Are life's issues and other practical problems appropriate as a meditation subject?

Any buddhist school, that focus on this type of meditation?

6 Answers 6


Vipassana is training to handle such life situation.

Associated with each life interaction and though is a sensation. You can look at the arising and passing away of the sensations with full equanimity.

In generally what happens is when you come in contact with vicissitudes of life you react with clinging and craving on how you Perceive the sensation hence creating fabrication.

You can think and ponder on the matter in hand. This is in fact verbal fabrications. Thinking and pondering will create other sensation. Most prominent even in no mediators are like happiness, depression, anxiety, anger, hate, etc. which also has feelings associated. In general thinking things these can also be neutral or very subtle. In the process of Thinking and Pondering again look at the associated sensations arising and passing away.

  • 1
    I highly appreciated your response. From your explanation I understand that my emotions around a given issue could be a subject for meditation. Allow me to ask something else. The act of calmly pondering different options and making decisions can be a form of meditation?
    – artificer
    Nov 3, 2015 at 5:02
  • @artificer Updated above. See if it answers whether this answers your question to satisfaction? Nov 3, 2015 at 5:08
  • Yes it does. Thank a lot.
    – artificer
    Nov 3, 2015 at 5:48

There is a meditation technique I got from Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche called "touch-and-go". This is when you sit and let your mind expand naturally making no effort, and then when a thought about life issues comes up, you "touch" it (just to get a glimpse of its flavor) and then let it "go". This way you get to laundry a lot of your samskaras in a short period of time without getting bogged down in any one of them.

You don't go with the thoughts, you don't go against the thoughts. You do disidentify from the thoughts. You are not your thoughts. (You are not the observer of your thoughts either, but that's a separate story).

If the thought causes emotional pain, use the vajrayana transmutation technique: see the pain as pure somatic sensation until it melts under your stare. You are not your emotions.

Sometimes it maybe useful to trace your life issues, or rather the painful emotions associated with them, to preconceptions or attachments that come from overgeneralization of previous experiences. Once you learn to see your own experience-based biases and disidentify from them, you can be free of those as well. You are not your experiences.


To throw a monkey wrench into things as I'm wont to do, I'm going to say no. It's not appropriate to use life issues as an object of meditation. That's a lie, of course, but there's actually a different way of exploring the relationship between sitting and life issues that might give you a different perspective on your question.

There is a strong relationship between samatha meditation and insight in the Pali canon (and really the whole of Buddhism) that doesn't get much air play in the West anymore. Not to discount vipassana at all - it is an exceptionally effective method of liberation - but tranquility meditation has a different emphasis. It approaches our life issues, our obstacles, and our ignorance in a rather unique way.

The way samatha meditation works is that you sit with some sort of object be it your breath, a sign (e.g. kasina), or any one of a couple dozen other meditation devices. It wouldn't be appropriate to use a life issue for this sort of meditation. What you are trying to do is calm your mind and enter into successive states of concentrated absorption called jhana. Good luck trying doing that with anger, right? These states of deep concentration purify the mind, temporarily release you from the five hindrances, and loosen the fetters that ignorance uses to bind your consciousness.

But this sort of concentration is no good unless you use it for something. These absorption are nothing more than spiritual masturbation unless you take advantage of the perspective they provide. This is where samatha practice asks us to turn our minds back to our life issues and obstacles. In fact, this is exactly what the Buddha did. In the Bhayabherava Sutta (MN 4), you'll find the Buddha ascending through the jhanas. Upon reaching the fourth, he says -

When my concentrated mind was thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, I directed it to knowledge of the destruction of the taints. (MN 4.31)

With the purified mind afforded to him by the jhanas, the Buddha was able to directly penetrate into the very things binding him to samsara. Had he not entered into so deep an absorption, the knowledge he was able to discover would likewise not have been so complete.

Think of it like Street Fighter. You've got your light, fast hits that given enough time will eventually fell your opponent. That's vipassana. And it works. What the Buddha did, however, was use one big ol' haymaker of an attack and knocked delusion out with one blow. That's the power of samatha. This is an approach that doesn't use life issues as the object of meditation, but uses those issues as grist for insight once a state of absorption has been attained.

(Side note - some people will even tell you that jhana or at least access concentration is necessary for vipassana to be effective.)

(Bonus side note - this is also exactly how koan practice works. The answer to koans are discovered when you turn a concentrated mind back onto them.)


There is a highly recommended form of meditation in Buddhism called "Vipasana" that is the solution for the question because it concentrate on the events in lie in a Buddhist perspective.

But you are not sitting down in peace every second,You play,work,talk and etc. so how do you cope with events as they occur?

The solution is Mindfulness

Here are some teachings on meditation that might help with your issue.

Just a body with movement (Meditation of posturest full awarness)

Slaughtered cow (Meditation on elements)


Sure, the Buddhas school takes it as primary object, and one should do such very often for long term happiness and to walk a path upwardly. Lifes issues, decay of all kind, breaking appart, ageing, sickness, death. Not possible to either train for liberation, get encouraged and not heedless, nor to get any insight without often taking lives issues, inwardly, outwardly, as an object of meditation.

At least it's also a main object of the 4. base for mindfullness:

“And further, the monk remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the four noble truths. And how does a monk remain focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the four noble truths? There is the case where he discerns, as it has come to be, that ‘This is stress…This is the origination of stress…This is the cessation of stress…This is the way leading to the cessation of stress.’[19]

[a] “Now what is the noble truth of stress? Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; association with the unbeloved is stressful; separation from the loved is stressful; not getting what is wanted is stressful. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful.

“And what is birth? ... mn 10

Meditator who do not do meditate and reflect on lifes real issues, don't develope samvega and see urgency, are just wellness-meditators and sure to gain not much aside of short time escape. Never would leave home and strive for liberation.

Beware of those practicing householder-equanimity and ignoranz for eatings and being eatens sake.

(Note: this is not given for any trade, exchange, stacks and entertainment, but as an exit out of this wheel here and now)


In Theravada Buddhism, it's called Sila. There are 2 kinds of Sila: Sila to avoid and Sila to do. See MangalaSuta, Siṅgālakasuttaṃ and 1st chapter of Path of Purification.

I think, Sila is common for the educated people around the world, especially the strict temples such as Pa-Auk, Ajarn Cha, etc.

The practitioner should practice Sila but Sila is not meditation because...

  1. Sila is the basis of the meditation because the ruthless person can't succeed the meditation in long term.
  2. Sila focuses to physical actions, bodily and verbal, of mind but the meditation focuses on mind process directly.

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