Message Boards Message Boards

Vipassana: Noting/Mahasi Style

"Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom"

Toggle
"Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" Laurens 4/15/19 11:17 AM
RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 4/15/19 1:52 PM
RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" S. 4/15/19 3:17 PM
RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" Stickman2 4/15/19 5:27 PM
RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" Andromeda 4/16/19 7:28 AM
RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" terry 4/19/19 11:08 AM
RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" Andromeda 4/15/19 3:01 PM
RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" S. 4/15/19 3:30 PM
RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" Ben V. 4/15/19 6:05 PM
RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" Cláudio Cruz 4/15/19 6:23 PM
RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" Hibiscus Kid 4/15/19 8:42 PM
RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" Raving Rhubarb 4/16/19 1:34 AM
RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" Paul 4/16/19 6:15 AM
RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" terry 4/17/19 2:26 PM
RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" Stickman2 4/16/19 10:48 AM
RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" terry 4/18/19 6:15 PM
RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" Laurens 4/16/19 3:25 PM
RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" Daniel M. Ingram 4/17/19 4:22 PM
RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" terry 4/18/19 3:18 PM
RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" Daniel Jones 4/16/19 8:20 PM
RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" terry 4/17/19 1:55 PM
RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" Jinxed P 4/18/19 8:15 PM
RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" Jake Frankfurt Middenhall 4/21/19 12:48 AM
RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" Daniel M. Ingram 4/21/19 2:04 AM
RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" JohnM 4/21/19 2:36 AM
RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" Jake Frankfurt Middenhall 4/21/19 4:26 AM
RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom" Richard Zen 4/19/19 2:57 PM
Forgive me the perhaps controversial subject line to grab some attention, and I hope I am placing this message on the right board: this is my first time posting. Hello!

Anyway, the other day I was listening to a 2017 podcast with Alan Wallace, who's a very respected, knowledgeable scholar and experienced teacher I think. What he had to say in this podcast was quite interesting I thought, so I made a transcript. Apologies for any mistakes. Listen to the original audio version (from 34:10 onwards) here or on iTunes: https://learn.wisdompubs.org/podcast/alan-wallace-2/

Q: You have the Mahasi sayadaw system, you have this Vipassana movement. What you are basically saying, to achieve liberation, to achieve the point where mental afflictions are permanently eradicated from your experience, you definitely need shamatha.

A: I just don't think there's any reasonable doubt of that. Some very erudite people, like Mahasi Sayadaw, have made the case that momentary samadhi is sufficient, but as he acknowledges, at least implicitly and the commentary (???) really focuses on this. Number one, the Buddha never even mentioned momentary samadhi. If you want to stage a platform saying, the Buddha said: momentary samadhi, never mind any of the jhanas, is sufficient. You have no basis at all for that statement in the Buddha's teachings. If it were that easy, if you don't even need to achieve shamatha or the first Jhana, the second, and so forth, ... If it's that easy, then why wouldn't the Buddha mention it for heaven sake? If all you need is momentary samadhi and you just focus on vipassana, wouldn't he mention that? He didn't. Now who did is the great commentator, Buddhaghosa, but where he places his references to momentary samadhi are deep in the terrain, much further along the path, after you achieved the jhanas.

Q: Purification of mind right?

A: Purification of mind, is the vipassana territory. So to decontextualise that, to pluck that out of the third of the three phases: ethics, samadhi and wisdom, to pluck it out of the wisdom which is already based on very deep foundation of ethics, very deep cultivation of the jhanas, to pluck it out of the wisdom and say well never mind everything that goes before it. Well, theoretically it doesn't make any sense, but really, I'm an empiricist. If we can point to people in this modern era that have followed that tradition, and we should bring some scientists in, because these mental afflictions are not that typical to identify. Anger, resentment, hostility, craving greed, ignorance, reification of self, and so forth... I would listen. If you can find people who have been following this Mahasi Sayadaw approach for 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years, and they have achieved irreversible freedom, and they can demonstrate that. I will listen. But one very noted Vipassana teacher, and I want to keep this person anonymous, wrote years ago, that he has been following this Mahasi Sayadaw tradition for like, 40 years, and he said, "neither I, nor anyone else I know, among theravada practitioners", and I think he mentioned Zen as well, "none of us have achieved irreversible freedom".

