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Friday, June 25, 2010

Discouraged.

***WARNING: LONG Rant ahead that's not your typical "Kittens and flowers" Buddhist post***

I'm struggling lately in my Dharma practice. I haven't meditated in months--not because I don't want to because I do, but I just can't get myself to do it. A large part of it is my mental illness that makes finding motivation extra challenging. Especially when the heavy medicating drugs I have to take to prevent mania and psychotic episodes zap me further of the will to do much of anything. It's difficult to fully convey how difficult it is to over-come.

Furthermore, I deal with a constant level of depression just beneath the surface of even my best days where I feel fairly decent. And please don't say, "Everyone gets depressed" because deep, clinical depression isn't like just having a bad day. Irregardless of that it's just an insensitive thing to say to someone who is living with clinical depression. It's chronic and biologically based on chemical imbalances in the brain.

And it's not as easy as just taking a pill because I already do, and still there is this underlying level of feeling like life isn't worth it. People think just because there are medications that they are cures--they help take the corners off the sharpest symptoms but they don't "cure" you in the sense that they don't bring you to the level of those who don't live with a severe mental illness.

Ironically, I was attracted in part to Buddhism because of it's psychological benefits, and I still believe it has immense help for those dealing with mental illness. However, Buddhism is difficult for anyone let alone for people with mental health challenges (unless you're enlightened, and how many can honestly claim that?). And it seems that the more I think I know about Buddhism the less I actually do. Everyone loves that "honeymoon phase" when you first taste the Dharma and it literally changes the way you see the world for the better but then the nitty-gritty, hard work begins and at times you stop and ask yourself, "Is this really worth it?"

It is. Buddhism can be a real bitch, and sometimes I wish I could just adhere to a religion where blind faith was about all I needed to do. However, I have felt those fleeting moments of enlightenment too profoundly to abandon the Dharma. I'm just discouraged about how poor my practice is right now, and has been for some time. An aspect of this discouragement stems from a lot of anger that I struggle with on a daily basis, which is, in part, again, rooted in the schizoaffective disorder.

I have Attention Deficit Disorder (or, A.D.D.) in conjunction with the affective side of things (affective simply means mood disorder, or bipolar. So, schizoaffective disorder is a combination of some schizophrenic symptoms and some bipolar symptoms). A.D.D. is a condition, which (in part) prevents the brain from being able to screen out stimuli that most people can relegate to the background.

So, while I am also hearing and listening to you talking to me, I can also hear at the same time: birds chirping outside, the kids screaming in their yard as they play, the traffic noise, the humming of the refrigerator and other appliances, the lawn mower going in the distance, etc. and I can't screen it out to focus simply on the conversation. All of this noise at once raises the stress in my mind and makes me impatient with the inability to focus on just one sound, which often makes me angry. In addition, I am hyper-aware of what is going on in the world and I get so angry because I just see humanity (and especially here in America) doing everything it can to destroy itself, its environment, its economy, its political system of democracy, its compassion for those who need assistance, its decency toward others in public places, its health care system, its acceptance of minorities and those of different sexual orientation, and on and on.

It makes me wonder what's the point of doing anything?!! Why participate in society and voting when it doesn't seem to make a difference or matter. What is the difference between letting karma do it's thing and predestination because some Buddhists seem to just shrug their shoulders in the face of struggles as if to say, "Eh, it's just karma doing its thing--what's the point?" And, yes, I know that suffering is inevitable and everywhere. I know that the world is not the place to look for stability. However, it seems that in response, many Buddhists take the default position to disconnect from society and disregard politics.

Yet, I struggle with this solution because it seems rather fatalistic, nihilistic and a form of avoidance. It seems to me that we owe it to ourselves to try and do our best to make it a better world--even if it can never be perfect. Aren't we making things worse if we just disconnect from society? Don't we have a duty to try our best to help build a better society? What if everyone just disregarded politics and civic responsibilities? Isn't it a bit selfish in a way? If no one tried to maintain some sort level of a stable world then it seems to me that some dictator would just take advantage of that and wipe out whole sections of the globe. Isn't that basically just letting suffering multiply? It's one thing to realize that suffering on some level is inevitable. However, to just disconnect seems to ironically cause more suffering from less and less good-hearted people participating to crafting how a country's general society behaves.

I'm certainly not giving up on Buddhism by any stretch but I'm discouraged today and it has been building. I guess my discouragement is with a lot of things but my Buddhist practice has me a bit frustrated, dispirited and depressed. I know it's not Buddhism that is the problem, and I know that I have a lot of work to do but please don't just post simplistic comments saying things like, "All you have to do is 'A' or 'B.'" Or, "You're problem is 'X.'"Everyone is full of advise but it's all easier said than done.

