At the request of yuttadhammo and Lanka, i am attempting to focus the question. Please let me know if it still remains unclear.

The environment is full of daily encounters through the physical, visual, auditory, mental and emotional faculties. Some of these interactions are positive in that they help promote the well being of one-self and other whilst others are negative.

It seems all is an illusion especially when some of these interactions out-weigh the other e.g. positive vs negative and vice versa. Often this feels like a battle to bring more positive in light of the negative. The emotional and mental effort required to keep forging ahead seems futile. Repeatedly i am told that meditation is the path however i fail to see how when it seems that it is intended more for me than for me and others.

I feel like a battered and wounded lion or soldier. I feel lost. Concepts are unedifying since they further cloud the situation e.g. where truth end and lies start, where right and wrong are right and wrong, etc

What does one do?

Original Question

The definition of environment in the context of the question is to do with the daily encounters one has with the world be it through physical interaction, auditory, visual, emotional or mental. Each day, these interactions are positive or negative. An example of positive may be someone assists another in need of help. An example of negative may be when someone is not conducive to the problem or issue at hand or a war stricken land.

Sometimes the positive outweigh the negative and vice versa. Sometimes it feels like a battle to bring positive possibilities as you are attempting to shine light in a large area of darkness.

  • How does one approach this?
  • How does one remain motivated?
  • How does one help another through their suffering?
  • How does one trust another?

I may be wrong in my understanding however meditation appears to be an activity for oneself. It does not encompass the wider world. If all is interdependent and interrelated, is this not futile?

  • Hi Motivated. I think those are some good and important questions you ask. Although there are a lot of them within one question making it difficult for other users to give an "best-answer". Could you summarize them a bit so that it will be easier for other users to answer your question and so that you can get an answer you can use? I will refer you to this meta-post about "questions with lot of parts in them": meta.buddhism.stackexchange.com/questions/1531/…
    – user2424
    May 11, 2015 at 21:03
  • Yeah, it isn't really clear what you are asking... better to try to stick with one question and make it clear what that question is. If your last sentence is the question, I think that should be more clearly expressed and the meaning behind your question explained. May 11, 2015 at 21:08
  • @Lanka - Thanks. I have attempted to offer a concise question.
    – Motivated
    May 12, 2015 at 8:16
  • @yuttadhammo - Thanks. I have attempted to hone in on the question.
    – Motivated
    May 12, 2015 at 8:17
  • 1
    A technique which can help ensure that a question has a single topic is the title: include one of the interrogative words in the title, phrase it so that it has a question mark at the end, and make it grammatical with (at least) a noun and a verb. I don't always do that myself, but it (phrasing the title as a question) is a technique to consider if the overall subject or unified theme of the topic is in doubt.
    – ChrisW
    May 12, 2015 at 10:28

2 Answers 2


You have to 1st have a shift of paradigm in your thinking. This might help. The paradigm shift you need to experience is that anything external cannot really hurt you unless you hurt your self in reaction to and external input. What hurts you happen from within.

In addition to this keep in mind the environment for sensory input in conditioned by past fabrications and our natural tendency is that we consider this positive and negative. A source of misery is this classification by our perception in the 1st place.

Let's loot at the process where you actually get hurt.

  • A wanted thing has not happen
  • An unwanted thing has happen

1st you recognise and perceive such thing has append. Then there is a mental reaction to such mental imprint. This causes a sensation either pleasant or unpleasant. Do cut off this experience of pleasantness or unpleasantness may be a bit far off but there is a nearer solution.

When you experience the initial sensation this brings up more memories and thoughts which compound either to intensify or reduce the intensity of the sensation. Initially you can address this issue.

How to address this is that 1st you experience a sensation you react with craving and aversion. Try your best to keep your mind equanimous. This will gradually reduce the potential proliferation with practice. Then you can look at distracting yourself from the cause. Generally it would be a good idea to look at your breath. You will see that it has become hard. Wait till it to become normal. If it is aversion do some Metta, if it is lustful imagine if body parts were separate will you still perceive the person as beautiful, etc.

