Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 9 Months ago.

Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

Posts: 3166 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
On Monday an article appeared in the journal Mindfulness by Bhikkhy Analayo, who is a very strictly orthodox Theravada monk with impressive textual and linguistic skills and a bit of an agenda, as you will see if you read the article.

It does live behind a pay wall, and is probably not worth the $39 if you are only casually interested in such topics. If you have an academic position, hopefully your institution will provide access.

To put it gently, it is flattering neither to me nor to those who view the meditation maps and insight stages as many here do. In fact, it is one of the more aggressive attempts at a takedown I have seen in an academic context in a while. While not at all surprising from a certain point of view, given what one finds in MCTB1/2, and perhaps even surprising it took this long, it is relatively surprising to find it in a journal that not only strives for a high degree of scientific and ethical integrity, but also that I sometimes am asked to review for.

I have a good group that will help me and those named in it to deal with it with some sort of skillful response(s).

While something of a hit piece, I believe it does actually create the opportunity to discuss a large number of important clinical and scientific questions, as well as the relationships between things like clinical Mindfulness and Orthodox Buddhism, among other things. It also will allow for an opportunity to bring light to issues generally dear to the DhO's heart as I understand it.

May all our actions help more than they harm.
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Noah D, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Mods - Feel free to delete this if inappropriate...

I would request anyone with access to the journal & willing to send me a copy of this to DM on the DhO.  Very interested in reading, being a fan of the writings of both Bhikkhu Analayo & Daniel Ingram.
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Chris Marti, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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I'm not a fan of the copyright violation being suggested but I'm in favor of leaving the decision about your post to Daniel, Noah. It's his* arse on the line if the author or the publisher of the piece takes offense.

*Note: meaning if someone were to sue over a copyright violation the only pocket to reach into in regard to DhO belongs to Daniel Ingram.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Regarding copyrighted material: it is very important, particularly in this politically sensitive case, to not piss off the publisher. Please respect that. Thanks!
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Chris Marti, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Regarding copyrighted material: it is very important, particularly in this politically sensitive case, to not piss off the publisher. Please respect that. Thanks!

Thanks for weighing in, Daniel. 
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Alex Ford, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Noah D:
Mods - Feel free to delete this if inappropriate...

I would request anyone with access to the journal & willing to send me a copy of this to DM on the DhO.  Very interested in reading, being a fan of the writings of both Bhikkhu Analayo & Daniel Ingram.

Noah D:  
You can access the article by signing up for DeepDyve 14 day free trial.  I just did and it worked.  As long as you cancel before date, no charge.  Link was on bottom right side of site that Daniel linked.
Daniel Mon, modified 6 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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I have access to it and happy to mail it to whomever needs it. Also, you might want to download it from https://sci-hub.tw/ simply searching for the DOI: 10.1007/s12671-020-01389-4 or by the title.

Cheers, Daniel.
agnostic, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!
agnostic, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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It's probably just my subjective experience, but I sense feelings of anger in this article.
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Steph S, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Darn.. no longer have access to the university library even though I still have my university login.

I read the abstract. This might be taken out of context since I can't read the full article, but for those who have read it... is this statement minimizing how difficult the dukkha nanas can be for people and saying they're basically no big deal?
"In particular, potentially adverse effects of mindfulness practices in the health care setting need to be placed into proper perspective, as the contention that even those who do not engage in deep and intensive insight meditation can suffer from repercussions potentially resulting from undergoing the insight knowledges is not accurate."
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Chris Marti, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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You need to read the entire article but the first sentence of the abstract is the key. Read that first sentence carefully.
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Steph S, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Forceful form of mindfulness,
high-speed mental noting,
construction of meditative experience,
culminating in claims

"Construction of meditative experience" and "culiminating in claims" make it sound like they think fast-paced noting is forceful and practicing in this way results in a faulty/bad version of meditation, which doesn't actually move one along the progress of insight and does not really result in awakening.
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Chris Marti, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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The article asserts much more than that. I'm being purposefully vague right now, mainly because I don't have time to get into a lengthy discussion. Again, I would encourage a read of the full article.
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Steph S, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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I understand. I wish I could read the full article. The last time I had access to all those scholarly journals was when I was adjunct faculty a couple years ago. I checked to see if my old login would still work at the online university library and got denied. womp womp.
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Siavash, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Very sad to see this angry thing from Analayo. I'd expect much more care from him.


(Not meant to be a debate starter, just expressing sadness)
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Chris Marti, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Two of you have said this paper was written in anger. Why do you say that?
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Siavash, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Chris Marti:
Two of you have said this paper was written in anger. Why do you say that?


For me it just feels like that. It feels that he wants to put someone in his place, and ignores certain things, exagerrates other things, discuss things out of the conceptual frameworks that are defined for them and etc. It didn't look to me like an equanimous research work.
That doesn't mean he was/is angry, but it feels angry to me.
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Olivier, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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In terms of doctrinal content, this will convince those who are already convinced, so why worry about it ? It's pretty straightforwardly "From a normative theravadin perspective."