So in essence, he rejects Mahasi-style practice on the basis of it lacking the necessary samatha training. I'm posting this because in the reading of MCTB & Daniel's articles I have done so far, I gather that Mahasi centers are recommended for retreat & the noting practice seems to be encouraged here, while also encouraging some concentration practice. So I wonder how controversial these statements really are.

What he goes on to tell about the jhanas & the many claims done about achieving the 1st jhana and beyond are quite interesting as well, but perhaps for another discussion.

In my fairly limited personal experience: I was introduced to Buddhism some years ago thanks to the videos of Yuttadhammo, a theravadan forest monk who practices according to Mahasi Sayadaw. Everything he said seemed to make a lot of sense back then, so about two years ago I then finally went on a 15-day Vipassana retreat. Personally guided by a colleague of Yuttadhammo and a more senior monk, so... "awesome", I thought. But... last year I then went on a Goenka retreat. Initially thinking the "mass production" style, lack of personal guidance... would just strengthen my faith in Mahasi-style practice. Well, I was wrong. I feel like in those 10 days I went through much more than in the 15 days of Mahasi practice and all my sits outside of the retreat together. My concentration felt also much more intense, sharp & clear. I think this might be thanks to the initial three days of anapana.

So this experience combined with what Alan Wallace is saying about the foundation of samatha practice for proper vipassana, this changed my thinking a lot. I am focusing my time & effort much, much more on samatha now. Feel free to challenge this view. Thanks for reading!

RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom"
Answer
4/15/19 1:52 PM as a reply to Laurens.
It was my impression that the Mahasi practice was what made Daniel Ingram reach stream entry? So that's an example right there. I don't doubt that he is fully awakened. There are many different methods for reaching stream entry. Different people have different preferences, and what works for one person may not work for the next. After reaching stream entry one may still find that one needs to combine one's original practice with other approaches, or one might do it for the fun of it. After all, stream entry is just the beginning. Going to a Mahasi retreat doesn't mean that one has to stick to that method for the rest of one's life. One can be a Mahasi practicioner AND practice shamatha. 

RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom"
Answer
4/15/19 3:17 PM as a reply to Laurens.
I don't know too much about Alan Wallace, but I think he's a Vajrayana Buddhist. This could be coincidental, but it is very common in Vajrayana/Tibetan Buddhist dogma to apply the "vehicles" or "three yanas" model in a way that diminishes the attainments of other traditions, both by a-historically identifying the "Theravada" with "Hinayana" schools and practices, and by stating that there are limits to what purely Mahayana and Theravada practitioners can achieve at all.

For a good essay that mentions Mahasi Sayadaw specifically and the topic of enlightenment and different practices, check out Jack Kornfield's essay: 

Enlightenments

This topic has been explored elsewhere in interesting ways.

A teacher with experience in several traditions is Shinzen Young. He has interesting comments about these seen in comparison with each other, and positive things to say about noting. He began as a Vajrayana practitioner in Shingon (esoteric Buddhism in Japan) and later became a Zen monk, and also has learned in mutual exchange with Vipassana and Mahasi teachers.

Shinzen Describes the Vajrayana Practice

"Bouncy" Zen vs. "Paint-by-Numbers" Vipassana ~ Shinzen Young

The idea that true or ultimate freedom is found only in Tantra and Dzogchen, Mahamudra, or Vajrayana generally is probably wrong. You can find likely expressions of the height of attainment whether in the words of Zen masters or in Christianity.


RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom"
Answer
4/15/19 3:01 PM as a reply to Laurens.
Jhana is definitely a thing at Mahasi centers (in Asia, anyway, can personally confirm Burma), but they don't teach it to people until they've gotten some insight. In Theravada, you basically have two main schools of thought: insight first then shamatha (Mahasi) and shamatha then insight (Thai Forest, Goenka). There's pros and cons either way and different people are going to have different proclivities that make one path more suitable than the other. But it seems to be well accepted (at least around this forum) that shamatha is necessary for most people to go all the way whether you start earlier or later. 

What seems to happen for a lot of people is that if they really bust their butts with "dry" (no shamatha) vipassana and get stream entry, all of a sudden they will have access to the jhanas with relative ease. So if you're really gunning for insight and have a high tolerance for pain/discomfort and an aptitude for vipassana, that may be a more time-efficient way to go. The problem is a lot of people seem to get stuck prior to stream entry and practice dry vipassana for years and years without getting anywhere when they could probably benefit from learning shamatha. The problem with people learning shamatha first is that some get caught in it because it's so nice and never cultivate any insight. Those pleasurable states can be addictive.

Also, just to mention here, Alan Wallace is a Tibetan Buddhist whose standards for jhana are crazy high if I remember correctly. What counts as jhana is a hotly contested topic. And it is my understanding that the first generation of teachers to bring the Mahasi method to the West decided to leave jhana out and a lot of what is taught is heavily psychologized. Jhana is only making a comeback in the past decade or so. 

Anyway, you aren't likely to hear any arguments against shamatha from people on this forum. Fire kasina, which is a combined shamatha-vipassana practice, is currently a hot practice around here ;)

RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom"
Answer
4/15/19 3:30 PM as a reply to Laurens.
You also see this specific argument about how much concentration is required duplicated in a few places. If you read Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha and in areas of this forum you will see references to "dry insight" (insight practice without enough concentration for guaranteed bliss states but enough to keep you going) which does have a historical commentary basis as a valid approach in the Theravada. It is less pleasant but could have advantages of speed, or of getting the 'right things clicking' for the right person who does it that way. Some books like The Mind Illuminated advocate for working on concentration and then insight, and there are blended approaches all over. It probably depends on the practitioner.

S.:
I don't know too much about Alan Wallace, but I think he's a Vajrayana Buddhist. This could be coincidental, but it is very common in Vajrayana/Tibetan Buddhist dogma to apply the "vehicles" or "three yanas" model in a way that diminishes the attainments of other traditions, both by a-historically identifying the "Theravada" with "Hinayana" schools and practices, and by stating that there are limits to what purely Mahayana and Theravada practitioners can achieve at all.

For a good essay that mentions Mahasi Sayadaw specifically and the topic of enlightenment and different practices, check out Jack Kornfield's essay: 

Enlightenments
Ah, so Kornfield describes acouple of things that have confused me. I always took the first definition as being the operative one - just from a casual acquaintance with buddhist ideas, because when I read people saying buddhism is about purification I took it literally - that the end point of liberation is the disappearance of negative emotions, not the disappearance of the emoter.
So I was surprised to see so many buddhists take a different view. This, to me, doesn't look like purification at all. The end point of purification, no negative emotion arising, sounds more like the assertions of actualism and other philosophies.

Hm, interesting. And hence I get, understandably, confused by buddhism and buddhists !

And I wonder who I would like to be stuck on a long car journey with - someone with no affect, or someone who can be an asshole but with no centre of assholeness !?

Thanks for the essay.

"How can we understand these seemingly different approaches to enlightenment? The Buddhist texts contain some of the same contrasting descriptions. In many texts, nirvana is described in the
language of negation, and as in the approach taught by Mahasi Sayadaw, enlightenment is presented as the end of suffering through the putting out of the fires of craving, the uprooting of all forms of clinging. The elimination of suffering is practiced by purification and concentration, by confronting the forces of greed and hate and overcoming them. When the Buddha was asked, “Do you teach annihilation?
Is nirvana the end of things as we know them?” he responded, “I teach only one form of annihilation: the extinction of greed, the extinction of hatred, the extinction of delusion. This I call nirvana.

There is in the texts, as well, a more positive way of understanding enlightenment. Here nirvana is described as the highest happiness; as peace, freedom, purity, stillness; and as the unconditioned, the timeless, the undying. In this understanding, as in Ajahn Chah’s approach, liberation comes through a shift of identity—a release from attachment to the changing conditions of the world, a resting in consciousness itself, the deathless."


RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom"
Answer
4/15/19 6:05 PM as a reply to Laurens.
Wallace basically says that if he can find one Mahasi practitionner who can be validated scientifically to have dropped afflictions, he would listen.

Can he find anyone, in ANY tradition whatsoever, who could fit this criteria? Wouldn't he end up listening to nobody if he used the criteria he imposes on Mahasi on other traditions as well?

