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christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/dzogchen?

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christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/dzogchen? Jano Pavuk 9/13/20 4:40 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Jim Smith 9/8/20 7:54 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Chris Marti 9/8/20 7:40 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Tim Farrington 9/9/20 1:37 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? J W 9/8/20 12:28 PM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Noah D 9/8/20 3:58 PM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Dream Walker 9/8/20 11:18 PM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Noah D 9/8/20 11:20 PM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? J W 9/9/20 10:46 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Noah D 9/9/20 11:40 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Tim Farrington 9/10/20 2:10 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Olivier 9/10/20 8:55 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Noah D 9/10/20 11:27 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Olivier 9/10/20 3:42 PM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Noah D 9/10/20 5:21 PM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Olivier 9/11/20 4:46 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? J W 9/10/20 12:06 PM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? bobby suduron 9/13/20 9:41 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Tim Farrington 9/14/20 2:58 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? bobby suduron 9/16/20 8:11 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Tim Farrington 9/9/20 1:53 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Chris Marti 9/9/20 7:08 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Angel Roberto Puente 9/9/20 12:05 PM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Tim Farrington 9/10/20 2:40 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Angel Roberto Puente 9/10/20 11:53 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Tim Farrington 9/11/20 4:14 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Angel Roberto Puente 9/11/20 12:48 PM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? J W 9/11/20 1:52 PM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Angel Roberto Puente 9/11/20 2:56 PM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Angel Roberto Puente 9/11/20 2:19 PM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Tim Farrington 9/13/20 3:06 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Angel Roberto Puente 9/13/20 1:24 PM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Tim Farrington 9/13/20 4:09 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Angel Roberto Puente 9/13/20 2:39 PM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Tim Farrington 9/14/20 4:31 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Pepe 9/9/20 12:59 PM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Tim Farrington 9/10/20 3:53 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Luke Barry Watson 9/11/20 1:44 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Tim Farrington 9/11/20 3:26 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Tim Farrington 9/11/20 3:25 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Tim Farrington 9/11/20 3:25 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Olivier 9/11/20 11:50 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Tim Farrington 9/15/20 4:59 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Luke Barry Watson 9/13/20 3:30 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Luke Barry Watson 9/13/20 3:33 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati? Tim Farrington 9/15/20 6:04 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/dzogchen? Luke Barry Watson 9/20/20 1:38 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/dzogchen? Tim Farrington 9/20/20 5:25 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/dzogchen? Jano Pavuk 9/13/20 5:25 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/dzogchen? Tim Farrington 9/15/20 4:12 AM
RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/dzogchen? Jano Pavuk 9/22/20 3:28 AM
dear friends

can someone please reference me to what would be concepts/practices in christian spirituality similar/reminiscent to those of mahamudra/dzogchen?

Some christian spiritual terms used in a similar way would be sufficient also...

Thank you

P. S.

I am familiar with work of Jordan Aumann (i.a. Christian Spirituality in Catholic tradition), Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, various pith instructions, other.


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edited grammar/syntax

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/8/20 7:54 AM as a reply to Jano Pavuk.
Jano:
dear friends

can someone please reference me to what would be equivalents or similars of mahamudra/dzogchen type practices in christian spirituality?

A christian spiritual term used in a similar way would be sufficient also...

Thank you

Do you know there is something equivalent?

Depending on what you mean by "equivalent", if you are not familiar with contemplative prayer or centering prayer you might want to have a look at those practices.

If you are not familiar with Bernadette Roberts you might find what  you are looking for if you look for information about her.

This (below) is not the definitive explanation it is something I just got from a quick search. There might be other versions that are more like mahamudra. I don't know if someone would consider it  equivalent or simlar. It might be considere "analogous". (And there are many many types of repetitive prayer in Christianity that could be considered meditation. The rosary, Litanies, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, etc.)

https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/centering-prayer-method/
1 Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within.

2 Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God’s presence and action within.

3 When engaged with your thoughts, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word.

4 At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/8/20 7:40 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Paging Tim Farrington...

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/8/20 12:28 PM as a reply to Jano Pavuk.

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/8/20 3:58 PM as a reply to Jano Pavuk.
@OP

It might be interesting to explore how it could be possible that Christian & Buddhist practices could be reminiscent of each other.  I guess this could be possible if practices are seen as divorced from the worldviews & intentions in which they come from.  In that case, I might argue that we need a different word for them, maybe "mental exercises."  If we are just talking about mental exercises, then I think we could also look at lots of other domains, like sports psychology, verbal fluency, language learning, etc.  

In contrast, if we say that practices are linked with the worldviews & intentions they arise out of, then the answer would be "no", there are no Christian practices that are reminiscent of Buddhist practices, much less mahamudra or dzogchen.  It may also be worth distinguishing mahamudra from dzogchen & also clarifying whether we are talking about sutra, tantra or essence mahamudra & whether we are talking about semde, longde, or menagde dzogchen & also clarifying how each of these things are in turn distinct from other buddhist practice lineages.  

What type of practices in christian spirituality are you referring to? Without a baseline of a starting point, how would you start to compare it to anything?
It is always complicated...lol
~D

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/8/20 11:20 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
What type of practices in christian spirituality are you referring to? Without a baseline of a starting point, how would you start to compare it to anything?
It is always complicated...lol
~D

I like to compare everything to everything else in one big correspondence table to rule them all with my baseline as my own experience

*troll mask* 

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/9/20 1:37 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
emoticon

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/9/20 1:53 AM as a reply to Jano Pavuk.
Jano:
dear friends

can someone please reference me to what would be concepts/practices in christian spirituality similar/reminiscent to those of mahamudra/dzogchen?

A christian spiritual terms used in a similar way would be sufficient also...

Thank you

P. S.

I am familiar with work of Jordan Aumann (i.a. Christian Spirituality in Catholic tradition)


==================
edited grammar/syntax

Hi Jano. I've been interested in cross-referencing concepts from Christianity and Buddhism, particularly as they are found in Daniel Ingram's Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha's neo-Theravadan frame, since 2011, when I first ran across MCTB. I did a bunch of time early on from my teens in zen and a Kundalini/Kashmir Shaivism ashram, but came back to the Catholic tradition through the Cloud of Unknowing and John of the Cross (which I found, ironically enough, in the ashram library, during a dark night phase). But there is no contemporary Christian equivalent of the sangha I've found on DhO, the deep passion for practice and the commitment to the path, and I have always found the cross-fertlization between the traditions fruitful, except of course during the times when I've found nothing whatsoever fruitful and it's all just noise, which is ecumenical and crosses all traditional boundaries.

Your initial framing of your interest is a pretty broad net, so I'll just throw out a few threads from over my years here at DhO that more or less seem in the ballpark, for openers here:

My first post on DhO on Christian-Buddhist dialogue, from 2011, with some recent action on it too:
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/1946814
 
Dzogchen/Vedanta/St. John of Cross--- a relatively recent round of discussion, main action on Christian stuff toward the bottom of the thread:
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/19272318
 
on Bernadette Roberts, a Catholic contemplative who was a John of the Cross classic type who went on into new territory in the tradition to write two books about a condition she called "No-Self":
 https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/7049212

a stab at cross-correlating phases of insight 9-15 (desire for deliverance through fruition), rough mapping to Christian “path to Union”:
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/20237859
 
“San Juan de la Cruz says that there are two dark nights”, from 11/19:
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/16761328
 
 
Lol, I couldn’t help but be struck by this small-print warning label on John of the Cross that I wrote on one of the threads, just to be sure we don’t get carried away here by the ecumenical spirit or get all heady with cross-mapping and fruitful dialogue:
 
"I do not, honestly, recommend John of the Cross's works, to very many people. The vocabulary is gnarly as shit, the Catholicism makes most people sick to their stomachs faster than bad incense, and he such a fucking hard-ass, he scares people. If you are desperate enough, there is no one better. But I hope to never meet another person that desperate."

emoticon

Thanks for posting your query, I hope this helps toward beginning a conversation.

love, tim

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/9/20 7:08 AM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Thanks for jumping in, Tim.

Noah D:
@OP

It might be interesting to explore how it could be possible that Christian & Buddhist practices could be reminiscent of each other.  I guess this could be possible if practices are seen as divorced from the worldviews & intentions in which they come from.  In that case, I might argue that we need a different word for them, maybe "mental exercises."  If we are just talking about mental exercises, then I think we could also look at lots of other domains, like sports psychology, verbal fluency, language learning, etc.  

In contrast, if we say that practices are linked with the worldviews & intentions they arise out of, then the answer would be "no", there are no Christian practices that are reminiscent of Buddhist practices, much less mahamudra or dzogchen.  It may also be worth distinguishing mahamudra from dzogchen & also clarifying whether we are talking about sutra, tantra or essence mahamudra & whether we are talking about semde, longde, or menagde dzogchen & also clarifying how each of these things are in turn distinct from other buddhist practice lineages.  

I'm quickly coming to find out that identifying as both a Christian and Buddhist is a good way to upset both Christians and Buddhists emoticon

(... not something that I want to do)

But what is 'spiritual identification' anyway and why does it matter?

John W:
Noah D:
@OP

It might be interesting to explore how it could be possible that Christian & Buddhist practices could be reminiscent of each other.  I guess this could be possible if practices are seen as divorced from the worldviews & intentions in which they come from.  In that case, I might argue that we need a different word for them, maybe "mental exercises."  If we are just talking about mental exercises, then I think we could also look at lots of other domains, like sports psychology, verbal fluency, language learning, etc.  

In contrast, if we say that practices are linked with the worldviews & intentions they arise out of, then the answer would be "no", there are no Christian practices that are reminiscent of Buddhist practices, much less mahamudra or dzogchen.  It may also be worth distinguishing mahamudra from dzogchen & also clarifying whether we are talking about sutra, tantra or essence mahamudra & whether we are talking about semde, longde, or menagde dzogchen & also clarifying how each of these things are in turn distinct from other buddhist practice lineages.  

