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OceanKing
16 Sep 13, 00:57
I am here wondering if anyone can give me any advice or insight into what I've been experiencing in regards to memory.

Everything I do throughout the day, and really everything I have ever done or experienced in this life, seems like a dream to me. What I mean is that I am only able to recall things in a hazy sort of way, like when you remember a dream you forgot you had had. If I'm doing something, an activity or work or listening to a song etc., once I'm finished and I go onto another task or activity I cannot honestly say that I know that whatever it was I was doing or experiencing really happened. I can only confirm that I did something if there is a tangible result of the activity in front of me, such as having a plate of food in front of me telling me that I did in fact prepare it and that preparing it wasn't a dream. The only thing that feels real is the right now, but of course that fades as soon as right now is no longer right now and I'm in another right now, if that makes sense...

So, what I'm really wondering is if this is in any way a normal or precedented effect of cultivating the path. I've heard all sorts of things about the Buddhist standpoint on reality being that it is basically dreamlike and illusory and this is what I've been feeling, I think. This experience hasn't really been causing me any distress or anything; it's actually kind of freeing because I can focus solely on the present but I'm in no way sure of what to make of it.

Is this normal or is there the possibility that I could be going through some sort of psychotic episode that's warping my perception of reality?

nibbuti
16 Sep 13, 01:30
Hi OceanKing. Common wisdom tells us that the fact that you're asking this question is an indication that you're not psychotic. Why not, for now, be stable and re-collect what is arising and passing; what other point of reference is there?

OceanKing
16 Sep 13, 03:47
Thanks for the response, nibbuti. You have a good point about reference. I appreciate your input.

Element
16 Sep 13, 13:07
I've heard all sorts of things about the Buddhist standpoint on reality being that it is basically dreamlike and illusory and this is what I've been feeling, I think. This experience hasn't really been causing me any distress or anything;
Hi OceanKing. It is taught the method for peace is to abandon covetousness & distress in relation to the world of experience. Buddha certainly explained, from an enlightened perspective, reality is basically dreamlike and illusory (here (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.095.than.html)). The important matter is have an equanimous or non-attached mind towards the fleetingness of constructions.

OceanKing
16 Sep 13, 19:17
Thank you for your comments, Element. It is much appreciated.

So, am I to take it that having a sense of worry or concern over the way I am recollecting or remembering things is a form of coveting the constructions I have made of this world of experience? I have begun to think after exploring this more that committing things to memory has become much less of a priority for me in the moment because I really only find value in the here and now. I'm thinking that this unimportance is causing the hazy dreamlike character of the memories. This lack of concern for past has been rather liberating to me as it has allowed me to be more concentrated on what is right here. Is this a right way of looking at this in your opinion?

Element
16 Sep 13, 20:30
So, am I to take it that having a sense of worry or concern over the way I am recollecting or remembering things is a form of coveting the constructions
Hi OceanKing. Actually, it is having distress about the insubstantial nature & fleetingness of constructions.

'Constructed' or 'solidified' experience is based on feeling & perception. Feeling is feeling pleasure or pain towards things. Perception is the labeling & regarding of things. For example, when the mind is absorbed in a beautiful sunrise or sunset, that mental absorption has its foundation in feelings of pleasure. So, if, for some reason, those feelings of pleasure actually subside, the beauty & importance of the sunset, subsides. The 'mundane reality' of the sunset disintegrates & is lost.

Perception is the same. The mind constructs or solidifies conventional reality via labels, such as 'red', 'blue', 'dog', 'cat', 'ocean', 'mountain', etc. If, for some reasons, those mental labels (perceptions) disintegrate, conventional reality can disintegrate (fall apart).

Perceptions & feelings can disintegrate when consciousness (awareness of mind) increases. When perceptions & feelings disintegrate, experience can become 'dreamlike' because the ordinary mentally constructed 'solidity' of experience disintegrates or becomes more & more 'fleeting' or 'impermanent'.


I have made of this world of experience?
The mind has made the world of experience. There is an enlightened sphere of pure consciousness experience, that can be experienced by the mind, which sees the natural & true reality of nature. But the unenlightened mind constructs a world of conventional & solidified experience, where it sees the impermanent as permanent, the insubstantial as substantial, the unsatisfactory as satisfactory, the not-self as 'self'.


I really only find value in the here and now.
The Buddha taught dwelling only in the here and now is the path.


This lack of concern for past has been rather liberating to me as it has allowed me to be more concentrated on what is right here. Is this a right way of looking at this in your opinion?
Definitely, this is the right way of looking at this. Further, feeling it is liberating is the right result.

Kind regards ;D



One ought not to long for what has passed away,
Nor be anxious over things which are yet to come.
The past has left us, the future has not arrived.

Whoever sees the present dhammas direct and clear just as they are,
Is unshakeable, immovable, secure. One should accumulate such moments.

Effort is the duty of today, even tomorrow death may come,
We are powerless to fend off Death and his great armies.

The Sages of Peace speak of that one who strives
Never lazy throughout the entire day and night:
"Praise the one who truly lives even a single night."

Buddha

OceanKing
17 Sep 13, 04:37
Wow. Thank you, Element. You have set me back into place.


Perceptions & feelings can disintegrate when consciousness (awareness of mind) increases. When perceptions & feelings disintegrate, experience can become 'dreamlike' because the ordinary mentally constructed 'solidity' of experience disintegrates or becomes more & more 'fleeting' or 'impermanent'.
This describes what I have experienced perfectly. Solidity is a perfect word to describe what memory used to be like and is exactly what it is devoid of now. There has absolutely been a tandem increase in this lack of solidity and the increase of awareness of mind.

