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novice
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1/1/11 12:26 PM
This is very self-centered of me but I'm making this post without out doing the appropriate research first. I should definitely spend a few hours surfing this site and read Daniel's book all the way through before posting this. But I spend 30 hours a week online for work and I don't like to even look at a computer monitor when I'm not working. So here it is:

I don't understand the difference between Stream Entry and Arahatship. It feels to me that once you realize that it's all moving forward at it's own pace and thinking about it will only slow it down or even stop it altogether then bam! That's it. Enjoy the ride. So I ask. What is difference between that insight and stream entry and the other 3 stages up to Arahatship?

Thank you. Peace.

jon




*********edit********

Ok. So I just read a thread about clearing up the four paths. And it seems that it's all a matter of degree. Perhaps it could be said that the realization is stream entry and everything after that is more and more mindfulness. Is that accurate? Which I guess begs the question. Why so much emphasis on path? It seems to me that if you are 100% mindful then you know you're 100% mindful. And if you aren't 100% mindful then be happy that it only gets better from here on out. Is that accurate?

RE: novice
Answer
12/30/10 3:16 PM as a reply to Jon T.
Jon Toth:

Ok. So I just read a thread about clearing up the four stages. And it seems that it's all a matter of degree. Perhaps it could be said that the realization is stream entry and everything after that is more and more mindfulness. Is that accurate? Which I guess begs the question. Why so much emphasis on stage? It seems to me that if you are 100% mindful then you know you're 100% mindful. And if you aren't 100% mindful then be happy that it only gets better from here on out. Is that accurate?


No, not really accurate. It's hard to say what Stream Entry really did for me... concentration was greatly improved, doubt that I could reach the goal was removed... I got some insight into my and others' behavior and what caused it... but still the sense of self remained, that there is an "I".

Fourth path is very noticeable and very profound, from what I understand. You finally truly realize there is no "I", that all sensations are empty, meaning, that they have no self. I have insights into this, but it isn't a permanent, on-going thing, which it is for Fourth path. That's not to say that if I worked my hardest to be 100% mindful on this insight, I would have fourth path, because if I were to break my concentration on it then I wouldn't be realizing that. At fourth path, you no longer need to concentrate on this - it's blatantly obvious. Being mindful non-stop daily on this insight might however cause me to get fourth path, which sounds like a good idea now that I think about it...

2nd and 3rd path I'm not sure what insight you get exactly and how daily life is different. They seem more subtle, and people often have gotten third path without realizing it until they did something considered 3rd-path-only thing like attaining NS. For example I don't know whether I am 1st, 2nd, or 3rd path, but I'm sure about 1st and sure about not-4th.

You can be happy it improves from here on out, but that's not to say that you shouldn't do anything. If you practice diligently (be it noting, or "doing nothing", but being mindful in any case), then you will make better progress.

RE: novice
Answer
12/30/10 4:26 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman:
You can be happy it improves from here on out, but that's not to say that you shouldn't do anything. If you practice diligently (be it noting, or "doing nothing", but being mindful in any case), then you will make better progress.



I don't see myself not continuing to work. In fact, I see an extended retreat in my future. I feel like my unconscious is really burdened right now. The old habitual ways of perception as well as this nagging uneasiness about the whole enlightenment process (how do i talk about this with others, what more is to come, etc) is very uneasy. I feel like only a retreat will help soothe the waters. But now the idea that I'm in control is straight-up laughable. And it's quite freeing. And when I become mindful particularly after a fantasy but also after "goal-oriented thinking" I no longer hate on myself for having gone there. Not even subtly. It's all part of the process. A lot of my fantasies are about my practice and I figure it's just the mind figuring things out. And the greedy fantasies and "goal-oriented thinking" is comical. It's no longer anything to be afraid of. But I do look forward to when the weight of years of unenlightenment are permanently lifted. That will be fun.

I appreciate this opportunity to get all this off my chest. I certainly can't mention this to my old pals. I can just see them like "uh...yea.". And interviewing a teacher is better than nothing but there's always a follow up question that you didn't think to pose or a pertinent detail you forgot to mention. So, thank you.

RE: novice
Answer
12/30/10 4:37 PM as a reply to Jon T.
Jon Toth:


I don't see myself not continuing to work. In fact, I see an extended retreat in my future. I feel like my unconscious is really burdened right now. The old habitual ways of perception as well as this nagging uneasiness about the whole enlightenment process (how do i talk about this with others, what more is to come, etc) is very uneasy. I feel like only a retreat will help soothe the waters. But now the idea that I'm in control is straight-up laughable. And it's quite freeing. And when I become mindful particularly after a fantasy but also after "goal-oriented thinking" I no longer hate on myself for having gone there. Not even subtly. It's all part of the process. A lot of my fantasies are about my practice and I figure it's just the mind figuring things out. And the greedy fantasies and "goal-oriented thinking" is comical. It's no longer anything to be afraid of. But I do look forward to when the weight of years of unenlightenment are permanently lifted. That will be fun.

I appreciate this opportunity to get all this off my chest. I certainly can't mention this to my old pals. I can just see them like "uh...yea.". And interviewing a teacher is better than nothing but there's always a follow up question that you didn't think to pose or a pertinent detail you forgot to mention. So, thank you.


Ah I think you have some good insight there about being in control. I'm starting to realize this, too, that goal-oriented thinking is just another thing to note/notice and do away with. I think a 4th pather said, paraphrasing "In the end it's not something "I" can do to dismantle the "I"". Also great to be able to laugh at your thoughts =). Much better than being pissed off about them isn't it? Sounds like you have the right idea, though - continue to work, understand that there is an end and that you will get there, but "being in control" isn't being in control.

And yes, say whatever you like, here! Good place to describe strange events which if I told my friends they would look at me strangely, good place to ask questions and get answers from people who have done it. Also with teachers, at least with me, there's somewhat a nagging of do I really want to ask this? I don't want to waste their time.. what will they think? A combination of this being the internet plus the atmosphere here has allowed me to be much more open.

RE: novice
Answer
1/1/11 11:59 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
After reading the MCTB chapter of the stages, I think that maybe I've just been cycling between mind/body and regular awareness for the last few months now.

RE: novice
Answer
1/1/11 12:40 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Hi

Beoman Beo Beoman:
I'm starting to realize this, too, that goal-oriented thinking is just another thing to note/notice and do away with. I think a 4th pather said, paraphrasing "In the end it's not something "I" can do to dismantle the "I"".


If I may suggest: be very careful with any sort of inclination to do away with goal-oriented thinking. If your experience of life is not that of perfection personified, then suffering is not eradicated; and if there is suffering, one's goal should be to eliminate it. Without that goal / that intention, it will not happen, period. Further, the practical applications of goal-oriented thinking are still quite abundant even after suffering is eliminated. In other words, any inclination to do away with goal-oriented thinking is an inclination to throw the baby out with the bath water.

Consider this: why are you starting to realize that you want to throw away goal-oriented thinking? Hint: the doing of such may imply a feeling of relief. Why? This may also be a question worth asking: Do you want to feel relief, or do you want to be of a state that which never needs relieving?

Trent

RE: novice
Answer
1/1/11 1:04 PM as a reply to Trent ..
Thanks Trent,

I wrote that post a couple of days ago and I'm already out of that stage but I'm not into cause and effect. I'm just back into regular awareness. While I was in it, it really felt that everything was unfolding without me having to do anything. I still had the same goals I have now but the goals felt completely aligned with the universe so there was no need to think about them.

FWIW, those goals are to transcend laziness and restlessness. These two fetters will greatly assist my secular life and I'm sure will aid this spiritual journey too: The Buddha did talk about them quite a bit, I believe. My method is twofold. To transcend restlessness, I am working on staying focused at work and to transcend laziness I'm trying to start my day at sunrise rather than whenever I wake up (I have flexible work hours). While at work I no longer take unnecessary breaks, surf/chat or quit early. And when I feel the boredom that previously would compel me to either quit or distract myself, I just observe it and name it. Understanding impermanence and non-self is so helpful to a successful life. It's ironic (and fortunate) that I only understand those things now after I've quit trying to be a baller.

