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What if ?
Answer
7/27/09 10:41 PM
Author: IanThreadgill
Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

What if, 600 years into the dharma destruction era, as we supposedly are, the written teachings we have are actually pretty seriously deviated, mistranslated, or incomplete? What if the understanding, realisation, enlightenment, whatever you want to call it, reached by Daniel and others, is actually partial, even premature, in so far as it seems to preclude belief in futher serious work to be done ? What if concentration practices actually place us in a virtual space outside ourselves when we actually need to be inside clearing out all the crap that keeps causing even self-diagnosed Arhats to get angry or to engage in minor online squabbles? What if “Rejecting the Limited Emotional Range Model” turns out to be, effectively, prissy doublespeak for “Arhats ain’t as sorted out as they used to be?”

Not trying to be petty or hostile, just trying to present my serious doubts about all this in a striking fashion.

If all the above were true, how would you find out?

Thanks,
Ian

RE: What if ?
Answer
7/27/09 11:14 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Hi Ian

To me the only way to find out is literally to find out for oneself through practice and attainment.
Anything else is going to be based on beliefs and taking an external authority which the buddha specifically advised against.
Trying to find out through theories and research will only get you so far. The map will get you to the base of the mountain but you have to do the climbing yourself.

What are your thoughts?

Craig

RE: What if ?
Answer
7/28/09 3:13 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: kevin_stanley

Well, if all that's true, then a couple of things:

First, I think it's a good thing there is a public space like this one for Dharma discussions. A lot of serious practitioners from around the world working together may have a chance to have a corrective or healing influence on the body of knowledge about Dharma that is being propagated.

Second, even if "rejecting the limited emotional range model" really is precluding "belief in further serious work to be done," It must also be taken into consideration that this approach is making serious practice and attainment more approachable to a lot of people, or at least it has done so for me--and I don't think I'm alone. I haven't gone far yet (only been seriously practicing for a few weeks) but I now believe I *can*, which inspires me to *try*. So l think one needs to consider how that might balance out in terms of the total amount of suffering in the world. I.e., if we have "imperfect" Arhats, but many, many more of them than we would have without the Bill Hamilton/Daniel Ingram/Kenneth Folk/etc. approach, how does that impact the world at large?

I have no way of knowing whether your speculations are true. I like the idea of horizontal and vertical dimensions to the work, and I can certainly imagine that some ways of practicing emphasize horizontal development, some vertical, and that a "perfect" practice would rocket you along both. But for me, the best practice is the one I'll actually do. That is where the rejection of the limited emotional range models comes in for me. It just makes the project seem possible; approachable. So I do it.

RE: What if ?
Answer
7/28/09 3:15 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Hi Ian,

"What if?" ideas make good comic books, but it doesn't really apply here.

Here's the thing: The reason the arahants among us (the one's who are honest about it) say that the Limited Emotional Range models (and even worse, the Limited Possible Action models) are false lies in the fact that the very specific insight attainments found in the commentaries, and even in the suttas, can be developed and attained at the present day without the associated Emotional trimmings.

For anyone who has gotten stream entry, it's pretty easy to check the experience and the ensuing cycles against the Visuddhimagga, the comprehensive manuals of Abhidhamma, and so fourth. The experience of the insight stages lines up perfectly, as does the description of complete cessation of body and mind that occurs at fruition. Whether or not this cuts out what some call the first Three Fetters is debatable.

It gets even more obvious the further one goes along the path. Somehow the old texts link the complete dissolution of the self with no longer being able to get scared, or get an erection, or continue to live past the first seven days of getting arahantship without joining the order of monks. And yet the texts are quite clear about how this dissolution occurs, the way it occurs, and so forth. For those who have made it happen, all of the mythologized versions of enlightenment sound like fairy tales. I don't know how all of the emotional stuff got thrown in there. Perhaps it was a way of safeguarding the group against allowing anyone in the community with emotional issues to have authority. I guess we'll never know.

So, what if it is just as our arahant friends say, and enlightenment won't make you a sanitized being? What then? Do you think enlightenment is still worth pursuing?

