Anālayo's latest article on Daniel, er, the dangers of mindfulness

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Mark Boolootian, modified 2 Months ago.

Anālayo's latest article on Daniel, er, the dangers of mindfulness

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From the Venerable's mailing list.  Article included.



  • "The Dangers of Mindfulness: Another Myth?" Mindfulness, 2021, 12.12: 2890–2895.

Abstract: Criticism of potential drawbacks of mindfulness is crucial for the field to move forward and remain grounded in reality rather than become carried away by the mindfulness hype. At the same time, however, such criticism needs to be reasonable and based on actual facts rather than subjective imagination. The allegation that mindfulness is intrinsically dangerous appears to have been influenced by unreasonable claims made by Daniel Ingram, which have been taken seriously due to an apparent lack of acquaintance of some scholars with Buddhist doctrine and with genuine forms of insight meditation.

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/documents/10128/0/DangersMindfulness.pdf/92cbb0ce-f503-8b82-a3f8-951e2cf0246f?t=1637085254006
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Mark Boolootian, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Anālayo's latest article on Daniel, er, the dangers of mindfulness

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> We've covered this before...

True that.  However, it is a new article in the December issue of the journal Mindfulness, so it seemed like it might be of interest to some.  Link to open access journal article is also available:  

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12671-021-01682-w
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Ben V., modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Anālayo's latest article on Daniel, er, the dangers of mindfulness

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Just skimmed through it. Not sure if it's the same or not as what was covered before, I don't rememberm but two things came to mind as I read the article. He quotes Jack Kornfield taking a jab at Daniel Ingram who mentioned people falling into equanimity while watching TV. Well, in his book 'Bringing Home the Dharma', on pages 262 - 263, Jack Kornfield (JK) mentions a friend who who reached ''awakening through the gate of suffering'' by getting beat up by a prison guard. From what he writes this friend of his does not even seem to be a meditator. He was an activist. If Kornfield is ok with a dude getting enlightenment while getting beaten, why can't he stomach the idea of someone getting into equanimity while watching TV?

JK also has much respect for Eckhart Tolle (ET) and seems to recognize he had a genuine awakening. Well, ET had a major enlightenment in the midst of a suicidal depressive state. The Buddhist tradition is full of stories of people getting enlightenment in the least expected circumstances. 
So I'm ok with a story of someone stumbling on equanimity in front of a TV.

Concerning the dukkha nanas and Analayo's issues with pointing out potential hard territories with mindfulness, I wonder if he (he has strong roots in the Goenka tradition), is aware of the massive amount of people who get in very rough territory on Goenka retreats ?? What does he make of these?
All I got from Analayo was that he was simply being a hater. 
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Anālayo's latest article on Daniel, er, the dangers of mindfulness

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I am also one of those people who don't like the fact that the terms from the pali canon have been redefiend. However I don't think Daniel started that. And I as far as I know, Daniel has been accredited with arhatship by his teacher in Thailand so a lot of those criticisms are not really about Daniel but Therevada in general and Anālayo ought to get his own house in order first.

However I do think it is ironic that Daniel is very clear that he thinks it is harmful to tell someone they are awakened when they aren't as he says in this video (https://vimeo.com/372228348 "), but then he himself uses dumbed down definitions of the stages of awakening compared to what is in the pali canon. 
"But the last case is the serious problem, and that's where they do not have stream entry and someone says: you have stream entry. And in this case, they've just been totally screwed if they believe that.

And not only have they been screwed, they will go around spreading this crazy to other people and they will call things like the arising and passing away, which is by far the most common mimic, stream entry."

I don't think Daniel's teachings are better or worse than other forms of meditation, but I think altering the definitions of pali terms is not a good thing. I think if people don't like the definitions, they should use different terms. (the numbered paths is a good alternative - whether they accurately reflects the underlying phenomenon of the progress of insight is a discussion for a different thread).