However, there is something in there, though, about the notion that Daniel's stuff shouldn't be equated with Buddhism. I can understand the concern that your own tradition is getting used by someone else in another way somewhere else... It is a kind of cultural appropriation, etc.

Ok, that's the title of the book, so I can understand why buddhists complain. Very valid. And the tone of the book is aggressive, that is true. I don't think mctb conforms with the pali canon at all, to be honest, and would probably see it as a gross misreading and violent imperialism if someone was to make such claims about my tradition. 

There is definitely a problem there...

I actually wrote out a huge reply, while reading the article, and realized something at the end of it which made me delete most of what I wrote. 

I found there is a progression in this article, or maybe I'm projecting. I also felt initially some kind of offensive stuff, which then turned to me into something more... helpless, pleading... 

Anybody else get that sense ?

Going further into it, I was actually left feeling the hurt there, with a strong sense of compassion ... And feeling bad for him. Taking on a more respectful perspective, regarding Analayo and many others' life choice to become theravadin buddhist monks.

We can acknowledge and respect the possible effects of a work like mctb on people who have taken a life engagement in a certain direction, who get criticized so harshly. And there is really something incredibly complex, there, humanly speaking...

Not saying that people like Ingram and Burbea and ... are wrong of course, in terms of experience, of discernment, of content........ But, I don't know, the end of Analayo's article just felt a bit heartbreaking for me.

As if all of a sudden, it became clear that what was actually going on was just a personal defense, a cultural defense of the theravadins' beliefs and life choices, a defense of their identity. And that is TOTALLY valid.

What do you guys think ?
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Olivier, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Oh. 

Should buddhism be considered as a private, public, sacred or common "good" ?

Should spirituality be considered as a private, public, sacred or common "good" ?

All of a sudden this just seems to reflect the problems of globalisation, such as this pandemic, and the inherently "territorial" and identity-driven functioning of human societies. What is a social group with no common reference points between its members ? Not a group. A collection of individuals. Which is how Thatcher defined society, in order to promote neo-liberalism.

Just some ideas out of nowhere.

Peace.
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Mark Boolootian, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Analayo generally
makes everything he writes available on his website, as well as sending out to the Agama Research Group mailing list.  I haven't seen the article come across the list yet, nor is it up on the website.  I would imagine it will land there before long, though perhaps not soon enough for those hankering to see what it contains.

https://www.buddhismuskunde.uni-hamburg.de/en/personen/analayo.html
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Mark Boolootian, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Hang on - this is a publicly accessible article:

https://rdcu.be/b4aDZ

While that link may look suspicious, it isn't.  It was generated by Springer, so is safe to click and will take you to the artcile.
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Hac Phi^2 Vita, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Mark Boolootian:
Hang on - this is a publicly accessible article:

https://rdcu.be/b4aDZ

While that link may look suspicious, it isn't.  It was generated by Springer, so is safe to click and will take you to the artcile.

Thanks for sharing the full text!

This was a very interesting, and somewhat surprising, read. In particular I found it somewhat disappointing how the article, by clever use of out of context quotes, made it seem like the majority of the attainments Daniel describes in MCTB occurred not only off cushion but also basically without any surrounding formal practice. Surely if the aim was to offer honest critique of Daniel's perspective there would have been some mention of the extensive practice surrounding those experiences.

Likewise, the dead pan treatment of the analogy of shootin' aliens seems to be the closest thing to a misrepresentation that could be made without resorting to outright lies.

As a complete Noob on the path I have no insight into the validity concerning the more technical claims in the article, but look forward to seeing how this conversation unfolds.
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Steph S, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Thanks for posting the article, Mark.

Some comments. At first I thought he was trying to state that Dan's practice was lazy or that he wasn't actually meditating since he brings up so many examples of experiences Dan had happen during daily life. He excludes, in this part of the article, that Dan reports that he was clocking tons of hours of meditation in the interim between many of those daily life insight experiences. So this argument makes it sound like he thinks it's not feasible for any insights to occur off the cushion, despite the momentum one has gained during formal practice sessions. It ignores that some insights and subsequent re-wiring of perception can and do occur during periods of rest. In fact, those periods of rest, some would argue, are essential for re-wiring and insight to occur.

Later in the article he goes on to criticize the fast-paced style of noting, implying that it's a huge overshooting of effort and resulting in the construction of a meditative experience.. i.e. a fabrication of would-be meditation and not real meditation. So his interpretation Dan's style is that he's either meditating not at all or way too intensely. Has he read Mahasi's works? Here's a direct quote from pages 9-10 of the pdf I have of Mahasi's "Practical Insight Meditation". Sayadaw states that meditators should note every detail of the body's activity, and considering how many sensations actually occur in the body, how would one do that other than quickly? I'll re-iterate that Mahasi says "every detail".