To practice transcending laziness or fatigue, I've been trying to get up with the sun as I have this romantic idea that everything is fresher during sunrise. While I've been mostly successful transcending restlessness while at work, transcending fatigue at sunrise is much more difficult. Naturally, my awareness isn't honed yet right after waking up so I just shut off the alarm and go back to sleep: It doesn't help that I am almost always more up and alert at night than at any other point in the day. This makes getting the right hours of sleep more difficult. But that probably falls into the category of restlessness. So for me, I think these two fetters are two most important ones to work on.

RE: novice
Answer
1/1/11 3:27 PM as a reply to Jon T.
Hi,

Oakland Blue:
While I was in it, it really felt that everything was unfolding without me having to do anything. I still had the same goals I have now but the goals felt completely aligned with the universe so there was no need to think about them.


Well, okay... just remember that feelings are not a very accurate way to appraise facts. Feeling that everything is unfolding without you having to do anything is fine, just as long as you realize that the feeling itself is also you. Your last sentence points to part of what I was alluding to with my first post: the fundamental nature of a goal is simple and unproblematic, but due to what goals imply for a self, they will often carry some sort of feeling-felt baggage along with them (so long as there is a self). It is critical to recognize the self's subtle attempts to usurp one's goals, especially when the goal is to eliminate that very self (it will cunningly feel whatever it must to stay in existence). Looking for and understanding the feeling-tones that are associated with your goals is one way to recognize this subtlety at play. In so doing, you will have a much easier time staying focused on the goal itself, which will make it easier to reach and also more likely to be reached (for reasons other than just the added ease).

Oakland Blue:
FWIW, those goals are to transcend laziness and restlessness. These two fetters will greatly assist my secular life and I'm sure will aid this spiritual journey too: The Buddha did talk about them quite a bit, I believe. My method is twofold. To transcend restlessness, I am working on staying focused at work and to transcend laziness I'm trying to start my day at sunrise rather than whenever I wake up (I have flexible work hours). While at work I no longer take unnecessary breaks, surf/chat or quit early. And when I feel the boredom that previously would compel me to either quit or distract myself, I just observe it and name it. Understanding impermanence and non-self is so helpful to a successful life. It's ironic (and fortunate) that I only understand those things now after I've quit trying to be a baller.


Overcoming laziness and restlessness as it pertains to the fetters the buddha talked about [1] will take much more than rearranging the content of one's life. That is not to say that rearranging such things as you indicate is unnecessary (I'm certainly a fan), but the context is significantly different and so the approach is also different.

Further, regarding the specific content mentioned, you may want to consider that your body's circadian rhythm is simply not in parallel with the rising and setting of the sun as it relates to the earth. Not being a "morning person" doesn't mean you're lazy or restless, it may just not be how your specific body operates. The best way to pinpoint your body's rhythms and thus its optimal time for functioning in different ways is by experimenting. When are you the most effective/efficient: working, writing, waking up, exercising, socializing, etc? When you know those variables, you can apply self discipline much more usefully. If you know your optimal time to wake up is 11am and still hit the snooze to stay in bed, that's a completely different scenario (and indicates something different) as compared to not knowing your optimal wake up time while forcing yourself up at sunrise based on some ideal you have.

Trent

[1] Sanyojana Sutta: Fetters

"There are these ten fetters. Which ten? Five lower fetters & five higher fetters. And which are the five lower fetters? Self-identity views, uncertainty, grasping at precepts & practices, sensual desire, & ill will. These are the five lower fetters. And which are the five higher fetters? Passion for form, passion for what is formless, conceit, restlessness, & ignorance. These are the five higher fetters. And these are the ten fetters."

Note that restlessness is traditionally considered to be one of the five higher fetters, which means its lack of arising is indicative of arhatship. But hey, don't let that fact keep you from aiming for it; it is doable in this lifetime. It is simply practical to recognize that the order given in the ten fetter model is such as it is because that is how one must do it. Which is to say: the five lower fetters must be broken before one can effectively chisel away at the five higher fetters.

RE: novice
Answer
1/1/11 3:52 PM as a reply to Trent ..
Thank you again Trent...certainly food for thought. this focus on restlessness is really paying off so I'm going to stick with that. As for the laziness/fatigue, I will keep in mind your circadian rhythm point but I'll keep my experiment going for the time being. And in a few months, I'll see if my body functions just as well from sunrise to early evening as it does now which is 9:00 AM to past midnight.

And your point about feelings/perception being just another manifestation of You, so even if you have perceptions about non-self then those are perceptions nonetheless and all perceptions are You. I think that's true to what you said. So I guess that's why passing through the other stages along the path is so important and not just getting stuck in mind/body. Thanks for bringing that up.

RE: novice
Answer
1/2/11 9:12 PM as a reply to Trent ..
Trent H.:

Well, okay... just remember that feelings are not a very accurate way to appraise facts. Feeling that everything is unfolding without you having to do anything is fine, just as long as you realize that the feeling itself is also you. Your last sentence points to part of what I was alluding to with my first post: the fundamental nature of a goal is simple and unproblematic, but due to what goals imply for a self, they will often carry some sort of feeling-felt baggage along with them (so long as there is a self). It is critical to recognize the self's subtle attempts to usurp one's goals, especially when the goal is to eliminate that very self (it will cunningly feel whatever it must to stay in existence). Looking for and understanding the feeling-tones that are associated with your goals is one way to recognize this subtlety at play. In so doing, you will have a much easier time staying focused on the goal itself, which will make it easier to reach and also more likely to be reached (for reasons other than just the added ease).


I don't fully follow this. How will observing feeling-tones associated with goals help uncover the "self". And just to be clear, when you say "self", you mean identity?

Trent H.:

Overcoming laziness and restlessness as it pertains to the fetters the buddha talked about [1] will take much more than rearranging the content of one's life. That is not to say that rearranging such things as you indicate is unnecessary (I'm certainly a fan), but the context is significantly different and so the approach is also different.


My plan was to notice their impermanence and thus loosen their hold on my actions. It has certainly worked for my work time but not so much yet for personal time. There isn't a profit motive within personal time. I will say that noticing impermanence does work for me in meditation despite the lack of profit motive. I sit for 45 minutes at a time and don't move a muscle except to readjust my posture or check the clock. Checking the clock is an obvious area that needs improvement but itching and the legs falling asleep are sources of meditation rather than a hindrance. I accredit that to seeing their impermanence which is the same strategy I hope to employ with fatigue/laziness in the early morning hours.

RE: novice
Answer
1/6/11 6:24 PM as a reply to Jon T.
Hi,

Oakland Blue:
I don't fully follow this. How will observing feeling-tones associated with goals help uncover the "self". And just to be clear, when you say "self", you mean identity?


To your second question: yes, I do use those words (and others to mean the same) interchangeably.

By observing the feeling-tones associated with a goal, one can uncover the implicit intentions behind it. By being aware of what kind of intention underlies one's goal(s), one may know whether or not there is a congruency between the self and the goal.

For example, a person could have a goal that states explicitly: “I want to end suffering.” This is actually only a part of the goal though. The intent behind it, whether selfish or altruistic or neither selfish nor altruistic, is the other part. If “I want to end suffering” primarily because I want everyone on the planet to experience peace, then this is a type of altruistic intent. If “I want to end suffering” primarily because I want higher self esteem or the esteem of others, then this is a type of selfish intent. This is one way that investigating a feeling-tone can directly uncover the self (or show that it is not operating in some specific instance).

Honesty with one’s self is the key to noticing these things in action, for then one is only one short step away from sincerity [1]. And a sincere goal is, as I stated in my last post, much more likely to be achieved. Specifically regarding the example “I want to end suffering,” altruistic intent is the only way to achieve that goal; obviously one cannot end selfishness by being selfish. And so, a goal that many members of this community likely have, are working to cultivate, or should be working to cultivate (else why be here at all): a sincere, altruistic goal that spells the end for suffering.

