DhO Roots and Visions

Tim Farrington, modified 1 Month ago.

DhO Roots and Visions

Posts: 2397 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
A moment of technogical re-orientation, when the changes may seem overwhelming at times, is also a great moment to review what we are doing here in the first place. So it seems like a good time to revisit the historical culture of the DharmaOverground, the roots and visions from early on in this extraordinary forum. I'm ransacking Pepe's ongoing project of a compilation of Daniel's post on DhO, where there are a number of great statements from various historical moments on the Big Picture of DhO.

Here's one: 
What we are doing in DhO is basically what they did back in the early Buddhist Sangha. When reading the Pali Canon and the old stories of the Buddha, his life, and the early Buddhist Sangha, as well as the general spiritual community of the time around them, as well as stories about places such as Nalanda, I get the sense that what we are doing here is not only nothing new, it is basically what they did back in the day in many ways.

People debated actively what they best practices were, what lead to what, what was useful and not useful, what worked and what didn't. They were open about attainments. They shop-talked actively about techniques, tricks, trials, tribulations, successes, failures, phenomenology, and the like, as that was what they were into.

It is hard to imagine the Abhidhamma, the commentaries, and even much of the Pali Canon arising in a situation that had an attitude that was anything other than that. This also applies to the massive cross-pollination and convergence of various traditions that lead to the innovations that arose in Indian Buddhism in the Nalanda period and later spread to regions such as and including Tibet and formed the basis of much of Tibetan Buddhism.

Further, this sort of practicality just seems normal to me in any endeavor where there are goals, various schools of thought, various teachers, various texts, various techniques, all of which are now available and which logically must be compared, contrasted, texted, experimented with, explored, synthesized, and refined, as well as rediscovered.

Seriously, what are the obvious alternatives and why would anyone prefer those to this if people actually cared about progress in spiritual development and growth? Does anyone really think that monolithic adherence to one tradition in a secretive and proprietary fashion without discussion or questioning is really going to produce the best results for the most people?

I don't think of our take on this as modern or post-modern, but just straightforwardly like most pragmatic tasks are approached and have been for millennia. 

from the thread Pragmatic Dharma = Buddhist Anarchy - Discussion - www.dharmaoverground.org
Bonus for those going back to read the original thread: shargrol and Chris Marti coming out as anarchists, lol.
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Tim Farrington, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: DhO Roots and Visions

Posts: 2397 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
An early one, that holds up beautifully:

Daniel Ingram

My vision of DhO (circa 2010).
  As the founder and owner of this site, let me make clear the following things:
  1. The DhO is about the support of hardcore meditation practice, real attainments, and dedicated adventurers exploring the limits of what is possible in this life in terms of clarity, wisdom, concentration, investigation, personal empowerment, and the vast range of experiences that come from those pursuits of benefit to their personal goals and dreams for their own practice and the elimination of what suffering can be eliminated by whatever healthful means and the promotion of what happiness, freedom and other extended and unusual capabilities are possible by whatever healthful means.
  2. A wide range of traditions and variations and versions and personal innovations are welcome here, basically any that advance the first points noted above. Obviously, those meditative and other technologies that people here have experience with and find of value are the ones that will be the most discussed and promoted at whatever time, as this is only natural.
  3. The first two points being established, there will naturally be changes, phases of exploration, pulses of interest in various methods and traditions, experiments, failures, successes, orthodoxies that establish themselves, cults of personality, counter-orthodoxies and counter-cults that rebel against those, reformations, factions, fads, and fashions, confusion regarding message, messenger and mode of presentation, role reversals, miscommunications, misinterpretations, syntheses of previously disparate philosophies and theories, re-syntheses based on new information of variable quality, absorptions, incorporations, revisions, fusions, fractures, disruptions, setbacks, advancements, and all the other muck and genius that is simply par for the course in these most rarified, deep, profound, subtle, difficult and human endeavors.
  4. People perennially want things to cling to: traditions, friends, communities, dogmas, fears, feelings, rivalries, cliques, religions, fantasies, dreams, boundaries, limitations, rules, taboos, and much, much more. When those change or shift, which is inevitable, this can cause contraction, bitterness, resentment, lashing out, bargaining, coercion, and a whole host of other reactions as they adjust to new circumstances and attempt to get their needs, however real or imagined, met by the external world.
  5. Hopefully, in general terms, those things that really are of value will prevail, those distortions and divisions that are unhelpful will fall away, and people will derive great benefit and enjoyment from the whole messy and amazing process of this Grand Experiment, keeping in mind that this is what it is.
  6. All is not known, optimal methods can't be perfectly determined in all cases, nor will they be ever for each person at each time in each circumstance, as the factors and forces are too vast, and personal goals and visions of what would be optimal and of what is possible for themselves and others vary widely among people and also change with time, but innovations and improvements continue to occur and re-discovery of perennial wisdom occurs also, and for those who can handle the fluxes and complexities, there is clearly much that is simply amazing and of immeasurable value to be gained.
  7. I hope that all will keep these essential points in mind and try to keep their eye on whatever they see the prize as being rather than all the more superficial aspects, which, while of some importance, are not the key, and much is lost by people getting sidetracked by reflections on the ripples on surface of the water and so don't plunge deep.
  8. In this spirit, I hope that the DhO will continue to provide people a place to support each other in the many practices they find interesting and relevant to their own lives and pursuits, and that respectful and productive dialogue with all the intelligence and wisdom that can be brought to those will continue to make this place all it can be, and that when it dies, which it will, as do all things, that something even better will take its place.

