I do not understand

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I do not understand

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: JoshRehman
Forum: What is an arahat? (A letter to a friend)

What benefit does arahatship give you? Have you noticed that your (outwardly visible) behavior has changed at all?

More generally, how does any human being know that they have attained this? How would a human being measure the attainment of another? And why does the answer matter?

It seems to me that the revelation of attainment is only useful if it is somehow of use! It is one thing to say "the attainment taboo is wrong" - it is another to demonstrate the utility in breaking the taboo. If there is no utility then it is nothing more than the expression of status; similar to showing off the Rolex whenever someone really just wants to know the time.

I also believe that 2500 year old taboos should not be thrown away lightly. So far I have read some pretty convincing arguments for openness. But what about the arguments for discretion? Consider that the mind is a very complex thing, and it could very well be that feelings of "awe" and even "mystery" are sometimes very helpful. Surprise birthday parties are often more enjoyable than one you know has been prepared for weeks! I wonder if meditators who "skip to the end" are really doing themselves a disservice, especially because of the ever-present risk of self-delusion.

The other issue with openness, which I've alluded to above, is simply: why? What for? If you follow the process, the experiences will come and they will be intense, complex and varied. What difference does it make if an experience is called one name or another? This is not a rhetorical question! Obviously if it didn't matter than sages of the distant past wouldn't have bothered to give them names.
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 7 Join Date: 9/2/09 Recent Posts
I get hell inspired by all these wise people and their wisdom here, more so than i have ever been before practsing the Dhamma. And my meditation has progressed very quickly in the last number of months after coming in contact with this place. The fact that these people are saying they have these attainments and are backing that up with awesome practical wisdom that works has made me feel inspired to no end to do and achieve the same. I CAN DO IT IN THIS VERY LIFETIME!!!! .........rather than , can i do it, really? Is it really possible? or are the times of the arhat over and I should just wait around and hope to be born at the time of the next buddha.......that is where i was previous to coming in contact to people here. Inspiration is what it´s all about!
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
I'm not making a judgment either way on this, but I understand where you are coming from. Sorry for drawing on the Christian expressions and stories (it is where I spent a greater part of my spiritual journey), but it use to annoy the hell out of me when the preacher of the charismatic church I use to attend would proclaim, "We're going to another level!" A year later, obviously doing the same things and being at the same places spiritually, I called him on the carpet when he said it again. It didn't seem that he was saying anything more than platitudes and was posturing for the congregation. Of course, since I wouldn't play ball I got the left foot of fellowship.

At the same time goals and markers in the spiritual life are important, I think. I'm almost finished with Daniel's book (though I plan to start it again after finishing) and he lays it out pretty well on not only the 'how' but the 'why'. I myself and searching for the "Ultimate Truth"... to wake up, not so much for status or to fulfill just another 'craving', but to get off this damn Wheel.

Of course, this seems to smack in the face of Zennies, so I hope they share their thoughts as well.
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
Josh, first of all I want to thank you for your post and say how important I think it is that everyone feel free to ask these challenging questions.

I think Nick has done a great job of pointing out the inspirational aspect of transparent dharma, and I expect that we'll hear from some others as well about what it means to them.

All of this claim-making is best seen within the context of the larger dharma scene; it is the very fact that straight talk is so rare that inspires some of us to want to come clean. The DhO is an experiment, and time will tell how successful it is. I agree with you that "If there is no utility then it is nothing more than the expression of status." The question then, is clear: is there utility here? My initial assessment is a resounding "Yes!" and I'll be interested to hear from others who, like Nick, may have benefited from this experiment.

Thanks again for raising the question.

Kenneth
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 362 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
I think that at one time someone mentioned that together with pocket change this would afford one a cup of coffee. So this is perhaps another way of saying that even with milk, it still isn't quite breakfast.
I'm comfortable with that, maybe not everyone is, but closeted or not, there probably isn't going to be a pot of gold at the end of anyone's relinquishing of all things rainbow. Actually, I'll promise to buy you a coffee right now, just to make certain of that anyways.
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Josh,

"how does any human being know that they have attained this?" - big question, can't really answer it myself, BUT I'd like to pose a counter-question: doesn't this question apply to any "first time" experience? First orgasm, for example? There were (and are) a lot of taboos about that one, too. Not that I think the comparison is exhaustive emoticon

"How would a human being measure the attainment of another?" - we've had entire threads about this one, here. My approach is, if they consistently give accurate descriptions and good advice about my current experience, then I can expect them to have had my current experience. If this pattern repeats often enough, I gain confidence about their claims to experiences I have not had yet.

