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Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 9/15/09 9:18 AM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Jackson Wilshire 4/15/09 6:00 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/15/09 7:06 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/15/09 7:23 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development beta wave 4/15/09 7:34 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/15/09 7:36 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Florian 4/15/09 7:56 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development beta wave 4/15/09 8:25 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/15/09 8:41 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Florian 4/15/09 8:51 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/15/09 8:54 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/15/09 9:09 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/15/09 10:24 AM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/15/09 12:10 PM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/15/09 6:24 PM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/15/09 7:31 PM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/15/09 7:40 PM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development John Finley 4/16/09 1:10 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/16/09 4:16 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/16/09 4:36 AM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/16/09 2:24 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/16/09 6:43 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/16/09 6:57 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/16/09 7:09 PM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Florian 4/16/09 10:52 PM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Martin Potter 4/17/09 3:05 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/17/09 5:02 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Vincent Horn 4/17/09 5:07 AM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/17/09 2:31 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/17/09 3:19 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/17/09 3:58 PM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Eric Calhoun 4/17/09 7:34 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/18/09 2:35 AM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/18/09 10:22 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/18/09 11:19 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Trent S. H. 4/18/09 11:45 AM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/18/09 1:07 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Trent S. H. 4/18/09 1:24 PM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/18/09 3:44 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/18/09 4:09 PM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/18/09 5:22 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/18/09 6:57 PM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Craig N 4/18/09 10:46 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Trent S. H. 4/19/09 4:59 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/19/09 5:37 AM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/19/09 7:15 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/19/09 7:33 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Hokai Sobol 4/19/09 7:45 AM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Trent S. H. 4/19/09 11:33 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/19/09 12:04 PM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Hokai Sobol 4/19/09 1:15 PM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/20/09 12:21 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/20/09 12:33 AM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/20/09 1:55 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Trent S. H. 4/20/09 2:13 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/20/09 4:07 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Hokai Sobol 4/20/09 4:44 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development tarin greco 4/20/09 4:52 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/20/09 6:48 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/20/09 8:07 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/20/09 1:14 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Trent S. H. 4/20/09 1:20 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Trent S. H. 4/20/09 1:31 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Mike L 4/20/09 4:30 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/20/09 4:49 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Jackson Wilshire 4/20/09 6:23 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Jackson Wilshire 4/20/09 6:29 PM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Ed clay vannoy 4/20/09 7:20 PM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Trent S. H. 4/21/09 1:59 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Trent S. H. 4/21/09 2:10 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/21/09 3:04 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/21/09 3:13 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/21/09 3:42 AM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/21/09 3:44 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Ed clay vannoy 4/21/09 3:59 AM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/21/09 4:46 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/21/09 4:47 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/21/09 4:48 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/21/09 4:52 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/21/09 7:02 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Craig N 4/21/09 9:54 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Trent S. H. 4/21/09 1:17 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/21/09 1:36 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/21/09 1:40 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Trent S. H. 4/21/09 1:43 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/21/09 1:50 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/21/09 2:14 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Trent S. H. 4/21/09 2:23 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Ed clay vannoy 4/21/09 2:32 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/21/09 2:49 PM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/21/09 3:43 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/21/09 3:44 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/21/09 3:45 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/21/09 3:48 PM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/21/09 4:11 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Ed clay vannoy 4/21/09 4:17 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Craig N 4/21/09 5:01 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/21/09 7:00 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Ed clay vannoy 4/21/09 9:35 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Ed clay vannoy 4/21/09 9:44 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Ed clay vannoy 4/22/09 2:05 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/22/09 3:22 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/22/09 4:41 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/22/09 5:04 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Jackson Wilshire 4/22/09 5:32 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Jackson Wilshire 4/22/09 5:33 AM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Julius P0pp 4/22/09 8:33 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Craig N 4/22/09 9:49 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/22/09 11:42 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Craig N 4/22/09 11:59 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Jackson Wilshire 4/22/09 12:01 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/22/09 12:56 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Jackson Wilshire 4/22/09 1:58 PM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Trent S. H. 4/22/09 3:08 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Trent S. H. 4/22/09 3:10 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Trent S. H. 4/22/09 3:10 PM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Trent S. H. 4/22/09 3:14 PM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Jackson Wilshire 4/22/09 3:38 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/22/09 3:39 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/22/09 3:46 PM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Jackson Wilshire 4/22/09 4:21 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/22/09 4:32 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/22/09 4:40 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/22/09 4:41 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Jackson Wilshire 4/22/09 4:52 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/22/09 5:15 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/22/09 5:19 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Craig N 4/22/09 5:31 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/22/09 5:37 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/22/09 5:46 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/22/09 5:48 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/22/09 5:59 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Jackson Wilshire 4/22/09 6:35 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/22/09 6:52 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/22/09 11:25 PM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/23/09 12:45 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Ed clay vannoy 4/23/09 12:54 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Craig N 4/23/09 1:25 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/23/09 1:47 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Jackson Wilshire 4/23/09 4:51 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/23/09 5:40 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Jackson Wilshire 4/23/09 6:02 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Jackson Wilshire 4/23/09 6:07 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/23/09 6:42 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/23/09 6:53 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Jackson Wilshire 4/23/09 6:57 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/23/09 7:46 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Jackson Wilshire 4/23/09 7:56 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Trent S. H. 4/23/09 8:24 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/23/09 10:05 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development tarin greco 4/23/09 10:16 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/23/09 10:25 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Trent S. H. 4/23/09 10:26 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Trent S. H. 4/23/09 10:32 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/23/09 11:03 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Trent S. H. 4/23/09 11:16 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Jackson Wilshire 4/23/09 11:43 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/23/09 1:04 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/23/09 1:44 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/23/09 1:55 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Trent S. H. 4/23/09 2:08 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Trent S. H. 4/23/09 2:25 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 4/23/09 2:50 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/23/09 3:29 PM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/23/09 4:25 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/23/09 5:16 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development tarin greco 4/23/09 9:31 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/23/09 10:50 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Jackson Wilshire 4/24/09 4:43 AM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/24/09 6:34 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/24/09 6:40 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/24/09 6:41 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/24/09 7:14 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Craig N 4/24/09 9:35 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/24/09 9:46 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Jackson Wilshire 4/24/09 10:15 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Craig N 4/24/09 12:34 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/24/09 1:13 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/24/09 1:40 PM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Chuck Kasmire 4/24/09 2:54 PM
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RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/25/09 12:24 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/25/09 12:25 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Trent S. H. 4/25/09 6:10 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Jackson Wilshire 4/25/09 9:36 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Hokai Sobol 4/25/09 10:44 AM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/25/09 12:52 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Wet Paint 4/25/09 1:03 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Vincent Horn 4/25/09 1:04 PM
RE: Responses to Realization and Development Kenneth Folk 7/16/09 10:05 AM
Realization and Development
Answer
9/15/09 9:18 AM
When I was in elementary school it dawned on me that the doctrines of the major religions were mutually exclusive. As such, I reasoned, none of them were true. The idea that just one of them had the right answer seemed unlikely in the extreme. Surely the truth could not belong to just one tribe. And since the idea of a great bearded fellow in the sky sounded way too much like Santa Claus to me, I decided that I did not know, and was therefore an agnostic. I went to the library and read about agnosticism, and soon came across Friedrich Engels' comment that "an agnostic is really a shamefaced atheist." Nine-year-old boys do not like to think of themselves as shamefaced, so I immediately resolved to be an atheist.

One could make the case that a pure Advaita Vedanta teacher who talks about development is a shamefaced Advaitist; it is axiomatic that development is not and cannot be the goal of Advaita. Advaita is only about Realizing what is always already the case. The last thing an Advaita teacher wants is to have his students obsessing about what might happen in the future, as that would only distract them from noticing that their salvation lies in the here and now. Nonetheless, most Advaitists are eventually drawn into a discussion of what might happen if a student continues to follow Advaita. Even Ramana Maharshi, as pure an Advaitist as any, broke down long enough to make some extraordinary comments about development.

Very reluctantly, after being hectored mercilessly by his students about what would happen if they practiced his "Who am I?" self-enquiry method, Ramana admitted that development does happen. He further asserted that in order for this development to happen, all one had to do was Ramana's own self-enquiry technique. No further practice was required. Then he described the result. I will paraphrase from memory what he said.

According to Ramana, there is an energy that develops within the body, moving gradually upward with time and practice. It eventually rises out of the crown shakra at the top of the head, curves around, and comes to rest at the heart center, thereby permanently completing the circuit.* This is the best description of arahatship that I have ever heard! This takes "full enlightenment" out of the realm of the speculative and plants it squarely in the realm of, as I call it, the physio-energetic. Arahatship, the logical culmination of development practice, is a normal, organic, human, biological process that is, according to Ramana, Gotama Buddha, and many others, accessible to ordinary people. Once again, the centuries of hero-worship and wishful thinking that grew like barnacles over the core reality of the experience have been shaken off. Ramana, speaking with the simple authority of personal experience, repeatedly denied having supernatural powers, and insisted that anyone could do what he had done.

*(The above description is paraphrased from Be As You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, edited by David Godwin. I don't have a copy in front of me, but it is available on Amazon.com and is my favorite meditation manual.)

This is so important, because with these words Ramana asserts that the Advaitist can have his cake and eat it too. By conscientiously inquiring into the thought "Who am I?" the yogi can learn to dwell in primordial awareness, which is, in and of itself, Realization. As a fringe benefit, the yogi can complete his kundalini development and finally be at rest with respect to this energy that many of us feel but that science has not yet found a way to measure.

If Ramana is correct, this is good news for pure Advaitists. They need not fear missing out on the fruits of development even if they never spend a moment on practices that specifically target development. All that is necessary is to dwell as primordial awareness. By the way, the common denominator between pure concentration practice and dwelling as the "I AM," is... concentration. Concentration, coupled with insight, leads to developmental enlightenment. Ramana's practice promotes both concentration and insight. All of this makes perfect sense when seen through the lens of the Buddhist maps. The non-dual aspect is, of course, not addressed in Theravada, which is why we have the Mahayana. If Hinayana were complete, there would be no need for Mahayana or Vajrayana.

Kenneth Folk
April 2009

***

A place to respond to the essay "Realization and Development." Hopefully this will cause a dust-up and liven things up around here. :-)

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/14/09 4:58 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
I loved the essay Kenneth, thanks. I'd love to see the actual quotes from Ramana, so I've gone ahead and "Be as You Are" to my book list. Good stuff...

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/14/09 5:17 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

Hello Kenneth!

'Be As You Are' has been my working text for Ramana too, I think it's a great little book.

Ok: Ding ding! Round One...

As someone who landed enlightenment Advaita style at the very foot of Arunachala mountain, in the presence of a guy enlightened by Ramana and who teaches self enquiry endorsed by Ramana's nephew as 'how his Uncle taught it', I have this to say:

1). I find it curious that Self enquiry was not the method Maharshi used to get enlightened, nor was it responsible for any of the people who became enlightened in his presence (that we know of - there are very few), and yet this is the method he pushed. It seems that Maharshi came up with the practice after the fact. Try it as an arahat, and it works a treat, exactly as maharshi describes it! ('Look for the subjective sense of self, hold on to it, and it gives way to the Self'.)

2). You talk about 'realising what is already the case' and the 'physio-energetic'; but the realisation of enlightenment is that enlightenment has nothing to do with any conditional phenomenon whatsoever. As such, enlightenment proper (4th path) is not about what already is (direct) or is not (progressive). Advaita is a philosophy and approach just like any other, even if Advaitists pretend it isn't, and just like every relative path that facilitates enlightenment it is 'dropped' with the final realisation. In terms of your own experience, would you not agree? Is describing what occurs experientially at 4th path as 'realising what is already the case' the most accurate and helpful description we have?

I've said this in another thread, but I think it bears repeating: the pure advaitist is like someone who believes a virgin can lose their virginity by hearing a description of sex (and in relation to my points above, the advaitist would give a bad description at that).

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/14/09 5:34 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

I was hugely disappointed with the Maharshi ashram; no teaching, just worship at his samadhi.

As for the organisation and guru I met that taught self enquiry, I have very few good words to say about them too. Mostly they confused finishing an 8 day course in self enquiry with having a taste of enlightenment (when will people learn that a 'pointing out' technique is not a fruition?), and when pushed couldn't even answer the question if they have enlightened anyone. I was very explicit at the satsanga with the guru, and annonced my enlightenment as it occurred. No one questioned it, no one asked about it, everyone simply carried on as if it was par for the course. I'm guessing open and honest debate was off the cards becuase it would expose the inadequacies of advaita, self enquiry, the organisation, the guru, and his pupils lack of understanding and progress. The guru is a great guy though ;)

On a final note, were it not for my practice I would not have become enlightened when I did. I tried advaita before, and it didn't work. Furthermore, I made rapid progress - 3.5 years from start to finish - and although there is a measure of grace involved, I put this down to using the most effective methods and most helpful maps available.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/14/09 6:21 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
I have to say Alan, that your argument about self-enquiry being a post-arhant practice seems a bit unfounded. Self-enquiry is not just an Advaita technique, it's also one of primary techniques in both the Zen and Son (Korean Zen) traditions. In Zen, "Who am I?" is often used as the 1st koan to achieve satori (read: stream-entry). A teacher here in Colorado, named Gerry Shishin Wick (a lineage holder of Mauzumi Roshi) gives his students the choice of Mu or Who am I? as initial koans, as do many other Rinzai teachers. In the Korean Son tradition, one receives a single koan (or hwadu) to contemplative their entire life. That is often something as simple as "who am I?" or "what am I?" or "what is mind?" or "what is this?" Any question, like this, employed with enough concentration and investigation (as Kenneth mentioned) can definitely lead to different levels of awakening. Otherwise, why would so many valid traditions employ them?

On a recent month-long retreat Jack Kornfield instructed me in self-enquiry, as a direct path toward arhantship. He even specifically said that self-enquiry was a way to "plunge toward awakening." That tells me right there, that this isn't an exclusively post-4th path practice. Also, having done the practice for 3-weeks straight, I know exactly what Kenneth means by "no-dog" and "the simplest thing" or what I would call the Witness and Non-Duality.

Anyway, just some more data-points...

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/14/09 7:32 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: yadidb

Hi Kenneth,
Thank you for a very interesting read.

One question that comes to my mind in regards to this is:
If such techniques and ways to achieve enlightenment were available before the Buddha (I'm not referring specifically to Ramana obviously), why did he announce (or at least that's what has been said he said) that he had discovered the path to awakening which has been forgotten for aeons?

From what I understood, "before the Buddha, the talk of enlightenment was there, but the way to achieve it was lost"

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 2:33 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
I'm sorta in agreement with Alan on the lack of effectiveness of "Who am I?" as it seems to be used. I don't have data except my own limited experience to support this... The "who am I?" question can lead to a lot of wallowing in content. That was my experience. It was too much psychological analysis, not enough awareness of sensations arising and passing away.

Combining "who am I?" with retreat conditions essentially turns it into an insight meditation, which is why I think it can be effective. It is the intensity and immediacy of looking to the moment. Combined with extended duration... and then there is hope.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 3:11 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hi betawave,

I can see how one might wallow in content while practicing self inquiry. Though, this hasn't been my experience with it at all. When I ask "Who am I?", my awareness naturally finds its way to where the illusion of self is most strongly anchored (usually in more than one place). I can then ask, "Is that me? What is this?" I find this to be a very effect no-self practice. In fact, it was this type of inquiry mixed in with noting practice that got me to first path.

Someone without any insight training may ask, "Who am I?" and spin off in to philosophical reflection, their past, their goals, their mistakes, their self in terms of biology and neurology (I am neurons firing in the brain), etc. This isn't getting to the heart of the issue at all. When self inquiry is practiced as intended, I think it can really catalyze one's progress.

Jackson

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 5:41 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
@Jackson: It seems like we making the same point (?), but I think you might be saying it more clearly.


Oh, and to help Kenneth's dust up occur...

Re:"The non-dual aspect is, of course, not addressed in Theravada, which is why we have the Mahayana. If Hinayana were complete, there would be no need for Mahayana or Vajrayana."

Of course, I'm not able to argue this from a perspective of complete non-dual understanding... but this statement seems like the classic Theravada=Hinayana fallacy that has echoed through the ages, right? I get the feeling that these kind of debates are like saying if Latin was complete, we wouldn't need Chinese.

Okay, maybe that will help the dust fly! emoticon

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 5:54 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

So this is a very difficult question, as can be seen from the debate found in so many different traditions dating back through recorded history, so we aren't likely to solve it any time soon. Least of all due to the limitation of language which is binary and thus cannot adequately represent What-Is.

To articulate my thesis, I will need to re-frame the argument, because I am working with the additional assumption that enlightenment is both complete and not complete. I would also state that I am arguing from intuition and not scholarly debate, for as we have seen in the Chan tradition and others, once we see "it" we throw away all our scholarly books and smugly treasured concepts, attachments to 'I know' and our sense of certainty, identification with tradition and outside authorities, and what is left is not-knowing, and humility in the face of awesome infinity.

Since I am arguing for the unending growth in ‘realization’ of that-which-is, we cannot assume realization is the end point or contrary to a development model, so our discussion must be framed differently. That is why I have framed it as a deficit vs. perfect-as-is model. As from the deficit perspective, there is something wrong with you that needs fixing or transformed to realize enlightenment. Personal change must take place. On the Buddha Nature model, you already are that! No change needed, just allow yourself to see clearly what-is already here and now – see through the illusion. Nothing need change in order to notice what is right before you.

Rather than write a more formerly structured essay, I guess there are a few rough and ready premises to be established, hopefully entailing a conclusion.

[cont.]

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 5:56 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

(1) From the relative perspective we as an ego can do all sorts of practices to develop and expand this ego, overcome obscurations or transform it – thus permitting us to see through the illusion supported by sensate reality and our psychology etc. In doing so, we eventually see through the ego’s ephemeral, lack of substance and realize ourselves to be Tao - that which cannot be named or described. We can call this enlightenment. I will define enlightenment as merely seeing through the sense of separate self and thus seeing the nature of things as they are, and as they always were - seeing that nothing has changed - just seeing clearly what is. Which of course includes seeing that no separate, substantial thing does or ever did exist and yet the awe of Thusness IS. We can call this the development model. Working on seeing through the ego from the perspective of ego to realize the absence of ego and the true nature of that-which-is. What has resulted from this, is ‘realization’ of what-is. Yet we need not deny transformation took place in the conventional, temporal realm; just as is acknowledged in the scientific empirical realm.

[cont.]

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 5:56 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

(2) The Buddha Nature Model or Everything-Is-Perfect-As-It-Is Model starts at the (equally artificial dichotomous view of the) absolute perspective, as opposed to the relative perspective. This view takes an intuition which states everything is just-what-it-is and allows the phenomena that is conventionally taken as self and the relative perspective, and just leaves it as is - just lets it go. Over time just being as is and resting with that (with no attempt to change or do, or engage the I-ness), the sense of separate self is seen through, and realization of that which is, as it already is and always was, slowly (or instantly) emerges, to a greater or lesser degree, and in greater or lesser stabilization. What is importation is on the absolute level of perception, nothing is assumed to have changed. On the conventional level stuff probably has changed, energetically and with the elements and psycho-emotional phenomena etc. What has essentially changed is a matter of realization, not conceptual, but experiential - direct seeing of what is (and what is not - a separate self). So we can see (1) and (2), as I present it, both lead to the same realization (in theory). Just different methods – different foundational intuitions. This then is enlightenment - realizing the non-dual and its baseline stabilization.

[cont.]

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 5:57 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

However, the important point I would like to make is this. Enlightenment as it has been defined is now complete - that is it - it is done. An aberration in perception is now self-corrected, so to speak, we see clearly our true nature - no separate, substantial self; an infinity of contingent phenomena; nameless, indescribable awareness-emptiness-voidness, Thisness etc. And yet, I would strongly argue that in another sense, enlightenment is not complete. Realization of what-is - the indescribable infinite - that is our very Being goes on; is ever penetrating in depth. Perhaps we can say our infinite nature is so infinite the self-discovery is inexhaustible. Realization of what-is is unending. And yet this realization is neither in nor outside of time, so it is not linear or relative. We have realized what is, that is done and cannot change, nor can or do we. And yet… So, in this way we can see it is realization of what-is that is ever changing or growing in an ever unchanging and perfect reality here and now.

