Best Way to Deal with Whatever

The most skilful way of dealing with this or that is dealing with it is in the present moment with present moment mindfulness. There is no point thinking about the aspects of past that we cant work with in the present moment. Similarly, there is no point in worrying about the future or the results. 

In order to be effective, our whole focus must be in the present moment. Right here and right now is where the action (karma) is done, which is going to shape the future. Future comes from what mind is doing at present, right here and right now.

This does not mean that contemplating about past or future is never helpful. For example, its often helpful to contemplate the cause and effect relationship of our past experiences, which enables us to learn from our mistakes and develop beneficial actions further. Similarly, we often need to make decisions and plan for the future in order to do something skilfully. 

However, whether its contemplating the past or the act of deciding or planning for future, it is all happening right in the present moment, and that is where the focus should be while contemplating, deciding or planning. We can work the best when we have present moment awareness.

Mindfulness of our intensions, motivations, thoughts, feeling, reactions to those feelings as the result of habitual patterns – working with all this in the present moment is the best way to deal with whatever.

Only when we can catch our biases, habitual unskilful thoughts and habitual reactions to the feelings in the present moment, can we spot our judgements based on emotional preferences and not react by making wrong decisions with wrong motivations.

Next is to develop wisdom in order to distinguish skilful from unskilful. Skilful is what is truely beneficial and leads to long-term happiness for ourselves.

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..

Best way to Study the Mind?

Early psychological science emphasised a lot more on introspection as the way of examination of one's own conscious thoughts and feelings and thus learning about the truth of our minds. However, recently there is lot more reliance on neuroscience as the means. But is that a reliable way to study mind?

In the definition of science, it was established that legitimate science must be empirical, based on observations or experiences of nature. Is that not what we do when we are mindful of our own present feelings, perceptions, and thoughts in our own mind in an objective way?

However, psychologists are now trying to study other people’s brain by using a high technology brain activity scanners, by attaching EEG electrodes to people’s brain or testing for hormone spikes in blood, etc. New studies are getting released regularly which are using this data as the basis to make conclusions about how the mind works. Even though this data has been quite useful for our purpose of studying physiology. However, to study human mind by looking at states of brain or bodily reactions, all we can do is co-relate experiential changes with changes in brain states. But is that reliable way to study mind? What for example, is equanimity, which is a state of mind will have measurement results like on physiological level? If some one tells the doctors that they are fearful, yet equanimous, the doctors wont be able to see same results in brain scan, their cortisol wont be rising or sweat on palms wont be detected, etc. So would the conclusion be that the person is not fearful? Psychologists have to rely on first hand experiential data at least in case the data cannot be co-related.

Since psychology (study of the mind) is not same as neuroscience (study of the brain) or how body reacts as the resultant of activity in mind, the conclusions are not reliable especially when lot of 'inference' is involved.

In some of the very recent studies though, I think they have realised that the brain is easier to mould than they had thought. So when we fed different data (thoughts, etc) into our mind, the brain is changed accordingly. This shows that mind is the forerunner and bodily (including brain) changes follow the change in mind. This also makes us wonder if to some extent labelling mental patients is working to their disadvantage. Often once these patients get the label, they identify themselves with it, which robs them of the power and confidence to trust in themselves that they can change their mind. The medications works on body not on mind. Often, when the medication is stopped, the symptoms return back if the patient didn't work on his/her mind and completely relied on meditation for easing the symptoms temporarily.

Therefore, in my opinion, the best way and the only way to study our mind is in fact through meditation, mindfulness, investigation / introspection.

Wisdom Quotes

Your mind is your master. Learn to be its master and not its slave.
-- Remez Sasson
A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people’s business. 
-- Eric Hoffer
Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value. 
--Albert Einstein
You should never let your fears prevent you from doing what you know is right. 
--Aung San Suu Kyi
If I advocate for cautious optimism, it is not because I do not have faith, but because I do not want to encourage blind faith. 
--Aung San Suu Kyi
I think, if you have enough inner resources, then you can live in isolation for long periods of time and not feel diminished by it. 
--Aung San Suu Kyi
If you are feeling helpless, help someone. 
--Aung San Suu Kyi
Its name is Public Opinion. It is held in reverence. It settles everything. Some think it is the voice of God. 
--Mark Twain
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
-- Unknown
When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.
--The Tao Te Ching
We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.
--Joseph Campbell
Sometimes letting go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.
-- Eckhart Tolle
Expecting the world to treat you fairly is like expecting a bull not to hit you because you're vegetarian 
-- Unknown
For every man there exists a bait which he cannot resist swallowing.
-- Nietzsche
The things you own end-up owning you. It's only after you lose everything you're free to do anything...
-- Chuck Palahniuk
No matter how far you have gone on a wrong road, turn back.
 --Turkish Proverb
What we resist persists!
-- Unknown
Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hardwork. It means to be calm in your heart even in midst of those things.
-- Unknown
There are two tragedies in life: one is not to get your heart's desire, the other is to get it.
-- Bernard Shaw
I’m indeed rich, since my income is superior to my expense, and my expense is equal to my wishes. 
– Khalil Gibran 
If you have a reason, you do not need to shout. 
-- Zen Proverb
…if you hear the truth and do not live it, your life become a hideous confusion, the sorrowful mess which it is…
-- Unknown
The happiness is happiness to you only till you reach there! 
-- Unknown
The strongest man in the world is he who stands alone... 
-- Henrik Ibsen
When neither hatred nor love disturb our minds, serenely we sleep...
-- Unknown
Whatever the outcome may be, the important thing is to step forward on the path that you believe is right. 
-- Daiasku Ikeda
All appointments are ending up in disappointment; therefore have an appointment with disappointment so you will never be disappointed...
-- Unknown
Nothing lasts forever, and if you believe it does, you'll only put yourself in a world of misery...
-- Unknown
Life is like a honey-gathering bee: after collecting all the honey from myriad flowers, they age and their labour leaves them with nothing.
-- Unknown
Conventional opinion is the ruin of our souls 
– Rumi
Why do I not rather seek some real good - one which I could feel, not one which I could display? These things that draw the eyes of men, before which they halt, which they show to one another in wonder, outwardly glitter, but are worthless within.
-- Lucius Annaeus Seneca
It was not only that I could not become spiteful, I did not know how to become anything; neither spiteful nor kind, neither a rascal nor an honest man, neither a hero nor an insect. Now, I am living out my life in my corner, taunting myself with the spiteful and useless consolation that an intelligent man cannot become anything seriously, and it is only the fool who becomes anything...
-- Dostoyevsky

Just Do It... without buying into your thoughts!

When the morning alarm used to go off, I used to lie in bed thinking whether to get up or not. The excuses and reasons I had were enough to goof up my plan to get up early. The real culprit were these vacillating and negotiating thoughts.

3 ways to overcome these are:
(1) If something is very important to you, include that in your routine because you don't have vacillating/negotiating thoughts over routine things (eg: brushing your teeth - do you have second thoughts about not brushing? Probably not. It’s just something you do.)

(2) When things are done as soon as certain trigger is produced, they become your second nature. Therefore, just do it without buying into your thoughts.
Some suggested beneficial things to do for example:
- When your alarm goes off
- Get up, without snoozing.
- When you sit for meditation
- Drop all the stories.
- Before you go to bed
- Evaluate your patterns (mind, speech, action) from the day and see if they fit well with your goal.
- When you go to bed
- Drop all the stories.
(3) Be alert and mindful of each and every thought arising one after the other. Keep dropping each opposing thought and telling yourself - "It is not an option."