I'm not necessarily looking for answers, or advice--just some sympathy and assurance that I'm not the only one with these discouragements. I mean, intuitively I know that I'm not the only one but the things I hear sometimes from my fellow Buddhists makes me feel like I missed out on some meeting where everyone gained enlightenment. I'm not any kind of expert and I've got plenty of rust around the edges but I am always skeptical of people who seem to think they have it all figured out and that they're going to set everyone straight on how to be like them.

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35 comments:

Petteri Sulonen said...

Everyone gets discouraged. Pretending you're not only makes it worse. Feeling guilty doubles down. The only trick is to sit down regardless, if only for ten minutes, or five, or just three breaths. Think you could do that? Then the next breath just might follow, and if not, then maybe tomorrow.

NellaLou said...

Wow James. Sometimes we just have to let it go-I mean as in rant,not try to forget about the stuff that's in our faces 24/7.
Sometimes it would be nice to be totally insensitive to what's going on around us. Totally blissful and ignorant of suffering. I'd sure like a piece of that sometimes. But I gave up pursuing those kinds of escapes years ago.
I don't have advice to give on much of your stuff.

But I will say this. I think your Dharma practice is doing just fine. It's not about the rules or frequency of sitting. It's about what's happening, what's really happening. Every time I read your posts, and particularly this one, it's obvious how connected you are with what's happening. You're a pretty fearless guy and I respect that.

I've got no comfort or kittens and flowers to give you so that'll have to be it.

Lori said...

Hey, I've been following you via Google Reader but I've never commented on your blog before...I just want to say that you're not alone. I feel the same way, more and more these days actually. I've been raised Buddhist all my life and I do think Buddhism is beneficial, but I question it sometimes too because it seems like all the Buddhists I know are all raving about compassion and karma and interconnectedness while I just see a big gloop of "yeah........so what?"


Anyways, back on topic....I assure you that you are not alone and I think we both strive for a better state of mind as common goal. :)

Rosiroo said...

You are certainly not alone. Reading this actually almost brought tears to my eyes because I'd been thinking almost the exact same thing today. I have depression and anxiety issues as well, and the medication (which is necessary for now) makes it very difficult to meditate. Keep going. There are others experiencing the same and you are not on your own. The Dharma is worth it.

M. said...

I struggle with many of the same issues. I am a young Buddhist of the age of 20 who was brought to the dharma path four years ago by my families raging and utter dysfunction as well as my own mental issue of serious persistent depression that had me on the verge of suicide too many times to count throughout my stormy teenage years. Despite this, these are merely my dark moments and I can say that the dharma path has definitely liberated me of a great deal of the bullshit stress that all this debacle I was born into has given me and still gives me, and has allowed me to get great joy out of very important details of life I may have missed before.

I tell you this as a fellow student of Thay Hanh and other true masters and as a fellow student of the way and I hope that you can hear these words deeply, coming from another human being who is not so far away in this giant terrarium we call earth:

Continue on in the face of the million specters haunting you. You're doing great because to be as honest and insightful as you are being means you're already well in the midst of breaking through and understanding everything about this existence and your place in it. All on the path are haunted continuously and infinitely by millions of worries, discomforts, and problems we have with the way things are in the world around us. But we continue anyways, even though there are certainly days when we can't find the energy and we don't get up to face our problems entirely and at square. It's ok. That is ok. To attack yourself for this is useless.

There is ALWAYS a tomorrow, another far away dream, dreamt in another time and place where a new part of you is waiting to be found, a part that may turn the entire tide of your life for the better. In the deepest moments of doubt and pain come the greatest insights that immediately deliver you away from such states. Once the breaking point is reached there is no where else to go but to new places with new mindsets and new worries and new pleasures and new ways of seeing the world. You're practice is perfect your insight is genuine, because you are honest with your dissatisfaction and you do not ignore it. But you also must learn methods for you to use so that this dissatisfaction doesn't consume you and destroy any vestige of joy that this world might otherwise provide.

Keep looking and you will find everything it is you're looking for. The important part is to never stop looking, and more importantly, to look closely at the perspective of how you're looking at things and how exactly you respond to the demons when they come calling.

O' Green said...

The touch of Tao can be found from the bottom of what feels right.

You could perhaps sit or lay down and take these with you:

The way of experiencing negativity

Polarity of stance

Safety built from self-hate

Want to be

You already are

The right flows through heart

You've always had it

Don't let it go ever

It is the ground under your feet

It is the only proof that you can find

No improving

Wrong is right

Purpose

Of course

avadiax said...

Hi James, I empathise with with you situation. I have been a Buddhist for many 20 years, and despite of that, I still cannot handle a relationship breakup. My wife left me 3 days go on our 7th year anniversary, and all the negative thoughts that I weren't thinking of, surfaced all at one go. To make things worse, I have OCD, which makes me blame myself for that which led her to leave me.