Or something like that. As intuitions and glimpes don't translate very well into narrative. :-) The whole thing is really rather pointless and farcical to attempt to talk and debate about it. Just brain farts of an unenlightened mind. All very contrived in the face of direct noticing what is; thirsty men talking about water rather then drinking it themselves…

As a side note, enquiring into what-is verbally or through formal intension, as in Advaita or Chan koan, will in time, naturally evolve into just-sitting and being aware, for being aware of what is, is the essence of enquiry – directly staring into what-is.
In kind regards,

Adam.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 6:00 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Our points are very similar, and are mostly in agreement. I think I may be more in favor of the practice than you are based on your post, but our opinions are far from polarized. Thanks for bringing this up.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 7:06 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hi Yadid,

I doubt that the Buddha discovered anything new or rediscovered anything lost (except to the extent that each of us rediscovers something in the moment of our awakening). I also doubt that he was any more enlightened than countless people before and after him. I think his genius lay in his ability to organize and clearly articulate a systematic approach to enlightenment. Because of his ability to communicate, he was able to popularize a particular perspective, i.e. the "no-self" lens, which is superficially at odds with the atman/brahman milieu in which he grew up.

My teacher once shocked me by saying, in response to some Buddha-devotional comment of mine, "The Buddha wasn't the only, or even necessarily the best."

Upon due consideration, I must say I agree. The best thing about Buddhism is not the Buddha, but the technology that Gotama so effectively taught.

Kenneth

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 7:23 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hi Alan,

It seems to me that Ramana's reflection upon death, which led to his initial awakening, was the same, in its essence, as the self-enquiry he later taught. Both lead to a profound investigation of the sense of self. When you investigate death, you come to the question of exactly who it is that dies, which is the same as "Who am I?"

Also, it's unlikely that he became an arahat in the moment of his initial awakening. Awakening doesn't depend upon development; it is its own attainment. Arahatship, on the other hand, seems to be directly correlated with the kundalini phenomenon Ramana mentioned (see my essay above), and is the culmination of a developmental process. This is why I differentiate Awakening/Realization and development. The former is the noticing of that which is prior to the arising of time. The latter is completely dependent on time and the physical world.

The years that Ramana spent in self-enquiry after his Awakening are what led to his arahatship, IMHO.

Kenneth

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 7:34 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
I really like your articulation of the "Who Am I?" approach. My memory of Ramana's description of the approach is it didn't have the detail of "investigate _sensations_ of self and see them as not-self." To me, that made/makes all the difference.

Without good guidance, "Who am I?" can solidify into nilihism or eternalism. But thinking about that more, I guess that can be a problem in any practice that goes off track.

Thanks!

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 7:36 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
No, but neither is it the description I use for 4th Path. This is why I think it's so important to distinguish between Awaking/Realization and Arahatship.

When I talk about noticing what is always already the case, I'm talking about Realization, not arahatship. It's possible to be Awakened without being an arahat, and vice-versa.

Four possibilities:

1) Awakened but not an Arahat. (Pretty common, but the access to Awakeness may be sporadic.)
2) Arahat but not Awakened. (Have you ever interviewed with a Mahasi Master?)
3) Both Awake and an Arahat. (This is the ideal. Tibetan Buddhism seems to target this explicitly.)
4) Neither Awakened nor an Arahat. (Most people who have ever lived, so don't scoff.)

(This is delicious. I can almost smell the outrage, and I haven't even clicked the "Post" button yet.)

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 7:56 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
@Kenneth "I can almost smell the outrage" - we're an outrageously jaded bunch, but you've got me interested, particularly in points 1 and 2.

How strong, would you say, is the "coupling" between the physio-energetic development and the realizational sleep-wake cycle? For cases 1 ("pretty common") and 2 to occur, the coupling can't be too strong; yet the ideal (even in Theravada, I'd say) clearly is point 3, and it is presented in a way to imply strong coupling.

Nice discussion, if a bit on the theoretical side for us somnolent carriers of insight disease.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 8:25 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Same here. Following the thread, but nothing to add at that level!!!

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 8:41 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
1) I'd have to say I think the coupling is pretty tenuous. Once Awakened, it still takes a tremendous amount of commitment and effort for most people to complete the physio-energetic process. (I realize that I'm creating problems with this terminology, because we (including me) usually use "Awakened" to mean "fully awake," and now I am calling people who have only occasional access to the unconditioned "Awake." Perhaps my vocabulary could use further refinement.)

2) I don't think the Theravada ideal is both development and Awakening. I think it's just development as I'm defining it. The Bumese, for example, don't talk about "turning the light around," "awareness knowing itself," "realizing what has always been true," etc, all of which are recurring themes in Advaita, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. They seem to take enlightenment as an entirely linear process that fundamentally changes the practitioner over time. Theravada, notwithstanding the occasional instant-arahat story in the suttas, is about as far as you can get from a sudden-enlightenment school.

Among those who do talk about awareness knowing itself (see Mahamudra, for example), there is wide consensus that this Realization is by far the most important thing to have, and that pure developmentalists are somehow missing the boat.

I like Theravada, but I like to keep in mind that it is the little brother of the enlightenment schools in spite of its self-serving claims to greater authenticity.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 8:51 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
@Kenneth The Bumese, for example, don't talk about "turning the light around," "awareness knowing itself," "realizing what has always been true"

Ven Ajahn Sumedho does talk about this kind of thing, if I understand him correctly, for example in his dhamma talks on the meditation word "buddho" / "the one who knows" / "knower of the world". Of course, the Thai forest monks are usually quick to point out that such a knower doesn't exist, and anything one would like to think about the "knower" would be wrong.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 8:54 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Yes, I met a group of Korean Son Monks in Rangoon. They were at U Pandita's monastery in order to learn vipassana on a sort of cultural exchange mission. In Korea, they had all been practicing "Who am I?"

As individuals, they each had their own reactions to the vipassana method. Some of them loved it and felt that they were finally making progress after years of wasting their time at self-enquiry. At least one, though, felt that he was already enlightened, and had no interest in vipassana. He would sit happily for hours in the meditation hall. But at interviews he frustrated the Burmese teachers, including U Pandita, who could not convince him that there was something he needed to do in order to get enlightened. The rumor around the monastery was that he was a clueless jhana-head with no insight. He didn't seem to care what we thought, and was very confident in himself. Were we the clueless ones? Perhaps I should have asked him what he was doing all that time on the cushion. Maybe he was the one in a hundred (or one in a thousand) who actually gets Zen without the scaffolding of developmental practices. We'll never know.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 9:09 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
You're right, Florian. Actually, I thought about the Thai forest tradition as an exception as I was writing that, which is why I narrowed the comment to cite the Burmese point of view. I probably should have narrowed it further to the Mahasi teachers, as there are lots of Burmese monks that I don't know anything about.

Generally speaking, though, I think it's fair to say that the Theravada tradition, as exemplified by the Pali suttas and the Visuddhimagga, rarely mentions anything that could be construed as non-dual practice. Even with the rare exceptions considerable hermeneutical gymnastics are required to make the case that the Theravadists were talking about non-duality as we understand it today.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 10:24 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
It's true that wallowing in content is not productive; but I don't think the "who am I?" technique as taught by Ramana advocates any exploration of content. On the contrary, it's intended to cut through content. When you dwell as the witness, all content is seen as ephemeral. The one constant is the knowing, and the knowing is simultaneously the subject and object of experience. It knows Itself. As an idea, this is confusing. As a reality, it's pure freedom.

The problem, I think, is not that you had chosen a bad technique, but that you didn't have enough guidance in how to properly apply it. We also see this with the vipassana technique, as people often think they are doing vipassana when in fact they are wallowing in content. The cure is more information about what the technique entails and better guidance, preferably from one who is well-versed in the method.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 10:40 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: yadidb

Kenneth,

Could you please elaborate on this one?
I find it rather confusing emoticon

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 12:10 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hi Yadid,

For the purposes of this discussion, I'm defining Awakened in a particular way. In this context, Awakened is not synonymous with arahatship. Rather, it refers to a perspective in which primordial awareness knows itself. Lot's of people who are not arahats have access to this perspective. And it appears, based on my observations of and conversations with some people who I believe are arahats, that not all arahats have access to this perspective. On the other hand, maybe they just don't value this perspective; but I would say that it amounts to the same thing, as this perspective is considered the highest understanding by virtually every school of enlightenment except Theravada. To know it is to love it. :-)

We are now at the very heart of the debate between "Hinayana" and "Mahayana." How is it possible that people can spend their whole lives meditating and not come to the same conclusions?

For me the answer is simple: If people would stop arguing long enough to actually master the other camp's practice, they would value both perspectives. Too often, people dig in and attempt to defend their own limited understanding rather than branching out and embracing multiple understandings. It takes a lot of work. You can't just say, "I'm enlightened and therefore anything I don't already know about doesn't matter." You have to keep practicing even after arahatship because there is always something you haven't yet understood.

So, to answer the question directly, there are arahats who are masters of vipassana and samatha but who have never committed themselves to the mastery of non-dual practice and thus do not understand the full implications of Awakening.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 5:48 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: solxyz

If Awakened and Arhatship are distinct, then which one is Enlightenment? Or is that a third variable?

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 6:24 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
You could make the case that both Awakening and Arahatship are enlightenment--which gives us two distinct situations, both going by the name "enlightenment." I think that some people reject the idea of "two enlightenments" as aesthetically displeasing. I tend to agree that, as an aesthetic, the idea of two enlightenments fails to inspire. Reality, however, has rarely shown itself to be subordinate to my aesthetic concerns.

Another point: these definitions are arbitrary. People use the words "enlightenment" and "awakening" in various ways. I'm not suggesting that the definitions I've put forth here are the "correct" definitions. They are just some possibilities among many different ways to use language to point to something beyond language. The map is not the territory. My hope here has been to encourage all of us to open to new possibilities for talking and thinking about these things. Even more importantly, I hope people will open to the possibility that Reality remains forever unknowable. It would be hubris for us to imagine that we could issue some proclamation about Reality that could not be countered in the next breath. While it is possible to surrender to Reality, it is not possible for us to wrap our tiny minds around it.

When the knowing turns back on itself, something wonderful happens. In that moment, there are no conclusions to be drawn.

To bring the rational mind to its knees, just ask the question, "Who knows about this?"

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 6:51 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

Hi Kenneth!

For the sake of discussion, and since you have compared the realizations of Theravada Arahats and Tibetan non-dualists, and made a case for category demarcation and definitional differences between awake, Arahat, non-duality, and enlightenment, I wonder if you would define each of the terms so we can know what you mean when you compare and contrast terms, realizations, and traditions. Of course realization is mostly idiosyncratic in its individual interpretation and phenomenology (a cultural construct), while retaining fundamental universal traits at its core, clearly, however, only the most superficial generalizations will apply.

For example, your stated position is that you have realized Arahatship, how is that defined in terms of yourself? What criteria do you meet? You have also stated elsewhere that you are enlightened; for you, how do you define enlightened and how does this relate to Arahatship? How do these realizations, for you, relate to the realization of non-duality? You speak of awareness realizing the fundamental nature of awareness; how does it all tie together?

Many thanks!

In kind regards,

Adam.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 7:16 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

@Vince: Ah, but I never said self enquiry is not a valid insight technique! I used it myself for a while prior to 3rd path (you've read my record of the practice over at the BH?). What I do take issue with is the idea that self enquiry leads to 'sudden enlightenment', or that it is 'the best and quickest route to enlightenment', or that Maharshi ever got anyone enlightened using this technique - everyone on record became enlightened in silence/Maharshi's presence.

@Kenneth: I find your use of the term 'awakening' for anything but arahatship very odd. For me, what happened at 4th path was above and beyond anything that I have ever experienced, can or will ever experience. This might be blasphemy, but from the view of the absolute, specific relative phenomena - such as what makes one feel nice, what one thinks is the best way to behave, and every single species of mystical experience, inc.what you are calling 'awakening' - don't mean a thing, not a thing. It's perfectly possible to sit around and abide in the 'Self' and remain completely indifferent to the world, as it appears Maharshi spent a lot of time doing. How does what you are describing as 'awakening' compare to this? And what is its value, even in a relative sense?

For the record, I believe those people who use the words 'awakening', 'enlightenment', 'liberation' and 'realisation' are talking about the same thing that nerdy theravadins are talking about with '4th path' and 'arahatship', based on my study and practice of many traditions (I've been quite the cushion-hopper).

P.S. I do hope I'm doing my best to add to the scandal!

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 7:30 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

Kenneth: 2) Arahat but not Awakened. (Have you ever interviewed with a Mahasi Master?)

Actually I did at a spectacular Wat in Thailand about a month ago! I got 'transmission' or 'emptiness' vibes from him (my first since 4th path - I thought it might not happen anymore) although he did his best to dodge my question of whether or not he is an arahat. I suspect he is or at least anagami. I got no intimations of what you are describing as 'awakened' (how would you ascertain that someone is 'awakened' in your terminology?).

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 7:31 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hi Adam,
Great questions. I'm glad that you don't just accept what I'm saying without asking for clarification. Many of the definitions you are asking for are found in this very thread and its accompanying essay.

My definition of arahat can be found here:

http://dharmaoverground.wetpaint.com/page/What+is+an+arahat%3F+(A+letter+to+a+friend)

I don't think there are any objective criteria for arahatship. That's why it's so hard to evaluate others. As Gozen said to me the other day, we haven't yet invented an Enlight-O-Meter. I think I'm enlightened. I may be wrong. If you choose to accept my self-evaluation, I suggest that you do so only provisionally. There are certain practices that I recommend to people so that they can come to their own subjective feeling of enlightenment; chief among these practices are vipassana, samatha, and self-enquiry. In the end, my opinion of my own status won't benefit you much, but if I can help or inspire you to practice well, I will have done something worthwhile.

Kenneth

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 7:37 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: xsurf

Hi Kenneth, you said earlier "A related matter is the no-dog. The experience of "Self" described by the advaitists can be seen as both a means and an end. It's an end in that it is a refuge, a trans-personal perspective that is prior to the arising of a separate self, and therefore upstream from suffering. The no-dog knows no suffering. But in the no-dog, there is still a tenuous thread of delusion; the small personal self has been superseded by the universal and impersonal Self. So the no-dog is also a means; by dwelling as the no-dog "Self," you are just one tiny step away from the simplest thing, aka primordial awareness, which has no reference point, either personal or transpersonal. There is no self, big, small or otherwise, from this simplest of all perspectives. It knows Itself. There is no localized sense of knowing standing apart from what is known.There's just the entire phenomenological world, which is self-aware."

Though not all Arhats have accessed the no-dog, under this definition isn't all Arhat awakened to primordial awareness (which is similar to no-self), which is always the case?

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
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4/15/09 7:40 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hi Alan,

My sense is that people who are Awake tend to talk about it a lot, at least when the conversation turns to mysticism. People talk about what they value. So if somebody talks for a half-hour about meditation but doesn't say anything about awareness, I suspect that awareness is either not known to them or not important to them. For concrete examples, compare the speech of a Mahasi master with the speech of a dzogchen master or a Mahamudra master. The dzogchen and Mahamudra guys are all about awareness knowing itself, whereas the Mahasi guy will talk about body sensations or noting mind states. These are two very different orientations and I think it would be wrong to conclude that these people are all having the same experiences but talking about them differently.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/15/09 7:53 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Not necessarily. Remember, I'm defining Arahatship as the culmination of a physio-energetic process, the closing of a kundalini circuit. It is an enormous development, arguably the most profound of developments. And from that platform of development it is relatively easy to let awareness turn back on itself. But the understanding of primordial awareness still needs to be cultivated. In my experience, Mahasi masters do not talk about primordial awareness. Why not? Is it unimportant to them, or is it unknown to them? The Tibetans, who explicitly teach both development and non-dual Awakening, insist that non-dual Awakening is the higher understanding. They seem to take Arahatship as the starting place, rather than the ending place. I agree with this view. There is a great deal to understand post-Arahat, and it is not a free lunch; in order to understand the full implications of enlightenment, one must cultivate Awakeness.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/15/09 8:10 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: xsurf

In that case is your definition of Arhat different from Daniel who seems to see the 4 paths to Arhatship as a progression of non-dual insights (especially third path onwards) according to his non-dual models?

I guess my question is, isn't No-Self (which an Arhat has realised) = the entire phenomenological world is self-aware without a separate observer = Primordial Awareness?

As Mahasi Sayadaw have said:

"Buddhists, therefore, do not believe in an unchanging entity, in an actor apart from action, in a perceiver apart from perception, in a conscious subject behind consciousness.

Who then, is the doer of Karma? Who experiences the effect?

Volition, or Will (tetana), is itself the doer, Feeling (vedana) is itself the reaper of the fruits of actions. Apart from these pure mental states (suddhadhamma) there is no-one to sow and no-one to reap."

At least in my current understanding, there are gradual and direct methods to realise Awakeness but in the end both paths finally lead to the same realisation (a.k.a. 'the simplest thing').

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/15/09 11:47 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
'We are now at the very heart of the debate between "Hinayana" and "Mahayana." How is it possible that people can spend their whole lives meditating and not come to the same conclusions?'

that is probably because there are different conclusions to come to..

'I think that some people reject the idea of "two enlightenments" as aesthetically displeasing. I tend to agree that, as an aesthetic, the idea of two enlightenments fails to inspire.'

there are many incentives for someone to subscribe to a kind of monotheistic enlightenment. here are a few, off the top of my head:
1) it gives power to the institution of enlightenment.
2) it lends to the sense that we must be in this together, so you feel less lonely.
3) the sense of wholeness, completeness, is so... well, whole and complete, that it easily leads you to imagine that this must be what wholeness is like for another person.
4) social conditioning - most people assume its the same thing, so you do too.

there are also advantages to thinking of enlightenment as diverse and varying. off the top of my head:
1) you dont go nuts (and drive people around you nuts) trying to fit their square pegs into your round holes.
2) it's conducive to an ever-deepening exploration of the vastness of the range of experience (much more vast than the range of language).
3) it leaves more room to just perceive stuff when you're not busy making connections that don't really need to be made.
4) you don't risk pissing off people whose version of enlightenment is significantly different from your own (except maybe some of the monotheists, hah)

(cont.)

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/15/09 11:53 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
i like where kenneth is going with these distinctions but i'd go further and say that the 'end' of what he calls the developmental process probably drops different people off at different places. just like, for example, the a&p (arising & passing event) is different for people and bestows different views and insights. skillful use of language and intention, however, may bring us together enough to talk about it for a while and all feel that the discussion was rewarding.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/16/09 1:10 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Great discussion. Let me see if I have this right. It sounds like Kenneth is using the term Arahat to describe one who has completed the kundalini cicuit (a physio-energetic process); Awakening, as he uses it refers to the realization of non-dual, Awareness aware of itself.

Is it fair to say that the attainment of either one will facilitate the attainment of the other, and until one has attained both, the process of becoming Fully Awake is incomplete - or are there other attainments that must be realized to complete the (vertical) process?

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/16/09 4:16 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Bingo.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/16/09 4:36 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
@n8sense: "Great discussion. Let me see if I have this right. It sounds like Kenneth is using the term Arahat to describe one who has completed the kundalini cicuit (a physio-energetic process); Awakening, as he uses it refers to the realization of non-dual, Awareness aware of itself."

Yes, that's exactly how I'm using the terms.

"Is it fair to say that the attainment of either one will facilitate the attainment of the other..."

Sort of, but you still have to do the work. I will say that someone who fully commits to the non-dual route and (accidentally) develops to the point of arahatship has completed the two-fold program. But someone who reaches arahatship by doing only developmental practices may or may not stumble hard enough on the non-dual to get hooked and explore it further. In that case it would take some outside influence to encourage that yogi to keep practicing, as s/he would intuitively feel done.

"...and until one has attained both, the process of becoming Fully Awake is incomplete."