Enjoy it while it lasts and make the most of it. (DhO
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: DhO Roots and Visions

Posts: 2397 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
one more, while I'm still coffeed up:
Dharma Overground, 10 years later. Daniel’s response on a series of critiques to overall DhO state, around 10 years after it emerged.  
(1) ‘Most advanced practitioners have mostly abandoned’: I note that there is still a great and unusual collection of very accomplished practitioners here, but at this fleeting moment it is mostly a group that is content to offer skillful advice without much drama, to display great wisdom without labeling themselves as having some particular attainment, and to avoid drawing much attention to themselves. May this wonderful trend continue! It is essential to remember this is a volunary site. I would hate to see an "Awakened Beings Most Post on the DhO Model" of awakening: see point #4 below.

(2) ‘Morality teaching is forgotten’: Much morality is on display here even if it is not explicitly called that. We help each other here, give to each other here, share with each other, and display compassion by doing so. This site is about morality, and part of that morality is generous giving of advice and support to those practicing various paths. Curiously, I see the vast majority of posts as displays of dana, compassion, and sangha. What additional specific moral aspects would help you? What is going on with you right now that is asking for more discussion of morality?

(3) ‘The one-and-a-half-fold path’: There are numerous discussions from across a wide range of aspects of the Noble Eightfold Path here, as well as other paths. Curiously, I often miss more focus on the two aspects that you say dominate this place, but to each their own. ;)

(4) ‘The four Theravadan paths framework for evaluation purposes’:  Debates about the maps are very old in Buddhism. Evidence for their being distorted so as to drum up business, one-up other traditions, enforce control, win favor with the court of the ruler, and the like are there in the original Suttas and not likely to go away anytime soon. The maps and the ideals have split Buddhism into numerous small factions and this began during the time of the Buddha and rapidly expanded afterwards. I see no way to make the DhO free of this, but hopefully people will learn and grow by watching the debates and by practicing to see for themselves what holds up on its own.

(5) ‘Many advanced practitioners on this forum cultivate a strong identity view around their skillful practice’: The phenomena of cultivating both relative and ultimate identities around spiritual accomplishments is much older than Buddhism and continues to this day. Like point #4 above, I have no idea how to keep the DhO free from this. As the last of the armies of Mara is related to these issues, I believe it is a standard part of the path. I feel we should allow space for people being tempted by these armies so that they can at least do so in a supportive environment, as there is a maturation process and learning curve that accompanies spiritual attainments, as we all get to see and learn from here.

(6) ‘Many advanced practitioners on the Dharma Overground do not believe they have anything to learn from students’: I can definitely report that all of us learn from interacting with this community if we are here long enough regardless of whether we directly report that or not. The lessons we learn are not always the ones we wanted to learn, but learning definitely occurs. To me, this is a vast repository of data points of experience and perspective that has greatly enhanced my appreciation of the range of what is out there and a continuous stream of challenges regarding figuring out how best to taylor responses to people that are useful for something.

(7) ‘Everything else is fine. Daniel Ingram seems to be a brilliant scholar and meditator, and has made an enormous contribution to so many people … Many advanced and intermediate practitioners on the forum have helped me and others enormously’: Thanks! Still a work in progress... (DhO)
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: DhO Roots and Visions

Posts: 406 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
This is great stuff Tim. I recently characterized the Pragmatic Dharma as post-modern and it's humbling to see that Daniel had my number on that point 10 years ago.

I thought this was particularly prescient:

  1. The first two points being established, there will naturally be changes, phases of exploration, pulses of interest in various methods and traditions, experiments, failures, successes, orthodoxies that establish themselves, cults of personality, counter-orthodoxies and counter-cults that rebel against those, reformations, factions, fads, and fashions, confusion regarding message, messenger and mode of presentation, role reversals, miscommunications, misinterpretations, syntheses of previously disparate philosophies and theories, re-syntheses based on new information of variable quality, absorptions, incorporations, revisions, fusions, fractures, disruptions, setbacks, advancements, and all the other muck and genius that is simply par for the course in these most rarified, deep, profound, subtle, difficult and human endeavors.

I'm pretty sure that covers everything.

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