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Claims to Attainments

I don't know. Maybe you do? (with a long and preachy forward)

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Let me make this post with the preface that I think the whole point of meditation and following Buddha dharma (among other things) should be to transcend such base and barbaric practices such as building up ones image in the minds of others in order to gain social status. It remains a constant challenge in my life to resist falling into anger as a reaction to day to day brag over shit like the places people have been and people they have done. I find bragging over "spiritual attainments" is especially infuriating given that it misses the whole fucking point, and thus takes the gold for ultra-pretention.

However, ultimately, my anger is my problem, and only I am responsible for it, not the braggers.

Also, prescribing attainment seems like fun.

Now that I've bored you all with a preachy and probably unnecessary disclaimer, maybe some of you, who are more familiar with states of attainment can offer some insight into my "condition."

Every day I struggle against my mind. Sometimes I'm able to ignore it and enjoy myself. Sometimes I embrace it and enjoy myself. Sometimes my mind bugs the shit out me, and my attempts to ignore it just become fuel for the fire. At seemingly random intervals, usually following periods of intense stress or anger, I suddenly realize in a very overwhelming and immediately effecting way that I have complete control over my state of happiness, and spend the next several hours feeling very enlightened.

What's this all about, anyway? Where am I on the "ladder of dharma?"

RE: I don't know. Maybe you do? (with a long and preachy forward&
Answer
9/11/09 12:32 AM as a reply to Brady Ehler.
Hey Brady!

I think you're in good company in struggling with the mind. I would estimate 99% of those who visit this site struggle with their minds in one or other form, to varying degrees of intensity and for differing lengths of time throughout the course of the day, in the same way you do. And yep, I'm with you on the flights of fantasy, grandeur and self-interested and bias interpretations of personal attainment too; and would suggest spiritual materialism has a special place in most people's hearts as a particularly obnoxious presentation of self-grasping and aversion. One that is particularly ironic considering the context - though not surprising given the lack of real enlightenment in the community. If you take a step back, it's rather amusing at times too. emoticon

On a practical level, effective meditation helps to calm the mind and purify habit patterns; opening up consciousness and assisting in creating a space to notice awareness, from which the path out of suffering is found. Jhana and non-dual natural state practices are especially effective. When not on the cushon practicing cognitive strategies are useful too, as found in Buddhist mind training, and also western psychotherapy.

Glad to see you sharing your story! Best of luck in continued practice!! emoticon

In kind regards,

Adam.

RE: I don't know. Maybe you do? (with a long and preachy forward&
Answer
9/11/09 4:21 AM as a reply to Brady Ehler.
Brady: I'll tell you where you are at, and that is that reality is setting in on where exactly you are at, and you are able to face it honestly. And that in and of itself is kind of huge. That alone is a big step on the path.

As far as your feelings about attainments I'll have to say that sometimes finding the Middle Way is a bit like following the fractal rabbit down the quantum hole, if someone has succeeded, I'd like to know about it, maybe "attainments" is not the best paradigm, I'm into ANY kind of RESULTS and 'how did you do that?' But then again, I'm an old man, and for old men my motto is "wake up while you are still alive" A younger man might be more concerned about style and aesthetics about how got what how, but at may age the messiness of some of the messages is easily tolerable.

I'm just a newbie here, so my remarks don't at all represent the group - take them for what they are worth

p e a c e

h a n s e n

RE: I don't know. Maybe you do? (with a long and preachy forward&
Answer
9/11/09 6:47 AM as a reply to Eric Alan Hansen.
I was about to make a guess at where you are but I realized that I'm probably not qualified and if I was I'd need a little more info, you know?
Attainments? Yes, if it seems like someone is actually bragging, it is annoying. But, I too really want to know where everyone is at and I want such knowledge to be freely exchanged and all taboos removed. Sure, there are some "dangers" with this but those can be worked out. I just really prefer a world where things are unhidden so everyone can make their own decisions on how to deal with what's going on.

RE: I don't know. Maybe you do? (with a long and preachy forward&
Answer
9/11/09 6:59 AM as a reply to Eric Alan Hansen.
I have mixed feelings about claims of attainment. As we are trying to orient ourselves on the dharma maps, it can be quite easy to misdiagnose and to think and claim we are more attained than we are. Sometimes this comes from misunderstanding, sometimes from grasping and the compulsive need to enlarge identity and sometimes it's a mixture of both.