It is at times my friends gave me a lot of verbal "morphine" to inject some pain killer along the way to make it easier for me to start walking the path, so that in time I could seek myself back.

As one of my friend told me, "LOVE YOURSELF". If you see the four immeasurables:

http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/buddhism/images/4immeasurables.gif

It starts with loving yourself. If you can't love yourself, you can't do the rest.

I am trying to make sense of it all in my current weak mental state, but I try. I wish you are able to regain the direction again, just as I hope myself will be. You take care.

They call him James Ure said...

@Petteri...I'm certainly not pretending. Sometimes I wish I could pretend that everything is kittens and roses but I gave up that up long ago. I'd rather face the searing suffering head on even though it's so difficult some days.

I can do the few breaths, and that's where I'll start. I use to do 20 minutes for years but fell off the routine, and need to start from square one again. It'll be good for me because it'll get me back into that "beginner's mind" again.

@Nella Lou...Thanks. Yeah, I don't do good when I just bottle up my frustrations. I have to get them out in the open and talk them through. I guess at least I'm being honest. I too gave up pursuing those kinds of escapes that you mentioned. That's why I struggle so much sometimes--as we all do.

To face life with blunt honesty is sometimes very challenging but I'd rather do that then live a lie. I'd rather follow the path through the brambles, jagged stones and stinging bugs than walk along the smooth river bed that never ascends toward one's greater goal of reaching the mountain top of liberation.

You're right about it not being about the rules and duration of sitting. I need to just get back to just being with my breath. That is always a good place to return when one is feeling battered I think. Even when we're not battered the breath is the perfect meditation tool because it's built in!! :)

I'm definitely connected with everything around me. Sometimes it means I soar with the eagles and other times it means I'm down in the sewers with the rats.

However, I need to remember that regardless of where my mood lies--it's all Dharma. It's all apart of the practice. It's all beneficial in some way, even though I might not know why yet. And while it's pretty shitty--shit makes beautiful roses!!

@Lori...I'm glad to have you as a reader and thanks for commenting. I'm certainly glad to be reminded I'm not alone in my struggles. I do find so much benefit in Buddhism and would never abandon it. Because even at it's roughest--it's still better than the miserable hole I was in before I found Buddhism.

I'm glad that you're sticking with it too. I'm going to stop trying to feed from the fire hose of non-stop consumption of Buddhist idealism and just concentrate again more on just being with the moment I have. Regardless of whether it reflects what the great Buddhist community is experiencing. Tiny bites make for a well digested meal I think.

I think a lot of the people you're talking about are perhaps attached to the buzz that Buddhism can give you on some level. When you get a taste of interconnectedness it's tempting to focus only on getting that buzz again.

Rather than taking that moment for what is was--a nice break-through and then humbly going back to being mindful of the present moment, which is usually quite ordinary but in a reassuring way.

So, in that sense...I think you're right on track too!! I think that as long as we remain true to ourselves, take baby steps if need be and not give up...that we're on the right track.

I don't care if I'm the "last one" to realize "enlightenment" because I seek to live an authentic life, whether that is seen as "Buddhist enough" or not is something I need to remind myself as being unimportant.

They call him James Ure said...

@Rosiroo...Well, I'm glad I wrote it then if we're in the same place as I am today. It helps to hear from others who struggle with mental health.

I won't give up on the Dharma because it's the most helpful thing I have in my life right now, despite my struggles with meditating lately.

I agree it's worth it. I hope you find some relief soon. I'm trying to just relax tonight as best I can and wait for tomorrow.

@M...Thank-you for your kind words and for your comment in general. I came to Buddhism too in part from family issues--interesting. I understand standing on the edge of suicide too...been there many times and probably will be there again before this life is over.

However, I have much more to live for thanks to what Buddhism has shown me--regardless of my discouragement right now. I know others get discouraged but it has really helped me to hear specifically from people in this thread.

I'm glad you brought up that despite all the shit you've gone through that Buddhism has given you a greater since of pure joy. It has done so for me too, and is one of the reasons I have stuck with the Dharma for 8 years now.

Despite it's thorns and the shit it exposes in ones character it is still better than the alternative of going through life like a blind bull in a crystal shop. Crashing around with no real rhyme or reason.

I do feel that I have uncovered a lot on this path and thank-you for reminding me that I have over-come a lot of hurdles already. I need to remember to focus on those more than the defeats but also try and see how the "defeats" are helpful.

You're well written and very intelligent for your age. You seem like someone who understands a lot about life and on a deep level. I can tell that you feel the essence of the Dharma deeply, and live it as best you can. I respect that a lot and thank-you for not lecturing me either.

