OU blog

Personal Blogs

Asoka

Like a tusker in the wild

Visible to anyone in the world


I am going through another dark night. I feel this oppressive vibe crushing down on my mind. I am trying not to take it personally. It felt like some people were being a bit off with me today, but I am determined not to let other’s moods affect mine.

If other people judge me, well that’s their problem. I know I have been far from perfect in the past, but that is the past. It is not who I am now, I am not the same person I was back then.

I have done my best to learn from past mistakes but reliving them over and over is not going to help anyone. The best thing I can do is resolve never to make those same mistakes again and move on, keep persevering on the noble eightfold path. Turn something bad into something good. That’s how I make amends and put right the bad kamma from the past. But I won’t punish myself anymore for mistakes I made when I was younger. I was ignorant and didn’t know any better. It is cruel to punish oneself for the past. Noone can go back and change it. What good does it do to continually relive it. I am not that person anymore. I’ve changed.

I will just allow myself to be misunderstood by others without worrying about correcting them. I know what’s in my heart and where I am in my spiritual development, as do my deva friends. What others think of me is their business. I don’t have to take on board anyone else’s negativity. I am not responsible for what others think. I am only responsible for what I think. And I don’t want to think negative thoughts or feel ill will.

I remember something a Buddhist teacher said once, that when difficulties like this arise, remember it is just the Buddha testing you, to see how far gone you are (-:

I have been here before, and the dark night usually happens just before I am about to make a sudden transition and make progress. It often feels darkest just before the light returns and becomes brighter still.

The dark night can be a sign one is making progress on the spiritual journey. I am getting familiar with this pattern. What I must do is try very hard not to react to it. No matter how uncomfortable and agitated I feel. I must not say or do anything I will regret later. Try to find some stillness and equanimity.

The truth is that I am the cause of my suffering, no one else is. It is the craving within me that causes my problems. The greed, hate, delusion, ignorance, and conceit. It isn’t something outside the mind, it is something within it. And that means I have the power to change it.

 If I react to the dark night, it will only increase the tendency of the mind to react negatively to it again in the future. But by choosing not to react, to patiently endure the unpleasant feelings and practise the four right efforts. That negative tendency of the mind gets weaker, and the power of right effort and mindfulness gets stronger.

This world can make you feel ashamed to be alone. But it is okay to be alone. I can be my own best friend. My own teacher, my own refuge. There’s great power in seeing that.

The noble eightfold path goes against the stream of this modern world, and the further one gets on the path, the lonelier it can feel.

 It has always been that way though, only the minority of people search for the higher paths and fruits. The majority just want the world and are content to spend their days chasing after sense-impressions and never going beyond that. But I no longer find excitement in the world. The things I used to enjoy; I have lost interest in now. I hunger for higher things. For nibbana, for liberation from craving, relief from the pain of wanting.

And this spiritual hunger is not a bad thing. Some people criticise me for having the desire to liberate the mind. But the Buddha encouraged it, he talked about right desire, he called it chanda. If one does not aspire to realise nibbana, one will never make effort, and if one never makes effort, one will never realise the paths and fruits of enlightenment. Effort is fuelled by desire. It’s what keeps you walking. It is only when the work has been done, that one lets go of the desire for liberation.

Do not be afraid to be alone. Sometimes solitude is the wisest course of action to take when the world is on fire with greed, hate and delusion. Sometimes solitude is the only way to make progress on the path.

In the words of the Buddha:

If you find an alert companion, a wise and virtuous friend, then, overcoming all adversities, wander with them, joyful and mindful.

If you find no alert companion, no wise and virtuous friend, then, like a king who flees his conquered realm, wander alone like a tusker in the wilds.

It’s better to wander alone, than have fellowship with fools. Wander alone and do no wrong, at ease like a tusker in the wilds.