The utility in breaking the taboo - me, I'm a bit of a rebel there. I deeply dislike taboos (as opposed to rules of moral conduct which are openly stated). When I discover a taboo, I don't tend to ask, "what good might it do to me", but, "What have they got to hide? Whose agenda is furthered by the taboo?"

Finally, "why? What difference does it make if an experience is called one name or another?" - Without names and terms, we can't have precise, meaningful conversations. I realize I'm on the far end of the geek side of the spectrum. It may well be that unspecific trust in the process is very inspiring to some people. People like me seem to draw more confidence from well-specified goals and expectations. And yeah, we get to have all the fun with obsessing about goals and expectations. emoticon

Cheers,
Florian
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: JoshRehman

Thanks for thanking me for asking the questions. Now, if you would deign to answer some of them, that would be great. emoticon
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: okir

Initially, I was slightly put off by Daniel's announcement of arahantship. And let me say here, that I am always checking carefully for any signs of self-aggrandisement in teachers. But. People who try to hold power over others always have something to hide, and tend to mystify. DI does the opposite, and in fact encourages discourse. Listening to Daniel (and more recently Hokai, Vince, and others) on DhO, I pretty quickly began to see the utility of it -- simply stating in the clearest possible terms that it's possible for anybody, with correct training.

I hadn't really been aware that I had been assuming that it was probably not possible for me to experience enlightenment during this lifetime. This was based, I think, on an environment of mystification (which I also suspect is partly a legacy of Westerners exoticising all things asian) and a lot of vague dharma talks and writings by dharma teachers, many of whom had been trained as psychotherapists (there are so many of them). Only in reading Daniel's book (or blook, for now), did I realize I had been at the "gate" more than once, but that my energy always got diffused into "self-therapy." No wonder I didn't push further -- it was boring! Maybe a time has come when some of these taboos should be broken. In any case, the information is out there already, for those who think to search for it. That's the world we live in now.
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: okir

oops. that's "arahatship." I gotta get these spellings right!
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 362 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
You know who I would like to talk to, one of those guys who can pet the sun and moon with their psychic power. WTF does that even mean anyways?
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
OT: 'arahant / arahantship' correct too
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hi Josh,

It seems to me that you have gotten many peoples answers to at least some of the questions that you raised. If you are unsatisfied with an answer, you could follow up with another questions to elicit more light. Remember, you may still be unsatisfied.

If you are looking for someone to provide justification for the current taboos on discussing attainments in public I don't think you are going to find a lot of people here who want to do that. People who are drawn here and stay mostly don't have much sympathy with that stance. By the way, I don't think that the taboo is 2,500 years old. At least not universally, certainly not in the Buddha's time, if the oldest Buddhist texts are anything to go on.

Which of your other questions to you most want addressed? By the way, I don't really understand the final question in your original post.

Ed

Oh, and I know that I didn't really answer any of your questions directly.
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
josh,

im not an arahat but i can tell you how some of the lower attainments that ive achieved, both mundane and supramundane, have been of benefit to me and those around me.

learning to get into jhanas has cooled my mind and allowed it to become one-pointed, such that it is accessible at virtually any time through the day. uses? i had minor surgery yesterday and the local anaesthesia given was insufficient (or incorrectly administered, i dont know). we were already underway by the time i realised this so i just went into as hard a jhana as i could to help deal with it. it still hurt, but nowhere near as much, and i was ok. practical use win.

getting first path instantaneously removed a pain that was bound up in something like a double-take of duality and apparently nothing else. this alice-in-wonderland nonsense that my mind had become accustomed to relentlessly churning in disappeared, and has not reappeared since - not anywhere during the review phase (not even during the dark night/re-observation), not at the onset of the next mind-and-body, not during the next path's dark night, and not at the completion of the next path. i'm less likely to be mean and more likely to be considerate, and have a higher threshold for irritation. this is verifiable by close friends and my business partner. and my capacity for jhanic states has risen tremendously. i also breathe more easily - this kind of constriction in my chest/gut i'd learnt to live with has all but vanished.

as for how one can measure another's attainment, florian (monkeymind) answered that question to my satisfaction.