And finally, thank-you for saying, "It's o.k." to feel the way I am. I get so hard on myself a lot of times and I appreciate you reminding me that doing so only makes it worse. Thanks for everything.

Ama said...

I hear you.
My struggle is a progressively deteriorating spine.
As I read your deep words all I kept thinking was...Anicca: everything is impermanent. Everything arises and passes away.

Why?
Because it is what I have to remind myself more than once a day in everything around me.
I am a very non-traditional practitioner, self-taught etc.
Maybe a new approach to meditation combined with the 'beginner's mind' might help?
I have gone from sitting 'properly' to sitting on the couch, to an armed chair, to a camp chair and now to laying flat on my waterbed. Form no longer matters as much to me. I do the best I can when I can. That is life.

As I am becoming an old one...I would say to you...'You are a fine young man, full of honesty, hard work and good humor. I know because I have seen it here. You are generous too and I am reminded of it everytime I see the book you sent me.'

Anicca: everything is impermanent. Everything arises and passes away.

We just have times when we have to remain in 'it' until it does.
To me that is the hardest.
Be well my Buddhist friend :o)

*gassho*

Vajramate said...

Hello, James.

I am a avid follower of your blog. No advice, just a heartfelt wish for you to have to struggle less. Came across this White Tara healing mantra 10 mins ago. Recommend a few minutes, both visually and chanting.

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D158AWXhDdZI%26feature%3Drelated&h=3ca96RBdgPi33PAByM5NqqZnljw

Please keep posting. I would miss you.

Dharmadhatu said...

In my opinion, the post that you have written - rather than one about "kittens and flowers" - is precisely what should be a "typical" Buddhist post.

Jeremy said...

I'm a mixed up human being, just like many. i don't meditate very much these days. I used to get quite angry over politics and have to avoid it because in the past I've been known to cut ties with old family friends over political viewpoints & them passing on email chain letters bad mouthing my point of view on certain issues. Eastern Philosophy and Buddhism most likely saved my life. I'll tell you though, the longer I'm away from talking about politics, I'm more patient in seeing that "we know not what we do"....we're all mixed up. People only see with the limits of their experience/knowledge. All of us are limited and programmed by our culture. Many many strings of code, one string contradicting the next,etc. I did shrooms a few years ago, that's what i saw, "we know not what we do," and we are our "brothers/sisters keeper" which means that if i can keep myself awake or aware to the fact that we're all just fumbling around making the best with what we've got to work with and if people could change, they would, but for most part we're all asleep to our programming. If i can keep myself aware to these facts, i'll naturally have more patience, understanding, and not have too many expectations from others or myself...BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT IF i'm feeling bad physically or otherwise on a given day, i still might not remember that we're all struggling & easily get caught up in stuff. We're all still babies, but we've just gotten bigger, we're still feeling our way around. I have to remind myself of these things often, or else I'll start to expect things from people or myself that I shouldn't. But, it is nice when we run into people who are on a similar path/search as ourselves...for something TRUE and lasting in this life full of mystery/uncertainty. Keep in mind that the monks who live away from our rat races...they have twice as much time to let go of things and focus on how to enjoy living simply. So laypeople have a challenge, to live with one foot in the rat race and the other in the negation of the rat race(living in complication/inconsistency/contradiction). I'd say that's why we get torn so easily with our practice. It's the fact that our "programming" is full of ..............complication/inconsistency/contradiction. And sometimes crap. Having chemical/physiological issues definitely makes things harder..I've got them along with sugar. So, for me telling myself the basic truths of life i figure out on the way, it helps. Might not for anyone else. We all have our days. TAke care man, you're not alone.

Energetic Healing said...

I know there are sounds and circumstances that can be distracting and discouraging.But once you move up and focus on your silent sitting you will be benefited of the peace of mind you never imagined before.

Jayarava said...

Yes. Life can be discouraging. People don't seem to care about the things they should, and it can be awful bearing witness to that - some days I find leaving the house painful. Being a Buddhist highlights negative aspects of experience for methodological reasons. But certain minds (mine included) find dwelling on the negative destabilising and unhelpful.

Perhaps that is why the story of the 1000 armed Avalokiteśvara came about, and resonates for me. The great Bodhisattva vows to save all beings, but realises that they are endless. He gives up for a second and is almost destroyed by that moment of despondency. The Amitābha comes and puts him back together with heads in every direction and arms to reach out to everyone. As I see it, the story is about the power of faith. That faith 'arms' you against despondency. Sometimes my own blog is the only thing keeping me in touch with the Dharma, but we only need one thing.

I too often have despondent times. You aren't alone, it's not just you responsible for the whole world - we take care of our little corner of it (which sounds like a big job in your case). We operate under the guidance of those who have gone before us, and in the company of those who have also responded to the call. We are not alone.

