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Thread: Feeling Overwhelmed

  1. #1

    Feeling Overwhelmed

    There is so much good in Buddhism, from Thich Nhat Hahn, to all the teachings that are here, to the Zen books that have been posted here as recommended readings. I something just feel like I cannot get enough, I enjoy it so much. But I get frustrated, I will read something (such as how to manage anger, or how to live in mindfulness) and by the next day, or even the next hr, I will have forgotten all about it and I get caught up in my old habits. It's hard for all the teachings to really sink in? Does that make sense? How should I go about this, should I focus on one small part of the dharma until that comes naturally to me, or is there a more efficient way?


  2. #2
    Hey there Treena,

    You said it, too much of a good thing can lead to bad habits, or make questions harder to answer. Simplify, walk one path at a time ... even though there are many paths up the mountain, each hold their own beauty.

    I remember I used to read many books at once, but then I found that they all started to just bleed together and eventually, I was missing some valuable information. So, no rush, there is plenty of time.


  3. #3

    Correct me if I'm wrong but in reading your post I get the sense that you're in a hurry to get the Dharma. Maybe just relax, enjoy the journey and remember it's not a Dharma-race?


  4. #4
    Sometimes I still feel the same, I feel the urge to "be there", right in the center of the Dharma, to be Wise, Compassionate, and feel bad if I am not... but....guess what? You are in the center of the Dharma, I am, all we are.....and not knowing it, to fall into Ignorance, Greed, forget the teachings... all is part of the Dharma too, is the way we learn to strange as it seems, to fail, over and over again, is the most efficient way to get, to live, the Dharma.... be kind to yourself, be open to learn even in the most simple and ugly things in life, EVERYTHING is Dharma, EVERYTHING is a teaching, even forgetting, even the old habits.... now you have awareness of the forgetting, of the "return" to your old habits, and then you already know EVERYTHING is, step by step, just BE

    Of course, I know nothing, and sorry for my broken English

    Thank you for your practice

  5. #5
    Sitting is the center, the beginningless beginning and endless end of our Practice. All else is an add on.

    The traditional Buddhist Teachings are that you have endless lifetimes for this, so why rush? The Zen teachings are that one can get this in an instant ... every instant whether getting this or not ... and there is nothing to get and every instant holds all time ... so why rush?

    Ours is a slow hike up and down a mountain where the whole mountain, every step, is Buddha walking Buddha and a constant arrival. Yet we keep moving forward. Why are you rushing such a beautiful hike to get to some ends? The real arriving in a good hike is to realize that each step, and all encountered each moment, was the trip and meaning ... the Buddha Mountain ... not getting to some finish line.

    Reading many somewhat conflicting Zen and Buddhist Books ... like reading too many good but somewhat conflicting cook books on how to cook pasta ... can be confusing. We recently had another thread on that.


    Slow and steady wins the raceless race.

    Gassho, J

  6. #6
    lol!! Yes, I guess I am viewing it too much as a race. I get grumpy and impatient with my kids, or I get really depressed because life has it's challenges (like it does for everyone) and then I get frustrated that I'm just not getting the dharma, where the heck is the peace, the calm, or the sweet mom that I want to be, why is the depression not melting away???

    I think I"m going to take this advice and return the three (yes, three, plus the two other books that I own that I am reading now, not all Buddhist books though) and focus on one book, one dharma thing at a time. Perhaps one page at a time, and just let it soak in and forget about where the peace is or anything else.

    I've always been very hard on myself, very critical, I guess it is creeping up into my practice and perhaps by just letting this go and taking a slower hike will make me not view this so much as a race.


  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Emmy View Post
    ... I get grumpy and impatient with my kids, or I get really depressed because life has it's challenges (like it does for everyone) and then I get frustrated ...
    But such is the Dharma, the Buddha mountain, the hike! What are you trying to get away from? Who is trying to get away?