Thank you so much for your input. I feel a lot better about this whole thing. I have been practicing on my own all this time trying to figure things out the best I can. I have not had access to a personal teacher of any sort and have only very recently had access to the internet which is why I have come here. It can get confusing and bewildering on your own relying solely on writings and recordings. Your insight has been a blessing. :hands:

nibbuti
17 Sep 13, 14:21
What Element said. :bow:


It can get confusing and bewildering on your own relying solely on writings and recordings.
It sure can. Have you discovered the ancient teachings yet? When I started meditating, I almost gave up frustrated by the amount of confusing and bewildering information out there, most of which was obviously made to get more followers, before I felt the urge to look for "original teachings of the Buddha", which again revealed a vast amount of information, and then I was pointed by some experienced spiritual friends at the Nikayas in a chat site like this.

:up2:

OceanKing
17 Sep 13, 18:58
:bow: indeed :)

nibbuti, am I correct in taking it that by "ancient teachings" you mean the Pali Canon? If so, I have been in the process of trying to reset my entire practice and knowledge to align with the Canon to the best of my understanding.

I was entrenched in Zen for quite a while and got hooked on Madhyamaka and emptiness. I found that I realized the insubstantiality of phenomena and words and all these things in the manner of the chariot analogy the Buddha made. The one about a chariot being an aggregation of parts with the sum of the parts being called a chariot but a chariot truly not existing in and of itself. All of this was fine and good or whatever but I found that no matter how much I illuminated the impermanence and voidness of conventional reality I still had dukkha and craving.

I kept searching for something more that got at the heart of the matter and I ended up coming across Thanissaro Bikkhu. In a dhamma talk of his he speaks of his teacher, Ajahn Fuang, having received a letter from a meditator in Singapore. The writer of the letter talked about his practice being to do what I had been doing; to observe the inconstancy, unsatisfactoriness and emptiness of things in the world "out there". Thanissaro Bikkhu relays that Ajahn Fuang instructed him to write back to the meditator, saying that the problem isn't out there, it is in the mind. Observe what the mind is doing right now. Thanissaro Bikkhu also talks elsewhere saying that no matter how clearly you see that pleasures, sensations, etc. "out there" aren't good for you, or are inherently unsatisfactory, until the mind is trained, there will still be craving. This was exactly how it was for me. It was like how a drug addict can consciously understand that the drugs are bad for his or her health but, the craving is still there.

These insights made me realize that I had a very unbalanced practice. They were so simple and direct; they were unlike anything I had come upon before. Since being introduced to this "new to me" teaching I have been working out the kinks of my practice and of my mind, trying to bring myself into line with the Dhamma rather than trying to force it into line with me.

I don't know if I should be appending another question onto this thread, or if I should ask this elsewhere, but what are your guys' opinions on this direction I have taken? Do you feel that Thanissaro Bikkhu's teachings are a good way for me to go? I am very adamant about finding the most accurate path representing what the Buddha truly taught and am fully convinced that the Buddha's path is the only way to the top of the mountain. Any advice on this matter is very much welcomed. Thank you both.

:hands:

nibbuti
17 Sep 13, 22:07
Thanks for sharing, OceanKing, I'm sure many can relate to your story.

By "ancient teachings" I mean the part of the Pali Canon which actually goes back to the Buddha, rather than some scholar monks hundreds of years later or ghost stories. The Sutta Pitaka or Nikayas, particularly the Majjhima Nikaya I have found a most helpful companion.

Any of these ancient collections have a very Zen or meditative attitude (so it is best to include them into the daily meditation practise rather than read cover to cover like a normal book).

The three cardinal/first discourses:

Setting rolling the wheel of Dhamma: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn56/sn56.011.than.html
Characteristics of non-self: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.059.than.html
Fire sermon: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn35/sn35.028.than.html

For a complete (long-term practise) list:

Majjhima Nikaya (!)
Anguttara Nikaya
Digha Nikaya (1., 16. and 31. Sutta, skip the others)
Samyutta Nikaya
Udana
Sutta Nipata
Itivuttaka
Dhammapada

:meditate:

OceanKing
17 Sep 13, 23:54
Thanks for all the info, nibbuti. I had never heard of the Sutta Pitaka being referred to as ancient texts in this manner. I will be sure to explore these in depth.

I must ask, though: which part of the Canon are you referring to as containing ghost stories? Am I correct in understanding that the stuff from the scholarly monks would be the Abhidhamma?

nibbuti
18 Sep 13, 00:09
I must ask, though: which part of the Canon are you referring to as containing ghost stories?
'peta(ghost) vathu', though I haven't read it, but it's obviously from another period where such things seemed to be important.


Am I correct in understanding that the stuff from the scholarly monks would be the Abhidhamma?
You're correct, plus the Middle Ages 'visuddhimagga' and various commentaries, which if I were you I'd skip and go straight to the discourses of the Buddha.

:buddha:

OceanKing
18 Sep 13, 00:25
Many thanks, my friend. Your guidance is much appreciated.

:hands:

nibbuti
18 Sep 13, 01:21
You're welcome, brother. More important though is what Element said about dwelling in the here and now and the right way of looking at this. ;D

OceanKing
19 Sep 13, 03:18
Yes, of course. I will keep what both of you have said in mind. Thank you again.:shake: