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Buddhism & CFS

Discussion in 'Spirituality and ME/CFS' started by starryeyes, Dec 7, 2009.

  1. Koan

    Koan Be the change.

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    I've posted this here before but I think it's particularly relevant in this thread - I just hope I haven't already posted in this thread! could happen

    Stillpoint is a community specially designed and run by people with chronic illness, specifically ME/CFS but not restricted to, where community (virtual sangha), meditation guidance, and many other aspects of bringing dharma to dealing with chronic illness can be found.

    I have been on their list for years and find them an excellent resource and a lovely community.

    http://www.stillpointmeditation.org.uk
     
  2. Koan

    Koan Be the change.

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    Further to STILLPOINT

    They have several articles on meditating with ME including the following written by Dr. David Mason Brown who has himself "recovered" to "90%" from ME.

    http://www.stillpointmeditation.org.uk/detail.asp?SectionID=3&Page=Body&ArticleID=25

    Dr Brown seems to be in the post infectious, as opposed to ongoing infection, camp and has some ideas with which many of us would take issue. His belief that "recovery" is possible for everyone who has the correct attitude and approach is problematic in the extreme. I may be misunderstanding Dr Brown, however. I can't be sure.

    I have decided to leave this dilemma in your own capable hands. There are no fools on this forum.

    All this notwithstanding, there is much on this site which is supportive of good practices for those who wish to combine Buddhist meditative practice in their healing if one can bring their own good sense to bear.

    I do go on! :eek:

    Combing two posts


    Do we have any Brit.s on this thread?

    I don't want to malign Dr Brown unnecessarily. On closer inspection, he claims a "recovery" to 90% which is not an unreasonable claim in a relapsing and remitting illness. My thinker is really struggling and I'm having a lot of trouble figuring out... well... anything.

    I would love the opinion of a Brit. (a Brit. dharma following or meditator would be fantastic!) on Dr. Brown.

    And, anyway, it's not all Dr Brown! There are many people contributing to the wisdom this site has to offer.

    It is a gift to all of us!

    with metta to all
     
  3. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    This "guy" (who really IS great!) is local to Santa Cruz, and not a worldly guru type. (Sorry, he has no published books or video series. :() He has practiced psychotherapy, taught psychology and conflict resolution, and facilitated spiritual groups for twenty years. All his work is oriented to "inviting people to discover the essential, unconditioned Self." I'm not sure if he would want me to post his info on an internet forum. But if you are really interested in having a personal telephone session with him, you could PM me, and I'd give you his contact info.
     
  4. Koan

    Koan Be the change.

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    I have just been reading some of the essays on Stillpoint. Although I have been a member of the Stillpoint community for years, I had not encountered a lot of these before now.

    Stillpoint has essays on Illness as Teacher, many written by people with ME and/or chronic, intractable pain, which are breathtaking. I have been reading with tears coursing down my face - tears of gratitude, of recognition, of unity, of connection... of a kind of joy.

    http://www.stillpointmeditation.org.uk/detail.asp?SectionID=10&Page=Index
     
  5. Koan

    Koan Be the change.

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    I just got this from the marvelous Sujatin (who has ME) who keeps the lovely blog Lotusinthemud and who, just today, sent me a marvelous piece by the wonderful Pema Chodron (who has ME) and I thought I'd pass it on from me (who has ME) to you (who have ME) in case it was relevant... and how on earth could it not be! :D

    It is a nice long piece so those with ink and printers, not me alas, should probably print it out on both sides of recycled paper, of course :p

    http://lotusinthemud.typepad.com/sujatin/

    Enjoy
     
  6. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    Hey Teejkay--

    This is truly amazing! I had no idea fractals had a Buddha shape. :eek:
     
  7. starryeyes

    starryeyes Senior Member

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    The Buddhabrot/Mandelbrots show up periodically when you magnify the borders of the original Buddhabrot/Mandelbrot set. You can magnify the Mandelbrot set to infinity and you'll still find nearly identical individual Mandelbrots forever and ever. It was only with the invention of computers that we were able to see this. This video illustrates the Mandelbrot set:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIj30SOoIDM