And as a matter of fact, there has been psycholigical studies done on people who got awakening using the Mahasi approach, and those results are in the book `Transformations of Consciousness'. Jack Engler (one of the authors) is the one who had done those studies. Dipa Ma was one of the subjects of that study. She mastered all the jhanas, and yet she continued to value and teach, successfully, the Mahasi vipassana approach. Same with Daniel Ingram and others. 

Also, concerning his comment: "If it were that easy, if you don't even need to achieve shamatha or the first Jhana, the second, and so forth, ... If it's that easy, then why wouldn't the Buddha mention it for heaven sake?"

I will reverse that question somewhat. But first this: I have learned of a monk who has meditated intensively in the Pa Auk jhana approach for 30 years, and who has yet to achieve even 1st jhana. I hear the Visuddhimagga says something like one in a million attain jhana the way it is described in that text (which is how Pa Auk describes it). If The eight limb of the Eightfold path was so immensely difficult as one in a million success rate, why would he teach it even to lay people who don't have the luxury of monastic training time? And how on earth would lay sotapannas, and even higher stages lay people, pop up all over the place when the Buddha was teaching?

Finally, I find this Samatha vs. Vipassana debate a long gone "beating on a dead horse" situation. Whatever meditation techniques one uses can develop deep concentration. Focusing on successive percepts at the sense doors will develop concentration and samatha will come naturally. 

I hear a lot of positive things about Allan Wallace. Seems like a genuine Dharma master. But it turns me off when a teacher attacks other valid traditions like that. 

RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom"
Answer
4/15/19 6:23 PM as a reply to Ben V..
Ben V. :

Finally, I find this Samatha vs. Vipassana debate a long gone "beating on a dead horse" situation. Whatever meditation techniques one uses can develop deep concentration. Focusing on successive percepts at the sense doors will develop concentration and samatha will come naturally. 

I hear a lot of positive things about Allan Wallace. Seems like a genuine Dharma master. But it turns me off when a teacher attacks other valid traditions like that. 


Exactly!

RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom"
Answer
4/15/19 8:42 PM as a reply to Laurens.
So this experience combined with what Alan Wallace is saying about the foundation of samatha practice for proper vipassana, this changed my thinking a lot. I am focusing my time & effort much, much more on samatha now. Feel free to challenge this view.
No challenge necessary: if you're finding methods that work for you and are having your needs/goals met, then that is what matters.

Some people get a lot out of noting first (formal samatha training comes later, even in Mahasi schools). Some people need some samatha first and that's great too. There is no "one size fits all" approach to this stuff.

RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom"
Answer
4/16/19 1:34 AM as a reply to Laurens.
Laurens:
In my fairly limited personal experience: I was introduced to Buddhism some years ago thanks to the videos of Yuttadhammo, a theravadan forest monk who practices according to Mahasi Sayadaw. Everything he said seemed to make a lot of sense back then, so about two years ago I then finally went on a 15-day Vipassana retreat. Personally guided by a colleague of Yuttadhammo and a more senior monk, so... "awesome", I thought. But... last year I then went on a Goenka retreat. Initially thinking the "mass production" style, lack of personal guidance... would just strengthen my faith in Mahasi-style practice. Well, I was wrong. I feel like in those 10 days I went through much more than in the 15 days of Mahasi practice and all my sits outside of the retreat together. My concentration felt also much more intense, sharp & clear. I think this might be thanks to the initial three days of anapana.

So this experience combined with what Alan Wallace is saying about the foundation of samatha practice for proper vipassana, this changed my thinking a lot. I am focusing my time & effort much, much more on samatha now. Feel free to challenge this view. Thanks for reading!
You did 2(!) retreats and had 2 very different experiences. The correct observation here is: meditation is not always the same. Try both methods again and you will probably have wildly different results. Concluding anything from just 2 retreats is really stupid.

Aside, in Ajahn Tong tradition, the concentration is built into the method, it's basically a hybrid concentration-insight approach. And since it has actual formal walking meditation, you can do much more meditation in a day than in Goenka's tradition, and almost without pause, which can blast concentration into the stratosphere in my experience.

RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom"
Answer
4/16/19 6:15 AM as a reply to Laurens.
Hey Laurens 

I totally get where you’re coming from. As a newcomer there are so many choices and this can lead to confusion. There’s been some good points made already, so I’ll just summarise my input. The Goenka method is, summarising a very big topic, pretty simple, and also designed to get you some ‘interesting’ results in a short time. So on the surface it can be pretty damn satisfying after only 10 days. Know of any Goenka addicts? There’s loads of them out there. 

As for samatha vs vipassana, you will find along the Mahasi noting way that one-pointed concentration used in that moment-to-moment way is essential to progress. So you inadvertently end up developing samatha-like skills as you go. If you want to spend years training in the samatha stuff first, that’s up to you. As for what the Buddha said, he gave very little in the way of detailed meditation instructions, which seems a tremendous oversight except that in his time the average person interested in these matters probably had a bunch of basic skills already, so he skipped over the how to watch your breath or how to note your experiences type instructions, and instead spent his time telling people to observe the body, the sensations, the mind, etc. So what that’s left us with is a void into which anyone with an evangelical angle can pour their approach. 

All the best!

Buddhist smack talking, ha!

It was good to re-read that article on enlightenments by Jack Kornfield. I recently watched the film Bab'Aziz: The Prince Who Contemplated His Soul and it opened with a beautiful a Sufi saying. "There are as many paths to God as there are souls in the universe." Of course, enlightenment will take many forms. 

RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom"
Answer
4/16/19 10:48 AM as a reply to Laurens.
Maybe irreversibility is a myth ?

RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom"
Answer
4/16/19 3:25 PM as a reply to Laurens.
Waw, thank you everyone, for your replies! It excites me that this forum is still so alive! Your answers gave me a lot to think about. By the way, if anyone can answer me this: how should I best reply? Clicking "reply" to each individual answer one by one or just a single reply like this? I'm still a bit confused by the interface.

I did not post this to smack talk. I always had the impression Alan Wallace's views align with those of Daniel Ingram. He is indeed coming from a Tibetan Buddhist angle most of the time, his teacher being the Dalai Lama, but I never heard him talk down to the Theravada tradition or refer to it as Hinayana. So it was quite surprising to me when he dropped these statements about the Mahasi-style of Vipassana practice specifically. I had to pause for a second and ask myself, "did he really say that?".

Perhaps it's just a matter of different definitions. Clearly his definition of the first jhana is way different as used here. 24 hours of sitting unmoving in samadhi seems like putting the bar quite high. So, perhaps his definition of "irreversible freedom" is also something other than achieving stream entry.

In any case, I will probably have the chance to ask him personally, later this year.

RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom"
Answer
4/16/19 8:20 PM as a reply to Laurens.
I think reading U Pandita's "In This Very Life" you would see there are attributions made here, that are not fair at all. U Pandita talks about samatha & concentration.


Who ever he is quoting about "among the theravada practitioners" What about all those writing of Ajahn Chah? ... there's the whole Pa Auk tradition that is almost exclusively at the beginning samatha...

Don't know how anyone could miss that.

To be clear he is talking of millions / billions of hours of human time and institutions dedicated in many cases *just to the practice of concentration*

Right, ok, but someone you heard who is anonymous quoted that.

RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom"
Answer
4/17/19 1:55 PM as a reply to Laurens.
aloha laurens,

   Irreversible freedom exists for everyone whether they realize it or not.

   The idea of "demonstrating" this freedom is absurd. Like asking a bird to fly "freely" or a fish to swim "freely." Or asking a child to "be yourself." Or "go to sleep." I mean, really: who can demonstrate freedom on command. Absurd.

   If freedom is an issue for you then you are not aware you are free. It is not actually freedom that people are seeking - that is a given - but the awareness of this freedom. So-called enlightenment. Recognition of freedom.

   Being actually free is forward looking, into a future which is unknown and hence insecure. "Knowing" something is backward-looking and unfree, what marshall mcluhan called "rear-view-mirrorism."

   You can either simply be free, or you can know you are unfree. Most eat from the tree of knowledge; few eat from the tree of life.

terry


from franz kafka, "aphorisms":


86.

