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The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Daniel M. Ingram 5/26/19 7:11 AM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Paul 5/26/19 7:39 AM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Daniel M. Ingram 5/26/19 7:58 AM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Griffin 5/26/19 10:28 AM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Daniel M. Ingram 5/26/19 2:58 PM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Griffin 5/27/19 4:52 PM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Daniel M. Ingram 5/28/19 3:52 PM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Ryan 5/28/19 1:58 PM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Ward Law 5/28/19 2:29 PM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Daniel M. Ingram 5/29/19 5:08 AM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/29/19 6:21 AM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Lewis James 5/29/19 6:29 AM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/29/19 7:52 AM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Daniel M. Ingram 5/29/19 12:27 PM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Chris Marti 5/29/19 1:34 PM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/29/19 1:34 PM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map svmonk 5/29/19 9:11 PM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/30/19 6:30 AM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Daniel M. Ingram 5/28/19 3:29 PM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Adam M 5/29/19 2:36 PM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Chris Marti 5/29/19 2:37 PM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Adam M 5/29/19 3:34 PM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Griffin 5/30/19 5:56 AM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Adam M 5/30/19 8:10 AM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Chris Marti 5/30/19 8:37 AM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Adam M 5/30/19 8:58 AM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Adam M 5/30/19 9:29 AM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Chris Marti 5/30/19 11:16 AM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Chris Marti 5/30/19 12:18 PM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Adam M 5/30/19 6:48 PM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Daniel M. Ingram 5/31/19 5:14 AM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/31/19 6:23 AM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Chris Marti 5/31/19 9:40 AM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/31/19 11:18 AM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Daniel M. Ingram 5/31/19 12:03 PM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/31/19 12:32 PM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Allan O'Ryan 5/31/19 10:43 AM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Daniel M. Ingram 5/31/19 12:04 PM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Allan O'Ryan 5/31/19 1:13 PM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Siavash Mahmoudpour 5/31/19 12:42 PM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Ward Law 5/31/19 2:44 PM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Siavash Mahmoudpour 5/31/19 3:30 PM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/31/19 3:18 PM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Nick O 5/26/19 9:56 AM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Noah D 5/26/19 4:46 PM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Lewis James 5/29/19 6:16 AM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Dada Kind 5/29/19 5:10 PM
RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 6/2/19 5:02 AM
The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
Answer
5/26/19 7:11 AM
During September of 2018, I was the resident teacher with Culadasa at his meditation center Dharma Treasure in Cochise Stronghold, and there I made a large mind map using iThoughts of the TMI system.

To create this, I combed page by page through the book TMI (this being the third time I had gone through it, the first being when Culadasa sent me a pre-publication copy to review and write a blurb about, the second being listening to the audiobook on the drive out across the country before going to teach there), as well as page by page through his shorter practice guide, as well as a shorter handout available on the webite about the TMI stages of practice.

This mind map makes no comments on the system at all, but simply presents it as it is in summary form. I have plenty to say about the system, its pros and cons, its relationship to other systems, and the like, but this mind map has none of that. It also doesn't detail the Interlude sections ot TMI as such, which are useful for understanding the TMI system, so you should refer to Culadasa's original works for that information.

Culadasa saw this mind map in early drafts and in its final form, but he curiously declined to make any specific comments on it, so his opinions on it are unknown to me. So, take it for what it is and nothing more. I present it in the spirit of Fair Use of one who was studying the TMI system and though that my notes on it in mind map format might help others somehow.

All that said, here's the link to the TMI Mind Map page.

Best wishes, and practice well,

Daniel

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
Answer
5/26/19 7:39 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
That is outstanding, Daniel! Thank you for the effort to put that map together. It helps summarise the entire book onto one page, albeit a very big detailed page. 

On a related topic, I noticed around DhO that you seemed to state your disagreement with Culadasa’s sub-minds model, but have not elaborated on that anywhere (that I know of). I was wondering if you would do those of us who have read his book the favour of explaining what you see is lacking in that model. I personally found it very interesting on first read, and it seemed to explain a lot of what I was experiencing. But I’m aware it’s only a model and may be leaving out a lot of complexity or even adding in complexities that aren’t needed. Whatever the case, is it possible for you to give a rundown on what you don’t agree with about it? If it doesn’t stretch your friendship with Culadasa too much, haha! Would appreciate it very much!

Thanks again!

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
Answer
5/26/19 7:58 AM as a reply to Paul.
Dear Paul,

Glad you liked the map.

As to subminds, no I don't have any problem with his subminds ideas at all. That is a misunderstanding. It is an older idea, one Bill Hamilton talked about a lot, though he called them "attention centers", but the functional concept was the same. As stated in another thread, I talk about this in my own way when I discuss the vipassana jhanas, particularly the fourth, which puts together the various functions of attention into one complete whole when it finally converges in Conformity Knowledge, insight stage 12. You can see MCTB, particularly the second edition, for more on that topic.

As to straining friendship with Culadasa, well, that ship has sailed, unfortunately, so too late. Yet another small dharma tragedy.

My issues with TMI are many and complex, but subminds isn't one of them.

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
Answer
5/26/19 9:56 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
This is great, Daniel. Thanks!

I occasionally toy with the idea of revisiting TMI. In past attempts on working with it I felt there wasn't enough leeway for spontineity of investigation (for my tastes). Perhaps now being at a place where investigation is less of a priority, there could be some benefit to switching gears.   

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
Answer
5/26/19 10:28 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Hi Daniel,

First of all, thank you for making the map.

From some of the previous discussions it could be seen that you had objections concerning how the topic of Dark Night was treated in TMI. Besides that, would you mind sharing a brief overview of the top 3 issues you have with TMI? I’m sure many of us would be curious to hear your thoughts.

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
Answer
5/26/19 2:58 PM as a reply to Griffin.
Yes, working on creating something constructive and helpful in that regard that will land as well as it can without exacerbating underlying conflicts too badly.

I have been thinking about the best way to do that since the complexities of last September, and more since the little skermish in November, and so forgive me for taking some time to get that right, as other projects, travels, retreats, house selling, and many other projects have called.

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
Answer
5/26/19 4:46 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Holy shit this is awesome!

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
Answer
5/27/19 4:52 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Dear Daniel,

Very glad to hear this. I hope that's going to bring in more clarity and mutual understanding into the situation. I am surely not the only one who has been saddened by seeing two of their favorite teachers getting into tense relations.

I feel a need to make a few observations on the topic of mapping POI to TMI. I don’t write this with an intention to start a discussion, since you are already preparing a comprehensive explanation. Of course, these are just my current views, which could be incorrect.

If someone successfully maps POI to TMI, it would be truly fascinating and admiring. On the other hand, we have some challenges in this regard. It seems like TMI stages are, roughly speaking, a progressive increase in concentration, joy, tranquility and equanimity, while there’s a distinct period of Dukkha Nanas in POI. We could try to map DN to stage 7 purifications, but that doesn’t match with associating stage 7 to the immature/middle A&P phase and stage 8 to mature A&P. Also, TMI presents “purifications” as arising and healing of neurotic “stuff” (traumatic memories, suppressed emotions etc.) – personal psychological issues unrelated to insights into impermanence, emptiness etc. As for Dukkha Nanas, they are supposed to happen during TMI practice (if insights occur), but they are not related to any particular stage, since stages are arranged by criteria of samatha development, not insight.

Culadasa says that if a non-samatha POI practitioner achieved Knowledge of Equanimity, this means they have developed a form of TMI’s stage 10. But he adds that this form is not as strong and it cannot be repeated at will. So, some degree of samatha is necessary for insight (whether this samatha has been previously fully developed with fixed object, or it’s a side-effect result of other practices). However, this doesn’t mean that, vice versa, samatha stages imply progressing in POI by default. We can imagine someone getting to full samatha (TMI stage 10), but using a specific type of meditation object in a way that prevents getting into any insight stage. So we couldn’t say that such practitioner has achieved real Knowledge of Equanimity in POI. That would mean that POI and TMI describe two interrelated but fundamentally distinct processes.

Culadasa also makes correlation between attentional stability in A&P and TMI stage 6 (“single-pointed attention”). But, there may be deeper differences under this correlation. I assume stage 6 can hypothetically be practiced in a way that prevents clarity and insight into impermanence of the object, so it doesn’t have to co-occur with a true A&P event. Furthermore, attentional stability is not the only criteria of development in TMI, if we look at the whole map. Attentional stability is rather a mean for achieving the “Progressive Unification of Mind” and its effects (joy, tranquility, equanimity). And it’s very interesting that TMI doesn’t present unification just as a matter of conscious experience and attention, but as a matter of relationship between conscious and unconscious mind. I find the beginning of the 7th Interlude of TMI especially illuminating and surprising in this regard. (And second endnote of 6th Interlude explains Culadasa’s reinterpretation of the word “unification”).

There’s also a question of how to associate pacification (e.g. disappearance of sounds and thoughts from consciousness) with POI. TMI has a specific endnote concerning piti and pacification: “The Theravada refer to these as “grades of pīti,” rather than as grades of pacification or unification because the Theravada never separately address pacification of the senses, physical pliancy, and the blisses of physical and mental pliancy.”

Further factor that may point to different natures of Progress of Insight and TMI’s Progressive Unification of Mind is this: “In every presentation of the stages of Samatha practice that I have ever received or read about, calm abiding meditation is a *preliminary* to insight. (…) All 9 stages can be cultivated prior to any direct experience of insight” (A DhO member referring to Asanga’s 9 stages, several years before TMI came out).

Also, there is a possibility that some of the similarities between TMI and POI might be coincidental, for example: “The experiences of A&P and late-stage unification seem similar but actually, have different causes.” (comment by an experienced TMI practitioner)

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
Answer
5/28/19 3:52 PM as a reply to Griffin.
Griffin: Dear Daniel,Very glad to hear this. I hope that's going to bring in more clarity and mutual understanding into the situation. I am surely not the only one who has been saddened by seeing two of their favorite teachers getting into tense relations.

Daniel: Well, here we go…
Yes, that was definitely not how I thought or hoped things would work out. Despite numerous invitations extended to Culadasa to get together in private somehow to work some of these issues out, he has declined every one, including the numerous invitations extended while I was there with him in person, the private emails I sent him in November, and more recent invitations through a friend who is helping him with his book on the stages of awakening, which, unfortunately, will probably lead to more complexity, complexity he has no apparent interest in trying to soften before it happens. So, we are left with formats like this. Sigh…

Griffin: I feel a need to make a few observations on the topic of mapping POI to TMI. I don’t write this with an intention to start a discussion, since you are already preparing a comprehensive explanation. Of course, these are just my current views, which could be incorrect.
If someone successfully maps POI to TMI, it would be truly fascinating and admiring. On the other hand, we have some challenges in this regard. It seems like TMI stages are, roughly speaking, a progressive increase in concentration, joy, tranquility and equanimity, while there’s a distinct period of Dukkha Nanas in POI. 

Daniel: Yes, as TMI puts both jhana and insight criteria all together into one linear map, lacks the concept of the vipassana jhanas that help bridge that gap, it is like trying to compress a complex, multidimensional space into an idealized line, a line of relative safety through that complex territory that is considered optimal by the author, yet is not one that everyone sticks to in practice. Clearly, the problems are numerous, and it makes nuanced discussions that discuss the wide range of the actual meditative terrain we find in real living practitioners difficult if we are limited to those ten numbered stages.

Imagine that one had a map of Florida that only showed the interstates. While one could do a lot of driving and get around on those interstates, it still would be limited if one wanted to get off the main roads or if one somehow found one’s self off of the interstate. The TMI map is like this.

I like interstate driving myself most of the time, as it is often fast and easy, but not everyone who practices can stay in those narrow safe zones of practice as idealized in TMI.

Yes, I appreciate the attempt and ideal, which is an ancient one, to construct the perfect blending of samatha and vipassana elements that eliminates all difficulties and provides all benefits. It is a great dream, but it is only that in practice. In reality, lots of complexities unfold in our practice, and few will stay perfectly on the straight and narrow.
It is interesting that, if one has as teacher who has stayed on the straight and narrow, it is possible that they might not be able to appreciate the degree to which some wander off of their idealized path through the territory. Some have mentioned that TMI might have this particular shadow side, an inability to deal with the fact that its system, while skillful, it not always the perfect antidote it bills itself as when tested in the real world.

Griffin: We could try to map DN to stage 7 purifications, but that doesn’t match with associating stage 7 to the immature/middle A&P phase and stage 8 to mature A&P.

Daniel: IMHO, the gap where the DN lives is between stages 8 or 9 and 10. Dissolution maps well to TMI 9. Equanimity maps well to TMI 10. Yes, I am aware that to be in those officially by all TMI criteria one needs pretty strong samatha also, and here is the obvious discrepancy.

However, for the sake of this discussion, it is between TMI 9 and 10 that the real gap occurs.

In TMI 9 we gain Tranquility, so it has this third vipassana jhana element to it. In TMI 10 there is broad Equanimity, to there is this fourth vipassana jhana element to it. However, where someone will fall on the great samatha/vipassana plane (it is much more complex than two dimensions, but bear with me), will vary by the practitioner and technique.

TMI attempts to keep things far to the samatha side and then blend in vipassana when samatha is well-established. Again, it is a reasonable strategy that some will be able to pull off. However, plenty, having crossed the A&P, will then not handle the next phase well. While I can appreciate that, by building in some early emphasis on peripheral awareness and tranquility, one will hopefully be better able to handle the shift that comes with the third vipassana jhana to wide and out of phase, not everyone will do this well regardless of the technique they use.

If Dissolution hits hard after the A&P, many will suddenly find that, having had TMI Stage 6, 7, or even periods of stage 8 concentration abilities, suddenly are distracted, having a hard time, posture is not as good, pain is back, mind is wandering, sharpness is gone, things are fading and falling away, and then, following along with the TMI plan, will regress to trying some strategies from much earlier stages, such as TMI 2 or 3. This can be very disheartening, and TMI provides no normalization of the fact that for at least 2300 years this particular transition has been expected and well-documented. However, those recommendations, while not terrible advice in Dissolution, are lacking that normalization as well as appreciation of what Dissolution and the rest of the third vipassana jhana have to offer and teach. I get a reasonable number of emails about this problem, and have discussed it with numerous practitioners who are in Culadasa’s Teacher Training Program, as the problem is real and noticed by them also.

We also have a terminological problem, as Culadasa, like Shinzen Young, reserves the term “Dark Night” for the extreme end of the Dukkha Ñanas, whereas I, borrowing from the likes of Jack Kornfield, do not, and use it as a synonym for those stages, however mildly or strongly they present. This has caused a lot of complexity.

The rebranding of the Dukkha Ñanas when they hit in medium to mild form as “purifications” is a linguistic dodge for the problem that everyone that I have ever seen practice goes through some form of the Dukkha Ñanas after the A&P, though they are often mild and not that problematic. I watched everyone practicing TMI go through them that I spoke with at Dharma Treasure, but, as they were not extreme, Culadasa said they were not the Dukkha Ñanas, as he is firm in his belief that he has found the perfect solution to the problem of how to get across that territory without any issues, so he conveniently ignores them when they are not very strong, or simply describes them as “dispassion”, which, while one skillful aspect of them, is only one aspect.

Griffin: Also, TMI presents “purifications” as arising and healing of neurotic “stuff” (traumatic memories, suppressed emotions etc.) – personal psychological issues unrelated to insights into impermanence, emptiness etc. As for Dukkha Nanas, they are supposed to happen during TMI practice (if insights occur), but they are not related to any particular stage, since stages are arranged by criteria of samatha development, not insight.

Daniel: Again, because we have a strictly linear model in TMI, it does appear that they don’t happen at any clear stage in some ways, particularly as plenty of people will have the expected difficult experiences when they go up through the stage of the Three Characteristics (typically happening somewhere around TMI 3-5), as well as have difficult experiences that happen when one falls back TMI-wise after the A&P (but is still making progress from a POI point of view), so, yes, clearly they don’t track perfectly.

Griffin: Culadasa says that if a non-samatha POI practitioner achieved Knowledge of Equanimity, this means they have developed a form of TMI’s stage 10. But he adds that this form is not as strong and it cannot be repeated at will.

Daniel: How strong Equanimity will be and its resemblance to TMI stage 10 will vary by the strength of the practitioner. However, from a POI point of view, the point is not to reproduce or repeat it, the point of Equanimity is to rapidly get stream entry, as that it the point of Equanimity, and then, having access to Review, one then has all the insight stages and vipassana jhanas to access, and, after mastery of Review, to access as one wishes. So, that critique is sort of missing the point.

Griffin: So, some degree of samatha is necessary for insight (whether this samatha has been previously fully developed with fixed object, or it’s a side-effect result of other practices). 

Daniel: Yes, clearly some degree of samatha is necessary for insight, a concept that the vipassana jhanas helps with nicely. It allows the maps to have that dimensionality to them. Might see this video for more on this: https://vimeo.com/69475208

Griffin: However, this doesn’t mean that, vice versa, samatha stages imply progressing in POI by default. 

Daniel: That is an extremely complex topic. While it is true that some will be able to stay far to the samatha side of things without gaining insight, it is tricky. For example, when I go on fire kasina retreats, where the emphasis is entirely on samatha, people still move through he stages of insight anyway, despite there being no emphasis on the Three Characteristics specifically, though there is a great emphasis on noticing the fine details of what is going on, which does involve moment. Still, within about 3-8 days, nearly everyone will be in some sort of Dark Nightish territory despite no emphasis on that at all, and this holds up well even for those with large amounts of TMI background.

The more I learn about how the path unfolds in practice, and I have been learning about this through literally thousands of emails and posts and many retreats, the more I notice that staying far to the dry insight side or far to the pure samatha side is very difficult, though some do manage it, and that’s ok.

Griffin: We can imagine someone getting to full samatha (TMI stage 10), but using a specific type of meditation object in a way that prevents getting into any insight stage.

Daniel: It is very hard to imagine someone getting to stage 10 without noticing that thoughts are thoughts and that they can be observed, for example, which is insight stage 1, Mind and Body. I could go on, but that in and of itself is proof that this concept is not tenable.

Griffin: So we couldn’t say that such practitioner has achieved real Knowledge of Equanimity in POI. That would mean that POI and TMI describe two interrelated but fundamentally distinct processes.

Daniel: If one said that a map of Florida that only had the interstates was mapping a fundamentally distinct process than one that included the side-streets and minor highways, as well as beaches, forests, swamps, etc. would that ring oddly to your ear? It does to mine. Just sayin’.

When one puts the POI together with the vipassana jhanas together with the samatha jhanas and has a sense of how one might move across and around that territory, one has a much broader, more nuanced, more complex map of what really occurs in real practitioners. Still, some people like smaller boxes, narrower paths, simpler frameworks, and find that satisfying, and who am I to say that they shouldn’t enjoy those if they work for them?

Griffin: Culadasa also makes correlation between attentional stability in A&P and TMI stage 6 (“single-pointed attention”).

Daniel: Ok, yes, true, TMI stages 6-8 all have some part of the A&P in them.

Griffin: But, there may be deeper differences under this correlation. I assume stage 6 can hypothetically be practiced in a way that prevents clarity and insight into impermanence of the object, so it doesn’t have to co-occur with a true A&P event.

Daniel: Not everyone who goes through the A&P has a true “Event”, and, in fact many don’t. Plenty just get the piti and other factors, they then fade, and before they know it, Dissolution and the rest are occurring.

Griffin: Furthermore, attentional stability is not the only criteria of development in TMI, if we look at the whole map. 

Daniel: As you will see in another post showing my summary mind map of TMI, I have some familiarity with the whole map.

Griffin: Attentional stability is rather a mean for achieving the “Progressive Unification of Mind” and its effects (joy, tranquility, equanimity).

Daniel: Here we agree, hence the utility of the vipassana jhanas explaining very nicely how the center of attention combines with peripheral awareness and then finally pulls in core processes to put the whole of the mind together in Conformity Knowledge.

Griffin: And it’s very interesting that TMI doesn’t present unification just as a matter of conscious experience and attention, but as a matter of relationship between conscious and unconscious mind. I find the beginning of the 7th Interlude of TMI especially illuminating and surprising in this regard. (And second endnote of 6th Interlude explains Culadasa’s reinterpretation of the word “unification”).
There’s also a question of how to associate pacification (e.g. disappearance of sounds and thoughts from consciousness) with POI.

TMI has a specific endnote concerning piti and pacification: “The Theravada refer to these as “grades of pīti,” rather than as grades of pacification or unification because the Theravada never separately address pacification of the senses, physical pliancy, and the blisses of physical and mental pliancy.”

Daniel: This is simply untrue. I will refer you to the Visuddhimagga, Chapter XX, and you can read all about what the Theravada offers there regarding physical pliancy and the other factors, with this being a small but easily digested sampling. Check out specifically page 663, paragraph 116 and the surrounding few pages. Really, start on page 662 and read for a while and see what you find.

Griffin: Further factor that may point to different natures of Progress of Insight and TMI’s Progressive Unification of Mind is this: “In every presentation of the stages of Samatha practice that I have ever received or read about, calm abiding meditation is a *preliminary* to insight.

Daniel: Again, one might familiarize one with classic sutra MN 111 found here: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.111.than.html, or read the commentaries, such as the Visuddhimagga and Vimuttimagga.

Further, as anyone who has done a practice such as “noting” well has noticed, one can clearly perceive what is going on, unify one’s mind to get to Conformity Knowledge and Stream Entry and beyond, and not have been that calm before one started making progress in insight. This experiment has been repeated literally hundreds of thousands of times. Still, many who do practices like noting will notice that jhanic factors arise, and, in fact, are very comonly noted, as in the Ten Corruptions of Insight.

Griffin: (…) All 9 stages can be cultivated prior to any direct experience of insight” (A DhO member referring to Asanga’s 9 stages, several years before TMI came out).

Daniel: Again, to be able to do these stages without the ability to gain any insight is not true. Notice all the descriptions and what they involve. It is impossible to be able to do them without noticing thoughts as thoughts, insight stage 1, Mind and Body. It is impossible to get to stage 8 where lots of things are clearly noticed to arise and vanish with vividness without getting into at least the fourth insight stage, the A&P. Don’t believe this hype. Someone is painting the POI as some strange, stylized thing it is not in order to try to make those statements.