    This also fits in with our discussion of Derealization/Depersonalization:

    From the song on the video:

    The Buddha is in the details. :)

    For those who are interested, here's a film that explains the Mandelbrot set:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVO85iZTLWE

    This film points out that coincidentally, that the name Mandelbrot is very similar to the word mandala. The Mandelbrot set contains many mandalas within it. For instance, there are paisley mandalas and seahorse mandalas in the magnifications of the borders of the Mandelbrot set.

    Also, a sci-fi story I read featuring the Mandelbrot shortened the name Mandelbrot to Ma, like the ultimate Ma of the universe.


    They're very Zen-like.
    [​IMG]
     
  8. starryeyes

    starryeyes Senior Member

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    Ooooooooo. Thank you Koan. I can't wait to read it. :)

    [​IMG]

    tee
     
  9. starryeyes

    starryeyes Senior Member

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    I was thinking about Buddhism today and a question formed in my mind:

    When people are enlightened does that mean that they never get upset or angry or hurt?

    At first I thought I needed to Google this but then I thought more about it and I realized that I have some ideas of my own on this and I'd like to hear everyone else's here too. I think that when something bad happens to enlightened people they face it with acceptance and insight. We're still human and I think there's room to be human inside Buddhism. Therefore I think enlightened people still cry and experience intense negative emotions but I don't think they become destructive in their lives. For instance, I don't think enlightened people would turn to drinking or mistreating people or animals that are around them because of their miseries.

    We're all dealing with an ongoing tragedy which is our illness CFS. Many others like me may lament that we can no longer meditate deeply due to our illness but I realized today that we are all a lot closer to enlightenment than we think. When, I think it was Koan's friend, said that CFS is a shortcut to Buddhism, s/he couldn't have been more right. We all had to mature very quickly in order to cope with this constant onslaught of scary and debilitating symptoms that cripple many of us and make many of us bedridden and takes away our relationships and steals our dreams.

    We had to learn to face all of the losses and disabling symptoms that CFS leads to. I think this experience can bring us all much closer to enlightenment.

    What do you think?
     
  10. Lily

    Lily *Believe*

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    Enlightenment.....

    Somehow, I thought the truly enlightened did not judge a situation as good or bad - it just is. I'm still working on it:p Practice makes perfect:rolleyes:
     
  11. starryeyes

    starryeyes Senior Member

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    Yes I've read that too. However, do you think that means that when an enlightened person's house burns down they don't care or when their spouse dies it doesn't bother them?

    Perhaps some Buddhists or all Buddhists are working towards this state of mind but I think it's healthy to really feel your emotions and acknowledge and mourn your losses. I know it's unhealthy to suppress them. I know Buddhists aren't working on suppressing them though... they're working on transcending them which is the ideal but first I think you have to go through them. I ultimately want to get to a place where I transcend them too but only after I've allowed myself to grieve.

    It seems like they're saying they're working on not even seeing them as losses right off the bat but they're still human or do you think that enlightened people are beyond being human? I know the Tibetan Nuns and Monks have been very upset about losing their homeland to the Chinese and losing their culture. Also the Vietnamese Monks were likewise very upset about the Vietnam War.

    Is Buddhism and/or enlightenment really all about becoming nonhuman?
     
  12. Dr. Yes

    Dr. Yes Shame on You

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    Hey teej..

    Not fair! I have to get up early tomorrow and go to another "doctor" and here you go asking neat questions again!!

    I should reply on the weekend. That will give me more time to actually think before I answer. :p Or not..

    I think this question has been brought up more than once in the history of Hinduism and Buddhism (Christianity too?). A lot is slipping my mind right now, but I do remember there was a very famous Hindu sage who chastised ascetics for their need to separate themselves from the world and its delights. One of his quotes I remember directed at those who took vows of celibacy: "Why do you hold back your seed, brothers? If celibacy is a divine requirement, then heaven must be filled with eunechs!"

