiness
restlessness and worry
doubt

You may recognize that disturbance that cannot be avoided may be a cause of hindrances: ill-will against the disturbing object or restlessness and worry as to when the next disturbance might occur. Which is why the middle way in terms of attitude seems advisable.

But he seems to know anyway that what is beneficial might also turn into an extreme:
Even joseph himself said it in one of his talks that he would do these long retreats where every once in a while his teacher came to get him to talk to the guests and that at a certain point he even created an aversion towards the sound of the teacher walking toward him knowing that he was about to be interrupted in his deep state of meditation but that eventually he had to learn to be able to switch seamlessly between those activities.

tkp67
Posts: 1168
Joined: Sun May 12, 2019 5:42 am

Re: Attachment to a form of practice?

Post by tkp67 » Thu Feb 20, 2020 7:07 pm

Being attached to path isn't much different than an infant being attached to its mother. Developmentally it should be shed as should a child's reliance on its mother.

User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
Posts: 10698
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA
Contact:

Re: Attachment to a form of practice?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Thu Feb 20, 2020 7:10 pm

Any activity can be integrated into practice,

However, our capacity determines this, and it is a little different recipe for every person. I think if we are honest that many of us probably can go down the rabbit hole and lose and presence we have quite quickly in conversation...especially online conversation, which can be a prapanca factory.

I actually found recently that on a personal retreat (completed isolated physically from people, practicing something like a workday length) I was better able to integrate daily activities like communication etc. in the evenings than I was in "normal" life. So, my experience has been the opposite of Goldstein's.

I do think he is on to something in one sense though, language and communication has a tendency to become convoluted the longer it goes on. Simple, direct communication is a good thing to aim for. I think it's also true that you can see the uglier side of things like communication udring intense periods of practice. It is indeed a problem if it becomes a true aversion. that said, if it helps one develop renunciation of Samsara then it is serving a good purpose.

From a Mahayana perspective (which Goldstein is not coming from, I note) there is no reason to reject things like communication, but rather we should aim to integrate them into our path as much as is possible.
Sometimes i get the idea that there is still this very subtle attachment to certain meditative experiences and a subsequent possible aversion that arises when having to deal with things like email, phone calls etc. But we are also human beings that engage in the real world and shouldn't the practice help us navigate the world better without retreating from it? Otherwise it seems a bit backwards.
Generally speaking, I think we have to develop a sense of renunciation before integrating our practice with phenomena. So in the beginning, meditation is often a very "separate" thing from the world, it has to be for us to get a true taste of both Nirvana and an honest view of Samsara (what Goldstein is describing is starkly understanding Samsara,I would say) but we try to integrate more and more.

You are looking at this as if it's some either-or choice and contradictory, they are actually complimentary positions in practice.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low

crown
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Feb 19, 2020 9:20 pm

Re: Attachment to a form of practice?

Post by crown » Fri Feb 21, 2020 1:18 am

What is ordinary? I think you're assuming a universal meaning there. My ordinary and your ordinary may have very little in common.


I am not trying to get into a semantic debate, although i recognize the value of meaning and deffinition, but in this context i was talking about the difference between a deep state of meditation and mundane activities like doing the dishes or the aforementioned handling of email. We can also view it in a more general sense and simply talk about different modes of experience/activity. I am not convinced however that this is entirely relevant to what it is we are trying to discuss or zoom in on.


Again, I'd suggest you explore those states before forming an opinion. You're assuming an attachment. If I'm trying to build a tree house, just because I'm using a hammer doesn't mean I'm attached to the hammer, but I'll tell you, its damn hard driving nails with a bare hand, and only marginally better with a rock.

If writing an email is accompanied by being caught in restlessness and/or agitation, not merely a change of energy, then yes i would view this as an attachment or clinging of some sort. I think what you are referring to is that the transition between this deep meditative state where your sensitivities are greatly enhanced to the activity of handling email can give rise to certain difficulties that would not be attributable to attachment. I'm not sure though what ultimately it would be attributable to but i'll leave that for now.

Can you do that?