Griffin: Also, there is a possibility that some of the similarities between TMI and POI might be coincidental, for example: “The experiences of A&P and late-stage unification seem similar but actually, have different causes.” (comment by an experienced TMI practitioner)

Daniel: Again, the stages of insight are something intrinsic to how attention develops. I have heard literally thousands of descriptions of them from Sufis, Christian Contemplates, those doing all sorts of “pure samatha practices”, from TM practitioners, from people who just got into a grove doing something that involved concentration in ordinary, worldly activities, etc. If one has followed the DhO for the 11 or so years of its existence, one will know this well. The evidence for the stage of insight being intrinsic to attention development is overwhelming, incontrovertible.

To me, the question is how to move through the POI as one thinks best, which typically means either, "How to move through the POI with the last difficulties," which is what TMI attempts, or "How to move through the POI the fastest," which is what practices like Noting attempt. It is true that they give different flavors to the POI, but that is not the same as the POI not happening.

It is like climate change, where only people who are desperate to ignore the evidence are still talking about now maybe human activity and climate change are unrelated. Why??? It is bizarre in the extreme.

Ok, so that’s going to stir some stuff up, but the basics are there to be discussed, and the some of the conflicts now laid out. May this proceed as well as it can, and may our work lead to skillful outcomes and better practice for all concerned.

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
Answer
5/28/19 1:58 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
FWIW, as someone who started out their “serious” practice with TMI, it’s still worth mentioning that the first half of it contain some of the best cookbook-style Samatha instructions to be found anywhere. The system has its limits though, I'd have to admit. From what I’ve seen in my practice as well as read over at r/TheMindIlluminated, after getting to stage 6-7, the deficiencies tend to become apparent to a lot of practitioners. Sometimes plateaus in natural talent cause people to get stuck (something TMI doesn’t address, see, e.g., Tucker Peck’s recommendations), sometimes an A&P event sets people back and they don’t have the tools to deal with/understand it, and still other times they just find the insight practice instructions post stage seven to be insufficient for the task of getting the thing done.

The weird thing about all of this is that Culadasa released a pretty good handout on the POI sometime ago (dharmatreasure.org/wp-content/uploads/Meditation-and-Insight-III.pdf). I can’t imagine why he at least appears to be averse to an open discussion about how to reconcile TMI with the POI. Maybe he's concerned about distractions from what he's working on now? I don't know, but it’s all rather disheartening tbh… 

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
Answer
5/28/19 2:29 PM as a reply to Ryan.
I can’t imagine why he at least appears to be averse to an open discussion about how to reconcile TMI with the POI. Maybe he's concerned about distractions from what he's working on now? I don't know, but it’s all rather disheartening tbh… 

It might have something to do with his declining health. I don't have an update on his condition at the moment, but I recall him saying recently (in a Q&A) that death is becoming more of a focus for him; that is, how best to live in the time remaining. Lengthy discussions/debates are costly in time and energy.

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
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5/28/19 3:29 PM as a reply to Ryan.
I totally agree that TMI offers some extremely solid foundational tech, handles the hindrances and establishing a practice very well, does a great job with early to mid-level samatha instruction, has great and useful diagrams, gives useful emphasis on the differences between central attention and peripheral awareness, does a great job with intentions and resolutions, and, if taken in the spirit that he presents it in places, is applicable to a wide range of objects, techniques, and schools of practice. This is why I recommend TMI in my book and often recommend it to people for those exact reasons.

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
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5/29/19 5:08 AM as a reply to Ward Law.
Those concerns about his health, death, and what to do with remaing time are extremely reasonable and understandable, and I respect those greatly.

Still, I will bet that, within a few hours of focused, structured discussion, perhaps if there were some reasonable moderator or someone helping to keep the thing on the rails and efficient, at least points of controvery and points of agreement and the pros and cons of various views, and why we thought various views were helpful and not helpful could be clarified, and that this would save a lot of people a lot of time. Just my dream, doesn't mean it has to happen, but I don't think I am unreasonable for dreaming that, and I know that I am not alone in having this particular dream.

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
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5/29/19 6:16 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Great map for reference. I did notice when trying to open the png on mobile (which isn't the optimal way to view it I'm sure) it crashed the browser - I've attached a version converted to PNG-8 which reduces the file size by 72% which seems to work on my phone. It may still take a while to render when you zoom in.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/13qPu3yGmvNIS0nWOmqD3CB9OeyH8VmH3/view?usp=sharing

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
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5/29/19 6:21 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Maybe part of the problem is that this is not the only discussion that is wanted by a lot of people. I have seen similar wishes with regard to how TMI corresponds to Shinzen Young’s unified mindfullness system. Maybe there are more comparisons with other systems as well, I don’t know. Saying yes to one such discussion might give fuel to more pressure with regard to other discussions. Choosing which ones to adress costs energy as well. Also, maybe there are emotions invested, and maybe a few hours of discussion would require some preparing and some rest afterwards. It could be intellectually challenging or at least draining if the illness entails brain fog, which poor health so often does. Maybe having this kind of discussion with Shinzen Young would strain their friendship, I don’t know. Maybe they are both above prestige and pride, but then again, even arahants are only people, so maybe they are not. I wouldn’t know. Saying yes to a discussion with you might make it more difficult to say no to having a similar discussion with Shinzen (although I’m not so sure that Shinzen is eager to have the discussion either). I’m probably projecting here, but since your friendship was challenged by controversy, maybe that doesn’t seem so appealing to repeat with another friend with so little time left.

I can understand and sympathize with your dream, but like you, I have the greatest respect for Culadasa’s decisions for his remaining time in life.

Anyway, I appreciate your comments on how the systems diverge and converge. They both confirm and add to what I had already figured out (mostly add). It clarifies things a lot.

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
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5/29/19 6:29 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I know Shinzen has said in the past that if they could get all the prominent Western dharma teachers in a room for a week or two they could hash things out and come to something sensible. However when someone asked him directly on a support call about talking to Culadasa about comparisons to TMI, he said that he can do one better and that some of his senior students were doing an academic paper for their university on a comparison of the systems. I know Shinzen is all science all the time but I'm not sure that that's better from a pragmatic standpoint! 

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
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5/29/19 7:52 AM as a reply to Lewis James.
Ah. Right. Thanks for clarifying that!

I’m not so convinced that having all western dharma teachers in a room for a week or a month or even a year would hash things out. I think there will always be different preferences and different interpretations and different ways of categorizing and they are probably not that easy to translate to each other. Scientific studies cannot sort out the exact meanings of concepts within different meditation systems (or even reach consensus about concepts within scientific fields), but there are limits as to what communication can accomplish as well, I guess. I tend to set my hopes to communication anyway, and I do find it frustrating when the opportunities for communication close down.

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
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5/29/19 12:27 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
What is different this time is that many of the key players are scientists, have scientific minds, have scientific ideals, have scientific training, know how this is done, believe it should be done, and come from a culture that, while sometimes extremely toxic and tribal, as academia is and has been since there has been adademia, still has managed to overcome staggering differences of opinion and huge personalities of passionate geniuses to produce great things, such as standardized chemistry nomenclature, standardized physics equations, standardized math symbols, a standardized taxonomic system of living things, standardized medical terms, and so it goes. Yes, they still argue, which is part of the process and fun, but they are happy to agree on what they agree on, make that clear, and keep building the remarkable intellectual and functional structure of science.