"Contemplation should start at the moment you wake up. Since you are a beginner, it may not be possible yet for you to start contemplating at the very first moment of wakefulness. But you should start with it when you remember that you are to contemplate. For example, if on awakening you reflect on something, you should become aware of the fact and begin your contemplation by a mental note, reflecting. Then proceed with thecontemplation of rising and falling. When getting up from the bed, mindfulness should be directed to every detail of the body's activity. Each movement of the hands, legs and rump must be performed in complete awareness. Are you thinking of the time of day when awakening? If so, note thinking. Do you intend to get out of bed? If so, noteintending. If you prepare to move the body into position for rising, note preparing. As you slowly rise, rising. Should you remain sitting for any length of time, revert to contemplating the abdominal movements."

On pages 11-12 of "Practical Insight Meditation", it goes on to read: 

"Do not waver in your effort. You will make fewer omissions if you persist in your practice. When you reach an advanced stage of the practice you will also to be able to notice more details than those mentioned here."

Do not waver in your effort. Again, considering how many sensations actually occur in experience, not wavering in effort would mean extreme rapidity if the goal is to make fewer omissions. These are my thoughts for now. Might come back with more.

edited to add:
With regards to all the mapping in MCTB being entirely innaccurate - he does not discuss how countless meditators who have never even heard of the maps follow the arc of those maps and the progress of insight very reliably. Also excluded is the wide body of research Dr. Willoughby Britton has done, in a clinical setting, on this very topic. People from varying traditions, regardless of knowing anything about maps at all, exhibit the same arc and same stages.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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If I was a Theravada Bhikkhu I would not exclude Karma and Compassion out of this. 

Monks believe that some people have more good karma than others and some have more bad karma than others. This means that some will have easy time to cultivate Jhana and others will have difficult/impossible time to cultivate Jhana. 

If indeed karmic points can result in people not being able to attain to Jhana even if they have the zeal to practice then what to do? I certainly remember when Jhana was easy to ride (never passed 5th) and then it all crushed into Dark Night. I could not get the Jhanas back. This was before I knew Ingram and his book (no print version back then) existed. 

Is it possible that I have exhausted my good karmic points on those Jhanas? I mean I did enjoy them after all. 

Here is were Mahasi dry Vipassana (and Khanika Samadhi) come for Rescue. Now those lost in Purgatory have a chance to plow towards SE. 

Mahasi style should be seen as something of great value for those of us with bad karma. Those unable to ride the Jhanic Arc of the Devas. 

If I was this monk in question I would contact Ingram and meet with him to have long conversations to try and understand it better and see if there is some benefit to it all. Not this jumping to conclusions as it doesn't align well with my tradition. 

I hope Ingram and Analayo meet some day soon and talk about all this face to face. I'm sure that would bring more clarity to it all. 
Sancho: Sir, sir, the dogs bark at us.
Don Quixote: A sign that we ride, Sancho. 

(An usual misatribution to Don Quixote,  it comes from a Goethe's poem "But their strident barking is just a sign that we ride")


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Noah D, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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I'm just not a big fan of B.A.'s use of the subjunctive mood.  Don't tell me how I can practice mindfulness, tell me how I will.  I need structured, authorative guidance for my path!  ;)
I read the article.

I find that from a Traditional Theravada standpoint it has valid critiques, meaning that certain things in MCTB2 are not in agreement with traditionally held ideas (nothing new here). Yet, I find the critique unfair in that it zooms in on points of disagreement between MCTB and traditional beliefs without looking at the wider context of Daniel's work and practice.  I think Analayo should take a look at practice logs here to see how serious practice is being done here. The critique is also, indirectly, a critique of the Mahasi approach and Burmese Buddhism overall. Nothing new here as there's been critiques of this appraoch for probably around half a century at least by other Theravada practitioners. Mahasi Sayadaw met strong opposition for his method, also on doctrinal ground. However, the proof is in the pudding as they say (Kalama sutta says the same in more eloquent ways) and it goes without saying that the method has benefited many. 

A more fair review would have been more balanced, IMO. B.A. is clearly not just taking a jab at Daniel, but a big hook punch to use the boxing analogy. I find this unfortunate as I enjoyed reading B.A.'s book on Satipatthana Sutta and he seems to have a strong practice foundation as well (his is in the Goenka method). I'm sure a more constructive dialogue could happen. 
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Siavash, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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A silly thought (about Analayo's claim):

I wonder if Analayo has thought about the consequence of this:

The early discourses are quite explicit about the inability of male and female arahants to engage in sexual intercourse, due to the degree of mental purity reached and not related to any physical disability. It would hard- ly have made sense for the Buddha to found a monastic order if celibacy was not considered a central aspect of the path to the final goal, let alone of having reached that goal.



If this was true, and for a smart man like The Buddha, then he should have been careful with teaching people how to do metta practices!

May all beings fully awaken..., no no wait,
... All people become awakened and that's the end of humanity, since their mind is so pure to engage in having children.
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Siavash, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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A few more thoughts on Analayo's article:


Analayo wrote:
The construction of meditative experience in accordance with maps is also evident in his report of how he attained the four absorptions and four immaterial attainments:

I wanted to see what the jhanas were like. During one sit I resolved to have the jhanas present themselves, and sure enough, one after the other, all eight jhanas presented, easily, nearly effortlessly, each shifting after a few minutes to the next one (p. 473).