I'll refer to my earlier post regarding joseph his own experience where he had to transition from a state of deep meditation to a conversation. Which is arguably more difficult then going from this said state to handling emails because the latter you can do in your own pace as opposed to a real time interaction

Again, you're over generalizing and assuming attachments.


I was merely trying to illustrate and underline my initial point by using certain quotes that attachment to a certain meditative experience is a potential treacherous path and that it is probably wise to exercise caution if one decides to do so. Since you already disagreed with my initial point then it seems a bit redundant to repeat the attachment issue here as you already pointed it out earlier.

In some they may be there. In others they may not.

Are you saying that attachments can be beneficial in some cases or that they can be present without being problematic in some cases or both?

Oh, there are most definitely some experiences that are better and more beneficial than others, and being attached to those better experiences is not categorically a bad thing.

Not really sure what to make of this. You present an example that is not really in line with what I am talking about, faith is not exactly the same as attachment, and then you even proceed in the example to say that eventually the attachment has to be left behind. Perhaps the word striving would be more appropriate. Striving without attachment.

I am also not talking about certain experiences being better or more beneficial than others although I’m also skeptical about how you phrased it is actually helpful or accurate. I would prefer that ‘relating to experience’ can be better or more beneficial, but experience itself can be an entire spectrum and an unpleasant experience may actually be a ‘better’ experience than a pleasant one depending on what you are going through at that particular moment and/or what it might teach you. I get that relating to experience and ‘experience itself’ aren’t completely inseparable but I’m blaming the limitations of language here and my own shortcoming in the mastery of the queen’s English but I think it is clear enough to understand what I am getting at. But even here the problem of attachment still remains.

Again ultimately I am not talking about beneficial or better but I am talking about being attached to them in a way that creates a want in the mind and can manifest as a hindrance in our practice when these experiences are not present. Perhaps I should have worded that differently/better in my previous post.

I'm not assuming that someone who has entered a long retreat is doing so because they're attached to a practice


i'm not assuming this either.


Study any serious meditation manual and there are preliminary instructions to put aside all mundane tasks, even study, when entering a period of intense practice.

Not the point i am trying to make


Again you may want to explore those meditative experiences before condemning such practices as mere attachment.

I think to some degree we are talking past each other. Like I mentioned earlier I think your focus is geared towards the transitioning from one state to the other. If it is indeed your sole aim to reach a deep level of concentration then I can imagine that mundane tasks can be a distraction. But I am trying to view it through the larger frame of abiding to the ever changing nature of our experience and how to deal with the complexities and messiness of human existence.The formless nature of it all.

Thank you for the response. I appreciate it.

User avatar
Queequeg
Global Moderator
Posts: 9716
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:24 pm

Re: Attachment to a form of practice?

Post by Queequeg » Fri Feb 21, 2020 4:09 am

crown wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 1:18 am
What is ordinary? I think you're assuming a universal meaning there. My ordinary and your ordinary may have very little in common.


I am not trying to get into a semantic debate, although i recognize the value of meaning and deffinition, but in this context i was talking about the difference between a deep state of meditation and mundane activities like doing the dishes or the aforementioned handling of email. We can also view it in a more general sense and simply talk about different modes of experience/activity. I am not convinced however that this is entirely relevant to what it is we are trying to discuss or zoom in on.
crown wrote:
Thu Feb 20, 2020 3:29 pm
I couldn't help but think that there is something problematic in the statements he is making and maybe even a little bit comical. If checking your email once a day and making a phone call now and again is already considered a disturbance and possible cause for agitation then what would it mean to actually participate in the real world and actual 'real' work.

I can understand when you are on a long retreat and things like this come along that it can throw you off but isn't that simply a signal that you have to be mindful of that too and that you don't cling to any particular retreat experience and deal with whatever is arising in that situation. Perhaps view it as an exercise in flexibility/adaptability of mind.

Sometimes i get the idea that there is still this very subtle attachment to certain meditative experiences and a subsequent possible aversion that arises when having to deal with things like email, phone calls etc. But we are also human beings that engage in the real world and shouldn't the practice help us navigate the world better without retreating from it? Otherwise it seems a bit backwards.