    There is difference between challenges and noisy kids and your mental response to the challenges and noisy kids (believe me, I know). One can sometimes feel a bit grumpy and impatient, but that is world's away from falling into --excess-- with such emotions ... or feeling additional impatience --about-- feeling impatient! All human beings (even the Buddha, perhaps, if one reads between the lines of the old Suttas) sometimes felt a bit impatient or grumpy about stuff.

    Gassho. J

  8. #8
    Thx Jundo, as a mom of two very spirited, strong willed little boys, I lose patience and yell at them sometimes---they test and test the limits and try very hard to see what they can get away with and try and make me feel guilty for putting them in a time-out or even asking them to pick up their toys (although they are also super sweet at times!!) I do lose patience with myself for losing patience. It's kind of a vicious cycle. I guess I have an attachment to wanting to be the perfect mom, so they won't grow up and say "you did this and this and this and it really hurt me, you were not a very good mom" It's just the one thing that I demand of myself to get right, to be a good mom to them, but with those thoughts comes, as you said, feeling additional impatience--about--feeling impatient==and then I think I get more impatient with them.

    I know what I probably need to do here, drop it, right? Drop the demands, the attachment, the excessive thinking, and just be in the moment and not live with the mental responses to the challenges and noisy kids, and in doing so, stop rushing the dharma with all the books and the demands on myself.

    It's just hard for me to do that, even to remember it, especially when exhausted from parenting my two boys all day. Does that make sense at all?
    Last edited by Joyo; 08-07-2013 at 03:07 AM.

  9. #9
    No big deal... Is a good mantra gor exhausted and very sensitive parents. The path is not designed to make everything great at once, it is designed to show you where it is difficult and, at the same time, to be a bit more patient with the inner control freak we all are.



  10. #10
    I get the kid in a candy shop feeling a lot when it comes too Buddhism too. Some times there are too many choices, some times it's all just sugar with different colored shells. Some times it's both! Either way when I stuff my face I get sick.

    Just keep sitting, and listening to our teachers


  11. #11
    Hi Treena - when I first began to explore Zen and to practice sitting I had the notion that to develop equanimity would somehow mean that I would simply cruise through feelings of impatience, hurt and anger.

    This isn't really how it works and it sounds, from what you've written, that you're adding to a critical voice within your mind. I think this is understandable at the beginning - and I can remember feeling guilty and a failure when I realised that I was still inwardly reactive even if I was maintaining more external control.

    TNH - who I also respect - writes to take care of our anger. I think this is good advice. Buddhism doesn't intend to eradicate or flatten our emotions - but gradually, very gradually - a shift does take place. We learn to not only be patient with and forgive others but to be patient with ourselves. We find resources within ourselves to deal better with conflict and work towards resolutions.

    We stumble and fall - and then get up again.

    Day after day after day.

    IMHO this is the essence of practice.



  12. #12
    Hi Treena,

    I know what you are talking about, I changed my attitude some time ago though:
    1) This is a practice, i.e. I just read dharma texts for an additional enjoyment. Like Jundo said, sitting every day is the most important thing for me. If there is time for more stuff (like reading), fine.
    2) This is a practice, i.e. no one is perfect. E.g. sometimes I also lose my temper, but then I use it as an opportunity to think about why I got angry - so I can try not to repeat my mistakes.
    3) I know there is an overwhelming array of practices/techniques/methods available and that especially at the beginning one cannot decide. However, I have commited myself to Treeleaf when I came here, i.e. I follow the practices here. If there is time for more "methods", fine. If not, that's OK as well.
    4) After reading tons of books (and I am still reading like a maniac - only for enjoyment/deepening now though) I can say that just following the posts/videos/teachings from our teachers here is actually enough for practice (IMHO).

    Some suggestions:
    I write stuff I consider important and own dharma related thoughts into a "dharma notebook" which I can reference anytime.
    While there are lots of good books out there, some are better than just good, i.e. rare jewels. You could create bookmarks, notes or even mindmaps for these.
    IMHO it is better to re-read valuable books several times than reading something new every day.


    no thing needs to be added

  13. #13
    Throw it all away. Love your family. The ineffable provides.

    It's ALL practice.