On the question of whether mindfulness is harmful, my opinion is that it is like medicine. There are safe doses and there are overdoses that are harmful, and the safe dose can vary from person to person. I do think that the people running retreats are some what deserving of blame for pushing meditation/mindfulness the way other people push drugs.  
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Anālayo's latest article on Daniel, er, the dangers of mindfulness

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I also think that a lot of the controversy has more to do with how Daniel says things than what he says. Here's an example:

https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-v-awakening/37-models-of-the-stages-of-awakening/the-theravada-four-path-model/
And yet, its maps of enlightenment still contain a hefty helping of scary market-driven propaganda and so much garbage that is life-denying, dangerously out of touch with what happens, and an impediment to practice for millions of people. That the enlightened lineage holders of the modern Theravada and their ex-monk and ex-nun Western counterparts don’t have the guts to stand up and say, “We are deeply sorry that for 2,500 years, many of our predecessors perpetuated this craziness to put food in their bowls and fool ignorant peasants so that they might be supported in their other useful work, and we vow to do better!” is a crying shame. 
(Some people might think Daniel is the one who is perpetuating craziness - see my pervious post)
​​​​​​​
If people are unfairly criticizing Daniel, it could be that they have a cognitive bias against Daniel caused by such blunt speaking. People tend to have a kind of blind spot when cognitive bias occurs - they'll make excuses for any mistake their friends make and find that those they don't like can't do anything right. If you look for this phenomena you can see it everywhere particularly in politics but it explains a lot about human behavior. (You also see this double standard caused by bias when people are forced to defend their closely held beliefs, they will invoke various tenuous hypotheses to explain away contradictory evidence but will demand iron clad proof before they will consider changing their minds.)
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Anālayo's latest article on Daniel, er, the dangers of mindfulness

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I think it is better to use the fetter model to define stream-enterer, once-returner, non-returner, arahant, and if those standards are impossibly high, then folks shouldn't claim to have attained them. If they want to use different standards that they think are attainable they should use to different terms, first path, 2nd path etc. In my opinion defining stream entry based on how it functions in meditation (see the video in my first post above) it seems to me is mistaking awakening for a meditative state. I don't believe Daniel started this which is why I say Anālayo should get his own house in order first.

https://vimeo.com/372228348
And so linguistically, I think of stream entry is a question of function. If it doesn't function like stream entry, well then pragmatically or practically, it's not stream entry, just like a burned out shell of a car is not a car. And so if whatever you think of a stream entry is not performing like stream entry should perform, with natural cycling, with rapid access to states, with hopefully repeat fruition, maybe even multiples, maybe even if you're lucky duration, and clear presentation of doors that eventually become easily distinguished from random state shifts or random formless realm things. Then, there's no point in calling that stream entry, because it's not doing what stream entry should do.


https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-iv-insight/33-review/
These days, as I meet people who may have attained stream entry and yet done it on relatively low doses of concentration, I often find it difficult to be sure what they have accomplished. If you find yourself having similar questions about your own practice, I strongly encourage you to go on a meditation retreat, get your momentary concentration strong, and then test out what you are capable of with that stronger level of concentration.
(Daniel knows as well as anyone that going on a retreat risks developing a psychiatric disorder, I don't understand how he can encourage people to do it.)

To me it seems that rather than using meditation to assess the level of awakening one should stop meditating to assess the level of awakening.

The only way to separate the effects of meditation from the effects of awakening is to stop meditating and see what happens.

(I am not saying there is anything inherently wrong with Daniels system, I am just against using the terms in the pali canon but then saying the corresponding definitions are impossible and redefining them. And there is nothing wrong with using meditative states to assess progress when you are not conflicting with defintitions of terms in the pali canon.)
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Stefan Stefan, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Anālayo's latest article on Daniel, er, the dangers of mindfulness

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Insights + Awakening etc., all happen within social contexts and are reflective of those contexts. They are seemingly inseparable, yet appear distinct. Thus, a strict Therevada practitioner with an emphasis on seclusion and renunciation may not recognise the awakened status (and vice versa) of a tantric Vajrayana practitioner with an emphasis on creativity and emotion.