"Fully Awake" is probably a misnomer. The law of receding horizons (read "the infinity of Reality") dictates that the process of awakening is ever unfolding.

"or are there other attainments that must be realized to complete the (vertical) process?"

The vertical axis here refers only to kundalini development/insight/arahatship. I would say that Awakeness is neither on the horizontal nor the vertical axis. Being prior to the arising of time and space, primordial awareness doesn't really fit into those categories. The way to find it is to go upstream... or, as Chinul said, "Trace back the radiance of your own mind."

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/16/09 5:18 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
This is such a tough question, Xsurf, because so much depends upon the definitions of words. It may be that one person's primordial awareness is another person's delusion. What is clear though, is that a teacher who is enlightened through one approach may never even mention that which is absolutely primary in another. And this can go both ways.

I'm really pleased with this entire discussion, as we have all taken a very open-minded and nuanced approach to these questions. All of this is an exploration, and there are no firm conclusions to be drawn.

If it were possible to come up with even one sentence that could not be challenged, we could write it down and worship it forever. Luckily, there is no such sentence. There are just perspectives. Some will be quick to point out that some perspectives are more valuable than others, and I will be quick to agree. The perspectives I find most valuable are those that inspire each of us to explore Reality as deeply as we can and share our findings with others.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this thread and to everyone who is just about to jump in.

Kenneth

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/16/09 8:44 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: solxyz

1st issue, jumping back in the thread a little bit: I find it gratifying to learn that Maharshi attained his initial awakening meditating on his death. This is one of my favorite practices, but I rarely hear it discussed, nor have I heard it approved by any teacher. I continue with it because it because I have an affinity for it and is obviously getting me somewhere.

However, I do not think that meditating on death is the same as asking "who am i." ("Death" promotes the experience that there is nothing to hold onto because there is nothing, while "Who am i" promotes the experience that there is nothing to hold onto because one just cant hold on, no hands to hold with, you might say.). I suppose there are different directions one could take a meditation on death, but as I employ it, it has less to do with a Me that dies and is more about the falling away of everything I care about and use to orient myself. This is at least analogous to vipassana with attention on impermanence, while finding the witness is more analogous to vipassana with attention on non-self. In my experience, the difference between the death/witness practices and the vipassana practices are that the former begin by immediately examining regions of existential concern - which tend to be somewhat backgrounded and tricky to find - while the vipassana techniques begin with experiences that are obvious and of little concern then build-up to encompass the entire perceptual field. For me, the advantage of the former set is that they they get to work immediately. The disadvantage is that if I lose the relevant perspective I have to spend some time kicked out of my meditation, hunting for that perspective.

Would anyone care to refine my use of these practices?

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/16/09 8:45 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: solxyz

2nd issue: In this model which distinguishes Awakening from Arhatship, is there such a thing as complete Awakening? It seems that after initial Awakening, it is just a matter of being able to rest in Awareness more readily and more often. If that is the case, then it seems like any other skill that we can get better at our whole lives. Am I missing something?
This is practically relevant because it may influence which project we want to be working on. I have given the attainment of Enlightenment a certain priority in my life because I have become convinced that it is a project that I can finish. If Awakening is just something that I will strengthen throughout my life, then I would give it a more balanced place among the other things I am working on and I would reserve my special drive for attaining Arhatship (which may include working with non-dual practices).

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/16/09 8:45 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: solxyz

3rd issue: On single vs. multiple Enlightements:

If we say that complete Realization is possible, then I dont think there can be two different and independent Ultimate Realizations. A person who has attained one but not the other would be missing out on a major part of the Truth, hence their realization would not be complete. Maybe Im relying too much on conceptual systems here, and this is tricky to talk about because ultimately there is no ultimate resting place, no final understanding. But we are working from the view that our fundamental relationship with Reality can be righted. If two different Realizations or Liberations are both Ultimate, then a person would need to have both before they are really Liberated.

Kenneth's description of Arhatship as a "normal, organic, human, biological process" suggests this possibility: Awakening is the Ultimate Realization. Initial Awakening initiates insight disease and further awakening promotes its development. The resolution of insight disease (Arhatship) has nothing especially ultimate about it, it is just something that awakening people need to accomplish. Awakening is never complete but continues to develop. Im not arguing for this view at all, just offering it as grist for the discussion.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/16/09 8:46 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: msj123

This reminds me of the talk in the Path of Ramana Part One were Sri Sadhu Om quotes Ramana as talking about the first place, second place, and third place. In English, this is translated as first person, etc. It strikes me that vipassana, etc. is all about 2nd and 3rd place, whereas in self-enquiry, the attention is focused on the first place.

However, Shinzen Young talks about a figure-ground reversal in which being aware of objects turns into objects in awareness. I have found this to happen on numerous occasions-- I start focused on objects, and then it is as though the objects are arising and passing in a continuous aware field, i.e. there tends to be a subject-object collapse.

As I write this, I begin to wonder about it.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/16/09 10:12 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: garyrh

Enlightenment is a label used to describe the experiencing of reality in a fundamentally different way. Experience is always subjective and ones reality are constructs of "objects" and awareness. In the realizing of something fundamentally different about reality there are two paths one is to know about the "objects" (vipassana) the other awareness (non dual). In doing one technique or the other most will realize something of the other because both mind/body objects and awareness are fundamental to reality with subtle or not so subtle connections. Because Enlightenment is subjective a whole spectrum will exist between these two extremes as to on what one labels as Enlightenment.

It would seem one conception of Enlightment is an absolute objective reality to be experience the same. To believe this one would have to ignore or take sides with many discussions on DHO. I would say it is as much a wrong view as there being one true practice to Enlightenment.

With awareness and its objects maybe reality is "two not one" emoticon

To clarify, the two poles of the subjective experience or realizing of enlightenment both describe the one "objective reality" (not entirely accurate but you get what I mean). Just as wave and partical theories both describe the nature of light similarly Enlightened beings realize the same fundamentals of reality in subjective mind/body/awareness.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/16/09 12:00 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
that's it right there. personal anecdote: one day in my meditation, before i got stream-entry, i could see the difference between stream-entry and full awakening (this difference is only clear without the dualistic lens on). after i saw that i laughed and thought 'is that it?'. stream-entry suddenly looked so easy. and i remained confident til my next retreat, on which i nailed it (but on which i was really sweatin as i'd lost confidence while on it, i should note).

what im saying is you want to see the developmental progress of insight as something that has a beginning and has a finish.. and seeing it contrasted against, yet not separate from and also contributory toward, a kind of endless process like 'awakening' should be very helpful. it should make development ultimately do-able. on their natures: development can happen in bursts, as special projects.. but there is something about awakening that is ultimately eternal/timeless, and, as a strange result, must be synonymous with the totality of living each moment itself. when im rightly focused, it comes into view and it is clear, from the utter wholeness and perfection of the moment, that this is it, there is nothing else but this, in a way there never was really anything else, and there is nothing else to do. yet, to live like this more probably requires (or will lead one through) developmental progress.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/16/09 2:24 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
@msj123: "I start focused on objects, and then it is as though the objects are arising and passing in a continuous aware field, i.e. there tends to be a subject-object collapse."

@garyrh: "To clarify, the two poles of the subjective experience or realizing of enlightenment both describe the one "objective reality" (not entirely accurate but you get what I mean). Just as wave and partical theories both describe the nature of light similarly Enlightened beings realize the same fundamentals of reality in subjective mind/body/awareness."

@theprisonergreco: "development can happen in bursts, as special projects.. but there is something about awakening that is ultimately eternal/timeless, and, as a strange result, must be synonymous with the totality of living each moment itself. when im rightly focused, it comes into view and it is clear, from the utter wholeness and perfection of the moment, that this is it, there is nothing else but this, in a way there never was really anything else, and there is nothing else to do. yet, to live like this more probably requires (or will lead one through) developmental progress."

Excellent. Excellent. Excellent. (IMHO)

Kenneth

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/16/09 6:43 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hi Solxyz,

As you say, there are various ways to meditate on death. One approach is to do a reflection. Here's a link to a Tibetan practice that seems to be similar to what you are describing:

http://www.buddhanet.net/deathtib.htm

From a non-dual point of view, however, the death reflection would be just a jumping off point to ask the question "Who dies?" or "Who knows about this?" or "Is there something that doesn't die?" With this approach it's all about the investigation of pure awareness; thinking is not encouraged at all. Of course thinking will happen, but that isn't what you're paying attention to. You're paying attention to the knowing of thinking. Non-dual practices are all just pointers to go beyond the contents of the mind to the knowing of awareness itself. This situation, where knowing knows itself, is very distinct. It always looks the same. In fact, another way to find it is to look at your own mind and see what doesn't change. If you toss out everything that moves or changes, you will eventually be left with that which doesn't change; that is awareness itself. Ramana's instruction captures this beautifully: "Let what comes come. Let what goes go. Find what remains."

Another way to find it is to follow your mind upstream. Where do thoughts come from? What is the source? Trace it back. Follow your mind upstream to the very source of knowing. Then stay there.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/16/09 6:57 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
The thesis I'm offering is that by becoming absorbed in the awareness you will progress along the developmental path, thus killing two birds with one stone. This position seems to be supported by such luminaries as Ramana Maharshi and Jack Kornfield, among others. Mind you (and getting back to the point I made in the essay), pure non-dual teachers (e.g. Tolle, Adyashanti, Ganga-ji, Mooji) don't like to talk about development, presumably because they believe it is a distraction. (How can you become absorbed in the awareness now if you are planning your future awakening?) Nonetheless, I'm giving you the holistic understanding for better or worse: if you do the non-dual practice properly, you will develop just as efficiently as if you did pure vipassana.

The only down side to this is that to some people all this talk of awareness knowing itself is incomprehensible gibberish. Fine. For those people, I recommend vipassana. This is really a can't-lose situation. The important thing is to be committed to some kind of practice, to do it every day, and to take intensive retreats whenever possible and do it some more. The finite part of it will eventually be finished and the infinite part will keep you entertained for a lifetime.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/16/09 7:09 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Well, "ultimate" means "final" or "last." Arahatship is the ultimate physio-energetic attainment. It is the last stop on a particular developmental continuum.

Awakening is also ultimate. It is the final understanding in the sense that it is that which cannot be further reduced. It is not, however, developmental. It's just what it is, any time you should happen to notice it. You could notice it now...

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/16/09 8:54 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

I think this is an important discussion, but to be honest, I'm feeling a little disappointed with some of the comments here.

@Kenneth: first of all, you avoided my question with an appeal to extreme postmodernism ('we're all into different things, there is no right and wrong, we can't reach conclusions, etc')! So here goes again: as honest as you can be, how does the event you are calling 'awakening' compare to your experience of 4th path? And if you had to pick one (just as a little thought experiment) to label the mother of all awakenings/enlightenments/liberations/realisations, which would it be and why?

From some of your comments, I might be led to conclude that you are inflating the importance of a certain affect from a specific practice that belongs to a particular branch of Buddhism as part of the rather tiresome, puerile and pointless Buddhist debate about who has 'the best tradition'. I do hope this is not the case.

@theprisonergreco: you missed out the only reason that matters when it comes to deciding whether or not enlightenment is singular or plural, and that is the results of practice. And sadly, no one picked you up on it. Is union with the divine Islam style the same as the Theravadin's emptiness? Try the practices and compare results. Do the maps match up? Nothing else deserves our consideration.

(cont.)

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/16/09 8:58 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

@everyone: If you've only really tried Buddhism, I recommend spreading your wings a bit: it gives a greater perspective on the shared deep features and the unique surface features of each tradition. For instance, in my tradition, we have an experience called 'the knowledge and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel'. I have not found it or anything similar in any other tradition, but it is essential to completing the Great Work (enlightenment, or 4th path). Only working with the HGA brings about this result (the K and C), and it is only with this result that we achieve enlightenment in the Western tradition. From practicing self enquiry, and enjoying its results, my own personal experience tells me that self enquiry and the experience of the Witness (a much better term I think than 'awakening') are also unique shallow features of a particular tradition(s). But I believe it would be foolish to argue that the K and C is as important as enlightenment, and that my tradition is somehow superior to any other based on unique shallow features. The K and C and the Witness are both important affects for the practitioner who finds these traditions the most appropriate and relative, but they are but a means to an end. Repeat the Witness long enough, and hey presto, you land the Big One (and for the record, I was indulging the Witness just prior to my Awakening. Sorry, I mean 4th path ;).)

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/16/09 9:01 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

Last but not least, I want to emphatically challenge the notion that we cannot judge whether or not someone is enlightened, or whether or not we can verify their assertions. Enlightenment is the acquisition of a certain and specialised knowledge; it follows that the sole test for identifying an enlightened person is their ability to impart such knowledge. In other words, the facilitation of the experience of enlightenment (or whatever experience it is that they are claiming to be true) for others.

Yes, enlightenment is subjective, but all knowledge is subjective, period. And like all knowledge, whether it be knowledge of engineering, plumbing or gymnastics, enlightenment can be accurately described, the technicalities demonstrated and the acquisition of the knowledge replicated by the student. This is the test of the claimant to enlightenment.

Is it not silly to believe knowledge is something that can be seen, touched, tasted, smelled or heard? And yet this is the argument made by those who deny the reality of the absolute on the grounds it is not physical, or who are simply happy to indulge all kinds of pointless speculation on the nature of enlightenment (and I would even say that this is the cause of the singular/plural debate in the first place).

Thoughts please.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/16/09 9:34 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: IanThreadgill

Would it be useful to this discussion to suggest a distinction between 1) "experiences of awakening" i.e. brief access to what it's like when all is one, or the ability to access same at will, and 2) awakening in the sense of "becoming the understanding", i.e. being replaced by it in such a way that there is utterly, irrevocably no more "you" ?

I suggest, purely on hearsay, that the latter is in no wise ongoing or cumulative and that one to whom the latter has happened ought to be very testable via their responses....

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/16/09 10:52 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
While scientific knowledge can no more be touched or seen than knowledge of enlightenment, the subject of science is immediately visible, or can be visualized fairly easily, for example with a microscope or similar aid to the senses. This is not the case for enlightenment or awakening. Pick ten people at random and let them peer through a telescope pointed at Jupiter, and they'll immediately report seeing some specks of light, and then you can have a meaningful chat about the Jovian moons. Have the same ten people sit in meditation for an hour, the odds are, you won't be able to chat sensibly about the ultimate reality you've all just experienced.

Even if you pick ten DhOers, they'll go on and on about no dog, vibrations, fruitions, states, conclusions or not - slightly more meaningful, maybe, but still not as clear-cut as the moons of Jupiter.

To summarize: all knowledge may be subjective (not convinced myself, there), but the experiential subject matter of knowledge also comes in various degrees of subjectivity, with a wide spectrum even between such esoteric things as plumbing and enlightenment.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/17/09 12:35 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: garyrh

Alan with regards to your statement could clarify some things.

Why is Enlightenment being "accurately" describe differently if it is as testable and absolute as you say?
If it is absolute there will still exist differing knowledges and technicalities, from which of these should one judge Enlightenment?
Can you clarify where or who denies the reality of the absolute?

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/17/09 1:09 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
hello alan,

hmm what are you talking about, islam/theravadan. what im talking about is not to do with the differences in traditions but the differences in persons. claims of what awakening is and the bases people give for thinking that they're awakened vary significantly enough that it is more convention than reality to think we're talking about the same things. practice leads people from different places, and accordingly, to different places. if you try a bunch of different practices, find that they work the same way for you, then conclude that the results must be the same for other people too, it completely ignores the fact that other people's experiences, and the way they relate/associate them, are outside the zone you covered.. the only reason you can relate to them at all is because of all the automatic guesswork and cherry-picking of meaning that necessarily goes into relating to other people. to borrow from an example given later in this thread, when we talk about the moons of jupiter we think we're talking about the same things but we're actually making these stories up and sharing them with each other, and that's fine, because the way we perceive moons is as inert objects with no qualities or aspects that differ radically from one perspective to another. but when we talk about awakening, we're not talking about inert objects, and the qualities or aspects we assign vary considerable from person to person, such that when we tune in to each other and find similarities its like are we talking about the same thing? yes? success! and then when a bunch of people throughout the ages all agree on something so personally important its like epic win. one ring to rule them all and we all get to wear it. well fine, i dont mean to bust the game, but can we play another one for a little while? the one where we explore all the differences we're experiencing and reporting, and laugh about how much richness there is in that.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/17/09 2:52 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: msj123

I think part of the problem is the post-modernist approach to enlightenment. It is easy if you're sutta based: enlightenment is the elimination of the 10 fetters. Anything less is not full enlightenment. Sosaki Roshi, it is said, has the body langage of a blind person--- i.e. he is not expecting the world to be there when he looks. This would be another good objective measure. Now a lot of people here say that enlightenment does not necessarily change the outer appearance or personality of a person. If so, then I agree there is no way to verify--- just like there is no way to prove that any of you have a subjective state at all (i.e. the philosophical zombie).

Now, we have individuals defining enlightenment in large part for themselves. I know a lot of folks who consider themselves "enlightened" in that they believe in reason and science. Just as with the definition of gods, the definitions of enlightenment tend to tell more about the person than they do about some objective goal. It is becoming quite common for everyone to have their own brand of religion, but I very much doubt that the whatevers of today compares to a full blooded Saint or Druid from the past. I would also bet you every red cent that I have that almost everyone here has a different definition of what it means to attain stream entry, enlightenment, etc.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/17/09 2:56 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: msj123

Just to give a real world example, look at the World War II generation and their definition of "an honest day's work" or "war." Most of our grandfathers or whomever that fought in WWII would look at today's combat force and laugh. No hitting during boot camp? Air conditioned tents? Cooked food?

Matt

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/17/09 3:05 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
@Kenneth

When I get into a state of complete alertness and attention, there's a sense of space or a void that everything is happening in. I think this is what Tolle calls the 'unmanifested', and he suggests tuning in to the silence behind the sounds, and the space that objects are in. Is this what you mean by primordial awareness? If so, isn't this what Daniel is critiscising on p. 244 of his book (last page of the 'three doors' chapter)? He seems to suggest this space is just more subtle sensations, what do you think of this?

If this is not what you meant by primordial awareness, would you mind explaining a little further?

Thanks
- Martin

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/17/09 5:02 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
It seems to me that would be like asking, "If you had to pick one (just as a little thought experiment), either your mother or your father, which would it be and why?"

That's not a game I choose to play.

@Alan: "From some of your comments, I might be led to conclude that you are inflating the importance of a certain affect from a specific practice that belongs to a particular branch of Buddhism...'"

This is a good topic for discussion, because it shows how important it is to define terms. The no-dog, which I am promoting as the most efficient way to both development and awakening, is not an affect, as I understand the term. Nor does it have anything to do with a tradition. I would say that it's a perspective.

I'd like to hear about your experiences and impressions. I like to play games, but "My Spirituality Can Beat Up Your Spirituality" is not as much fun for me as "Show Me Yours and I'll Show You Mine." You've mentioned magic several times, and it's something I know nothing about, so I'd like to hear what has happened for you and what is happening now. If it would take up too much space for this thread, you could start a page. Most of all, I'm encouraging you to write something that will help others awaken and/or develop.

Edit: Perhaps you could link to relevant parts of your website, to help us newcomers get a wedge into the terminology and basic assumptions of your tradition.

Thanks,

Kenneth

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/17/09 5:07 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hey Kenneth,

Not to answer for Alan, but I know he has written pretty extensively about his path on his (and Duncan Bradfords) website, "The Baptist's Head." Check out his "magical record" (basically, a record of his practice) here: http://bit.ly/Zq5uS

I found Alan's record to be very interesting, not knowing much about the magical tradition either.

-Vince

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/17/09 6:59 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: ByPasser

I think realization and development will eventually reach the same destination.

A practitioner that experience the “Self” will initially treat
1.The “Source as the Light of Everything”.
then
2. He/she will eventually move to the experience that the “Light is really the Everything”.

In the first case, the Light will appear to be still and the transience appears to be moving. Collapsing of space and time will only be experienced when one resides in Self. However if the mind continues to see the 'Light' as separated from the 'Everything' , then realization will appear to be apart from development.

