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I really need your help as I'm, in some sort of conflict about my path. I'll try to keep things short but i need to include some info about my life experience so far.

Now I'm 25 years old and all my life i have been chasing around my own tail. I had this mindset since i child that i need to achieve something in order to be happy. I always projected a brighter future and ideal version of myself and conditions. I could never live in the present, I was always stuck in my thoughts and imagination. After reaching every material goal, be it wealth, a fine girlfriend, a luxury watch, an automobile, a good physique, I crashed very hard and became depressed because I was slowly realizing that I have been living in illusions all my life and nothing will ever bring me happiness.

I started drinking and doing cocaine until I confessed to my beloved parents about my problems and then became clean. I have been clean for 2 years now. I basically felt very empty and the only thing which had any value from that point on was my family. I dropped every goal and letting go of everything and realizing how desperate and empty my life has been, was very very freeing. I felt peace for the first time but was still meet with emptiness and boredom. I would go on walks every day and ask myself: "what is the goal? What is the endgame? Why am I living? For what?"

Then finally I got into Buddhist literature and almost teared up reading how everything explained my suffering. That fueled me with energy and simply just the explaining of the cause calmed me even more without any meditation. Knowing I'm not the only one suffering who fell for these illusions.

So then i decided to read the Pali Canon and got recommended the mind illuminated and started directly to meditate.

The results have been phenomenal in just 2 weeks. I'm living more in the present day by day, I'm getting calmer, I don't recall pain from the past anymore, I project about the future less. I walk around my city and see a pub and I don't instantly build scenarios in my head. The images which are linked to certain things are finally getting broken. The association and experience to certain things is getting weaker and weaker. I'm not as emotional.

It's sort of a dispassion to things which is very freeing. I don't get excited as easily just to crash afterwards, I don't recall memories with certain images anymore. Its insane. Its a complete different reality and for the first time I'm living in the present and acting less impulsive getting dragged by my emotions and conditioned memories and experience when seeing something.

Now my question is following:
Where will this take me in the long term?

I read some post about a longterm meditator who had a bad experience according to him which i will quote at the end and I can already see some similarities between me and him which is somewhat anxious but in my opinion this calm dispassion and being free of conditioned experience and memories is exactly what is bringing me peace for the first time but why is he explaining it in such a depressing tone? What went wrong? This post always pops up in my head and I can't progress and enjoy my new path fully when I don't know what is up with it or maybe he's simply lying? The post was posted on 4chan so it could be exaggerated for whatever purpose.

Anyway I then read about dark nights and dukkha nanas and got even more confused about all of it but i see some dukkha nanas which my life experience already showed and gained insight? Like one nana described seeing a beautiful woman and not having the instant image in your head of possessing here and I already been past that because I know it doesn't bring me happiness or are dukkha nanas only related to meditation results?

Anyway, here is the post:

"Don’t meditate. I went to a retreat and was doing 5 hours a day after several years of doing it, and had a fxxking horrible experience. I realized what this insidious shit is actually doing. At first you think negative emotions and attachments are going away, that bullshit, it’s all emotions and attachments. Every tiny aspect and association that forms who you are is being slowly but surely chiselled away at during meditation.

If you pursue it, you will get to the point where it all collapses. You will look at yourself and see total absence, just nothing. Your identity is important, and everything about it goes away, all the things you thought mattered, all your plans for the future just fall into this facade of one dimensional nothingness. That is the end goal.

I don’t where all this happy shit comes from after this, it seems like this was the endgame all along. Everything feels dull, I feel like a zombie, I’m an empty hole and everything is just superficial nothingness. It’s not pleasant, I feel as though I’ve permanently damaged myself and my mind, and barely clung onto core aspects of myself. That’s what this shit does, never forget that. It will make you beyond a nihilist, and it won’t stop.

I can’t follow thoughts anymore because I’ve trained my mind to stop them- you can’t undo that. You will be unthinking, just reactionary, no judgments, no opinions, no emotions, no attachments, like a fxxking insect. That’s what this shit does, it makes you a fxxking insect. Like a bundle of nerves that just responds to things, there’s nothing really there.

All I am now is a weird fxxking void that drifts around and reacts to things without any sort of personality involved, like a programmed machine. I fxxking hate this so much. There would be no difference if I was dead, I basically feel like I am. Don’t start this path. Even if you do only like 10 minutes a day, this is the endgame, this is what it’s slowly doing to you.

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The end point of practice is liberty: not the commonly-heard but overly simplistic notion pf political liberty, but the essential principle that underpins that concept. Unfortunately, this sense of metaphysical liberty can be deeply unnerving (heck, even political liberty can be unnerving). People like limits and boundaries, whether to hide behind or push up against; having limits and boundaries makes one feel safe, and gives one definition and identity.