I believe this is the same between Analyo and Ingram. They've been raised in different social contexts. While Ingram sees himself as being able to reconcile many different social contexts where he learned to be awakened, Ingram is a universalist; Analyo is strictly mono-spiritual. Ingram sees the PoI as a universal map of how insight and awareness work as we pay closer attention to our experience, which can be seen as the highest compliments to the Therevada school. However, Analyo sees it not as a compliment, but as an outsider trying to appropriate Therevada technology, and in turn diluting and muddying the purity of the Theravada teachings in which he was raised. 

And so the circus continues. Every time Ingram tries to show the universality of Dharma, it will be seen as a threat to the purity of the teachings. Every rebuke Analyo makes will be seen as an ardent purist doubling down on their staunch views. They're simply irreconcilable due to this fact. Ingram makes a very good whipping boy for the Therevada purists because of his universalism and seeming appropriation. The Therevada purists make good whipping boys for Ingram-ites because they look close-minded and seem to be 3rd fetter junkies. 

Oh well, better luck next lifetime fellas!
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Anālayo's latest article on Daniel, er, the dangers of mindfulness

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Well put! How sad that Aanayo can't see what a great compliment it is! 
George S, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Anālayo's latest article on Daniel, er, the dangers of mindfulness

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So one method of meditation is "grounded in reality" and another is "subjective imagination". What a joke. Maybe the meta-infused Bhikkhu could use a refresher on Dependent Origination.

Bhikkhu Anālayo
This assessment shows that the question at stake is not about asserting property rights over the Theravāda scheme of insight knowledges in an attempt to affirm religious orthodoxy. 

Otto von Bismarck
Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.
Adi Vader, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Anālayo's latest article on Daniel, er, the dangers of mindfulness

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Modern Indian languages trace their origins to Sanskrit which literally means the 'refined tongue'. Whereas Prakrit is usually given a miss when amateur linguists try to trace the ancestory of their mother tongue. This eliticism and desire to associate with Sanskrit is because Prakrit was the language of the 'street' spoken by the peasants, the cobblers, the carpenters, the potters etc as opposed to academicians and scholars. Prakrit in turn is a cluster of languages of which Sid spoke in two particular languages Magadhi Prakrit and Ardha Magadhi. The roughness and rawness of Prakrit irks on the ears with consonants being dropped left, right and centre in order to make it a language suitable for bargaining in the fish market. Smriti becomes Sati, Samprajanya becomes Sampajanna. The grammatical rules are violated so that pick pockets in a bustling market place can quickly communicate and coordinate their heist.

This was the language Sid chose to speak in presumably to give him access to the vast majority of people, the common man, as opposed to the handful of scholars. It is this language that Sid gave specialized meaning within the meditation context. This specialised meaning can only be understood by direct experience. This specialized meaning was crafted to represent direct experience. The assumption is that two people will sit the fuck down using the same meditation instructions in Prakrit and after a period of time will look at each other with bliss on their face (or maybe sheer misery) and nod their heads sagely saying .... "yup Smriti Samprajanya applied with a lot of Samvega leads to relaxation (or agitation)".

In the absence of direct experience you cant really understand what is meant by Sat-kaya Drishti, Vichikitsa, Sheel Vrat Paramarsh.

Since millenia meditation teachers have attempted to systematize Sid's teachings in order to create courses, or practice programs thus laying down maps that yogis can use to judge their progress and thus looking at their practice so far, make corrections in their plans and identify skill gaps. Beginning with Shariputra in the Patisambhidamagga downwards to Daniel Ingram in MCTB. Or from Asanga and Kamalasheel downwards to John Yates in TMI. It is always  an attempt to improve and refine and make accessible to people who speak modern languages in modern socio cultural contexts. At their core lies an attempt to create a pedagogical scaffolding guiding skill development and investigation.

From Magadhi Prakrit to Hindi, Marathi, English, German - always an attempt to help people.

