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Thread: Split thread - sloth & the motivated buddhist

  1. #1
    Junior Member Aelric's Avatar
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    Split thread - sloth & the motivated buddhist

    [JUNDO NOTE: SPLIT FROM OUR "NURTURING SEEDS PRACTICE" THREAD http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...Seeds-PRACTICE ]

    Hi Jundo
    I appreciate that this thread is now quite old but I do have a continuous frustration in my life that has a great hold over me. I have been reading from books, surfing the net and u-tube in particular to find help to overcome what could be seen, from the list of bad seeds above, as sloth. I will also call it procrastination, a lack of will, desire for life and generally not knowing a true purpose. Generally I am quite active for periods of time, but find myself, when faced with things that need doing; e.g studying for a part-time degree that I'm struggling with, going to Karate training, training at home, that I am frustrated and lack motivation to continue hence I don't do anything and can't face making progress. I wonder if I am aiming for the right things in life and from this feel weak and without drive and commitment. This results in very low self-esteem, having no direction and purpose.
    From the list I suppose I am growing fear, discontent, sloth, sadness and frustration. I don't know how to cultivate the positive seeds without direction and purpose. I have a great family and I know I want to be strong and loving for them, but I need to find respect and love for myself. Every time I try to make a renewed effort to do things to change I over complicate (by writing lists of how I should change) and end up in failure and frustration which leads to passing my days in procrastination and sloth, and not doing anything positive.
    Read a quote by an old Indian philosipher today that affected me.
    "Self control will place one among the gods, while lack of it will lead to deepest darkness".

    Gassho
    Nigel
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-30-2014 at 03:22 AM.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Aelric View Post
    Hi Jundo
    I appreciate that this thread is now quite old but I do have a continuous frustration in my life that has a great hold over me. I have been reading from books, surfing the net and u-tube in particular to find help to overcome what could be seen, from the list of bad seeds above, as sloth. I will also call it procrastination, a lack of will, desire for life and generally not knowing a true purpose. Generally I am quite active for periods of time, but find myself, when faced with things that need doing; e.g studying for a part-time degree that I'm struggling with, going to Karate training, training at home, that I am frustrated and lack motivation to continue hence I don't do anything and can't face making progress. I wonder if I am aiming for the right things in life and from this feel weak and without drive and commitment. This results in very low self-esteem, having no direction and purpose.
    From the list I suppose I am growing fear, discontent, sloth, sadness and frustration. I don't know how to cultivate the positive seeds without direction and purpose. I have a great family and I know I want to be strong and loving for them, but I need to find respect and love for myself. Every time I try to make a renewed effort to do things to change I over complicate (by writing lists of how I should change) and end up in failure and frustration which leads to passing my days in procrastination and sloth, and not doing anything positive.
    Read a quote by an old Indian philosipher today that affected me.
    "Self control will place one among the gods, while lack of it will lead to deepest darkness".

    Gassho
    Nigel
    Hi Nigel,

    I was going to respond to you quicker, but I was procrastinating!

    The Buddha was very good at instructing us not to be "slothful", but I am going to actually say that I don't think Buddhists are the best to ask for specific motivation tips. After all, we tend to emphasize "taking it slow" and being content where we are.

    At the same time, Buddhists can be great go-getters ... and actually manage to combine "going to get" and "being content where we are" as one thing! One can run around energetically accomplishing goals AND drop all goals and experience stillness AS ONE AND THE SAME, AT ONCE.

    One can have goals that one works hard for AND simultaneously be content "win or lose" whether they are realized or not ... AT ONCE! A real "win win" way to live, whether win or lose!

    One can have goals that one works diligently and passionately for ... while at the same time holding them lightly, not being the prisoner of one's goals ... AT ONCE!

    There is a time to sit still on the Zafu ... a time to get up and get things done ... all Zazen when perceived in its widest meaning, all Stillness in Motion!

    Low "self-esteem" is the "self" doing its judging thing ... something we learn to put aside in Zazen, finding the jewel that is all things.

    Zazen is our Way to cultivate such flexibility and freedom of mind ... finding Peace amid the Chaos, "Doing" and "Non-Doing" As One! Climbing the mountain up up up ... we also find each step of the path a Total Arrival!

