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Why the obsession with "You Are Already There"?

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I've spent a lot of time lately on some back-water discussion boards for the Dharma, and they all seem to have one thing in common: a blanket obsession with the "You Are Already There" school of thought, to the point they will tell people there's NO POINT to any sort of meditation practice. 

To me, this seems unproductive at best, and harmful at worst. Sure, at the end of the journey it's easy to say "oh yeah, okay, I was always here, nothing is that different", but it's such an incredibly unhelpful thing to say to anyone currently searching for the answers. I heard plenty of people say "you're already there" or "this is it" before I ever practiced, but it didn't make a lick of sense until I spent the time practicing.

Why does this view seem so prevelant these days? The people I'm talking to SEEM pretty awake, but for all I know they've learned some spiritual language and they're as messed up on the inside as anybody else. Are there major teachers around these days using this kind of teaching?

RE: Why the obsession with "You Are Already There"?
Answer
7/15/20 3:35 PM as a reply to Jazz Muzak.
On DhO people actually do jhanas and get paths so you do not get much of this "You Are Already There" nonsense here emoticon

I would rather say that consensus is, especially among people who attained higher paths, that it is definitely worth it to put the effort effort required to develop meditative skills and own mind.

RE: Why the obsession with "You Are Already There"?
Answer
7/15/20 3:58 PM as a reply to Jazz Muzak.
Relevant reading: The “Nothing To Do” and “You Are Already There” Schools

https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-v-awakening/37-models-of-the-stages-of-awakening/the-nothing-to-do-and-you-are-already-there-schools/

In some twisted paradoxical sense, I can see how the perception of "You Are Already There" is applicable. I can see why certain traditions and teachers say this, though I don't think it is a useful perception for practitioners to use as it leads to a lack of effort, ego inflation (identification with "Universal Perfection", Buddha Nature, Pure Consciousness or whatever) and probably worse things.

I think it is a popular thing for teachers to say as laziness and identification with omniscent and glowing concepts is a seductive and easily marketable thing. In a world where the Dharma is increasingly a commodity, it's not a surprise that this school of thought has become popular with both teachers and consumers. 

I will say that after certain insights into emptiness it was clear at the time that the whole attempt to get something or somewhere with practices of awakening is a total joke, cosmically laughable. 

However, the simple fact that you on on this forum, digging around other forums looking for answers, asking these questions, etc. points to the fact that you aren't done yet, that there are unconscious (and conscious) parts of you that simply don't believe that "This is it", that cannot accept that this could possibly be it, that reject this premise entirely, that think there is something else somewhere that will get you something. 

One way to look at it is that any good contemplative practice is a continued, gradual dissolving of all the different parts of "You" that can't accept that This Is It. The egoic identity needs some technique or practice through which it can dissolve itself, through which it can untangle, one-by-one, all of these knots of dualistic perception that prevent one from seeing that "This is It". Your ability to concentrate and gain insight needs to be developed and practiced in order to reach the deepest levels of these unconscious dualistic knots. I think a more accurate thing to say would be, "You are already there, but there's more work to do", which is irritatingly paradoxical, but there ya go.

RE: Why the obsession with "You Are Already There"?
Answer
7/15/20 3:46 PM as a reply to Jazz Muzak.
They're not entirely wrong, but it's just not useful advice for anyone and creates a lot of confusion. You could argue that the purification by insight that happens with mindfulness practice is stripping away something rather than adding it, and in that sense, yes, you were already "there", but you were so confused and deluded that you don't know it - and the point is knowing it, isn't it?

RE: Why the obsession with "You Are Already There"?
Answer
7/15/20 4:09 PM as a reply to Lewis James.
Practice when done properly definitelly adds knowledge how to use your mind.
Normally intution and gathered life experience give some knowledge what to do but those things are of poor quality and do not all that well. Especially when we need them the most.

Not generating certain perceptions eg. of "doer" which then must make action in response to situations is just the part of this knowledge of how to use mind. Mind can work just fine without them and so even more efficently. Or knowing what cause suffering and what cause pleasure. These things are generally not that well knows without investigating them even if intuitively we have some idea. Intuition some times fail without checking how well it actually work comparing to eg. doing something else.

The scope of what is learned depends heavily on practices/investigations done and mileage may wary.

RE: Why the obsession with "You Are Already There"?
Answer
7/16/20 5:59 AM as a reply to Jazz Muzak.
Nathan Bell:
I've spent a lot of time lately on some back-water discussion boards for the Dharma, and they all seem to have one thing in common: a blanket obsession with the "You Are Already There" school of thought, to the point they will tell people there's NO POINT to any sort of meditation practice. 