What is another way that the understanding of one's intentions and feeling-tones translates into an uncovering of the self (as it pertains to anything, and not just goals)? Pull up this Wikipedia page that roughly outlines the steps of dependent origination and scroll down to the chart about 1/3rd the page down. The beginning of the chain, “ignorance”, is the root cause for selfhood, “birth.” Feelings, intentions and their various causes and conditions occur between those two. Thus, an investigation of one’s feelings and/or intentions (or their causes and/or effects) is an investigation into one’s self. Ideally, such an investigation will allow one to recognize one’s ignorance and upon thus seeing, sever the root of some part of the self (which concomitantly ends the kamma related to that identification / that specific instance of ignorance). Bye-bye, suffering!

Oakland Blue:
(...) but not so much yet for personal time. There isn't a profit motive within personal time. I will say that noticing impermanence does work for me in meditation despite the lack of profit motive.


Can you elaborate on what you mean precisely by "profit motive," and perhaps provide an example?

Trent

[1] To be sincere is to be congruent / without duplicity. Note the word’s etymology.

RE: novice
Answer
1/3/11 4:37 PM as a reply to Trent ..
Can you elaborate on what you mean precisely by "profit motive," and perhaps provide an example?


The more I work, the more money I make. In the past restlessness/boredom have prompted me to quit work early thus costing me tens of thousands of dollars over the years. That isn't a regret because I don't need the money or even want it but I do enjoy the freedom from being no longer under the sway of boredom. Similarly, I am hoping to free myself from the sway of laziness/fatigue.


the kamma related to that identification / that specific instance of ignorance


I loved what you said about intention. (fwiw, I related more with the word intention than with feeling-tones: I associate feeling-tones with vedana). If the intention is sense gratification and/or ego gratification then the goal will lead one away from liberation and vice-versa. But I'm honestly not sure if my intentions are leading me away or towards liberation. They are in an interesting middle area.

I guess I now need to come clean on what I do. It's necessary in order to decipher the purity or lack thereof of said intentions. I play online poker for a living. Now even though I live very humbly and thus don't need to work a lot, I still do. The reason for that is because the websites I play at give me approximately $15/hour to play at their sites and, of course, I can keep whatever else I earn. I prefer to live off of that $15/hour and just save my winnings. Thus by playing x amount and living off of that $15/hour, I know for sure that I will never go broke and the stress of winning and loosing swings are dramatically reduced. (in the past I spent both the $15/hour and my winnings on what I'll call status upkeep - i no longer worry about that)

So the intention in regards to eradicating restlessness is to be free from financial worry. Does that intention reduce or increase "the kamma related to that identification / that specific instance of ignorance"?

The intention in regards to the fetter of laziness is different. It is to be free from the unpleasant vedana that comes when I fail to take advantage of the day. I will either take a longer nap than necessary, or sleep through early morning unnecessarily or veg out in front of the TV. Eventually, I am 100% positive that should laziness be eliminated or greatly reduced, my positive effect on the world through volunteering or spreading loving friendliness or both will greatly increase. However, increasing said positivity isn't the intention for wanting to rid myself of laziness. The intention is to not feel the particular unpleasant vedana coming from having wasted part of the day. Does that intention reduce or increase "the kamma related to that identification / that specific instance of ignorance"?

RE: novice
Answer
1/3/11 6:48 PM as a reply to Jon T.
Hello,

Oakland Blue:
I loved what you said about intention. (fwiw, I related more with the word intention than with feeling-tones: I associate feeling-tones with vedana).


My use of "feeling-tones" was as synonymous with vedana. Does that alter your reading of my words any?

Oakland Blue:
So the intention in regards to eradicating restlessness is to be free from financial worry. Does that intention reduce or increase "the kamma related to that identification / that specific instance of ignorance"?


Such an intention will not end the kamma related to that identification unless it is sincerely aimed in a direction that is not personal to the specificities of your identity. Further, it would not eradicate restlessness totally, though it could eradicate the specific financial restlessness / worry on your mind (more on this below). Compare these: "I intend to eradicate restlessness because the financial worry is hurting this body, and no body should hurt for any reason" is much different than "I intend to eradicate restlessness because I hate worrying about my finances." Another pair: "I intend to stop being restless right now because it is silly to spend my only moment of being alive wrought with worry" is much different than "I intend to stop being restless eventually because I make plenty of money and I feel socially comfortable with that."

Though, as I alluded to in a previous post, attempting to eradicate restlessness so that you are free of financial worry is to put the cart before the horse, regardless of your intent. (Which is to say: it won't work). A pertinent question then: why do you feel restless / worried about your finances?

Oakland Blue:
The intention in regards to the fetter of laziness is different. It is to be free from the unpleasant vedana that comes when I fail to take advantage of the day.


I am not sure I see the difference you indicate...aren't both intentions aimed at your want to be free from unpleasant vedana?

Oakland Blue:
Eventually, I am 100% positive that should laziness be eliminated or greatly reduced, my positive effect on the world through volunteering or spreading loving friendliness or both will greatly increase. However, increasing said positivity isn't the intention for wanting to rid myself of laziness.


How is it that you are 100% positive that would be the case? (Given your line of work, and the fact that you have financial worry, I am presuming that you are unable to see the future...) This is only to ask: when do you know what you know?

Do you feel guilty or ashamed for failing to take advantage of the day? If so: why? Do you think these various examples you provide are a specific expression of a general feeling about your life such as this: "I should be doing something different with my life"?

Oakland Blue:
The intention is to not feel the particular unpleasant vedana coming from having wasted part of the day. Does that intention reduce or increase "the kamma related to that identification / that specific instance of ignorance"?


My response here is the same as your other question regarding kamma. Vis.: "Such an intention will not end the kamma related to that identification unless it is (...)"

Trent

RE: novice
Answer
1/5/11 4:20 PM as a reply to Trent ..
By observing the feeling-tones associated with a goal, one can uncover the implicit intentions behind it. By being aware of what kind of intention underlies one's goal(s), one may know whether or not there is a congruency between the self and the goal.


Would you elaborate on how vedana can reveal intention?


Though, as I alluded to in a previous post, attempting to eradicate restlessness so that you are free of financial worry is to put the cart before the horse, regardless of your intent. (Which is to say: it won't work).



Are you saying that if ones intentions aren't pure then the desired outcome will always be corrupted. Say I am observing the impermanence of restlessness and laziness in order to be free from their grasp for the intention of being able to tolerate a longer work week so I can afford a sweet new ride. Now while I am observing impermanence I also observe the motivation which is said material desire. I observe them both as dispassionately as possible while continuing to work thus continuing to earn money. Are you saying that because my intentions are selfish, the knowledge of impermanence won't help me alleviate restlessness and laziness in any other non-work related endeavor?


Do you feel guilty or ashamed for failing to take advantage of the day? If so: why? Do you think these various examples you provide are a specific expression of a general feeling about your life such as this: "I should be doing something different with my life"?


I don't think my profession is spiritually sustainable. At some point if I want metta to fill my heart completely then I'm going to have to change vocations. I don't know if that perception is causing said laziness and restlessness and to what degree. I doubt it's 100% the cause, because, even an ideal job will be comprised of some unpleasant tasks during which the phenomena of laziness and restlessness will inevitably arise. I may as well learn to observe said phenomena dispassionately now rather than search for some impossibly perfect job where I won't have to deal with them.


Thank you again Trent


jon

RE: novice
Answer
1/5/11 4:19 PM as a reply to Jon T.
Oakland Blue:

I don't think my profession is spiritually sustainable. At some point if I want metta to fill my heart completely then I'm going to have to change vocations.


Note that filling your heart completely with metta is apparently not necessary to get 4th Path as described in MCTB, so until then you don't have to worry!. Depends what your goals are, of course.

RE: novice
Answer
1/5/11 4:40 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Beo Beoman:


Note that filling your heart completely with metta is apparently not necessary to get 4th Path as described in MCTB, so until then you don't have to worry!. Depends what your goals are, of course.