The fact that you have created one of the most popular Buddhist blogs in the world is a pretty positive thing in itself. You regularly reach out to people and communicate with them. I'm slightly envious of your audience, but will probably never be popular in that way. I see you have a lot of supportive comments to get through which is also something to be pleased about.

Finally I'm sorry if my critique of your 'Buddhism and Science' post was over the top. You are right that the discussion between Buddhists and Scientists is a fascinating one, and that our ideas seem in harmony with the kinds of ideas emerging from the scientific community. If I am more cautious than some in accepting strong parallels then it because I don't want us to end up with egg on our faces. I could have been more upbeat in my response to you.

Panchenlama said...

Lentils.

Take a dish of home made lentil soup, before lunch, every day.
Only lentils, cooked with salt, butter, and water: 1/4 [teacup] dried lentils; 1 1/2 to 2 cups cold water, 1/2 teaspoon iodized salt, one stick butter [112 grams].

It acts in the brains.

Narda said...

Thank you for sharing your blog, and the ups and downs of your practice. As discouraged as you become, don't forget that each of us is a light for others...even when all we see is dark. Your sharing helps me to better understand the pain of my own child, who suffers the same afflictions.

I don't perform sitting meditation. Maybe someday when I slow down a bit. ;) But seriously, when I feel 'bad' or guilty about it, I remind myself...I am where I am supposed to be...right here...right now. Sitting, standing, sleeping...it is all my practice. Being kind to one's self, seeing one's self as the wretched being deserving of compassion, is also practice. Doing good for others along the way, that is also practice.

Thank you, again, for sharing your path.

Tullik said...

” Buddhism can be a real bitch, and sometimes I wish I could just adhere to a religion where blind faith was about all I needed to do.”
Tried that in two different camps and believe me in both cases checking the brain at the door was mandatory; now that’s truly mindless and blind. In retrospect I can’t imagine how I gave so many years of my life to such ideology.
The political and environmental issues that daily confront us is one of my greatest challenges and apparent naivety (?) of most Buddhist drives me around the twist! I am VERY angry at Tea Baggers, BP etc., etc., and some times want to head for the hills and never come out!! However in studying Buddhism, while there is a ton of confusion on my part, I feel I have never found anything quite like it and am determined to hang in there…..and it is not easy as you have so succinctly stated.
I keep recalling something I read by Kornfield(?)
“in true spiritual Endeavour there is no compulsion” or something like that …for the first time in my life spiritually I feel that lack of compulsion and more of an ease and a balm, and that makes more willing to try to hang in there and see where the path leads.
I’m with ya Buddy!

Nathan said...

James,

I knew you were a sincere practitioner when I saw how you handled that whole Tricycle article situation last winter.

And as a fellow "engaged Buddhist," by which I mean viewing one's practice as intertwined with the social/political world, I know that despair all too well. If you haven't read any of Joanna Macy's work, you might want to check her out. She's dug into a lot this kind of stuff.

I have to say that my practice has "gone to shit" plenty of times. After a scandal at our zen center that brought down the former head teacher, I barely meditated for months. There was disillusion, confusion, and certainly anger. More recently, I've had some of that same misery around the social/political landscape, as well as about the direction of my life (esp. career wise), and I've had to push myself to pay attention to it all. Part of me wants to check out, and sometimes I do.

I sometimes think that the hardest part of the path is seeing that your own expectations about what your life should be are just that, expectations. Often, I want to be "better" than I am, and then, when I get exhausted from that, I'm not motivated to do anything.

Suzuki Roshi said "You're perfect just the way you are, and you could use a little improvement." This paradox - investigating this paradox keeps me going. I think one of the tricks is to let go of how it's going to look. You might be heavy into meditation sometimes, other times it's chanting. Still other times it's mindful engagement in your everyday world. Still other times, it's dharmic social engagement on "big issues." And sometimes, it's just being a mess.

Thanks for your honestly, sincerity, and willingness to just be who you are right now.

Bows,
Nathan

Mettadas said...

I have ckme to understand, and to feel a bit foolish for taking so long to understand, that we all struggle, buddhist or not. I do not mean in a minor way. We all have serious struggles.

In my case, generalized anxiety disorder is a big part of it. I came to dharma first throughh books, then through the most excellent audiodharma podcast, and inspired by that a ten day retreat. I wanted to come out of that retreat wi a practice, and i did. For the next six months i sat an hour every morning and an hour every evening.

Perhaps it was a sign of success that I got through to my anxiety. Increasingly as I sat waves of fear washed through me. Toward the end I was sitting in sheer terror. I am not exaggerating.