The early discourses present absorption attainment as something requiring a high level of meditative expertise, to the extent that the Buddha himself underwent a sustained meditative struggle in order to master just the first absorption (Anālayo 2017b, 2019d, 2020). Clearly, the above description cannot be referring to genuine absorption attainment of the type described in the early discourses.
This simply ignore the previous part of this description from Daniel, that says that he was in a retreat at that time and had reached a high level of concentration. Does this kind of quoting from Analayo lacks fairness, or proficiency from a top researcher like Analayo?


Analayo wrote:
This helps explain in what way his meditation practice would have resulted in the mistaken claims surveyed above. Fast noting can easily proceed from noting what has just appeared, to what is just appearing, to what is just about to appear, to what one expects to be just about to appear. From this point onward, the act of noting can actually serve to create experience, even without the practitioner consciously noting that (pun intended). Combined with an aggressive type of mindfulness that is comparable with shooting aliens, such practice can turn into a construction of meditative experiences rather than being an insightful observation of what happens naturally. Due to the mind being so busy noting in quick succession, the construction of meditative experience to conform to sup- posed insight knowledges and even levels of awakening will not be noticed. Having trained oneself to create these experiences during formal meditation, the same easily continues during daily life. This explains the idea that the insight knowledges can be experienced in any situation, even when watching tv.

This is a very big claim, that all experiences that Daniel had are constructed by this noting practice. No proof has offered. Also Analayo ignores other practices that Daniel has done like kasina practices that are different from noting. Another thing that Analayo ignores, is what Daniel calls his 4th path attainment, and says that his perception has shifted drammatically since that point, and he perceives all experiences differenlty. Analayo doesn't talk about this shift, and based of the above quote, we should think that this shift in perception too is a constructed thing via the noting practices, which again is a big claim with no proof provided.


Analayo wrote:
A Christian mystic on the way to union with God, an insight meditator on the path to stream entry, and an MBSR student aiming at stress reduction and improved life quality should not be indiscriminately mixed up with each other. The Dark Night de- scribed by St. John is relevant to a Christian mystic and not to the cultivation of insight or a course in MBSR. The insight knowledges described by Buddhaghosa are relevant to a vipassanā meditator and not to a Christian mystic or a practitioner of MBSR, as neither involve the challenges that can arise in the Theravāda path of insight aimed at stream entry. In spite of some overlap, these three are doing distinct practices with different outcomes. For this reason, it is misleading if effects that might occur during deep insight meditation re- treats are conflated with potential repercussions of daily life practice of MBSR and similar programs.
Again, this is another big claim, that different traditions lead to different results because they have different conceptual frameworks and cultivate different techniques. How you can prove this? How you can say that there are different kinds of awakening, and based on what?


Analayo wrote:
In fact, the idea that these stages are secret lore does not concord particularly well with Daniel Ingram’s own claim that they are universal human experiences that anyone can have in daily life without even having meditated. If that had indeed been the case, it would hardly have been possible to keep them secret until now.

The point made by Daniel is not that the stages are secret and no one can find them. The point is that there is no informed consent in many of the practice settings. A person with trauma that registers to a TM course or MBSR course to do 20 minutes of meditation to calm their mind, is not expected to first go and read Visuddhimagga, Mahasi's book, Kornfield's book and then come and do their 20 minutes meditation.
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Siavash, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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// I forgot this point while writing the previous post.

Daniel, Chris, I don't know that the quotes that I made from Analayo's article violates the copyright or not. If it does, feel free to delete that post, and I'll edit its content (I have copied it) and repost later without quotes.
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Chris Marti, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Siavash -- FYI from my copyright law experiences with Time-Warner:

Short quotes (a few sentences, a paragraph) are considered "Fair Use" and do not violate copyright laws. Long quotes (many paragraphs, for example) could be problematic.
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Siavash, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Chris Marti:
Siavash -- FYI from my copyright law experiences with Time-Warner:

Short quotes (a few sentences, a paragraph) are considered "Fair Use" and do not violate copyright laws. Long quotes (many paragraphs, for example) could be problematic.


Thank you Chris for providing this info.
Then I let you decide if my quotes above are long enough to be problematic and need to be deleted or not!
(Sorry! Since I don't have enough knowledge of law to interpret that statement)
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Chris Marti, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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I think becoming a Buddhist monk, a lineage holder, a Zen Priest, a Theravada Bukkhu, a Tibetan Llama, or what have you, is like being admitted to a Guild. Guilds convey legitimacy to outsiders. Guilds protect their sources of knowledge, power, and influence. Guilds get to define the qualifications for becoming a legitimate Guild member. In these ways, Guilds protect themselves.
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Siavash, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Chris Marti:
I think becoming a Buddhist monk, a lineage holder, a Zen Priest, a Theravada Bukkhu, a Tibetan Llama, or what have you, is like being admitted to a Guild. Guilds convey legitimacy to outsiders. Guilds protect their sources of knowledge, power, and influence. Guilds get to define the qualifications for becoming a legitimate Guild member. In these ways, Guilds protect themselves.