Perhaps even more problematic is when it comes to the letters he would get from family members and that it would take him a while to 'settle'.I think there is a hidden danger here in that, again, a particular meditative experience gets this front row seat above all else that is not warranted. If you are away from home for so long and then you finally get a letter from your loved ones and it occupies you in some way shape or form for the next couple of days then, to me at least, that is not a hindrance but being a human being. It may be a hindrance to a particular form of concentration and if that is your sole aim at a certain retreat i can somewhat understand where you are coming from but in the larger frame it seems counterproductive and not helpful. There should be a fluidity between 'formal' meditation practice and 'real life'.
You're the one positing some "ordinary" life against which deep meditative practice is problematic, that it is marked by attachment. A renunciate may well see the need to be on and answer emails as problematic. My point is, there might be more to this than your analysis allows.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

User avatar
LastLegend
Posts: 3771
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 3:46 pm
Location: Washington DC

Re: Attachment to a form of practice?

Post by LastLegend » Fri Feb 21, 2020 4:43 am

crown wrote:
Thu Feb 20, 2020 3:29 pm
Hello everyone,

I was listening to one of joseph goldsteins talks on dharmaseed.org. It was a sattipathana sutta talk on the hindrance of restlessness.He goes on about one of the possible causes of restlessness being provocative talk and prolonged discussion and how it can disturb seclusion and/or cause agitation. He then proceeds in light of modern day communication and his own particular experience regarding emails.

https://dharmaseed.org/talks/audio_player/96/297.html Around 19:30

He would check his email once a day and with get caught up in it and it would 'disturb' the seclusion. He would say the same about phone calls and letters he would get from family members while on long retreats.

I couldn't help but think that there is something problematic in the statements he is making and maybe even a little bit comical. If checking your email once a day and making a phone call now and again is already considered a disturbance and possible cause for agitation then what would it mean to actually participate in the real world and actual 'real' work.

I can understand when you are on a long retreat and things like this come along that it can throw you off but isn't that simply a signal that you have to be mindful of that too and that you don't cling to any particular retreat experience and deal with whatever is arising in that situation. Perhaps view it as an exercise in flexibility/adaptability of mind.

Sometimes i get the idea that there is still this very subtle attachment to certain meditative experiences and a subsequent possible aversion that arises when having to deal with things like email, phone calls etc. But we are also human beings that engage in the real world and shouldn't the practice help us navigate the world better without retreating from it? Otherwise it seems a bit backwards.

Perhaps even more problematic is when it comes to the letters he would get from family members and that it would take him a while to 'settle'.I think there is a hidden danger here in that, again, a particular meditative experience gets this front row seat above all else that is not warranted. If you are away from home for so long and then you finally get a letter from your loved ones and it occupies you in some way shape or form for the next couple of days then, to me at least, that is not a hindrance but being a human being. It may be a hindrance to a particular form of concentration and if that is your sole aim at a certain retreat i can somewhat understand where you are coming from but in the larger frame it seems counterproductive and not helpful. There should be a fluidity between 'formal' meditation practice and 'real life'.

Would love to hear what you guys think about this.
Of course there is attachment or we would all be liberated. That’s how karma finds us.
Make personal vows.

User avatar
Vasana
Posts: 2087
Joined: Thu Aug 22, 2013 11:22 am

Re: Attachment to a form of practice?

Post by Vasana » Fri Feb 21, 2020 8:32 am

Bear in mind there are different approaches to suit different people and beings.

The Buddha taught renunicates but he also taught kings and those who had worldy commitments.

It shows a lack of understanding the culmination of the Arhats path to call it attachment. The arhats do see most forms of sensory contact as unnecessary distractions, hindrances to their meditation. Arhats reach cessation via the dhyanas. The afflictive obscurations completely cease so there is no trace of attachment to be spoken of, let alone conceived of in their minds. They see sensory contact as problematic and so reach complete cessation of unessarcy contact, interrupting further craving and the other 12 links of dependent origination.