~Jackson

RE: What if ?
Answer
7/28/09 6:55 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: garyrh

Some say it is as you have postulated and there exists a view for all things. So lets imagine you have done really well and that sometime in the future after careful examination you have arrived at the right view on all the things mentioned. Are you suggesting the method of practice would change? With respect to the dharma, are the questions you have asked any different from other uncertainties we are confronted with?

Of most importance are the serious doubts, you made reference to, and these are addressed by the dharma in discovery and not in the accepting of right ideas unrelated to that discovery.

Likewise; I am not trying to be petty or hostile, just questioning what the real question was.

RE: What if ?
Answer
7/28/09 7:02 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Ian,

I understand where you are coming from. I have some serious (and honest) doubts about the claims of Daniel and the other arahants on here as to their levels of acheivement. I have to admit that I am attached to the Limited Emotional Model and have a more abiding trust in the traditional sangha and its scholarship (including the teachings and views of monks like Bhikkhu Bodhi).

I watched a wonderful documentary about hermit monks called "Among White Clouds" and how some of them have spent a lifetime (if not lifetimes) getting to where they are at and then read of the bickering between the more seasoned on this blog and wonder about their achievements.

However...

I am not an advanced practitioner, and am years away from claiming anything substantial. In other words, I am not at a place to judge their achievements and claims. And Daniel has written a hell of a book. Some of the stuff that doesn't click with me now I'm sure will in the future because some of the things I have read that didn't click when I first started practice is now showing up. He really has made out a pretty good map, even if some of it doesn't seem possible right now. So far, what he has written has helped me more than any other document or teaching that I have come across, at least as far as insight practice goes.

con't---->

RE: What if ?
Answer
7/28/09 7:02 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
And though I can't speak for Daniel, his book lays it out pretty good. On page 14 he wrote, "When choosing an insight tradition, would suggest you look for a tradition that is tried and true, meaning that is either very old and well tested, or at least can, in modern times, demonstrate that it consistently leads to unshakable realizations. I can verify that the specific practices I will present lead to the effects I promise if they are applied as recommended. Even better, you should verify this for yourself."

He also wrote on page 246, "Go see for yourself and consider which of these three models presented here fits with your actual experience, or throw this book and all of its models out the window and investigate the Three Characteristics precisely regardless of what happens!"

Page 349-350, "The word to the wise is: don’t believe me or anyone else! Take the time to verify these things for yourself from your own direct experience. I could easily be fooling myself, you or both of us on numerous points and for all sorts of reasons from innocent to evil. There certainly is a well-developed and ancient tradition of doing so. However, “my” attainments shouldn’t matter so much to you, as the only person’s understanding that will really help you is your own."

-JG

RE: What if ?
Answer
7/28/09 12:53 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Hi Ian,
You bring up lots of good issues and I think they revolve around the one I quoted. Imho, anyone who holds the view that 4th path (Arahat as described here at DhO) is complete enlightenment - that nothing else needs to be done - is in for a 'rude awakening'. I think it is clearly the end of a phase – identifying with phenomena as constituting or defining a 'self' – but it also marks the beginning of a life long phase of cultivation and development.

So why do we act this way? I think one thing we see now is more people doing these practices out in the world as opposed to the 'alone in the wilderness all day long' kind of approach. Also, Buddha taught a number of practices that I think complemented each other – as opposed to now where many teachers seem to focus on just one type of practice. It's a long process, there are no shortcuts and what you don't do today will be there tomorrow waiting for you. The difference now days is that you see it all – the good the bad and the ugly – out of the forest and onto the Internet.

I think that maintaining right view and aspiration (as Hokai has mentioned numerous times) is very important in guiding this process.

“Arhats ain’t as sorted out as they used to be?” - maybe not. who can say? In the end, we're all just wingin it.

-Chuck

RE: What if ?
Answer
7/29/09 7:53 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: Ryguy913

I would like to share two related items, in the hope that they will a) further the potential for wisdom gained in the process of this discussion, and b) shift the focus at least to some distance away from the DhO itself and those who claim arahantship here.