[MN128] 

https://suttacentral.net/mn128








Permalink
Share post
Asoka

Dark night III

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 23 Jun 2023, 12:03


Just seem to be coming out of another dark night of a very unpleasant state of mind. I was fine most of yesterday, my mood seemed to be great. Then in the evening I got triggered by something completely meaningless and suddenly went into an irrational rage. It was like my nervous system was on fire, and I didn't know how to put it out. My skin was crawling with agitation, and no matter what I did I couldn't soothe it or find any relief. It was Hell. I couldn't meditate, couldn't sit still, couldn't lie still, couldn't even bear walking. No posture felt comfortable. I honestly at that point wanted my life to end, I had had enough. Thoughts of self-harm and suicide raced through my mind. And it was hard to endure. I have been trying so hard to keep my moods balanced and stay composed, and I seemed to be doing well. But suddenly this mood came upon me out of seemingly nowhere and I felt powerless.

The three poisons greed, hate, and delusion were making their presence felt and gave me a kicking last night.

It lasted all night, and was still there this morning. It is only now that it seems to be finally subsiding. I am not joking when I say the mood nearly killed me. It was unbearable. I feel ashamed. No matter what I did, what I tried, the strategies of right effort, the reasoning, the wisdom, the bringing it down in stages, mindfulness, samhadi - it all failed. 

I am writing this to try and help myself understand what happened. What can I do to prevent that mood arising in the first place? What triggered it? Prevention is all about avoiding unwise attention to the fault, and avoiding unwise attention to the beautiful. What is wise attention?

I now have this self-loathing that hangs over me like a fault-finding shadow. A cloud of midges constantly reminding me of what a crappy useless human being I am. 

Despite this, I will keep practising, but I feel afraid. Not afraid of people, or the world. I am afraid of the three poisons within me: greed, hate, and delusion. This spiritual path is not to be taken too lightly, be careful, especially if practising alone. Those three poisons, the kilesas/kleshas are real, they're no joke, and they don't want to be purified. They will resist you, and sometimes when your mindfulness is weak, they will make you do stupid stuff, say things you regret, lock you in a Hell of your own making. They will kill you if they get a chance, they are not your friends. They would rather you died than got enlightened, if that's what it takes to keep you in Samsara. 

The crazy thing is, they are empty, empty of self, just like everything else. But still they put up a fight and it isn't pretty, and sometimes on the spiritual path one must be prepared to fall, and sometimes fall hard, get up all cut up and bruised. It happens. For me right effort at the moment seems to be about acknowledging my failure, picking myself back up, brushing myself off. Trying to learn what I can from the painful experience. Then the hard part, let go of it. Because if I don't let go of it, if I keep holding onto it, replaying it over and over in my mind. I will struggle to move on and become stuck in the quagmire of regret and remorse.

Next time that mood comes. I will try very hard not to speak, not to talk at all, to endure it in silence, and practise the parami of patience. Wait for that which arises to also cease. Isolate myself somewhere quiet away from the world and the energy of others and try very hard to be still. Will that work? I don't know. It sounds reasonable now that the mood has passed, but when I am in the grip of it, I often find these plausible-sounding strategies don't work. I can't bring myself out of the mood, it is really hard. 

Anyway all I can do is try. And if I fail again. I will do another review, adjust the strategy, keep tweaking it until it works. If I get knocked down, I'll get back up again. Get knocked down, rinse and repeat.




Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Daniela Miller, Sunday, 25 Jun 2023, 04:22)
Share post
Asoka

Stilling my way out of this

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 8 Mar 2023, 15:38

A lot of my problems seem to come from mental fabrications. I.e. too much thinking. 

I keep reminding myself of this when things get dark during the unpleasant process of purification. This is not an intellectual matter. I cannot think my way out of this. I still my way out of this. 

What's needed now is to stop paying attention to thoughts, to the mood, and practise single pointed attention on a meditation object instead. Not too tight a focus and not too loose, a gentle focus that can comfortably stay centred with the object of meditation without straining the mind.