Hey Beoman,

for the record, I'm expecting MCTB in the mail any day. But I do have an issue with what you bring up. From what I've read so far on-line, he doesn't talk about love very much. I haven't re-read the morality chapter so maybe I'm forgetting quite a bit. But it seems to me that filling ones heart with metta can eliminate all the specific suffering caused by material desire and idea-clinging, and greatly reduce the suffering caused by identity (as ones identity becomes grounded and skillful). After that, any direct knowledge of the three characteristics, sati power, knowledge of the formless jhannas, etc can either completely eradicate what's left or reduce it even further. But if love is as ready a shortcut to liberation as I suspect then I'm uncomfortable with it not being a principle topic. Maybe he wanted to concentrate on subjects he feels aren't adequately addressed in other literature.

RE: novice
Answer
1/5/11 5:34 PM as a reply to Jon T.
Oakland Blue:

Hey Beoman,

for the record, I'm expecting MCTB in the mail any day. But I do have an issue with what you bring up. From what I've read so far on-line, he doesn't talk about love very much. I haven't re-read the morality chapter so maybe I'm forgetting quite a bit. But it seems to me that filling ones heart with metta can eliminate all the specific suffering caused by material desire and idea-clinging, and greatly reduce the suffering caused by identity (as ones identity becomes grounded and skillful). After that, any direct knowledge of the three characteristics, sati power, knowledge of the formless jhannas, etc can either completely eradicate what's left or reduce it even further. But if love is as ready a shortcut to liberation as I suspect then I'm uncomfortable with it not being a principle topic. Maybe he wanted to concentrate on subjects he feels aren't adequately addressed in other literature.


You're right there - it seems this community doesn't deal much with that topic. Perhaps it is an easier, shorter, more pleasant, or pick any of the three, route to Enlightenment. I have no experience with it, myself, but perhaps someone else does.

RE: novice
Answer
1/6/11 1:56 PM as a reply to Jon T.
Hi,

Jon T:
I don't understand how vedana has anything to do with intention.


Just to be sure we don’t speak past each other, can you supply a definition for vedana which is congruent with your meaning of it?

Jon T:
Are you saying that if ones intentions aren't pure then the desired outcome will always be corrupted.


Yes, without pure intention (unselfish intention), the outcome will always be corrupted by ‘me.’ The kamma of the outcome will be the same as the kamma of the intention (arguably more potent, in fact, as the kamma has been further compounded in the process of its origin [an instance of ignorance] being acted upon as justified).

Jon T:
Say I am observing the impermanence of restlessness and laziness in order to be free from their grasp for the intention of being able to tolerate a longer work week so I can afford a sweet new ride. Now while I am observing impermanence I also observe the motivation which is said material desire. I observe them both as dispassionately as possible while continuing to work thus continuing to earn money. Are you saying that because my intentions are selfish, the knowledge of impermanence won't help me alleviate restlessness and laziness in any other non-work related endeavor?


It may help alleviate the restlessness and laziness as / after they occur, but it will not severe the root cause for their becoming (in any case). One will be chasing one’s tail forever and a day, not realizing that one is already one’s tail.

Do you see how you never get what you desire, even if the thing once-desired is obtained?

Jon T:
I don't think my profession is spiritually sustainable. At some point if I want metta to fill my heart completely then I'm going to have to change vocations.


Why do you think and/or feel so? What is the ethical problem you have with the vocation you currently have?

Jon T:
I may as well learn to observe said phenomena dispassionately now rather than search for some impossibly perfect job where I won't have to deal with them.


Yes, agreed. That is a sensible way to approach life in general.

Jon T:
But if love is as ready a shortcut to liberation as I suspect then I'm uncomfortable with it not being a principle topic.


The ability to feel and/or enjoy love and compassion is more insidious than any other passion (not necessarily the most difficult to remove, but perhaps for some people). Because feelings such as these are relatively "good" (as compared to “bad” feelings) they are held to very sternly. It is partly because a person feeling so has not yet understood that feeling any feeling feels worse than not feeling anything at all (for both oneself and others). Because they are held so dearly (and the self is both the holder and what is held), one's self will do anything to avoid ending its love affairs, and thus employs the most cunning of methods to avoid eradication. One of those traps is the very conditioning that it is "good" to feel love and compassion. These feelings are taught early on to be altruistic even though they are only selfish. (This is partially because people say "love" to mean: caring, intimacy, the feeling of love; the feeling of love is really the only thing that can be called love). Some other traps are: projections, redefining / renaming feelings so that they can't be inspected, other forms of dishonesty, loving one's self, insincerity, etc. Feelings like these—desirous / nurturing feelings—often feel impossible to let go of because they seem to be the epitome of fulfillment. It is seen like: “how do I let go of the only thing I really find fulfilling?” But that is ignorance in action—feeling fulfillment (love, compassion) and being fulfilled (perfection, nibbana) are two completely different things. So one must let go of that notion [1], knowing that it is ignorant, while having confidence that it will be okay (this is why remembering a PCE is critical to one's progress). The justification for feeling these types of feelings only seems as credible as it does because society was built upon a foundation of that same ignorance.

When something regarding these matters makes sense but simultaneously scares the shit out of you, makes you ashamed of yourself, or offends you in any other way (such as the above may have): that’s when you know an insight is being dangled before your eyes. Such reactions are the self crying out, denying what was just made obvious; that is suffering made manifest (one's conscience lashing it's whip in the name of justified moralities). This is where you are not yet free. It is only in self imposed ignorance / blindness (cognitive-affective dissonance) that one holds onto those things which brings one to suffer (no matter what the conditions are that triggers that suffering).

Jon T:
Thank you again Trent


You are most certainly welcome.

Trent

[1] Ignorance is something that the self adds to the body’s experience of being alive. Intuitively it seems as though “ignorance” implies the existence of some special kind of knowledge that needs to be gained or obtained, but it is actually more accurately viewed as something one has to lose (hence: losing one’s self). One must employ a counter-intuitive method such as naivete to effectively eliminate one’s delusions.

RE: novice
Answer
1/8/11 1:45 AM as a reply to Trent ..
Just to be sure we don’t speak past each other, can you supply a definition for vedana which is congruent with your meaning of it?


The tagging of all phenomenon as either pleasant, unpleasant or neutral.

Do you see how you never get what you desire, even if the thing once-desired is obtained?



Do you mean that the self's desires are always changing: Once you get something you want then you immediately look to improve upon it or else fulfill some new desire?



Why do you think and/or feel so? What is the ethical problem you have with the vocation you currently have?



It's a selfish endeavor. I play not because I love it but because I'm good at it and it's the easiest way I know to pay my bills. If I loved it then I don't think I'd have an issue with it. It's not selfish to do what gives you the greatest joy assuming no pathologies. Somewhere out there is a profession that gives me greater joy but as of it yet, I've lacked the courage to find it. Then again since the concept of intention is still quite new, I'm not sure if I am qualified to find out what gives me joy. For example, I've always thought that I'd be an excellent teacher. But now I see that I might just think so because I enjoy hearing myself sound smart and see myself tangibly influencing the world. It gratifies the ego's need for importance.

I will be continuing to play poker for the foreseeable future. I will just observe my effect on the game and the effect of the game itself on the other players. (I do play live fairly often and it will be easier to see that live then online)....While online, I'll continue to watch the games effect on my mood, my moods effect on my body and mind, the nature of those effects as well as the nature of the mood itself (as it is in and of itself)....hopefully.


The ability to feel and/or enjoy love and compassion is more insidious than any other passion


Do you mean the "desire" to feel....? Or was "ability" the correct word? When I used the word love, I meant metta. Metta seems the most skillful way to approach society.