In the second case when we experience the “Light is really the Everything”, then Everything will be experienced as manifesting yet not moving. This is the experience of wholeness and completeness in an instantaneous moment or Eternity in a moment. When this experience becomes clear in practice, then witness is seen as the transience. Space and time will also collapse when we experience the completeness and wholeness of transience. An instantaneous moment of manifestation that is complete and whole in its own also does not involve movement and change (No changing thing, only change). Practicing being 'bare' in attention yet at the same time noticing the 3 characteristics will eventually bring us to this point.

However what has a yogi overcome when moving from case 1 to 2 and what exactly is the cause of separation in the first place? I think realizing this cause is of utmost importance for solving the paradox of realization and development.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/17/09 11:29 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
hey man,

that seems like a really disempowering attitude to have. why be so hard on yourself, why be so hard on the people of today? today is the only day there is.. and if you believe that the whatevers of today cant compare to a full blooded whatever of yesterday or from the past... then you rule that out for yourself too. dont do that for the sake of an illusion. the past was probably a day just like today, of people who were discovering and making stuff up and understanding and integrating stuff. people back then were 'defining enlightenment in large part for themselves' too! the few of those that are remembered are remembered because they turned into religions and schools like buddhism. but the others.. just because they're not remembered doesnt mean they werent there, and just because there were many doesnt meant they werent for real.. there were many because awakening is really that close and freely available for personal discovery, right here right now. it might as well have been today. it can be for real for all of us, and that's you too.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/17/09 11:34 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
bypasser,

after the realisation of 2, do some people slip back to 1 again and again habitually? or is it that once you get to 2, you never go back to 1 again?

what do you think.. how was it for you and what have you observed in or heard from others?

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/17/09 2:31 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hmmm, it seems that we're back to square one. My hope for this discussion is to go beyond vague descriptions of oneness to a more nuanced investigation of the actual experience of enlightenment. Having said that, I think that the above comment is correct from a certain point of view. In other words, when the subject-object duality collapses the yogi has seen through illusion and reached what I call the simplest thing. (Never mind that it's not really a thing :-) If it really is the simplest thing, i.e. that which cannot be further reduced, it should look the same to everyone. So a pattern seems to be emerging here. If you think of the simplest thing as the source, at which point it can be seen that the source is at once the unmanifest and the manifest world, it is only at the source that there is consensus about Reality among enlightened practitioners. Every other perspective is downstream from the source, and is thus subject to variation in both experience and interpretation.

What I'm arguing for is the importance of two distinct perspectives, both of which are downstream from the simplest thing/source. The well balanced yogi not only has access to the source, but is also able to move freely between the no-dog/witness and the vipassana perspective of the ever-changing nature of mind and body. What's more, he is not ashamed to visit the perspective of the small self, a perspective that keeps him directly in contact with the people around him--people who may feel themselves completely stuck in the small self and who could use some support as they try to figure it all out.

As I've pointed out before, the very fact that enlightened people speak about their experiences in such diverse ways puts the lie to any facile theory of one enlightenment for all.

At least that's what I think in this moment. :-)

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/17/09 3:19 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Alan, from some of your comments, I might be led to conclude that you are attempting to position yourself as the Universal Pundit, having reported your enlightenment exactly (looks at his watch) 42 days ago.

:-))

OK, I'm having a little fun at your expense, and I hope you'll forgive me, but it's good to keep these things in perspective.

There is no Universal Pundit. There are just ideas floating around in our heads. To the extent that these ideas are informed by some deep realization of truth, they can be really interesting and useful, but they are always fallible.

I like it when you disagree with me; it helps me remember that my own ideas are as fallible as everyone else's. So, tell me again exactly which of my comments are untenable and we'll see if we can dig a little deeper. And don't forget to give your own view about whatever question it is that I've gotten wrong.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/17/09 3:58 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hi Matt,

Actually, descriptions of stream entry/1st path, as defined in the Theravada tradition, are remarkably consistent across individuals. That's one of the things that really drew me to vipassana in the first place. My teacher told me that the Progress of Insight was so accurate, and that it described a process that was so hard-wired into the human body/mind, that a teacher could accurately pinpoint a student on the map and watch her or him go through the 16 insight knowledges one after another, just as if it were scripted. And this would happen irrespective of whether the student knew or had even heard of the map. I have since found this to be true again and again; first path is not at all nebulous. Same for second path. After that, it gets harder; teachers don't even agree on exactly where to put the dividing line between 2nd and 3rd path. But it gets easier at 4th path, which is a very easy call, as you know when your insight disease goes away. Post 4th path, it gets fuzzy again and there are all sorts of ways that enlightenment can manifest, which is why I started this discussion. I wanted do go deeper than the usual it-all-ends-up-in-the-same place talk and explore the reality of it.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/17/09 6:03 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

Hi Kenneth,

It seems to me, when we view reality from the source, there is not much we can say about reality. We see it clearly, but that direct cognizance does not lend well to positive statements about said reality, mostly due to the limitations of language and its implicit dualistic framework. When we do linguistically represent what we intuit, it reflects the well known classical statements regarding non-duality and ever changing phenomena, emptiness, infinity and completeness etc. The kind of paradoxical stuff we see in Buddhism, Taoism and so on. Often it is easier to contrast what we see with known dogma or various positive metaphysical statements such that we can see the falsity of those statements or dogma. So, in such cases we can often more easily make negative statements about realty - what it is not. Mostly there is a not-knowing in enlightenment. This is because enlightenment is not knowledge, and that which is known is not conceptual and meta-linguistic. We see through some of what we once thought we knew, and more importantly we see what we do not know.

Another variable in the phenomenology of enlightenment is the extent of realization. Not all enlightenments are equal. There appears to be different degrees of realization of Source. You might say degrees of view ‘from’ Source. This realization will go on without end, I would argue, and said realization will become more complete over time, at least while incarnate. Thus, view of Being / Reality will alter reflecting degree of realization.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/17/09 6:04 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

[cont.]

Additionally, if we carry out a meta-analysis of the worlds living esoteric traditions and apparently realized beings from those traditions, we see that mostly people from these traditions interpret their realization from within the conceptual frameworks of their parent tradition. Thus, Christian mystics have a Theistic view of non-duality (union with God), and mostly remain Christian afterwards, as do Hindu adepts etc. The Buddhists, or course see things in terms of no fundamental substrate and are emphatically non-theistic - just emptiness of phenomena – no source, no self. As such, mostly they think they have the superior view, as anyone who maintains a theistic view has not realized the true nature of reality - obstructions remain, hence, the apparent substrate. Naturally, we find contradictions in the Buddhist canon and within the different schools of Buddhism i.e the DharmaKaya. Of course, in my view, a conflation has taken place due to an equivocation in terms used. Mostly because the substrate is taken to be an independent changeless thing. Which is not consistent with Buddhist ontology, as there are no continuous, independent things. Of course awareness is not a thing, it is empty thusness, neither a thing nor characterized by any positive traits or conditions. But I digress.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/17/09 6:05 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

Finally, and perhaps most importantly enlightenment does not result in omniscience, and thus, does not give us positive knowledge of reality, nor eradicate the details of our false beliefs about said reality, it just changes our point of view, which in itself, will be inconsistent with some fundamental beliefs, but far from all. In this way we can see then, given there are degrees of realization of source (and sustainable operation at that level), the limitations of language, and many of the same neuroses and beliefs remain (due to enlightenment taking place outside of mind, resulting in previous deep-seated intra-psychic social constructs remaining to influence our interpretation of said enlightenment and behaviours), we find a great variation in the enlightenment experience and its interpretation. This of course is a post-modern view and is mostly consistent with what we know about complex systems (influential variables) and an ethnographic anthropological view of individual lived experience. A view where universal generalizations and stereotypes are invalid and inconsistent with research findings. This is the view, as I understand it, that Alan is arguing against. I think he is both right and wrong.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/17/09 6:06 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

[cont.]

Alan is right because it is possible one could have sufficient degree of realization of source / Being (see above), such that one sees the fundamental nature of reality without sufficient obscuration of mind or social constructs to colour interpretation of that realization. This degree of realization will probably entail sufficient development also, as Kenneth has defined elsewhere. If so, this realization would be universal, that is, all would see the same thing, and only one thing – the true nature of reality. Again, given the infinity of reality, what is cognized reflects degree of realization. This, I would suggest, is possible, but rare. Many of us have degrees of ‘glimpses’ of this realization, and I can thus sympathize with the single view of realization, which I will call a degree of ‘unconditioned realization’. I propose this planet in the scheme of things is of low evolution, and thus, full unconditioned realization is rare. This kind of realization, I would further propose, reflects the classical stereotypes of enlightenment; that is, the perfect enlightened being model with limited emotional range and action due to complete transcendence of the limitations of mind-body etc. Utter transcendence of the human condition. Very rare, if ever, on this planet. I do suppose this kind of realization does exist in other dimensions of reality, on other planets of life. We may call it Cosmic Realization, or Cosmic Enlightenment. These beings may appear to be perfect Gods to us (in our naive view), as the Buddha or Christ may or may not have been (but probably not!). I further propose that all of us will achieve this degree of realization of source sooner or later – the natural evolution of things. As I said, we do not need this complete realization to intuit this one singular view. Intuition is not the same as its realization, however. And intuition is subject to above described interpretive factors.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/17/09 6:06 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

[cont.]

Finally, I think Alan is wrong in the single view of enlightenment (known as the modernist view of enlightenment, which proposes an objective, mind -independent reality, that can be discovered by all who look for it) because enlightenment is realization of non-duality – seeing through the sense of separate self. That is its basic consensus criteria. It is a shift in experiential point of view. Mostly everything else remains the same including the above said idiosyncratic variables of mind, body, culture and action.
Enough for now... :-)

In kind regards,

Adam.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/17/09 7:34 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
First, just a deep thanks to all who have posted and a hearty bravo on the discussion.

It's late and my boundaries are pretty loose from cultivating jhana all night, but I did want to toss in my 2 cents. To the best of my assessment I had stream entry on Jan 4 this year (which was oh-so by the book via the door of suffering), and had been very attracted to "who am I?" practice and Adyashanti's being aware of awareness practices mixed in with my Vipassana while moving through equanimity. After fruition I was having a lot of success with the Awakeness/being awareness. Totally different quality (total awakeness without the confusion of identity of a separate self) than fruitions (which stop/annihilate reality) from this humble 2nd path perspective!!!

I wish this came up 2 months ago when it was all hot and heavy for me, I got confused by the maps and trying to cram Awakeness into a Vipassana model, had a run of crushing self-doubt creep into practice out of this confusion, and then a massively busy month of work before I could synthesize these models. I don't want to say too much since it isn't authentically alive right now, and I am parroting the experiences. But it sure seemed that there is a "development" to Awakeness too which is the access to it reliably/ability to rest in it. The concentration link is interesting too, my experience is that having a thought come up in this state would be like a cloud passing over the sun and started the process of attachment to the separate self (and back into suffering).

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 2:35 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: ByPasser

Hi theprisonergreco,

As far as I know, all people slip back and forth for a period of time before one arrives “the point of no retreat”. My experience is It will be advisable not to get over excited and wait for a period of 90 days after every quantum leap in perception into non-dual. See whether dullness steps in and dual perception takes over within this 90 days period.

As for the cause, some see the habitual return to the split as necessary and call it the Divine play while Buddhism sees it as imprints and deep latent dispositions. It is part of the makeup of consciousness that all actions carry imprints and this is manifested in all moments, to me there is nothing to deny.

By the way, if you are intermittently having the mirror sensation and a sense of crystal clear transparency, u may want to try dropping all sorts of 'who, what, where, when and why' but merely open yourself fully, fearlessly and unreservedly to whatever arises. Dare to lose yourself completely and be fully authenticated by all things. emoticon

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 2:41 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: ByPasser

Hi Kenneth, I was reading through some of your earlier posts, I get what u meant. You must have sensed the skewing over certain practices to bring out the issue and importance of a balance approach and very true, a “well balanced yogi not only has access to the source, but is also able to move freely between the no-dog/witness and the vipassana perspective of the ever-changing nature of mind and body”.


@Kenneth: “As I've pointed out before, the very fact that enlightened people speak about their experiences in such diverse ways puts the lie to any facile theory of one enlightenment for all.”

Therefore the enlightened penetrates beyond forms, situations, conditions, all arbitrary opinions and communicates directly. :-) The simplest thing that is indivisibly whole, is no difference from this breathe, this sound. A thousands years ago, a thousand years later and now, still, this breathe, this sound. Neither the same nor different, always so primordial.

@Kenneth:“What's more, he is not ashamed to visit the perspective of the small self, a perspective that keeps him directly in contact with the people around him--people who may feel themselves completely stuck in the small self and who could use some support as they try to figure it all out.”

Indeed, the enlightened dirties his hands and walk on!

Thanks for sharing!

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 10:22 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Beautiful.

Thanks for passing by. ;-)

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 11:19 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: msj123

All this talk of subject and object is leading to some interesting places. I find it nearly impossible to clearly separate subject and object--- but it is clear that there IS a subject, and then there is a point where thoughts/sensations seem to "attach" to the subject leading to a sort of dull stupor--- ordinary consciousness?

I had a strange experience last night. While I was (trying to ) look in at the observer, I began to have a strange sensation of electricity and fear shooting through/engulfing my body. So I would ask: to whom does this occur? and looking in it seemed that no one was home. There was sort of a shock to this, almost like discovering some one in the room with you.

Interesting practices.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 11:45 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
MSJ,

Perhaps that is because everything is both and the distinguishing of the two as separate phenomenon is quite arbitrary!

Teachings of emptiness attempt to show us that everything is subjective. Codependent arising. Language infinitely defers (it defines itself). Everything is open to interpretation, as if we are all living in completely different worlds. Every sensation a mirror for another, such as the message in the allegory of Indra's net. Everything is subjective.

If we think about it though, all of that is also an object. If we look at language and thought formations-- it all has to be something solid enough that we can think about it, categorize it, picture it, rationalize with it, view it, and so forth. For example, "the watcher" is a compounded phenomenon-- many different objects that are habitually viewed as another object called the "subject." In other words, everything is also objective.

Useful?

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 12:59 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: msj123

Maybe I should have said: I find it hard to find the line between subject and object. In order to see a subject, there usually is an object. At this point, I am finding the Surangama Sutra helpful with its "guest" and "host" classifications. Objects are the guest dust--- the host is like the "space" that sees this. Except to even say it is a space is wrong.

I do not agree that the watcher is an object. The persona is certainly an object: I can catch it in action. This is what others generally take to be me. There are often feelings and sensations attached to the watcher, but once you separate it out, the only thing I can say about the watcher is that: 1) it experiences and 2) it's me. I cannot even say that it is empty.

Matt

PS: I find that self-enquiry makes more sense now, after some years of vipassana. I think vipassana definitely takes some of the addiction out of objects.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 1:07 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Thanks so much for sharing this, Matt. I got chills when I read your post. I think you may have uncovered the eternal witness. Notice that it doesn't take any effort and you can rest there anytime. Awareness is always bright. Always here. There's no need to do anything to find it. Just stop running and let it be. Your question will always point you back to awareness. To whom does this occur?

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 1:24 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Matt,

I'm glad you disagree-- lets talk about it. The quoted section is a big hint here. In order for there to be a subject, there is always an object-- not just usually. The subject does not exist separate from the object-- but perhaps I'm misreading you here.

Formations are curious in that they define each other circularly (as I alluded to when I mentioned language above). If you can talk about it, think about it, know about it, it has a subject and object component. A "known" and an "X." These two are inseparable. The X is metaphysical unless it is known by the subject, and the subject does not exist without something that which to view. They define each other.

The watcher as I see it is indeed compounded. Here are a few of the phenomenon that create that specific formation: the visual sense field and similarly visual mind formations when tangled with the feeling sense field, intention/doer-ship, a sense of solidarity between these and the formations currently being taken as "the viewed." It's about shifting perspectives, what is currently taken as subject and what is currently taken as object-- the "mirror" technique Kenneth alludes to a lot is a good pointer at this.

The watcher does experience, but it also IS experience, and IS part of everything "out there" and also "in here." It is you, but no more or less so than the objects which it is viewing (and seeing that it is also an object completes the loop). This may seem unsettling, because it implies a whole lot. If it is unsettling or confusing, that is a good pointer; find out why.

Thoughts?

Trent

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 2:20 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

Florian: Pick ten people at random and let them peer through a telescope pointed at Jupiter, and they'll immediately report seeing some specks of light, and then you can have a meaningful chat about the Jovian moons. Have the same ten people sit in meditation for an hour, the odds are, you won't be able to chat sensibly about the ultimate reality you've all just experienced.

Pick ten people at random and chances are none of them will even be able to use a telescope, let alone see Jupiter or its moons. First of all, the instrument that brings forth the data in question reqiures training. For Jupiter, this means performing certain actions with a telescope. For various mystical experiences, this means performing certain actions with the mind (meditation). Some instruments are more difficult to master than others; but this doesn't mean the instrument doesn't work, or that similar instruments don't bring forth similar results.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 2:20 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

Florian: Even if you pick ten DhOers, they'll go on and on about no dog, vibrations, fruitions, states, conclusions or not - slightly more meaningful, maybe, but still not as clear-cut as the moons of Jupiter.

Even if you pick ten astronomers, they'll go on about lenses, apertures, precession, constellations, orbits, trajectories - but will they all agree on these topics and on exactly what they've seen? Is the A&P any less clear than a few blobs seen through a tube? Can you see the mineral composition of a moon and its orbit through a telescope? Correct observation of data - which takes a whole career - and peer review is what brings forth understanding of any subject; and I see no less a degree of certitude in the conclusions here than in any other field of science. I think it's unreasonable to expect beginners in any subject to talk sensibly about it after an hour's training of the instrument.

Florian: the subject of science is immediately visible, or can be visualized fairly easily

I'm afraid I have great trouble understanding and visualising even the most partial and specialised science, let alone the whole field. I think when most people think of science, they're not actually thinking of science at all.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 2:47 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

Adam West: Finally, I think Alan is wrong in the single view of enlightenment (known as the modernist view of enlightenment, which proposes an objective, mind -independent reality, that can be discovered by all who look for it) because enlightenment is realization of non-duality – seeing through the sense of separate self. That is its basic consensus criteria. It is a shift in experiential point of view. Mostly everything else remains the same including the above said idiosyncratic variables of mind, body, culture and action.

I'm afraid my view of a single enlightenment predates modernity by 3 millenia, and the idea that enlightenment only offers a new point of view is experientially far off the mark.

@Kenneth too: Let's try a bit of philosophy.

Some terms:

Relative = experience, which is differentiated.

Absolute = above and beyond any experience, and not differentiated.

Enlightenment = experience of the relative affects of the absolute, namely it's knowledge, bliss, peace, wholeness, no dog, some dog, just dog, physio-energetic phenomena, incredible perceptual abilities, etc.

We can see that the absolute itself doesn't become enlightened, only the relative (us). We can see that the absolute cannot be defined by its relative affects, but we can expect these affects should we become enlightened. These affects are the most profound relative affects possible.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 2:47 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

If we agree with the above terms, is it possible for there to be many enlightenments?

We can say that there may be many different experiences of enlightenment, but can we say there is more than one absolute? If there is more than one absolute, how could we tell them apart? Certainly not by relative means, because the absolute is not relative, and furthermore, is not differentiated. It follows that there cannot be more than one Absolute, more than one Ultimate, more than one Whole, more than one Non-dual.

There is a good reason Plotinus called it The One.

Perhaps some people may use the above terms to mean different things, but that doesn't mean the absolute, or the experience I am calling enlightement, does not exist as the singular, highest, biggest and most profound of mystical experiences.

There is one enlightenment out there bigger than all the others, and is the only enlightenment deserving of the titles enlightenment, awakening, liberation and realisation.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 2:51 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: msj123

Trent,

I left a caveat due to the possibility of higher jhanas that may arise without objects.

The subject continues while the object does not. You can change the object but still have a subject. However, you cannot have an object without a subject. it is like you have a room. You can put a table, lamp and chair in. Then take these out, and put in a bed and nightstand. The objects change, but the room does not.