Yes that's understandable totally. My problem is with the fairness part. From a supposedly honest practitioner and top researcher like Analayo, I'd expect more care for fairness.
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Chris Marti, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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It occurred to me many times while reading the article that it is the farthest thing from academic, or "research." There is nothing research-like about it. It's more like literary criticism. It's all opinion and derived validation from others' opinions. It relies heavily on accepted norms that are not validated by any kind of research whatsoever. Maybe it's more like a newspaper editorial, with a defined, strongly held point of view that is being defended with anecdotes cherry-picked from other opinion pieces. Or maybe it's more like amateur anthropology because it relies so heavily on traditional ways of interpreting an ancient oral tradition that seems to me to have superstition and highly improbable fables behind it.

I do think it has a point in regard to Daniel's extensive storytelling, which is likewise opinion unsupported by research. Daniel might have overdone some of that in MCTB1/2, but then he wouldn't be Daniel. So maybe we can argue about that if nothing else.

emoticon
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Chris Marti, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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By the way, it's clear to me from reading the article that its over-arching theme is that Daniel fooled himself with his practice, and that Titmuss and Goldstein recognized this and tried to get him to slow down and self-reflect. This is where the criticism of fast noting meditation comes into play. The implication is that one can be so enamored and deeply "into" that method of meditation that it leads to the creation of a story about one's own practice and progress along the path. The article then uses Daniel's own words against him. The worst part of the article, for Daniel Ingram, is that part.
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Siavash, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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The worst part of the article, for Daniel Ingram, is that part.

Yes, this is the part that lacks fairness most, and it hurts.
It's like you are talking with your close friend/partner, and telling them honestly that, ...hey at that point that I did this thing, I was wrong..., and they instead of appreciating your honesty, start telling you that you are a bastard, you should not do this and that and anything else because you had done that wrong thing, etc. This is the kind of argument when you have two politicians on a presidential election debate/show and they want to destroy each other however they can, not how a scholar/practitioner should argue if they want to be honest and fair.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Chris Marti:
By the way, it's clear to me from reading the article that its over-arching theme is that Daniel fooled himself with his practice, and that Titmuss and Goldstein recognized this and tried to get him to slow down and self-reflect. This is where the criticism of fast noting meditation comes into play. The implication is that one can be so enamored and deeply "into" that method of meditation that it leads to the creation of a story about one's own practice and progress along the path. The article then uses Daniel's own words against him. The worst part of the article, for Daniel Ingram, is that part.

The fact remains; ALL is in the mind! Also the Jhanas! We know of folks getting very comfy with Jhana bliss. We know Thanissaro Bhikkhu tells anyone who comes to his monastery to not be aftaid to cling to Jhanas and that it's better to be reborn as Deva, as apparently Human realm will not be a nice place to live in emoticon This is where he lost me! 

Both Jhana and Dry Insight Map orientated practice is All in the mind. Constructs. We use them by applying Mindfulness to it and seeing them for what they are = 3 Chatactetistics. 

Why Jhana works better for some and Vipassana for others is unclear to me. I blame Karma for this emoticon 

Im grateful both teachings exist. 
Mike Smirnoff, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Maybe this is a fair question: how many of Ingram's teachers, eg. Titmuss, Goldstein (and  others) think he's an Arahant?
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Chris Marti, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Better questions, IMHO:

1. What is an Arahant?
2. Do Goldstein, Titmuss, et al agree on a definition?
3. Does it matter?
Mike Smirnoff, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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An even better question might be, in my not so humble opinion:

Why call oneself Arahant if it has a well defined meaning in a certain tradition? Why not use some other terminology?

I know that Ingram says: Arahant is what you want it to mean (or something like that). I find this too vague for my tastes, but I don't mind it. On the other hand, there's a section on the technical 4th Path in Ingram's book (forget the word he actually uses but I think he calls it the technical 4th path).

So, here's another modified question: 

By which definition does Ingram call himself an Arahat? Is it by the technical 4th path thing in his book? If yes, how many of his teachers think that that has been accomplished by him? And how many of his teachers agree with that definition of an Arahat? I think these are totally valid questions. Because the whole area is murky. 

PS. I personally like the technical 4th path definition because I've never been into losing anger, sexual desire, etc, but more into getting to the bottom of the self. Not everyone does, clearly. (eg. Mr. Analayo).
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Chris Marti, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Why call oneself Arahant if it has a well defined meaning in a certain tradition? Why not use some other terminology?

I think Daniel Ingram used the traditional term on purpose. Daniel will have to speak for himself, but if it were me I'd use that term if for no other reason than to begin the debate about the traditional definition. Which, again IMHO, is nonsensical, mystical, and practically speaking, of no use in regard to the fruits of actual practice - unless one likes impossible goals. That obviously flies in the face of the beliefs of a lot of the members of the Guild, but it's a conversation very much worth having. In fact, I think the Guild is losing that argument these days. Maybe thus the article?
Mike Smirnoff, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Sure, this is a good enough reason if this is the reason. But then a backlash is to be expected from the Orthodoxy. And yes, that, then, is quite possibly the reason for the article, and because such an article has come out, there's the reason to talk here to debunk that article, and so on! 