In fact, at a lunch where Culadasa, Shinzen, and some other great teachers and practitioners were sitting around, this topic came up, everyone was all smiles, all in favor, enthusiastic, and we even set up a a Google Group to try to get started on this sort of thing, and it all fizzled to nothing. So, it is not just an out of left field dream that I have, but one that I know for certain was shared by many of the major players, at least briefly some years ago, and it is disappointing to see it die. Lessons in impermanence and suffering...

Thus, this time it seemed like it could be different, but perhaps you are right, that the camps are too tribal, the minds too closed, the forces working against this too great, the other obligations and priorities too pressing, the players too old, the followers too stuck on keeping to the system they have learned and backing their leader, etc. If that is all true, then we at least are in good company, as incidences of great practitioners coming together to work things like these topics out reasonably are so rare as to be able to be counted on one hand.

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
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5/29/19 1:34 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel, my experience with human behavior is that people who are all present, sitting together, even happy to be with each other, will be motivated to agree with each other face to face. They will want to avoid the appearance of rude and uncooperative behavior in person. When apart once again, other priorities will emerge, their prejudices will arise, conscious or unconscious, and they will go back to non-cooperation and behavior based on entrenched habit, competitiveness, professional jealousy, or what have you.

The motivation to do something different has to be pretty extreme, and I don't perceive this as a situation in which most of those present would have extreme motivation. You all have books written about your preferred practice methods, your students, and your internet presences. You are all more likely to be comfortable than you are to be motivated to push into this new territory.

This is not a slight on any of you, rather just an observation about human nature from someone whose career has been about trying to motivate people to change.

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
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5/29/19 1:34 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Hm... I’m usually the optimistic idealist, not the cynic. This feels weird. A lesson about no self, I guess.

I certainly hope that tribalism and closed-mindedness are not causing such a great idea to be abandoned. I was thinking more in line of language and conceptualization being too limited to reach consensus about complex phenomena. Maybe different people need different systems. Maybe diversity is beneficial. Maybe even ambiguity is not so bad. I don’t know.

It would be marvellous to have such a workshop, though. Groundbreaking.

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
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5/29/19 2:36 PM as a reply to Griffin.

As someone who has drifted into the Samatha route having originally worked with the Maharsi technique, it’s very clear to see what the problem is here. Unfortunately it’s very difficult to persuade people who have not had some experience of both routes. In the interests of harmony, I’m going to give it a go and hope people can keep an open mind as I try to explain what I think the issue is.

The way this process develops is very different for people who do Samatha before they do vipassana. As you get to Stage 7 of TMI, you will experience ‘purifications’. These often feel like bad trips during meditation which when they peak can overflow into your daily life and feel a lot like a dukka nana. These purifications often come back again and again but with less intensity and shorter duration as you progress through Stage 8. After this you start to feel piti sukka during meditation which begins to increase in intensity and eventually coincides with energy currents. This feels a lot like A&P but it isn’t. It’s just how these experiences are unleashed if you are doing concentration meditation rather than insight. These energy experiences peak in stage 9 and by stage 10 you achieve equanimity in meditation. To experience this equanimity permanently in daily life you will need to then do vipassana If you do this, you will still go through the insight stages but they will be barely noticeable. (noting of course that experiences vary tremendously this is just a kind of typical case)

For people doing Maharsi, its totally different. The energy currents will come out during the A&Ps and much of the nasty emotional stuff comes out during the dukka nanas. By the time their concentration has reached stage 7/8 they miss out on the energy experiences and purifcations that those who do Samatha experience. There’s just not much left for the Samatha to clear upThe problem is that there are 2 very different ways of unleashing these meditation experiences and many are only aware of the route that they undertook. Some people who do Samatha are only vaguely aware of insight stages as they were such a small impact on their practice Many who did Maharsi are just unaware of how the experiences that for them occurred during the insight stages occur if you do Samatha.This causes a considerable amount of confusion and unnecessary conflict.

The idea of mapping insight stages to the TMI stages is therefore pretty unhelpful. For example, if you are mid way through stage 8 of TMI, you could be experiencing energy currents one day, some fear purification the day after, aches and pains the day after that and then back to energy experiences and piti sukka the day after that. On a day to day basis it can be pretty random and the PoI maps are of no help at all.


If you want to combine TMI with Maharsi practice, my best help would be to say to use TMI to get to stage 3 or 4 and then do noting to cross the A&P By the time you get to the end of the equanimity insight stage, you might want to be aiming for stage 6 or 7 of TMI in order to maximise your chance of getting a cessation. If you get to Stage 8 however, you will start to enter into the Samatha route where the insight stages are no longer relevant.

My past experience of this has taught me that it is very difficult to persuade those who do Maharsi that what I’m writing is actually true I hope people will keep an open mind as a better understanding of the Samatha route would help enormously in getting past these issues.


RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
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5/29/19 2:37 PM as a reply to Adam M.
Adam, I hope you don't mind but I doubt you intended to shrink the font size in your post to the point of illegibility, so I changed the font to make the post readable.

Chris Marti
DhO Moderator

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
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5/29/19 3:34 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Yes of course Thank you very much

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
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5/29/19 5:10 PM as a reply to Lewis James.
I've been meaning to try out some different image encoders for some web dev stuff recently, and your post inspired me to test with the mind map.

1.3MB (0.25):
https://i.imgur.com/i1MbotG.png

1.6MB (0.5):
https://i.imgur.com/flWFhUf.png

1.9MB (0.75):
https://i.imgur.com/hCTnfZ2.png

3.0MB (1.0):
https://i.imgur.com/GkZPpZL.png

For reference, the one on Daniel's site is 10.4MB and Lewis's is 2.9MB. The first one would probably be ideal for people with slow connections etc.

If anyone wants to mess with this too, this was done with the pngquant encoder. The numbers in parentheses are the max-quality settings.

I have dharma-related stuff to say too but I'll post that later

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
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5/29/19 9:11 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I've been kind of hesitant to wade in here, but I think there is a point that people have been missing. So here goes.

Culadasa has spent most of his professional life as an academic, specifically as a professor of cognitive science at the University of Arizona. Now, as Daniel points out upthread, academics can argue about almost anything. So he has probably spent a lot of time in these kinds of discussions over the past 40 years. Since I don't know him at all except through reading TMI and viewing a Youtube video he made, I can't say whether he enjoyed these kinds of arguments or not, but my sense (primarily from viewing the Youtube video) is that he probably didn't. And probably, he viewed his Dharma practice as the one place where he didn't have to wade in and defend his views like he did in academia. Anyway, now he's retired from academia and maybe, as Ward said, in declining health. So it's not surprising to me that he isn't interested in engaging more actively with Dharma teachers who have alternative views on how the practice should proceed.

With Shinzen, it's a bit more surprising though. While he's also north of 70, he's been fairly insistent about pursuing a scientific approach to practice and, actually, I found his practice technique to be one of the most straightforward around. But since academic debate and discussion are critical to applying the scientific method, one would think he would be up for pursuing that kind of engagement. Could be his energy is also not up for the task.

Anyway, my 0.02 euros.

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
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5/30/19 5:56 AM as a reply to Adam M.
Adam,
Interesting points. I would like to share here a text written by meditation teacher Nick Grabovac, which is about the same topic we are debating here. I think that it's a nice addition to our discussion:

The physical sensations you describe, such as vibrations, pressure, etc do sound like manifestations of piti. Unlike with the noting technique, however, where you can pretty accurately (most of the time) gauge your progress by the careful examination of how physical sensations present (including piti), I’ve found it isn’t as reliable an indicator when working with Culadasa’s 10 Stage approach. For example, I found that, after crossing the Arising and Passing Away using the noting technique, the sensations associated with piti were more or less always present, even when I wasn’t meditating. For that reason, these sensations weren’t all that helpful for figuring out what Stage of samatha/vipassana I was in.