The watcher is behind everything-- all fields. If it wasn't, you wouldn't see the field.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 3:02 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

Kenneth: It seems to me that would be like asking, "If you had to pick one (just as a little thought experiment), either your mother or your father, which would it be and why?" That's not a game I choose to play.

That's a bad analogy; rather, it's more like asking 'if you had to pick one as a male human, either your mother and father, which would it be and why?

I wasn't asking for a value judgement; I'm asking for a considered and close inspection of each phenomenon to see what the differences are (if any) and what those differences might mean. Might it be that what you are calling 'awakening' is a strictly relative experience, whereas what occurred at 4th path was knowledge of the absolute? (see my above terms if you're unclear about what I'm asking here.) I understand that you might love awakening just as much as 4th path, but I believe we can talk about them in a reasonable fashion without detracting from your relationship with either experience.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 3:15 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

Actually, I was like this well before enlightenment!

I think we need a bit more humour round here, and I certainly take no offense to a bit of fun at my expense (God knows there so much material available!).

There are ideas floating around our heads, but I think it is vitally important that we don't forget that some are ideas are more accurate and helpful than others. I see no reason to assume we can't reach as accurate and as helpful a consensus on enlightenment as any other peer group has on any other subject. I think enlightenment deserves serious consideration; throwing our hands up in the air when an idea turns out to be problematic and sighing 'oh well, we all have our own opinions, there's no right and wrong, enlightenment is all subjective, we're all just guessing in the end, etc' is not only a little patronising, but a complete postmodern dead end.

I hope my above posts have clarified my position and where I think the problems lie. emoticon

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 3:36 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: msj123

Very subtle, very true.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 3:44 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
All right, now you've got me intrigued. Part of what I'm saying is that for me these are among the things that must be in balance in order to understand enlightenment. I am no longer able to see either of these perspectives as optional. But as I look around, I see that not everyone shares this view. Some people dismiss the developmental perspective as trivial in the light of seeing what is always already here. Around DhO, on the other hand, it's common to think of the sudden Realization perspective as a subset of vipassana, as opposed to seeing it on its own terms.

I'm also not able to see these perspectives as temporary misconceptions on the way toward a more holistic vision. Whenever we make the leap into a new level of integration, the new perspective encompasses the old distinctions without eradicating them. In fact, as I write this it occurs to me that the total eradication model is one of the most persistent of the enlightenment myths, whether it's the total eradication of "negative" experiences, or the total eradication of the small self perspective. In this case, the unfettered access to the simplest thing does not permanently eradicate the ability to distinguish between the temporal and the timeless, nor does it eradicate the need to cycle through all available perspectives as part of being a whole human being.

I sense that what you are suggesting is that arahatship automatically confers perfect understanding of the implications of the non-dual and I'm emphatically stating that that is not the case. I would go further to suggest that perfect understanding of the implications of anything is a chimera in light of the law of receding horizons: the more you see, the more there is to see.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 4:09 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Alan, this is a false dichotomy. It's not either "we can't talk about it at all, so let's not bother" on the one hand, or "we are going to be able to describe this with perfect precision and arrive at consensus" on the other. We talk about it, exploring it together and pointing for each other. That's why I wrote the essay and started the discussion thread. But we aren't going to come to conclusions or consensus. That would be asking too much of language. Although it may be frustrating and distasteful to say that there is no black and white, that is the case. To paraphrase the Heart Sutra, black is white, and white is black. Like you, I have the typical western weakness for reductionist, scientistic, Cartesian thinking. But it will only take us so far.

I'm pondering your questions. In this moment, I'm unable to find anything that is more or less absolute than anything else. Call me crazy.

There is something that happens to me when I'm in dialog. I don't have control over it. If someone is way out on the end of the teeter totter, I back up on my end of the board to balance them out. Right now, you seem to be pushing the bounds of reductionism. If you start waxing mystical, I'll go all dualistic on yo' ass.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 4:57 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

HI Alan!

@ Alan: "We can say that there may be many different experiences of enlightenment"

This is all I am saying for the previously mentioned reasons - see above post. It appears that is all Kenneth is saying too. And yet you have argued for a single enlightenment. So, clearly you are using enlightenment in two different senses. Enlightenment for you seems to be realization of the absolute in its pure or ideal form; that is, complete personal transcendence – very much the historical ‘ideal’ model present in the classics. I believe you will find here on Dharma Over ground the position that there simply is no evidence to support an idealized enlightenment of classical definition. Rather enlightenment is personal, and is coloured by the personal matrix including the social constructs we bring to the table. I fundamentally agree with both positions, as I outlined in the above post and attempt to solve the apparent contradiction – which is really an equivocation – by suggesting enlightenment is a continuum. Through individual development, realization grows into the classical, ideal model you propose. That its realization, however, is hypothetical and intuitive and has almost no documented evidence to support it is problematic in some eyes. But that is fine, as I value intuition as much as empirical support.


RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 4:58 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

@"I'm afraid my view of a single enlightenment predates modernity by 3 millenia,"

Modernity is just the modern name for the position described - a single, mind-independent objective reality there to be discovered by those who care to find it - the basic premise of empirical science. Of course the position has been in existence for millennia. There is very little that is new under sun.

@Alan: "and the idea that enlightenment only offers a new point of view is experientially far off the mark."

You misrepresent my position with a strawman, see previously stated post regarding definition and process of enlightenment.

@Alan: "but can we say there is more than one absolute?"

Clearly there are no two absolutes, as the term means that which cannot be further reduced, hence it is ultimate, basic or primitve. So, it seems we have further indication of an equivocation - two different meanings of the term enlightenment. When you say enlightenment, you appear to mean realization of the absolute in an unqualified, unconditioned and ideal sense - no presence of the relative. Is this correct? And since there is only one absolute, and enlightenment means realization of the absolute, there can only be one enlightenment. That is valid - it follows. But I would argue it is not sound. For as you have said yourself, there can be many experiences of enlightenment; that is, there can be many different realizations of the absolute; even though there is only one absolute. Like many blind men touching an elephant. Hence, realization of the absolute is personal, even though everyone is seeing the same thing, their personal realization of that thing is idiosyncratic - hence, many experiences of the absolute, different experiences of enlightenment; and finally, more than one enlightenment.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 5:00 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West



@ Alan: There is one enlightenment out there bigger than all the others, and is the only enlightenment deserving of the titles enlightenment, awakening, liberation and realisation.

@ Alan: Enlightenment = experience of the relative affects of the absolute

Ideally, I agree. It just doesn't occur that way very often, not initially that is. Assuming a developmental model, that is. We mustn’t ignore the possibility of instant enlightenment. The ultimate point to get in this discussion as it pertains to your position is realization of the Absolute does not occur in a vacuum, it is a seeing through of the personal to its ground - the absolute, hence different for everyone, as everyone's personal is unique; and the degree to which one sees through the personal varies. Realization of the absolute would only be the same for everyone if we exhaustively transcended the relative, which most do not, as social documentation shows. I do think we will all grow into personal purification as we further develop, however.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 5:02 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West



The problem that follows from an ideal enlightenment model, which is what Daniel and many at the Dharma Overground have been arguing against all along due to personal experience and observation of others’ enlightenment, is we get a developmental model that is hostile to other people's view of reality. It states my enlightenment is bigger than yours, since you don't see that same thing outlined in this model, and there can only be one enlightenment – and you don’t have it - so you and yours are defective. It says I am more enlightened than you. My intuition is that any person who harbor’s a suspicion of superiority and aggressively defends it is in fact not so high in their enlightenment after all, as clearly by definition of the ideal model, they have not met its trans-personal criteria, and are still operating directly out of personal conditioning and need. The many enlightenments position or more accurately, 'an enlightenment CONTINUUM' model accommodates this problem very well, as it states the enlightenment experience is different for everyone because people are different, and it doesn't suppose people transcend their difference, personal characteristics and traits at the first moment of enlightenment (if ever, or while incarnate at least).

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 5:03 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West



The reality is, I would argue, everyone experiences the absolute differently for many complex reasons - see previous post. And yet I agree with you, assuming one's realization is transcendent of personal conditions-influence, there would be just one enlightenment for all. That just doesn't happen very often, if ever in recorded history (which would be difficult to distinguish from hyperbole in any case). People do not become clean slates after or during enlightenment. People don't exhaustively transcend the influence of mind, emotion and body, rather they integrate them; and purify them over time. One example is we can see different personality traits in Alan, Kenneth, and Daniel, and everyone here. Clearly personal conditioning is present, and it is this conditioning that affects or colours one's realization and experience of the absolute or enlightenment.

I hope this helps bring some further clarity to the debate.

In kind regards,

Adam.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 5:22 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
In the moment of arahatship you realize that you finally understand what the Buddha was saying. You know that if he were standing next to you in this very moment you would slap him across the face and laugh.

A year later, you finally understand what your enlightenment was about. You realize that at first you weren't able to see the forest for the trees.

A year after that, you realize that you were not really very enlightened before, but that now you are.

What I'm trying to tell you is that it never stops. Settle down. It's a long ride.

A young bull and an old bull are standing on a hillside, looking down at a bunch of cows grazing in the valley below. Young bull says, "Let's run down there and f--k a couple a' them cows."

Old bull says, "Let's *walk* down there and f--k *all* them cows."

I'm not trying to be patronizing or condescending. My own enlightenment happened just less than five years ago. You and I are in this together. But this I know: the better you see, the bigger it gets. Fossilizing your ideas now just holds you back.

I tell myself the same thing I tell my beginning students: Yesterday's insight is today's hindrance. There are no conclusions to be drawn.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 6:57 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hey Adam West!

Regarding your post number 95: Outstanding!

Your post # 96: Home run!

Your post # 97: Whammo!

Your post # 98: Crrraaaack!

Your post # 99: You hit it outa the park!

Your logic is impeccable and your grasp of the concepts presented here is nearly flawless. Can we add your practice into the discussion? Where do you see yourself on the continuum, and do you have any questions about how to proceed from here?

Looking forward to many discussions with you,

Kenneth

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 8:30 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

Hi Kenneth!

Thanks for the kind words and support! I am a little shy to talk about myself, but I’ll give it a shot :-) In terms of practicing, I’ve been at it for more than half my life. I had my first meditation induced out of body experiences at 14 after receiving some books on meditation from a European friend. I seemed to take to it very easily, being so young and without a complicated mind. I just followed instructions and quickly achieved Samadhi, with incredible kundalini energy and bliss and other phenomena. Naturally, over time my awareness transformed such that I could do nothing else other than continue to explore this amazing new reality. So did my daily meditation practice begin and has remained to this day 16 years later.

Over that time I have explored most of the worlds spiritual and meditation traditions, both eastern and western. I spent a lot of time in Indian yogic practices working with concentration, energy, chakras, kundalini pranayama, while simultaneously working in the western mystery tradition. I connected with various teachers from different traditions who seemed to have ‘gotten it done’. You could say I spend most of the first ten years in active practices with good fruition. The sense of self was steadily transformed and breaking down. Sometimes in spectacular and overwhelming fashion, generating fear responses due to being on the border of apparent annihilation.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 8:31 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

As time progressed I realised I didn’t need to make use of active methods, or do anything as such, and so my practice evolved into witnessing. This witnessing went from formal sitting practice to varying degrees of continuity in daily life. Now mostly, the sense of separate self is seen through, yet I don’t claim enlightenment, just that meditation has undermined identification with the phenomena that gives rise to a me. Naturally, the me remains, it is just that it is nebulous and transparent, and I habitually slip in and out of varying degrees of identification with it. It is kind like my hand, I see it is just there and make use of it as needed, however, I also clearly see it is not me, it is empty. I observe it in action, often getting myself into trouble. :-) It is interesting how social interactions following from conditioning will trigger habitual identification, resulting in wearing the me like a glove. Sometimes we notice we are wearing the glove, other times we forget for a short or longer period of time. We can consider it a functional tool necessary for operating in this world, or particular energetic band of reality.

On a personal level, I did my undergrad studies in phsych. and philosophy and am a full time post grad student in mental health. I work in social services.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 8:32 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

In terms of practice questions, I am very interested in what has worked for others, given my universalist approach. Genuinely, I really don’t know anything, I mostly have a sense of unknowing. I’ve heard most of it all before, yet I see for myself the unknowing, and so I can take any position and argue for and against it within this space of unknowing. The cup really is empty so to speak! As such, I really would love to participate in a thread on how to get it done as you and others see it. No doubt this would bring out important discoveries you and others have made.

Many thanks mate! Yes, I live in Australia. ;-p

In kind regards,

Adam.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/18/09 10:46 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
I just wanted to say that I've been riveted reading this dharma debate over the past couple of days, and it really feels like an honor be able to witness it. To everyone contributing, thank you and please know that putting your truth on the line is greatly appreciated by a seeker trying to make sense of these subtle and subjective topics.

I keep coming back to this thread intending to contribute something but find that my views have already been stated and the conversation has moved on haha. Anyway thanks again and please don't think that just because this thread is 6 pages long, that it is not relevant, or not being appreciated, because I find it extremely relevant and it is highly appreciated emoticon

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/19/09 4:59 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Matt,

I have pretty solid mastery over all of the concentration states I know of, and I have never seen one that arises outside of the presence of something I would call a formation. The only one that we could say has no formations is Nirodha Samapatti, but that temporary attainment cannot really be said to be a concentration state, and any sense of watching is also void during the no-experience.

Even if you were able to hit the formless realms with complete absorption; boundless space has space, boundless consciousness has space, nothingness has nothingness, percep/non-percep has the residuals of all of these oscillating in and out of interpretation. I think if we look closely, they all have many subtle common features that are formations: space, time, varying degrees of inner dialogue, concentration itself, subtle "outer" experiences such as the ticking of a clock, etc.

Thoughts?
Trent

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/19/09 5:37 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Good question Martin. One reason that firm conclusions are problematic is that they are conditioned by the lens you look through. On page 244, Daniel is explicitly looking through the lens of the three characteristics of vipassana investigation. As in physics, if you design the experiment to find particles, you find particles. Waves are never seen. If you want to see waves, you must design the experiment to see waves. It's mind-blowing. It's reality. It's lenses. There is a simplest lens, or a non-lens, if you will. That is primordial awareness, or as I like to call it, the simplest thing. But there is no possibility of analyzing it from any point of view whatsoever, because that would be to pull it apart and it would no longer be the simplest thing.

The experience you describe may be what I call the next-to-simplest thing, aka the no-dog, eternal witness, or "I AM." It's wonderful. Keep doing it. But don't try to perform vipassana on it. Waves and particles. The insistence upon using the vipassana lens to the exclusion of the direct path lens is EXACTLY what leads to the phenomenon of the Arahat who is not Awake, the second of the possibilities I mentioned in response # 17 of this thread. Let's call it Arahat disease. The other side of that coin would be Advaita disease, or insisting upon the non-dual lens to the complete exclusion of vipassana.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/19/09 7:15 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: garyrh

I have been thinking of this differently, so please correct me if I am wrong.
The simplest thing or simplest reality or source has/is both awareness and phenomena and reality is a compounding of this simplest reality or simplest thing. Enlightenment is the knowing of the source of reality or the simplest thing, an examination thru the lense of phenomena or awareness. Using one lense excludes the other. So the lenses "awareness" and "phenomena" through which reality is known includes the knowing of the simplest thing. Thus in the analogy primoridal awareness is not the simplest thing rather it equates to the lens.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/19/09 7:15 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Continuing the thought from post 107 above, here are three important understandings, paraphrased from memory:

Jack Engler said that any experience you've had in the past, together with 65 cents, will get you your can of diet soda.

J. Krishnamurti said that enlightenment is not something one has done but something that one is doing now.

Our own Gozen said that once you have attained arahatship, although there is an infinity left to do, you'll be fine if you never do another thing, because done is what needed to be done.

All true. Taken together, and alongside the reality of lenses, these gems explain why people understand their enlightenments differently. There is no natural law that forces us to be balanced. After 4th Path, just as before, we can choose to focus on just vipassana or just Advaita. And just as before, we manifest as the products of our conditioning. Shortly after my 4th Path enlightenment, I was all vipassana perspective. The thing that shook me out of it was a heavy diet of Ramana, Tolle, Adyashanti, and the people I was spending my time with, most of whom were exploring the non-dual lens. Then the pendulum swung, and I was all non-dual. This lasted for several years. I was shaken out of it by attending the DhO gathering at Daniel's house and by participating in DhO discussions online. Now I'm advocating balance. Who knows what will happen next?

To paraphrase Vince Horn from memory, balance comes not from staying in the middle but by swinging through the middle as you explore the extremes.

I think of it as spiraling ever deeper into integration as you cycle through the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Ranks of Tozan. You don't just sit quietly in the 5th Rank (integration); you get all stinky with enlightenment (3th Rank), you fall from grace and are humbled (4th Rank), you find a place of balance for awhile (5th Rank), then you do it all again, hopefully at a subtler level.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/19/09 7:33 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
We're continuing to refine the language as the discussion progresses. So let's say that primordial awareness and the simplest thing are synonymous. That's the nugget. It can't be further reduced, and by definition excludes nothing. So what we conventionally call the manifest and the unmanifest have not yet diverged. There is no basis for analysis, as there is nothing to compare and nothing to compare it to.

Anything we are going to analyze is downstream from the simplest thing. All talk of lenses, enlightenments, and interpretations, while not really separate from the simplest thing, is "post-split." In other words, all of this talk is occurring, and must occur AFTER the subject-object split. And since the subject-object split is illusory and arises from the very act of taking a position, everything we are going to say about reality is conditioned by the position we are taking as we say it.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/19/09 7:45 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
The subject-object split is NOT illusory, as it obviously happens, both pre- and post-awakening, being seen through in awakening. So, what exactly is seen through? Its non-absolute nature. Therefore, what IS illusory is the post-split duality being seen and felt as the fundamental reality. This distinction is crucial, otherwise taking any position would be equal to taking any other position. However, there are two truths in buddhadharma, not just one. That these two truths can be held as not-two never means either one or the other is abolished. The language of "illusion" may be used as metaphor at best, and always better qualified as referring to the meaning of duality and not its mere appearance. In actual reality, awareness is there with the separation, which is recognized in toto as "coemergence". Thoughts?

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/19/09 9:24 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: garyrh

The simplest thing and source are synonymous. The variation being consider here is intrinsic not personal and it is only at the source there is consensus thus the simplest thing must be at the source. If the "simplest thing" is defined as awareness then the simplest thing cannot be viewed with the phenonma "lens". Phenomena lens has a different nugget that cannot be reduced, a contradiction assuming one reality emoticon. Also equating simplest thing with awareness means the simplest thing is not reality hence Hokai can make his point. Much better to define the simplest thing as the same simplest "thing" (haha) going up stream from phenomena or awareness lens. This means the phenoma lens is not denied knowing the source. Simplest thing is known by both phenomena and awareness lens at source.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/19/09 11:20 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: garyrh

From non-dual awareness subject - object duality is an illusion. The emptiness of phenomena has subject - object reality being seen through. These are two lenses on one reality. Viewing one negates the other, one not more true than the other. To know phenomena awareness is a hindrance, to know awareness phenomena is a hindrance but in both it appears you are able to move.

Comments?

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/19/09 11:33 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Gary,

I may be mis-reading you, but it looks like you're thinking about it way too hard. In simple terms, formations (in regard to the MCTB chapter 'equanimity') are always what occurs. "Seeing" anything is just one set of formations understanding another set of formations-- the two don't have to be at odds, nor do they necessarily hinder one another in any way. The hindrance here, it seems, is trying to see them as separate!

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/19/09 12:04 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Good catch, Hokai. Thanks for jumping in. I retract the illusion comment. As you say, references to illusion should be qualified, or better yet, avoided entirely, as they cause more problems than they solve.

@Hokai: "This distinction is crucial, otherwise taking any position would be equal to taking any other position."

Say more about this. It's right on target for this discussion.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/19/09 12:40 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: garyrh

Thanks Trent.

You did not mis read. In this thread (and other sources) it often seemed one was a hindrance to the other.

From non-dual awareness subject - object duality is an illusion. The emptiness of phenomena has subject - object reality being seen through. These are two lenses on one reality whereby one is not more real than the other. To know them as the same is to move in both.