But no matter the language, the underlying direct experience is what the map is trying to help yogis uncover and learn from. In direct experience there can be no agreement and there can be no argument, agreement and argument can only happen in the conceptual overlay of language and assumed meaning.

Anyway, all this rambling apart, I think Analayo is behaving like a hit-man who has been awarded a contract.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Anālayo's latest article on Daniel, er, the dangers of mindfulness

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What a strawman! If it really were the case that Daniel so onesidedly proclamates how dangerous mindfulness is, how come we have this big forum with diligent practicioners who devote so much of their (our) time and energy to being mindful, many of us with Daniel's teachings as one of our major sources of inspiration? 

Nuances and being able to hold more than one single thought at a time are good things... 

Has Analayo seriously published two articles devoted to badmouthing Daniel? Seems to me like it might be a good idea for him to work on liberating some remaining reactive patterns, since he is so triggered. 
George S, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Anālayo's latest article on Daniel, er, the dangers of mindfulness

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö
If it really were the case that Daniel so onesidedly proclamates how dangerous mindfulness is, how come we have this big forum with diligent practicioners who devote so much of their (our) time and energy to being mindful, many of us with Daniel's teachings as one of our major sources of inspiration? 

​​​​​​​That's because we are all deluded and drinking the Kool Aid emoticon 
George S, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Anālayo's latest article on Daniel, er, the dangers of mindfulness

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Or rather I should say, Non-Theravāda Approved Kool-Aid emoticon 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Anālayo's latest article on Daniel, er, the dangers of mindfulness

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Aw gawd! Again this shit! Who cares about what monks think??? 

Jesus effn Christ! emoticon 

And above Jim my lad you and your fucking fetter model and deep or shallow concentration emoticon Pali Sutta said this and that ... emoticon Merry mother of baby Jesus! All this fucking seriousness around simple thing as paying attention to matter of fact experience emoticon 

Is it SE, is it not SE, is it by the orange book or by the black book, I think fetter model is the right one and the other wrong one, my god is better than your god , etc ... emoticon oh be jaizus! 

Im off to bed! Lights out! 
Dan Latner, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Anālayo's latest article on Daniel, er, the dangers of mindfulness

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This reminds me of the dynamic between conservative and progressive Bluegrass fans. One time I was at a festival and a band was playing standard after standard, just nailing that old-school bluegrass sound. Then they played "I've just seen a face" by the Beatles, which sounds 90% like a bluegrass song, and an old lady beside me grumbled and said, "I wish they'd stick to the bluegrass". 

From a traditionalist view, it probably seems like we're ruining an ancient tradition, but from a progressive, evolving side,  we grew up listening to rap and watching the Simpsons... obviously we're going to put it in a new way. Plus, it sounds like some of y'all are "getting enlightened", so at the end of the day, it's more about the cat getting skinned than the type of knife you use. Isn't that what seeing beyond rights and rituals is about?

What really betrays this as a smear piece is when he switches from comparing Daniel's claims and traditional outlines, which is at least an interesting discussion, to trying to hop on the woke wagon and make accusations of cultural appropriation. This comes across as desperate and clumsy. What's the end game? The genie is not going back in the lamp. Someone should send Bikkhu Analayo a Frank Yang video. Maybe these traditionalists oughta brush up on annica ;) 
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finding-oneself, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Anālayo's latest article on Daniel, er, the dangers of mindfulness

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"Someone should send Bikkhu Analayo a Frank Yang video." Hahaha.
Yeah he'd probably blackout in some sort of fit of emotion from watching Frank. That's as close as Analayo would get to cessation. 
George S, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Anālayo's latest article on Daniel, er, the dangers of mindfulness

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Please have some compassion - imagine what it must be like for a middle-aged male renunciate to contemplate the possibility that someone could become an Arahant and still be able to have sex.
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Ian Pitchford, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Anālayo's latest article on Daniel, er, the dangers of mindfulness

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There's something really endearing in Anālayo's apparent belief that a journal article can make a significant impact on the world.

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