    Aren't there different levels of "enlightenment" in some Buddhist teachings? Not sure, but I think there are, and they depend on the level of detachment.

    And, maybe separately, some Buddhists (like Tibetan Buddhists; I read an interview with the Dalai Lama on this subject) do not define enlightenment so much by detachment from emotions but from control over them. So you can still feel emotions, or be "aware" of them, but an enlightened person can see them in the proper perspective and not be controlled by them. I don't know if crying would be considered being 'controlled'...maybe...

    If "lovingkindness" is an emotion, or if compassion is, then I guess Buddhists at least make an exception for that emotion... but they would still say that they are not controlled by it, but act upon it as it is a sacred motivation in accordance with dharma.

    I think this is where - to generalize a lot - the Western (mainly Romantic) and ancient Eastern schools of thought really differ. The Buddhist or Jain or Hindu view would be that what Westerners call human is mostly the emotional ego, and is impermanent, even illusory. While the Romantic tradition in particular treasured this aspect of human nature, the Indian philosophers did not value it, and considered it part of the human condition that prevents us from seeing the bigger picture and our true reality. That reality is transcendent and, as you said, beyond emotions and "humanity", since all living things share the same soul and it knows no distinctions between species.

    I know that the tradition in Hinduism - well, Hinduism is very diverse, and their are prominent sects that practice "bhakti", for instance, which is very similar to some Christian and Sufi beliefs in that the gateway to the divine is through an intense love of the divine, usually personified as Krishna or a similar deity. But some slightly older forms of Hinduism - esp. Upanishadic - are more about not just controlling your emotions but, if you want to achieve "moksha" (liberation from the karmic cycle), being untouched by them at all.

    Whoa, my brain just totally gave out. Sometimes I think the brain is a muscle. Well, they both depend on mitochondria, right? Whatever. Now that my head is flat, I can't share my favorite myth about Shiva.

    But you raise a great question, teej, and I've wondered about it myself. Being raised in the West, I feel more protective about my "humanity" in a conventional sense, too. But I also feel a comfort in the idea of union with the permanent ground of consciousness, or being, or however you define it. I don't know...I've always wondered how Buddhists could detach themselves from negative emotions but keep the good, selfless ones (unless they don't see those as emotions after enlightenment).

    Maybe Koan or others can enlighten us. ;)

    -K

    p.s. this is the second long rambling post on a teej thread tonight - the other ought to be called "War and Peace" or something..ginormous. And it's a rant, too. First I rant, then I talk about Buddhism. :p
     
  13. gracenote

    gracenote All shall be well . . .

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    equanimity

    I think there is something very enlightened about being able to do both! You are not your rant, you are not even your brain that's tired. You're able to be present with what is right now. Isn't that what we want? To be able to let the emotions flow over us like the wave but we are not the wave.

    Equanimity: mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, esp. in a difficult situation: she accepted both the good and the bad with equanimity.

    I think we grow towards this. We recognize the "good" and the "bad" which actually may end up being neither. We don't pretend they're not there. And we let the emotions rise and fall but the still point remains.

    Or so I think at this moment.
     
  14. Dr. Yes

    Dr. Yes Shame on You

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    ;) You sure you're not a Buddhist, gracenote? :D


    ---------------------------------
    p.s - thanks for your wonderful words in the other thread, g.n.


    Now somebody tell me why am I still awake!
     
  15. starryeyes

    starryeyes Senior Member

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    Ooooh gracenote, thank you for that. Yes, the word "equanimity" kept coming to mind as I wrote my post here tonight.

    It is true that developing non-attachment would be very useful for people with CFS.

    Oh yes, Thich does say that we need to develop minds that are like a mahut on top of an elephant. Mahuts are the guys in India who ride on their elephants, live with them and train them to work. We need to train our minds like that with mindfulness.

