Tagging with 'Likes' & 'Dislikes'

When either of our 6 senses, their respective sense objects and consciousness come in contact, feeling is produced. Either this feeling is that of pleasure, displeasure or neutral.

Based on the pleasurable / unpleasurable feeling produced, our tendency is to immediately get either attached / repulsed by it respectively.

Based on this attachment / revulsion towards the feeling we often form a view about the sense experience - 'I like it' or 'I dislike it'. The extent to which we do this, is mostly not noticeable unless we develop our mindfulness to a certain extent and notice our subtle swings in mood with each sensory input. We do this very subtly and almost habitually.

Why so?
We have probably developed this mechanism in order to gain pleasure and avoid displeasure - after all only by tagging it all and remembering it, can we know what to peruse and what to avoid in future.
And often it does seem to lead to pleasure when we get what we want or are able to avoid what we wish to avoid.

If we look closely, we find that the more tags we have, the more it creates long-term unsatisfactoriness, anxiety, fear, grief, greed, hate, etc. All these harmful states of mind arise so as to:
     -       get what we 'LIKE' and avoid what we 'DISLIKE';
     -       maintain what we 'LIKE' and continue avoiding what we 'DISLIKE';
     -       not lose what we 'LIKE' and not gain what we 'DISLIKE';
Sometimes, we notice that the amount of anxiety, fear, grief or unsatisfactoriness is not worth the momentarily pleasure we get once in a while.

Furthermore, we create wrong views. The information stored in our memory about ‘LIKE’ or ‘DISLIKE’ is obsolete. We often can’t recall clearly why we took some decision, or arrived at some conclusion, or the reason of our liking/disliking something, yet we feel safer to rely on our past memories and tags that we had set for our future reference. But we must investigate how unreliable this potentially could be. For certain things it might not matter that much, however, some other things that we are habitually doing and is causing misery for us or others, needs such investigation.

Can Meditation lead to Depression or Panic Attacks?

Generally, No.

However, apparently, in very rare cases, some people complain of feeling more depressed or have panic attacks when they do meditation. This can only happen when there are carcasses buried underneath our minds from the past, which have not been dealt with.

This obviously doesn't mean that such people cannot take advantage of meditation process. In fact, in my personal opinion, its quite opposite - there is no one who would not get benefitted from clarity of mind. However, in such cases especially, it becomes important to have the Right Understanding before one starts meditating. The very fact that the person's depression could increase as soon as other distractions decrease, is because the person had developed unskillful thought patterns out of ignorance.

Therefore, to remove stress, one has to cultivate the mind as a whole, which is not just concentration or mindfulness alone without the wisdom to deal with it.

               ¨ Concentration is focusing on one object - this sharpens the mind.     
               ¨ Mindfulness brings a 'non-judgmental' awareness to our moment to moment feelings, perceptions, thoughts, etc.
When the above 2 are employed, it would naturally enable us to be close to reality and that includes seeing the stress (even the subtler stress that we never considered to be a form of stress), the causes of that stress, etc. In short it will unearth all the garbage that was covered under many layers.

And it goes without saying that if one does not have the right understanding or the wisdom to deal with the garbage, one possibly could be more stressed or anxious on witnessing the garbage.

Just like you would not detox the body when your immune system is extremely weak and cant fight the toxins from the body, similarly, if one experiences panic attacks or increased depression on meditating, one should have a basic 'right understanding' before one digs up inside the mind.

Why and How to Stop Proliferation?

Why to Stop Proliferation and Unwholesome Thoughts?
Don't allow the mind to keep thinking the the way it wants to. When we let our minds to wonder, it can become very much our reality. It applies to everything (even our lives - our whole life becomes a day-dream). Mind goes far. It takes us along with it.

How to Stop Proliferation?
Meditation the best antidote for Papañca (Proliferation).
Step 1:  Remain heedful, ardent, & resolute.
Step 2: Whenever thoughts arise, note which kind of thoughts lead to trouble and which thoughts don't*.
Step 3: Seeing thus, simply abandon, dispel, wipe-out the troublesome thoughts.

Why and How to Stop Unwholesome Obsessive Thoughts?

Why to Stop Unwholesome Obsessive Thoughts?
Whatever we keep pursuing with our thinking & pondering, that becomes the inclination of our awareness.
Therefore, it is very important what kind of thoughts we cultivate and what we abandon for our long-term benefit and happiness.