I'm quickly coming to find out that identifying as both a Christian and Buddhist is a good way to upset both Christians and Buddhists emoticon

(... not something that I want to do)

But what is 'spiritual identification' anyway and why does it matter?
Ultimately it depends on whether someone is interested in intellectural precision.  If you're just applying techniques & views nominally based on benefit to your experience (the pragmatist take), then I think it doesn't matter.

Edit: & for what it's worth, the pragmatist take has benefited me greatly for most of my path. I wasn't interested in conceptual precision up until recently & it would have been to my detriment to invest in it earlier in my path.

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/9/20 12:05 PM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
     Thank you Tim, for the reference to your 2011 thread. As a
newcomer I have missed such interesting discussions. The interface between
Christianity and Buddhism has been a great interest of mine. I
consider Shikantaza my hardware and Christianity my software. The
last two books I've read are “Zen Spirit, Christian Spirit” by
Robert E. Kennedy and “Embracing the Inconceivable” by Ellen
Birx.
     In reading classical contemplative literature I have come away with the
impression that having to fit into the demands of the orthodoxy of
the church has caused distortions in the presentation of the
practices used. The concept of “imageless prayer” advanced by
Evagrius Ponticus (ca.345–399) has been particularly interesting to me.
https://www.academia.edu/1844281/Imageless_Prayer_and_the_Theological_
Vision_of_Evagrius_Ponticus_2001_
     I will read the threads on this topic and try to get up to speed. I
hope to learn more from the many views that are available on this
forum.

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/9/20 12:59 PM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Lots of pointers and experiences in this thread 

Catholic Priest Anthony De Mello's "Awareness" book online here

John W:
Noah D:
@OP

It might be interesting to explore how it could be possible that Christian & Buddhist practices could be reminiscent of each other.  I guess this could be possible if practices are seen as divorced from the worldviews & intentions in which they come from.  In that case, I might argue that we need a different word for them, maybe "mental exercises."  If we are just talking about mental exercises, then I think we could also look at lots of other domains, like sports psychology, verbal fluency, language learning, etc.  

In contrast, if we say that practices are linked with the worldviews & intentions they arise out of, then the answer would be "no", there are no Christian practices that are reminiscent of Buddhist practices, much less mahamudra or dzogchen.  It may also be worth distinguishing mahamudra from dzogchen & also clarifying whether we are talking about sutra, tantra or essence mahamudra & whether we are talking about semde, longde, or menagde dzogchen & also clarifying how each of these things are in turn distinct from other buddhist practice lineages.  

I'm quickly coming to find out that identifying as both a Christian and Buddhist is a good way to upset both Christians and Buddhists emoticon

(... not something that I want to do)

But what is 'spiritual identification' anyway and why does it matter?

hey John! Nice to cross paths again here.
I'm quickly coming to find out that identifying as both a Christian and Buddhist is a good way to upset both Christians and Buddhists emoticon

this is both very funny and very true, as most very funny and very true things are. 
(... not something that I want to do)

I think that if we do this thread right, we will inevitably upset some Christians and some Buddhists, if they are paying attention, and care. I think the likelihood of controversy comes with this territory, in any attempt to relate any deeply rooted spiritual tradition with another deeply rooted spiritual tradition, not just conceptually but pragmatically, i.e., in practice, where the rubber meets the road in meditation and prayer. The emphasis on pragmatic dharma here on DhO is a real plus in this kind of dialogue, for those who think that this kind of dialogue can bear any meaningful fruit at all. I am one of those who do, so here I am.
But what is 'spiritual identification' anyway and why does it matter?
 this goes to the heart of why it upsets a lot of people. "Spiritual identification"--- any sort of identification of self with something--- is ultimately an impediment, in both Buddhist and Catholic contemplative tradition. The Buddhist path is a process of dis-identification from everything subject to transience, dukkha, and anitta, no-self; the Christian path is a process of dis-indentification with anything except an ultimately ungraspable God. I happen to believe that there are enough parallels in the paths to allow for meaningful exchange. We are all working within a tradition in some way; our spiritual vocabularies are not self-coined, we found these words and concepts already in use, and we use them according to our best understanding, while always striving to deepen that understanding. We are all trying to understand what all the fuss is about, why people wrote this stuff down in the first place. The DhO tilt is toward Theravadan Buddhism as rendered contemporary in Daniel Ingram's reading of the Theravadan scriptures--- and other scriptures from other traditions, as supplemental, but his main thrust, tradition-wise, is a particular thread of the Theravadan lineage as it was revived in the late 1800s by U Nārada and propogated by Mahasi Sayadaw and his lineage in our times. My own tilt has been toward Catholic contemplation as practiced and expounded by John of the Cross, and toward the simple practice of the Cloud of Unknowing, and I have used the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament as my primary scriptural root, the text I must ultimately make sense of and embody with all my heart. There is obviously a degree of "identification" here, practically speaking: you don't make a scripture your own without a vast investment of committed time and energy. But in my experience, this doesn't rule out being open to other angles, especially when you recognize a kinship in practice or even concept. MCTB is deeply open to other traditions' wisdom; the term "dark night" itself, which we use for the dukkha nanas, is from John of the Cross's works, and I believe it is used fruitfully in this particular tradition (the Daniel Ingram thread, lol). So as long as we wear our traditions lightly in a dialogue like this, I think it can be worthwhile to risk some passing upsets in search of whether these intuitions of kinship have anything to them.

love, tim

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/10/20 2:40 AM as a reply to Angel Roberto Puente.
Angel Roberto Puente:
     Thank you Tim, for the reference to your 2011 thread. As a
newcomer I have missed such interesting discussions. The interface between
Christianity and Buddhism has been a great interest of mine. I
consider Shikantaza my hardware and Christianity my software. The
last two books I've read are “Zen Spirit, Christian Spirit” by
Robert E. Kennedy and “Embracing the Inconceivable” by Ellen
Birx.
     In reading classical contemplative literature I have come away with the
impression that having to fit into the demands of the orthodoxy of
the church has caused distortions in the presentation of the
practices used. The concept of “imageless prayer” advanced by
Evagrius Ponticus (ca.345–399) has been particularly interesting to me.
https://www.academia.edu/1844281/Imageless_Prayer_and_the_Theological_
Vision_of_Evagrius_Ponticus_2001_
     I will read the threads on this topic and try to get up to speed. I
hope to learn more from the many views that are available on this
forum.
Bienvenidos, Angel, and thank you for your post. 
The interface between Christianity and Buddhism has been a great interest of mine. I consider Shikantaza my hardware and Christianity my software.
what a great way to put it. I was born Catholic, so in that sense am hard-wired for Christianity, but i went East in my teens, inspired by the Zen of Alan Watts and the Beats, and D. T. Suzuki, and spent at least a decade meditating without that God stuff. I ended up in a siddha yoga ashram in the early eighties, in polytheistic heresy in the service of Shiva for a couple years, and it was there that i first came into real substantial contact with the Cloud of Unknowing and John of the Cross (I was dark nighting like hell, and that kundalini-inspired place was relentlessly upbeat about the marvelous glories of the Path), and started back into the depths of my birth tradition. I tried a couple of Christian contexts and forums over those years--- Centering Prayer people were ultimately way too straight for me, and an on-line forum i found got tiresome when the people there had no use for Bernadette Roberts, whom I found useful and fruitful.  I took a fresh plunge back into Buddhism scripture, thought, and vocabulary when I read Daniel Ingram's first edition of Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha, which I just loved, for the depth of commitment to practice, for the genius of his exegeses of Theravadan scripture, and for his delightful no-bullshit tone. I found DhO in 2011 and felt like it was my sangha, as this is a place where people are focused on getting it done, on the mat, in an energized, wholly committed way that is rare indeed. Plus, no bullshit, lol, or at least allowed to say the word "bullshit" once in a while, when it seems appropriate.
In reading classical contemplative literature I have come away with the impression that having to fit into the demands of the orthodoxy of the church has caused distortions in the presentation of the practices used. 
 Oh, man, don't get me started on this. There is no question in my mind that burning heretics at the stake or throwing them into dungeons has put a dent in the freedom of discourse and development of the Catholic contemplative tradition. Marguerite Porete got burned for talking about Nothing (and for being a mouthy woman, I suspect) and Meister Eckhart had to cover his ass in a lot of Latin horseshit to avoid a similar fate for his God beyond "God" and other nothingness notions. The whole cotemplative vocabulary basically froze at the time of the Counter-Reformation, with John of the Cross as the last one in before the iron curtain of a very stupid and gun-shy orthodoxy fell and contemplative prayer in any form became highly suspicious to the orthodox. Even now, the poor centering prayer people have to tip-toe around and watch their words, and watch their backs, as there's always somebody ready to accuse them of Quietism or Eastern-izing or some such shit.

I haven't read Kennedy or Brix, but I love Evagrius Ponticus. He leads directly into the Eastern Orthodox heyschasm tradition, which is by far the liveliest thread of continuous Catholic contemplative practice going back to those monks in the Egyptian desert in the second and third century.

What fun that you're interested in this "interface"! I look forward to continuing this conversation.
love, tim

Pepe:
Lots of pointers and experiences in this thread 

Catholic Priest Anthony De Mello's "Awareness" book online here

Ah, Pepe, you wizard of the archives, thank you for that great thread. This theme is perennial, and the same suspects come up--- Bernadette Roberts, the Cloud of Unknowing, John of the Cross, these seem like the best points for Christian-Buddhist interface.