I’ve found that a much more accurate gauge of one’s progress in samatha/vipassana are the criteria for mastery given for each of the stages. In this case, if you are in Stage 7, then your practice should more or less correspond to the description given in the conclusion of the chapter “Stage Six” (see p. 233): subtle distractions are subdued through continuous vigilance, you can sustain a high level of metacognitive awareness, the meditation object is perceived clearly and vividly, you have complete control over the scope of attention, etc. Any manifestations of piti that you regularly experience can serve as additional support for your hypothesis, but I would caution against using them as your main criteria. (…) With respect to the correspondence between the 16 knowledges of insight and the 10 stages, here’s how I experience them:

– Late A&P (where noting is fast, precise, penetrating and effortless) = Stage 7 (effortlessly sustained exclusive attention and powerful mindfulness)
– Dark Night (especially Re-Observation) = Stage 8 (intense and sometimes quite uncomfortable manifestations of piti)
– Equanimity = Stage 9 (piti subsides and is replaced by a profound tranquility and equanimity)

Although the latter part of the A&P does seem to correspond with Stage 7 (since both have a marked effortlessness of attentional stability), the attentional stability achieved in the A&P via noting practice isn’t as developed as that achieved through samatha/vipassana. The difference being that the stability of attention gained via noting is much less robust than that achieved using the 10 Stage approach. So, although the correspondence between the systems is real, there is a substantial difference in the command of attention developed through these two approaches. Another way of saying this is that you may experience similar phenomena using the two systems, but that doesn’t imply that you have developed the same skills.
(source)

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
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5/30/19 6:30 AM as a reply to svmonk.
svmonk:
I've been kind of hesitant to wade in here, but I think there is a point that people have been missing. So here goes.

Culadasa has spent most of his professional life as an academic, specifically as a professor of cognitive science at the University of Arizona. Now, as Daniel points out upthread, academics can argue about almost anything. So he has probably spent a lot of time in these kinds of discussions over the past 40 years. Since I don't know him at all except through reading TMI and viewing a Youtube video he made, I can't say whether he enjoyed these kinds of arguments or not, but my sense (primarily from viewing the Youtube video) is that he probably didn't. And probably, he viewed his Dharma practice as the one place where he didn't have to wade in and defend his views like he did in academia. Anyway, now he's retired from academia and maybe, as Ward said, in declining health. So it's not surprising to me that he isn't interested in engaging more actively with Dharma teachers who have alternative views on how the practice should proceed.

With Shinzen, it's a bit more surprising though. While he's also north of 70, he's been fairly insistent about pursuing a scientific approach to practice and, actually, I found his practice technique to be one of the most straightforward around. But since academic debate and discussion are critical to applying the scientific method, one would think he would be up for pursuing that kind of engagement. Could be his energy is also not up for the task.

Anyway, my 0.02 euros.


That makes sense.

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
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5/30/19 8:10 AM as a reply to Griffin.
That's interesting Griffin. I think I probably agree with his points based on my memories of my experiences. It does hit me though just how complicated it all is. It's hard enough for people to identify their TMI/insight stage as it is without all the similarities and interactions between them. It seems so much more obvious now with hindsight. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and advise my former self now i know which methods work for my mind and how quickly. I'd probably be there by now.

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
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5/30/19 8:37 AM as a reply to Adam M.
The difference being that the stability of attention gained via noting is much less robust than that achieved using the 10 Stage approach.

One can achieve high levels of concentration while pursuing classical vipassana investigation meditation. It's part of the process. Built-in, so to speak. My practice consisted of investigating the perception of the feeling involved in the touching of two fingers and evolved later to a similar investigation of the perception of feeling in the upper lip's interaction with the breath. This approach allowed me to develop the ability to focus on those objects with both clarity and continuity for long periods of time.

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
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5/30/19 8:58 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Yes of course. Whichever system you use, you can potentially end up at the same place. I had assumed the guy was talking about the attention stability gained from insight stages such as A&P versus TMI stage 7. It's not a big point, passing A&P does a lot more than just improve attention stability afterall. I don't advocate for one particular system over another. The best techniques to use are the ones that work for your unique mind.

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
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5/30/19 9:29 AM as a reply to Adam M.
Actually Chris. I think the investigation of the breath at the upper lip is a technique introduced in TMI at stage 7. Close following I think it's called. You might have got to stage 7 doing that.

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
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5/30/19 11:16 AM as a reply to Adam M.
It got me to stream entry, even before I knew what that was.

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
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5/30/19 12:18 PM as a reply to Adam M.
I had assumed the guy was talking about the attention stability gained from insight stages such as A&P versus TMI stage 7.

Adam, the comment that was made was decisive and stated as an absolute - " ... the attentional stability achieved in the A&P via noting practice isn’t as developed as that achieved through samatha/vipassana.

As I have found from personal experience, it's not that simple or deterministic. YMMV if you don't think what I was doing could be defined as "noting practice." I do think, in general, all of these meditative conditions and effects are far less definable than we generally assume they are.

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5/30/19 6:48 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris -  I think this is a misunderstanding. The reason this was posted was because we were discussing the correlations between insight stages and TMI stages. When I said I agreed with it, I meant I agreed with the correlations identfied in the post based on memories of my past experiences. I didnt notice the sentence that you have highlighted. In fact I don't even advocate doing TMI as a complete system in most cases as achieving the higher stages of TMI can simply take too much time and effort for many people even if those stages produce a better ground of concentration than the insight stages do. For those who don't have a natural talent for Samatha I think drier vipassana is a very sensible option.

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
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5/31/19 5:14 AM as a reply to Adam M.
I like that this discussion has gotten down to more reasonable, phenomenological, practical, applicable nuts and bolts and away from some of the superficial personal politics.

One amazing set of concepts that keeps being left out is the Vipassana Jhanas. If one is willing to ignore the hyper-traditionalist critiques of their origins, etc., then one can focus on the extremely practical, explanatory tech that they are.

Further, if one expects the POI to just be linear, we go up, up, up, it doesn't work that way for most people most of the time.

Starting with the POI, to use an analogy about fetishizing brought up on Reddit, it is a bit like training to be a sherpa climbing Everest. You initially start with porting things back and forth to one of the lower basecamps. Sometimes it is raining and windy. Sometimes it is clear and beautiful. Sometimes it is dark, sometimes light. Sometimes the going is easy, sometimes not. However, by walking up and down that trail again and again, carrying various loads, dealing with different conditions, you slowly learn that part of the trail. This takes time, and it is not linear. Sometimes you don't get all the way to the camp and have to stop or go back. Sometimes the going is very easy and surprising. Sometimest there are animals. Sometimes you sprain your ankle on a slippery rock. Yet, you learn how the trail is, with all its little landmarks and signposts, trees and curves, views and struggles. You become a competent sherpa. This takes time, and a map on paper is helpful, but very small in comparison to what you learn by walking that trail many times in various conditions.

In the same way, most start off at the beginning, notice thoughts as thoughts (Mind and Body), notice some things about intention, notice things come and go, notice the Three Characteristics, even if they are not focusing on those. Sometimes we have powerful jhanic factors, the sun is shining. Sometimes our mind is stormy. Yet, the basic, fundamental insights are oddly the same, though the overall experience can feel quite different.