“Ever since Original Sin, we are basically all alike in our ability to know Good and Evil; even so, this is where we seek a particular advantage. Actually, it’s only after knowledge that the real differences begin. The appearance to the contrary is provoked in the following way: No one can be satisfied with understanding alone but must make an effort to act in accordance with it. He lacks the strength to do so; therefore he must destroy himself, even at the risk of not receiving the necessary strength; it is simply that he has no option other than to undertake this final effort. (This is the meaning of the penalty of death for eating of the Tree of Knowledge; it may also be the original meaning of natural death.) The effort is daunting; one would rather reverse the original knowledge of Good and Evil; (the term “Original Sin” refers to this fear) but what was done cannot be undone, only muddied. To this end motivations appear. The entire world is full of them—yes, the whole visible world may be nothing more than a motivation of a man wanting to rest for a moment. An attempt to forge the fact of knowledge, to make of the knowledge an end in itself.”

RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom"
Answer
4/17/19 2:26 PM as a reply to Paul.
Paul:
Hey Laurens 

I totally get where you’re coming from. As a newcomer there are so many choices and this can lead to confusion. There’s been some good points made already, so I’ll just summarise my input. The Goenka method is, summarising a very big topic, pretty simple, and also designed to get you some ‘interesting’ results in a short time. So on the surface it can be pretty damn satisfying after only 10 days. Know of any Goenka addicts? There’s loads of them out there. 

As for samatha vs vipassana, you will find along the Mahasi noting way that one-pointed concentration used in that moment-to-moment way is essential to progress. So you inadvertently end up developing samatha-like skills as you go. If you want to spend years training in the samatha stuff first, that’s up to you. As for what the Buddha said, he gave very little in the way of detailed meditation instructions, which seems a tremendous oversight except that in his time the average person interested in these matters probably had a bunch of basic skills already, so he skipped over the how to watch your breath or how to note your experiences type instructions, and instead spent his time telling people to observe the body, the sensations, the mind, etc. So what that’s left us with is a void into which anyone with an evangelical angle can pour their approach. 

All the best!

aloha paul,

   The buddha's "tremendous oversight" may be similar to his oversight in not talking about god(s) and the nature of the Self. Perhaps it is the "void" that he was pointing to.

   Maybe the buddha just sat, and didn't practice as we conceive of it today. Maybe he knew something we don't.

terry

RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom"
Answer
4/17/19 4:22 PM as a reply to Laurens.
There are a number of things I like about BAW, and I like many parts of his works, and even recommend some of his books, with appropriate qualifiers, but these specific aspects of his views covered in this thread are not among those I appreciate, and I am putting this mildly.

In summary, from my point of view, he is prone to cherry-picking extreme takes on a few key topics, the jhanas in particular, creating black and white straw-men out of them, and then using that to put himself in a position of subtle or overt superiority to those straw-men arguments and thus to straw-men traditions.

I find this an ugly, reprehensible business by a smart, educated, pretty well-practiced guy who I delusionally believe should know better but clearly doesn't.

I considered writing some typical Daniel-style long-winded point-by-point highly referenced refutation of the numerous serious problems with his distorted views and rhetorically compelling but deeply flawed arguments on these particular topics, and then thought to myself, "Fuck it, that's his schtick, he clearly gets off on it, has been for a long time, and lots of his followers clearly are into this kink also, so far be it for me to interfere with a man and his jollies, and, while I don't want to write anyone off as totally hopeless and unreachable, this crap seems to be the candy everyone wants, as Natalie Merchant so nicely sang it."

RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom"
Answer
4/18/19 3:18 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
There are a number of things I like about BAW, and I like many parts of his works, and even recommend some of his books, with appropriate qualifiers, but these specific aspects of his views covered in this thread are not among those I appreciate, and I am putting this mildly.

In summary, from my point of view, he is prone to cherry-picking extreme takes on a few key topics, the jhanas in particular, creating black and white straw-men out of them, and then using that to put himself in a position of subtle or overt superiority to those straw-men arguments and thus to straw-men traditions.

I find this an ugly, reprehensible business by a smart, educated, pretty well-practiced guy who I delusionally believe should know better but clearly doesn't.