I am reading an interesting book right now called Christianity Looks East, by a Catholic priest, Peter Feldmeier, written in 2006. He is comparing the spiritualities of John of the Cross and Buddhaghosa, particularly the Visuddhimagga, the Path of Purification. I'm only three chapters in but his remedial (necessarily, in this context: John X for Buddhists) run-outs of John are excellent. I'm less prepared to judge how well he does with Buddhaghosa, on vipassana for Christians, but I am getting a lot out of his work so far, and have ordered a copy of the Path of Purification for my study. I know the Visuddhimagga was central to Daniel's study of vipassana, which makes it doubly valuable to me.

love, tim

Noah D:

In contrast, if we say that practices are linked with the worldviews & intentions they arise out of, then the answer would be "no", there are no Christian practices that are reminiscent of Buddhist practices, much less mahamudra or dzogchen.  It may also be worth distinguishing mahamudra from dzogchen & also clarifying whether we are talking about sutra, tantra or essence mahamudra & whether we are talking about semde, longde, or menagde dzogchen & also clarifying how each of these things are in turn distinct from other buddhist practice lineages.
 

Hi Noah. One remark and a question.

1 - What about the idea that masters like Jesus and the Buddha realized that to have any effect on anyone, they had to present their teachings in a way that the people around them would understand, relate to, as well as express those teachings in a way that would excite their desire (perhap instrumentalizing the highest desire corresponding to said worldview in order to create spiritual motivation ? Hence ending rebirth for an indic civilization shaped by the rgvedas etc. ; and salvation through the messiah for a jewish culture). So, adapting their realizations to the dominant cosmology - wordlview - and values - desires/intentions - of their time and places, in order to get people to practice. (Joke : in that perspective, we could actually see Jon Kabat-Zinn as the new religious founder for a society whose worldview (Logos) is scientific materialism and whose desires (Eros) could pretty well be described as hedonistic consumerism ; hence the success of MBSR.) Thoughts ?

2 - Would you please expand on the differences you mention between Dzogchen and Mahamudra; tantra sutra essence; as well as the differences within the systems of semde longde menagde; and their relationships with other lineages ?

I have never managed to understand, though I've tried. I'll be transparent , don't take this as a provocation please : i've kind of always felt that the explanations of tibetan buddhists are in fact elaborate narrations destined to create an information/legitimacy imbalance, ultimately serving a purpose of maintaining ideological/cultural and in turn socio-economic power on the side of the select few who are co-opted by the insiders to take on the role of legitimate knowledge holders. This rippling down the chain. I've also hypothesized that these different lineages with their own version of the thing and unique features, are immaterial ways to just exist for their proponents within a saturated context where access to other lineages is tightly controled. So, the specifics of each tiny branch etc., would be more of a reflection of the need for socio-economic existence of a diverse bunch of people, and represent the sucess of individuals who have managed to impose themselves as new legitimate holders of knowledge, hence power in the context of a so-called theocratic society, rather than actual fundamental differences in content/experience. This being even more the case after exile and the breakdown of the tibetan state.
...
Seen that way, the impenetrable complexity suddenly starts making sense to me. Applying Ockham's razor, this socio-economic-political explanation seems to me like the best solution. 

But I'm really curious since you actually seem to know about this : I'd be more than willing to recognize my ignorance, very sincerely.

We could do this in PM if you don't want to clutter the thread.

emoticon

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/10/20 11:27 AM as a reply to Olivier.
Oliver:
1 - What about the idea that masters like Jesus and the Buddha realized that to have any effect on anyone, they had to present their teachings in a way that the people around them would understand, relate to, as well as express those teachings in a way that would excite their desire (perhap instrumentalizing the highest desire corresponding to said worldview in order to create spiritual motivation ? Hence ending rebirth for an indic civilization shaped by the rgvedas etc. ; and salvation through the messiah for a jewish culture). So, adapting their realizations to the dominant cosmology - wordlview - and values - desires/intentions - of their time and places, in order to get people to practice. (Joke : in that perspective, we could actually see Jon Kabat-Zinn as the new religious founder for a society whose worldview (Logos) is scientific materialism and whose desires (Eros) could pretty well be described as hedonistic consumerism ; hence the success of MBSR.) Thoughts ?

I think this depends on what one's paradigm or worldview is.  In my current paradigm, I tend towards a Buddhist view (perhaps a bit dogmatic/fundamentalist) which would tend to say that Buddha's can teach wrong view for the benefit of beings.  So in the case of Jesus, he could have been a Buddha or an advanced bodhisattva that was teaching an eternalist/theistic wrong view because that would be the highest benefit for the humans/non-human beings in that place & time.  Likewise for MBSR, as a system it is teaching a charvakin/scientific-materialist wrong view for the benefit of humans in that place & time.  
2 - Would you please expand on the differences you mention between Dzogchen and Mahamudra; tantra sutra essence; as well as the differences within the systems of semde longde menagde; and their relationships with other lineages ?

I can share what my limited understanding is from my studies.  But I really am not qualified to talk about this stuff at all.  But since this is the DhO wild west, I will give it a try.

In general, for sutra mahamudra the preparation is traditional concentration practice/elephant path; for tantra mahamudra the preparation is creation stage visualization practice; for essence mahamudra, there is no preparation one just jumps right into examining the nature of their own mind.  In general, for semde dzogchen, it is divided by concentration/vipassana/one taste/nonmeditation similar to Gampopa 4 yogas Mahamudra, but they are considered simultaneous not progressive; for longde dzogchen, it works with the physical & energy body using various belts to let certain muscles relax & sticks to put pressure on certain points to help recognize nature of mind; for menagde dzogchen, it is divided between treckho & thogal & is a more immediate path.
i've kind of always felt that the explanations of tibetan buddhists are in fact elaborate narrations destined to create an information/legitimacy imbalance, ultimately serving a purpose of maintaining ideological/cultural and in turn socio-economic power on the side of the select few who are co-opted by the insiders to take on the role of legitimate knowledge holders.

I think this is probably true.  I've heard from various historian-scholar-yogis that secrecy & rigid heirarchies were greatly increased in Tibetan tantra vs the roots in ancient Indian tantra.  
So, the specifics of each tiny branch etc., would be more of a reflection of the need for socio-economic existence of a diverse bunch of people, and represent the sucess of individuals who have managed to impose themselves as new legitimate holders of knowledge, hence power in the context of a so-called theocratic society, rather than actual fundamental differences in content/experience. This being even more the case after exile and the breakdown of the tibetan state.
...
Seen that way, the impenetrable complexity suddenly starts making sense to me. Applying Ockham's razor, this socio-economic-political explanation seems to me like the best solution. 

I have had to sort of try to re-map things for myself & make my own explanations when studying tantra.  I personally don't find it that valuable to try to chalk obstacles up to historical factors alone.  When something seems cryptic I try to decode it for myself or at least not dismiss it.  Studying a lot of these themes & then reading more prag dharm resources & then also comparing with my own experiences helps.  

Also it helps to get a broader base of buddhist knowledge in general, by studying commentaries like visuddhimagha or lam rim which structure all the sutras together, or sutras directly from pali canon, agamas etc, or even reading the tantras (although they are really obscure) but you can always try to find commentaries on tantras also.  I like studybuddhism.com, accesstoinsight, suttacentral, dharmawheel (just reading various threads on different schools), mc owens youtube, wikipedia of course, etc.  Then when you know the foundational teachings across buddhist schools you can disambiguate some of the really specific claims from different lineages.

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/10/20 11:53 AM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
     I appreciate the welcome Tim. I am counting on your leadership in this
discussion. I'm sure you will avoid getting the hybrids kicked off
this forum. Although I am positive that I've eliminated the
“attachment to rites and rituals”, and am perpetually in Zen
practice mode, I just can't kick the fascination with, and love of,
Jesus the Christ.
     The debates on the use of myth, and the possible interpretations of the
gospels will probably be endless. The questions I have asked are, Why
did Jesus not propose a structured practice, like Buddha did?, If any
practice can be found, how is it similar or different from Buddhism?,
Can these questions be answered from a pragmatic point of view and
without recourse to theology?. I have my opinions, and am sure I
will be hearing a multitude of voices. Grab the flag and gallop off, Tim.

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/10/20 12:06 PM as a reply to Olivier.
[quote=Olivier:
i've kind of always felt that the explanations of tibetan buddhists are in fact elaborate narrations destined to create an information/legitimacy imbalance, ultimately serving a purpose of maintaining ideological/cultural and in turn socio-economic power on the side of the select few who are co-opted by the insiders to take on the role of legitimate knowledge holders..."

Forgive me for butting in.. I think this is partially correct, but you could say the same thing about any religion or religious sub-sect, ever, including the various Theravadan lineages, including the various Westernized pragmatic schools.  In every case it comes down to your own personal experience, your own discernment and awareness of predatory and/or corrupted individuals, and awareness of the limitations of the context from which these cultural institutions arise. 

Noah D:
Oliver:
....
i've kind of always felt that the explanations of tibetan buddhists are in fact elaborate narrations destined to create an information/legitimacy imbalance, ultimately serving a purpose of maintaining ideological/cultural and in turn socio-economic power on the side of the select few who are co-opted by the insiders to take on the role of legitimate knowledge holders.

I think this is probably true.  I've heard from various historian-scholar-yogis that secrecy & rigid heirarchies were greatly increased in Tibetan tantra vs the roots in ancient Indian tantra.  
So, the specifics of each tiny branch etc., would be more of a reflection of the need for socio-economic existence of a diverse bunch of people, and represent the sucess of individuals who have managed to impose themselves as new legitimate holders of knowledge, hence power in the context of a so-called theocratic society, rather than actual fundamental differences in content/experience. This being even more the case after exile and the breakdown of the tibetan state.
...
Seen that way, the impenetrable complexity suddenly starts making sense to me. Applying Ockham's razor, this socio-economic-political explanation seems to me like the best solution. 

I have had to sort of try to re-map things for myself & make my own explanations when studying tantra.  I personally don't find it that valuable to try to chalk obstacles up to historical factors alone.  When something seems cryptic I try to decode it for myself or at least not dismiss it.  Studying a lot of these themes & then reading more prag dharm resources & then also comparing with my own experiences helps.  