    But the fact of the matter is that you would probably do better to head to the self help section and grab a book on motivation and planning one's goals, and that will do much better than any specific Buddhist advice. I was just reading an old Sutta this morning in which the Buddha told his monks not to live with "sloth" ... but never spells out any specific rules for that beyond our "nurturing seeds" advice to drop from mind thoughts of "sloth" and "laziness" and replace them with thoughts of "energetic and joyful effort."

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ll=1#post25981

    Beyond that, I am going to move this discussion to its own thread so people notice, and maybe they can offer some practical advice ... both Buddhist and not.

    Gassho and GET GOING! Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-30-2014 at 04:01 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Junior Member Aelric's Avatar
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    Thank you for your wonderful response.
    I shall re-read it over the next few days and gain from it as much as I can. I promise you I will make great efforts to "drop from mind thoughts of "sloth" and "laziness" and replace them with thoughts of "energetic and joyful effort." Hoping this will instill more positivity and determination to do what should be done.

    Gassho
    Nigel

  4. #4
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    Aelric, as a graduate student I feel your pain. I feel like I send about 75% of my time procrastinating and it seems like the more there is to do, the more I want to procrastinate. On top of that it often takes a monumental effort for me to get to the gym, go run, and even sit zazen. It's tough to get started and I like those things, so you can imagine studying is a thousand times worse. I try to sit every night at 11pm. It should be a habit now, but still I try to talk myself out of it many nights.

    I wish I had a magic solution for you, but I don't. I make to do lists, set study timers on my ipad (check out the pomadoro method), and tell myself to just start one little bit of the task (often it isn't too bad once you get started) When it comes to sitting and I don't feel like it I trick myself into. I tell myself, "just put on your sitting clothes, you don't have to sit, just put them on." Then I tell myself, "just get your alter cleaned up and light some incense. You don't have to sit, just take care of the alter" Then I'm like, "well, everything is done, just chant the robe verse with the guys and sit for 10 minutes, then I'll get up" Of course, one you get started, finishing is easy.

    I hope that helps. Metta and good luck.
    Try not to be a jerk-- one of the Buddhas

  5. #5
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    Try not to be a jerk-- one of the Buddhas

  6. #6
    Maybe you are trying to do too much and exhausting your energy. There is a joy and ease in just sitting, be with that sometimes and what's really important will appear. Also, failing in self control is a great learning experience.

    Kind regards. /\
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  7. #7
    Junior Member Aelric's Avatar
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    Thank you so much for the link to the brilliant procrastination articles (the one that you 'linked to' and the second follow up article). This put a lot of my issues into easy to remember analogies that I can remember at the crucial moments when I need to make critical decisions about what to do. So much of what I read rang true with how I am, think and act. It was a relief to know that many people are just like me. I am a procrastinator.
    Haven't checked the other link as yet, but will soon.

    Thank you again for pointing me to such a great article.

    Gassho
    Nigel

  8. #8
    Junior Member Aelric's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Rich;127399]Maybe you are trying to do too much and exhausting your energy. There is a joy and ease in just sitting, be with that sometimes and what's really important will appear. Also, failing in self control is a great learning experience.

    Thanks for your reply Rich
    I agree that sometimes I do mean to do so much but I end up doing so little. That is where all of my energy goes into attempting, failing and then feelings of low self-esteem. I do need to learn to accept what is and enjoy that for whatever it is. I've hoped that through zazen I could have a closer idea of what I really should be or 'be doing'. Still unsure though, starting to believe today that it isn't what so much as how I should be or 'be doing'.

    Thank you for your concern and support.
    Gassho
    Nigel

  9. #9
    Senior Member Koshin's Avatar
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    Some interesting approach to this in the second chapter "Dealing with procrastination" of Leo Babauta's new free ebook "The One Skill", brand new as it has been released today

    http://zenhabits.net/

    Gassho
    ______________________________
    Kōshin / Leo



    P.S. Yup, I know, my English sucks

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Koshin View Post
    Some interesting approach to this in the second chapter "Dealing with procrastination" of Leo Babauta's new free ebook "The One Skill", brand new as it has been released today

    http://zenhabits.net/

    Gassho
    Let me just drop in that I am not sure that the fellow is teaching "Zen" although his page is called "Zen Habits" ... but it does look like a very powerful and inspiring self-help tale of someone getting motivated and getting a healthy lifestyle. Of course, I am just judging a book by its cover again!