Wonder if I can use this for the glossary without the word illusion, come on Hokai emoticon.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/19/09 1:15 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
With regard to the status of the split, duality arises as basis for both confusion and insight. If duality in itself was an illusion, there would be no basis for insight, and there would be no view that constitutes the clear mirror revealing accurately the underlying condition either. If the split was "illusory" instead of dependently arisen, there would be no basis for compassion, or for wholesome action, or for cultivation, or for integration. The languages used - illusion > seemingly real > apparent reality etc. - are stage specific.

Essentially, the distinction made as basis for this thread boils down to 1st person and 3rd person inquiry. The 1st person inquiry is recognizing clarity and cognizance, while in this case the 3rd person approach is inquiry into the three characteristics. There's development in both perspectives (mind-perspective/1st person awareness, or event-perspective/3rd person awareness) and yet there's the always already dimension to be found in both cases, which doesn't entail an objectively, independently existing reality. Hence, we speak of suchness. In short, awareness is both objective and subjective simultaneously, while also allowing for what happens in-between, namely the 2nd person approach as evident in devotion-based realization (i.e. guru and deity yoga).

The distinction between gradual development and direct recognition is not so much a matter of method (mahamudra vs vipassana) but instead a matter of interpretation. Direct recognition also takes place in stages, not becoming a permanent condition at once. In short, both methods can be interpreted and mapped in both ways, because paradoxically both reveal something quite real.

Is this useful?

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/19/09 3:31 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Dan_K

I agree completely, and I believe that the word illusion, when qualified appropriately, is an excellent word to describe the split. The qualification I would use would be “illusion” in the sense of an optical illusion or stage illusion, in which “smoke and mirrors” (and purposefully limited perception) create a seeming glitch in causality (a rabbit out of a hat) or a superimposed structure (such as a 3D stereogram). While the appearance of 3 spatial dimensions in a 2D stereogram, or the rabbit emerging from the hat, are very real, they are a “trick” upon fundamental reality (i.e. not absolute). Investigation will reveal the components of the illusion, but it will still happen as before. In a similar way the acting assignment of subject and object is superimposed upon seamless experience via limited perception (blinking out as described in the thread “Formations”) and a seeming glitch in causality (the implication that one sensation can perceive another). With investigation, those movements will no longer be believed as absolute, yet will still occur. Useful?

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/19/09 7:27 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

That is incorrect; Kenneth is arguing for two enlightenments.

You've made the common postmodern boo boo of assuming extreme constructivism. We need to be a little more sophistication in our treatment of relative experience. There is both surface and deep relative features. Kenneth is arguing for two enlightenments distinguished by their deep features; I am arguing for one enlightenment based on deep features. Of course, whether two enlightenments or one, no one's surface feature experience of any enlightenment will necessarily tally with another's. This does not mean we deny the reality of a specific and recognisable enlightenment (or any experience for that matter) because we all have a special and unique viewpoint.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/19/09 7:34 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

I think this is very curious. Consider the following:

I never proposed a false dichotomy; just that we try to arrive at the best conclusions we can, subject to revision, as scientists do.

We have already arrived at a consensus on many areas of enlightenment that are never questioned because they hold up to reality testing, such as certain techniques lead to certain experiences. We even have a common language in which to describe these experiences, and we have meaningful conversations about them (such as this thread! Crikey, the DhO wouldn't be here in the first place if this wasn't possible.)

(cont.)

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/19/09 7:54 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

I mention the absolute, that conclusions are possible, that some ideas are more accurate and helpful than others, and I'm accused of being modern (by Adam West) and of suffering from the 'common Western weakness' of reductionism, scientific thinking (my God!) and Cartesian dualism.

Yet I speak of the relativity of all experience, and promote a pluralistic practice based on a contextual insight.

Your reactions (Kenneth and Adam) are predicable of the postmodernist whose values have been threatened (or the Baby Boomers that Ken Wilber calls the 'green meme' generation.)

Just because I mention the absolute, it doesn't mean I refute relativity; just because I propose that not everyone's opinions are of equal value, or that not every idea is as accurate as each other, it doesn't mean I fail to acknowledge contextualism or pluralism; just because I confidently assert something absolute and singular, it doesn't mean I don't understand constructivism (I'm a magician, after all).

Instead of relegating my comments to the failed perspectives of the past (talk about straw men) perhaps you might consider the foibles of the probably unquestioned postmodern values you ascribe to (now there's a process of development that has no end!). I hope my posts will make more sense as a result.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/19/09 8:00 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman


Forgive me, but didn't you write:

'enlightenment is realization of non-duality – seeing through the sense of separate self. That is its basic consensus criteria. It is a shift in experiential point of view. Mostly everything else remains the same including the above said idiosyncratic variables of mind, body, culture and action. '

My experience tells me otherwise; many things have changed for me.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/19/09 8:07 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

I emphatically agree that enlightenment does not confer understanding of enlightenment. I'm puzzled as to how my comments led you to this conclusion (I blame the green meme). However, I do believe it is possible to arrive at varying degrees of understanding in terms of accuracy and helpfulness, and I believe some people are better at understanding things than others, and that dialogue (such as the DhO) is very helpful in arriving at a good understanding of enlightenment. I don't think this is beyond us, and I don't see why anyone would believe we are categorically limited in our understanding of anything (and let me make this clear: the wonderful contributions of postmodernism are included in this view).

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/19/09 8:22 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

Kenneth: But we aren't going to come to conclusions or consensus. That would be asking too much of language. Although it may be frustrating and distasteful to say that there is no black and white, that is the case.

Too much of language?! Language seems to do just fine in every other field of investigation or practice.

Ok, postmoderners, dig this:

6 people in a room with a table. On the table is an apple.

Are you really going to argue that there are 6 apples and not 1, because only relative surface features exist? Or more accurately, an infinite number? Is it possible that each person could take a bite of the apple, and agree on texture, flavour, colour, aroma? And even if they disagreed, would it still be possible to instruct a seventh person in how to locate and eat the 'same' apple?

I think that Kenneth is mistaking a grape next to the apple for another apple.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/19/09 8:24 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

And yet here you are drawing a conclusion. Your position is inherently contradictory!

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/19/09 9:30 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
trent,

does it always seem to you like its one set of formations watching another? sometimes i get the sense that its the same formation that 'sees' itself .. but the error comes in when it sees a part of itself that looks like the previous one (due to causality) and considers it as a separate one. how does this line up for you?

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/20/09 12:21 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

Indeed, as I said, no one experiences these deep features in a vacuum, hence the uniqueness of individual experience and enlightenment. As is supported by comparative religious studies and anthropology. See cited examples in previous post. Nothing unsophisticated about it, quite the contrary, I would suggest.

In kind regards,

Adam.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/20/09 12:33 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

@ Alan: Your reactions (Kenneth and Adam) are predicable of the postmodernist whose values have been threatened (or the Baby Boomers that Ken Wilber calls the 'green meme' generation.)

It is difficult to achieve clarification, Alan, in our discourse if you respond with ad hominem attacks against the person making the argument, rather than substantively address the contents of the argument itself.

I really am not arguing from threatened values, just logic, academic research and 16 years of person experience in meditation. Truthfully, I'm not that fussed either way. Just chatting. :-P

In kind regards,

Adam.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/20/09 12:54 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

@ Alan: My experience tells me otherwise; many things have changed for me.

I don't challenge that. I'm sure many things have changed for you, including the way you see the nature of yourself and reality. We may say a perceptual anomaly has spontaneously self-corrected. And as the Buddhists like to say, you have now realised the "right view", with all that that entails. View meaning in this sense, something quite different from the common use of the term 'shift in point of view', which seemed to be what you were implying. I apologize if I misread your meaning. Did your enlightenment correspond to a Buddhist realization of view? Please elaborate? I recall you talking about a sense of wholeness or completeness (which I perceive also - a fullness that is empty) which seems on the face of it, more Theistic, and not so much of Buddhist view.

In kind regards,

Adam.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/20/09 1:53 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

@ Alan: Are you really going to argue that there are 6 apples and not 1, because only relative surface features exist? Or more accurately, an infinite number? Is it possible that each person could take a bite of the apple, and agree on texture, flavour, colour, aroma? And even if they disagreed, would it still be possible to instruct a seventh person in how to locate and eat the 'same' apple?

Alan, as I have alluded to elsewhere , and this seems to be the point of misunderstanding and the crux of the impasse, it is not about six different objective realities or six different Absolutes, and thus six different enlightenments, it’s about one objective reality, and six different PEOPLE experiencing the one reality in six different ways, due to the uniqueness that is the human matrix. It is about what individuals bring to the table that defines and colours their experience and interpretation of reality, not the objective reality itself. Cognitive processing of first order experience does not take place in a vacuum, it includes personal beliefs, attitudes, social constructions, conscious and unconscious expectations – surface and deep intrapsychic structures are the prism through which each of us perceive and interpret reality. The ethnographic study of religious and trans-cultural experience is overwhelmingly in support of this thesis – that all see and experience the world uniquely, no cultural stereotypes or generalizations apply (except as useful conceptual heuristics that posit very limited data - commonly experienced surface features) - it is almost trivial to bring it up in any contemporary sophisticated discussion. Might I suggest you do some reading in the anthropology of religion and mystical experience?


RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/20/09 1:55 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

So the point to get is this, given six different lived experiences, and differing degrees of perceptual clarity of what-is, we get six different experiences of the one reality. It then follows, we get six different experiences of enlightenment. I hope I am being clear and this resolves the confusion regarding my position.

In kind regards,

Adam.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/20/09 2:13 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Tarin,

This is a really tricky but good thought. I will definitely give it more thought.

My initial response is that it's both at the same time. I think of formations as sort of the "superior relative" vantage point. With that in mind, perhaps what one feels is based on the wave/particle debate going on in this thread-- seeing the particle would mean feeling formations as separate groups of things, whereas the wave would suggest a feeling of unity. In other words, what you feel about that is based on your perspective at the time. Even when you feel that it's "the same formation that 'sees itself,'" I think that feeling itself could be called a formation.

Trent

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/20/09 4:07 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: msj123

Trent,

This goes to the crux of our diagreement. The witness is NOT the feeling "I AM". If it were, then it would not be the witness. This threw me off for years.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/20/09 4:44 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
It is the IAMness itself, open and spacious.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/20/09 4:52 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
matt,

excuse me for butting in but i just have a question: would you say that what you're talking about is better described as 'witnessing with no identification' ('witnessing without a witnesser') or 'witnessing with an i as consciousness'? (or neither?)

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/20/09 6:48 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: msj123

Tarin,
Talking to people about the watcher is like talking to a fish about water. It seems to me now that we are immersed in it, all the time, and simply take it for granted. Even calling it a watcher seems wrong, the name “I” or “I am” is more like it.

I used to think of the watcher and associate it with a certain feeling sensation and also an increase in sensory clarity. This was incorrect on my part. The “I am” is always there, whether there is a certain feeling sensation or a decrease in sensory clarity. “I am” does not depend on the visual field, because it also experiences sound and touch sensations. This is what cleared it for me. Most of the time, I associate the watcher with the visual field. But meditating the other night, and self-enquiring, I heard a sound and there “I am” was.

Recently, when I try vipassana, I am thrown back on the “I am”. This leads me to a strange 1P – 3P oscillation. But the I am is always there, otherwise how I would see the object? It becomes simply that I’m not aware of I am (I know, it sounds crazy typing it out), then I am. So I would say the watcher is both with and without identification. It is the mind behind the mind.

Matt

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/20/09 8:07 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
My response to a question from a friend about whether to combine vipassana and the "I AM:"

I like to use the source/river analogy. The Source is where things have not yet diverged into subject and object. One definition of enlightenment would be unfettered access to the Source. Both the "I AM" perspective and the vipassana perspective are downstream from the Source. That's fine, as most people will do a lot of downstream practice before they realize that the Source is always available. Your question is which practice to do, or if they should be combined.

"I AM" is so close to the Source that it does not admit the kind of investigation that is vipassana. Vipassana is slightly further downstream from "I AM." "I AM," because it is so far upstream, is upstream from suffering. What's not to like? To introduce vipassana to the "I AM" is to pull yourself further downstream than you need to be, into a perspective that admits suffering. Since the "I AM" does everything vipassana does (i.e. it efficiently develops the psychic anatomy toward arahatship), and has the added advantage of being upstream from suffering, there is no percentage in doing vipassana if you are able to become absorbed in the "I AM." It would be like stepping over dollars to pick up quarters.

So, anytime you are able to become absorbed in the "I AM," AKA the no-dog, just do that. If that isn't happening for whatever reason, downshift to vipassana. Just realize that although investigating the no-dog with vipassana or doing vipassana from the point of view of the no-dog are perfectly good and useful practices, they are in fact vipassana; once you introduce that level of investigation you have pulled yourself downstream from the pure no-dog for no good reason.

Kenneth

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/20/09 1:14 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

Hey Kenneth!

@ Kenneth: So, anytime you are able to become absorbed in the "I AM," AKA the no-dog, just do that. If that isn't happening for whatever reason, downshift to vipassana. Just realize that although investigating the no-dog with vipassana or doing vipassana from the point of view of the no-dog are perfectly good and useful practices, they are in fact vipassana; once you introduce that level of investigation you have pulled yourself downstream from the pure no-dog for no good reason.

Hehe.. Well, that is quite some practice advice - the promotion of non-dual insight practice, and the implication of its up-stream nature - considering this forum is dominated by Theravada insight practitioners. ;-) I completely agree, which is why I propose non-dual just sitting as the natural evolution of all active practices - which dawns as fruition arises (up-stream perception) - be they concentration (practices from all traditions) or Theravada insight methods. I really do think it is a natural, but not necessary evolution of practice. :-)

If we look at the worlds traditions, we will find cessation-contemplation practice in all of them. My thesis suggests over time, volitional methods of cessation-contemplation organically collapse into pure non-volitional contemplation - or pure awareness as-it-is. This collapse then sets the conditions for further organic development, such that the spontaneous - causeless - realization of source occurs to differing degrees, and of minimal baseline. Such is the ebb and flow of the continuum of consciousness, with varying degrees of stabilization and depth of penetrative insight and ongoing personal conditioning, as described from the third-person relative. Wallah, the process of enlightenment described, really not that mysterious after all. :-)

In kind regards,

Adam.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/20/09 1:20 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Matt,

We may just have to agree to disagree, but lets keep tryin.

I understand more clearly now what you are alluding to by your definition of the watcher or "I am." The thing is, that is also a formation no matter how you look at it. If you are experiencing anything, you are experiencing formations. Try to describe anything you see, hear or feel without using writing or language (symbols). It cannot be done. If we reflect for a moment, everything that ever happens is a symbol that defers to another. These symbols, our way of interpreting reality, will not fade unless you have no experience, in which case you are in NS, deep sedation/sleep, death, etc.

Thus, if you are experiencing ANYTHING, you are experiencing formations. There is the "absolute," the consciousness, the subject, buddha nature and so forth, but there is also the "relative," the language/symbols, cause and effect. They are inseparable, that is the point behind all this realization crap. Trying to split the two is THE problem, whether we're trying to split the content away from awareness or vice versa, it's the same fundamental problem and leads to the same fundamental suffering.

I seriously would argue that seeing everything as an object is more profitable to practice than seeing everything as subject, and that is probably why I place so much emphasis on this discussion. Then again, the usefulness of either is likely person specific & stage specific.

Thoughts?

Trent

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/20/09 1:31 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Kenneth & Adam,

I disagree strongly with both of you; surprise!

If the point of practice is "getting it done," then giving a blanket practice is not practical at all for most situations. What is best is completely contextual. I would say that Advaita approaches are best for landing stream entry, but that's only because that is how I did it, and it was simple and direct. The rest of the thing, however, is a completely different story.

The reason for any shift is a fundamental understanding of something that was otherwise misunderstood. It does not matter how you do that, as long as the person experiences the the uncovering of something that they previously misunderstood. That said, not every misunderstanding is solved through one method.

Think about a normal human relationship; would you say that "always talking calm and lovingly" is the best way to solve every problem? Hell no. Sometimes you've got to be stern. Sometimes you need to raise your voice and put your foot down. Sometimes you just need to get pissed off and let it all out. I would argue that the same can be said for making progress. You need to figure out a problem, and you also have to figure out how to figure out the problem. Because the problems all differ in nature and context, you need to trial and error the best tool each time you encounter a new problem. The whole thing has a feedback mechanism built right into it-- you can usually tell if something is working. With that said, we should just test each approach for each problem and see what is working, then hit that method hard until the whole thing shifts, then start over again.

How "close to the source" the practice may hit in the grand scheme of things means practically nothing to a practitioner trying to get their mind to back-flip in a way that it never has before. An organic process takes an organic approach.

Thoughts?
Trent

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/20/09 4:30 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Now we're pitting single approach vs. random approach? What happened to maps and stage-appropriate practice?

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/20/09 4:49 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hi Trent,

I don't advocate a blanket practice. Never have, even during my deepest Advaita phase. Pre-A&P, I usually tell people to do vipassana with mental noting. After that, I suggest a kind of 3-speed transmission.

3rd gear: If you can just let it be, understanding in your heart and in your bones that THIS IS IT, then let it be.

If that isn't happening, downshift to:

2nd gear: Ask "Who?" until the awareness turns back on itself. Cultivate the "I AM," becoming absorbed in the perspective of awareness knowing itself.

If that isn't happening, downshift to:

1st gear: Balance vipassana and samatha. Use mental noting until the noticing is automatic, then just concentrate and notice. The genius of vipassana is that there is never a time when it can't be done. So it's the ultimate safety net and 1st gear practice. It also has the feature of being effective all the way to arahatship; it's a one-stop shop. So, it's by no means a low-grade or substandard practice. Quite the opposite, it's a very sophisticated technology of enlightenment. Used correctly, together with the other practices listed in this recipe, it's a rocket ship to the moon.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/20/09 6:23 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Interesting. I landed stream-entry without intentionally practicing any advaita techniques. Though, the advaita style practice did aid in my landing 2nd Path. I don't think I've met anyone on this forum who progresses through paths exactly like anyone else. The more I hear about the experiences of others, the more open minded I become about other practices. Good stuff.

Jackson

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/20/09 6:29 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Kenneth,

"3-speed transmission" is a great analogy. I haven't taken this vehicle to the end of the road (yet), but I fully endorse this. Thank you for articulating this process so clearly, as usual.

Practice well,
Jackson

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/20/09 6:35 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

Yep, what Ken said. I second that :-P It just depends where you are in your practice, and thus it's personal and stage specific, and not universal.

I would additionally suggest that any of those three gears may get us there (though in different degrees of efficiency according to personal factors, and not necessarily the method itself); and at any time we may spontaneously notice that-which-is regardless of practice or none at all. Certainly, there is vast literature pertaining to the practice or no-practice debate - like people waking up in there sleep permanently enlightened who had never practiced, nor did they after (see wanderlings modern enlightenment experiences) - and it is clear we can never cause enlightenment; at best we can create degrees of optimal conditions for merely noticing what is already there. That is what practices do. They act on the matrix that is 'human being', actively or passively working with it, heightening the probability of affecting its composite conditions which may result in noticing our true nature as it is here and now, and always was, yes, even before we noticed it (enlightenment).

In kind regards,

Adam.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/20/09 7:20 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hi Kenneth,

I don't think that is necessarily the case. Before the Big E event I did talk a lot about what you are calling Awake. But after, not much at all. I don't like to try to put the ineffable into words. It offends me deeply. I don't even like to think about it in the privacy of my own mind. The words just fall so short as to seem lies and I don't want to lie about the the the....

Phrases like, "Awareness Aware of Itself" can make me literally writhe in discomfort.

Anyway, my point is that an unwillingness to talk about "The Ultimate Nondual Reality" and one's realization of it is not always proof that one is not Aware and does not value that state or stage.

Ed

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 12:57 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: garyrh

I came across this by Dr Greg Goode and thought it expressed well some of the discussions in this thread. That is the inherent difficulty in the communication of experiences.

