Ever since I've started practicing Vipassana, I'm starting to feel two distinct and diametrically opposite intentions are developing within me.

The first one says "I've suffered enough, not any more! I'm prepared to do anything to experience Nirvana. Enough of supporting these cravings and desires, they have only lead to great suffering. I don't want to take another birth."

Au contraire, the second one says "I want to enjoy the basic things in life. Though I've undergone a lot of sufferings, I should enjoy at least a little before leaving this world, its only fair. Is it wrong to enjoy things?"

Whilst I vaguely used to feel this divide since long, its only since I've started practicing Vipassana that it has become more pronounced. Its as if like a big battle is going on between these two forces, and I'm just a spectator. Is this feeling normal, or my case is any different?

4 Answers 4


I would say dont bother with any of them. Simply note them as mental formations. They belong to the 4th aggregate and are under the effect of the 3 signs of existence.

Note them and see how they arise and cease like all other conditioned phenomena. There is no "self" experiencing this - there is only the arising and cessation of mental and physical phenomena.

Dont identify with them. Dont take ownership of them. These phenomena are impersonal and empty of any substance.

You should look up Conventional & Ultimate reality - Sammuti sacca & Paramattha sacca.


Check out the discourse on the Anattalakkhana Sutta by Mahasi Sayadaw. In this discourse it is described thoroughly and in detail why the 5 aggregates cannot be taken as a "self".

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    Thanks. I don't identify with them during meditation. But once I come out, during day to day life, I can't help thinking about that. Feb 24, 2015 at 9:02
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    Do you carry your meditation practice with you into your daily life? If you do then just use the noting technique. Dont give these thoughts, feelings etc. any value. They are just arisen phenomena that will cease at some point. They might appear strong and intense but they will soon loose their strength and momentum if you note them. Its normal that things intensify if you direct your focus at them. If you become scared then just note that. If you get any bodily effects such as increased respiration or heat in the body then just note that.
    – user2424
    Feb 24, 2015 at 11:07
  • "Simply note them as mental formations." - Yes, it doesn't seem QP has bipolar disorder, but just contradicting thoughts and intentions (which is very normal).
    – eric
    Feb 27, 2015 at 22:33

It's not wrong to enjoy things. You can have nirvana and you can enjoy life at the same time. In fact when you're free of the grip existence you're most capable of enjoying it: seeing the beauty of the trees and the nature. It's like a beautiful painting: you don't have to believe in the contents of the painting to be able to enjoy it. You should enjoy your life until your physical body dies.

The trouble is in your wanting: wanting to have a nirvana, wanting to avoid another birth or wanting to enjoy life.

Just be without fear. All things come in their right time. Perceive it all. The whole world is your practice ground.

  • I'm not sure whether that's true, that you can "can have nirvana and you can enjoy life at the same time": see Nekkhamma
    – ChrisW
    Feb 24, 2015 at 12:45
  • Well, I have to say that all thinking brings you into existence as thoughts are part of existence or world of forms. Doesn't matter if you think about renunciation or pleasure. If you have to limit your life because you think doing enjoyable things would attach you again to existence then you are not free enough yet. Being free of existence means being free whatever your body does or wherever it goes. So there's no problem with enjoyment. But this just my two cents. No need to discuss it further. Feb 24, 2015 at 13:13

Whilst I vaguely used to feel this divide since long, its only since I've started practicing Vipassana that it has become more pronounced.

Meditation tends to bring forth our vague intentions,feelings,thoughts etc.In other words your just seeing it clearly now because of mindfulness.It used to go about unregistered in the subconscious until you became mindful of it.

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    Thanks. Is there any need to be careful about anything if these thoughts, feelings, etc. become more clear? In some sense, I feel they are becoming stronger and stronger than before and a sort of Entire world is getting built up within me! Feb 24, 2015 at 9:00
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    Don't interact with them.Intentions are intentions.They will lose their power when you don't interact with them.In other words they will die down on their own.So don't try to counter that intention with another intention because they will pull you into their story.and it's game over.Just observe them,note them,but don't feed them with more thoughts and intentions.Stay out of it.Observe and note.Their not your problem.Their not your intentions.Their just intentions.Doing what intentions do.
    – Orion
    Feb 24, 2015 at 9:26

Leave aside both than romanticize and just keep up your practice. If you are too eager to Niravana then you will put too much effort. If you go the other way then worldly pleasures come with more misery attached.

  • Thanks. I know I shouldn't romanticize the thoughts, but I just wanted to confirm whether this sort of thing is normal or okay in vipassana practice. Also, these thoughts never bother me during meditation, but during normal day to day life when I'm typically doing something else. Feb 24, 2015 at 9:05

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