To me, this seems unproductive at best, and harmful at worst. Sure, at the end of the journey it's easy to say "oh yeah, okay, I was always here, nothing is that different", but it's such an incredibly unhelpful thing to say to anyone currently searching for the answers. I heard plenty of people say "you're already there" or "this is it" before I ever practiced, but it didn't make a lick of sense until I spent the time practicing.

Why does this view seem so prevelant these days? The people I'm talking to SEEM pretty awake, but for all I know they've learned some spiritual language and they're as messed up on the inside as anybody else. Are there major teachers around these days using this kind of teaching?
Maybe they misunderstand what it means?

I don't think means you don't have to practice. 

And it can mean different things.

Sometimes people are awakened and don't know it. (Shinzen Young has said this happens and other noted teachers have said so too).  

My opinion is that everyone has some level of enlightenment (freedom from the fetters) and anyone can increase their level of enlightenment by practicing meditation and mindfuilness, and (if you can be awakened and not know it) stream entry is an arbitrary milestone. Everyone is already "there" (has some level of awakening). 

Being attached to enlightenment can cause a lot of problems for people by distracting them from observing the cause and cessation of dukkha now by making them obsessed with getting enlightenment in the future. These people can be helped by breaking their obsession. But it doesn't mean they don't have to practice.

Sometimes people who have realized anatta say something along the lines that, "it is not something you didn't always have". To me it seems like most people have glimmers of anatta but don't recognize it for what it is - like not knowing an acorn grows into an oak tree. So maybe that is the cause of the confusion?

RE: Why the obsession with "You Are Already There"?
Answer
7/16/20 9:19 AM as a reply to Ni Nurta.
I for one have no interest in making paths if it just inflates my ego. Ego inflation can be dealt with on a daily basis but it doesn't fix it for the long term. 

RE: Why the obsession with "You Are Already There"?
Answer
7/16/20 11:37 AM as a reply to Jazz Muzak.
Before I came here this year, I spent 7 years among the Tibetans. How does their concept of everyone without exception having Buddha-Nature fit in here? The notion that everyone is already enlightened but those qualities are obscured by imperfections that have to be worked on? 

RE: Why the obsession with "You Are Already There"?
Answer
7/16/20 12:27 PM as a reply to A. DIetrich Ringle.
Sleeping Buddha Syndrome:
I for one have no interest in making paths if it just inflates my ego. Ego inflation can be dealt with on a daily basis but it doesn't fix it for the long term. 
...and egos are wrong exactly why?

I do notice people cannot do meditation states and are forced through suffering their mind states and using them unskillfully bring. But at the same time people who remove their egos completely and despite meditation know nothing about how their brains actually work also suffer, just differently. Maybe it is better type of suffering or maybe the thought they broke something which cannot be unbroken is so unbearable they are forced to believe what they are forced to believe.

What brings freedom is not arificially removing ego so you do not experience it but learning how to use your brain so neither ego nor anything else becomes an issue for this body and universe which experiences it.

My spiritual idol Gautama Buddha did not seem like the person who had any issues with him having ridiculously inflated ego. You can be like "I will be better than Buddha and remove my ego" and all but if you go this path then do it skillfully at least.

RE: Why the obsession with "You Are Already There"?
Answer
7/16/20 12:59 PM as a reply to Sam Gentile.
Sam Gentile:
Before I came here this year, I spent 7 years among the Tibetans. How does their concept of everyone without exception having Buddha-Nature fit in here? The notion that everyone is already enlightened but those qualities are obscured by imperfections that have to be worked on? 


Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I always thought "Buddha Nature" referred to the spontaneous perfection of all things. People are perfect just as they are. This isn't the same thing as enlightenment though, where the spontaneous perfection of all things becomes your experiential reality. Again, I'm happy to be corrected, but that's how I see it.

RE: Why the obsession with "You Are Already There"?
Answer
7/16/20 2:09 PM as a reply to Jazz Muzak.
Nathan Bell:
Sam Gentile:
Before I came here this year, I spent 7 years among the Tibetans. How does their concept of everyone without exception having Buddha-Nature fit in here? The notion that everyone is already enlightened but those qualities are obscured by imperfections that have to be worked on? 


Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I always thought "Buddha Nature" referred to the spontaneous perfection of all things. People are perfect just as they are. This isn't the same thing as enlightenment though, where the spontaneous perfection of all things becomes your experiential reality. Again, I'm happy to be corrected, but that's how I see it.
You're right. People are said to have enlightened qualities though.

RE: Why the obsession with "You Are Already There"?
Answer
7/16/20 3:57 PM as a reply to Sam Gentile.
Sam Gentile:
Before I came here this year, I spent 7 years among the Tibetans. How does their concept of everyone without exception having Buddha-Nature fit in here? The notion that everyone is already enlightened but those qualities are obscured by imperfections that have to be worked on? 


Above in this thread I wrote what I quote below. The parts I put in bold I think touch on your question: everyone is capable of being enlightened and after you realize anatta it is clearer that you were experiencing it before but didn't realize it. I included most of my post because I think the context helps explalin my views on the subject which are probably not 100% exactly the same as what the Tibetans believe.

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/c/message_boards/find_message?p_l_id=&messageId=21538929
Sometimes people are awakened and don't know it. (Shinzen Young has said this happens and other noted teachers have said so too).

My opinion is that everyone has some level of enlightenment (freedom from the fetters) and anyone can increase their level of enlightenment by practicing meditation and mindfuilness, and (if you can be awakened and not know it) stream entry is an arbitrary milestone. Everyone is already "there" (has some level of awakening).

Being attached to enlightenment can cause a lot of problems for people by distracting them from observing the cause and cessation of dukkha now by making them obsessed with getting enlightenment in the future. These people can be helped by breaking their obsession. But it doesn't mean they don't have to practice.

Sometimes people who have realized anatta say something along the lines that, "it is not something you didn't always have". To me it seems like most people have glimmers of anatta but don't recognize it for what it is - like not knowing an acorn grows into an oak tree. So maybe that is the cause of the confusion?

RE: Why the obsession with "You Are Already There"?
Answer
7/16/20 9:45 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
In presence of enlightened being everyone does experience anatta or whatever crazy thing they do.
People are even more than monkeys and we all know monkey see monkey do.
That doesn't make people know how mind technology works but if they ever wanted to know I have nothing against anyone copying anything off me and if they ask I will give free tips in language they do not know.

On similar note, I do copy mind states from other people too.
To make them in to proper mind technology process of reverse-engineering and is required but not to be more or less able to use it. In the latter case it is still good to at least check associated costs, especially when the source material is not Buddha who invented it.

To make any technology your own reverse engineering is needed and then creating analogous technology from scratch by writing all source code yourself and in case of supermundane technology not using pointers to non-free universe locations.

ps. replace "mind technology" with "dharma" to make language sound more Buddhist
ps2. or use non-free pointers if you actually want to pay the costs emoticon

RE: Why the obsession with "You Are Already There"?
Answer
7/17/20 8:12 AM as a reply to Jazz Muzak.
Jazz Muzak:
I've spent a lot of time lately on some back-water discussion boards for the Dharma, and they all seem to have one thing in common: a blanket obsession with the "You Are Already There" school of thought, to the point they will tell people there's NO POINT to any sort of meditation practice. 

To me, this seems unproductive at best, and harmful at worst. Sure, at the end of the journey it's easy to say "oh yeah, okay, I was always here, nothing is that different", but it's such an incredibly unhelpful thing to say to anyone currently searching for the answers. I heard plenty of people say "you're already there" or "this is it" before I ever practiced, but it didn't make a lick of sense until I spent the time practicing.

Why does this view seem so prevelant these days? The people I'm talking to SEEM pretty awake, but for all I know they've learned some spiritual language and they're as messed up on the inside as anybody else. Are there major teachers around these days using this kind of teaching?
Yeah, it's a big problem. It's called neo-advaita. It takes an ultimate truth -- that you are in fact That already -- and translates it into an intellectual statement that you have to hypnotize yourself into believing. That ultimate truth is not actually a belief of this kind.

"There is nothing to do" or "You are already there" can be useful pointers to practice -- particularly for surrender-oriented practices. And in some very rare people such statements can trigger true enlightenment. 

But generally what happens is that people absorb a 'non-dual understanding,' learn to parrot the 'right way of thinking'  get some kind of superficial sense of certainty and peace from it, and then cling to it for dear life. 