Good times!

PS. I personally would like to see Orthodox Arahat's being rigorously questioned about what they mean when they say they have lost sexual desire and then do rigorous testing on them to see if it has actually happened. My guess would be that they'd avoid it to maintain their Orthodoxy.

PPS. I've seen supposed Orthodox Arahat's behave like babies and get angry. 
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Siavash, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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I think the Guild is losing that argument these days. Maybe thus the article?

The pattern of dictatorships: They show more aggressive behaviors in their final days, to try to convince themeselves and others that they are still the main power (Let's be optimistic!).
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Olivier, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Some people need religion, and we should respect that, is my view.
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Siavash, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Well I didn't mean the religion! I meant the institutions built on the religion. But of course they will exist always too, but maybe in a different form.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Olivier:
Some people need religion, and we should respect that, is my view.

That's fine with me as long it's not forced on others. 
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Olivier, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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I'm with mike here. It's a bit like saying im a catholic saint. These are cultural designations and belong to the institutions, from a certain POV ?
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Chris Marti, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Unless, Olivier, the purpose is revolution.
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Olivier, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Dreamer ! emoticonemoticon
Mike Smirnoff, modified 9 Months ago.

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Sorry I added an edit after Olivier and Chris responded.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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I know for certain that they do not agree on a definition of what is an arahat, and Christopher would likely have a mocking reaction to even using the word, and instead would point to immediate freedom here and now.
agnostic, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Daniel,

I am genuinely interested - why did you decide to use the title Arahant when you wrote MCTB?

In what ways would you say has it helped and hindered your goals?

I'm not insinuating that you are not an Arahant, I have no ability to judge either way. I'm just curious to know what your thinking was and how it might have changed over time.

I am also tremendously grateful for your efforts in bringing the dharma to the unwashed masses in your own unique way. It helped me turn my life around as well.

With respect and thanks,
agnostic
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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The pros and cons of using the title "Arahant" or whatever spelling are pretty straightforward:

Pros:
1) I genuinely think my experience fits with at least the Bahiya of the Bark Cloth sutta description, so it points to and fits with that, and thus seems truly honest.
2) Whatever I have attained utterly solved the thing that I was looking for vipassana to provide me, and, by pointing out that, and believing that others, should they attain this, would also find what they were looking for in vipassana, which arahantship is supposed to be, so it seems skillful and inspires others.
3) It helps convince others that this can be done.
4) It helps to normalize and bring the whole thing down to earth.
5) It is a clear, unambiguous pointing to my sense of my credentials and place where I am coming from when I write and speak.
6) It models the straightforward discussion of attainments that I believe can be beneficial, so avoids hipocracy.
7) It filters out those who are offended or put off by the term, thus saving them from wasting their time and me from having to listen to them complain as much.

Cons:
1) It really freaks out traditionalists and those who like their own definitions of the term and who love the myths of Buddhism and take them literally.
2) It really freaks out those people who believe that such attainments are actually unattainable.
3) It really freaks out those who don't believe that anyone should speak publically about such things.
4) It is moderately to heavily offputting to those who believe in other goals and spiritual paths, particularly those who cling to them exclusively, such as bodhisattva ideals, Atman, Kensho, Satori, Divine Marriage, etc.
5) It freaks out scientific materialists who don't realize that my definition is actually extremely compatible with numerous scientific models and views.
6) It annoys other alpha-teachers who want to dominate the space, considering it some sort of territory marking, bragging, a challenge, or attempt to grab market share and the like.
7) It annoys the betas of those same alpha-teachers who then feel they have to rally to the defense of the alpha, thus creating sectarian divides and conflict that extend beyond just the alphas.
8) It focuses practice for many on a goal that they believe is far in the future and not just THIS IS IT.
9) It creates comparison, envy, jealousy, judgement, and all of that.

There are probably others, but those are the big ones that come to mind.

Still, I am happy that I did it, realizing that lots of problems were also created, but consider the alternative carefully, which had already been done a lot, and how was that reaching those who benefitted from the other path? So many teachers, so many books, so many centers, so many traditions: isn't there room for one that does things this way?
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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I'm glad you weren't gored by a cow defending her calf the day you realized This Is It emoticon but it seems traditionalists are trying to gore you now! My best wishes are with you. 

On my part I can only practice well and see for myself if MCTB is true or not. So far it seems to align with my experience. 
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Olivier, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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I agree with your comments chris, this is about assuring the perenity of the institution. And obviously the whole article is totally founded upon beliefs which are not shared by everyone. So it will only convince those who are already convinced by the orthodoxy.

It's the tension between conservation in traditional, fixed, rigid collective forms, and innovation, experimentation by the individual. And as we know from history this has always and probably always will go on.