(cont.)
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: msj123

Josh,

I'm no arahat, but I think I can shed some lights here.

Benefit: the end of suffering.

How does anyone know: the same way you know the ground beneath your feet.

Benefit to others: demystifying the process. Look at all these stories about enlightenment that have sprung up over the last 2500 years, none of which is based in the suttas. This can cause one to look in the wrong place altogether. Getting caught up in awe and mystery, if you ask me, is getting caught in the tangle of the tangle. Buddha never taught the attainment of awe and mystery. He taught the end of suffering.

As to your final question, if I am suffering from a pain in my foot, and you treat my hand, then what good does that do? For some, the taboo may be skillful. For others, the DhO approach may be skillful. For some, the taboo may be unskillful and lead to self-delusion. for others, the DhO approach may be unskillful and lead to self-delusion.

Matt
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
why be open? because accurate descriptions of states and stages enable sensible discussion and reliable sharing. it just helps. a lot. i think there's even something in western magic about how knowing the names of things gives you power in them.. perhaps alan chapman or duncan barford, two magicians who stop in here sometimes, could give some perspective on this.

as to the qualities of awe and mystery, penetrating the mystery does lay bare that which was once unknown, yes. infinity and eternity laid bare, however, are not at all lessened by their being so, for the way in which they are known (that is, intimately) does nothing to dishonour what they are.

finally, the utility in breaking the existing taboo is primarily to help other people achieve enlightenment. there is no 2500 year old taboo. from accounts in the suttas, it appears these matters were discussed more openly then than today.

hope thats helpful.

tarin
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 559 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
In order:
benefit? Short answer: Freedom from suffering. It's true.

Behavior changed? Yes and others are aware of it – but these things are rather subtle. No light radiating out of forehead for example :-( Still, the interior experience is profoundly changed.

How is attainment known? How measured? Why does answer matter?
-There are clear shifts that occur. Though they may be described in a variety of ways there is an underlying quality about them that others who have gone through the experience can recognize. Measuring someone else's attainment is useful as far as guidance. A person who has not gone through the experience is not in a good position to measure someone else's attainment but can assess other qualities. Why does the answer matter? For one thing, if you are trying to get somewhere that you have never been before but you think you might have gotten there – most would like to know: to have some verification just to make sure. There are other reasons related to practice and view.

Arguments in favor of discretion: Let me assure you that no matter how much we talk about this stuff here it will absolutely be a surprise birthday party. There is no skipping to the end but there is lots of wandering off the path if no one is openly describing the path. There are plenty of reasons why these things are not spoken of openly these days. It is a complex issue.

Why openness? What for? Because in order to follow a process you have to know what that process is. In some sense I agree with you I think. We sometimes get lost in obscure aspects here and sometimes a 'thicket of views'. That is part of the openness and comes with the territory.
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
Quote of the day:

"Let me assure you that no matter how much we talk about this stuff here it will absolutely be a surprise birthday party." -Chelek

LOL. U da man, Chuck.
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: JoshRehman

Thank you all. I find this threading software difficult - I'd like to reply to individuals but it's impossible.

The benefit of arahatship is my primary concern. The phrase "enlightened asshole" is disgusting, and deeply disturbing, to me. If the Buddha had said such a thing, how many people would work so hard to attain a goal like that? I would guess that far fewer would, and indeed would guess that Buddhism would have died out with the Buddha. The other questions that I have are secondary, go to judging the reliability of the answer to that question.

I posted because of my reaction to that phrase. I felt disgust, but also fear: what if it's true? If I read the author's intent correctly, discouragement is not his intent. But the phrase "enlightened asshole" evokes all kinds of terrible ideas: the idea that, even if the whole world became enlightened, we'd still have murders and wars and theft and dictatorships. The one way out becomes not a way out at all. The truth of the "enlightened asshole" is truly a doomsday scenario.
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
You've referred to "author's intent." Do you have a specific source that you saw that whole "enlightened asshole" thing that got you feeling this way? I feel like I've seen it a few places and it was always in reference to very specific scenarios, such as Daniel's essay on here about not screwing up relationships while on the path by letting yourself get arrogant because of attainments (if I interpreted it correctly.)
While I don't have any attainment of which to speak, the first of the three trainings being "Morality" might help clear things up a bit. Which is to say, training in Concentration and Insight might not make someone less of an asshole (though I've seen some say that you gain some compassion at fruition having seen suffering so clearly?) but training to be less of an asshole would do the trick, and that could fall squarely under morality. I think in MCTB Daniel states that unless someone has their whole morality trip together to a certain degree, the path is going to be rough going, which might help alleviate any potential concern that an "asshole" seeing the frankly discussed path and experiences on here could totally power through to the end and still preserve their assholeness. Maybe I'm offbase here.