At first one has to endure the taints, the greed, aversion, dullness, restlessness, scepticism (aka the five hindrances). Through it all, sit as upright and still as possible, like the Buddha under the Bodhi tree. Without judging anything that is happening, just mindful and bringing attention back to the meditation object and keeping it there, doing this over and over, calming the body, steadying the mind. 

I use different meditation objects at different times, sometimes its the breath, other times space, other times the body, the life energy (kundalini), the emotion of metta, the perception of light, warmth, cold, a primary colour, a sound, a mantra, one of the four primary elements, there's many different meditation objects, whatever meditation object feels like a good fit at the time and holds my interest. 

After a time, the composure deepens and the senses start to settle and calm down, the thoughts fade, dissolve,and the mind becomes more and more centred, more composed and unified around the meditation object, and then secluded from the five hindrances one drops into a pleasant serenity, and this connects one with a deeper part of being, a safe place below the surface level of thoughts. Like an inner refuge. 

 It involves patience at first. One has to endure the five hindrances, endure the taints, the impurities of the mind, the longing, aversion, and delusion, the crazy thoughts, let them be, and just sit as still as possible, anchoring attention with the meditation object. It can take more than one sitting sometimes before it reaches serenity. 

I did have a powerful meditation experience though which encouraged me to keep at this. Where I reached such a state of stillness and composure that afterwards the darkness was gone, and I was in a completely different mood, like I was glowing. It showed me that this is indeed the way out of the dark night. Stillness, samhadi and equanimity. 


Permalink
Share post
Asoka

The Deathless

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Monday, 20 Feb 2023, 21:19

Went out for a walk in the rain. Felt like there was a horse race of thoughts going on in my head. I watched them patiently, and noticed how I felt as well, how the thoughts affect the body; and vice versa how the body affects the thoughts. I felt restless and agitated, anxiety was present in the mind, and I noted how unpleasant these feelings are. Suffering feels like this.

I observed that the cause of it was once again thoughts to do with greed, hatred, and delusion. I reflected on what is meant by delusion, and there was this Aha! moment and I suddenly saw that the root of all delusion is the conceit: I am. 

I noticed then that whenever I felt suffering present in the mind, thoughts about the self were also present. This mental construct we carry around with us like a heavy suitcase: the self. It is unpleasant, it is stressful, bossy as well, has all these wants and needs, and resentments, it is tiring having a self... and... how nice it feels when one puts it down like a heavy bag one has been carrying without realising. How pleasant it feels to stop identifying with things, to stop taking things personally, to stop longing, to stop feeling angry. How happy it is to forget the self. I think the happiest moments in my life are when I have forgotten the self. 

I then reflect there never actually was a self, it was all a mental construct, an illusion, when one looks closely at it, it can't stand up to the light of day. But the sense of self is still needed to function in the world, so I must use it like a tool to survive; but how nice it feels to not cling to it, to not identify with it anymore (-:

I think that's the reason for the dark night, to see the self for what it is which can be hard to see; but then it is liberating, when one sees how it is this clinging to this delusion of self that causes us suffering, and the realisation that one doesn't have to hold onto it, it is perfectly okay to let go of it, because it was never there in the first place. 

Nibanna (Nirvana) is an element that is always here, it always has been here, and always will be. Another name for it is 'the deathless' because unlike conditioned phenomena it is permanent, it never ceases, and it is unaffected by change. Another name for it is the unconditioned.

 The noble eightfold path is the training that frees the mind from greed, hatred, and delusion. Which then enables one to experience the deathless, nibanna.

The knowledge of nibanna disappears and gets forgotten in time though, and it can remain unknown for very long stretches of time. And then apparently it takes a Buddha, a Tathagatha to re-discover it and teach other beings how to experience it again.


Permalink
Share post

This blog might contain posts that are only visible to logged-in users, or where only logged-in users can comment. If you have an account on the system, please log in for full access.

Total visits to this blog: 387596