1) A Dharma talk given by Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu, of Wat Metta, entitled "Equanimity Isn't Nibbana", found at http://www.dhammatalks.org/

and

2) A description of various species, if you will, of arahant, written of by Ven. Ajahn Lee Dhammadaro in the section titled, "The Path to Arahantship": http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/lee/craft.html#p2-28. In particular, note these two are separate classifications: Sukkha-vipassako and Asavakkhaya-nana.

----------------------------------------------------------------

My take, for those who are interested:

On the one hand, whichever model of practice, attainment, development, etc. one adopts is a very personal matter, open to scrutiny and yet truly known only by each of us from within. On the other hand -- this being the Dharma Overground, and not simply the Overground -- there is also a pre-existing Path, detailed and remarkably consistent, which even the Buddha did not claim to have created, which some call the "Custom of the Noble Ones," something to be discovered and not simply composed of personal preferences.

I would suggest these two views are not conflictual in the least, but merely two features of the same object, like a bowl is both round in a flat sense and hollowed in a deep sense.

RE: What if ?
Answer
7/29/09 7:54 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: Ryguy913

Help, please. How do I post a web address here so that it's a clickable link?

RE: What if ?
Answer
7/29/09 8:08 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Sukkha-vipassako and Asavakkhaya-nana are not separate classifications...

1. Sukha-vipassako: those who have gained "dry" release through the power of insight, having developed the bare minimum of concentration before attaining the knowledge that does away with mental effluents (asavakkhaya-ñana) and gaining release. They have no other powers or skills.

So, the arahant of the first class (Sukkha-vipassako) has Asavakkhaya-nana as their only power, which happens to be a shared characteristic among the first three classes of arahantship mentioned in the essay you cited (it's left out of the fourth, for some reason).

~Jackson

RE: What if ?
Answer
7/29/09 5:06 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: Ryguy913

Ah! Excellent. Thank you for the correction, Jackson. I didn't read carefully enough. Hmm....so, then it seems there are is no class of arahants, according to Ven. Ajahn Lee, who have not attained the knowledge that does away with mental effluents. However, according to my reasoning, that doesn't necessarily mean they have done away with those effluents, rather they have attained the knowledge that bestows upon them that ability.

So, I suppose the characteristics I cited are consistent with both the Limited Emotional Model and the model supported by many here on the DhO. In other words, an arahant who has made full use of their power has done away with mental effluents completely (Limited Emotional Model, yes?), and yet one can be an arahant and still be working through mental effluents left to do away with (still note/feel/exhibit/struggle with anger, lust, worry, doubt, etc.), but every class of arahant's release ushers in a previously undeveloped power to do away with those hindrances.

Or am I completely wrong about any sort of equivalency between mental effluents and emotions? If mental effluents are the last vestiges remaining between a heart ensnared and complete unbinding, then are the hindrances gone (Limited Emotional Model) or are they merely no longer hindrances (no longer obstacles to release, no longer clung to though still experienced)? I'm not actually looking for an answer here on this thread, per se, instead motivated by an interest in seeing what the real obstacles to awakening are....in other words, how we treat emotions seems to have a great deal of importance in terms of how we proceed with practice, and our definitions of awakening and what that involves seem to play a big role in shaping how with treat emotions.

Even as I write, I notice a shift occurring, a pervading sense of calm -- suggesting that perhaps merely working with these questions supports movement toward release.

RE: What if ?
Answer
7/30/09 3:23 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Hello again, Ian.

I think this line of questioning is quite important, and I'm glad you're really going for it in terms of seeking out a practical answer.

One thing you may want to bring in to your line of questioning, as if to give some heavier context, is to think about what the Buddha's beliefs about rebirth, samsara, nibbana, craving, greed, aversion, delusion, ignorance, etc. meant in regards to his particular situation, his attainments, and the implications of his awakening based on his metaphysical backdrop.