On a lighter note, every time I've seen "enlightened asshole" I cant help but think of the line from The Big Lebowski: "You're not wrong Walter, you're just an asshole."
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 362 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
1. Click on "Quote & Reply" under the post in question.
Cut out everything but the statement of concern.
Add the posters name at the bottom of the quote "-example"
Add your comment into the message box.
Press "Post".
Repeat with the next individual.

2. No, to be honest, I don't think it is your primary concern. It seems to me to be more properly a concern of Arahats if anyone. So, unless I have totally misread your claims, I would think you would have other more significant primary concerns but to be fair you can certainly choose whatever primary concerns you like.

Please don't take this as me going out of my way to be an asshole but don't you think that probably one's touchy feely religious sentiments are going to take a bit of a sh_t kicking along the path, regardless of how pc one's online comrades and/or meat-world comrades are or aren't? 'Cause that would be my experience, having been also, as you appear to be, quite earnest about all of this.

What if the Buddha, in his own perfect way could also have been a magnificent pain in the...
Would that totally mess with your mind? Just wondering.

Can we end up with some kind of zombie mass of enlightened nazis from exposing all of this hardcore dharma in such a straight up manner? Seriously, no, it doesn't work that way. Laws of the universe and all that.
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
i was gonna reply with that myself, looks like kenneth beat me to it. oh well, guess i'll have to settle for repeating it instead:

"Let me assure you that no matter how much we talk about this stuff here it will absolutely be a surprise birthday party." -Chelek

oh and the other quote of the day imo:

'...closeted or not, there probably isn't going to be a pot of gold at the end of anyone's relinquishing of all things rainbow.' -triplethink
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Josh
(I don't like the handling of web forums either; however, there's Dharma Overground 2.0 to look forward to, running on different software.)

Finally, I understand your question!

First of all, the Buddha taught the noble eightfold path, complete with moral path factors, as nmarchi pointed out. Buddhism is not just a set of techniques to Get Enlightened Quick - it's a way of life, or a religion, or whatever you want to call it. Other enlightenment traditions have their own ways of formulating this.

Secondly, the Buddha himself, as portrayed in the suttas, didn't think his teachings would bring about mass enlightenment and paradise on earth. He's even reported to have given his teachings about 500 years before being forgotten (there are some misogynic overtones in that account, which tend to distract too much attention away from the point that he didn't anticipate the effects of widespread literacy on preserving the teachings).

Let's just assume for a moment that enlightenment perfoms as idealized, producing morally perfect super-human beings. Picture the "enlightenment camps" full of convicted murderers and overthrown dictators, sentenced to enlightenment so they will see the wrong of their ways. The ultimate deterrent, even better than capital punishment. Well, that's *my* doomsday scenario.

Cheers,
Florian
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
hi josh,

it's not the only way out. here's another one: http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/richard/

i understand your concerns and agree with them to some extent. however, it may be a little far-fetched to think an enlightened world would still have wars and bloody dictatorships. perhaps i am being naive, but i think that, by and large, enlightenment calls forth too much compassion for that to occur.
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: msj123

Don't blame the author for your ideas.

Look at it from the Buddha's view:

Form: post ---> feeling: aversion --> perception: knowing what you read --> reaction: disgust, ideas --> sense of I who doesn't like the author's post.
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: JoshRehman

@monkeymind You are getting closer to the issue: Kenneth is asserting that enlightenment is orthogonal to morality. This is very troubling, not to mention inconsistent with traditional accounts (for example, the concept of paramis). It's an inconsistency that must be resolved, one way or another.

@Chuck I've really enjoyed your responses, and your kind assurance. That was a good quote!