Remember the Grand Inquisitor dream in the Karamasov Brothers ? It depicts the second coming of Christ. Christ criticizes the institution which has derived from his predication, as he was critical of the temple in his time. The grand inquisitor says : sorry, man, we're gonna crucify you again... We can't have you telling people that stuff about us...

And what about Hallaj, the sufi mystic who said "I am the truth", and was crucified by other muslims ?

This article is not even about "proving" a point in my view. It has no credibility in that regard as CHris pointed out. But it seems like defense of cultural identity. Albeit it is pretty petty in the ad hominem attempt at ridiculing Daniel publicly (don't let it get you down Daniel !). Looking at it with these glasses changes things, don't you think ?
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Chloe Parker, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Siavash:

Analayo wrote:
A Christian mystic on the way to union with God, an insight meditator on the path to stream entry, and an MBSR student aiming at stress reduction and improved life quality should not be indiscriminately mixed up with each other. The Dark Night de- scribed by St. John is relevant to a Christian mystic and not to the cultivation of insight or a course in MBSR. The insight knowledges described by Buddhaghosa are relevant to a vipassanā meditator and not to a Christian mystic or a practitioner of MBSR, as neither involve the challenges that can arise in the Theravāda path of insight aimed at stream entry. In spite of some overlap, these three are doing distinct practices with different outcomes. For this reason, it is misleading if effects that might occur during deep insight meditation re- treats are conflated with potential repercussions of daily life practice of MBSR and similar programs.
Again, this is another big claim, that different traditions lead to different results because they have different conceptual frameworks and cultivate different techniques. How you can prove this? How you can say that there are different kinds of awakening, and based on what?



I think your comment here is key to understanding this conflict. Regardless of the perspective we might be taking, we're dealing with different conceptual frameworks which will subtly shift how the mind gets trained. Orthodox Theravada comes with a huge set of cultural values and a specific interpretation of what constitutes suffering and how that can be eradicated. So an Arhat from the stricter perspective is a sexless being who no longer suffers. That, I think, is possible but it's just one of many ways to use the techniques and teachings from these traditions. I think Analayo has a point from just a semantic perspective. But given all the caveats that DI has in his book, I wouldn't be surprised if he clearly states that he has a completely different interpretation of what Arhat means. It just gets confusing when people use the same word to mean different things. What is up with the fixation on titles?

This article seems fair game to me given the extensive attack on orthodoxy by DI. I hope something good can come from it. The sense that we have to hold to specific traditions in order to live up to every one of their ideals seems strange to me. The spirit of Daniel's writing and thinking (as I've gleaned from it) is to take this meditation tech and run free with it. We need to "Linuxify" it and adapt it to our own uses. This can be useful and also terrible if we fuck it up and don't download the right dependencies.

One last point about the bit that DI is just imagining everything. I think that's partly what these meditation techniques are for. To have a wieldy mind that allows one to incline it toward blissful states, or other more esoteric ones employs the use of imagination and observation as well so I wasn't entirely seeing Analayo's point about imagination as a ding against DI.
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tom moylan, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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excellent analysis.

i am surprised at how much "construction" is going on in this article...all by Analayo though.  I personally find the similarities between the mystic traditions far more interesting and engaging than noting that they are different and so are unworthy of comparison.

My OPINION is that these similarities are due to the common human structures that every homo sapien sapien is innately endowed with and that the cultural and linguistic nuances are what makes them appear as possibly different experiences.

My opinion is certainly influenced by Daniel but also by others.  Read "The #science of Enlightenment" by Young for a very good take on this.  I enjoy thinking of Meister Eckardt or Theresa de Avila or San Juan de la Cruz or even Ayahuasca Shamen accessing the layers of their humanity om all of their various ways.
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Smiling Stone, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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I was thinking about "receptivity vs forceful penetration of object" and realised I disagree with Analayo here. I believe (from my very limited understanding) that receptivity is not an option before we are quite advanced on the path, because we would be quickly overwhelmed with input. It is the rarefaction of inner occurrences through practice that allows us to open to the little bit that's left, with all the training we've got not to get sucked in the experience. That's why a modicum of concentration is really useful, it slows things down and give us an opportunity for release.
Also, my view on noting (from the outside, correct me if I'm wrong) is that it helps to separate the awareness from its object (you are not what you can name). So I would not talk about penetration... the distance induces deconstruction, which is what vipassana is about
Plus, the practice is bound to evolve toward more open receptivity... Thoughts?

with metta
smiling stone
That's kinda my understanding. Using precise focus until objects start vibrating, which means A&P and that the objects have been penetrated. After that, begin to enlarge focus and transition to a broad, receptive mode. 
Dan Jones, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Apologies to chime in here on something off topic I just wanted to correct something.

Smiling Stone:
I was thinking about "receptivity vs forceful penetration of object" and realised I disagree with Analayo here. I believe (from my very limited understanding) that receptivity is not an option before we are quite advanced on the path, because we would be quickly overwhelmed with input. 



You are quite correct in your intuition - the first thing I practiced was silent illumination. It basically involved sitting and I'd never sat and done nothing before, so it felt like I was going to die. But knowing this was ridiculous (I am just sitting in a room) led me to let go of everything & just let what ever happened, happen.