"In speaking of experience itself, we can use physical terms, but we'll never have the classic relationship of accuracy. The notion of accuracy is used in situations like comparing a sketch of your best friend to your best friend. You look back and forth between the representation and the person; you make a comparison. But in speaking about experience or the world, you have no side-by-side relationship like this. You can't go back and forth between globality and a representation of globality - because they are not independent or separable like your friend and the sketch."

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 1:37 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: msj123

Trent,

Let's try to see one another a different way.

If the watcher is a formation, it should have form. For me, all form is rooted in one of five senses--- visual, audio, feeling, touch, taste, smell. What form is the watcher? What is its location?

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 1:42 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: msj123

I think it's helpful. But then, I think there are certain types of people (Buddhist Geeks, maybe?) who find it helpful, and certain types who don't (Buddhist Artists?).

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 1:59 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Kenneth -- I like the 3-speed approach also, although I think that a great deal more work could be done on a comprehensive approach to empowering practitioners with a method of approach for each nitty gritty little sub-stage/misunderstanding/etc they will run into. I think this may be what Shinzen is working on, but I have no idea.

Adam -- The quoted statement above is among the most overused, damaging themes present in these communities. I don't care how many teachers say things about "enlightenment being an accident." It's cheeky humor at best, and unfortunately disempowering at worst.

The sense of a doer is not the problem if it is recognized as what it is. I oft think this type of line is intended to pat people on the back who can't make progress, when what they really need is a swift kick in the behind and some better practice. I DID my enlightenment through and through as did most of us, and in retrospect I can giggle about it "all being God & 'accidental'," but I would never boil it all down to a unqualified "whoops."

It took most of us a relentless pursuit of an investigation into the three characteristics while also sitting directly with "what is already here," and a dozen other active, motivated, intentional actions. From one point of view, it all happened as God accidentally figuring itself out. From another, we busted our asses and got enlightened by our hard work. Both are right, but only one actively empowers us.

To be fair, that may not be what you are implying here, but this is what I thought personally for a long time when I saw statements like this, so I know that somewhere out there, others are being confused by it as well.

Trent

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 2:10 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Matt,

It's a formation composed of parts of all of the senses, including thought (hence phrases like "untangling the web of perception.") Trying to pin down a location is counterproductive because it would imply a center which does not fundamentally exist.

Close your eyes for a minute and attune your attention to impernanence via vipassana. Look through each of the sense doors, including thought, and ask yourself: do any of these sensations not have some visual or auditory component to them?

Trent

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 3:04 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: ByPasser

If we ask “Who am I”, does the question already condition the experience from beginning? If we look for a 'who' and enters into the realm of pure, it naturally becomes a pure subject. Is the subject that important in the realm of pure? Similarly when we say 'here and now', has the mind already pre-assumed the existence of space and time?

If for a moment we are able to free ourselves from of all sort of definitions and labellings, feel the bare sensations without words, feel 'aliveness', feel 'existence' then search with our entire being its 'location'. Have the same sort of 'awakeness' for 'location' as we have for “I AM”. Is impermanence a movement from here to there?

If we penetrate deeply, it will reveal that there is nothing here, nothing now, nothing self, yet, there is vivid appearance. There is only always vivid appearance which is the very living presence that dependently originates whenever condition is. And what that dependently originates does not arise, does not cease, does not come, does not go.

We may then have an intuitive glimpse that direct path and vipassana are intimately related. :-)

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 3:13 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hi Ed,

I acknowledge and honor your point of view. Still, the very fact that you are out of the closet on DhO shows that you recognize the value of sharing your riches rather than counting alone in your room. So, we are obviously going to talk about it...the question is how? We could use cryptic language and veiled metaphor. Certainly there is a lot of that going on elsewhere. But there is also a place for spelling it out as clearly and cleanly as you can. Talking about enlightenment without attempting to describe or at least point to the experiences involved would be like talking about sex without mentioning that it often results in intercourse. And saying that there is something called intercourse but discouraging people from sharing their experiences on the grounds that it makes some people uncomfortable would be just too limiting, IMHO.

Most importantly, welcome aboard! It's great to have you here.

Kenneth

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 3:42 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

Hi Trent,

There is indeed a long tradition of speaking of the causeless nature of enlightenment. It presupposes a non-dual model of realization. Such a one so realized often feels that from the perspective of their enlightenment, they personally have no causal agency whatsoever, and that they never did (all is spontaneously arising contingent phenomena – the Tao just IS), it just appeared that way to them from their former dualistic, unenlightened perspective. Indeed, upon full realization of Being, it is often spoken how obvious this IS; and that there can be no other. What that means is, this view presents the impossibility of there being anything other than THIS; thus, there never was an other than this, hence this was never caused (it is Self-existent, acausal and atemporal) - literally, one experiences for themselves that nothing has changed, therefore, the negation of the possibility of THIS being caused. Do you see the position? Try to read carefully without preconceptions, if not. (Note the difference between the proposition stated and my claiming it is actually true) This is well documented and not cheeky humour or metaphor. It is a description of the experience itself. The truth of the position may of course be debated, but it is a legitimate traditional one none the less. It is important to understand the statement can only be understood in the previous said context of speaking from the absolute or source, as Kenneth and others have named it; and cannot be similarly represented from a relative Theravada model of causation and necessary development.


RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 3:43 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West


Further, I didn't say enlightenment was an accident, I said during practice we may set up (or cause if you prefer) relative conditions that may or may not allow us to spontaneously notice the nature of what is already present. In technical philosophy, accident means the unintended correlation of two variables (each of which have their own set of causes), while spontaneous means a causeless event (like the decay of an atom), two very different meanings. Indeed, the world is full of people who fail to cause their enlightenment. Most just give up. Thus, it is far from clear in the statistical, empirical sense that practice causes enlightenment; hence, I would suggest it may be problematic to take it for granted. Naturally, we may propose a number of known hypotheses for this, surrounding practice issues, as is frequently done here on DhOG. Additionally, conditions may spontaneously find themselves such that realization occurs (as has been documented time again, where people have just woken up from sleep and found themselves to be enlightened, or stepped onto a bus etc); or as in the Sufi tradition, they model non-duality in a theistic sense, thus, it is Grace that results in enlightenment (rather than spontaneously noticing that-which-is), with practice only getting us so far (setting up conditions). Or, indeed, conditions may be manipulated via practice.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 3:44 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West



Of course, we can just as easily argue causation from the first-person perspective insofar as our relative manipulation of conditions, but clearly we cannot manipulate the unconditioned (which of course, I am not suggesting you are in any way arguing for). Thus, in one sense, we do cause enlightenment by working with the conditioned, and in another, awareness is and was always present - it is uncaused, just notice it here and now. It is the very same awareness that sees the typing and thinking. That is it, there is no other awareness :-) You either identify with phenomena, or you don’t; awareness is present as your essential nature regardless, and can in no way be caused or affected by phenomena (you).

In kind regards,

Adam.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 3:59 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hi Kenneth,

Yes, of course, there is a great deal that can be profitably talked about and enlightenment can be pointed out. Still, enlightenment itself, well, attempts to say what it is all sound like cryptic veiled metaphor to me. Dust and ashes in my mouth.
Who knows, maybe I will get over it. :-)

Ed

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 4:01 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

@ ByPasser: We may then have an intuitive glimpse that direct path and vipassana are intimately related. :-)

Here-here! Your whole post cuts to the core like the diamond of truth. Remarkable and amazing! Thank you!! :-) When you see it, that's it.

In kind regards,

Adam.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 4:39 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

Hello Adam,

So we agree!

Best,

Alan.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 4:46 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

Ok guys, for everyone's benefit, including mine, I'm going to provide as concise an account of my argument as I can. Apologies for talking about you in the 3rd person Kenneth; I guess it helped with my objectivity when writing what follows. I hope you can give it due consideration, and that someone, somewhere, might find it useful. I'll start with the question:

Is there more than one type of enlightenment?

It can be argued that experience of enlightenment is relative and subjective, and so it is possible that many enlightenments exist. Some might even argue that there is an infinite number of enlightenments that exist, because each person has there own special and unique viewpoint, and so each person has there own unique experience of enlightenment. This is true to an extent, but we must be careful not to misunderstand postmodernism by asserting that only relative and subjective surface features exist; deep features also exist that are common to experiences of the same phenomenon.

Enlightenment has a number of recognisable deep features, such as a progressive and cyclical nature, and a variety of mystical events that re-occur as a part of that process, until a singular event occurs that is more often than not described as knowledge of the 'non-dual'.

The non-dual itself cannot be relative by the very fact it is non-dual. This is why it is also known as the Absolute. The fact the absolute is undifferentiated means there is only one absolute, not two or many.

(cont.)

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 4:46 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

We can conclude that enlightenment is experienced in a unique (surface features) but also recognisable (deep features) fashion. We can therefore talk about enlightenment in a meaningful and practical way, compare notes, develop an understanding and reach agreements (and disagreements). This body of knowledge is always subject to revision as a means of ensuring our understanding of enlightenment is as accurate and as helpful as it can be.

It does not follow that there are an infinite number of enlightenments based on extreme or misunderstood postmodernism; or that there is more than one Absolute or non-dual, based on a lack of commonsense.

If the above is true, Kenneth's assertion that there are two ultimate (his words) mystical events ('Awakening' and 'physio-energetic') is based on a misunderstanding of what 'non-dual' – and so the Absolute, and so ultimate - means.

(cont.)

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 4:47 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

Good questions to ask might be:

Is 'awakening' and arahatship the same thing?

I think both myself and Kenneth agree this is not the case based on our experience.

So what is the difference?

'Awakening' is the product of a specific sub-set of practices that lead to arahatship. There are many insight practices that lead to arahatship without ever producing 'awakening'. 'Awakening' comes and goes; arahatship can neither come nor go (this is its very realisation; please don't think I'm denying the progressive nature of the experience). Arahatship and the theravada model of progressive stages share many deep features with the enlightenments/realisations/awakenings/liberations/anamnesias and progressive models of many other traditions, such as Sufism, Philosophy, Magick, Zen, Vedanta, Saivism, etc. 'Awakening' does not.



The traditions that speak of 'instant enlightenment' all sound like they are describing arahatship (and its experience is very aptly described by some of them) and it's even possible to recognise the process outlined by the above traditions in the biographies of the advaitists leading up to their awakening, which they are nevertheless unconscious of. It may very well be possible that the awakening being talked about by advaitists is being confused with a relative although profound mystical state, probably by many people, including some advaitists.

(cont.)

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 4:48 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

Last but not least, my experience of arahtship went above and beyond my experience of 'awakening' at the time of my enlightenment. It literally transcended (but included) it. Also, my enlightenment occurred as predicted by the arahatship model, and it happened in a classic advaita style, in the presence of an enlightened advaitist, leading me to believe that the advaitist's awakening was none other than arahatship. I then found I understood the following satsanga with the guru as he aptly described my new attainment through talking about his enlightenment.

Considering all of the above, I see no reason to believe that Kenneth's 'awakening' is ultimate in any sense, or even necessary, although I don't doubt its usefulness or the positive affects it may bring to the practitioner. I would not call it 'awakening', as I think this is misleading, inaccurate and unhelpful.

Phew! Thanks for bearing with me. Anyone like to comment on the above points?

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 4:52 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

We do indeed my friend!!! ;-P

So, tell me, what is your day to day experience like of late? Do you still do ritual work in you magical practice? Your in India right? How are you enjoying roaming amongst the siddhas? Visiting temples and speaking with home grown mystics and such?

What kind of meditation practices do you mostly work with these days?

Do tell!!

In kind regards,

Adam.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 7:02 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Alan, you have glossed over the subtlety of my argument and created a straw man.

In response #52, I wrote: "Well, 'ultimate' means 'final' or 'last.' Arahatship is the ultimate physio-energetic attainment. It is the last stop on a particular developmental continuum.

"Awakening is also ultimate. It is the final understanding in the sense that it is that which cannot be further reduced. It is not, however, developmental. It's just what it is, any time you should happen to notice it. "

I made a point that depended upon clearly disambiguating two different uses of "ultimate." By ignoring this distinction, you are indulging in equivocation.

"Equivocation is classified as both a formal and informal fallacy. It is the misleading use of a term with more than one meaning or sense (by glossing over which meaning is intended at a particular time)." -Wikipedia

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 9:54 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hi Alan

This particular aspect of the conversation is a riddle I have been puzzling over for some months. Did you obtain partial knowledge of the non-dual Absolute prior to enlightenment, in particular, at 1st 2nd or 3rd path? Or was it glimpsed for the first time only at 4th path, final enlightenment?

I have had many veiled glimpses of the non-dual Absolute, and one experience (as well as being able to re-experience it for a period of a few days after the first experience) of the non-dual Absolute which changed everything for me. That latter glimpse was the result of several days spent becoming aware of mind representations of every aspect of experience, until those mind representations completely finally fell away revealing the Absolute.

Any ideas where that fits into your experience of the path to enlightenment?

Or, casting the net wider, if this makes sense to anyone else care to shed some light on this for me?

Thanks
Craig

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 1:17 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Adam,

I understand the position you're advocating. I disagree with the interpretation.

For one, tradition is meaningless as a logical support for giving confusing teachings to people who can't tell the difference. Yes, from one perspective "the Tao just IS," but how many times has this or any bastardization of this phrase got someone realized? Similarly, whether or not the position is "well documented" or not means absolutely nothing as to the validity of the position in argument. People use to think that the earth was flat, and that was certainly well documented. To label enlightenment as spontaneous or accidental or anything similar is only one side of the story, and it is no more valid than the side that empowers people to take responsibility for themselves and their enlightenment.

The validity of causation remains untouched by any after-the-fact recognition that "all just IS." Getting to that point was conditioned; it was subject to cause and effect. This also denies your definition of spontaneity, as there is no causeless event in this reality in this very moment.

Lastly, awareness itself is also caused. You were born, right? Bingo. Just as you and awareness were born, so shall impermanence and causality take them away through various means. In this, I can put a gun to my head and end awareness quite nicely, so the "small me" can certainly put an end to my phenomenological knowing of the "big me" and the "unconditioned." (I'm not an Idealist, in case you wonder. . .)

Perhaps the single biggest fallacy made on this forum is speaking about the dharma in retrospective contemplation, rather than consulting our moment to moment knowledge. Paying attention to impermanence and awareness in this very moment is the very thing that got us enlightened in the first place, why in the world is this wisdom so easily abandoned?

Trent

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 1:36 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: ByPasser

Thanks Adam. Your posts are very insightful too. :-)

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 1:40 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: ByPasser

Indeed and very true. Mind moment is itself non-dual and non-local. Mind moment does not arise or cease anywhere in particular.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 1:43 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
To follow up on some things not covered in my last post:

Words like "timeliness" "undying," etc. are not nearly articulated enough to be used in these contexts. Timelessness is always the case and you don't need enlightenment to understand that. Hell, local time dilation begins to occur after having concentration only slightly better than access concentration. Saying that "the absolute" is undying is weird, because from another perspective, we can't even say that the dharmakaya exists.

The decay of an atomic particle is very much subject to causality. I don't even think it's necessary to get into (currently) unsolvable loopholes in quantum entanglement. It was born in the past, thus it can decay.

Lastly, all waves, such as awareness, also exhibit particle behavior. This is basically scientific fact, proven by double-slit studies on light waves. The term for it is "wave-particle duality," as opposed to "wave-particle complementarity." Thus, even your precious awareness, "light itself" if you want, always exhibits a side of impermanence.

Trent

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 1:50 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
@Yabaxoule:"Lastly, awareness itself is also caused. You were born, right? Bingo. Just as you and awareness were born, so shall impermanence and causality take them away through various means. In this, I can put a gun to my head and end awareness quite nicely, so the "small me" can certainly put an end to my phenomenological knowing of the "big me" and the "unconditioned." (I'm not an Idealist, in case you wonder. . .)"

How do you know awareness would end? Idle speculation. No living person knows. The definition of death that nearly everyone agrees on is that which nobody comes back from. Therefore nobody has ever come back from death, and we have exactly no idea what it's like.

How do you know you were born? If you don't rely upon thoughts as evidence, you are going to need a much simpler view of reality.

@Yabaxoule: "Perhaps the single biggest fallacy made on this forum is speaking about the dharma in retrospective contemplation, rather than consulting our moment to moment knowledge."

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! But your are ignoring your own wisdom. In this moment, is there awareness? If you say "no," I will ask you how you are aware of that. :-)

In this moment, does the awareness change? Or do you have to string together a bunch of remembered moments, which are, after all, hypothetical and exist only as thoughts, in order to come up with change? If you really look at this moment, without recourse to the imagined past, you will find only the non-dual. Stop letting your thoughts push you around and just look at this moment!

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 2:14 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

Hi Trent!

See my post on Shikantaza, that you may understand my use of the term awareness - indeed it is unborn and uncaused as I elaborated in posts#154, 155, 156. You will not be able to understand the position or argue against it unless you get that essential point, which is what I pointed out in the qualification regarding context of metaphysical assumptions. None of the points you raise speak to that foundational premise.

In kind regards,

Adam.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 2:23 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Kenneth,

Perhaps death is speculation, but the point I was making still remains. I have been unaware of phenomenon while in sleep and I have accessed Nirodha Sampatti and fruition. As far as moment-to-moment phenomenal knowledge, it ceases. In this, I am not at all ignoring my own moment to moment wisdom, I'm acknowledging it. There is no resting place and there never has been. This is precisely my point. There are moments where nothing is known, and thus, awareness ceases. Causal events lead to that, and prove the impermanent side of awareness.

How do I know I was born? I can ask my parents, for one. I'm not arguing against the "untouchableness" of awareness, I'm asking people to stop ignoring causality & impermanence. I have not "known" forever, and I will stop "knowing" at some point in the future.

Adam, I am quite aware of the position you're taking. I am saying that it is incomplete and flies in the face of other aspects of reality (impermanence/causality). The whole point of me mentioning all of this is because saying anything is unborn or uncaused is metaphysical to your moment to moment situation. I have no idea how that could possibly be twisted around and said about my argument, but I'm all ears.

Trent

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 2:32 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Sounds about right to me. In my own experience I had many many partial glimpses of the Absolute before the Big Event. To call them partial glimpses in no way should detract from the enormous power of those experiences. However, the Absolute was being viewed through a screen of words, concepts, dogmas, and human frailty. I think that every time I viewed the Absolute that screen was partially burned away till it was the filmiest of things. During that stage of my practice I wondered if I might not be fully enlightened. I was close, but not quite. I remember some years into my practice, after many glimpses, realizing that my verbal, mental understanding was beyond my experience, later experience and relative understanding were pretty close, still later and words and concepts about It lost their savor and seemed impediments to the seeing. Then the Big Day came. I was done. That was probably the first coherent thought I had after the Big Event. Since the focus of my practice had been to Realize the Absolute in a Not One, Not Two way I could not have been satisfied with a psycho-physical fruition that did not include that. As I think about it now, I think I see that first I attained Arahatship and in the next mind moment even that fell away, leaving only the Absolute, Not One, Not Two.
Ed

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 2:49 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: ByPasser

@kenneth: From the perspective of practice, just like those that practice the direct path, they have to have an initial glimpse of Primordial Awareness and then practice whole heartedly till spontaneous perfection, my opinion is it will be advisable for Yabaxoule to have his view integrate with the path of practice till complete fruition, which is what he is doing it now. A sudden '360 about turn' will be a disservice instead.

@Yabaxoule:"How do I know I was born?" I was born coz I AM. At that mind moment, Stop! Non-arise! relative cessation. Good Luck!

@Adam: Truly great post on Shikantaza, Thank you. :-)

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 3:17 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: msj123

If your formation does not have a location, it is aspatial, which in my mind, is not a formation.

Awareness doesn't have an audio or visual component to it. It has no spatial location, no substance, no form.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 3:34 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: msj123

This morning, I was listening to Geeks of the Round table talking about the "just sit there" schools of enlightenment. I think it was Vince who was talking about how it was nice to hear things as though enlightenment is always present and available. But he didn't really buy it and was glad to have found the gradual path and the maps.

Now, doing self-enquiry, these statements make sense.