RE: novice
Answer
1/8/11 6:17 AM as a reply to Jon T.
Hey Jon,

Jon T:

It's a selfish endeavor. I play not because I love it but because I'm good at it and it's the easiest way I know to pay my bills. If I loved it then I don't think I'd have an issue with it. It's not selfish to do what gives you the greatest joy assuming no pathologies. Somewhere out there is a profession that gives me greater joy but as of it yet, I've lacked the courage to find it. Then again since the concept of intention is still quite new, I'm not sure if I am qualified to find out what gives me joy. For example, I've always thought that I'd be an excellent teacher. But now I see that I might just think so because I enjoy hearing myself sound smart and see myself tangibly influencing the world. It gratifies the ego's need for importance.

I will be continuing to play poker for the foreseeable future. I will just observe my effect on the game and the effect of the game itself on the other players. (I do play live fairly often and it will be easier to see that live then online)....While online, I'll continue to watch the games effect on my mood, my moods effect on my body and mind, the nature of those effects as well as the nature of the mood itself (as it is in and of itself)....hopefully.


this is interesting.
I can very well relate to your report as I do play (online) poker for a living, too.
My attitude towards it and therefore my motivation was greatly influenced by the dharma.
What initially appealed to me was the intellectual challenge of poker, figuring out and refining a theory which was profitable.
In contrast to basically everyone else of my friends who play it casually, money was never the most important reason, it was just an enjoyable side effect. This changed when I got to a level where the amounts I won monthly would easily enable me to do this as a profession. I moved out of my parents house, got a car etc etc.
As you are probably aware, the intellectual challenge of poker diminishes the higher you play, differences in play become more and more subtle. Though I do not consider myself at the absolute peak of that development or knowledge, I 'get' the system and consider this as mostly a matter of putting in the necessary time for analysing and playing hands.
With that perception, my main motivation lost most of its significance. I kept on playing in order to pay the bills, not because I particularly enjoyed it. Once I got into the dharma and adopted various ethical/moralistic conceptions related to it, I became further repulsed to it.

*I am abusing weaker players.*
*I am abusing player´s addictions.*
*Poker is inherently selfish, as it doesn´t provide societal value.*

These are just a few examples of beliefs I had.

Another thing I became aware of and increasingly repulsed by was the aggression the game at times triggered in me and which likewise was projected onto others (quite a funny thing actually when considering all you have in online poker is an avatar and 'timing tells').
Something else that came into play, especially when I got to a point where I could barely cover my monthly expenses was the emotional stress. Being afraid of going broke, losing my appartment etc further disabled my capabilities... all that not because I wasn´t a winning player but because of the lazyness that resulted from my beliefs and attitude towards it.

I had to question every belief I connected to the game and become clear about wether it was just that or an undeniable fact.
The dharma quite easily leads us to believe that we are responsible for things that we are not and as a result we become more and more constrained by these perceived standards of conduct.
It was useful to me to be aware of every feeling that I experienced while playing:
before mentioned aggression expressed in various situations, pride, shame, fear, feelings of superiority, condescending attitudes.
Investigating those has increasingly freed me of their influence and therefore raised my level of enjoyment again.

What is an 'ideal job'? Something that we are good at / have a natural talent for and are able to enjoy.
Having a talent for poker usually implies having a certain analytical, cognitive tendency. While there are many jobs out there that do require similar skills and I don´t neccessarily have to play poker, in my experience it´s more important to get to the bottom of what prevents one from being happy at ones job than believing that in a different one there won´t be similar or different kind of obstacles one has to deal with either way.


Good luck whatever you choose to pursue,

Martin

RE: novice
Answer
1/9/11 9:24 AM as a reply to Jon T.
Hello,

Jon T:
The tagging of all phenomenon as either pleasant, unpleasant or neutral.


I think I was misusing 'vedana' to indicate something too broad in scope. I think your question could still be answered ("
Would you elaborate on how vedana can reveal intention?") but I think it would be best to simply state my original point: feelings reveal details about one's intent that are otherwise unknown. If feeling is understood well (which is done by self investigation and study of relevant literature) it provides useful, practical information about one's self that is otherwise opaque; it is some of the writing "between the lines."

*

Do you see how you never get what you desire, even if the thing once-desired is obtained?


Jon T:
Do you mean that the self's desires are always changing: Once you get something you want then you immediately look to improve upon it or else fulfill some new desire?


That is correct. Furthermore, the desire and the imagined [1] object of desire never actually happens in the world of the senses. The self could essentially desire and obtain anything and it would never actually happen in the actual world (it never attains anything except the fulfillment of the desire itself) [2]. Even if it impels one to obtain the actual object that was referenced by the desire, the desire was only ever a self-terminating knot of suffering. This is why desire never actually fulfills in any enduring way. Desire is both the lack of fulfillment (upon arising) and the temporary fulfillment (upon ceasing). So much the better to eliminate desire itself! Then, the lack of fulfillment never arises, and so one is always fulfilled.

Jon T:
It's a selfish endeavor. I play not because I love it but because I'm good at it and it's the easiest way I know to pay my bills. If I loved it then I don't think I'd have an issue with it. It's not selfish to do what gives you the greatest joy assuming no pathologies. Somewhere out there is a profession that gives me greater joy but as of it yet, I've lacked the courage to find it. Then again since the concept of intention is still quite new, I'm not sure if I am qualified to find out what gives me joy. For example, I've always thought that I'd be an excellent teacher. But now I see that I might just think so because I enjoy hearing myself sound smart and see myself tangibly influencing the world. It gratifies the ego's need for importance.

I will be continuing to play poker for the foreseeable future. I will just observe my effect on the game and the effect of the game itself on the other players. (I do play live fairly often and it will be easier to see that live then online)....While online, I'll continue to watch the games effect on my mood, my moods effect on my body and mind, the nature of those effects as well as the nature of the mood itself (as it is in and of itself)....hopefully.


I think Martin's reply is good for this section. Let me know if you would like me to respond to anything specific.

*

The ability to feel and/or enjoy love and compassion is more insidious than any other passion


Jon T:
Do you mean the "desire" to feel....? Or was "ability" the correct word? When I used the word love, I meant metta. Metta seems the most skillful way to approach society.


Substituting "desire" where indicated is also accurate, but I did mean "ability" where used. By using it in that way, I was stating that the ability to feel something that feels so "good" is insidious because-- relative to the purity of emptiness-- it is actually suffering (but may not seem to be).

Could you supply a definition of "metta" which is congruent with your meaning of it?

Trent

[1] If you had it already, you wouldn't need to imagine it.

RE: novice
Answer
1/9/11 3:02 PM as a reply to Trent ..
The dharma quite easily leads us to believe that we are responsible for things that we are not and as a result we become more and more constrained by these perceived standards of conduct.


Hey Martin! Thanks for replying. Poker and Buddhism is really an interesting interplay right now. I'm currently using poker as another venue of meditation and it is a very valuable one. Almost all of the emotions that make up any given day can be experienced in an online poker session with the advantage that the player is alone and without any serious demands on his time. If you're a doctor and a nurse screws up or you screw up yourself, there may not be time to reflect then and there. But if an online poker player looses a big hand, he is just sitting in his chair moving the mouse around. He can reflect without any other demands on his time. It's like having your own virtual life laboratory.

But more to your point, even leaving ahimsa aside, poker may still be unskillful. It may be that the most skillful endeavor one can pursue is to live without greed, aversion and confusion. Calling those three mind states delusion and the non-delusional state emptiness, I have my doubts that an impulse to sit down online or drive to a casino to play poker would ever occur to one who is empty. Clearly someone who is delusional might want to do that for any number of reasons. So I think it takes a certain amount of delusion to want to play poker and if poker is your job then that delusion needs to be continually fed just to pay the bills.


That is correct. Furthermore, the desire and the imagined [1] object of desire never actually happens in the world of the senses. The self could essentially desire and obtain anything and it would never actually happen in the actual world (it never attains anything except the fulfillment of the desire itself) [2]. Even if it impels one to obtain the actual object that was referenced by the desire, the desire was only ever a self-terminating knot of suffering. This is why desire never actually fulfills in any enduring way. Desire is both the lack of fulfillment (upon arising) and the temporary fulfillment (upon ceasing). So much the better to eliminate desire itself! Then, the lack of fulfillment never arises, and so one is always fulfilled.



