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How do those who have experienced multiple, profound-negative events, and/or long periods of extreme hardship muster up the will to continue on the path, or even to try to live a morally-upright life when one feels absolutely certain that any effort towards skillful thoughts/actions is only a short-term project that will only be demolished in the near future anyway?

  • It's only because people see imperfection in the world that they start to strive. If there is no perception of the insecure where one dwells one would not step on. So the problem is here that householder thinks that effort can not solve the matter, or not seeing the head burning right away. – Samana Johann Sep 29 at 4:25
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What I discovered only a few years ago, after 25 years of practicing Dharma...is that when things get really rough, it works best to get into absolute here-and-now mode.

Meaning, I don't think about my situation, don't compare, don't analyze, just live one step at a time, one breath at a time, do what's obviously required at the moment, and that's it.

This puts me in pure suchness. Things are such and not otherwise. There's no judgement on my side, nor longing for things to be otherwise. There's just suchness.

When you are fully in this mode, it is actually quite peaceful, despite the rough situation. Suchness is peaceful, because it is just so. There's no conflict in my attitude to it. I am just such, and I do what I do, at the moment.

It is actually a very advanced state, suchness. No need to practice anything else. To be in full peace, without inner conflict, despite the circumstances - is quite an achievement.

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  1. Manage your expectations

This can be done at 3 levels: perception (sanna), though (citta), View (ditti)

1st start with views. These are what has been ingrained due to continuous thinking. Look at what is attainable and cut on things you cannot achieve in the current situation.

When thinking about something unattainable or hurtful if there is nothing you can do about it let go of it.

If you perceive as it is good to have this or that at this juncture let go of it.

  1. Immunise your mind by developing wisdom

When you practice as follows, you can overcome the hurtful feeling arising in hard times. Doing meditation one can find a permanent lasting solution than a temporary one.

If he feels a pleasant feeling,

  • he understands that it is impermanent;
  • he understands that it is not to be clung to;
  • he understands that there is no delight in it.

If he feels a painful feeling,

  • he understands that it is impermanent;
  • he understands that it is not to be clung to;
  • he understands that there is no delight in it.

If he feels a neutral feeling,

  • he understands that it is impermanent;
  • he understands that it is not to be clung to;
  • he understands that there is no delight in it.

If he feels a pleasant feeling, he feels it in a detached manner.

If he feels a painful feeling, he feels it in a detached manner.

If he feels a neutral feeling, he feels it in a detached manner.

Dhātu Vibhaṅga Sutta

From merely the above description it is difficult to perceive the practice. You can take a course in meditation to learn the practice:

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Nothing matters in the big picture. Look at the big picture. You will realize it for yourself. Once, you have realized the big picture, practicing just being will become easy.

But the hard wiring will fight just being. The big picture is the software. It doesn't get translated into hardware in one go. The hardware doesn't understand the big picture. It is geared towards survival. The big picture will gradually seep into hardware with regular effort and practice.

You have to put some sort of alert. Maybe a periodic thinking routine, a vibrator on your hand, or something else that keeps you jolting out of it. If things don't fall in place, get in touch with me. I have been through some difficult times myself but managed to land on my feet.

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I think that this part of the question ...

How do those who have experienced multiple, profound-negative events, and/or long periods of extreme hardship muster up the will to continue on the path, or even to try to live a morally-upright life

... is important, but maybe you understand already and that's not the part you're asking for an explanation of.

I think it's the later part ...

when one feels absolutely certain that any effort towards skillful thoughts/actions is only a short-term project that will only be demolished in the near future anyway?

... that is the part you wanted explained.


I guess my explanation derives from taking the four noble truths as a view -- therefore, what's arising and ceasing is dukkha ... and "cessation is bliss", etc.

I think that perspective makes sense of or explains the first part of your question -- i.e. it's that the path (including morality, but also wisdom) prevents the arising of dukkha in the future, and explains (and enables the cessation of) dukkha which has arisen.

Also I guess there's the Kimattha Sutta: What is the Purpose? which starts with,

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi in Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's monastery. Then Ven. Ananda went to the Blessed One and on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "What is the purpose of skillful virtues? What is their reward?"

"Skillful virtues have freedom from remorse as their purpose, Ananda, and freedom from remorse as their reward."

"And what is the purpose of freedom from remorse? What is its reward?" (etc.)

If you look back on a skilful virtue, maybe "freedom from remorse" seems to be somehow more durable, not so subject to cessation or short-term, maybe it's less fabricated or something somehow -- does it make sense that the absence of something is more permanent than the presence of something? So anyway: absence of remorse.

And maybe that -- recollection of virtue, silanussati -- is one of the few things you're meant to be able to remember as helpful.

To give a more specific example, in retrospect you might remember, "That was a bad situation -- but at least I behaved well, that's one good thing, could have been worse".

Then modify that slightly to remove the judgemental personal preference, the craving, which leaves only, "That was a situation" (or "That was such a situation") instead of "That was a bad situation" -- maybe remove the "I" as well -- and what's left is, "That was a situation, there was some good behaviour" (and I suppose that's better than the alternative i.e. bad behaviour).

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