Also it helps to get a broader base of buddhist knowledge in general, by studying commentaries like visuddhimagha or lam rim which structure all the sutras together, or sutras directly from pali canon, agamas etc, or even reading the tantras (although they are really obscure) but you can always try to find commentaries on tantras also.  I like studybuddhism.com, accesstoinsight, suttacentral, dharmawheel (just reading various threads on different schools), mc owens youtube, wikipedia of course, etc.  Then when you know the foundational teachings across buddhist schools you can disambiguate some of the really specific claims from different lineages.

Thanks for the info. What about the distinction mahamudra/dzogchen though, you didn't say anything about that one ?

I can't differentiate between for instance Tilopa's poetry of the mahamudra, some dzogchen texts, and even stuff by phenomenologists. I agree that experience is what matters.

I'm definitely not saying it's all just what I said, that would kind of be crazy. But the strict divisions between very specific practices seems a excessively ... detailed and rigid. For instance, I once did a "mahamudra" retreat which followed a ten day tibetan vipashyana retreat. We used varying methods of concentration, including regular breath meditation, visualizations using colored dots and golden stuff getting into the body, then visualizations of a kind of gugru embodying all the greatest qualities, to whom we asked to take over our experience of meditation and let us experience the awakened mind, followed by elaborate visualisations of the person becoming us, then doing shine "as the master". 
The funny thing is, there were a few christian women at that retreat. We would often share our experiences, I opened up very honestly in th spirit of the DhO and this lead to interesting discussions. One of the christian woman was getting into fourth jhana and sharing enthusiastically, but she would describe it as "experiencing the master", that is to say, Jesus. One time, she said ; so, jesus was there, and then something even greater and more powerful, the master of the master, God ! came !
She was beaming while she said that. And the teacher was all : "Woooooow ! yeah, you go girl !", which was his standard comment.

So ? Which one was right ? Jhana or Jesus ? 

There are definitions of god which are strictly equivalent to "the" dzogchen worldview (it seems to me) ; for instance, compare Dudjom Lingpa and Michel Henry's texts on the truth of christianity.

Interesting thing about globalization...


But what happens when you start reading about all the different schools and ways of practice and all that, is a very subtle but noticeable feeling of disempowerment and incompetence (and awe at the sheer intricacy of the thing). That's what happens to me anyways. I feel like I'm nowhere near even being able to have a clue of what the hell they're on about. I feel like I should join a FPMT center and spend years reading root texts because this is so far beyond my present scope. Etc., etc., thereby getting the incentive to invest a lot of time and effort to maybe sometime understand what's what. Know what I mean ? 

I get the exact same feeling with 70's-80's french intellectuals by the way :p

Is that on purpose, is my question ?

I know that in the latter case, it is !

Cheers

edited for spelling mistakes/formatting/qualifiers

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/10/20 5:21 PM as a reply to Olivier.
What about the distinction mahamudra/dzogchen though, you didn't say anything about that one ?

Once again with the caveat that I'm not qualified to speak on these things, here's my attempt - In general, Mahamudra is found most famously in the Kagyu & Sakya schools while Dzogchen is found in the Nyingma & Bon schools.  The philosophy of Dzogchen is a bit different, which is that sentient beings already are Buddhas, immediately, right now.  It's just a matter of seeing the truth of it.  The philosophy of Mahamudra (& tantra) is that sentient beings are potential Buddhas at all times & can become actual Buddhas through transmutation.  

So ? Which one was right ? Jhana or Jesus ? 

I think it "right" depends on what the goal is.  Having an imprecise, eccumincal/perennial approach is "right" if you just pragmatically want results, at least earlier on in the path.  Being precise about what each tradition is saying is "right" if you care about the intersection of view & practice.  

But what happens when you start reading about all the different schools and ways of practice and all that, is a very subtle but noticeable feeling of disempowerment and incompetence (and awe at the sheer intricacy of the thing). That's what happens to me anyways. I feel like I'm nowhere near even being able to have a clue of what the hell they're on about. I feel like I should join a FPMT center and spend years reading root texts because this is so far beyond my present scope. Etc., etc., thereby getting the incentive to invest a lot of time and effort to maybe sometime understand what's what. Know what I mean ?

Well as you know, the FPMT & Gelug school at large places a higher premium on academic rigor than anywhere else.  I would approach your qualms above from the pragmatic "who cares about all the intelluctual stutf" lens.  Meaning just figure out what area you want to improve in, whether it's perceptual insight; behavior; psychoemotional health; ego development.  Then determine what practices are likely to get you there & find a teacher if necessary that can support you in that.  Then track your progress over time & make adjustments as needed.  

Sometimes certain insight knowledges in the progress of insight can cause a lot of doubt to arise & it can manifest as doubt about traditional knowledge stuff.  Or doubt can be covering up some sort of psychodynamic knot waiting to be untied.  Or it might just be attachment-level preverbal stuff that could be approached with the ideal parent meditation.  Or maybe just some calm abiding practice to calm the mind.  Basically when we start talking about where the rubber hits the road with practice, we can't just stay in the traditional-dogma realm (as much as I do love & respect Buddhadharma orthodox).  

Noah D:
What about the distinction mahamudra/dzogchen though, you didn't say anything about that one ?

Once again with the caveat that I'm not qualified to speak on these things, here's my attempt - In general, Mahamudra is found most famously in the Kagyu & Sakya schools while Dzogchen is found in the Nyingma & Bon schools.  The philosophy of Dzogchen is a bit different, which is that sentient beings already are Buddhas, immediately, right now.  It's just a matter of seeing the truth of it.  The philosophy of Mahamudra (& tantra) is that sentient beings are potential Buddhas at all times & can become actual Buddhas through transmutation.  

Ok.

So ? Which one was right ? Jhana or Jesus ? 

I think it "right" depends on what the goal is.  Having an imprecise, eccumincal/perennial approach is "right" if you just pragmatically want results, at least earlier on in the path.  Being precise about what each tradition is saying is "right" if you care about the intersection of view & practice.  

The question was rethorical ! If we want to be precise, btw, universalism is not oeccumenicalism oeuccumenism (woops!) is not perennialism emoticon

I personally care about the intersection of view and practice, as you say, but also believe there is a need for a view which goes beyond what each individual traditional path has to offer... To fit in events such as the one I mentionned : a christian doing mahamudra meditation taught by a white guy who studied physics or phenomenology... 


But what happens when you start reading about all the different schools and ways of practice and all that, is a very subtle but noticeable feeling of disempowerment and incompetence (and awe at the sheer intricacy of the thing). That's what happens to me anyways. I feel like I'm nowhere near even being able to have a clue of what the hell they're on about. I feel like I should join a FPMT center and spend years reading root texts because this is so far beyond my present scope. Etc., etc., thereby getting the incentive to invest a lot of time and effort to maybe sometime understand what's what. Know what I mean ?

Well as you know, the FPMT & Gelug school at large places a higher premium on academic rigor than anywhere else.  I would approach your qualms above from the pragmatic "who cares about all the intelluctual stutf" lens.  Meaning just figure out what area you want to improve in, whether it's perceptual insight; behavior; psychoemotional health; ego development.  Then determine what practices are likely to get you there & find a teacher if necessary that can support you in that.  Then track your progress over time & make adjustments as needed.  

Again, this was jut a way of pointing out to a certain rethorical mode, and not to talk about my personnal doubts.

That's not intellectual at all : I'm not caring about the content of what is being said so much as the form through which it is being said and the effects the people utilizing these forms are trying to have on their listeners. This is by definition pragmatic. 


Pragmatism
 is a philosophical tradition that began in the United States around 1870.[1] Its origins are often attributed to the philosophers Charles Sanders PeirceWilliam James, and John Dewey. Peirce later described it in his pragmatic maxim: "Consider the practical effects of the objects of your conception. Then, your conception of those effects is the whole of your conception of the object."[2]

Pragmatism considers words and thought as tools and instruments for prediction, problem solving, and action, and rejects the idea that the function of thought is to describe, represent, or mirror reality.
[url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pragmatism#cite_note-Project_Gutenberg_(2015)-3][3] Pragmatists contend that most philosophical topics—such as the nature of knowledge, language, concepts, meaning, belief, and science—are all best viewed in terms of their practical uses and successes.

In fact, from my literature studies, I remember the field of textual pragmatism as the study of the effects discourse has on the listeners.

The question here isn't so much about what I want to progress in or not, just exploring how people in this world sometimes package things in certain ways in order to produce certain effects on others, and whether or not certain aspects of certain traditions can be said to exist for that purpose or not, regardless of content :p Analyzing my reaction to those things can be a source of insight into those things.

Example. The french government just ratified a new 100 billion euros recovery package after covid. The pragmatic effect on me of this text was to make me feel that these guys had the deepest concern for ecology and that it was possible to have green growth ! That effect was achieved through rethoric. Nothing to do with the POI. Upon reflexion though, that recovery plan is in fact the opposite of ecological, and green growth is a contradiction in terms. Yet, it will have the effect intended : manipulating public opinion.

Sometimes certain insight knowledges in the progress of insight can cause a lot of doubt to arise & it can manifest as doubt about traditional knowledge stuff.  Or doubt can be covering up some sort of psychodynamic knot waiting to be untied.  Or it might just be attachment-level preverbal stuff that could be approached with the ideal parent meditation.  Or maybe just some calm abiding practice to calm the mind.  Basically when we start talking about where the rubber hits the road with practice, we can't just stay in the traditional-dogma realm (as much as I do love & respect Buddhadharma orthodox).  

Or, doubt is a sign that someone is trying to fuck you over, Noah ! emoticon

Edit : and in the spirit of friendly debate, here's a bit of spice from Picasso : "I don't become : I am."
Tqken from We've had a hundred years of psychotherapy and the world's getting worse.