Can you explain the difference between attaining the desire and attaining "the fulfillment of the desire itself".


Could you supply a definition of "metta" which is congruent with your meaning of it?


Loving kindness or loving friendliness.



the ability to feel something that feels so "good" is insidious because-- relative to the purity of emptiness-- it is actually suffering



This is interesting. I'm not sure what you mean by emptiness, though. Is emptiness the mindstate empty of all aversion, greed and confusion or do you mean to directly perceive annata?

To me the mindstate of emptiness is quite comparable to metta: Putting in another way, metta induced by greed or aversion to suffering or even delusions of grandeur is much much better than any of those things without metta. However the metta produced by emptiness is best of all. If you were talking about annata, I can't speak to that as I don't quite have my finger on that one yet.

RE: novice
Answer
1/11/11 10:21 AM as a reply to Jon T.
Hello,

Trent:
That is correct. Furthermore, the desire and the imagined [1] object of desire never actually happens in the world of the senses. The self could essentially desire and obtain anything and it would never actually happen in the actual world (it never attains anything except the fulfillment of the desire itself) [2]. Even if it impels one to obtain the actual object that was referenced by the desire, the desire was only ever a self-terminating knot of suffering. This is why desire never actually fulfills in any enduring way. Desire is both the lack of fulfillment (upon arising) and the temporary fulfillment (upon ceasing). So much the better to eliminate desire itself! Then, the lack of fulfillment never arises, and so one is always fulfilled.


Jon T:
Can you explain the difference between attaining the desire and attaining "the fulfillment of the desire itself".


It would likely be more fruitful for you answer that question instead. That is: can you explain the difference you see between attaining the desire and attaining "the fulfillment of desire itself?"

*

Could you supply a definition of "metta" which is congruent with your meaning of it?


Jon T:
Loving kindness or loving friendliness.


Okay-- what is the reason for the "loving" in either instance? Why not simply be kind and friendly?

*

the ability to feel something that feels so "good" is insidious because-- relative to the purity of emptiness-- it is actually suffering


Jon T:
This is interesting. I'm not sure what you mean by emptiness, though. Is emptiness the mindstate empty of all aversion, greed and confusion or do you mean to directly perceive annata?


I mean the former.

Jon T:
To me the mindstate of emptiness is quite comparable to metta:


What is your experience with the mindstate of emptiness?

Jon T:
Putting in another way, metta induced by greed or aversion to suffering or even delusions of grandeur is much much better than any of those things without metta.


What if the feeling of metta is part of the self (which implies that hanging onto it would also be to hang on to that which perpetuates greed or aversion or even delusions of grandeur)?

Jon T:
However the metta produced by emptiness is best of all. If you were talking about annata, I can't speak to that as I don't quite have my finger on that one yet.


How is it that you see metta to be produced by emptiness (especially when considering that emptiness is a word used to describe the lack of something ("being" / selfhood) and not something that which phenomenally exists). In what category is it the best of all?

Trent

RE: novice
Answer
1/11/11 2:28 PM as a reply to Trent ..
It would likely be more fruitful for you answer that question instead. That is: can you explain the difference you see between attaining the desire and attaining "the fulfillment of desire itself?"



The latter would be an egotistical feeling, pride, of accomplishment. Allow me try to figure it out with an example: I want a car. I get a car. I experience pride. I associate that feeling with self worth. I think I am special. While driving the car, the object of my desire, I am feeling special. The desire for the car has been replaced by the feeling of pride. I am now exalted in that feeling. Instead of being with the car, feeling it's power-it's control, I am thinking about how others see me, what do they think, are they envious, do they want to get to know me, would they automatically give me the benefit of any doubt now that I have such a sweet ride to my credit? The cars handling, it's power, grip, torque is perceived but mostly in relation to what it says about me. I am the owner of said power, I am the controller of said power, I am it's master.

Nonetheless, ego-less appreciation for the car itself can be experienced. But that experience would be very similar in flavor to any experience in which greed, ill will and confusion are absent. Therefore, one would not need to buy a car to experience it, though, if one loves cars it might be a way to engender said experience.

This might be best seen in a secular businessman who had an excruciating day at work. After he gets home, he takes his German sports machine out for a ride in the mountains. He feels free, refreshed. Through his ignorance of the source of said freedom/refreshment, he notes that all his hard work and frustration is worth it if it gives him the means to own such a machine.

Jon T:
Metta is loving kindness or loving friendliness

Trent H:
Okay-- what is the reason for the "loving" in either instance? Why not simply be kind and friendly?


"Love" is the "energy" that seems to emanate from the center of the chest. It inspires kindness and friendliness. Without it, kindness and friendless would not be present. Keep in mind that "love" is just a word, as is "energy". Everyday usage aside, this is the best translation of said phenomenon that I know of. ***edit*** see last paragraph



What is your experience with the mindstate of emptiness?



I actually prefer the term "openness", but "emptiness" is more common. While exercising sati, I become aware on no wants, no enmity and the mind is clear. My dharma teacher calls this emptiness.


Jon T:

Putting in another way, metta induced by greed or aversion to suffering or even delusions of grandeur is much much better than any of those things without metta.


Trent H:

What if the feeling of metta is part of the self (which implies that hanging onto it would also be to hang on to that which perpetuates greed or aversion or even delusions of grandeur)?



In that case, metta certainly would be a part of the self. The self is purposively transformed to make greed, ill-will and confusion less painful.



Jon T:

However the metta produced by emptiness is best of all.

Trent H:

How is it that you see metta to be produced by emptiness (especially when considering that emptiness is a word used to describe the lack of something ("being" / selfhood) and not something that which phenomenally exists). In what category is it the best of all?


Because I think the state does "phenomenally exist". Within said state, one is empty of greed, ill-will, confusion. Correct me if I'm wrong, but in the pali canon is not this mind state referred to as non-greed, non-hatred, non-delusion? And isn't "emptiness" just the term some people use to describe that, which is different from non-self or annata. Personally, I prefer the term "openness". One is open to the world as it is. There is no need to change it, resent it or tune it out. So when an open or empty person sees a stranger in the street in need of some assistance, he helps them. That is metta. The person is empty of all greed for his own time and energy. He is empty of ill-will towards the race or gender or status of the person in need. He is empty of all fear. He is not lost in a daydream so he can and does notice the person and the situation. There is nothing holding this empty person back. He finds himself helping said person.

It is interesting to note that in the above example, there doesn't need to be that energy which can often emanate from the center of the chest. That energy may be absent or simply quite subtle. Nonetheless, the empty person will still help the stranger. So you may be correct to posit that emptiness is also empty of metta. Nonetheless, the two do seem to be very similar. One could say that metta is like a cast to heal a broken bone and emptiness is the perfectly healed bone. One needs the cast for the bone to heal completely and correctly. Or perhaps metta is within emptiness but more subtle. I can't say either way because I'm writing this on memory. My current mindstate is confusion. Next time that it is empty or open I will look to see if an energy is emanating from the heart area or not.

RE: novice
Answer
1/11/11 9:42 PM as a reply to Jon T.
Hi,

Jon T:
The latter would be an egotistical feeling, pride, of accomplishment. Allow me try to figure it out with an example: I want a car. I get a car. I experience pride. I associate that feeling with self worth. I think I am special. While driving the car, the object of my desire, I am feeling special. The desire for the car has been replaced by the feeling of pride. I am now exalted in that feeling. Instead of being with the car, feeling it's power-it's control, I am thinking about how others see me, what do they think, are they envious, do they want to get to know me, would they automatically give me the benefit of any doubt now that I have such a sweet ride to my credit? The cars handling, it's power, grip, torque is perceived but mostly in relation to what it says about me. I am the owner of said power, I am the controller of said power, I am it's master.


Would you agree if I said that what you really want in this example is not the car, but the feelings of: pride, self worth, being special, feeling special, exaltation, power, social status, and perhaps things stemming from those such as intimacy with those that may now want to get to know you? That is to say: the desire for the car is actually a desire for other desires, and the desires stemming from those desires are also for other desires, and on and on this continues with no long lasting relief. Does this answer the core question to which you asked me (which I requested you answer instead)?