In the same way it goes for the other parts of the path, above the first basecamp. There may be differences, some areas intrinsically more rocky, some intrinsically colder, some warmer, some more prone to rock slides, some more prone to amazing vistas and easy walking. There is still Weather that can vary a lot. Seasons change. Snows comes and go. Winds vary. Yet, the trail is the trail just the same.

It is also true that we can have different gear. Some will travel very light, use fewer roaps, have less backup equipment, carry a smaller first aid kit, sleep less, climb more. Others will pack heavier gear, but sleep more comfortably, have more backup ropes, more pins in the rocks, better food, and their climb, while slower, may be a lot easier and more pleasant, and possibly safer in some ways. These are reasonable lifestyle choices, with pros and cons, and each must choose their own style as they go up the mountain. Neither can totally compensate for what ends up happening on the mountain, as it is Nature, and Nature does what it does, but, on average, one can predict how things might go for the hypothetical two different groups.

However, while the POI and TMI are often portrayed as opposites, the beauty of the concepts of vipassana jhanas comes in to turn a black and white discussion into one of adult thinking and shades of grey.

It might seem on the one hand that the fast POI people are the light gear, sleep less, use less roaps, take more risks, moves fast types, and the TMI people are more build lots of skills before the climb, cary a lot of backup gear, bring warmer sleeping bags and nicer food types, and this is true in generalizations. Both are very valid choices.

However, the vipassana jhanas allow us to think with more nuance, as to the Seven Factors of Awakening.

How the Vipassana Jhanas help:

If one learns to meditate very well, gains skills in samatha and vipassana, one will begin to see the correlations, how insights and jhanas relate to each other. One begins to notice through one's own experience that various factors can be optimized for in various ways. One can emphasize more jhanic factors or investigation, and, eventually, can learn to do both at the same time, and, eventually, learn to do those as one wishes, with a variety of objects, and tune the mind as one wants it to be, Weather permitting.

The vipassana jhanas concepts, which bridge the seeming gap between the POI the TMI stages, allow one to think of this as a multidimensional plane. One can notice which factors are present at any time. One can also notice the width of attention and phase issues (seeing the beginning, middle, end, or whole arising and passing of objects). One can notice the degree to which Mindfulness, Investigation, Energy, Rapture (piti and sukkha), Tranquility, Concentration, and Equanimity are present or absent. One can tune to try to optimize for those.

In this way, one can add or disgard gear, change one's hiking style, modify one's approach as the trail and Weather permit.

I personally recommend TMI to people so that they have, as they wish, strong support for those times when they feel they need more safety, more gear, more tech, more training before they get to steeper parts of the path, and it does those well. Yay, TMI! I similarly recommend other great works as well, such as Leigh Brasington's Right Concentration, Focused and Fearless and Wisdom Wide and Deep by Shaila Catherine, The Path of Serenity and Insight by Bhante Gunaratana, Seeing that Frees by Rob Burbea, In This Very Life, by Sayadaw U Pandita, etc., as all of these and more help to build up and reinforce various capabilities so that they can know what is possible and have a better sense of how to do it.

I also highly recommend learning about the concepts of the vipassana jhanas, which come from U Pandita and Bill Hamilton and the like, as they are very useful tech, useful concepts, and they allow us yet another possibly very helpful take on the territory, adding in a dimension that helps resolve apparent conflicts like samatha vs vipassana, and instead makes it about balancing and cultivating factors, working with the natural shapes of attention, dealing with the strange phase problems that can arise in the third vipassana jhana, which is where the dukkha ñanas occur, dealing with questions related to wide vs narrow focuses of attention and objects, adding in another way of looking at the concepts of central attention vs peripheral awareness, adding in additional perspectives on metacognitive awareness, adding in the natural progression of the arising of certain patterns of emotions and reations to experience, etc. They also provide one more way of thinking about and dealing with Weather.

In this way, strongly believe that refocusing the conversation on the Seven Factors of Awakening and the vipassana jhanas helps to resolve a lot of these difficulties and expand people's horizons out of narrow, linear maps, narrow camps, narrowly defined conflicts, and narrow practice patterns, and instead have a range of styles and concepts to help them navigate in territory that is often difficult to map in realtime even for experts, but that responds well to immediate analysis of factors and recognition of attention shapes and phase issues.

Culadasa often says that he is the only one talking about peripheral awareness vs central attention, or that he discovered this, but this is not true. This concept is build into the vipassana jhanas, and is much older than TMI. In particular, one will notice that certain phases of practice really shine when it comes to one or the other, and that the natural progression is to incorporate more and more of peripheral awareness into the scope of one's attention.

In particular, the vipassana jhanas map very well to the TMI stages, with the most obvious correlations being the second vipassana jhana correlating very well with TMI 7 (where the center of attention is amazingly clear and naturally able to focus on objects with piti and sukha present), and 8 (though, being broader and with more peripheral awareness, does start to have a bit of a third vipassana jhana aspect to it), and the third vipassana jhana correlating with TMI 9, and the fourth vipassana jhana correlating with TMI 10.

In the concept of the vipassana jhanas, there is the flexibility to recognize both their vipassana nature, that ability to perceive sensations clearly as they are, to notice them come and go, and yet also the jhanic nature of this process, that the jhanic factors progress through a predictable development to end up with a broad, expansive equanimity if practice goes far enough. They also allow for horizontal or lateral work, converting insight stages into jhanas and vice versa, moving sideways or diagonally on the great plane of meditation.

Further, if one is really into map theory, the fractal concepts of the subjhanas and subñanas, which initially can appear dauntingly and needlessly complex, are actually very explanatory of lots of what would otherwise appear like irregularities along the way.

I recall a recent, extremely gratifying conversation with a very strong, competent established practitioner who was for a long time also very non-mappy, not into all the stages and numbers, thinking they didn't apply to her practice at all, who then, on practicing further, exclaimed, "Wow, I can see them, all the little substages, just like the map predicts! Amazing! It is just like a fractal! I had no idea! This is so beautiful!" This was so delightful to hear, such a source of gratitude for this amazing tech that others who came before us were kind enough to share with us. Truly, when one sees that, it is beautiful, at least for me. It is not that you have to see that beauty, or even agree that it is beautiful once you have seen it, but, if you haven't seen it, perhaps consider reserve judgement.

Anyway, I offer these concepts that I do truly believe are beautiful, useful, that help bridge gaps, explain nuances, resolve conflicts, turn apparent contradictions into dimensions of practice to be explored, and develop and claim their own style of practice.

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
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5/31/19 6:23 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I love the sherpa analogy, and I find the concept of Vipassana jhanas very very helpful. From what I have seen of the pattern of stages, I probably haven’t yet grasped the whole image well enough too see its full beauty, but I have no doubt that it is there. What I have seen is enough for me to be amazed.

When it comes to the concepts of attention and awareness, I’m thinking that it’s confusing that the word ”attention” is used both in a scientific way for a specific system in the brain and more broadly when we talk about focus. When you say that the natural progression is to incorporate more and more of the peripheral awareness into one’s attention, what exactly do you mean? The cognitive system that deals with attention seems much more limited than what I think you are referring to. The idea of incorporating a broader focus is indeed not new, but I though Culadasa’s contribution was to build a bridge between that insight and what we know about the function of the brain and thus add precision to the words. Shinzen Young, on tye other hand, seems to have chosen to use the word ”focus” instead of using the connotation-heavy terms. If I remember correctly, you often use he word ”focus” in your writing as well. I think both choices make sense. I haven’t yet read enough of Culadasa to know how he deals with the brain actually being located in the mind rather than the opposite. I imagine that using concepts from brain science might be a bit tricky in that regard. I’m crious to find out how he deals with that as I read along.