To drive out ignorance which is the root cause of misery, look at the sensation closely. Where is it the most intense, when you start from a bounty of the sensation what direction, it is intense, try dividing the areas of the sensation into smaller parts and look at the smaller areas. Look at changes in it and how its looses intensity and pass away. As you practice you should try to see it as more finer and finer levels until you see this at the level or arising and passing of Kalapa. Also also try to realise how it originates, i.e., some contact of the other. Be mindful of all contacts without reaction or craving and clinging being absolutely mindful or arising and passing of phenomena within the framework of the 4 foundations of mindfulness.

At the utmost level how this happens if when you get any sense input from the environment you piece together a picture to which you react. Once you see, hear or scene something, this alone causes a mild sensation. Piecing together the picture and reacting causes a larger sensation. With practice you can cut off the second reaction.

Last but not least, you can work yourself to cut out future unpleasant experiences from within and the environment. Even experiences we call pleasant are not that satisfactory as they do not last and we cannot control them. Your environment is created by fabrication of the past. At this moment by reacting you are creating fabrication for the future. There are 2 things you have to do. 1) Drive out ignorance (glossed over before) and understand the 4 Noble Truths and Dependent Origination 2) Stop putting more fuel experience future unpleasantness. The strategy to do this is in the light of sensations:

  • Pleasant sensations - this is because of past fabrication of clinging and craving. The dander is that you will cling and crave for the pleasant sensations. Be equanimous with absolutely not clinging or craving. Look at the arising and passing of the elements and Kalapas which make the sensation to dispel any possible taint of ignorance at the particular time. If you cannot see arising and passing just look at the sensation analysing is breaking it into small areas and looking at the intensity and change of the sensation and eventual passing away of it keeping in mind at what every you experience will eventually pass away. Being eqaunimous towards pleasant sensation you are not creating new fabrication or future environment to experience unsatisfactory sensation of the same type and also depleting you old stock of fabrication created by clinging. Through in the future you may experience some pleasantness this will always result in disappointment due to the 3 marks of existance (Impermanence and change, un satisfactoriness, no absolute control).
  • Painful sensation - these are result of past aversion. Use this to deplete your old stock of fabrication of painful sensation hence you will not experience painful experiences in the future
  • Neutral sensation - similarly for neutral sensation. Use this to deplete fabrication due to ignorance. This has some more dangers than pleasantness. There is a chance you might think you have reached the final goal when you experience neutral sensation. You have to look closely and then you still will see things are arising and passing. Also there is a danger this can bake you restless in which case best is to practice concentration. Also there is a chance you might get sloth and toper. Then it is best to practice investigation and practice which have some metal movement (like scanning the body) or mental chattering (like Metta, or in some cases chanting). These practices may make you fall back to Piti if you are experiencing Passaddhi.

I think you will end up getting better answers to your question. But I'll answer what I can. :)

It truly is exhausting to be in a mind state of continually judging every experience and every facet of life as positive or negative and trying to continually change things to be as you would have them. One of the reasons people come to mediation is because they realize they can't change the world and they want to learn to live in the world in a way that causes less suffering for themselves and others.

Meditation is something an individual does but because of the way it changes the individual; it also changes things in the individual's world. Spending time in meditation can help a meditator to become very aware of things they are doing which are causing suffering for themselves and others. It can help one to realize that suffering comes internally by identifying things as me and mine and trying desperately to prop up that fragile ego of me and mine.

The relief of learning to loosen the grip of needing to have everything under your control and everything to your liking is tremendous. I don't think it can be properly explained; it's something that needs to be experienced.

If you are concerned that meditating will make you indifferent to the needs of others, I can only say that because you are, examining your own mind when you meditate, you really can't hide anything from yourself. So if you are doing something that causes suffering to others, it'll be clear and you won't want to continue.

  • Thanks Robin111. I understand that meditation offers the opportunity to learn more about yourself as well as look at your practices, views and the like. I attempt to do this outside of meditation on a daily basis however am always challenged with the way of the world. I attempt to step back and observe the experiences, not to place any judgement and to see it for what it is.
    – Motivated
    May 12, 2015 at 18:20
  • There are times i sense that the path of a certain experience is not what it should be. I will discuss this with those around me and often this is disregarded since it may involve more time, money, effort, etc to do things right. It may also involve people putting their egos aside.
    – Motivated
    May 12, 2015 at 18:20
  • 1
    "To be aware of a single shortcoming within oneself is more useful than to be aware of a thousand in someone else." Tweeted by the Dalai Lama twitter.com/dalailama/status/12567837881
    – Robin111
    May 12, 2015 at 18:50

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