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/11/20 1:44 AM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Thanks Tim,
I have always been a fan of Bernadette and have read most her books. But could never marry up her stages with those of the cycle of insight. The mature unitive state seems to look something like 3rd or 4th path. I am perhaps taking it off topic, but interested in what you think, or perhaps you have commented on this elsewhere. 
Wats

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/11/20 3:26 AM as a reply to Luke Barry Watson.
Luke Barry Watson:
Thanks Tim,
I have always been a fan of Bernadette and have read most her books. But could never marry up her stages with those of the cycle of insight. The mature unitive state seems to look something like 3rd or 4th path. I am perhaps taking it off topic, but interested in what you think, or perhaps you have commented on this elsewhere. 
Wats

Hi Luke, and welcome to the DharmaOverground!

Bernadette was huge for me, mostly because I was convinced of her authenticity. She is remarkably jargon-free throughout her works, very plain-spoken, and in the places where I felt our experiences overlapped (at any given point, as I have read her over three and a half decades) she was always right on. John of the Cross was sort of the same, minus the jargon-freeness, lol, but what Bernadette had going for her was that she was a living embodiment of that tradition. For a very long time, I used her as a supplement to John of the Cross; wherever she was coming from with the No-Self stuff (and I had enough Eastern practice and study to be open to that intellectually, and vocabulary-wise), she was for me primarily then a person who had achieved "the mature unitive state," as you put it, in her terms (and John's), and her run-out of John X was correspondingly lucid and insightful. She was also prone to emphasize quiet or silence as one of the things she steered by internally, which again suited my temperament and experience, and I think her description of the passage from a long plateau of silence free of "love and joy" (which since my discovery of MCTB I have always equated with EQ) to the mystery of what she calls full union (call it stream entry for the hell of it here, lol) still speaks to me in ways no on else's ever has. She uses terms like the "center" in a way that will set off Buddhist bells, but in practice and experience what I think she is talking about is very free of reification and amounts to spaciousness, and the void that can be experienced as empty or full, and both ways fruitfully:



lol, i can't get page 56-57 to show up here, so will attach them another post or two below. This is all from Path to No Self, pp. 55-57.

I've never done much on sorting out the higher paths, but your sense of the mature unitive state being third or fourth path seems reasonable to me. That would make John of the Cross an anagami and Bernadette possibly an arahant, lol. She was certainly pissy enough to insist on her achievement as the highest, no brag, just fact.

love, tim

p.s. There is a thread on DhO devoted mainly to Bernadette Roberts here:  https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/7049212

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/11/20 3:25 AM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
emoticon

this is the second page of quotation from Bernadette Roberts's Path to No-Self, re: the post above:



RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/11/20 3:25 AM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
emoticon

and the third: 



RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/11/20 4:14 AM as a reply to Angel Roberto Puente.
Hi Angel, and thanks for your post. Glad to have someone to play with here on this giant playground.

Why did Jesus not propose a structured practice, like Buddha did?
We are told in the Gospels in numerous places that Jesus often went off by himself to an isolated place and prayed, sometimes praying all night. Anyone who has ever practiced meditation or prayer knows that you are not going to be able to practice prayer/meditation that often, or for that long, without some kind of structure to the practice. The only structured prayer on record given by Jesus is the Our Father, with variants found in Matthew and Luke, and there is a long tradition in Christianity of using this fairly simple prayer in deep mantra-like fashion, sometimes breaking it down into phrases. But in truth, there is nothing remotely like the structured practice instructions given by the Buddha in his discourses. Why not? I suspect that it is because Jesus' form of prayer was relatively simple, in the first instance. Challenged to say what the most important commandment was, he cited the Shema, from Deuteronomy 6: "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength." Christian prayer is an attempt to fulfill this in practice, and the practice is historically complicated by the politics of Christianity's emergence from Judaism, with the attendant polemics and hard-lines drawn by both sides; and later by the imperial adoption of Christianity as the state religion of Rome, and the centralization of the leadership and the calcification of the tenets. How you practiced at any point in here could get you killed or imprisoned or exiled, and this was true from the beginning right up until the present day, arguably, and certainly up until the 18th century. In an environment where discourse on prayer was that politically charged, partisan, and power-ridden, the cooler-headed smart people kept it simple and quiet, for the most part, and the hot-headed smart people got in deep trouble. Most contemplative prayer gets you beyond orthodoxy in a very short time. It's as simple as that. The Cloud of Unknowing is still a controversial text, in many Christian quarters. This is insane, but it's the pathetic state of the art.
If any practice can be found, how is it similar or different from Buddhism?
 I do think distinctive "Christian" practices can be found. There is an unbroken thread of tradition going back to the so-called "Desert Fathers" (and recently, always less prominently, some Desert Mothers too) who went out into the Egyptian desert in the three or four centuries immediately after Jesus lived and accumulated quite a bit of lore in their efforts to "pray unceasingly." Thomas Merton found a lot of his inspiration there, and the basics of Christian prayer can all be seen in those writings. Most of what has been central to the tradition, technique-wise, is what we would tend to think of as mantric prayer, the single-minded repetition of a single prayer phrase. The heyschast tradition in Eastern Orthodoxy largely settled on the so-called "Jesus Prayer" early on, and that tends to predominate a lot of the later literature, but the basics of a very simple prayer combined with exclusive concentration and a lifting up of the heart toward God are the most characteristic Christian contemplative technique to this day. The Centering Prayer movement is a revival of this tradition. The Cloud of Unknowing falls right in the mainstream of it. John of the Cross does not specify any prayer technique that I can tease out, but his emphasis is always toward simplicity and letting go of intellectual and emotional hindrances to that simplicity. 

We tend to think of mantra-prayer as shamatha, and often oppose it to vipassana, which treats the shamatha states like any other, to be seen in the light of the three characteristics. But I don't think it's much appreciated that the Christian dark night as considered by John of the Cross is effectively a forced movement beyond mere concentrative states, as those states in the dark night are drained of whatever felt benefits that had, and we are left with "naked faith," in John's phrase, and nothing else. This is the essence of vipassana practice as well: none of this shit holds up. In that sense, both paths culminate in a relativization of and disindentification with our "preferred" states, and open the door to experiencing reality as it arises without prejudice or control.
Can these questions be answered from a pragmatic point of view and without recourse to theology?
If we consider that what we mean by "pragmatic" here is, as I understand it, "conducing to liberation, or realization," then hell yes. What works, and why it works, seems straightforward in most ways, across all traditions, and the virtues of the meditative life, humility, patience, aceptance, compassion, also seem perennial to me. I think the vocabulary of anyone "returning to the market town with bliss-bestowing hands," in the phrasing of the Zen ox-herding cycle, is going to be somewhat specific and culturally conditioned, and so relative, depending on how and in what tradition you found and tamed and rode and disappeared with the ox, but this is simply the reality of human language and culture. 

for openers, lol.

love, tim

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/11/20 11:50 AM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Hey Tim,

Great, I might get that Path to no self book. Added to my Tim recommended reading list !

CHeers

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/11/20 12:48 PM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
     Well Tim, you didn't disappoint. I expected a dissertation on
contemplative literature, we share all the sources except Bernadette,
thanks for those pages. But suppose we didn't have any source except
the words of Christ in the gospels. What would we be able to flesh
out, and how would it compare to what we've learned from Buddhist
practice?
     I would like to start with simple examples that with further
elaboration might prove to be not so simplistic.
The Enticement:
There is a Kingdom of God that is present now, in us and among us,
(Nirvana, Enlightenment). Life can be better.
The Impediments:
fear, worries about survival, food, clothing, shelter,( the bottom of
the Maslow pyramid). Suffering (Dukkha) caused by ideation is a
universal condition.
The Remedy:
Let go of suffering (Nirodha) by accessing the Kingdom of God.
The Method:

Go beyond the senses, God is in heaven, is immaterial,
(khlesa-nirvana).
     A button is enough, if all you want is a sample, so I'll stop at these.
I'm not really versed in Buddhist thought, Zen is not big on this or on maps.
I had given the MCTB1 a light reading some time ago and I recently
looked into the MCTB2 and decided to buy
the printed version so I can study it. I agree with everything you
have said, about the MCTB and about Daniel Ingram, that impressed
you.
     From my experience I began to see the, hidden, similarities of goals and
the preliminaries of practice as they appear in the gospels.  Any writings from those
times, like the Gnostic Gospels, that could shed light on different types of practice, 
were eliminated.  So what can be reconstructed without referring to writings of contemplatives, 
so far removed in time and under such constraints?
     Reading the sermons of Bankei Yotaku gave me even more incentive to explore
this angle of similarities. His explanation of the Unborn as our
nature, that is transmuted by the acceptance of our impulses and
thoughts is very Jesus like, in my opinion. Understanding that
managing this transmutation is the essence of all practice, be it by
just acknowledging its presence and avoiding running away or toward
it, deconstructing its production by noting it in detail, or the many
other methods used, is central. I hope we can explore all these
angles, clarify and translate ambiguous terms, and maybe come up
with something fresh, with a little help from our friends.

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/11/20 1:52 PM as a reply to Angel Roberto Puente.
I feel like for me, the New Testament leaves many questions unanswered when it comes to establishing formal practice outside of the 10 Big Ones (10 commandments) and the Golden Rule. Though, as you mentioned, there are some hints that Jesus provides towards meditative/introspective (perhaps 'hidden' is indeed an appropriate word) teachings ("the kingdom of heaven is within you"), and one of my favorites, from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas,

"Whoever drinks from my mouth will become like me; I myself shall become that person, and the hidden things will be revealed to him"

A 'formal practice' established by the church, over however many hundreds (thousands) of years, are the sacraments.  Baptism, communion, marriage, etc.  Technically speaking, the sacraments are mysteries in that through these rites, there is a union between the self and God/Christ which is established that cannot be explained.  So, in a sense, even mainstream Christianity has mystical elements to it, regardless of whether or not mainstream practitioners consider themselves to be mystics.



RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/11/20 2:19 PM as a reply to Angel Roberto Puente.
I just ran into this interview with Bernadettehttps://www.spiritualteachers.org/bernadette-roberts-interview/. Here's the end:

Bernadette: First of all, I think there are more people in the state of oneness than we realize. For everyone we hear about there are thousands we will never hear about. Believing this state to be a rare achievement can be an impediment in itself. Unfortunately, those who write about it have a way of making it sound more extraordinary and blissful that it commonly is, and so false expectations are another impediment – we keep waiting and looking for an experience or state that never comes. But if I had to put my finger on the primary obstacle, I would say it is having wrong views of the journey.Paradoxical though it may seem, the passage through consciousness or self moves contrary to self, rubs it the wrong way – and in the end, will even rub it out. Because this passage goes against the grain of self, it is, therefore, a path of suffering. Both Christ and Buddha saw the passage as one of suffering, and basically found identical ways out. What they discovered and revealed to us was that each of us has within himself or herself a “stillpoint” – comparable, perhaps to the eye of a cyclone, a spot or center of calm, imperturbability, and non-movement. Buddha articulated this central eye in negative terms as “emptiness” or “void”, a refuge from the swirling cyclone of endless suffering. Christ articulated the eye in more positive terms as the “Kingdom of God” or the “Spirit within”, a place of refuge and salvation from a suffering self.For both of them, the easy out was first to find that stillpoint and then, by attaching ourselves to it, by becoming one with it, to find a stabilizing, balanced anchor in our lives. After that, the cyclone is gradually drawn into the eye, and the suffering self comes to an end. And when there is no longer a cyclone, there is also no longer an eye. So the storms, crises, and sufferings of life are a way of finding the eye. When everything is going our way, we do not see the eye, and we feel no need to find it. But when everything is going against us, then we find the eye. So the avoidance of suffering and the desire to have everything go our own way runs contrary to the whole movement of our journey; it is all a wrong view. With the right view, however, one should be able to come to the state of oneness in six or seven years – years not merely of suffering, but years of enlightenment, for right suffering is the essence of enlightenment. Because self is everyone’s experience underlying all culture. I do not regard cultural wrong views as an excuse for not searching out right views. After all, each person’s passage is his or her own; there is no such thing as a collective passage.

J W:
I feel like for me, the New Testament leaves many questions unanswered when it comes to establishing formal practice outside of the 10 Big Ones (10 commandments) and the Golden Rule. Though, as you mentioned, there are some hints that Jesus provides towards meditative/introspective (perhaps 'hidden' is indeed an appropriate word) teachings ("the kingdom of heaven is within you"), and one of my favorites, from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas,

"Whoever drinks from my mouth will become like me; I myself shall become that person, and the hidden things will be revealed to him"

Precisly, the "hints" are what have to be understood differently.  For example, the Lord's Prayer, seen as something you have to repeat and not as a blueprint for the attitude needed to get closer to God. A subject for a deep discussion.
 

A 'formal practice' established by the church, over however many hundreds (thousands) of years, are the sacraments.  Baptism, communion, marriage, etc.  Technically speaking, the sacraments are mysteries in that through these rites, there is a union between the self and God/Christ which is established that cannot be explained.  So, in a sense, even mainstream Christianity has mystical elements to it, regardless of whether or not mainstream practitioners consider themselves to be mystics.

I have recieved all the Catholic sacraments except priesthood. I am also a baptized Evangelical. This did'nt bring me closer to the end of suffering.  Only making the discriminating mind transparent and manageable makes that possible, and this on the way to experiencing its absense. This is why practicing mystics suffer the wrath of the church and it's rejection. They seek what theology alone cannot provide.

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/13/20 3:06 AM as a reply to Angel Roberto Puente.
But suppose we didn't have any source except the words of Christ in the gospels. What would we be able to flesh out, and how would it compare to what we've learned from Buddhist practice?
I think that one thing to keep firmly in mind when we’re looking for Jesus’ angle on the love of God and practice of that love is that Jesus as a Jew was always working from scripture himself, from the Hebrew Bible. His first public appearance in the gospel of Luke is at a synagogue in Nazareth (immediately following his 40-day meditation retreat and fast in the wilderness), where he stood up to read from the book of Isaiah, chapter 61, verse 1 and part of verse 2:
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD. . .   Isaiah 61:1-2


In mapping terms, this seems to me to be suggestive of the last stage of the Zen Oxherding cycle, “coming back to the city with bliss-bestowing hands.” He is speaking from some kind of fruition here, and he is talking about fruits, the good news of liberation and healing, not about the process and practice of moving toward fruition.
 
So what we’re really asking about here on this thread about practice is what was he doing for those forty days in the wilderness? And in his frequent resorts to prayer in solitude and isolated places during his ministry? And in all honesty, I just don’t think there’s enough in the gospels to put much together here. Even in the larger Hebrew scriptures, the material on prayer is very sketchy and thin on the ground, as far as actual practice goes, and you can’t really do much with it without an awful lot of exegesis and reading stuff in, which is how the rabbis and Merkabah mystics and kabbalists and Christian contemplatives have been doing it for thousands of years, making a scriptural molehill into a contemplative mountain. (No offense, lol, I’m climbing that molehill myself).
 
I guess part of what I’m getting at is that I just don’t think you’re going to get that far in unearthing or discerning a comparable “practice” from the words of Jesus alone, or even from the Bible as a whole by itself. Most of the Desert Fathers seem to have made do with "a word," a scrap of scripture, often given by an elder, that they took back to their cave or hut and found a way to meditate on for very long periods of time: 40 days in the wilderness all over again, and just as opaque about "technique." Most of the written Judeo-Christian contemplative tradition, while rooted in scripture, finds its elaboration in extra-canonical writings. John of the Cross, who really does seem to me to be the state of the art in the articulation of a Christian contemplative path, makes his main points with frequent, and sometimes spectacularly strained and even mistranslated, quotations from scripture, both Old and New Testament. The new cloth of his exegesis is woven around threads of scripture. The word “sutra” also means “thread,” and Hindu-Buddhist tradition also weaves its later layers of exegeses around scripture, but the eastern tradition is much more discursive and explicit, eventually, in its presentation of the path and the way along it. The Buddha’s sermons are standing on top of thousands of years of Upanishadic and Vedantic material, even as he renews and subverts it with his own fresh exegesis. And so on, with every fresh reading of the previous material, and every new contemporary exegesis, like MCTB or Bernadette Roberts, and right up to the present day. And all these shared sources ARE the traditions. We follow the threads that speak to us, working and studying and practicing to see what all the fuss has been about all these thousands of years. We make the tradition our own, we come to embody it in our degree. The Judeo-Christian didn’t begin or end with Jesus; the deep historical spirituality of the East did not begin or end with the Buddha. And when we compare the traditions, we compare them from precisely where we are now, in our own practice, as students and followers of the paths the traditions discuss and suggest; we try to make the footprints come alive beneath our own feet. I know that Buddhism has immeasurably enriched my own practice, and can try to articulate that to some extent; in context here, we are talking about whether that enrichment of practice can be two-way or not, whether Judeo-Christian tradition has anything whatsoever to offer in return.
 
 It really may not, lol. I usually suspect that it doesn’t, actually. I think it may come down to whether we can see dependent origination as the will of God, the three characteristics as the movement of the holy spirit, and the cloud of unknowing as sunyata. And to what the hell happens when that rock rolls away from the mouth of the tomb, and whether samsara is nirvana then or what. But if you can grok all that, in both vocabularies, and keep paying your rent and being kind to your neighbors. . . . well, waiter, I’ll have what he’s having.

love, tim

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/13/20 3:30 AM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Thanks Tim, appreciate the welcome and response 
Great quotes. 
I think the ongoing changing relationship with awareness seems to reflect similar stages to the mahamudra tradition. 
I think towards the end of the unitive phase she describes 'egoic' emotions as ending, which likely corresponds to 3rd path in terms of breaking the 4/5th fetters. 
Her no self phase seems to be the drop of any self reflecting, or apprent inside to awareness, which seems 6th fetter territory. 
The mahamudra yogas/ stages seem to roughly correlate with these. 
Luke

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/13/20 3:33 AM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Bernadette in her stages:
https://youtu.be/Nb5496uQ3lk

its hard to find sources of her outside her books. But found this recently 

Luke

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/13/20 4:09 AM as a reply to Angel Roberto Puente.
I would like to start with simple examples that with further elaboration might prove to be not so simplistic.

The Enticement:
There is a Kingdom of God that is present now, in us and among us,
(Nirvana, Enlightenment). Life can be better.

The clearest instance of this is in Luke 17:21: “The kingdom of God is within you.” In context, this is a direct reply to being challenged by some Pharisees to say when the kingdom of God was coming, a popular exercise in the Judaism of that time, as the Second Coming’s timing is in our times among certain Christians. In that context, the reply is a subversive immediacy that eludes the rhetorical trap of a specific prediction, which was characteristic of Jesus’ exchanges in dialogue with the religious establishment.

I think a lot of the parable teachings likening the word of God to a seed to be kept and sprouted and cultivated within one’s heart are along these same lines, and suggestive of a practice that is both immediate and looking toward a fruition in the longer term.
 The Impediments:
fear, worries about survival, food, clothing, shelter,( the bottom of the Maslow pyramid).
Suffering (Dukkha) caused by ideation is a universal condition. 

The clearest expression of this radical, even renunciate/monastic attitude toward material needs is in Matthew 6:24-34, especially in 31-34: Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For your heavenly
Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

This is likewise good as a basic meditation tenet, let go of past and future, want and need, worry and projection, and attend to what
comes up: this particular day’s meditative grist suffices for good practice.
 The Remedy:
Let go of suffering
(Nirodha) by accessing the Kingdom of God.  

lol, amen!
The Method:
Go beyond the senses, God is in heaven, is immaterial,
(khlesa-nirvana).