For greed, aversion, and delusion to be dispelled, does it make more sense to do away with the experiences or the "I" that experiences them? Which solution would cut them off at their root? In other words, if you were in a room full of angry bees that were stinging you for merely being in the room, would it make more sense to track down each and every bee and kill it so you can stay in the room, or would it be more practical, and more efficient, to simply leave the room and let the bees keep buzzing? In either case the stinging would stop, no?

~Jackson

RE: What if ?
Answer
7/30/09 4:56 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: IanThreadgill

Interesting. And thanks to you & everyone for your considered & accepting answers on this.

In so far as my understanding is that it is karma that is reborn, rather than any kind of self, the doing away with of the sense of self needn't really stop the process. If Arhat X has achieved total dissociation from his accumulated karma, what's to stop it coming back and forging a new identity for itself, if it's not actually cleared?

And re the bees: if, as I hope the analogy accepts, I am responsible for the bees, and their anger, I wouldn't feel it appropriate to "walk out" leaving the bees never to concern "me", but still there and buzzing. What about dealing with each bee, making it happy, absorbing such stings as are necessary, in short getting the whole job done.?

RE: What if ?
Answer
7/30/09 5:55 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Ian,

Great questions.

For one, I'm pretty sure that arahants still deal with the effects of previous karma. The just don't accumulate new karma (according to tradition).

Also, it's not karma so much that causes the perpetuation of rebirth. Rather, it is Ignorance/Craving. When Ignorance has been eradicated (in the Insight sense), the arahant has reached the end of becoming. With ignorance gone, there is no longer any clinging to a sense of separate self, and thus no more rebirth. So, karma won't go and create a new self -- at least I've never heard of that being the case.

Regarding the bees… do you really think you can purify every conditioned arising? I think this goes against the Buddha's teaching of the Four Worldly Winds: gain and loss, praise and blame, fame and disrepute, pleasure and pain. That is what conditioned existence is like, and it only stings because of craving and ignorance.

To clarify the "leaving the room full of bees" example… no one actually leaves the room. No one was ever there in the first place. Not realizing this is the problem. No self, no stinging.

The Buddha's analogy of the house is better. A house has four walls and a roof (in this case). The walls and roof are the 5 aggregates. There are only perceived as a house because they're being supported by a ridge poll (Ignorance). Once the ridge poll is removed (by dispelling the ignorance), the house can no longer stand. What made up the four walls and roof are still there, and are conditioned, and are subject to karma, but they are no longer a house. Without Ignorance, they can never be made back in to a house. Is that any more clear? (I'm doing my best!)

~Jackson

RE: What if ?
Answer
7/30/09 6:22 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: kevin_stanley

I don't know if Vince Horn is monitoring this thread or not, but he had an interesting post on roughly this subject on his blog a couple of weeks ago (www.vincenthorn.com). the post is called "The Buddha wasn't a Buddha."

The basic idea (forgive me, Vince, for oversimplifying and possibly mangling your thoughts) being that the word "enlightenment" can be used (as it is by the no-limited emotional range model folks) to refer to someone who has done the necessary work in the wisdom training, no matter what their level of development in the other two (with the morality training being the one we're focusing the most on here). On the other hand, "enlightenment" can also be used to refer to the "perfection" of all three trainings...but since the morality training has no endpoint, in can never be "perfected" in the relative world. Hence (he argues), by the latter definition, even the Buddha probably wouldn't have lived up to the label of "enlightened" during his lifetime.

It's definitely worth reading the rest, and it's very possible my summary missed something important, so please don't flame Vince for anything I got wrong or left out.

RE: What if ?
Answer
8/10/09 4:51 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Hi Ian - long time no see :-) and Hi DhOers - esp Daniel and the Buddhist Geeks guys - great work dudes - many thanks and much merit :-)

>If all the above were true, how would you find out?

I would say you need a combination of study and practice ... preferably multiple sources of both [otherwise you're just inventing a one-man religion (my teacher is Right About Everything and then the kind of theistic doubts that go with that]... and to post Qs that are on one topic :-P (I take this one topic to be doubt (which is one of the 1st 3 fetters of course))

>What if, 600 years ... seriously deviated, mistranslated, or incomplete?