The author of the post you quoted ran up against this issue, and had a negative abreaction. In effect, he went into the practice thinking that Buddhism would give him an identity and a purpose; that it would place safe and comfortable limits he could live within, and give him guidance forward. I imagine he (like many others in the West) adopted Buddhism because he felt resentments or anxieties about the world at large; he transferred his expectations from the world (which failed him) to Buddhism, thinking that would be the solution. But then when he started to run up against that openness (emptiness), his mind didn't know how to cope with it — it didn't know how to move without something solid to push against — so all those resentments and anxieties resurfaced and he transfer his expectations to something else, or perhaps just collapsed into defensive nihilism. At any rate, he conflated the practice with the purpose. The practice isn't liberty, the practice is how we come to understand liberty.

Dark moments come whenever the mind realizes it is not the master of something it thought it had in the bag; when it realizes that something it relies on isn't so simplistically reliable. One of the presumed boundaries of the world disappears, and it throws the mind off balance. C'est la vie... But when one has seen through all the boundaries, one lives in a perpetual state of balance.

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    what is meant by "metaphysical reality"? thanks Feb 26 at 20:08
  • @Dhammadhatu: Nothing much is meant by it. Mainly I wanted to ward people away from the typical (and superficial) 'freedom from' and 'freedom to' type discussions, which are all based in ego-identity. I'm pointing at the idea that proper liberty is the absence of tanhā, where whatever actions one might take are not predicated on distorted understandings and perceptions. If you think that phrase is misleading, I can replace it; that's just the words that popped into my head while i was hand-waving at something experiential. Feb 26 at 22:29
  • actually, i don't know what "metaphysical reality" means because the term metaphysical is used in many different ways, often as something to be avoided. personally, i try to use the language of Buddhism rather the language of other philosophies Feb 26 at 22:39
  • @Dhammadhatu: Fair enough. What do you think the bet way to put this in Buddhist language would be? I mean, I'm sure you get the drift of what I'm saying, and I'm happy to adjust my language. I'll put some thought into it myself. I do have a tendency to speak off the cuff, I know... Feb 26 at 23:45
  • i don't know because i have never worked about what the term "metaphysical" means. You have used the word in a positive or insight orientated way. As I said, others have used it other ways. Possibly you are referring to "psychological reality". Regards Feb 26 at 23:58
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You should never compare your personal path with others. Buddhism makes it very clear some people enter the Path and others do not. As Jesus said: "two men will be cultivating a field. One is taken away, the other is left behind" (Matthew 24:40-42).

It is best to avoid the ideas of "dark nights and dukkha nanas". Generally, these terms are used by individuals who wish to claim their mental illness is enlightenment or stream-entry.

The common arising of certain difficult existential emotions, such as "fear & dread", when one is practising solitude, are not any special "ñāṇa (insight knowledge)". While understanding such emotions are impermanent and understanding how to pass through them is a type of knowledge, this knowledge is not anything profound or special. It is merely understanding how to deal with a hindrance. Real insight knowledge results in a bliss, peace & freedom the ordinary person cannot even imagine can exist.

When the later day Buddhist literature refers to "bhaya ñana (knowledge of fear)", this does not refer to emotional fear but refers to the fearful nature of impermanent phenomena; that these impermanent phenomena will cause suffering if they are craved & attached to.

To see a beautiful woman and not having the instant image in your head of possessing her is not anything special. Instead, it is the most basic form of morality. Prior to the Cultural Marxist Sexual Revolution & its birth control of the 1960s, most men did not think of having sex with every beautiful woman they saw. Instead, most men understood with proper morality that marriage was the only place for sex.

Try to imagine you lived 70 or 100 years ago, when no women had the birth control pill. Do you think those women would have promiscuous sex? Do you think you yourself would entertain sexual thoughts without fear of causing pregnancy?

Have you not seen clearly all of the neurotic women in the current world, including beautiful ones? How can one even consider having sex with such neurotics and adding more harm to that which already exists?

In summary, what you are posting about are not "ñāṇa (insight knowledge)". About what is actually "right ñāṇa", the older scriptures describe a special knowledge that can only arise when a practitioner has developed right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right mindfulness, right concentration, etc:

Of those, right view is the forerunner. And how is right view the forerunner? In one of right view, right resolve comes into being. In one of right resolve, right speech comes into being. In one of right speech, right action... In one of right action, right livelihood... In one of right livelihood, right effort... In one of right effort, right mindfulness... In one of right mindfulness, right concentration... In one of right concentration, right knowledge... In one of right knowledge (sammā ñāṇa), right release comes into being. Thus the learner is endowed with eight factors and the arahant with ten.

MN 117

If you aspire to practice the Buddha's Noble Path:

  1. You must learn the Noble Eightfold Path, quoted above. Notice how the Noble Path includes Right Resolve and Right Action, which includes the resolve to harmlessness, the resolve to not engage in harmful sexuality and the action of harmless sexual conduct (such as mutual commitment to marriage) or, otherwise, celibacy.

  2. You must associate with Noble Friends who understand the Noble Path.

If the Noble Eightfold Path is practised as intended, the mind will become calm and, as concentration develops, the mind will become blissful, buoyant & radiant.