I might qualify this one a bit: the Our Father prayer is for God’s will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven.” The realization of the kingdom
of God on earth is a perennial Jewish theme. We go beyond the senses, when we do, in prayer and practice, into the ungraspable “realm” of God, as part of a path of dissolving impediments, concepts, and attachments, in order eventually to conform to God’s loving desire on this earth made new (Isaiah has God say: Behold, I make all things new). I personally consider the conventional understanding of heaven as an immaterial destination to be unscriptural, and sort of stupid. It’s like the Pure Land Buddhist realms, a sort of vacation disneyland for
souls at best: it may be a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. If God is not eventually realized here and now, then fuck this shit. IMHO, lol. 

One other verse, while we’re tossing candidates for exegesis into the pot, is Mark 13:37: “And what I say unto you, I say unto all: watch.” The Greek γρηγορέω here, the verb for for “watch,” means literally to wake or be awake, as Gautama is literally the Awakened One. But of course how we awaken or stay awake brings us full circle to practice.

love, tim

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/dzogchen?
Answer
9/13/20 5:25 AM as a reply to Jano Pavuk.
thank you for the kind an extensive replies Tim and all 

My starting point for looking into similarities between mystical traditions are Points of Agreements from Snowmass Conference organized by Thomas Keating

  • The world religions bear witness to the experience of Ultimate Reality to which they give various names: Brahman, Allah, Absolute, God, Great Spirit.
  • Ultimate Reality cannot be limited by any name or concept.
  • Ultimate Reality is the ground of infinite potentiality and actualization.
  • Faith is opening, accepting and responding to Ultimate Reality. Faith in this sense precedes every belief system.
  • The potential for human wholeness (or in other frames of reference) -- enlightenment, salvation, transformation, blessedness, "nirvana" -- is present in every human person.
  • Ultimate Reality may be experienced not only through religious practices but also through nature, art, human relationships, and service of others.
  • As long as the human condition is experienced as separate from Ultimate Reality, it is subject to ignorance and illusion, weakness and suffering.
  • Disciplined practice is essential to the spiritual life; yet spiritual attainment is not the result of one's own efforts, but the result of the experience of oneness with Ultimate Reality.
You can read more about the first seventeen meetings of this group—their agreements, disagreements, and bonding—in The Common Heart, in Experience of Interreligious Dialogue, Netanel Miles-Yepez, Editor.

Lately, i have been fascinated by depth and systematicity of Eastern Orthodox mystical tradition, which in my eyes is on the same level as any other meditative tradition I have encountered.

For some reason it gets little attention even in pragmatic meditator circles, but just check out Augustine of Hippo model as an example

  1. the first three are merely natural preliminary stages, corresponding to the vegetative, sensitive and rational levels of human life;
  2. the fourth stage is that of virtue or purification;
  3. the fifth is that of the tranquillity attained by control of the passions;
  4. the sixth is entrance into the divine light (the illuminative stage);
  5. the seventh is the indwelling or unitive stage that is truly mystical contemplation

But again...whatever works for you is good for you. I am not trying to promote anything.

I am just happy to have found out that I do not need to travel far or try to understand far away cultures and traditions, and I can do something that is much closer to "home" : )

And I am happy to see that this discussion has been of interest to some...maybe even to many : )




Noah, I am the "newbie" on the block and one expression I use quite often is, "I am learning less and less about more and more, and when I know nothing that is where I will remain". But I was deeply involved with the Episcopal Church 40 years ago, and still hold respect for it. I think His Holiness, that I affectionaly call HH said, any religion practice in it's true teachings can be a good one. Love, compassion, kindness know no one belief system. I decided for me, Buddhism simply "felt" more right than the rest and the greed and corruption in so may religions is truly disturbing. HH also said, he would not want to see a world of all Buddhist, anymore than one of Islam.  

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/13/20 1:24 PM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Tim Farrington:
Jesus as a Jew was always working fron scripture himself, from the Hebrew Bible.
This is true, but it must also be kept in mind that He stretched the concepts, "No man also seweth a piece of new cloth upon an old garment; else the new piece that filleth it up agreeth not with the old: it taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.", this placed Him on a collision course with the Priesthood. His preaching in the sermons, and His interacctions with people, reflect more accurately his views.
In mapping terms, this seems to me to be suggestive of the last stage of the Zen Oxherding cycle, “coming back to the city with bliss-bestowing hands.” He is speaking from some kind of fruition here, and he is talking about fruits, the good news of liberation and healing, not about the process and practice of moving toward fruition.
 

Is'nt " liberation and healing" the name  of the game?  "Opening the prison to those that are bound" begs the question of any student. What prison, bound how? The emphasis has to be moved away from the instructions, postures, and concepts of practice and towards the inner conditions, the mindset,  that allow the trancendence of the conditions that keep us bound.  This for the benefit of Christians and Buddhists.  We are in an era that allows us to go far beyond what was understood thousands of years ago. Not only do we have science, we also have an unprecedented amount of people trying different approaches and able to communicate the results. We have to find the principles, the essence, of what works.  I read into the words of Christ a pointing to that essence.
 We follow the threads that speak to us, working and studying and practicing to see what all the fuss has been about all these thousands of years. We make the tradition our own, we come to embody it in our degree. The Judeo-Christian didn’t begin or end with Jesus; the deep historical spirituality of the East did not begin or end with the Buddha. And when we compare the traditions, we compare them from precisely where we are now, in our own practice, as students and followers of the paths the traditions discuss and
suggest; we try to make the footprints come alive beneath our own feet. 


Wouldn't it be great to have a definite view of what is demanded of us to to reach Fruition, Ultimate Reality, the Absolute? Shopping around doesn't seem like a very efficient method of accomplishing this. Underneath the instructions for the different methodologies lies, hidden, the assumption that it will produce a condition that will ripen, open the organism, to a perceptual jump into the unknown. What is this condition?  What we have now is a, " I got there like this, (if you can believe it), do how I did and you'll get there too."  Let's dig deeper. 

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/13/20 2:39 PM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Tim Farrington:
I think a lot of the parable teachings likening the word of God to a seed to be kept and sprouted and cultivated within one’s heart are along these same lines, and suggestive of a practice that is both immediate and looking toward a fruition in the longer term.
Now we're cooking Tim. The heart carries a broad connotation:

According to the Bible, the heart is the center not only of spiritual activity,
but of all the operations of human life. "Heart" and
"soul" are often used interchangeably (Deut. 6:5;
26:16;
comp. Matt. 22:37; Mark 12:30, 33), but this is not generally the
case. The heart is the "home of the personal life," and
hence a man is designated, according to his heart, wise (1 Kings
3:12, etc.), pure (Ps. 24:4; Matt. 5:8, etc.), upright and righteous
(Gen. 20:5, 6; Ps. 11:2; 78:72), pious and good (Luke 8:15), etc. In
these and such passages the word "soul" could not be
substituted for "heart." The heart is also the seat of the
conscience (Rom. 2:15). It is naturally wicked (Gen. 8:21), and hence
it contaminates the whole life and character (Matt. 12:34; 15:18;
comp. Eccl. 8:11; Ps. 73:7).

Easton, Matthew George. Easton’s
Bible Dictionary
.
bible-history.com - Eastons; 1897.

Compare this to Sila. It is greatly overlooked in modern practice. Working on having a "clean mind" is the preliminary, skipping this step not only makes meditation inordinately difficult, it sets the stage for the darkness you will later find.
 This is likewise good as a basic meditation tenet, let go of past and future, want and need, worry and projection, and attend to what
comes up: this particular day’s meditative grist suffices for good practice.

Exactly!  The unexpressed underlying teaching aimed for, (metacognition?) is that this mental activity is secondary to a clear open awareness that includes all salient perceptions. A precursor to the disappearance of the self concept.
 I personally consider the conventional understanding of heaven as an immaterial destination to be unscriptural, and sort of stupid. It’s like the Pure Land Buddhist realms, a sort of vacation disneyland for
souls at best: it may be a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. If God is not eventually realized here and now, then fuck this shit. IMHO, lol

Yea!  One of the things I admire about Jesus is that He didn't shy away from a fight and preferred death to recanting his teachings.  His heaven was definitely down to earth.  Sadly, if you don't want to put in the work there are a lot of heavens you can choose from in the market.  It's like Led Zeppelin sang to the lady in " Stairway to Heaven".

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/14/20 2:58 AM as a reply to bobby suduron.
Gin Arnold:
Noah, I am the "newbie" on the block and one expression I use quite often is, "I am learning less and less about more and more, and when I know nothing that is where I will remain". But I was deeply involved with the Episcopal Church 40 years ago, and still hold respect for it. I think His Holiness, that I affectionaly call HH said, any religion practice in it's true teachings can be a good one. Love, compassion, kindness know no one belief system. I decided for me, Buddhism simply "felt" more right than the rest and the greed and corruption in so may religions is truly disturbing. HH also said, he would not want to see a world of all Buddhist, anymore than one of Islam.  

Hi Gin, and welcome to the DharmaOverground! It is very cool to have you coming to us from the highlands of Ecuador. I would have weighed in on your first post about online courses, but I decided to keep my mouth shut, as a firm believer that neither the Buddha nor Jesus ever charged a dime, and that for very good reasons. 'Nuff said there.

You seem like a classic example of the "pragmatic" dharma approach, having found your way into a Buddhism that is working for you. And you seem to have avoided the frequent "recovering Christian" syndrome of needing a period of relative alienation from God stuff, which I went rhough myself, coming out of Catholicism in my teens. Zen was a great palate cleanser for me, lol.

Again, welcome to the conversations here on DhO, I'm looking forward to your posts. And I hope you will find this sangha joyous and fulfilling, and supportive of your practice.

love, tim

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/14/20 4:31 AM as a reply to Angel Roberto Puente.
I think a lot of the parable teachings likening the word of God to a seed to be kept and sprouted and cultivated within one’s heart are along these same lines, and suggestive of a practice that is both immediate and looking toward a fruition in the longer term.