If you think this is somehow lacking as a path and that it doesn't resonate with you, this doesn't mean the teachings are at fault, rather it just means that you're not personally inclined towards the life of a renunicant monk who restricts their intake of sensory contact. This is fine, the Buddha taught different approaches to suit others.

It may even be that you have leanings more towards the Mahayana?

Irregardless, there is still lots of advice for following the example of a wounded deer, who seeks seclusion first, in order to attend their wounds and heal. If you want to stabilise your wisdom, it helps to at least temporarily seclude it from the chatter of the world and your own mind. Scabs dont heal if we pick them and a candle flame needs shielding from the wind. Even paths that teach methods for integrating all sounds and the hustle and bustle of life still recommend phases of retreat. It's like chemistry or alchemy. You clean and purify your vessel, seal it from any external contamination so the chemical process can occur as it should. Eventually, then distractions can become the path, but for most of we still need those times of isolation to make progress.

Have you done much retreat? The best test of the effect of small distractions is to have a few retreats and see if there is a difference or not for yourself.
ཨོཾ ་ མ ་ ཎི ་ པ ་ དྨེ ་ ཧཱུྃ ། འ ་ ཨ ་ ཧ ་ ཤ ་ ས ་ མ །
Om Mani Peme Hum ། 'A Ah Ha Sha Sa Ma
'When alone, watch your mind,When with others, watch your speech' - Old Kadampa saying

User avatar
Ayu
Global Moderator
Posts: 7750
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:25 am
Location: Europe

Re: Attachment to a form of practice?

Post by Ayu » Fri Feb 21, 2020 10:04 am

crown wrote:
Thu Feb 20, 2020 3:29 pm
...

He would check his email once a day and with get caught up in it and it would 'disturb' the seclusion. He would say the same about phone calls and letters he would get from family members while on long retreats.
...

I can understand when you are on a long retreat and things like this come along that it can throw you off but isn't that simply a signal that you have to be mindful of that too ...
Well, being on retreat is a precious time. And for ordinary people it's a time as well when you can see trouble arise from your own mind without any outer disturbances. I think, this is an important process of learning about your own mind.

As soon as there comes disturbance from e.g. family members you can blame them for it and nothing is gained.

When I was on a (only) ten days retreat I had my mobile with me and allowed my family to call me in case of imergency. :thinking: Well, they called me every day and even asked me to stop the retreat and come back - really for no reason. My teenage son had some stomac pain. The doctor said 'No problem".
These 'obstacles' where an interesting phenomenon, it was like a family therapy... But nobody had any profit from it. Viewed from the perspective of my seldom, precious retreat it was really a waste of time and an unnecessary distraction. Could have spend the time better for deepening the practice.

I only accepted this procedure because I never want my family to think that Dharma steals them anything. I want them to understand that it is their advantage to have a dhama practicing mom.
For the benefit and ease of all sentient beings. :heart:

User avatar
LastLegend
Posts: 3771
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 3:46 pm
Location: Washington DC

Re: Attachment to a form of practice?

Post by LastLegend » Fri Feb 21, 2020 1:23 pm

Mind can grasp itself even not grasping external conditions maybe mind itself is conditioned?
Make personal vows.

crown
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Feb 19, 2020 9:20 pm

Re: Attachment to a form of practice?

Post by crown » Fri Feb 21, 2020 3:46 pm

You're the one positing some "ordinary" life against which deep meditative practice is problematic, that it is marked by attachment.

I did not posit it in such a manner. I was careful in my articulation, especially in my initial response to you, and perhaps reading it again would help clarify it.

I understand that it is not a binary equation. I am merely pointing out that having certain meditative experiences CAN cause attachment of some sort, however subtle, that may arise at a later time as a hindrance in our practice. And this hindrance can manifest itself in a myriad of ways including in times of mundane activity. This to me seems fairly uncontroversial.

What you and mr vasana are talking about is when one pursues a path of seclusion to such a degree that forms of sensory contact or in our case digital forms of contact can be seen as a ‘hindrance’ to that particular form of meditation.