Some people have a natural inclination for receptivity and directed focus is the one that feels artificial or 'co-erced'. I understand some believe 'do nothing' or 'silent illumination' or 'dzogchen' to be an 'advanced' practive but for me I would never have meditated if it hadn't immediately clicked like this.

instructions, techniques and guidance to me feel artificial, although now I deeply appreciate it all. 

There's something to be said by being completely overwealmed by input - like you are going to die - and then being ok with that (knowing you are physically safe) and letting go of everything. 

Sometimes I think techniques get in the way. What are we trying to control, pick, avoid when we go to the safety of techniques, methods & quidance? Just what ever is in our mind! There's little risk of physical death if you're just sitting there, so what is it we are afraid of? 

Sit at the sound of the bell. Walk at the sound of the bell. Bow when others bow. Smile when others smile. Leave when it's time to go.

The risk when one is a bit more of an experienced practioner (a couple hundred or 1000 hours) is that one doesn't have the fundamental confrontation with suffering again, and it's easier to sort of zone out a bit or 'just sit' but really zone out for a few hours, just sort of dully noting sensations, and also rationalize it, that since they're all the 6 senses you are noticing you are 'practicing'.  At least that's how it is for me with 'silent illumination' or 'choiceless awareness' today. 

TL;DR: There's something to be said for silent illumination / receptivity / choiceless awareness as a practice *in the beginning*. I would not have seen the value in meditation if I wasn't blessed with the enourmous good fortune of having happened to have practiced this the first time I sat. I didn't know it until later.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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What you said resonates with me, Dan Jones. I started out with "do nothing" too. There was no need to seek out stuff to notice because I was bombarded with impressions anyway. That's probably because of my atypical wiring. So yeah, it is possible to start out receptive (or filterless), just like it is possible to start out in a great variety of other ways, which is why it is great to have a variety of approaches. After stream entry I do not get overwhelmed as easily (which has revolutionized my daily life - like today I'm doing laundry without being sick for the rest of the day because of the noice and the smells, and that is a miracle!). Unfortunately I can also relate to the dullness. There was a period, or several periods to be more precise, when I needed the noting because when I finally had filters, I also had a new defense mechanism to deal with that I never had before. Noting cut through that very efficiently. Now I'm back to being able to "do nothing" again, just like in the beginning but with more insight behind it. 

I don't think I'll ever be able to understand the need among many dharma teachers (not Daniel, thankfully) to fight other methods and be scornful and condescending about it. It seems very counterintuitive with regard to the dharma, doesn't it? Wrong speech, anyone?

By the way (the following is a response to Analayo's weird claims, not to Dan), I'm one of those inummerable practicioners that had been cycling according to the Theravadan maps for many many years before I started any systematic practice or heard about the maps or even knew anything about methods for meditation. People who are convinced that the cycling only happens with certain specific methods must be really poor phenomenologists, the way I see it, because the cycling is so obvious. Either that, or they haven't even passed the A&P, which would explain the lack of cycling. In the case of a respected dharma teacher, I certainly hope it's just poor phenomenology. 
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Smiling Stone, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Hey Dan, you have a point. I should not make generalizations, for sure. And if I think about it, I also started with some kind of open awareness (looking at the content of my mind) long before I bumped into a more organized practice... and I remember that it was immensely easier to dwell in this luminous space than to concentrate on a pee sized spot above my upper lip (an exercise proposed by my father when I was a kid as "what zen monks do"! It was a big achievement to be able to dwell there for a while during the anapana period of my first Goenka retreat, thirty years later).
Anyway, I do not think this (silent illumination) is what Bikkhu Analayo has in mind when he speaks of receptivity. His guided meditation are not devoid of guidelines, as he uses a quick bodyscan approach to introduce the different concepts he extracted from the Satipatthana sutta (through his comparative study) and finishes with a strong focus on the three characteristics leading to dispassion. So it is not like he advocates pure "non-doing".
I'm reading "Birth of insight" these days and it is quite clear there that the primal role of the monks is to protect the Dhamma by preserving the tipitaka. So it is normal (kind of) that Analayo does not recognize a practice that would not be framed by the scriptures (as he considers that MCTB misrepresents the scriptures).
I feel really moved by the testimonies of all those here who have been somehow "saved" by MCTB, and would not understand that somebody like Analayo is not...
Chris, I like the open-source vs close dogma model...

with metta
smiling stone
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Yeah, I don't think that is what Analayo advocates either. 

I like the open source dharma idea too, by the way. 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Let me just say;

I told my partner that if something was to happen to me and Im no more, to make sure and give our boy the greatest gift I could ever give to him; my copy of MCTB.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Analayo's article about meditation maps, others, and me in Mindfulness

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Papa Che Dusko:
Let me just say;

I told my partner that if something was to happen to me and Im no more, to make sure and give our boy the greatest gift I could ever give to him; my copy of MCTB.

Wow, that's beautiful. I think my heart just melted.

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