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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Meditation is Running into Reality

Meditation is running into reality. It does not insulate you from the pain of life. It allows you to delve so deeply into life and all its aspects that you pierce the pain barrier and go beyond suffering.

-Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, "Mindfulness in Plain English"

James's comment: This reminds me of an article that I was refered to by a friend stating that it is easy to use meditation as a crutch or a drug to numb out and avoid pain rather then using it to pierce through that pain barrier to go beyond suffering.

-Peace to all beings-

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No Blood for Hubris said...

Hi, James. Happy Buddha's birthday.

"James" said...


Yes, happy continuation day indeed!! Just wanted to leave a quick note that I'm in Indiana for a few days for Mother's Day and such. I'll be back monday night.

paperfrog said...

Tricky thought ... not using meditation as a crutch.

I suppose all good things can be misused.

hitchhiker72 said...

I blogged about something similar recently, only I described it as an "escape hatch" rather than a crutch!

I've encountered people who struck me as appearing to practice Buddhism as a socially acceptable way of "dropping out" -- all the benefits of tuning out without the social disapproval (and dangers to one's health) of taking drugs. I dunno, maybe it's not my place to say so, but the thought did flit through my mind.

Anything can become a crutch I suppose -- work, ice-cream, meditation, even running. I have a friend who was so addicted to running (to or from what, I'm never sure), he never even noticed his foot was bleeding until he removed his shoe and saw that the sock was soaked.

However, I really like the image of meditation as running into reality. It's got such a feeling of liberation about it. Thanks for that.

quicksilver said...

From how I understand it, meditation is a way to find answers to your quesetions from within yourself--a buddhist form of "prayer." If that's true, how do you hope to get the answers?

Think of someone in pain as a "handicapped" person of sorts. For example, someone without legs cannot get around very well without a wheel chair. They can't just will themselves to have legs again. My take on pain is similar to that. Someone going through some kind of trial is not going to be able to simply will pain away.

I can see where quiet reflection can be useful in finding the root of a pain, but I don't see how it can help you get through the pain. Just my thoughts.

M.D. Shellhammer said...

Loved the post James. Perhaps a word or two on tonglen?

dragonflyfilly said...

James, i will come back and read the article about the Congo another day...i am not feeling strong enough right now...

re; this post; yes, i think initially we all start to meditate for the "wrong" reasons, but eventually i strongly believe that we will all transcend our selfish needs...who said: "One Truth, many paths"...???...

"James" said...

Paper Frog:

Yeah I think that it's a fine line.


I'll be right over to read your post. :)


"I can see where quiet reflection can be useful in finding the root of a pain."

This is indeed how I see Buddhist meditation.

And your right that someone can not will pain away but they can place themselves in a peaceful place through meditation to where they do not suffer from pain. Pain is inevitable but suffering is not.


Thanks!! And Tonglen is indeed a great practice. However, I do not know a lot about it so maybe you could write something about it here in this comment section??


I understand about the Congo article. I'm not sure where someone said: "One Truth, many paths" But I blieve it.

M.D. Shellhammer said...

Hi James,

I mention Tonglen practice in answer to quicksilvers questions on pain, but I think the subject is to long to post in a quick comment. I could post something on my blog if need be.


hitchhiker72 said...


I wasn't fishing ... honest! Hmm, maybe just a bit ... :) Thanks, though.

Also just wanted to add to quicksilver's comment about pain. I don't think it's a question of willing away the pain, but not becoming attached to it, or rather to the narrative surrounding it. I've just been reading Charlotte Joko Beck and think she says it better than I can. But just to sum up, she says to actually feel the contractions in the body brought on by anger/pain/anxiety, rather than to fuel the negative emotions with ego justifications and blame narratives. Easier said than done, I know, but still worth thinking about.

"James" said...


Good point on Tonglen being difficult to explain in a comment. I understand it to a degree but like many Buddhist comments it's hard to put into words.


No worries. :)

I second your comments on dealing with pain.

Ven. Anusorn said...

can u help us to post this article and this link to your blog?

They call him James Ure said...

Ven. Anusorn:

I'm not sure how your blog network works but feel free to copy and past this post and just mention the blog name, "The Buddhist Blog" and address:

That way there will be a traditional link on your blog without having to do the hot link. I hope that helps.

I bow to the Buddha within you.

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