    Aww.. I hope you will be able to soon.

    Really? I'm gonna have to try to find that one.

    Now go to sleep already! ;)
    lol! Aummmmmmmmm

    I go back to the idea that it works best for me to take what works for me and leave the rest. If I were to try to cultivate the mind that can see the world as having no evil, nor good then I would need to leave my society and I would need to live in a Buddhist sangha who were all trying to achieve that mindset.

    However, I could learn a lot about developing equanimity. I confess, I still get very excited and easily rattled and very upset over little things. I am becoming more aware of my emotions and how I'm reacting though. Having CFS doesn't help as it makes us much more emotionally labile. Did you know that uncontrollable crying is a symptom of CFS?

    Some folks are like that naturally. Are they closer to enlightenment?
     
  16. fresh_eyes

    fresh_eyes happy to be here

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    Another fave quote:

    "True freedom is never freedom *from*. It's freedom *to*."

    -Adyashanti

    Freedom to be afraid, to grieve, to be human. Seems like you're only free to care for that human person that is you, when you know it's not REALLY "you". (Not to mention caring for the humans all around you.)

    Another quote, I read it in Jack Kornfield's A Path With Heart:

    "When I was a Buddhist, it drove my parents and friends crazy. When I'm a buddha, it doesn't bother anyone."
     
  17. Koan

    Koan Be the change.

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    Namaste beautiful people!
     
  18. Tree

    Tree

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    I've never taken formal vows, but began reading in Buddhism when I first got hit by the CFS truck in 1985. This thread is so interesting!

    What I found in the teachings were a way to handle things better, sometimes. And gradually I learned to not worry about the times I didn't handle things better, but that took a long time.

    I was big on achieving before CFS, and so when I began studying Buddhism, I brought to it that same drive to fully understand and absorb, and a desire to "be a really good Buddhist" and a desire to live in such a way that others would see and (ego warning!) possibly even want to emulate the equanimity I was certain I could attain, if I just tried hard enough.

    All that striving. Talk about missing the point!

    But I learned a little bit, slowly. I remember a turning point - I can't remember where I read it, but I read that so much would be better if we could just REFRAIN.

    I had to wrestle with that a lot. Refrain? Shouldn't I be out there trying to stop all kinds of bad things in the world? I was a political activist, and I was extremely verbal!

    So refraining sounded bad to me. I had to turn that over for a long time. But eventually I could see how it didn't mean giving up trying to seek justice. But it did help me understand the wisdom of respecting others' viewpoints, even when I was opposed to their positions.

    It helped me learn to speak less, and observe more. It stopped me from injecting my opinion too often. I sometimes taped "Refrain" near the phone so I would gradually learn to just let things go by, and not react. (I have a very emotionally intense family and circle of friends, and there was always a lot of drama going on.)

    The learning to be less reactive is what helped me the most over the years. But still, I had my emotional meltdowns. Tears, anger, upsets. And I'd feel like such a failure as a Buddhist when that happened. Where was my equanimity? I'd be going along, thinking I had it down, and boom! I'd be a mess, like I'd learned nothing at all.

    I had struggled with the concepts of attachment and non-attachment for so long. I felt like a "bad Buddhist" when I liked something too much, or "failed" by being angry.

    And then - breakthrough! relief! I read that the Dalai Lama himself enjoys his hobbies and interests, which by the way, include World War II memorabilia! The Dalai Lama likes war things? Interesting! And a relief! It's ok to like some things and not like others as much. It's ok to have preferences and harmless desires.

    And then I learned that when someone asked the Dalai Lama if he gets angry, he said, yes. And not only does he get mad sometimes, but he gets mad at family, just like me!

    And then I heard Pema Chodron say that her children tell her she's incredibly uptight all the time! Just like I am sometimes!