Now we're cooking Tim. The heart carries a broad connotation:


According to the Bible, the heart is the center not only of spiritual activity, but of all the operations of human life. "Heart" and "soul" are often used interchangeably (Deut. 6:5;26:16; comp. Matt. 22:37; Mark 12:30, 33), but this is not generally the case. The heart is the "home of the personal life," and hence a man is designated, according to his heart, wise (1 Kings 3:12, etc.), pure (Ps. 24:4; Matt. 5:8, etc.), upright and righteous (Gen. 20:5, 6; Ps. 11:2; 78:72), pious and good (Luke 8:15), etc. In these and such passages the word "soul" could not be
substituted for "heart." The heart is also the seat of the conscience (Rom. 2:15). It is naturally wicked (Gen. 8:21), and hence it contaminates the whole life and character (Matt. 12:34; 15:18; comp. Eccl. 8:11; Ps. 73:7).

Easton, Matthew George. Easton’s Bible Dictionarybible-history.com - Eastons; 1897.

Yes. There are actually two closely related words for "heart" in Hebrew, and both of them shade easily into "mind" and even "thought." And the Greek word for heart in the Gospels is similarly central--- basically, you can follow a thread of "heart" uses through the Bible as its own meditation. A few of my favorite verses are Psalm 51:10: "

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." and Ezekiel 11:19: "

And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh." The spiritual process in Judeo-Christian tradition can be seen fruitfully as a process of regeneration of the heart. 



Compare this to Sila. It is greatly overlooked in modern practice. Working on having a "clean mind" is the preliminary, skipping this step not only makes meditation inordinately difficult, it sets the stage for the darkness you will later find.

Yes, overlooking the basis of Sila, as emphasized in all traditions, will bite you in the ass, lol. 

love, tim

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/dzogchen?
Answer
9/15/20 4:12 AM as a reply to Jano Pavuk.
Jano Pavuk:
thank you for the kind an extensive replies Tim and all 

My starting point for looking into similarities between mystical traditions are Points of Agreements from Snowmass Conference organized by Thomas Keating

  • The world religions bear witness to the experience of Ultimate Reality to which they give various names: Brahman, Allah, Absolute, God, Great Spirit.
  • Ultimate Reality cannot be limited by any name or concept.
  • Ultimate Reality is the ground of infinite potentiality and actualization.
  • Faith is opening, accepting and responding to Ultimate Reality. Faith in this sense precedes every belief system.
  • The potential for human wholeness (or in other frames of reference) -- enlightenment, salvation, transformation, blessedness, "nirvana" -- is present in every human person.
  • Ultimate Reality may be experienced not only through religious practices but also through nature, art, human relationships, and service of others.
  • As long as the human condition is experienced as separate from Ultimate Reality, it is subject to ignorance and illusion, weakness and suffering.
  • Disciplined practice is essential to the spiritual life; yet spiritual attainment is not the result of one's own efforts, but the result of the experience of oneness with Ultimate Reality.
You can read more about the first seventeen meetings of this group—their agreements, disagreements, and bonding—in The Common Heart, in Experience of Interreligious Dialogue, Netanel Miles-Yepez, Editor.

Lately, i have been fascinated by depth and systematicity of Eastern Orthodox mystical tradition, which in my eyes is on the same level as any other meditative tradition I have encountered.

For some reason it gets little attention even in pragmatic meditator circles, but just check out Augustine of Hippo model as an example

  1. the first three are merely natural preliminary stages, corresponding to the vegetative, sensitive and rational levels of human life;
  2. the fourth stage is that of virtue or purification;
  3. the fifth is that of the tranquillity attained by control of the passions;
  4. the sixth is entrance into the divine light (the illuminative stage);
  5. the seventh is the indwelling or unitive stage that is truly mystical contemplation

But again...whatever works for you is good for you. I am not trying to promote anything.

I am just happy to have found out that I do not need to travel far or try to understand far away cultures and traditions, and I can do something that is much closer to "home" : )

And I am happy to see that this discussion has been of interest to some...maybe even to many : )




Hi Jano,

Ahh, I loved Thomas Keating! I met him in 1990, i think, or maybe '91--- he gave a centering prayer weekend at the Old St. Mary's church in Chinatown in San Francisco, and there was no one there but a bunch of nuns, gay men, and me, lol, a typical centering prayer crowd, actually, in most ways. Keating was such a striking figure of a man, very tall and raw-boned in those distinctive black and white Cistercian robes, gentle in manner and very very lucid. I just loved him. And what he did for Christian contemplative prayer in our time, he and his colleagues, is simply marvelous, a tremendous gift against the grain of a vast amount of resistance in the Church and in the broader Christian community, where the distrust and even demonization of contemplation is very deep.

I have found a lot of sustenance in the Eastern Orthodox prayer tradition, working from the Philokalia, and from St. Isaac of Syria and St. Symeon the New Theologian in particular at points, as well as Evagrius.

Thank you so much for getting this conversation going here!

love, tim

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/15/20 4:59 AM as a reply to Olivier.
Olivier:
Hey Tim,

Great, I might get that Path to no self book. Added to my Tim recommended reading list !

CHeers

hey Olivier, 

a bit of a caveat on Bernadette Roberts--- the Path to No-Self is by far the most fruitful of her books, for me, as it covers the territory i have been most involved with for the most part. Her plain speaking and utter faith in her own experience come through there as strengths. The Experience of No-Self is also fasconating, and for you might be worth the read if you get through the Path. But I have to say that her other books are not so helpful, for me. She is a poor scholar, and is often almost comically opinionated, dogmatic and blindered in the flashlight circle of her own experience, and generally borderline obnoxious. This is even truer in the video stuff I've seen on YouTube, where she just comes across as a useless crank, basically. I think she was a sort of idiot savant of contemplation, to tell you the truth. I had a brief correspondence with her in the early 2000s, when I was working on A Hell of Mercy, and she was entirely dismissive of anything that might be termed as depression being a factor on the path, basically said that anybody dealing with depression was more or less unfit for higher contemplation. Since I was already across the bridge that was burning, I took that for what it was worth at the time. But she was a piece of work, as a personality, lol. As so many arahants etc. are.

love, tim

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/15/20 6:04 AM as a reply to Luke Barry Watson.
Luke Barry Watson:
Bernadette in her stages:
https://youtu.be/Nb5496uQ3lk

its hard to find sources of her outside her books. But found this recently 

Luke

hey luke,

thanks for this link. I hate to say it, but if this was all i knew of Bernadette Roberts, I wouldn't have hung in for more than a couple of minutes. Her Path to No-Self was crucial for me, for years, but her actual presence and teaching on the videos I've seen make me suspect that she was not a very good teacher or talker. She is soft, on this video, but almost incoherent; you get get very deep into the thing without her saying anything of substance, and she's using a tin plate with circles on it as her graphics, lol. It's sort of painful. In other videos I've seen she comes across as opniniated and combative. God bless her, truly. I think she was an idiot savant of contemplation, a weirdly gifted artist of silence and the depths, with a truly unfortunate personality once she surfaced. I know she had a close circle, mostly of women, who found great things in her personally, over many years, so I should not get too far out on this limb, but yikes.

love, tim

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/maha ati?
Answer
9/16/20 8:11 AM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Good morning Tim and All, I just wanted to thank you for your warm welcome, it really means a lot since in this small Kichwa village there are not many I have in common, this thing we call Buddhism. First let me thank----I think Tim for recommending Mind Beyond Death. It is an amazing book and seems so comfortable for me, esp after the struggle with The Tibetan Book of the Dead. I really relate to this work by Dzogchen Ponlop as it makes the bardo much clearer to me. As I said, I have always been comfortable with my death, but as Woody Allen said, I am comfortable with my death, I just don't want to be there when it happens. This is a quote from this book, and his ability to make me smile and laugh made me think, "this guy is the real deal". OK I am still stumbling around on this site, not knowing for sure where I am posting, but hopefully I will learn. Simple things have become much harder at my age, but hey I am still going. Have a great day and it was 46F this am. Ciao 

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/dzogchen?
Answer
9/20/20 1:38 AM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Thanks Tim
thats very interesting. I felt the same, there is real gold in that talk, but she doesn't present well at all, I can imagine folks switching off after a few minutes.
Ive read her books, but have never managed to find much else, the dvds seem expensive to ship to where I am.
Have you ever managed to clarify what she advises to practice? It seems some kind of just being still in silence and resting inward. Somewhat like Zazen or mahamudra perhaps?
 Thanks Luke

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/dzogchen?
Answer
9/20/20 5:25 AM as a reply to Luke Barry Watson.
Luke Barry Watson:
Thanks Tim
thats very interesting. I felt the same, there is real gold in that talk, but she doesn't present well at all, I can imagine folks switching off after a few minutes.
Ive read her books, but have never managed to find much else, the dvds seem expensive to ship to where I am.
Have you ever managed to clarify what she advises to practice? It seems some kind of just being still in silence and resting inward. Somewhat like Zazen or mahamudra perhaps?
 Thanks Luke
Hi Luke,

In the Path to No-Self, which is the work I'm most deeply familiar with, she doesn't give a moment to her practice or technique. The best clue is where she is talking about her experience in the convent, at age 18:
"A novice mistress had just been appointed who was new to the office and new to me. One day she asked about my prayer, so I told her: I do nothing; there is just silence."

Bernadette Roberts, The Path to No-Self, p. 57

the novice mistress propmptly accused her of "quietism", and insisted that she return to "mental prayer," i.e., more structured practice, with a strong verbal element. It fucked her up, caught between her superior and God, and she had to go through a big round of doubt and fear before she worked it through. 

Most Christian contemplation is VERY simple, technique-wise. The Cloud of Unknowing is typical: lift your heart to God with a single syllable of longing. lol. 

love, tim

RE: christian mystical concepts/practices similar to mahamudra/dzogchen?
Answer
9/22/20 3:28 AM as a reply to Jano Pavuk.
Practice reminiscent of Self-inquiry by Francis of Assisi:

...was heard saying again and again: "My God! my God! what art Thou? and what am I?" ...This was the only question which he thought worth asking...


Quoted according to The essentials of mysticism by Evelyn Underhill

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