Check the Kalamas Sutta + read something on the history of Buddhism [I recommend the relevant chapters from Harvey's Intro to Buddhism] .. these particular worries are very shotgun

Mike

RE: What if ?
Answer
8/10/09 5:10 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
>Daniel etc

So what? It doesnt matter to you or I whether D is or isnt an Arahant does it? Its not like his book is the only one out there.

>concentration practices

I hear the voice of your teacher here :-D

1) there isnt even one defintion of c/practices see Shankman "The Experience of Samadhi"
2) concentration does not dig out the problems hence the Buddhas "invention" of "viapassna" (try Analayo classic)
3) self-diagnosed Arahants - (a) what does it matter to your path whether they are deluded jeks of perfect arahants or something in the middle :-) .. (b) what is that about the followers of a religion being the biggest disadvertisment :-D (c) as to squabbles well Daniel had a thread tearing his hair out on that
4) clearing vs non-clearing - subtraditions vary on this

>LERModel

Daniel has done the world a great service at drawing together all the different types of models. Really useful - this stuff is so brushed under the carpet. As he says himself his personal preference is very secondary to the exercise.

Anyway more broadly as I say you real issue is doubt (which is not surprisingly as your teacher last time I saw him was publically denigrating the major Buddhist traditions) & perhaps "living in concept" (some high ones too). The Buddhas First Sermon (I recommend AjSumedho on the 4NTruths) said "suffering exists, it has causes, it can cease and there is a path" - have you got that for yourself? Annicca/dukkha/annatta - are you seeing those deeply? Dependent Origination are you seeing that?

When I get confused I go back to basics (or if you can do it the unconditioned) and read some of the clearer authors and then re-investigate.

Anyway hope this helps ... if it doesnt please disregard :-D

kindest

Mike

RE: What if ?
Answer
3/18/10 5:52 PM as a reply to Mike Baliman.
Dhamma Greetings Mike, Ian, et al.

I'm new here and not sure how things work much, but, I wanted to throw in a couple of comments about this. I liked what Mike had to say about "...recommending AjSumedho on the 4NTruths) and how he said "suffering exists, it has causes, it can cease and there is a path" -..."
Aj Sumedho did well not to change the 4 noble Truths and I thank him for that one.

Also about deeply seeing and understanding, the Three Characteristics, and the Impersonal Process of Dependent Origination. This is VERY important. And let's not forget you cannot get there, seeing them clearly, without fully understanding the 4 Noble truths ( which are used in 3 ways, as summary, as tools for investigation of practice, and as solutions for everyday life too....) Priceless!

My own effort has been to
1. Understand what the Meditation was for when the Buddha did it... perhaps to develop a doorway to peace for all people to be able to pass through and be much happier in life? To take us to a place in everyday life where we can lovingly accept the present moment exactly the way it is, no matter what it is, and then deal with almost anything that comes up? To experience life to the fullest, living in the highest level of balance and contentment? This is what's nice to attain to IMHO and worth the time and effort. If the practice can't be transferred into daily life then why are we doing it?

2. What if ... is a really good question too, ian. it's a question I asked when i began a fulltime search and practice 10 years back.
What if the Commentary was off in it's description of the meditation? What if the instructions were not the same as they are in the texts? how could we get to the attainments the Buddha reached then? Did you know there is a sub-sommentary that was written for just that reason of discussion? It isn't translated yet into English though. I had to go through a Burmese monk who was a Bhivamsa to help me figure things out on many points.

...What if Samatha and vipassana were not originally separated until modern times? They seem to be consistently yoked together in the pali texts and they do operate differently when this approach is used. So what if that part was off in the commnetary?

Why did the Progress to Insight path change the 9 insights in the texts to 16? i can't figure that out..

Anyway, Ian, the What if question is a real trip and can keep you going for a long, long time.

Metta and smiles.
Sister Khema


3. Abhidhamma began way after the buddha's death, so, what if we left that out and tried to see clearly without thinking about that.... ?

4.