RE: The Illuminated Mind vs MTCTOTB - Lining up the stages

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Santiago Jimenez, modified 3 Years ago.

The Illuminated Mind vs MTCTOTB - Lining up the stages

Posts: 75 Join Date: 1/9/12 Recent Posts
I just read The Illuminated Mind by Culadasa and totally loved it. I recently went on a 7 solo retreat and during breaks I read the whole thing and practiced according to his instructions. Interesting how I experienced going through the stages (his revision of Asanga's 9 elephant path) as I kept reading.

My main practice has been the "choiceless awareness" approach (Shikantaza, or just sit, in Zen) which requiers to let go of any intention, without any emphasis on stable attention, you just notice impermanence and emptiness in the whole filed of experience without any frame of reference, well actually you don't TRY to notice them, is more like they start to become evident as you practice, you don't go after elightenment but rather let elightenment grow by itself until at some point is just there, there are no explicit stages or a map to follow, though after reading MTCTOTB the stages became clear. After following the instructions presented in TIM it became obvious that my insight (seeing the 3 Cs) is much more developed that my concentration (stability of attention as he names it). This has actually caused some problems in daily life which are becoming clearer after reading the book.

The practice he suggests is not exclusively a concentration one though, he does at some point (after stage 4 I think) instructs to pay attention to the rising and passing of the sensations of the breath, so it is also an insight practice. Therefore, it should produce the traditional stages of insight and culminate in stream entry (or at least, one would expect that) but according to the book, it leads to something different, the "unification of mind" which creates meditative joy. He does say though that in the process of getting to the latter stages, it is very likely that the meditator would experience stream entry at some point, but not neccesarily ... hmmm.

Any ideas from fellow meditators who have read both books to see how these 2 maps would line up, and/or at which point they would diverge?
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Noah D, modified 3 Years ago.

RE: The Illuminated Mind vs MTCTOTB - Lining up the stages

Posts: 1103 Join Date: 9/1/16 Recent Posts
My 2 cents :

The nanas & jhanas say where you ARE.  The elephant path says what you can DO.  Therefore they don't line up.  You could be in TMI 8 & POI 2 or POI 11 & TMI 3.  Someone with only momentary concentration could complete the POI - they may not ever qualify as TMI 4 in terms of staying power on one object for extended periods. 
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Santiago Jimenez, modified 3 Years ago.

RE: The Illuminated Mind vs MTCTOTB - Lining up the stages

Posts: 75 Join Date: 1/9/12 Recent Posts
Noah D:
My 2 cents :

The nanas & jhanas say where you ARE.  The elephant path says what you can DO.  Therefore they don't line up.  You could be in TMI 8 & POI 2 or POI 11 & TMI 3.  Someone with only momentary concentration could complete the POI - they may not ever qualify as TMI 4 in terms of staying power on one object for extended periods. 

This makes sense, although TMI also describes a series of EXPERIENCES that the meditator goes through, things like specifically dealing with pain (3 Characteristics in the POI), spontaneous movements, lights, energy, etc (A&P) that would seem like POI stages, and even somehow resemble the sequence up to some point. 
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Adrian, modified 3 Years ago.

RE: The Illuminated Mind vs MTCTOTB - Lining up the stages

Posts: 12 Join Date: 11/23/16 Recent Posts
Hey Santiago,
Culadasa mentions that the way Mahasi describes the POI will only be experienced by people practising dry insight with a focus on impermanence. According to him people who practice samatha before vipassana will also experience the POI in a different way.
Culadasa also mentioned somewhere that A&P will most likely be achieved between Stages 6 and 7 of his map.
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Santiago Jimenez, modified 3 Years ago.

RE: The Illuminated Mind vs MTCTOTB - Lining up the stages

Posts: 75 Join Date: 1/9/12 Recent Posts
Adrian:
Hey Santiago,
Culadasa mentions that the way Mahasi describes the POI will only be experienced by people practising dry insight with a focus on impermanence. According to him people who practice samatha before vipassana will also experience the POI in a different way.
Culadasa also mentioned somewhere that A&P will most likely be achieved between Stages 6 and 7 of his map.
That's interesting, is there a place where I can find Culadasa's take on the elephant path vs the process of insight? I don't remember seeing it in the book.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 3 Years ago.

RE: The Illuminated Mind vs MTCTOTB - Lining up the stages

Posts: 3166 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Culadasa just asked to see mctb2, so I sent him a draft version, and at some point soon we will likely compare and contrast our maps: will let you know what results from that conversation.

Daniel
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Santiago Jimenez, modified 3 Years ago.

RE: The Illuminated Mind vs MTCTOTB - Lining up the stages

Posts: 75 Join Date: 1/9/12 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
Culadasa just asked to see mctb2, so I sent him a draft version, and at some point soon we will likely compare and contrast our maps: will let you know what results from that conversation.

Daniel


Awesome, looking forward to that. 
Zigg tron, modified 22 Days ago.

RE: The Illuminated Mind vs MTCTOTB - Lining up the stages

Posts: 5 Join Date: 1/30/21 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram Culadasa just asked to see mctb2, so I sent him a draft version, and at some point soon we will likely compare and contrast our maps: will let you know what results from that conversation. Daniel ​​​​​​​


Did you end up having this conversation? It would fascinating to hear what came of it!
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Adrian, modified 3 Years ago.