Recently I finished an extended period of practice which I have documented here. End of 8 Month Sabbatical

I was reluctant to post this publicly as I didn't want to come off as bragging about attainment. After a conversation with Daniel and some reflection my opinion changed a bit. The thing that really inspired me to take up this practice in earnest, go on retreats and finally to go on an 8 month sabbatical is Daniel and people like him standing up and saying "this can be done" and "I did it" and "here is how I did it...". While the techniques and the details and the maps were all great and valuable, nothing was more empowering than the belief it was possible and having real life examples of those that had done it.

So it seems we have a tight rope to walk here. Not claiming attainment helps to perpetuate ignorance and misconception about the contemplative path and claiming attainment unskillfully or incorrectly turns a lot of people off quickly.

As is often the case in morality training, I think when we are planning to make a claim of attainment, it's important to look at our intention. Is there a desire to prop up, expand or solidify self? Is there an intent to gain respect, admiration or establish authority in the context of disagreement? If any of these seem to be the predominate intention, it might be wise to STFU and keep it to yourself. If however the intention is a genuine sense of compassion, a desire to encourage and inspire people to go for it, along with the courage to take the heat from those are quite aversive to any claims whatsoever, well then speak up and tell your story. I know I want to hear it as do a lot of other people around here.

Just remember that you may be wrong about some things and that's ok. 100% subjective certainty isn't objective proof of anything, but if you put your story out there along with the sensations of certainty (keeping in mind that they are sensations) and not hold too tightly to your opinions, then it's more good data that can be saved, reviewed and integrated effectively.

-Lee

RE: I don't know. Maybe you do? (with a long and preachy forward&
Answer
9/11/09 7:27 AM as a reply to Lee G Moore.
I too agree with open, objective sharing and reporting of experience. It would seem very useful to report general phenomenology and subjective experience. To objectively report is not the same thing as to share our interpretation of said experience - two different things altogether. The reporting of interpretation of experience is great and appropriate too, and moves into the realm of theory and argument; to confuse the two is where the process breaks down. Finally, it is how you go about sharing and reporting that is revealing and can be unhelpful in terms of clear communication; and obnoxious in terms of a presentation of 'me' and not the content of sharing.

I find the informal use of the scientist/practitioner model to be very effective if our purpose is sharing with any concern for quality of information. If we're just casually chatting and fulfilling other needs, then fine too. It would seem useful not to confuse the two, however.

In kind regards,

Adam.

RE: I don't know. Maybe you do? (with a long and preachy forward&
Answer
9/11/09 1:22 PM as a reply to Brady Ehler.
I may be reading into things, but I see a certain tongue-in-cheek quality to some of the attainment posts ("Landed the first jhana!"), precisely because we all know how outrageous even talking about these things is at most dharma centers.
People sometimes are trying to be funny and provocative, it seems.

I've never sat in on a dharma talk where anyone said much about where they were on the path. Nor has any meditation instructor ever tried to find out where I was. Instead, I talked about my stuff--on and on.

There seems to be this unspoken understanding that meditation experience is too sacred to be talked about. Certain languages, like Thai, hardly ever use the word "I." Because English uses the word "I" constantly, people don't know how to handle a certain contradiction: Who is talking about what? Shifting to the passive voice or third-person can get pretty stilted and can seem phony.

Bragging does happen, and people do get into pissing matches about who has the deeper realization or correct view, but mostly people on this site seem to be trying to find their way.

RE: I don't know. Maybe you do? (with a long and preachy forward&
Answer
9/12/09 2:40 AM as a reply to Brady Ehler.
Brady: I don't know if this is appropriate on a Buddhist forum but here it goes anyway - there is a big difference between a fish story and a fisherman who is willing to show you what he caught that day. It's the difference between anecdotal evidence and direct perception. You have to make a decision about what really speaks to you, and what doesn't, regardless of the collateral damage. Im dealing with that anger it could be that there is something in there that you want, something in there that you don't want, and only you can discern what that is.
h a n s e n