RE: Why the obsession with "You Are Already There"?
Answer
8/1/20 9:17 AM as a reply to nintheye.
There's part of a chapter in Sam Harris's book Waking Up which explains these ideas. I don't believe in them myself. There are extreme nondualists like H.W.L Poonja (1910-1997) who say that meditation is part of the problem. Then there are less extreme nondualists who accept that there is value to meditation. They have something called pointing out instructions which supposedly lead to sudden as supposed to gradual enlightenment. Also if you read Ken Wilber especially Grace and Grit it explains a lot. They're a bit irritating these people because they seem to be contradicting themselves.

RE: Why the obsession with "You Are Already There"?
Answer
8/1/20 10:52 AM as a reply to Jazz Muzak.
It's worth asking yourself, "What is the difference between the mind in open awareness (Zazen/Shine' meditation) and enlightened mind?". 

Enlightenment is not seeing the world with something EXTRA, it is seeing the world with something less. Shunyata/Emptiness/Anatta IS always here and present, even if your belief that things have intrinsic reality is in your way. This realization is precisely what you are looking for, and also exactly what you are ALWAYS looking at, not something new or different, but an understanding about what that is.

If you are being told this by someone who doesn't understand it experientially it could obviously be useless and confusing, but in the Dzogchen tradition, having it pointed out by Lama with insight could change everything.

RE: Why the obsession with "You Are Already There"?
Answer
8/1/20 10:54 AM as a reply to Jazz Muzak.
Jazz Muzak:
I've spent a lot of time lately on some back-water discussion boards for the Dharma, and they all seem to have one thing in common: a blanket obsession with the "You Are Already There" school of thought, to the point they will tell people there's NO POINT to any sort of meditation practice. 

To me, this seems unproductive at best, and harmful at worst. Sure, at the end of the journey it's easy to say "oh yeah, okay, I was always here, nothing is that different", but it's such an incredibly unhelpful thing to say to anyone currently searching for the answers. I heard plenty of people say "you're already there" or "this is it" before I ever practiced, but it didn't make a lick of sense until I spent the time practicing.

Why does this view seem so prevelant these days? The people I'm talking to SEEM pretty awake, but for all I know they've learned some spiritual language and they're as messed up on the inside as anybody else. Are there major teachers around these days using this kind of teaching?


Just posted yesterday:
    2009: (7:37 PM) AEN: namdrol says there cant be original enlightenment as that wld be the hindu teachingor atman(7:38 PM) Thusness: yes because they see non-dual as enlightenment(7:38 PM) AEN: oic(7:39 PM) Thusness: u mean e-sangha ban them?lol(7:40
    PM) AEN: yeah... alot of zen teachers and even moderators were banned
    during a period of time and e-sangha even received lawsuits thread etc(7:40 PM) Thusness: by the way, that is also not hindu teachings(7:40 PM) AEN: and membersoicthere were also other issues i think... some dun believe in rebirth etc... and some other things(7:40 PM) AEN: im not exactly sure what happened(7:40 PM) Thusness: that is neo-advaita teaching(7:40 PM) AEN: oic(7:41 PM) Thusness: because we are already enlightened so why practice?(7:41 PM) Thusness: yet this will arise another insightso this is also necessary(7:42 PM) Thusness: first of all if this is not true, how is it that so many practitioners are claiming that?(7:42 PM) AEN: they have the view of an inherent consciousness?(7:43 PM) Thusness: there must b certain experience or incomplete realization that led practitioners to such a conclusion(7:43 PM) AEN: oic..(7:43 PM) Thusness: it too is a koan.(7:44 PM) AEN: icic..(7:45 PM) Thusness: if one stops at One Mind, it will most likely end up concluding that way(7:45 PM) AEN: oic..(7:48 PM) Thusness: yet it is also important that u come to the same conclusion. just like I AMness(7:49 PM) AEN: icic..(7:49 PM) AEN: the original enlightenment is realised at non dual ?(7:49 PM) Thusness: yes(7:50 PM) AEN: icic(7:50 PM) Thusness: i think i told u we do not have a perfect nature right?(7:50 PM) Thusness: we have a dependent originated nature(7:50 PM) AEN: oic..(7:51 PM) AEN: but at the same time its spontaneously perfected?(7:51 PM) Thusness: however it is also important that u arrive at the same conclusion as those zen practitioners(7:51 PM) AEN: oic(7:52 PM) Thusness: that is different(7:52 PM) Thusness: i have already told u many times not to talk about spontaneous arising, liberation or perfection(7:52 PM) AEN: icic..(7:53 PM) Thusness: only after the direct insight of anatta and DO can u talk about that(7:53 PM) Thusness: this I have emphasized many times to uand written many times(7:54 PM) AEN: oic..(7:55
    PM) Thusness: this is because after the insight of anatta and DO, u r
    already purified and clear of the wrong understanding(7:56 PM) Thusness: ignorance is the cause of suffering, when it dissolves, u r naturally and spontaneously perfected(7:58 PM) AEN: icic..(7:58 PM) AEN: but even when there is ignorance, our nature is spontaneously perfected right, just not realised?(7:59 PM) Thusness: nope..(7:59 PM) AEN: oic what u mean(7:59 PM) Thusness: to me yes, to u nofor i know what it meant(8:01 PM) AEN: oic
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....
The Dzogchen master Śrī Siṃha also said the following (quoted from Kyle Dixon):“A
so called ‘primordial buddhahood’ is not asserted. Full awakening is
not possible without being free of the five afflictions... It is not
possible for wisdom to increase without giving up afflictions. Wisdom
will not arise without purifying afflictions.”