RE: The Illuminated Mind vs MTCTOTB - Lining up the stages

Posts: 12 Join Date: 11/23/16 Recent Posts
Santiago Jimenez:
Adrian:
Hey Santiago,
Culadasa mentions that the way Mahasi describes the POI will only be experienced by people practising dry insight with a focus on impermanence. According to him people who practice samatha before vipassana will also experience the POI in a different way.
Culadasa also mentioned somewhere that A&P will most likely be achieved between Stages 6 and 7 of his map.
That's interesting, is there a place where I can find Culadasa's take on the elephant path vs the process of insight? I don't remember seeing it in the book.
Sure:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GT59emts4RQ&t=14m11s
If I understood correctly he says that the POI and his samatha stages measure different things, but your level of samatha will determine how you will experience the POI stages.
You might also want to check out his teaching retreat on "Meditation and Insight": https://dharmatreasure.org/teaching-retreats/
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Santiago Jimenez, modified 3 Years ago.

RE: The Illuminated Mind vs MTCTOTB - Lining up the stages

Posts: 75 Join Date: 1/9/12 Recent Posts
Adrian:
Santiago Jimenez:
Adrian:
Hey Santiago,
Culadasa mentions that the way Mahasi describes the POI will only be experienced by people practising dry insight with a focus on impermanence. According to him people who practice samatha before vipassana will also experience the POI in a different way.
Culadasa also mentioned somewhere that A&P will most likely be achieved between Stages 6 and 7 of his map.
That's interesting, is there a place where I can find Culadasa's take on the elephant path vs the process of insight? I don't remember seeing it in the book.
Sure:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GT59emts4RQ&t=14m11s
If I understood correctly he says that the POI and his samatha stages measure different things, but your level of samatha will determine how you will experience the POI stages.
You might also want to check out his teaching retreat on "Meditation and Insight": https://dharmatreasure.org/teaching-retreats/
That was an excellent explanation, thank you Adrian. 
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Alesh Vyhnal, modified 20 Days ago.

RE: The Illuminated Mind vs MTCTOTB - Lining up the stages

Posts: 120 Join Date: 2/14/13 Recent Posts
Alan Wallace in his book "Attention revolution" gives two casuistics of two yogis who both trained samatha under the supervision of tibet master Gen Lamrimpa for one year (one of them 3x4 hours daily and the other 2x7 hours daily) and neither of them completed the samatha. The author claims that ordinary, busy, meditators (2 hours daily or so) can never get beyond stage two or three. And I saw another source that even claims that stage ten is possible only with 48 hours uninterupted concentration on the sensation of breath in nostrils' apperture.
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Oatmilk, modified 20 Days ago.

RE: The Illuminated Mind vs MTCTOTB - Lining up the stages

Posts: 81 Join Date: 7/30/20 Recent Posts
As far as I know, the mastery of Shamatha is considered to be access concentration for the 1st Jhana in the Tibetan system and unless you are not a cave Yogi it's supposed to be impossible to reach this level of concentration. In one of Gem Lamrimpas books he describes that there are even more mental subtle distractions which need to be subdued once one develops full Shamatha. 
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Alesh Vyhnal, modified 19 Days ago.

RE: The Illuminated Mind vs MTCTOTB - Lining up the stages

Posts: 120 Join Date: 2/14/13 Recent Posts
So it seems that that kind of jhana corresponds to the Visuddhimagga's jhanas (and not sutra or Leigh Brasington's jhanas). It is also interesting that Culadasa mentions 3 kinds of jhana (each having as is usual 8 degrees) and the third kind he calls luminous jhana (which is attainable via Pa Auk Sayadaw's method, i.e., through nimitta). Culadasa also states that luminous jhana is attainable only in or after stage seven.
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Alesh Vyhnal, modified 19 Days ago.

RE: The Illuminated Mind vs MTCTOTB - Lining up the stages

Posts: 120 Join Date: 2/14/13 Recent Posts
If I remember well I have heard Culadasa saying in one podcast that first he much strived with Mahasi noting but to no avail. So it seems to be the same like Sam Harris dissatisfaction with Mahasi noting.
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Oatmilk, modified 19 Days ago.

RE: The Illuminated Mind vs MTCTOTB - Lining up the stages

Posts: 81 Join Date: 7/30/20 Recent Posts
The luminous Jhanas of TMI are not comparable to the ones described in the Pa Auk system, if you read the instructions, the requirements are much higer
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Siavash, modified 19 Days ago.

RE: The Illuminated Mind vs MTCTOTB - Lining up the stages

Posts: 1093 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
Oatmilk
The luminous Jhanas of TMI are not comparable to the ones described in the Pa Auk system, if you read the instructions, the requirements are much higer


Yes, this is true. They are quite different. I just don't know why Culadasa has advertised it that way that tells people they are the same. Either he doesn't know Pa Auk's system, or something else.
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Alesh Vyhnal, modified 10 Days ago.

RE: The Illuminated Mind vs MTCTOTB - Lining up the stages

Posts: 120 Join Date: 2/14/13 Recent Posts
Perhaps I am stupid but I don't see a fundamental difference between this two ways: 

Culadasa: Concentrate on breath until nimitta is fairly stable and then switch your attention to nimitta.

​​​​​​​Pa Auk: Concentrate on breath until nimitta and the point where breath touches nostrils merge (mentaly) and then switch your attention to this compound. (If you have problem with nimitta appearing, tranquilise your breath, i.e. let it be shallower and slower and as "thin" as possible)

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