Jon T:
Nonetheless, ego-less appreciation for the car itself can be experienced. But that experience would be very similar in flavor to any experience in which greed, ill will and confusion are absent. Therefore, one would not need to buy a car to experience it, though, if one loves cars it might be a way to engender said experience.


I agree-- then it becomes a matter of practicality or salubrity or for-fun or altruism toward others or whatever.


*

What is your experience with the mindstate of emptiness?


Jon T:
I actually prefer the term "openness", but "emptiness" is more common. While exercising sati, I become aware on no wants, no enmity and the mind is clear. My dharma teacher calls this emptiness.


I suspect we mean much different things by the usages of the word "emptiness." There is a thread about that topic going on recently; perhaps give it a look. Regardless, I will use "openness" (as you define) and "emptiness" (as I define) in our discussions from here on where it seems appropriate.

Jon T:
In that case, metta certainly would be a part of the self. The self is purposively transformed to make greed, ill-will and confusion less painful.


Okay then, so one is impelled by suffering to aid another, because one wishes to end one's own own pain, yes? Instead, why not be friendly and kind to those in need, without feeling impelled? I propose such because feeling pain for another only just hurts you, it does not help them (and in fact, it may well prevent you from helping them).

Jon T:
It is interesting to note that in the above example, there doesn't need to be that energy which can often emanate from the center of the chest. That energy may be absent or simply quite subtle. Nonetheless, the empty person will still help the stranger. So you may be correct to posit that emptiness is also empty of metta. Nonetheless, the two do seem to be very similar. One could say that metta is like a cast to heal a broken bone and emptiness is the perfectly healed bone. One needs the cast for the bone to heal completely and correctly. Or perhaps metta is within emptiness but more subtle. I can't say either way because I'm writing this on memory. My current mindstate is confusion. Next time that it is empty or open I will look to see if an energy is emanating from the heart area or not.


Please do so (check next time) and let us know what you find. The difference in those two 'mettas' (one with love, and one without) is vast and has many implications for the ending of one's personal suffering and the ending of suffering on a global scale.

Trent

RE: novice
Answer
1/11/11 10:34 PM as a reply to Trent ..
Please do so (check next time) and let us know what you find.


Preliminary indications are that openness does not necessarily entail a heart based energy. However, the vedana of said openness has been unusually neutral lately. I suspect I may have entered into dissolution. I can't say for sure because the suspected A&P event was rather mild and short lived and this irritability can also be attributed to more mundane matters. Nonetheless, unless I'm not discerning between openness and delusion properly then metta and openness doesn't always come as a package.

Would you agree if I said that what you really want in this example is not the car, but the feelings of: pride, self worth, being special, feeling special, exaltation, power, social status, and perhaps things stemming from those such as intimacy with those that may now want to get to know you? That is to say: the desire for the car is actually a desire for other desires, and the desires stemming from those desires are also for other desires, and on and on this continues with no long lasting relief.


Yes.

Okay then, so one is impelled by suffering to aid another, because one wishes to end one's own own pain, yes? Instead, why not be friendly and kind to those in need, without feeling impelled? I propose such because feeling pain for another only just hurts you, it does not help them (and in fact, it may well prevent you from helping them).


Helping out of love and feeling compelled to help are very different. Feeling others pain may be unpleasant but unpleasant vedana is inevitable. Furthermore, when one is unable or unwilling to feel empathy towards one in pain then it follows that he cannot or will not feel empathy towards one in joy. (that may not logically sound) Empathy allows us to take in a lifetimes range of emotions in a single day. I can see how this can be consider neutral. But I can't see how this could be considered bad. I suppose it could be bad if, as you mentioned above, it's extremely painful to you or it prevents you from helping those in need. If seeing suffering turns you off then for you empathy is counter-productive. If others' suffering turns you on then likewise. But if others suffering does neither and the vedana associated with it is tolerable then the resulting positive vedana of helping that person and seeing that situation resolved positively can far outweigh the unpleasant vedana of their suffering. (Sorry if my pronouns are all over the place)

I will further posit that feeling empathy can create an identity that has its' own pleasant vedana. I'm not saying the the cultivation of an identity is a worthwhile goal. I'm only speculating that it may be an inevitable process, and if so then, an identity, however temporary, that is pleasant would seem skillful. Of course that doesn't preclude applying skillful awareness to the process of being/becoming and age/death/decay as well as their absence. I'm just speculating that it's possible that the process is inevitable, at least, some of the time. That doesn't mean that the process isn't empty, impermanent and stressful.

The difference in those two 'mettas' (one with love, and one without) is vast and has many implications for the ending of one's personal suffering and the ending of suffering on a global scale.


Remember that I'm defining love as an energy of the heart and not some 'i can't live without you' desperation. I would wager that the heart energy is really just a matter of degree. One can be kind and friendly and that is very helpful and appreciated but when that heart energy is present then the kind and friendly actions become even more helpful. This is what I'll wager. But since this is an experiment and not a doctrinal debate, only time will tell.


I suspect we mean much different things by the usages of the word "emptiness." There is a thread about that topic going on recently; perhaps give it a look. Regardless, I will use "openness" (as you define) and "emptiness" (as I define) in our discussions from here on where it seems appropriate.


I will look up that thread. How do you define emptiness?

RE: novice
Answer
1/11/11 10:53 PM as a reply to Jon T.
Hi,

Jon T:
Preliminary indications are that openness does not necessarily entail a heart based energy. However, the vedana of said openness has been unusually neutral lately. I suspect I may have entered into dissolution. I can't say for sure because the suspected A&P event was rather mild and short lived and this irritability can also be attributed to more mundane matters. Nonetheless, unless I'm not discerning between openness and delusion properly then metta and openness doesn't always come as a package.


If metta is contingent upon a cycle of insight (or anything, for that matter), do you think this is further evidence that it is based in (as) one's self?

*

Okay then, so one is impelled by suffering to aid another, because one wishes to end one's own own pain, yes? Instead, why not be friendly and kind to those in need, without feeling impelled? I propose such because feeling pain for another only just hurts you, it does not help them (and in fact, it may well prevent you from helping them).


Jon T:
Helping out of love and feeling compelled to help are very different.


Can you expand on how these are very different?

Jon T:
Feeling others pain may be unpleasant but unpleasant vedana is inevitable.


It is only inevitable if that is what you believe (and thus (self) fulfill that belief's prophecy). Do you think that it is inevitable because of the precedent thus far set by you and those you have been in contact with, or is there another reason?

Jon T:
Furthermore, when one is unable or unwilling to feel empathy towards one in pain then it follows that he cannot or will not feel empathy towards one in joy. (that may not logically sound) Empathy allows us to take in a lifetimes range of emotions in a single day. I can see how this can be consider neutral. But I can't see how this could be considered bad. I suppose it could be bad if, as you mentioned above, it's extremely painful to you or it prevents you from helping those in need. If seeing suffering turns you off then empathy is not something to be cultivated. If others' suffering turns you on then likewise. But if others suffering does neither and the vedana associated with it is tolerable then the resulting positive vedana of helping that person and seeing that situation resolved positively can far outweigh the unpleasant vedana of their suffering. (Sorry if my pronouns are all over the place)


What value do you propose there is in taking in a lifetimes range of emotions in a single day?

Could you see this (feeling or empathy) considered 'bad' if feelings are inherently selfish and/or indicative of the ignorance which perpetuates all of human suffering?

Rather than worry about your personal vedana (tolerable or not), would it not be far easier to-- not feeling vedana at all-- simply help the person in whatever way seems most appropriate?

The core theme of these three questions is: where and/or why do you find any value in suffering?

*

The difference in those two 'mettas' (one with love, and one without) is vast and has many implications for the ending of one's personal suffering and the ending of suffering on a global scale.