So then naturally the question arises if this sensory contact is inherently a hindrance that cannot be avoided or is it in the context of deepening a certain meditative practice? To me the first position seems hardly tenable and counterproductive/unhelpful in discussing all the hindrances and how they relate to all manner of activities and I am not sure how to even interpret that. What particular element of sensory contact would give rise to a hindrance that is unavoidable or unworkable?

I think the best way to describe the phenomenon you are talking about is that the transition from the deep state of meditation to sensory contact is such an energetically qualitatively different experience that it may take a while to return to that state after the cessation of the sensory contact or that this transition is inherently accompanied by an amount of 'friction' that is not due to attachment although again regarding the latter it is not clear to me what ultimately would be the cause.

But that is not entirely the same as what goldstein is describing when he talks about writing completely inappropriate responses indicating a level of agitation that is not ‘warranted’ and is not merely a result from the transition to an energetically altered level of experience or an unavoidable reaction to this distraction. That is a form of agitation that I would describe as a hindrance that CAN be avoided. As I pointed out earlier Goldstein himself said that on long retreats he had to learn to transition effectively from deep meditation to a conversation. He himself acknowledges that there is a skillful element to be perfected in making that transition.

And I think this last point gets to the heart of our discussion. To me the larger frame of the practice is to be able to cope better and more effectively in a wider range of situations then was possible before and to minimize the amount or intensity of hindrances that are present during these situations. You seem to take the more narrow position about external factors that can be a distraction to a particular form of meditation and the attempt to deepen that practice which I understand can have beneficial effects in certain ways and eventually help you in the more complete picture. It doesn’t seem justifiable that that is the same sort of distraction as what I was trying to originally get at when it comes to restlessness and agitation. I think the distraction you are talking about can still be experienced in an abiding way but can also ‘obstruct’ the practice you are trying to perfect. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.


My point is, there might be more to this than your analysis allows.

Feel free to enlighten me with an analysis of your own. The response you gave to my latest post seems a bit on the minimal side so perhaps you can elaborate in a way that clears up the confusion.
Last edited by crown on Fri Feb 21, 2020 4:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Ayu
Global Moderator
Posts: 7750
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:25 am
Location: Europe

Re: Attachment to a form of practice?

Post by Ayu » Fri Feb 21, 2020 4:24 pm

crown wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 3:46 pm
You're the one positing some "ordinary" life against which deep meditative practice is problematic, that it is marked by attachment.

I did not posit it in such a manner. I was careful in my articulation, especially in my initial response to you, and perhaps reading it again would help clarify it.

I understand that it is not a binary equation. I am merely pointing out that having certain meditative experiences CAN cause attachment of some sort, however subtle, that may arise at a later time as a hindrance in our practice. And this hindrance can manifest itself in a myriad of ways including in times of mundane activity. This to me seems fairly uncontroversial.

What you and mr vasana are talking about is when one pursues a path of seclusion to such a degree that forms of sensory contact or in our case digital forms of contact can be seen as a ‘hindrance’ to that particular form of meditation.

So then naturally the question arises if this sensory contact is inherently a hindrance that cannot be avoided or is it in the context of deepening a certain meditative practice? To me the first position seems hardly tenable and counterproductive/unhelpful in discussing all the hindrances and how they relate to all manner of activities and I am not sure how to even interpret that. What particular element of sensory contact would give rise to a hindrance that is unavoidable or unworkable?

I think the best way to describe the phenomenon you are talking about is that the transition from the deep state of meditation to sensory contact is such an energetically qualitatively different experience that it may take a while to return to that state after the cessation of the sensory contact or that this transition is inherently accompanied by an amount of 'friction' that is not due to attachment although again regarding the latter it is not clear to me what ultimately would be the cause.

But that is not entirely the same as what goldstein is describing when he talks about writing completely inappropriate responses indicating a level of agitation that is not ‘warranted’ and is not merely a result from the transition to an energetically altered level of experience or an unavoidable reaction to this distraction. That is a form of agitation that I would describe as a hindrance that CAN be avoided. As I pointed out earlier Goldstein himself said that on long retreats he had to learn to transition effectively from deep meditation to a conversation. He himself acknowledges that there is a skillful element to be perfected in making that transition.