@theprinsonergreco I share your sense of optimism. I don't think evil and enlightenment can coexist.
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Here's to playing devil's advocate!

First off, you must define "evil," "badness," and anything else "not good." Second, it's all empty irregardless of your definition. I would actually venture to say that the most vile thoughts I have ever had in my life were within said enlightenment. I suppose that is because resistance, fear and other reactivity toward those "evils" is entirely missing and I am a curious fellow.

That said, there is something about the whole thing that seems to soften the heart in a particular way, but I wouldn't say that's an inherent part of the process of enlightenment itself, but something a person must rationalize after the fact. Such as "oh man, these people are suffering like crazy, I should be nice to them; it's the least I can do." That has nothing to do with the insight "holy hell, I'm a tree!"

Chuck, Nathan: brilliant stuff. Haha.

Peace,
Trent
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: JoshRehman

@Yabaxoule This is absolutely contradictory to the Eightfold Path as I understand it. Sila, samadhi, panna are the three major components. The first part, sila, means morality, and there are certain precepts involved such as "don't lie", "don't steal", "don't kill", etc.

Additionally, I have never heard of an arahant getting angry, or acting to harm another person in any way. Most of the suttas talk about arahants becoming monastic once they are done, enjoying a "pleasant abiding hear and now". This makes sense to me.

I do not believe it is possible to "eradicate all defilments" and still be angry, or greedy, or lustful. I also do not believe that this implies any degree of inhumanity: these reactions are not necessary to be human. We've all had moments, many moments, of not feeling these emotions and still felt human.

Well, in the end this has been very helpful. I understand now that Kenneth is simply not enlightened. Indeed, the cessation of any impetus to continue along the path is not the measure of enlightenment, and yet that is what he puts forward as its identifying characteristic. Enlightenment definitely has a moral component. One sees this as one gains more self-control, that one is able to more thoroughly "take one's own advice" and do the right thing, even if it's hard. Perfect samadhi and perfect panna are impossible without perfect sila (and vice versa). This has a pleasing symmetry, and makes sense to me.

I have to admit, I'm disappointed. I actually like the concept of openness about attainment. But the risk is that people make claims of the highest attainment, giving themselves authority and status, and then gives really bad advice! Advice which is not only discouraging, but downright misleading. I can't think of a worse thing to say than morality has nothing to do with enlightenment!
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 3166 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Dear Josh,

This is an important discussion.

A few thoughts from someone who claims arahatship and yet simply can't come anywhere close to meeting you definition:

1) Beware the limited emotional range models and demonizing emotions that are uncomfortable when doing insight practices.
2) Beware not trying to make yourself a better person just because all sensations are empty, impermanent and the like.
3) Beware assuming that development along one axis implies simultaneously development along another axis.
4) Beware writing off the perspective of the large group of very talented, realistic, seasoned practitioners here who have all curiously come to similar conclusions through their own independent work and investigation.
5) Beware of just settling for either: your own intellectual, symmetry-based answer, or also "our" answer, as neither is the direct experience for yourself.
6) Beware assuming that you can come up with a perfect morality and a perfect action that would perfectly fit every situation, as reality and the decisions we must make exist in shades of gray and compromises that, carefully examined from a broad enough point of view, are rarely anything like ideal.
7) Take what is good. If you meet someone who can guide your insight practices who yet has performed actions you don't like or has a personality you don't agree with, study insight practices with them and morality from someone who you feel is better at that. If you wait for the perfect teacher or circle of helpful dharma friends, you will be waiting a long time.
8) I am not saying that morality has nothing to do with enlightenment, but there are many situations in which assuming that is true is actually strangely practical and helpful, and some in which it is perhaps somewhat less so.
9) Kenneth and a good number here are enlightened to various degrees.
10) Do the experiment and see for yourself.
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 3166 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
It is interesting, timely, topical, and apologetic to note the following:

I have recently been thought something of a severe asshole by two relatively enlightened people in this group who yet consider me to have some real wisdom on the ultimate front, and I think they were very likely correct, thought he story does have its subtleties. As aggrandizing as the path of insight can be, it tends to be paradoxically but predictably very humbling as well, as it is about actual human life, though these notions and perspectives tend to cycle like anything else.