I considered writing some typical Daniel-style long-winded point-by-point highly referenced refutation of the numerous serious problems with his distorted views and rhetorically compelling but deeply flawed arguments on these particular topics, and then thought to myself, "Fuck it, that's his schtick, he clearly gets off on it, has been for a long time, and lots of his followers clearly are into this kink also, so far be it for me to interfere with a man and his jollies, and, while I don't want to write anyone off as totally hopeless and unreachable, this crap seems to be the candy everyone wants, as Natalie Merchant so nicely sang it."

aloha dan,

    Seems a bit harsh to me, coming from this glass house, one candy man to another. 

   I lived in the grand junction colorado area for a year or so one time, around whitewater and fruita. The area was full of christians, and every unaffiliated sinner who passed by was lobbied by one church and another. The funny thing was, the sinners were solicited and caressed, while members of the other christian churches were reviled and condemned for their heretical ways, celebrating the sabbath on the wrong day or whatever. Of course, none of the churches would have let christ in the door, with his radical talk, funky friends and casual atttire, his freedom and independence.

terry


from 'the essential rumi' trans barks:


THE GUEST HOUSE

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom"
Answer
4/18/19 6:15 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
Stickman2:
Maybe irreversibility is a myth ?
aloha stickman,

   Freedom itself, as we conceive it, is a myth. The being we want to free is a being that doesn't exist. Even worse, our attempts to free ourselves are not merely misguided: we deliberately sabotage our efforts because the last thing we really want is freedom. We aim for egolessness in such a manner as to enhance and solidify ego. The same old craving for fame and gain, in the form of achievement, recognition and security is pursued in the guise of seeking enlightenment. In reality, giving up the pursuit and achieving the goal are the same thing. When there is nowhere to go, here you are.

   On the big island there is an annual race, the ironman triathlon. The finish line is in my own little town of hawi, so annually our lives are disrupted by this spectacle. These so-called athletes "train" by spending countless hours riding on bicycles, swimming in pools and running along roadsides. They cause and suffer many accidents. There is an "ultrathon" here as well, three consecutive triathlons; of the half who finish, most end up in the er getting iv fluids. The hospital staff would be half admiring of their endurance and half appalled at "wasting" medical services on self-inflicted injuries. The individual "triathletes" generally regard themselves as superior human specimens, though the activities, at this level of competition, actually deform the human body and cause a variety of pathologies. They often brag of how many reps they have logged daily in their on-going pursuit of endurance records and "personal bests." I imagine they all began as fitness buffs and gradually got caught up in the madness. Eventually it takes over their lives, and simple fitness for life becomes an end in itself, as achievement and a basis for recognition.

   A monk approaches a zen master and asks him to free his mind. Who has bound you? Why, no one. Then I have freed your mind.

terry



from chogyam trungpa, 'the myth of freedom':


   The effort to secure our happiness, to maintain ourselves in relation to someone else, is the process of ego. But this effort is futile because there are continual gaps in our seemingly solid world, continual cycles of death and rebirth, constant change. The sense of continuity and solidity of self is an illusion. There is really no such thing as ego, soul, or atman. It is a succession of confusions that create ego. The process which creates ego actually consists of a flicker of confusion, a flicker of aggression, a flicker of grasping - all of which exist only in the moment. Since we cannot hold on to the present moment, we cannot hold on to me and mine and make them solid things.

   The experience of oneself relating to other things is actually a momentary discrimination, a fleeting thought. If we generate these fleeting thoughts fast enough, we can create the illusion of continuity and solidity. It is like watching a movie, the individual film frames are played so quickly that they generate the illusion of continual movement. So we build up an idea, a preconception, that self and other are solid and continuous. And once we have this idea, we manipulate our thoughts to confirm it, and are afraid of any contrary evidence. It is this fear of exposure, this denial of impermanence, that imprisons us. It is only by acknowledging impermanence that there is the chance to die and the space to be reborn and the possibility of appreciating life as a creative process.

RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom"
Answer
4/18/19 8:15 PM as a reply to Laurens.
Just listened to that part of the interview.


Irreversible freedom is defined as "permenant eradication of the afflictions", or arahant in the traditional (not mtcb) sense.

Well...can we name any mahasi practitioner who has done this?

Many, like myself, don't really believe this is even possible.

RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom"
Answer
4/19/19 11:08 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
Buddhist smack talking, ha!