You might imagine then that it was easy for me to think of reasons why today was not a good day to meditate, and tomorrow would be much better. Over the next few months I stopped altogether. Life got hard then, and for a few years I did not have the strength to practice.

Now I am putting it back together. I listen to an audiodharma podcast almost every day. It is no substitute for sitting, but I find it calming, illuminating, inspiring, and It got me to a place where I could again begin to sit. Not regulalry yet, but heading that way.

I imagine I will find the fear again. I do not know what I will do with it.

Someone mentioned impermanence. Years ago When my life fell apart I got through it be repeating to myself, "This, too, shall pass.". It was easy to belie e because so much I cared about had just passed.

So when your strength, your courage, your determination fade away, perhaps it will help to see it as evidence that all things are impermanent. And just so, your fear, your despair, your depression must also pass. Take a sick day, metaphorically, and pick the tools back up when you are able.

Rob Gee said...

Namaste James,

I struggle sometimes with my spiritual practices, too. When I get to thinking about my darkest days of psychosis, I get afraid to meditate because I think I might open myself up to that darkness all over again.

I used to allow that darkness to keep me away from meditating. Today I overcome it by observing my thoughts mindfully and openly inviting the darkest parts of my subconscious to come to the forefront so I can face them, see them for what they are and move on. Trying to ignore the negativity was impossible, and I was unable to meditate at all until I faced it.

As someone with schizoaffective, suffice it to say that I have experienced some really far out stuff. When I made mention of being possessed by demons who wanted to kill me... That's no joke. Words can barely touch the reality of it.

Today I take a lot of comfort in knowing that perceived existence is driven by expectation, and ultimately I only experienced those things because I came to expect them. That implies that those negative experiences don't have to be a part of my reality unless I choose them. Sometimes it is hard to overcome negative expectations... I am sure you can relate; try expecting not to hear auditory hallucinations. It is difficult, but it is possible.

I am confident that you will get through all this. Every set back is a growth opportunity, and staying honest with yourself is how you grow.

Rob

Charly Gardel said...

Just a quick note to let you know that you aren't alone in this.

I could have written much of it myself, in fact. I was diagnosed with ADD about 3 years ago, and the recurring depression that I've had since I was a teenager finally became bad enough that my wife demanded that I get treatment again -- something that I don't like.

Medications can mess with all kinds of things, so keep in mind that some of your feelings might be little more than runaway neurochemicals, either from the depression, the ADD, or the medication. I have really, really mixed feelings about medications -- I'm dropping off them again after three years because I've gotten to the point where the side effects have been changing my personality in ways I don't like. We'll see what happens this time -- I worry about it because my brother is bipolar and loves to go off his meds, and I wonder if I'm not heading in the same direction sometimes.

Anyway, with regard to thoughts of suicide. Beyond the obvious advice, one thing became clear to me after I took my first tantric initiation. Not only does suicide involve the fault of killing a sentient being, but if you practice deity yoga then you are harming a bodhisattva, an even greater fault. Seeing myself as Avalokiteshvara doesn't take away the feelings surrounding suicidal thoughts, but it really does take any idea of action completely off the table. Perhaps something like that might be useful to you.

Anyway, I'll keep reading, and wishing you the best. You aren't alone. Not at all.

Anonymous said...

The great seas are swayed by the moon! The eb and flow of the tides are part of the greatness of the seas. As a spiritual being having a human experiance we all most flow with our natural tides. You seem to come to a point of observance to where you see the tides eb and flow, in your life. This observation will, in its self make you better! Other then that. . . "i" can not give you any other guidence. However, you will be in my thoughts as I meditate.

deepian said...

you are definitely not alone :)

There is a reply to your post also here:

http://spiritualsun.org/evoke/page/3149

The paths to enlightenment are long and rocky, and they go up and down along the way. Keep on trucking though, and you WILL get there :)

Matt Stone said...

You said, "Buddhism can be a real bitch, and sometimes I wish I could just adhere to a religion where blind faith was about all I needed to do."

I take it from that comment that you're referring to Christianity, but if so I'd say, sorry, you're not going to find peace there either. Blind faith is only for those swimming at the shallower end of the Christian pool. The deeper waters of faith can only be swum by facing your doubts and blindness is stripped away in this process. So any progress in the Christian path will involve struggle also. I don't see you as a shallow guy, so, though I'd invite you to explore the Christian path, I'd discourage you from doing so out of such a motivation.

Paul said...

Hi there Dharma Brother,

I am sorry you are feeling this depression and 'funk', I wonder if it is something in the air. I too am struggling of late and am on anti depressants and anti-psychotics so I really do understand how difficult it can be to meditate. I look at my zafu sitting on the floor and just have no urge. I haven't worn my mala in months, it is still in my bag that I carry everywhere but I don't feel connected with anything Buddhist of late.