The notion that simply perceiving directly the Three Characteristics of reality, or sensations just as sensations, in real-time will give one perfect communications skills, perfect understanding of what other people mean or need, perfect understanding of how to live one's life, perfect understanding of what is best from some grand point of view, is naive in the extreme, as would be the notion that those things could be attained at all, though there is often not much harm in trying, though the tyranny of ideals of self-perfection has demolished the ability of countless practitioners to accept and investigate good old ordinary human reality, and this is a tragedy of truly massive proportions.

The wider the gap between your tyrannical ideals and your actual human experience right now, the farther you are from the goal of true and direct knowledge of reality by definition. That people can be so excited about arguing against that glaringly obvious point is mind-boggling.

Sic semper tyrannis.
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 362 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Thanks, yeah, we read the same books. See how it lines up with actually walking that path at a steady pace for a goodly distance, that's what we're saying, and that's just about all that we're primarily concerned with here. So far we haven't punched any old ladies or anything in the process I don't think but we have all just been resolving our own moral and ethical conundrums more or less solo as far as I know - unless there is a support group nobody told me about. You guys!

The real utility here is, as with any personal existential inquiry, spiritual journey, path to peace or what have you, in the end, we all gonna' be in de cold cold ground friend. Just how well one is prepared for all of those eventualities that life deals out, be they what they may, is going to be the reality testing for this teaching or that and this extent of accomplishment or that. The Buddha Dharma is not going to be buried in bs on this site or by these people. Might get excavated a fair ways out actually. In any case, it will hardly be a credible threat to the status quo, so what's the worry? Concerned that some may have a different view of these things than the mainstream party lines? Again, only one way to see which take on things is correct, do it, wake up. I'd say one simply can not overestimate the usefulness of the daily recollection of death. That keeps it all in perspective.

Look at it this way, every culture has had to appropriate the dharma in it's own way in order for the truth in it to actually connect with that culture. Well...
we're Over here, we're appropriating, get used to it.
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hi Josh,

Earlier I took along time to write a fairly short reply to your post. Then I hit the wrong button and it went 'poof'. Argh! (I guess that I don't fit the limited emotional range model of Enlightenment...)

There is plenty to support the limited emotional range model in the suttas, sutras, and commentaries. There are also plenty of Arahats that don't fulfill that model in those same sources, but are nonetheless clearly called Arahats.

For the long answer that your questions clearly deserve I can do no better than recommend Daniel's book, Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha which is available free on his site http://interactivebuddha.com/mctb.shtml

Your opinion may remain unshaken after reading this, but at least you will know what most of us here mean when we say Enlightenment, Arahat, etc.

Ed
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: JoshRehman

Excellent: you have created the 5-fold noble path! That's great! And by following it you have become, well, not enlightened, but...ightened. So yes, I'm willing to accept that you are fully ightened. But enlightenment? That's kinda reserved for the full 8-fold version, by definition, isn't it? Unattainable? Maybe. Worth the risk? Definitely.

I mean, you can't say you're a marathon runner if you redefine a marathon to be 10 miles, right?
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
No, not really.

It is just that some parts of the path go on and on and on, training in sila, morality, without an end point. You can always get better at them. And some parts have an end point, direct seeing into the true nature of reality. Once you have seen, you have seen.

To use your marathon analogy, once you have run the marathon, the road goes on.

Ed
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
Hi Josh,

You seem to place a high degree of faith/trust in the suttas, and I can't fault you for that. It's good stuff. I get much from reading them as well.

However, the ideas you are putting forth are highly theoretical, and come to conclusions that I've never heard taught by any honest teacher -- even those of very high attainment. My suggestion to you, welcome or not, is to give the practices one hell of a try and see what happens. I found out really quickly that progress on one line of development (namely, Insight) does not necessarily cause other lines to be developed as well (morality, world view, cognitive, etc.). Until you actually gains some insight from the practices, it may not make a lot of sense.

I'd encourage you to prove me wrong. Get enlightened. Let's us know if you become a spotless, perfectly sanitized being who can't make a decision that would harm even the smallest sentient being. If you it happens for you, I'll eat Daniel's book and become your student.

(By the way, I'm not an arahat. Just thought I'd share that.)