It was good to re-read that article on enlightenments by Jack Kornfield. I recently watched the film Bab'Aziz: The Prince Who Contemplated His Soul and it opened with a beautiful a Sufi saying. "There are as many paths to God as there are souls in the universe." Of course, enlightenment will take many forms. 


aloha andromeda,

   I liked the quote, it reminded me of similar expressions by vivekananda, who wished each person had their own religion. After reading this, later in the day I happened to pick up an actual physical book, "tales from the land of the sufis" by bayat and jamnia and the following quote from abu sa'id leapt from the page:



THE WAY OF REACHING GOD

One day a man asked the shaykh about the ways of reaching God. "The ways to God," he replied, "are as many as there are created beings. But the shortest and easiest is to serve others, to not bother others, and to make others happy."



terry

RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom"
Answer
4/19/19 2:57 PM as a reply to Laurens.
What he says is partially true. Certainly there are arguments that we need to have more Jhana and I think Daniel has already said this. Thanissaro Bhikkhu feels that if people skip to insight right away they won't benefit from the weaning results that one gets from a good jhana practice. Feed yourself really well on the breath so that you aren't hungry for other things externally.

Thanissaro would also not want us to conceptualize maps too much, because we end up thinking about them instead of practicing. He even goes so far as to not label the jhanas. Just keep maintaining concentration. Delusion concentration is feeding on the pleasure and then letting the thoughts back in so that you are daydreaming about jhana and insight attainments instead of practicing.

RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom"
Answer
4/21/19 12:48 AM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Why is that the mctb acknowledge the possibility of real siddhis like pyromancy and precognition but reject the notion of complete liberation from the canonical point of view? i dont get it.  
If such siddhis are possible then canonical liberation is possible too. 

RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom"
Answer
4/21/19 2:04 AM as a reply to Jake Frankfurt Middenhall.
Let's say that I said something like, "The promise of technology is vast, so, If nuclear fusion is possible, then of course genetic perfection of the human organism to make us perfectly wise and to live on this earth without getting into any conflict with anything or to cause any damage to any other organism or part of the ecosystem is possible," what would you think of such an argument? Does one logically follow from the other?

In the same way, that the powers ever occur is not the same as stating that the complete purification and idealic transformation of the human organism by insight practice ever occurs. While I have seen and experienced the powers, however unpredictably and fleetingly, and I know that peole today can attain to the stage of insight described in the Udana in the Bahiya of the Bark Cloth Sutta, the erradication of the Ten Fetters as classically described with all of the canonical and commentarial additional odds and ends about thoughts, emotions, actions, words, etc. that can't occur and views regarding things like sexual attraction and all of that which are stated to occur or not occur if one sums every single one of the criteria one can find together: this I have not seen, and it appears to defy contemporary reality testing. In fact, it appears to defy even Pali Canon-era reality testing, if one reads carefully the lives of the canonical great disciples and of the Buddha.

RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom"
Answer
4/21/19 2:36 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Speaking purely from a canonical perspective, the poems of Ananda well after Arahantship support Daniel's comment, since they express deeply human emotions that call into question absolutist ideals about what awakened beings do or do not experience. He bemoans the loss of his best friend Sariputta and of his teacher the Buddha. He finds solace only in practising mindfulness of the body. He experiences loneliness and sorrow. As a relative beginner from an insight perspective, I find this evidence profoundly moving and inspiring.


034. All the directions are obscure,
The teachings are not clear to me;
With our benevolent friend gone,
It seems as if all is darkness.

1035. For one whose friend has passed away,
One whose teacher is gone for good,
There is no friend that can compare
With mindfulness of the body.

1036.
The old ones have all passed away;
I do not fit in with the new.
And so today I muse alone
Like a bird who has gone to roost.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/thag/thag.17.03.olen.html

RE: "Not one Mahasi practitioner has achieved irreversible freedom"
Answer
4/21/19 4:26 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I think you have a point. Nonethless, if we acknowkledge that the mind is capable of producing siddhis that can surpass all current modes of scientific knowledge, being able to do things that can be seen as absurd for most, then i can´t rule the possibility that there is a method with the means to produce a liberation beyond all the current physiological understanding. Altho i agree that i dont think there is anybody today that had accomplished it, and even those quotes of past arhants let me doubts about yesterday.   


Wow that´s a nice poem. Thank you.