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I was unable to meditate today and this left me feeling frustrated, disappointed and anxious about my practice. This type of emotional reaction seems equivalent to what occurs when one is prevented from gratifying one's sensual desires. So, I am concerned about a potential addiction to meditation practice. Did the Buddha have anything to say about this? If not, any advice from others? Thanks.

4

One of the branch Bodhisattva vows is this :

 Regarding the taste of bliss from gaining mental stability as its main advantage

Normally, we tie up a great deal of our energies in nervousness, worry, indecision, thoughts of longing or resentment, and so on, or weigh them down with dullness and sleepiness. As we concentrate and absorb our minds ever deeper, we release ever greater amounts of this energy. We experience this as a feeling of physical and mental bliss. The stronger that bliss, the further it draws us into absorption. For this reason, in anuttarayoga tantra, we generate and use even more intense blissful states of mind than those gained merely from perfect concentration, in order to reach subtlest clear light mental activity and absorb it in the understanding of voidness. If we become attached to the taste of bliss we gain at any stage of developing mental stability, whether or not in conjunction with tantra practice, and we regard enjoying the pleasure we gain from that bliss as the main goal of our practice, we seriously hinder our development of far-reaching stability of mind.

While this was not exactly your problem the two are similar.

Another advice I've received from a past teacher is to rotate my meditation types. Do each for about a month, and then rotate to the next one. Sometimes practice goes well, sometimes it does not. When it does not, watch your mind even in its reaction to the practice.

Do not cling to any expected result, just accept what is... Even though it is not a buddhist text I'll quote the Bhagavad Gita here as it is relavent.

It is not those who lack energy or refrain from action, but those who work without expectation of reward who attain the goal of meditation.

I unfortunately do not have any direct quotes from the Buddha in my mind on this subject.

2

If one is "addicted" to meditation or feels like one's sensual pleasure isn't satisfied, then one's probably been doing it wrong. However, in MN 52, Ven. Ananda mentioned a subtle kind of "delight" during jhana which prevents the meditator from attaining Arahantship. Instead s/he only reaches Non-returning and due to reappear in the Pure Abodes to attain final Nibbana there:

"Here, householder, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion. He considers this and understands it thus: ‘This first jhāna is conditioned and volitionally produced. But whatever is conditioned and volitionally produced is impermanent, subject to cessation.’ If he is steady in that, he attains the destruction of the taints. But if he does not attain the destruction of the taints because of that desire for the Dhamma, that delight in the Dhamma, then with the destruction of the five lower fetters he becomes one due to reappear spontaneously in the Pure Abodes and there attain final Nibbāna without ever returning from that world."

2

It is the "wanting" of the meditation session to be like this or like that that produces the dissapointment.

Not getting what we want, we get frustrated.

Since the practice is about letting go, when you see this "wanting", let go of it, things already are the way they are so just be with the breath.

If the conditions are right, the results will appear without wanting.

I think you should read the "Teachings of Ajahn Chah" or other meditation masters, where you will find great advice for meditation.

2

When meditation isn't proceeding properly one must always investigate if there are conditions that prevent meditation - such as a sila transgression, or a non-ideal meditation environment (very hard to meditate on an ant hill) or a full stomach or something else. If so, then these must be attended to, for trying to meditate when it isn't possible will lead to frustration in most people.

However, if everything is correct and still meditation does not come, then just accept it as necessary.

I think Ajahn Brahm likes to say that for weekly labor the wage day is Saturday, but one has to work all week to collect the wages. Like that, in meditation one can have several unsatisfactory meditations and then a perfect session follows. The unsatisfactory was a prerequisite for the satisfactory.

I'm unable to dig up exact quotes, maybe I'll add them later when I find them - but here's some more of what I remember.

  • The Buddha considers attachment to the jhanas a kind of wholesome attachment since one can do no wrong while in a jhana, and frequent immersion in the jhanas makes one seek out this state of perfection when not in jhana. However when one has attained the ariya states one will know to let go of this attachment too in order to proceed to the higher states.

  • Frustration at not being able to meditate is wholesome initially when one is still perfecting one's technique and is good for building up one's viriya or resolve and energy to meditate. However, as one's progress continues and one is no longer a beginner this frustration becomes a serious impediment and must be let go.

  • Make your aversion to non-meditation an object of meditation. Often times the aversion and loathing at being unable to perform as expected is the strongest emotion in the body at that time - so it is a perfect object for Vipassana.

  • In Samatha practice pretty good determination is necessary, so when the mind wanders it is good to correct the straying - a different approach from Vipassana where momentary concentration or khanika samadhi is enough. Like a horse rider who uses the spurs to good effect but not so much as to hurt the horse.

2

Sounds like you had an expectation and when that expectation were not met it resulted in suffering.

In a way it's actually a good thing that you experienced this. You have now experienced the pain and suffering attachment will bring us.

Reality is in a constant flux. It is ever changing and impermanent. That is why an expectation might not be met. We wish we could meditate for 1 hour today. Then something happens that changes our plans and prevents us from being able to meditate.

That is reality hitting us. That is the impermanent and ungovernable nature of reality right there. If we have attachment and wanting we will suffer. If we wish for reality to be different from what it is we will suffer.

Then what do to?

When these things happen to us and when feelings of anxiety, frustration, disappointment etc. arise they should be made into objects of observation. This way one will take away their fuel. By having aversion towards them they will only grow bigger and stronger. By instead turning them into objects of observation you can cultivate insight from them. Use them as stepping stones for progressing in your practice.

In "SN 46: Bojjhanga-samyutta" the Buddha talks about how one can nourish the hindrances, here the hindrance of Ill-will and how one can denourish the hindrance of Ill-will:

The nutriments for the hindrances

"And what, bhikkhus, is the nutriment for the arising of unarisen ill will and for the increase and expansion of arisen in will? There is, bhikkhus, the sign of the repulsive: frequently giv­ing careless attention to it is the nutriment for the arising of unarisen ill will and for the increase and expansion of arisen ill will".

The denourishment of the hindrances

"And what, bhikkhus, is the denourishment that prevents unarisen ill will from arising and arisen ill will from increasing and expanding? There is, bhikkhus, the liberation of mind through lovingkindness: frequently giving careful attention to it is the denourishment that prevents unarisen ill will from arising and arisen ill will from increasing and expanding".

-- The Connected Discourses of the Buddha - A Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, SN 46, p. 1597-1600.

Hope this helps. If you have any questions to what i wrote let me know.

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