    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  14. #14
    When I first read the 6th & 7th Precepts; "I resolve not to speak of the faults of others, but to be understanding and sympathetic", and "I resolve not to praise myself and disparage others, but to overcome my own shortcomings" (cross-referenced with Right Speech), I thought, "No problem; I don't gossip". Imagine my surprise when virtually the next words out of my mouth were about another person who wasn't there, and in the weeks to follow how often such things were a prominent feature of my conversation. Even when I'm able to exercise a modicum of preemptive control over my mouth, what my mind whispers in my ear is another matter entirely (which is the crux of the matter). I don't practice the Dharma very well at all, but I'm now increasingly aware of my shortcomings, which gives me myriad opportunities to improve; opportunities which I didn't have when I was ignorant of such things. That's why it's called "practice".
    Enlightenment unfolds. Don't push the river. Let it flow by itself.

  15. #15
    Hi Treena,

    There is so much wonderful advice here. I just wanted to say first, that you are not alone. I can tell you that I've felt all the same things that you are feeling before and I know I will again. As so many have said, it is all a part of practice.

    Remember to be gentle with yourself. I too have two boys who can be challenging at times and will continue to challenge me as they grow. Some days I feel like I'm failing them in some way as a parent. I lose my temper and think, "wow! that person isn't who I want to be. That isn't the Way." And then I remember, I'm human and I'm going to make mistakes. And then, I usually go find a space to sit zazen. Because it all comes back to the cushion in the end.

    Reading and studying the Dharma is wonderful and necessary. Just don't forget to let it 'sit' with you.

    take care,

  16. #16
    A big thank you to everyone that posted here. Every single post has been so helpful. The dharma does feel like a candy shop, at times. I think I'm going to commit to the teachings that are here at Treeleaf instead of trying to add in all these Zen books. I am so grateful for all the wonderful dharma talks and advice here. I sat shikantaza last night after posting this and I did drop a lot of the feelings of being overwhelmed and anxiety in regards to parenting my two little boys.

    Again, thank you, now I've got hungry children to feed breakfast so gotta go.....


  17. #17
    Wow, some wonderful/powerful advice and council here
    I particularly like Piobar's
    Don't push the river. Let it flow by itself.
    No big deal
    and Jundo's
    Slow and steady wins the raceless race.
    David posted a peom on an other thread recently that I have been re-reading frequently in the past few days:
    Mind set free in the Dharma-realm,
    I sit at the moon-filled window
    Watching the mountains with my ears,
    Hearing the stream with open eyes.
    Each molecule preaches perfect law,
    Each moment chants true sutra:
    The most fleeting thought is timeless,
    A single hair is enough to stir the sea.
    Thank you David and best wishes for your practice Treena

    合掌 仁道 生開 - gassho, Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    日々是好日 【nichi nichi korego nichi】Every Day is a Good Day!!

  18. #18
    For me this is a daily thing, but I think I do a good job surfing the tides of information.

    We live in a society where we have too much of everything, and that includes Buddhism sites, magazines and books. I often get overwhelmed by the amount of info available.

    At the end of the day I simply relax. If I have time, I read only a little a day, but sit with discipline and dedication.

    In my humble experience, sitting is the only thing that matters.


    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  19. #19
    Hello Treena,
    I not read all replies, so please forgive me if I just repeat someone ... I can much relate to what you say. I once discovered that all reading does not help me too much. What I needed to to was to sit. Sit zazen daily and let that work. It takes its time. But at least I too cannot remember and apply all that good advices. I think the good thing is, that we have a natural talent to be peaceful, aware, kind. I feel I only get it in the way, so it cannot come up. Not co get in its way comes natural when sitting. And reading, only sitting without reading wont work either (for me). Take care, and give yourself some time,

  20. #20

    Sometimes I feel like you do.

    Hope we may slow down a bit while going forward on and on unfolding enlightment upon us.

    Thank you for sharing this with us. And thank you for the answers.



    強 Kyō
    声 Sei

    Namu kie Butsu, Namu kie Ho, Namu kie So.

