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I have been reading books on Buddhism and contemplating on the Suttas. Lately the things which I was interested about like reading novels, watching movies, playing games and girls is losing its sheen. I am more inclined to just observe things happening around me. What is the process of transformation one undergoes when one is following Buddhism?

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    I deleted a couple of comments: if you want to answer this question, please post that as an answer, instead of posting a comment. – ChrisW Feb 22 '16 at 18:14
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    It isn't easy to answer the literal/personal question "am I depressed" without meeting/knowing/interviewing you. So it might be better to rephrase that as a more general question, e.g. "How could one tell whether that's a symptom of depression, or...?" But diagnosing depression might be off-topic for this site. Can you try to tweak the question to make it a bit more explicitly about Buddhist theory or Buddhist practice? – ChrisW Feb 22 '16 at 18:19
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Being depressed and delusional are also normal. Being enlightened is what is not normal in the world. Becoming disappointed of sensual pleasures and wanting to figure out what is really going on around you is a good thing. It's a mild version of what prince Siddhartha felt before he left the lay life. It's called Nekkhamma Sankappa(a part of the right intention). But it will soon disappear and you will be defeated by sensual desires again, if you don't practice Samma Vayama(right effort) of the noble eight fold path.

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If you observe what is around you the right way you can make progress. Whatever you observe will be perceived as:

  • desirable
  • undesirable
  • neither

which results in:

  • pleasure
  • pain
  • neutral.

This is discussed in Sal-āyatana Vibhanga Sutta, Indriya Bhāvanā Sutta.

When you experience any of these sensations you should remain equanimous and aware of the arising and passing nature to eliminate the roots. See: Pahāna Sutta

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"I am more inclined to just observe things happening around me"

Is reading novels, watching movies, playing games, etc, not observable as something happening around you?

It is true that some things lose their edge, but mostly because they never had an edge to begin with. The practice of observation is actually more than a practice because it's really the naturally way of being. As such you can just go about your normal life and still be practicing and being, which effectively are the same thing. There is no more that needs to be done.

This is the process of transformation.

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[...] is losing its sheen [...] What is the process of transformation one undergoes when one is following Buddhism?

One way of thinking is that dispassion is the process a buddhist undergoes: dispassion for things that are, ultimately, unsatisfactory. Not too different from the dispassion one starts to feel towards children toys when growing old: they are no longer a source of craving or clinging. That does not mean that growing old one becomes depressed, however.

While depression has many kinds and many symptoms, it is invariably associated with not feeling well -- feelings of sorrow, sadness, guilt, hopelessness, anxiety/irritability, lack of energy for anything / fatigue, feeling empty, lack of concentration, difficulty remembering things and making decisions, etc.

Buddhism, however, is associated with hapiness. We can even pair some of the depression symptoms with the 7 factors of enlightenment (which a buddhist is supposed to master):

  • While a depressed person develops difficulty remembering and concentrating, a buddhist develops mindfulness and investigation.
  • While a depressed person develops lack of energy and fatigue, a buddhist develops energy.
  • While a depressed person develops sadness and sorrow, a buddhist develops joy.
  • While a depressed person develops anxiety and irritability, a buddhist develops tranquility, concentration and equanimity.
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What is the process of transformation one undergoes when one is following Buddhism?

In Theravada Buddhism there are identified Four stages of enlightenment.

The Viññana Sutta seems to mentions earlier stages too: "faith follower" and "Dhamma-follower".


It may be (I know very little about it) that Mahayana Buddhism describes a different set of attainments (or describes or defines stages of enlightenment in a different way): see e.g. Ten Bodhisattva Bhūmis.


I suppose the "process" varies from person to person and from school from school. One description of the process is presumably the description of the "noble eight-fold path". I can't tell you what the methods of all the various schools are.

I'm not even sure what chiefly motivates all Buddhists. For example some people talk about Saṃvega, conversely I think that some people have as their motive something like Mettā.

Also there is equanimity ... but as 'compassion' and 'pity' are 'near enemies' so are 'equanimity' and 'indifference' (so e.g. you should aim for equanimity but not indifference).

At some point this might be a question to ask an actual teacher.

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What is the process of transformation one undergoes when one is following Buddhism?

The eye, the ear, the nose, the tongue, the body, the mind are impermanent, subject to destruction, vanishing, subject to origination, subject to cessation. Forms, sounds, odors, flavors, tactile sensations, mind objects … Eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, mind-consciousness… Eye-contact, ear-contact, nose-contact, tongue-contact, body-contact, mind-contact … Whatever feeling arises with eye-contact, ear-contact, nose-contact, tongue-contact, body-contact, mind-contact as condition, whether pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant … that too is impermanent, subject to destruction, vanishing, subject to origination, subject to cessation. Seeing thus you experience revulsion towards the eye, the ear, the nose, the tongue, the body, the mind; towards forms, sounds, odors, flavors, tactile sensations, mind objects; towards eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, mind-consciousness; towards eye-contact, ear-contact, nose-contact, tongue-contact, body-contact, mind-contact; towards whatever feeling arises with eye-contact, ear-contact, nose-contact, tongue-contact, body-contact, mind-contact as condition—whether pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant. Experiencing revulsion you become dispassionate.

What is impermanent is suffering. What is suffering is nonself. What is nonself should be seen as it really is with correct wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ When one sees this thus as it really is with correct wisdom, the mind becomes dispassionate and is liberated from the taints by nonclinging. By being liberated, it is steady; by being steady, it is content; by being content, he is not agitated. Being unagitated, he personally attains Nibbāna.

Based on SN 35.39-43, 22.45 in Ven Bodhi's translation

Through repeated examination and contemplation of the truth over time, your views change and what you once mistakenly perceived as attractive gradually loses its appeal as the truth of its unattractive nature becomes apparent.

Ajahn Chah "Clarity of Insight"

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