RE: The Mind Illuminated (TMI) Mind Map
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5/31/19 9:40 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
This is a personal observation so take it with a grain of salt if you wish -- it's best when pursuing a dedicated practice to stop thinking in terms of what the cognitive science says about phenomenon X. Why? Because it muddies the waters of what we're supposed to be doing, which is to deeply investigate our very own personal perceptions and experiences. I note from many years of observing these conversations online that the philosophy and science of meditation can derail a lot of very practical progress. And please don't get me wrong, the science and the philosophy is fascinating to me, too. I just don't think it often mixes well with the practical, personal and experiential purpose of waking up.

Anyway, YMMV.

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5/31/19 10:43 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I have recently read a book called "Early Buddhist Meditation: The Four Jhanas as the Actualization of Insight - By Keren Arbel"

The book advances the position that the Jhanas as discussed in the Pali Nikayas and what we call Vipassana are " integral dimensions of a single process that leads to awakening."

Are you familiar with this book and do you recommend it?


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5/31/19 11:18 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
This is a personal observation so take it with a grain of salt if you wish -- it's best when pursuing a dedicated practice to stop thinking in terms of what the cognitive science says about phenomenon X. Why? Because it muddies the waters of what we're supposed to be doing, which is to deeply investigate our very own personal perceptions and experiences. I note from many years of observing these conversations online that the philosophy and science of meditation can derail a lot of very practical progress. And please don't get me wrong, the science and the philosophy is fascinating to me, too. I just don't think it often mixes well with the practical, personal and experiential purpose of waking up.

Anyway, YMMV.



I don’t know if that surprises you, but I actually agree. Maybe Culadasa doesn’t, though. I don’t know.

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5/31/19 12:03 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
It is definitely true that theory can totally cloud your ability to see what is right there in front of you, but, as we all learn while training in medicine, "the eye can't see what the brain doesn't know," meaning that you might be looking right at something and not be able to recognize it until it is pointed out to you. Both points of view are useful at various times, and neither should be clung to.

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5/31/19 12:04 PM as a reply to Allan O'Ryan.
That book has come highly recommended and I have downloaded a Kindle version, but haven't had time to read it yet as travels and other projects and reading have come first, but will get to it as soon as time permits. The summary line very much caught my eye and seems in line with my point of view, but we'll see on reading it.

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5/31/19 1:13 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I enjoyed the book very much and I found it very readable. Keren Arbel also has a video on you-tube where she discuses the 7 factors of Awakening. I really like her style and her personality. She doesn't venture into the area of personal practice in the book.

Thank-you for responding and Best wishesemoticon

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5/31/19 12:32 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
It is definitely true that theory can totally cloud your ability to see what is right there in front of you, but, as we all learn while training in medicine, "the eye can't see what the brain doesn't know," meaning that you might be looking right at something and not be able to recognize it until it is pointed out to you. Both points of view are useful at various times, and neither should be clung to.


Very true. And my interpretation is that Culadasa has taken it as his mission to enable people to see those things by way of building a bridge between insights and brain science. As I understand it, he doesn’t claim to be the first one to have or talk about those insights, but he does claim - rightfully - to be be the first one to build this particular conceptual bridge.

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5/31/19 12:42 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I have listened to many of Culadasa's talks on the subject of attention/awareness, I don't remember him saying that he has discovered it ( Although I wouldn't be surprised to hear him say that! ), but he does say that he is the first one that has articulated it clearly, he says in different places that The Buddha had discovered this, and in the Buddha's language, Sati is awareness and Samadhi is stable attention or attention stability. I have read Ajahn Thanissaro's article about Jhanas, he talks about local and global awareness too in that article, similar to what Shinzen has for local global focus and zoon in zoom out zoom both ways technique.

From what I've heard, Culadasa often says that experienced practitioners discover these two different ways of knowing, attention and awareness, but they didn't have the language to articulate it. Although I never like it when someone says: I did it, I was the first one, .... . Always there should be another statement after that: You need to look more!

In one of the SoundCloud tracks of Culadasa, someone asks him to explain how 10 stages maps to Progress of Insight, and he says that the only stages that map to each other, are Arising and Passing Away and stage 7 that can be mapped to each other.

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5/31/19 2:44 PM as a reply to Siavash Mahmoudpour.
Siavash Mahmoudpour:
...I don't remember him saying that he has discovered it ( Although I wouldn't be surprised to hear him say that! ), but he does say that he is the first one that has articulated it clearly...
I would agree with that, from the perspective of a layman who has read a variety of teachings over several decades. The other big thing I credit him with is teaching me the importance of eliminating dullness.

As for Culadasa in general, I think there are some misunderstandings about his work and his goals. The short story is that some people told him that he is a good teacher and he really ought to write a book. He wrote the book, with help, and it turned out to be one of the most practical and encouraging meditation manuals out there, with just enough theory to enhance one's understanding of the practices. Now people ask him a lot of questions, and he gives advice and opinions in the spirit of service to students. He wants his work to continue after he's gone. He does not consider TMI to be a perfect book; he has himself mentioned specific things he should have written differently or emphasized.

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5/31/19 3:30 PM as a reply to Ward Law.
Yes, the emphasis that Culadasa has on dullness is very helpful. Most teachers say when your attention wanders, bring it back, but don't explain how wandering happens and how to bring it back.

I think other than the teachings on awareness which is quite helpful, the way Culadasa defines subtle distractions and gross distractions, and subtle dullness and strong dullness, and how lacking strong awareness leads to distractions, and also how subtle dullness leads to lack of awareness and then leads to distractions, and how single pointed attention tends to cause subtle dullness at its early developments, I think these are remarkable teachings that personally for me were very helpful. I am not familiar with many of the teachers that are in the business now, but the ones that I am familiar with, most of them don't emphasize these subtle points which makes the progress harder and slower for beginners, specially when you don't have access to retreats.

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5/31/19 3:18 PM as a reply to Siavash Mahmoudpour.
That was very helpful for me, too, especially since I have attention deficit. Learning that too much single-pointedness is the villain rather than the goal has helped me both in my meditation and in my daily life. It may even have saved my life in the traffic.

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6/2/19 5:02 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I’m not a very visual person, so I procrastinated looking at the mind map because such maps usually overwhelm me. I have to say, though, that this is great and not difficult to follow at all. The color coding made it easy to sort out apples from oranges. This gives a great overview for finding one’s current challenges and proper advice for dealing with them. Thankyou!

I think that is how the TMI model should be used - or at least, that’s how I would use it (others can of course do as they please). It’s a totally different kind of map. It doesn’t map the terrain, but the strategies and how they correspond to different kinds of challenges regardless of where in the cycling they show up. Different challenges may be more or less prominent depending on where one is in the cycling, but that’s not the focus. The focus is an ideal and how to get there in spite of the challenges. It’s a troubleshooting model, and a great one.

I’m catching up on my reading now, haven’t gotten that far since most of this is still new to me and I have prioritized practice over theory (and listen to the dharma on my ipad while doing my daily chores). I’m reading TMI now, and I’m actually grateful that I listened to Culadasa’s youtube recordings before reading the book, because those are less intimidating. Being autistic, I sometimes have a tendency to read things too literally, and I might have dispaired in the overview of the ten stages earlier in my practice. Since I’m not only autistic but also have ADHD and Tourette I will probably never reach the kind of perfection that is described for more than brief periods at a time, and I think I would have interpreted the descriptions as something much more stable and consistant than it is, and perhaps than is intended. Now that I know that insight development takes place anyway, I can have a more relaxed approach to it.