As for the blogger quote you posted, as I said at the beginning of my answer, meditation is not suitable for all people. Some people have engaged in too much bad kamma in the past and damaged their brain, thus meditation will take them straight to "hell", where they experience the results of their prior harmful deeds Some people have not developed enough sacrificial virtue, goodness & unselfishness to enable them to let go and be non-attached in meditation. Or some people are simply not genetically predisposed for the practise of meditation and their lust for life or self-survival instinct is too strong.

In conclusion, if your practise of Buddhism has brought good results for you, you should continue it. You should not compare yourself to others.

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  • "If your practice of buddhism has brought good results for, continue" i think thats a great last statement. Thank you so much.
    – Aziz
    Feb 27 at 9:17
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There is some truth to what this person wrote and I can imagine one can end up like he/she did but I don't think it is caused by meditation itself.

I read a sutta a while ago and I just can't seem to find it. The gist of it as I recall it was that a disciple of Buddha was accused of being hopeless and to not have faith in the Buddha. Asked by Buddha about it he affirms it and explains it as having attained equanimity and being absolutely certain that Buddha was right.

So the question is: Why is hopelessness a good thing?

All to many people never really become hopeless in the sense that they are indifferent. To most people hopelessness means not ever having a chance at getting/becoming what they want.

The hopelessness we are talking about is what can be experienced if you make your wildest dreams come true. Reaching the greenest pastures so to speak. In this moment I guess anybody would be overwhelmed by all the realizations this comes with. At first mostly disappointment. But later on lacking goals really starts to bug you. You always strived for something and now you know it is all worthless and a waste of time. What to do next?

At this stage there are two possibilities. One: find a new goal in search of fulfillment and the other: free yourself of this need. Sadly starting with meditation can be used for both. In the realization that material needs and outward sensations don't fulfill, some may try to "better" themselves. Become more than they are. But the thing is: You can't or at least not in this sense.

That is where this person is stuck. It became the new goal in life. It was supposed to add to him/her. In the end it didn't live up to this persons expectations which led to despair.

So back to hopelessness. What if in the end no state of the world would be superior to any other state? Wouldn't this mean freedom? So if nothing matters and there is nothing to lose why not go to town? That is why! You have nothing to gain either. You don't need to kill because the world won't become a better place without whatever being annoyes you. You don't need to steal because being richer won't do you any good. You don't have to lie and cheat because it won't do you any good. And with time it will lead to less hurt inflicted on you and people around you.

That is why if meditation is hard on you maybe try starting off with refraining from causing hurtful acts by keeping the Precepts. Less regret is always a good way to cultivate a clearer mind until maybe it won't be so hard to bear with.

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  • Hey friend! You may be confusing things because of my bad english or text structure. As i said meditation is great on me so far, im just anxious it may become hard and lead to that quote in the end.. the story and the text in general all of it prior to that quote is me. Does it make sense now? Kind regards
    – Aziz
    Feb 27 at 9:14
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What is the end game? Is it to become a mindless zombie?

The fully liberated ones (called arahants) do not experience any kind of mental suffering. They may experience physical pain which they endure and not suffer mentally from.

They do not have latent tendencies (anusaya), defilements (kilesa), effluents (asava), fetters (samyojana), the five hindrances (pañca nīvaraṇāni), craving (tanha), clinging (upadana) and the fourteen unwholesome mental factors from the Abhidhamma. They do not have the 3 poisons (greed/ lust, aversion and delusion).

They may plan to do something (see this answer), but they never plan to become something or somebody. They don't brood about the past or, dream or worry about the future.

Where the unenlightened feel boredom due to inactivity or feel loneliness due to lack of company, the arahants feel completely at ease and peaceful, and even prefer this. Their mental state is peaceful, free of "noise" and mental agitation of any kind.

They eat or take care of their health only out of necessity for maintenance and not with desires for sensual pleasures or to become something or somebody.

Each of the technical terms mentioned like fetters, hindrances, effluents, defilements, craving, clinging, unwholesome mental factors, 3 poisons etc. are all very detailed and often expand into further lists and definitions - you can search for them on Buddhism.SE.

But if you want a super short summary - it's bliss and peace all the time.

Also please see Dhammapada chapter 7.

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Having studied theravadin canon and a lot of commentary i can advise you in short.

Don't overcomplicate your training by using non-canonical expressions like 'dark night' and 'insight knowledges'. These are commentarial developments and are controversial.

The way meditation is streamlined and made into a cookie-cutter method by ie the Goenka & Mahasi traditions, is a seemingly neat & convenient attempt at making a one size fit all and this one needs in order to train mass amounts of people with little to no instruction. However the theory as it is thus presented is at best incomplete and at worst a misinterpretation of the texts.

Basically both the Goenka and Mahasi traditions are rather niche traditions that became popular due to that massive streamlining of 'vipassana' and are based on commentary interpretations & systematizations on which there is little to no agreement.

Focus instead on studying the teacher's instruction and you will probably see that the method of expression is supreme and is optimized for the training such that no additional systems of going through insight knowledges and dark nights are required.

In no discourses of the Buddha will one read about a person resolving on or going through the insight knowledges & stages of insight, nor being instructed to do so.

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