How to Stop Unwholesome Obsessive Thoughts?
There are several methods (mentioned below). Go to next, only if previous one doesn’t work. When I am overpowered by such thoughts, I try all methods in succession (one after the other).
When evil, unskillful thoughts - imbued with Greed/Hate/Delusion - arise while you are referring to and attending to a particular theme...
Method 1: Change to another theme connected with what is skillful.
Just as a skilled carpenter would use a small peg to knock out, drive out, and pull out a large one.
Method 2: Scrutinize the drawbacks of those thoughts.
Just as a woman - fond of adornment, would be horrified, humiliated, and disgusted if the snake/dog/human carcass were hung from her neck.
Method 3: Pay no mind and pay no attention to those thoughts.
Just as a man with good eyes, not wanting to see forms that had come into range, would close his eyes or look away.
Method 4: Attend to the relaxing of thought-fabrication with regard to those thoughts.
[You can investigate such thoughts (to find the root cause, its conditioning factors, its reason of arising, etc), appease the whole intentional thought process, relaxing the thought-fabrication including relaxing the underlying physical foundation of the thoughts (stress manifesting in physical body) and removal of triggers].
Just as the thought would occur to a man walking quickly, 'Why am I walking quickly? Why don't I walk slowly?' So he walks slowly. Then thought occurs, 'Why am I walking slowly? Why don't I stand?' So he stands. Then thought occurs, 'Why am I standing? Why don't I sit down?' So he sits down. The thought occurs, 'Why am I sitting? Why don't I lie down?' So he lies down. In this way, giving up the grosser posture, he takes up the more refined one.
Method 5: (Last resort) teeth clenched - beat down, constrain, and crush your mind with your awareness.
Just as a strong man, seizing a weaker man by the head or the throat or the shoulders, would beat him down, constrain, and crush him
After the method has worked: i.e. when the unskillful thoughts are gone, steady your mind right within, settle it, unify it, and concentrate it.
This == lead to ==> mastery over the ways of thought sequences. One thinks whatever thought he wants to, and doesn't think whatever thought he doesn't.

Personally, when my mind goes out of control, I try the above steps mentioned in Vitakkasanthana sutta which have proved very beneficial (1st & 2nd step: replacing with opposite skilful thoughts and recalling dangers in unskilful thoughts, has often halted the unskilful process from acceleration. And then I quickly follow 3rd & 4th step: of paying no mind and remove myself from trigger/source). It works wonders: in matter of seconds it changes the whole mind!

It certainly help in removing our obsessions and can therefore help improve Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) too. If we can catch those obsessive thoughts and learn to overcome those and relax our mind and body by repeatedly practicing the above ways (starting with smaller obsession to gradually trying the bigger one), the compulsion loses its power over us.

4 Types of Questions

Discernment or Dullness can be seen from the way:
         ·        we rise to an issue,
         ·        we apply reasoning,
         ·        we address a question

PanhaSutta, describes way of answering 4 types of questions. Questions that deserve:
       1.   a categorical answer (straightforwardly yes or no, this, that);
       2.   an analytical (qualified) answer (defining or redefining and qualifying the terms of the question);
       3.   a counter-question,
       4.   to be put aside.
Any one who knows which is which, in line with the Dhamma, is said to be skilled in the 4 types of questions.
The questioner on receiving the answer, should determine how far the answer should be interpreted. (The Buddha said that there are two types of people who misrepresent him: those who draw inferences from statements that shouldn’t have inferences drawn from them, and those who don’t draw inferences from those that should).

Parenting is more about Parenting Ourselves

No matter how many moral lessons we give to our kids, their behavior will not be much different to ours.

Children at young age learn things by absorbing things from their environment. Their behavior is not determined by the preaching given to them but by what they listen and see around them.

We should try to do what we want our kids to do and not do what we do not want are kids not to do.

Therefore, parenting requires us to develop and improve ourselves more than our kids. Kids will naturally follow us..

Parenting: Owning up our Flaws in front of our Kids

Kids reflect what they see in their parents. Therefore, parenting ourselves is more important.

H owever, while we are still on our path to improving ourselves, there can be some apparent flaws in us which we do not want to pass on to our kids. In that case, I personally find it helpful to talk about my flaws with my (4 year old) daughter and how I am trying to improve. I also, tell her that its hard to get rid of a habit, therefore one should be careful not to develop a habit that is not good. So, I tell her not to adopt my bad habit while I am still trying to improve it. I talk to her about how I am dealing with my flaw, strategies I am using, the efforts I am making, my progress and my failures if any.

Some parents are apprehensive of this believing that kids would lose confidence in parental authority knowing that they too are flawed.

However, this is not true. In fact, this type of communication has many advantages. There is no one without flaws. The more important thing they learn is the attitude of improvement. It teaches them that if we have a flaw we can only improve if:
            • we accept it,
            • put forth efforts to improve upon it,
            • be resilient each time we fail,
            • know how to get up again after each failure,
            • know how to keep trying different ways patiently and persistently without feeling dejected*.

And of-course, as we are improving upon our flaw, they feel motivated too and put forth same amount of efforts in similar manner to improve their flaws.