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    Senior Member Koshin's Avatar
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    Hehehe you are right Jundo, this fellow is no Zen teacher by any means, I missed that the title of the blog may be misleading :P His blog went from productivity issues from the start, back in 2009 or so, then gradually went to simplifying lifestyle, minimalism, meditation and things like that. I have no idea why he named his blog that way, but it is a very popular one, and I think he does some kind of meditation, surely not shikantaza, although he quotes some Buddhist teachers from time to time, specially Thich Nhat Hanh

    Annny way, this is what he says on the matter:

    "Everyone procrastinates, but why?


    Out of fear: fear of failure, fear of something difficult or uncomfortable or confusing.
    And where does this fear come from? An ideal: that we’ll succeed, that things will be comfortable and fairly easy, that we’ll know what we’re doing.
    ----
    When you have an ideal, you fear not meeting the ideal. You hold onto this ideal, and in your mind it becomes real.
    ----
    (We) can let go of the ideal. Life doesn’t have to be easy — in fact, the hard stuff is how we achieve anything of value. Life doesn’t have to be comfortable — in fact, when we get out of our comfort zone,
    we grow. (We) don’t have to know what we are doing — it’s when we do things we don’t know how to do that we learn new things, new skills, and get better at them.
    ----
    (We) can accept that things will be difficult and uncomfortable, embrace that, and do it anyway. He can be present with the task, and do it in this moment.

    Let go, accept, embrace, be present, do. A cure for procrastination."

    Seems like a good advice. Don't know if it is really a cure, but makes some sense...now, have to work on something, but, first, some TV procrastinating time

    Gassho
    ______________________________
    Kōshin / Leo



    P.S. Yup, I know, my English sucks

  12. #12
    Senior Member Nindo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nengyo View Post
    Wow this is really useful, thanks!

  13. #13
    Hi Nigel,

    I think you are perfect as you are. Not one thing is missing. Being a sloth is not good or bad. We make up the concepts of lazy, good and bad. Practice leads us to our true purpose in life.

    Gassho, Jishin
    Last edited by Jishin; 05-01-2014 at 05:31 PM.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Koshin View Post
    Hehehe you are right Jundo, this fellow is no Zen teacher by any means, I missed that the title of the blog may be misleading :P His blog went from productivity issues from the start, back in 2009 or so, then gradually went to simplifying lifestyle, minimalism, meditation and things like that. I have no idea why he named his blog that way, but it is a very popular one, and I think he does some kind of meditation, surely not shikantaza, although he quotes some Buddhist teachers from time to time, specially Thich Nhat Hanh

    Annny way, this is what he says on the matter:

    "Everyone procrastinates, but why?


    Out of fear: fear of failure, fear of something difficult or uncomfortable or confusing.
    And where does this fear come from? An ideal: that we’ll succeed, that things will be comfortable and fairly easy, that we’ll know what we’re doing.
    ----
    When you have an ideal, you fear not meeting the ideal. You hold onto this ideal, and in your mind it becomes real.
    ----
    (We) can let go of the ideal. Life doesn’t have to be easy — in fact, the hard stuff is how we achieve anything of value. Life doesn’t have to be comfortable — in fact, when we get out of our comfort zone,
    we grow. (We) don’t have to know what we are doing — it’s when we do things we don’t know how to do that we learn new things, new skills, and get better at them.
    ----
    (We) can accept that things will be difficult and uncomfortable, embrace that, and do it anyway. He can be present with the task, and do it in this moment.

    Let go, accept, embrace, be present, do. A cure for procrastination."

    Seems like a good advice. Don't know if it is really a cure, but makes some sense...now, have to work on something, but, first, some TV procrastinating time

    Gassho
    Sounds like pretty sound advice!

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Hello Aelric

    I want to just comment as one martial artist to another, and because you mentioned it twice in your original post. I was reading a book called, Zen in the Martial Arts, by Joe Hyams. In one chapter he talks about his frustration about his progress and accomplishment in his particular style. His teacher took him aside and told him he was frustrated because he had preconceived notions of how he should be progressing; that he had an idea and agenda of how long he THOUGHT it would take. Once he let go of worrying about his progress and just trained, he was able to move forward even quicker than before because he wasn't trying to measure up to other students or some imaginary deadline.