And I think this last point gets to the heart of our discussion. To me the larger frame of the practice is to be able to cope better and more effectively in a wider range of situations then was possible before and to minimize the amount or intensity of hindrances that are present during these situations. You seem to take the more narrow position about external factors that can be a distraction to a particular form of meditation and the attempt to deepen that practice which I understand can have beneficial effects in certain ways and eventually help you in the more complete picture. It doesn’t seem justifiable that that is the same sort of distraction as what I was trying to originally get at when it comes to restlessness and agitation. I think the distraction you are talking about can still be experienced in an abiding way but can also ‘obstruct’ the practice you are trying to perfect. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.


My point is, there might be more to this than your analysis allows.

Feel free to enlighten me with an analysis of your own. The response you gave to my latest post seems a bit on the minimal side so perhaps you can elaborate in a way that clears up the confusion.
Whom do you address as 'you'?
For the benefit and ease of all sentient beings. :heart:

crown
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Feb 19, 2020 9:20 pm

Re: Attachment to a form of practice?

Post by crown » Fri Feb 21, 2020 4:35 pm

Whom do you address as 'you'?

My apologies for the confusion. I was reacting to the post of Queequeg.

I tried to highlight his answers in black but that created no apparent distinction. :oops:

I rectified it and put his answers in red.

User avatar
Queequeg
Global Moderator
Posts: 9716
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:24 pm

Re: Attachment to a form of practice?

Post by Queequeg » Fri Feb 21, 2020 6:13 pm

crown wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 3:46 pm
You're the one positing some "ordinary" life against which deep meditative practice is problematic, that it is marked by attachment.

I did not posit it in such a manner. I was careful in my articulation, especially in my initial response to you, and perhaps reading it again would help clarify it.

I understand that it is not a binary equation. I am merely pointing out that having certain meditative experiences CAN cause attachment of some sort, however subtle, that may arise at a later time as a hindrance in our practice. And this hindrance can manifest itself in a myriad of ways including in times of mundane activity. This to me seems fairly uncontroversial.

What you and mr vasana are talking about is when one pursues a path of seclusion to such a degree that forms of sensory contact or in our case digital forms of contact can be seen as a ‘hindrance’ to that particular form of meditation.

So then naturally the question arises if this sensory contact is inherently a hindrance that cannot be avoided or is it in the context of deepening a certain meditative practice? To me the first position seems hardly tenable and counterproductive/unhelpful in discussing all the hindrances and how they relate to all manner of activities and I am not sure how to even interpret that. What particular element of sensory contact would give rise to a hindrance that is unavoidable or unworkable?

I think the best way to describe the phenomenon you are talking about is that the transition from the deep state of meditation to sensory contact is such an energetically qualitatively different experience that it may take a while to return to that state after the cessation of the sensory contact or that this transition is inherently accompanied by an amount of 'friction' that is not due to attachment although again regarding the latter it is not clear to me what ultimately would be the cause.

But that is not entirely the same as what goldstein is describing when he talks about writing completely inappropriate responses indicating a level of agitation that is not ‘warranted’ and is not merely a result from the transition to an energetically altered level of experience or an unavoidable reaction to this distraction. That is a form of agitation that I would describe as a hindrance that CAN be avoided. As I pointed out earlier Goldstein himself said that on long retreats he had to learn to transition effectively from deep meditation to a conversation. He himself acknowledges that there is a skillful element to be perfected in making that transition.

And I think this last point gets to the heart of our discussion. To me the larger frame of the practice is to be able to cope better and more effectively in a wider range of situations then was possible before and to minimize the amount or intensity of hindrances that are present during these situations. You seem to take the more narrow position about external factors that can be a distraction to a particular form of meditation and the attempt to deepen that practice which I understand can have beneficial effects in certain ways and eventually help you in the more complete picture. It doesn’t seem justifiable that that is the same sort of distraction as what I was trying to originally get at when it comes to restlessness and agitation. I think the distraction you are talking about can still be experienced in an abiding way but can also ‘obstruct’ the practice you are trying to perfect. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.


My point is, there might be more to this than your analysis allows.

