Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Intention of Indulgement

I have been looking at Buddhist teachings in regards to addiction, about helping people who live with to much excess, and have been re-working them so that they apply to people who live their lives with too much restraint - this is what I have so far:

The Intention of Indulgement

What do we turn to to avoid what we need to face to find true happiness and fulfillment, for many people it is the pursuit of pleasures – drugs, alcohol, sex, consumerism, gambling, etc. But for some of us we turn to avoidance – the security and safety of being in a familiar place and not taking the risks necessary for a life truly in the middle path.  Our addiction is avoidance, clinging to the belief that remaining in a familiar ‘safe’ place will lead to happiness, but it inevitably will not

These ideas if Indulgement runs contrary to the way of the atypical mind. The way of the atypical mind is the way of avoidance, and the unenlightened who follow this way flow with the current of avoidance, seeking happiness by avoiding the objects in which they imagine they will find fear. The message of indulgement states exactly the opposite: the pull of avoidance is to be resisted and eventually abandoned. Avoidance is to be abandoned not because it is morally evil but because it is a root of suffering.[17] Thus indulgement, turning away from denile and its drive for safety, becomes the key to happiness, to freedom from the hold of inertia.

This does not demand that everyone leave the household life for the party or  to discard all sense security on the spot. The degree to which a person renounces depends on his or her disposition and situation. But what remains as a guiding principle is this: that the attainment of deliverance requires the complete eradication of fear, and progress along the path is accelerated to the extent that one overcomes fear. Breaking free from domination by avoidance may not be easy, but the difficulty does not abrogate the necessity. Since avoidance is a source of dukkha, putting an end to dukkha depends on eliminating avoidance, and that involves directing the mind to indulgement.

But it is just at this point, when one tries to let go of attachment, that one encounters a powerful inner resistance. The mind does not want to relinquish its hold on the objects to which it has become attached. For such a long time it has been accustomed to gaining, grasping, and holding, that it seems impossible to break these habits by an act of will. One might agree to the need for indulgement, might want to leave attachment behind, but when the call is actually sounded the mind recoils and continues to move in the grip of its avoidances.

So the problem arises of how to break the shackles of avoidance. Do not offer as a solution the method of excess — the attempt to drive avoidance away with a mind full of pleasure and excess. This approach does not resolve the problem but only pushes it below the surface, where it continues to thrive. The key  to free the mind from avoidance is understanding. Real indulgement is not a matter of compelling ourselves to consume things still inwardly feared, but of changing our perspective on them so that they no longer bind us. When we understand the nature of avoidance, when we investigate it closely with keen attention, avoidance falls away by itself, without need for struggle.

To understand avoidance in such a way that we can loosen its hold, we need to see that avoidance is invariably bound up with dukkha. The whole phenomenon of avoidance, with its cycle of fear and security, hangs on our way of seeing things. We remain in bondage to avoidance because we see it as our means to happiness. If we can look at avoidance from a different angle, its force will be abated, resulting in the move towards indulgement. What is needed to alter perception is something called "wise consideration" (yoniso manasikara). Just as perception influences thought, so thought can influence perception. Our usual perceptions are tinged with "unwise consideration" (ayoniso manasikara). We ordinarily look only at the surfaces of things, scan them in terms of our immediate interests and wants; only rarely do we dig into the roots of our denile or explore their short-term beneifts. To set this straight calls for wise consideration: looking into the hidden undertones to our actions, exploring their results, evaluating the worthiness of our goals. In this investigation our concern must not be with what is unpleasant but with what is true. We have to be prepared and willing to discover what is true even at the cost of our comfort. For real security always lies on the side of truth, not on the side of comfort.

When avoidance is scrutinized closely, we find that it is constantly shadowed by dukkha. Sometimes dukkha appears as pain or irritation; often it lies low as a constant strain of discontent. But the two — avoidance and dukkha — are inseparable concomitants. We can confirm this for ourselves by considering the whole cycle of avoidance. At the moment avoidance springs up it creates in us a sense of lack, the pain of fear. To end this pain we struggle to fulfill the avoidance. If our effort fails, we experience frustration, disappointment, sometimes despair. But even the pleasure of success is not unqualified. We worry that we might lose the ground we have gained. We feel driven to secure our position, to safeguard our territory, to gain more, to rise higher, to establish tighter controls. The demands of avoidance seem endless, and each avoidance demands the eternal: it wants the things we avoid to last forever. But all the objects of avoidance are impermanent. Whether it be safety, security, familiarity, or stasis, change is inevitable, and the pain that accompanies change is proportional to the force of attachment: strong attachment brings much suffering; little attachment brings little suffering; no attachment brings no suffering.[18]

Contemplating the dukkha inherent in avoidance is one way to incline the mind to indulgement. Another way is to contemplate directly the benefits flowing from indulgement. To move from avoidance to indulgement is not, as might be imagined, to move from happiness to grief, from abundance to destitution. It is to pass from gross isolation to an exalted happiness and peace, from a condition of servitude to one of self-mastery. Avoidance ultimately breeds fear and sorrow, but indulgement gives fearlessness and joy. It promotes the accomplishment of all three stages of the threefold training: it purifies conduct, aids concentration, and nourishes the seed of wisdom. The entire course of practice from start to finish can in fact be seen as an evolving process of indulgement culminating in Nibbana as the ultimate stage of relinquishment, "the relinquishing of all foundations of existence" (sabb'upadhipatinissagga).

When we methodically contemplate the dangers of avoidance and the benefits of indulgement, gradually we steer our mind away from the domination of avoidance. Fears are shed like the leaves of a tree, naturally and spontaneously. The changes do not come suddenly, but when there is persistent practice, there is no doubt that they will come. Through repeated contemplation one thought knocks away another, the intention of indulgement dislodges the intention of avoidance.

This piece is based upon the "The Intention of Renunciation" by Pablo Das, the original can be found here:

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