    What a relief! Finding out these things about such esteemed teachers helped liberate me from my misunderstandings about emotions, attachment, and so much else that I had struggled with in Buddhism. I had for a long time found bliss there, alternating with struggle. Now I could relax and just let it all be.

    Where I am now is just going for acceptance of mind states, observing them as flowing, transient places, and extending lovingkindness when I can, and not trying to be "the best little Buddhist" with some A-plus practice of equanimity, kindness, or even meditation practice. Its ok to just be where Im at. No need to struggle.

    Any religion can be fundamentalist, even Buddhism. I recoil from the stick, and have learned to relax with teachings, not use them to flog myself, or others, or compare progress.

    "More Buddhist than thou" is just another mind trap, another instance of "comparing mind.

    It can be so hard to be here now. Present moment living is a challenge for me, still. The difference now is, when I find myself in reverie about the past or future, I no longer try to yank myself back with any internal judgment. I just enjoy the reverie. Sometimes part of the present is remembering the past. Thats okay, too.

    We all are just going along in this life. I have so much to learn. In fact, one of the things I read along the way was a book by a Buddhist laywoman, and she said, "I have so much stupidity to get rid of before I die!" Oh, yeah!

    I still make judgments all the time. Im not sure if thats good or bad, or if it matters. I try to refrain from verbalizing them as much.

    These days, Im working on skillful speech. I have a lot to learn there, and it would help my life and others in my life if I learned to not say anything unless its true, necessary or kind. Im listening more and talking less. I like the feeling of that. Theres peace in that. My family of lawyers and psychologists and talky, opinionated, crazy-beautiful people are primed constantly for debate. No one lets a remark go by without commenting also. I find such immense relief being out of that cycle, and just smiling and listening and watching the light change as they all speak.

    Not having to convince anyone of anything maybe thats part of letting go of ego attachment. Not having to be a star, or compete, or try to be the best, or the most popular, or the most golden, or all those things that were an exhausting wheel.

    So, what I've found ultimately in Buddhism is some help with learning to be less reactive, and also maybe some islands of equanimity I would not have found otherwise. I have gotten away from the complexities of the teachings and live more with things like "refrain" and "be kind" and "relax" and "enjoy" and "maybe so" and "okay."

    Ive learned that compassion does not require that I be a doormat, and I so appreciate what Koan (I think it was her) said here about how good boundaries are a good thing for others, because it prevents their suffering. Yes! So well put. I will keep that in mind.

    This has been way more than my two cents. Thank you for the place to put my thoughts together.
     
  19. starryeyes

    starryeyes Senior Member

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    Hi Lucie,

    I just reread a post you wrote in the Buddhism thread and where you asked about a book that serves as a starting place.

    My introduction to Buddhism was reading books by Thich Nhat Hanh that a friend told me about. If you're able to read books, (I barely can now) his are really nice and he explains mindfulness meditation beautifully. His books are very calming and soothing.

    I've reread all of the books I own by him many times. They're really easy reading. These are some of the titles:

    The Miracle of Mindfulness

    Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

    You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment


    Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames

    Living Buddha, Living Christ

    Amazon.com has them and many more too. I own more than this but these are my faves especially Peace Is Every Step.
     
  20. starryeyes

    starryeyes Senior Member

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    Hi tree,

    Welcome and good to see you here. I really enjoyed reading your post and it resonated with me.
    I'd fit in perfectly. lol MY family thinks I talk to much. They're all business people. lol
    It's great you've found peace of mindfulness. ;)

    Yes. There's a picture in a book I have of the wheel of Karma and I think of it often. It shows a man experiencing good fortune at the top of the wheel and things gradually get worse until the bottom where he's at his lowest point and then things gradually get better as he goes up the wheel on the other side until he's at the top and everything's great again.

    We have that happening in our lives anyway so why exacerbate it? But it's our culture and human nature to strive for all of those things so it's very ingrained in us to do so. I agree with the woman who said she has a lot of stupidity to lose. :rolleyes: Yeah..... me too...
     

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