Jackson
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: JoshRehman

@anonymous-people Realize that by marking my posts without value, and then the responses with value, you are most likely misunderstanding the meaning of "value", which doesn't mean "like" or "agree with". I'm well aware I'm going against the grain here, thanks.

@Edojidai I can buy that. But that's not what Kenneth or Daniel have said in this thread (although it is pretty close to what Daniel said in the opening pages of his book, when he talks about sila).

@hipster Which ideas are highly theoretical, or even controversial? That morality is part of the path? Apart from Kenneth and "enlightened assholes" and Daniel "morality is sometimes an impediment to enlightenment" [to paraphrase] I'm pretty sure I'm expressing the mainstream view here. And what makes you think I'm not giving the practice "one hell of a try"? I've been practicing for about 8 years now, doing long retreats about once a year. Unlike y'all, I've experienced lots of positive changes in my life, including positive personality changes that make me less angry and more prone to do things for others. I see the practice feed into the sila, and the other way, and I can't imagine one without the other. It's peanut butter and jelly (well, panna can be the bread I guess emoticon

This is actually a very practical matter. Which path do I wish to walk, the one with 5 or 8 parts? The one with or without morality? I feel very strongly, that meditation isn't just a way to accept who you are, but it's a way to become a better you, the person that you know you can be. The person who doesn't idiotically let others get under the skin, who doesn't greedily withhold his help just because he's lazy. A person who smiles more often, knowing that it's a small, effortless way to add some goodness into the world. This is why I practice.
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Food for thought. I got this in an email from Bhikku Samahita (http://www.what-buddha-said.net) today:

The 4 Brahmaviharas delivers mind into a Higher State!

The Blessed Buddha once said:
The Noble Disciple, Bhikkhus & friends, freed from greed and grudge, unconfused, alert, attentive and clearly comprehending, with mind full of kind friendliness ... of compassionate pity ... of altruistic joy ... and of imperturbable equanimity, pervades first one direction, then the second, then the 3rd one, then the 4th one, just as above, so below, & all around! Thus sympathetic with all, embracing all, he pervades the whole world, & the entire universe with a vast mind, refined, infinite, freed from all hate and any ill-will. And he understands: Formerly my mind was limited and undeveloped. Now, however, is my mind unlimited and developed, and no limited behaviour based on a narrow intention will remain here or persist! What do you think, Bhikkhus & friends: If a boy from his early childhood develops kind friendliness, compassionate pity , altruistic joy, and quite imperturbable equanimity, will he then still be able to do bad evil deeds? No, Venerable One... But, if he no longer does bad deeds, will suffering then still attack him? Certainly not. Venerable One. How should any one, doing no evil actions, still be attacked by suffering! Therefore should kind friendliness .. compassionate pity .. altruistic joy & imperturbable equanimity be developed, by all men, women & beings! No man or woman, on leaving this life, can keep this body. Any mortal has only his mind as base, mediator, creator, controller and protector!

cont'd...
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
The Bhikkhu, however, knows: Whatever formerly I have done of bad deeds with this material body , all that I still have to atone for here, and after that, then nothing of it will follow me. So developed, the release of the mind by kind friendliness, by compassionate pity, by altruistic joy, ... & by imperturbable equanimity, leads to Never-Return, unless the wise monk already during this life penetrates to a higher deliverance than that!

Source: The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha. Anguttara Nikaya 10:208
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: JoshRehman

@jamieguinn That's really beautiful, and I like it a lot. Reminds me a lot of the Metta Sutta.
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: JoshRehman

I think morality is too important to leave aside, and will take my leave now. May you all be happy (and, for some of you, I hope you learn to treat those with different views with a little more kindness and patience).
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
hi josh,

do you know who luang ta maha bua is? last surviving student of ajahn mun, the man who revived the thai forest tradition in the early 20th century. luang ta is widely acknowledged to be an arahat, and has the veneration of the moralistic masses. he also has quite a temper and is prone to yelling at people and appears to get pretty pissed off. however, he agrees with you that arahats cannot get angry, and explains that what appears be his anger is actually compassion. it is, he says, compassion, and sadness, that leads him to call people immoral shit-heads who wouldnt know the dharma if it bit them on the ass. the pure citta (the arahat mind/heart) is completely untangled from the khandas and cannot be touched by them, he says, and while arahats retain their personality quirks (i forget the pali term), which he says can be quite coarse, they are free from the asavas (taints or effluents) that control the hearts of others. now, what do you make of this?
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
goddammit, why is it that every time someone comes here voicing support for a limited emotional range (or similar) model of enlightenment, and we get into a good discussion about it, they run off like they were chased off? i dont see anyone in this thread being unkind or impatient, but i do see that a bunch of anonymous shmos have been playing the 'gang up and click not valuable' game. please dont do that, it makes outsiders/those who hold marginalised perspectives feel unwelcome and, presumably, undermines in their eyes the many cogent, kind and patient (and funny) replies that this thread has produced. if anyone knows josh rehman off of this board, please tell him to come back as i'd like to see this discussion continue.