...



  • Soh Wei YuAnother
    interesting post I saw by Malcolm recently about Dogen completely
    rejecting the concept of 'original enlightenment' later in life:"Another
    interesting thing they do is try to show is that Dogen had a change of
    heart and rejected hongaku and BNI late in his life. Noriaki cites this example, from the Shōbōgenzō shizen bhikkhu, as presented in Pruning the Bodhi Tree, pg. 123:
    Some people say that, because the enlightenment of the Buddhas and
    Tathagatas encompass the whole world, even a speck of dust manifests
    that enlightenment. Because that enlightenment encompasses both subject
    and the object, mountains, rivers, earth, sun, moon, stars, and the four
    illusions and three poisons express it as well. To see mountains and
    rivers is to see the Tathagathas, and the four illusions and three
    poisons are the Buddha-dharma. To see a speck of dust is to see the
    dharma-dhatu and each spontaneous act is a manifestation of supreme
    enlightenment. They say this is the great understanding and call it a
    Patriarchal transmission. In latter-day Sung China, those who subscribe
    to this view are as numerous as rice plants, hemp. bamboo, and reeds.
    Their lineage is unknown, but it is clear they do not
    understand Buddhism.All and all an interesting book, quite relevant to the present discussion...."
  • Soh Wei YuElsewhere,
    Malcolm also said with regards to hongaku ("original enlightenment"),
    "Definitely a wrong view, even in Dzogchen.", "Chinese Buddhism departs
    from Indian Buddhism in many respects. Still, the idea of "inherent
    awakening" is patently absurd and cannot be taken literally or seriously
    by any means." - -R&c[0]=AT2amOSPUyKQXhgMlKJeW8smVN9AP29GBXljOjMs0imioLf7negizG4ORE9iPH4bUdxhjIegciLRuyYkoO1dQuf1Ff49xnU7UT288VDhLuXWzxUkb4eyDle5D6LalnCKA9iIiw29VZDxWqO5EmnG9kj_OhLFS_kdmEwd0jFeAu8OvYvgOw2fjXFaeIODSGPsDhiZ95ahIg]https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=97&t=19453&p=283507&hilit=hongaku#p283507Now
    I do not say this because I have 'faith' in Malcolm in a guru devotion
    manner, in fact if anything I am more familiar or follow John Tan's
    views and thoughts more closely.But
    what Malcolm said here -- rejection of any substantialist views
    including 'original enlightenment' is in line with my insights. Anything
    inherent is a subtle atman view and would not tally with my insight.
......

RE: Why the obsession with "You Are Already There"?
Answer
8/1/20 12:06 PM as a reply to Andrew McLaren Lewis.
Andrew McLaren Lewis:
There's part of a chapter in Sam Harris's book Waking Up which explains these ideas. I don't believe in them myself. There are extreme nondualists like H.W.L Poonja (1910-1997) who say that meditation is part of the problem. Then there are less extreme nondualists who accept that there is value to meditation. They have something called pointing out instructions which supposedly lead to sudden as supposed to gradual enlightenment. Also if you read Ken Wilber especially Grace and Grit it explains a lot. They're a bit irritating these people because they seem to be contradicting themselves.
It's not just Sam Harris. Loch Kelly is a big proponent of these ideas that he calls "effortless mindfullness" and which he says he learned from the Tibetan master Talku Urygen Rinpoche as "sutra muhumudra." He talks about pointing out instruction but basically his work has these "glimpse practices" which involve somehow getting you to look back at the lack of self or to the nature of awareness. I can't do any of these practices.