I am not giving up on it, I am seeing this as a little hiatus, creating time for me to re-learn the truth of who I am. And, maybe this is buddhist, maybe this is karma telling me to just let things flow for a while.

I cannot control anything external to me, I cannot change the world I am in, but I can change me no matter what is happening in the world.

I know all too well the mask with the smile that hides the feelings deep inside. Sometimes that mask gets too heavy and you just have to take it off and be.

You said sometimes you feel like you don't know as much as you think. But what is knowing? It is just thoughts and thoughts are....exactly that...just thoughts.

Remember, we are all enlightened, we just don't know it as the blue sky is filled with clouds.

Christain, Muslim, or Jew, I bet they all do not go to church/mosque/synagogue all the time and they too lose faith and need time out.

If we just blindly follow then we are not learning anything, we are just drones following instructions and told what to think. Part of what attracted me to Buddhism was the fact it is more a guide. What I mean is I read the dharma, meditate (during good times of course) and I can realise my own path. Right now my path has come to a stop so I must just let things roll on whilst I decide what to do in life. Once the time comes I will set out on that path again.

Don't let it worry you about not meditating. Or reading, or doing anything.

One thing that works for me is listening to my copy of Your Buddha Nature by Jack Kornfield, that sometimes inspires me.

Someone once asked Ghandi "Why do you give so much to the people?"
Ghandi replied "I do not give anything, everything I do, I do for myself".

Anonymous said...

I am with ya. I struggle with moodiness, inconsistancy in my practice, positive days, negative days. Its part of the human condition isn't it? The USA is in a mess of mass psychosis and we are somewhat powerless aren't we? Just do your best and keep the light shining as long as you can. Hey, imagine how you would feel had you not been meditating all of this time.
Doug

They call him James Ure said...

@Ama...Impermanence is exactly right and what I'm refocusing upon with "beginners mind" these past few days since, "the crash." I like what you said about meditating any way that works. I got away from that and kept being held back my mind (damn mind lol) that I need to sit on the cushion.

Thank-you very much for your kind words and compliments. I feel the love and appreciate being reminded of my good qualities. It helps to hear now and then from others. :)

@Vajramate...Thank-you for your thoughtful presence in the comment section. I appreciate your heart-felt wishes. And I appreciate the link. I am so blessed to have such wonderful friends and readers.

@Dharmahatu...Thanks!! It sure seems that when we're down in the shit that we are fully engaging in wrestling with samsara. It doesn't get much real than that!!

@Jeremy...Yeah, we are indeed all messed up. I just wish more people cared about getting out of being messed up but when I look honestly at the issue I have to acknowledge that most of us are doing the best we can right now.

Good point on the difference between a monks practice and that of the average practitioner. It's important to keep reminding ourselves of the things you mentioned. I guess that's why we call it practice!! :)

I need to recenter myself around what is possible at any given moment. I can so easily push myself and others to unrealistic expectations based on delusions. This samsara stuff is tough slogging and not for wimps!! Ha!!

@Jayarava...You said, "some days I find leaving the house painful. Being a Buddhist highlights negative aspects of experience for methodological reasons. But certain minds (mine included) find dwelling on the negative destabilising and unhelpful."

I feel this way all the time. Perhaps for slightly different reasons though. In part I have difficulty leaving the house because of my mental illness. You're right though that it highlights negative aspects of life that most people ignore with "stuff."

Being Buddhist certainly means facing some tough shit, and that's not always easy for anyone. I don't like obsessing over the news either but my problem is as much physiological as mental.

So, I have an obsessive nature as part of the diagnosis. It makes it hard to not obsess over the news, or not even watch it at all. My brain is wired to obsess about it. I'm working on that aspect of it through medication adjustments but getting back on track with regular meditation will help.

You mentioned those who have gone before us and that is definitely something that keeps me going. Knowing that so many have gone before and faced these challenges and gotten through the tough times.

Regarding the science post...no worries. I didn't take it down because I was angry at you. I took it down because you were right. I didn't want to mislead anyone with the science I though I understood. Don't worry. :)

@Narda...Thank-you for reminding me that it's o.k. and true to say that I'm doing the best I can right now. So true.

@Tullik...I tried it too with a certain Christian religion. Not going back to that...it's just a nice fantasy sometimes to think of living in ignorant bliss. But you can't go back once you've entered the Dharma mindstream. Nor would I want to go back. I'm very happy with my path within Buddhism.

I hear you on the Tea Party stuff. It seems like no one cares for one another anymore. Ugh but I guess we just do the best we can and try to roll with the waves when they come. And when we get knocked down like I did recently the only real choice I had (or we have) is to get back on the board. Thanks for the sentiments of being with me in the same boat. Keep paddling!! I will too. ;)

They call him James Ure said...