I AM is always available. It is always present. It can be accessed at any time. Just being, there is no problem--- not a single fetter to be found. The trouble is letting this go, and getting caught back (being born into?) life again. How can this NOT be the Buddhamind?

I have always found it hard to reconcile certain schools of Zen with vipassana and mindfulness based schools. There is nothing sudden in mindfulness, the higher states are not always accessible, and the shifts take place temporally. I simply do not see how they are talking about the same thing.

But Kenneth's idea of the two awakenings DOES make sense. His idea of developmental Advaita makes sense, too--- the literature talks about the feeling of I, giving way to the subjective sense (this is where I would place myself), giving away to the great I AM with practice. It almost seems as though if you DON'T acknowledge two enlightenments, you have to force a square peg into a round hole.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 3:43 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

Hi again Trent!

Hope this helps! :-)

Awareness in this sense is used synonymously with the theistic term God, or the Buddhist term Buddha Nature or the Tao. Just as God is uncaused, untouched, self-existent and sees and is prior to all phenomenal causal chains, so is awareness prior to all objects of awareness; phenomena is an object of awareness. The impossibility of cessation of awareness follows once you understand it is primitive to reality, uncaused and self-existent. All else arises and passes away in awareness. Awareness is not personal. Your self-identity is personal and was born and will die; awareness does not. Awareness sees the phenomena that is the ‘you that is born and dies’, ebbs and flows and develops. It is a mis-perception that arises from this ‘seeing of phenomena’ that generates identification with a ‘you’ that is born and dies. That you is impermanent and empty phenomena. Awareness being ontologically prior to phenomena simply sees that which is.

To directly realize the above is to be enlightened as to your own true nature.

As we progress, we will see further evidence of the primacy and continuity of awareness when we sleep. When we awaken, we will be conscious 24 hours a day. Awareness sees us sleep; sees us snore; sees the dream states; sees the dreamless state. This is because the phenomena of ‘you’ takes place in awareness.


RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 3:44 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

Awareness is not a thing and has no traits or conditions. It cannot be positively described and named, thus, it is unchanging clear luminosity. Phenomena does have non-substantial, unstable traits and can be positively described, hence, its empty and impermanent nature.

Awareness is atemporal. It is not off in the future, the past or the present. These are conceptual constructs of mind. Mind is phenomena, and thus is not awareness. Time may be defined as the correlation of phenomenal process from the perspective of mind. Awareness is prior to mind and thus is prior to time. Hence, there never was or is a time when awareness is not. And most importantly, awareness IS. And since we have seen awareness is primitive and IS atemporally here and now, it follows awareness is aware of the typing and the thinking (phenomena is the object of awareness) and this awareness that sees the typing is the very same deathless awareness that is Tao. There is no other. There is not two awareness’s that sees the typing. Assuming above described premises, awareness is available to us here and now, we need only notice our fundamental nature - awareness.


RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 3:45 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

For you Trent, the point to get is awareness SEES moment to moment phenomena. It does not arise from it; it is ontologically primitive to phenomena. Awareness is YOU as your essential nature (not ‘the you’ described above) seeing the impermanence of phenomena. That is enlightenment. Enlightenment is seeing the emptiness and impermanence of phenomena; and to see your own essential nature, which is empty of self and phenomena, and yet contains it. To realize enlightenment is realize clear luminous awareness.

Might I suggest you study the Tibetans more so than the Theravadans. They have much to say about the distinctions I am making. Better yet, see it for yourself!

The position is internally consistent and compatible with moment to moment experience, as I hope I have made abundantly clear. Let me know if I can further clarify the argument. :-)

In kind regards,

Adam.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 3:48 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: msj123


@ Trent: There are moments when nothing is known:

Well--- if you weren't aware, you simply did not have those experiences. How would you even know you weren't aware?

As far as sleep goes, we usually forget the 4 or so dream cycles we have in a night. This doesn't mean we didn't have them. Are you sure you were unaware, and not just forgetting? Obviously not, beause if you were unaware, you wouldn't know it.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 4:07 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

Trent,

I can assure you, physics clearly considers the decay of an atom to be the ONLY causeless event in the physical world. It is currently modeled as a random quantum event, similar in nature to how subatomic particles randomly move in and out of existence at the quantum level. As it stands there is no way to predict when a single atom will decay, since it has been determined to have no cause. This is established through experiments that have excluded hidden variables that may be hidden causes, so it is not just a matter of not knowing the cause. The conclusion at this time then, is the decay of an atom simply has no cause given the the strict scientific definition of causation. I don't make this stuff up, the literature is there to be reviewed if you wish. I had many interesting discussions on these topics with my professors.

All of this is of course besides the point.

In kind regards,

Adam. :-)

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 4:11 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: Adam_West

Hi Ed,

What practices were you using, and what are you up to now?

In kind regards,

Adam.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 4:17 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hi Adam,

I will be writing up a bit of biography to explain those things and introduce myself. I will probably start a new thread with that. I will start right after I hang up my laundry.

Ed

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 5:01 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hi Ed

Thanks for your reply, it is very helpful, as you've phrased your realisations in a similar way to me and in case it's not obvious already, I'm still trying to decide whether I'm "done". When you said it "sounds about right", I'm not sure if you mean that about specifically about my description of the absolute relating to how you experienced what you call the Big Event, or in a more general sense around the way you experienced the process working towards the Big Event.

Was there a particular aspect of the Big Day that showed you or allowed you to know you were done, that you had attained Arahatship?

When I experienced the falling away of the relative and the revealing of the absolute, it seemed to me at the time that I had truly seen the emptiness of my mind and that I was this and that, and it was revealed in a way that is not possible to un-see or forget... at least, so far. It was immediately clear that the totality of my day to day experience is *just this*... and has the quality of being superimposed over the absolute. There is a sense that, knowing what I have just described, there is nothing else to know, and that I can be content forevermore. Is that in any way related to what you decided you were done?

Jed McKenna says enlightenment is abiding non-dual awareness - that makes me doubt whether I'm done. The aspect of awareness knowing that all is just awareness could be *perhaps* described as retaining characteristics of non-duality compared to the normal dualistic experience of I am *this*, and *that* is external to me, but I certainly still experience duality in the sense that I do not have an ongoing experience of the absolute sans-relative.

Craig

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 7:00 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hi Trent,

I don't think anyone here is suggesting that your perspective is invalid. You are doing a nice job of articulating the vipassana/impermanence perspective. The reason you are running into a wall with some of the advanced practitioners is that you seem to be presenting this as the ultimate understanding. There are two major perspective shifts upstream from there. Immediately upstream from impermanence is the I AM. It knows itself and is prior to the arising of time--hence, neither permanence nor impermanence. Further upstream still is the Source. It's just what it is, which is presumably why Ed points out that anything we say about it will be wrong.

Here's the remarkable thing and the point I've been trying to make: it's possible to get to the Source via pure vipassana, thereby effectively bypassing the I AM perspective. So, in a sense, Alan is right that Realization of I AM is unecessary. On the other hand, someone who is enlightened (an arahat), but has not fully appreciated the I AM perspective always looks a little uncooked to those who know all of the perspectives. If you really want the full package, you have to flesh out the no-dog/I AM as well as the vipassana perspective and of course, above all, you have to surrender to the Absolute. None of these perspectives invalidates the others. But there is a hierarchy of understanding. The well-balanced yogi deeply cultivates all perspectives including that of the mundane world, which is downstream from all those previously mentioned.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 9:35 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hi Craig,

Well, first off, I hadn't used the term Arahatship to think about that day until I came across Daniel and his book. His model and Kenneth's model seemed to be a pretty close fit.

My sense when writing my reply to your first post is that you weren't done. Don't let that bother you, I could very well have been wrong about that. It seems clear that you have had a milestone experience. But you said,

"one experience (as well as being able to re-experience it for a period of a few days after the first experience) of the non-dual Absolute which changed everything for me."

The part about being able to re-experience it for a period of a few days after makes me think that we aren't talking about a permanent closing of the circuit to use Kenneth's terminology. When you are done that 'state' will always be available to you in an effortless way. You need only turn your attention towards it. It has been that way for me since, I think, May of 1993.

Cont.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/21/09 9:44 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
One aspect of the Big Event was that I haven't been able to really doubt it. Oh, a transcript of my thoughts since then would turn up things that might look like doubts, "Hmm, I am angry, Can an enlightened person be angry?" But then I would check and that -------- that is prior to the I AM would be right where I left it. I might or might not still be angry after that.

Another point is that in all the time since, I haven't been able to deepen this 'state' It is just what it is and it is always already there. I can only pay attention to it or not.

Yet another point, the tremendous pressure or pull towards enlightenment was extinguished in that Big Moment and has not arisen since.

Hope this helps. I don't think you are all the way there yet, but I don't think you can help but get there from where you are now.

Ed

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/22/09 2:05 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
I have been thinking about the date I gave and I think it may be too early by a year or two. I am just not sure. I know exactly where it happened, in front of a drugstore in Sapporo Japan while walking. But, if I remember the order of events that lead up to the Big Moment, it would have been the following year. Maybe I should just say mid 90s.

Ed

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/22/09 3:22 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hi Alan,

Just a couple of minor points here, for clarification: In post #94, I suggested that both you and I, like many westerners, share the weakness of "scientistic" thinking. This is not the same as "scientific" thinking. I would say that scientific thinking is desirable whereas scientistic thinking is not.

"The term scientism is used to describe the view that natural science has authority over all other interpretations of life, such as philosophical, religious, mythical, spiritual, or humanistic explanations, and over other fields of inquiry, such as the social sciences." -Wikipedia

Also, you've used the word "affect" several times as a noun, when I think you meant "effect." A seemingly harmless typo, but it makes a big difference in the meaning of a sentence. For example, in one post I responded as though "affect" were the intended meaning, but re-reading your post now, I think you meant "effect."

You wrote: "From some of your comments, I might be led to conclude that you are inflating the importance of a certain affect from a specific practice that belongs to a particular branch of Buddhism..."

Here's a good disambiguation of the two words:

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-difference-between-affect-and-effect.htm

Sorry to be such a nitpicking word geek, but I think these distinctions are worth making. :-)

Note to everyone: As this thread is so long, it would be helpful, whenever you quote someone, to say who you are quoting. Otherwise, to most readers of the thread, it's all a jumble.

Thanks again, everyone, for a most stimulating exchange!

Kenneth

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/22/09 4:41 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

Hello Craig,

Great questions!

The trouble with the process of enlightenment is that it's progressively transcendent. This means each new insight trumps everything previous to it, and it is very easy to assume that what you have just experienced MUST BE the Absolute, final, Mother of all insights, because that's how it appears experientially.

However, given enough time, practice and experience, a sense of the various types of mystical events becomes possible, and that's when your accuracy in determining whether or not you have experienced what other people call the 'non-dual' increases.

Using the Theravada model, I would say right through 1st path to 3rd there is a common quality to the 'non-dual', although it manifests from a peak to a plateau experience in an increasingly real-time fashion. It can even be located in space-time (as is the case with 'transmission' events).

(cont.)

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/22/09 5:04 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

Providing you've correctly identified what Dan calls the 'non-dual' in his book, and that is indeed what you are experiencing, I would be tempted to say your at least 1st path, probably 2nd (granted this is the worst of guesses based on very little info).

I mentioned the propensity of the practitioner who is getting real results to always assume the next big event is the final one, because it is bigger than what has gone before; but with 4th path, it's not a question of reasoning your position based on how things appear; you're no longer 'transcending', but transcendence itself. The realisation is that enlightenment has nothing to do with the non-dual as an experience, with progress, with 'getting enlightened', with 'this moment right now', with awareness, with 'the simplest thing', or with anything else for that matter. You know you are 'done' from balls to bones. No doubt, no guessing.

I think what I've mentioned here is very important, especially regarding the idea of two enlightenments. When we describe what Kenneth calls 'awakening', we talk about what is 'right now', the simplest thing, that which is always present, etc. There are many examples of this in this thread. This is a wonderful realisation, and a big one to boot; but it is nevertheless not the same as being 'done', because we're still in the realm of transcending.

I hope my comments have helped Craig!

Best,

Alan.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/22/09 5:32 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hey Kenneth,

This is slippery stuff. Here's what I'm thinking... I'd love to hear your take on it...

While I understand the assumption that there is an ever-present Awareness (being that I do, in fact, experience this), I can't help but remain skeptical of the conclusion that the experience translates in to a concrete understanding of Ultimate reality. For example, if I were a man living 15,000 years ago, my experience of the earth and sun would demonstrate quite clearly that the sun moves up and over the land. It would not occur to me that the land on which I stand is spherical, and that this sphere orbits the ball of light which itself appears to be moving over my head. The more we learn, the more we understand things we used to believe were true based on first hand experience. (the first example I thought of was scientific. The same principle can be implied in other ways of interpreting reality. I don't want to come off as "scientistic") What is this Awareness? Could we be mistaking it for something it is not?

(cont)

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/22/09 5:33 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
(continued from above)

I don't mean to say that there is no ever-present Awareness, but only that we simply don't know. We just don't, and there's nothing wrong with that. It just means, for me, that it isn't something I feel I can really bank on.

One thing we can know, IMHO, is that there is no separate self. No branch of science, psychology, philosophy, or contemplation has ever located a separate self (that I know of). This, to me, is a more reliable, and more verifiable, realization. I do think that the no-dog is important for this very reason. It displays how there is no center point from which knowing stems. Each phenomena seems to know itself, which is then known by other phenomena and processes, which produces this bizarre illusion of self that we are all attempting to untangle. Nonetheless, it is difficult for me to assume that this awareness is a seamless web of knowing to which everyone owes their ancestry. It seems more plausible to me that the nature of all phenomena is "revealing" in some way which is too illusive to be pinned down.

In the end, because we are creatures of language, we will attempt to articulate this experience in a way that makes sense to others. To me, no one conveys this seemingly impossible process better than Lao Tzu: "I don't know what to call it, so I call it Tao." We just don't know.

Let me know if I need to clarify any of my points. I'm interested in what any of you have to say in response.

Practice well,
Jackson

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/22/09 5:37 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

Actually this is great, because it highlights exactly what I find to be the problem here: you are defining both arahatship and 'awakening' as relative phenomena, nothing more, nothing less. I also recall you mentioning you see nothing absolute about either experience.

If you don't find the absolute itself - the only thing I would term 'ultimate' - in enlightenment, I can only surmise you ascribe to radical relativity, an extreme postmodern position that you already know my thoughts on.

I also made the mistake of assuming that when you say 'non-dual' you mean 'the undifferentiated, beyond all experience' Buddhist/advaitist type of non-duality, but if you see the non-dual as relative, I'm afraid this is beyond my understanding.

This also explains why you think I might mean 'effect' instead of 'affect'. I mean 'affect' as in 'influence', and in this case, of the Absolute.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/22/09 5:50 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: AlanChapman

I know what 'scientism' is, I chose to ignore it as I don't believe the scientific philosophies of Khun and Popper should be regarded as such.

The line you quote where I use the word 'affect', is indeed a genuine typo. I will try to do better in future.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/22/09 8:33 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
In MCTB Daniel distinguishes two kinds of Arahats, using the metaphor of the wisdom eye fading again with some and remaining open with practice. So could someone clarify if it's the same as the no dog? Can it start blinking before arahatship?

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/22/09 9:49 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hi Ed

Your comments are really great. They are very helpful to evaluate where I am and where I should try to get to from here!

Yesterday I was thinking to myself "If you have to ask, you're not done." Maybe that wasn't the throwaway thought I thought it was.

Based on what you've said it sounds like I'd better crank up the practice a few notches for a bit longer. The funny thing is that having embraced unknowing, part of me thinks that an enlightenment where you *know* actually sounds like a relief... but in saying that I feel like a character in a cartoon standing on a trap door as the evil genius is about to pull the level and send him down the chute emoticon The only problem with that analogy is that I am also the evil genius, and apparently the chute.

Thanks so much for your feedback!

Craig

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/22/09 11:42 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: garyrh

When you know awareness you will not doubt it. When there is no doubt it is not mistaken although I am struggling to define why and it is not because it is hard! Here is an attempt, take any thought you wish to think of as yourself then ask what knows this? Keep doing this and eventually you must come to awareness. It is not thought or sensation and has no location and will not be mistaken because it is very different.

An example; Keeping in mind you are the knower. I am body, what knows this? Body does not know this, I am not body. I am mind, what knows this? mind does not know this, I am not mind. I am space in head, what knows this? space in head does not know this, I am not space in head. The knower you realize is Awareness, no position, no thought, always. This knows this. It is not hard it is just not found in thought the way we usaually operate. Relax into it and you will go ah hah! Is that all!

if you doubt Awareness what knows the doubt. If you question whether it is always there, what was there to know it wasn't there. You see phenonmena and Awareness do not mix. There is no time with Awareness so to question ancestory and a time when it is not are ideas that cannot be applied.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/22/09 11:59 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hi Julius, this rang a bell so I did a quick search and found the page I'd read recently where Daniel said he equated the widom eye with no dog:

http://dharmaoverground.wetpaint.com/page/No+Dog%2C+Some+Dog%2C+and+The+Simplest+Thing

I recall a few months back wondering what the wisdom eye referred to, and from where I am now I can see why the link would be made. It does feel like the an eye opens which reveals wisdom.

Craig

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/22/09 12:01 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hi Gary,

I appreciate your reply. I know this experience quite well. Experientially speaking, awareness cannot be pinned down to a location or process because it is that which reveals a location or process. I get that. But does this awareness not halt during cessation/fruition? If there's nothing for the light to reveal, where does the light go? How do we know it persists when there's nothing to be revealed? It seems to me that since the revealing and the revealed are non-dual/not-two, they are mutually dependent.

If I learned anything from my experiences as a Pentecostal Christian (which ended many years ago) it's that personal experience isn't enough to validate a truth claim. I used to speak in tongues. Does that mean that the Holy Spirit was speaking through me directly to God the Father, in a language that could only be understood by God? That was my conclusion based on my experience at the time, but I don't claim it to be true at this point in my life. Do you see where I'm going with this?

That's why I said that the only thing I seem to be able to verify is that there is no self. Period. Everything else to me seems hypothetical, even if the hypothesis is backed up by some degree of personal experience.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/22/09 12:56 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: garyrh

if awareness halts who would know? Then has it really halted? If there is no light who would know? if there is nothing to reveal who would know? who knows personal experience?
Always apply the same question and it is relized Awareness is the primal knower. Eventually it is relized many questions do not make sense because they are phenomena (like time, space, thought).

I hope I am not missing your point. Lets keep at it until we get it.

who knows there is no self?

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/22/09 1:58 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Some further clarification,

Cessation is a complete and total STOP of the mind and body process, if only momentarily. There's awareness during the entrance, and awareness during the exit, but not during the STOP. You know there's a STOP because of the entry and exit. As far as I can tell, there is not awareness during the brief moment of cessation. That wouldn't be cessation. In this way, the same principle does not apply. If no one is there (even momentarily) to experience anything, than there is nothing to be aware of.

To answer the "Who knows there is no self?" question -- to say there's No Self is to say that there is no inherently existing, permanent, essential "I" to which experiences happen. That doesn't mean there is no conditioned self. The conditioned process of self knows it's conditioned and arises only as a process dependent on other phenomena. That, and the the revealing of this process, of course. That's one way to describe it. Make sense?

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/22/09 2:40 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: garyrh

We will consider the other things you mentioned later (if you wish).

How or what knows the total STOP? the same question can be asked of the START. What makes you know it was momentarily if Awareness had STOPPED? if Awareness had Stopped you would not know entry an exit.Awareness is the "background" of the entry and exit.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/22/09 2:55 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: garyrh

Awareness can be aware of Awareness.

RE: Responses to Realization and Development
Answer
4/22/09 3:04 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Author: msj123

@Jackson:

I don't think you can say it's cessation. For all you know, you were making a sandwich or flying around a space ship with aliens then. As I told Trent, it is said that we have at least four dream cycles a night, probably more. How many do we remember? Does that mean they didn't happen?

@garyh:

I think the trouble is that we're too close to it. Often when we think about I AM, it sounds all mystical--- something out there or in the future.

I remember an old koan: "It's closer than your breath."