Jon T:
Remember that I'm defining love as an energy of the heart and not some 'i can't live without you' desperation. I would wager that the heart energy is really just a matter of degree. One can be kind and friendly and that is very helpful and appreciated but when that heart energy is present then the kind and friendly actions become even more helpful. This is what I'll wager. But since this is an experiment and not a doctrinal debate, only time will tell.


What if one's actions become even more kind and friendly when there is no selfishness at all (which necessarily means no heart energy at all)?

Jon T:
I will look up that thread. How do you define emptiness?


Depends on the context of where it is being used, but very generally speaking: a human body sensually, selflessly aware; the infinite space of this material universe.

Trent

RE: novice
Answer
1/12/11 1:49 PM as a reply to Trent ..
Jon T:
Feeling others pain may be unpleasant but unpleasant vedana is inevitable.
Trent H:
It is only inevitable if that is what you believe (and thus (self) fulfill that belief's prophecy). Do you think that it is inevitable because of the precedent thus far set by you and those you have been in contact with, or is there another reason?



Said precedent is one reason. Another is the dharma talks I've heard here in San Francisco which speak of being free through pain not of it. And MCTB seems to say that greed and aversion are still present after 4th path.

If metta is contingent upon a cycle of insight (or anything, for that matter), do you think this is further evidence that it is based in (as) one's self?



I can't say since I don't know what causes the cycle of insight. Nor do I know how metta relates to it. I can see that metta is an action provoked by the personality for the sake of ending suffering. In this way "it is based in (as) one's self". Until recently openness felt very similar to prescribed metta (as during metta meditation). Now you are saying that all feeling-tones are the result of ignorance. I have not encountered that point of view before. Or are you saying that the pleasant and unpleasant vedana is the result of ignorance but neutral vedana is constant after enlightenment?


Rather than worry about your personal vedana (tolerable or not), would it not be far easier to-- not feeling vedana at all-- simply help the person in whatever way seems most appropriate?

The core theme of these three questions is: where and/or why do you find any value in suffering?


Only as an impetus to eradicate it. But I think that you mean to suggest that I am obsessed with vedana. And that vedana is the result of suffering, even pleasant vedana. I was not aware of such a point of view. I don't even know how to respond to it.


What if one's actions become even more kind and friendly when there is no selfishness at all (which necessarily means no heart energy at all)?


Then the cultivation of heart energy would be illogical. I think that again you are saying that all vedana is selfish.


Re: Me asking you about your usage of emptiness (as opposed to my usage of openness)
Depends on the context of where it is being used, but very generally speaking: a human body sensually, selflessly aware; the infinite space of this material universe.



That is far more expansive than what I am trying to describe when I use 'openness'. I was just referring to the mind-state that contains neither greed, ill-will or confusion. For your usage, I think, emptiness is the absence of the three afore-mentioned delusions, the absence of all vedana, awareness of the body and non-identity. Do you think that the mindstate of openness as I'm using it can contain identity or does all identity carry with it some greed and confusion?




Jon T:
Helping out of love and feeling compelled to help are very different.

Trent H:
Can you expand on how these are very different?




By compelled, I meant that there is a reluctance but guilt and pride overcome that reluctance. So one is compelled by a standard of morality. Whereas with love, there is no selfishness involved. There is no thought that 'if i don't help then i'll feel guilty, if i do help then i'll feel proud.'

RE: novice
Answer
1/12/11 5:56 PM as a reply to Jon T.
[quote=Jon T (to Trent)] Now you are saying that all feeling-tones are the result of ignorance. I have not encountered that point of view before.
hi jon,

you might find the discussion contained in this thread to be of interest.

tarin

RE: novice
Answer
1/13/11 12:14 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
Thank you. I look forward to learning about this AF thing. Can you answer me one question, however? Before AF does the identity need to be eliminated or can the two happen simultaneously i.e. Does the path to enlightenment and the path to AF have the same starting point and only diverge after the identity dies or do they diverge before it dies or do they have completely different starting points altogether? Thanks.

RE: novice
Answer
1/14/11 4:20 AM as a reply to Jon T.
Feel free to update the status of this thread to resolved!

I found that AF has it's own forum here and am finding my way around the AF homepage. Thanks for your help. I will continue meditating as I enjoy it and it seems the most methodical way to do the most thorough investigations but the simple AF instruction (as I understand it) to ask yourself, "do i feel good right now?".... if not then find something in the present to appreciate and ask yourself "why did I stop feeling good?" It's so simple.

Even this early in the practice, I'm beginning to question why I feel guilty for playing poker and not doing enough to save the world. My guilt won't help anyone. Well, actually, it could have two effects. One is that it could sap my energy so that I'm less good to anyone, myself included. Two is that it could propel me to quit poker and/or try out a different venue which would have completely unpredictable results....maybe better, maybe worse - who knows? So why not do what I want and feel good about it?

warning: stream of conscious soliloquy

Am I hurting anyone? Theoretically, I may be. Do I feel like I'm hurting anyone? No, except this vague feeling that I might be. Is that vague feeling valid? I don't know. Does it keep me from feeling good? Yes. Is that a good result? No. How do I get back to feeling good? I could either ignore the vague feeling of guilt or outright reject it. Or I could appreciate the vague feeling of guilt. I could see it's flip side: It's actually quite funny: I feel guilty for violating a principle I don't understand and I don't trust anyone well enough to help me understand it. That's comical. emoticon So I can focus on that aspect of the guilt to get me to feel good again and this may lead me to a more comprehensive view on the matter at some point in the future. But if not then at least I didn't change a perfectly happy life just to satisfy a principle that I don't understand.

RE: novice
Answer
1/15/11 5:17 AM as a reply to Jon T.
Jon T:
Thank you. I look forward to learning about this AF thing. Can you answer me one question, however? Before AF does the identity need to be eliminated or can the two happen simultaneously i.e.

an actual freedom is the extinction of the identity; the instinctual passions, which form into the feeling of being at the core of the identity-world (as well as fabricate that world), are eliminated in toto by the event. hence, the answer to your question is that there are no two things happening simultaneously - an actual freedom and the elimination of the identity are one and the same occurrence.


Jon T:

Does the path to enlightenment and the path to AF have the same starting point (...)

any path to enlightenment as well as any path to an actual freedom can only ever have one starting point: where one is currently at.

there is a notable diversity among people as to what causes them to seek what they do (some are motivated by this, some are motivated by that) ... as well as a notable diversity as to what they seek (some seek this end, some seek that end, some seek no clear end at all).

as for enlightenment and actual freedom themselves:

there is a notable lack of consensus among people who claim to be enlightened about what enlightenment is (and so there is much to consider, in considering the various practices toward it which one may undertake, about what results those various practices demonstrably deliver and whether those results are worthy of pursuit).

on the other hand, there is (currently) a notable consensus among actually free people about what an actual freedom is (and so if an actual freedom is what one seeks, now is a good time to go for it).


Jon T:

[Does the path to enlightenment and the path to AF have the same starting point] and only diverge after the identity dies (...)

i neither know nor know of any person who claims enlightenment for whom i can currently say with any certainty (given their descriptions of their on-going experience) that the identity is extinct as in the case of an actually free person. the question is thence unanswerable, based as it is on an unsubstantiated premiss.


Jon T:

[Does the path to enlightenment and the path to AF have the same starting point and only diverge after the identity dies] or do they diverge before it dies (...)

i neither know nor know of any person who claims enlightenment for whom i currently can say with any certainty (given their descriptions of their on-going experience) that the identity is extinct as in the case of an actually free person. whether or not a person on the path of enlightenment can keep going all the way up to such extinction is another matter; i would certainly like to think so, considering how many people are on this path - and some readings of the pali canon do indicate it as a possibility - and so it would be great if someone were able to say, in all honesty and with full disclosure, that they have undergone such identity-extinction and live their life in such a way as i know to be unsurpassed.


Jon T:

[Does the path to enlightenment and the path to AF have the same starting point and only diverge after the identity dies or do they diverge before it dies] or do they have completely different starting points altogether?

given that the only starting point directly relevant to you is yours, and yours alone, then only you can answer this question.

tarin