Feel free to enlighten me with an analysis of your own. The response you gave to my latest post seems a bit on the minimal side so perhaps you can elaborate in a way that clears up the confusion.
Its easier if you use the quote function than to highlight in different colored fonts. When you want to reply to a message, press the quotation mark in the upper right of the message window. Write your own comments outside of the quote commands.

I don't think that there is much more to say to "enlighten" you. Its clear that you do not have much experience with contemplative practice or have much familiarity with the instructions based on Buddhist psychology, or very much familiarity with Buddhist teachings in general. This is not a knock. Its just a statement that I think is obvious to others who have responded to this thread. We're giving you a heads up that what you are looking at and commenting on is not quite what you think it is. With varying degrees of tact - I often have little - you're being encouraged to get some experience with the very thing that you are commenting on - contemplative practice. You will be enlightened on the subject if you undertake contemplative practice and gain some personal, subjective experience with it. It may well not be for you, which is fine, but to put what you see in a box with a conclusion that, "They're doing it wrong; they're just attached," creates an obstacle for you. A brahmin asked the Buddha, how is the Truth safeguarded even if one does not actually know it. The Buddha explained, the Truth is safeguarded when we refrain from concluding, without actual knowledge, "This is the Truth. Nothing else is the Truth." We're trying to tell you, keep an open mind; there is more going here than what you presently are able to see.

In arguing that the contemplatives are just attached to meditation, you may be precluding yourself from developing the insights that might give you a different perspective. To appreciate attachment at subtler levels of the mind that are very much at play in even the slightest activities of your mind, let alone in feeling compelled to answer the phone or respond to emails, you are going to need to engage in contemplative practice, and to get really deep, you're going to need to keep the disturbances at bay. You're taking these rather coarse activities that are part of our daily modern lives and without any real justification suggesting that these are essential human activities and then a step further suggesting that when we neglect them, we're somehow doing life wrong. You should see what contemplatives think of that. Look at the poetry of Cold Mountain, for instance. You'll find a very different perspective than yours. They didn't have cell phones or email back then, but chatter has been around a long, long time.

If all you're looking for is a way to cope and be a "better" participant in "ordinary" society, yeah, I suppose some of the methods that have been extracted out of real contemplative traditions like Buddhism that go by labels like "mindfulness" will be quite adequate for your purposes. If your goal is to be a better version of your samsaric self, go for it. If you think that what you are looking for is the point of Buddhism, I'm afraid you are profoundly mistaken.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
Posts: 10698
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA
Contact:

Re: Attachment to a form of practice?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Feb 21, 2020 6:31 pm

Crown:

You're just missing the point of what renunciation means, and have a related misunderstanding about the purpose of retreat.

Can't put it much more succinctly than that.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low

tkp67
Posts: 1168
Joined: Sun May 12, 2019 5:42 am

Re: Attachment to a form of practice?

Post by tkp67 » Fri Feb 21, 2020 6:34 pm

One problem is the way Buddhism is represented by interpretation does not represent the true diversity in teachings that exists.

I don't believe it is so easy to put all living traditions into a simple set of categorical practices.

User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
Posts: 10698
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA
Contact:

Re: Attachment to a form of practice?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Feb 21, 2020 8:50 pm

tkp67 wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 6:34 pm
One problem is the way Buddhism is represented by interpretation does not represent the true diversity in teachings that exists.

I don't believe it is so easy to put all living traditions into a simple set of categorical practices.
Renunciation of Samsara is a part of all Buddhist traditions. It's integral to Buddhism. Not just the doctrinal view, but the actual experience. What Goldstein describes is (to one degree or another) an aspect of that experience. The view of what constitutes renunciation can differ, as can it's position in the overall scheme of definitive vs. provisional teachings, but it is by definition a part of all Buddhist vehicles.

Again, in some traditions (not Goldstein's Theravada-inspired Buddhism at the time of the story I don't think) renunciation is simply a beginning step, but even in those it is a necessary one, and not that ever goes away, it simply changes context as one enters the Mahayana, etc.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low

Post Reply

Return to “Dharma in Everyday Life”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 54 guests