edit: 'undermines', not 'underscores'
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
I agree with Tarin. We have to be really careful not to chase people off in the name of defending our commonly shared opinions. The easiest way to do that, it seems, it to make it clear to them that their questions and comments are completely unhelpful. It's not like they are "Like" or "Dislike" buttons. Having our opinions (and dare I say, "beliefs") challenged can be quite useful, if you ask me.

Let's all agree not to gang up on people anymore.

Jackson
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 53 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Perhaps the "No" button could be disabled and leave only "yes"? I can see a clear benefit in having a "this is valuable" button, but I think the case for a "this is not valuable" button is a lot weaker. As you say, it's too easy to abuse.

(And I'll confess that I clicked the "No" button on post 6 -- not because I think Josh's view needs to be stifled, but rather I found his comment "Thanks for thanking me for asking the questions. Now, if you would deign to answer some of them, that would be great" to be needlessly rude. I think respectful discussion is and must remain the order of the day here....)

And now, back to our regularly scheduled thread! ;-)
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Rather that continue to debate Josh we can either continue the discussion or maybe the thread should be closed and perhaps discuss morality in a new thread, if anyone wants to start one.

Ed
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 559 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
@Tarin: Well said. I hope Josh comes back because I think he brings up some important issues.

@Ed: We're just getting warmed up man! But I agree, another thread might be appropriate. I think there are two issues here at least: 1) limited emotional range models and 2) The role of morality in practice
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 11 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
Guilty, as charged; though I will say my vote was cast not against any perspective Josh put forth, but rather my perception that some of his commentary was arrogant and disrespectful towards others. Sorry - I'm not in a very good place right now and I let it cloud my judgment.

Your point is well taken -- and you're right. I'll try and bite my tongue (fingers?) in the future for the sake of meaningful discussion.
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 310 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
I’m not one for the limited emotional model but it is interesting to ponder where the limited emotional range comes from as it is strongly propagated in literature (although the majority from religious sources). Is it other people’s ideals that they have been imposed on the term? Or like a lot of myths based on some fact.

Kenneth mentioned something in another thread that I thought was interesting in regards to this
“A fairly common misconception is that an arahat would have no access to the perspective of small self. This isn't true and would not be a desirable outcome in my opinion as it would make normal human relationships impossible. Relationship depends on clearly differentiating "myself" from those around me. In the world of not-two, there is no relationship; oneness does not have a relationship with itself. Similarly, a person dwelling in the no-dog 24/7 would be completely out of touch with the everyday concerns of most people. While he or she would be very inspirational to others as a kind of ideal, or as a demi-god, s/he would be really weird and distant. You couldn't count on such a person for empathy as s/he would be abiding in a world that is light years away from ordinary human drama.”

What would be the outcome of the total loss of the small self if it were possible somewhere on that horizon.
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 74 Join Date: 5/13/09 Recent Posts
Elsewhere on DhO, someone had posted a link to a guy who got "removed from the game". Anyone have it?
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 55 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
http://justperception.net/archives/518

Scary as hell, but reportedly not the experience of any of our friendly neighborhood arahats. (Though somewhat reminiscent of what "Jed McKenna" talks about in The Damnedest Thing, from my reading so far.)
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RE: I do not understand

Posts: 211 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Yeah, David Scoma. Having read his work, while I appreciate him a great deal and he's always been extremely nice to me when we've spoken, I think what he talks about is more of a "non-dual pathology" (to use some terminology from Ken Wilber) than anything else. From what I can, this is one of the dangers of not waking up within a tradition and having good teachers to smack you around when you start going way too far off in a nihilistic direction.

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