  21. #21
    Koshin, thank you for the kind and thoughtful words. I've been feeling badly about how I'm just not doing things right. Now I feel good, that I am accomplishing!
    By the way, your English is very good.

  22. #22
    I've been feeling badly about how I'm just not doing things right.
    Remember; if all you've been able to accomplish is three steps forward and two back (highly subjective and very unlikely, IMHO), that still constitutes walking!

  23. #23
    Sit daily and let that work. Yesp, Myoku, thats all there is to it. Thank you for your presence.



  24. #24
    Like others have said, it all has to do with patience. If a person looks for the perfect drop of water in a stream, tasting each drop hastily to find the perfect one, then they miss out on all the drops and inevitably the perfect one. So I guess, just make sure to enjoy each article, teaching, and second as precious.

    'Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good.' -Buddha

    This quote by Buddha is good. I feel what you are feeling, Emma, whenever I try to collect information too fast, and instead of allowing my 'pot' to naturally fill, I cram it with water.


  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Piobair View Post
    Remember; if all you've been able to accomplish is three steps forward and two back (highly subjective and very unlikely, IMHO), that still constitutes walking!
    Or a Paula Abdul song. lol

    There is really nothing to add to this thread, but I have to because I'm compelled. I just read a section of Taigen Leighton's awesome book Zen Questions last night that touches on this point. It's in a section, where he discusses Genjokoan, and I never thought about it the way he said it. I'm paraphrasing, but there is a section in Genjokoan where Dogen talks about delusion and awakening. When we put ourselves onto things that is delusion, that is our idea of an imagined self perceiving the world, splitting it up so that we can understand it. When we let things express themselves through us, that is awakening.

    To live life we have to split things up to know that we can eat that, we can't eat that. There is good and evil. But there is also a point where all of the distinctions fall away. But reality is both, isn't it? Those distinctions we make are real, but that is also just our perception of reality at the same. So at the same time everything is just flowing along.

    Genjokoan, which is our practice, is both. And that's the hard part. Sitting is not about trying to become something, it's about seeing ourselves, studying ourself. That's how we forget ourselves. That inadequacy or fear or whatever we feels threatens ourself is delusion, but that's the part of Genjokoan, of our life, that judges and distinguishes. It's normal; it's part of being human. Zen is about being human and living this human life. But awakening is real to.. waking up to these tendencies. The middle way doesn't grasp or push away; it is magnanimous. It can also be very difficult. I often sit zazen and start getting pissed off that I'm not doing it right. hahahaha But as Piobair stated that's why it's practice. Who can perfect something that always changes? But I do know that if you fall down, you just step back up, dust yourself off. Don't worry about it, keep going. Genjokoan. That is Genjokoan!

    Your day was shitty? I'm sorry, but go sit with it. By sitting with it, just sit. Maybe thoughts of the shitty day will come up, they do for me. Watch those. Watch how the resentment or anger builds up. Sometimes my thoughts surprise me, but don't push away. Learn about yourself by letting those thoughts flow by without grabbing or fueling them or pushing them away. Genjokoan!

    Anyway it's just part of the zen territory to start feeling overwhelmed. It's a good sign that you care about the practice. but I've only been doing it for a couple years, so what the hell do I know? I do know that we have some great teachers and a great Sangha here, so we are all in good hands, i.e. if we are doing the practice ( we support and are supported by each other).

    Gassho to everyone.

    Last edited by Risho; 08-08-2013 at 06:45 PM.

  26. #26
    Risho, nothing to add or that can be added perhaps ... but what you said was a good and worthwhile addition to the Teaching in this thread.

    Gassho, J

  27. #27
    Again, thank you everyone!! I have really been focusing on one step up the mountain, not rushing, and just forgiving myself for my shortcomings. I'd never expect my kids to be perfect, so why do I have to be!!?? Risho, yes, it is delusion and I have never thought of that before. I remember listening to a dharma talk by TNH, he said that there is enough suffering in this world, we should not practice Buddhism in such a way that it becomes suffering also, we should be enjoying it.

    Such good stuff here, thank you to all who posted!!


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