    I think Leo's article touches on this but it occurs to me your issue isn't so much about being slothful, but about perfectionism. If you can't train perfectly, if you can't be the best father, if you can't achieve remarkable results with work then well why bother.. Once you let go of this need to be "perfect" I think you will find the procrastination is gone. Just doing for the sake of doing.

    It's bit like the scene in the movie "The Last Samurai", when the leading Samurai role realizes as he dies - ALL the plum blossoms are perfect.

    Gassho
    C

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    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    I used to procrastinate a lot, and then I started making things more of a game, and I realized that motivation is just one of many good habits that can be cultivated with practice, I promise!
    迎 Geika

  17. #17
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    And by practice, I mean practicing good habits, not just Zen practice.
    迎 Geika

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    Senior Member Matt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Koshin View Post
    Hehehe you are right Jundo, this fellow is no Zen teacher by any means, I missed that the title of the blog may be misleading :P His blog went from productivity issues from the start, back in 2009 or so, then gradually went to simplifying lifestyle, minimalism, meditation and things like that.
    Hi Koshin,

    I, too, read Zen Habits fairly regularly. I usually find the advice helpful, and mentally file it under a 'good advice' category as you state.

    I will say that I recently had a friend post something on Facebook asking if anyone knew of any good sites that taught meditation. Before I could reply, she had commented that she found the Zen Habits site.

    Unfortunately, given the blog's name and its huge popularity (one of the very top entries when you Google 'zen'), I think people could be mislead to thinking that he is in fact a zen teacher.

    It reminds me of the importance of practicing under a good, qualified teacher and why I am grateful to Treeleaf.

    Gassho,
    Matt J

  19. #19
    Senior Member ZenHarmony's Avatar
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    Leo was one of the big reasons I came to Zen Buddhism! I had read him for a while and appreciated his gentle and concise common sense approach to things. I could see some parallels and may have learned a lot from him but I never once considered him a teacher of Zen. I, of course, wanted to know more and needed to get the "real" teachings, so I came here.

    Gassho,

    Lisa

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    Hello Nigel,

    I agree with what people said here, but what you described sounds like a mild depression, and it is known that depression can be caused by a mix of psychological conditions (stress and traumas) and biochemical conditions (dis-balance in brain chemicals), and there are ways to address both. Spiritual practice (such as Zen) and positive thinking are known to be very efficient for healing depression, but you may also consider psychotherapy and body-level means such as supplements (e.g. B-complex vitamins), antidepressants or cranial electrotherapy (Alpha-Stim device for example, it's not cheap, but it is quite efficient and harmless as compared to antidepressants that have some side effects).

    Gassho,
    Ivan

  21. #21
    Member Ernstguitar's Avatar
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    Hi Nigel,

    I have a concept, which is easy and effective: I donīt love to brush my teeth, but I donīt hate it. - It has to be done.
    Not a good or bad thing, just a prevention.
    One day I realized, that it works also for things I do not like or where I felt a low level of energy.
    - It is just like brushing my teeth. There is no need of "want to do ..", it is just "brushing teeth".
    So, whatever I have to do and when I have stories in my head like: "The plan is......." or "Yes, but if that is not working......" I start to do it like cleaning my teeth.
    Without "I love it" or "I hate it". That is how I can do nearly everything I have to do.

    just a possibility, maybe.......

    gassho
    Ernst

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Ernstguitar View Post
    Hi Nigel,

    I have a concept, which is easy and effective: I donīt love to brush my teeth, but I donīt hate it. - It has to be done.
    Not a good or bad thing, just a prevention.
    One day I realized, that it works also for things I do not like or where I felt a low level of energy.
    - It is just like brushing my teeth. There is no need of "want to do ..", it is just "brushing teeth".
    So, whatever I have to do and when I have stories in my head like: "The plan is......." or "Yes, but if that is not working......" I start to do it like cleaning my teeth.
    Without "I love it" or "I hate it". That is how I can do nearly everything I have to do.

    just a possibility, maybe.......

    gassho
    Ernst
    Good advice. Just do it! :-)

    Gassho, Jishin
    治 Ji (Healing)
    心​ Shin (Heart-Mind)

  23. #23
    Senior Member Matt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ernstguitar View Post
    just "brushing teeth"
    Yes

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