@Nathan...Thanks brother. I really work hard in being as sincere as I can. I think it's important to commit to one's practice fully, and while I was discouraged I knew that I was on the right path. I had just tripped, fell and skinned my knees and need a could cry before getting back up. :)

Joanna Macy, eh? I'll have to look into her. Thanks for the suggestion!! I know that I'm not the only one who's practice has gone to shit from time to time, and I know that everyone goes through this but it's nice to hear people discuss it with me. It gives me a greater sense of being right where I need to be.

Good points you raised on "checking out." I agree that sometimes we have to check out now and then to catch our breath. And yeah, expectations are killers. I have plenty of them, and it's good to remind myself of their existence and how they block my progress and happiness. They are such suffering factories!!

You said, "You might be heavy into meditation sometimes, other times it's chanting. Still other times it's mindful engagement in your everyday world. Still other times, it's dharmic social engagement on "big issues." And sometimes, it's just being a mess."

Great points!! I am always doing some form of practice. Now that you mention this point and I look back on it--there have always been days when I did something Buddhist. And it all helps. Even just reading a chapter in a Buddhist book is helpful.

@Mettadas...Good point about stopping all practice just makes things worse. At times I would say I don't have time, and am too stressed. However, NOT doing any kind of practice, or reading does indeed just make more suffering and stress!!

You also make a good point about "This too shall pass" and being convinced by it in seeing all the difficulties I've already over-come. Especially in regards to my illness.

They call him James Ure said...

@Rob Gee...Yep, that's why I'm facing this discouragement head on. I can't ignore stuff as some can and just push it down. I think that is a blessing in disguise though because it keeps me mindful. It's easy and fun for people to be mindful when life is going nicely but when the shit hits the fan it's not so easy.

Yet being unable to physically avoid emotions I am forced into facing them and it's better than trying to face them later when they're bigger and more entrenched in our minds.

I hear you on having faced some wild stuff. I too have faced the demonic possession feeling several times. It's such a terrifying feeling to lay in bed awake and not being able to move my body due to literally hearing and seeing a demons and his minions thrash and punch at me.

And I really felt the physical pain of all that. So, I get it on not exactly being able to put that all into words.

Yeah I have those times when I can control my expectations and others times when all I can do it hang on and get through the day. It's all practice I think. It's where the rubber meets the road. Working to stay alive and avoid suicide is a deadly serious example of the importance in practicing the Dharma to overcome negative emotions.

@Charly Gardel...Great points and reminder on medications being apart of this. You know as well as anyone then how side effects can affect your daily life. Let alone a steady spiritual practice. That's a great point.

My medications have changed a lot about me and I too have reservations. However, I don't have much choice and that makes it easy for me in a way. I know that if I don't take them that I'll end up dead or in a mental hospital.

And I like your meditation about seeing yourself as a Bodhisattva to be and a Buddha to be. It's true we are, and I can see how it would help me stay alive. I don't want to be responsible for killing myself when I am done so much already toward that realization. Great point.

@Anonymous...Thank-you for that imagery and vote of confidence. :)

@Deepian...thanks. I agree about the path being rocky and unpredictable at times. It helps to remind myself of that perspective. So thank-you for that comment.

They call him James Ure said...

@Matt Stone...I don't plan on switching back to Christianity. In my mind that didn't work and I tried it for 22 years. Mostly I was just wishing for a numbness where I didn't have to deal with anything. I know though that such a reality isn't helpful in the end. I was just venting and fantasizing about something that isn't so.

@Paul...I think you have it figured right brother. Take your time. That's where I'm at right now and at least it's an honest position. At least you are being true and honest to yourself. I am working to do the same thing. I think we're on the same page.

Nothing wrong with a hiatus. We all need breathing room at times--especially those of us with extra challenges of mental illness. You said, "Remember, we are all enlightened, we just don't know it as the blue sky is filled with clouds." Exactly and that is what I am working on remembering--daily.

It changes that paradigm of seeing only failure and a false sense of reality.

@Anonymous...Yeah, if I hadn't been practicing these past 8 years then I'd be in real deep trouble. You're right.

bfp said...

I have ADD and depression too--and I know this post like the back of my hand. i struggle in this manner on a daily basis. i hope that things get easier to bear soon, my thoughts are with you.

Jamie G. said...

I'm with you.

mama p said...

bravo!--
"I know that I'm not the only one but the things I hear sometimes from my fellow Buddhists makes me feel like I missed out on some meeting where everyone gained enlightenment."

brave post. :) thank you!

Criceto said...

Don't apologise for your rant. Everyone deserves a rant. =) It reminds one that one is still afflicted by the human condition.

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