Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment?

Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment? Todo 4/6/24 1:32 PM
RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment ‎ ‎Nihila 4/6/24 1:57 PM
RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment Chris M 4/7/24 7:27 AM
RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment ‎ ‎Nihila 4/6/24 3:16 PM
RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment Chris M 4/6/24 3:27 PM
RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment ‎ ‎Nihila 4/6/24 3:47 PM
RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment Todo 4/6/24 3:02 PM
RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment Martin 4/6/24 4:21 PM
RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment Erin E Brown 4/6/24 9:10 PM
RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment Chris M 4/7/24 7:47 AM
RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment Jim Smith 4/7/24 8:10 AM
RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment ‎ ‎Nihila 4/7/24 8:39 AM
RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment Martin 4/7/24 4:16 PM
RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment Erin E Brown 4/7/24 11:11 AM
RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment Chris M 4/7/24 9:47 AM
RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment Papa Che Dusko 4/7/24 10:31 AM
RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment Erin E Brown 4/7/24 11:12 AM
RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment ‎ ‎Nihila 4/7/24 12:38 PM
RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment brian patrick 4/7/24 2:36 PM
Todo, modified 1 Month ago at 4/6/24 1:32 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 4/6/24 1:32 PM

Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment?

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Hi all,

I read somewhere that a highly intelligent artificial intelligence could masquerade being conscious. And we would have no way to know for sure whether it is indeed conscious or not. 

this led me to think what about intellectual understanding and realization or awakening. Could someone with a very good understanding of say Buddhist teachings masquerade as an enlightened being? What  about the some highly respected people of the past. To take an example, was Dogen a realized being or just a smart guy who knew his dharma inside out? What about the Buddha himself? Could he have been a fake?

on the other hand does it even matter? If sharing their intellectual knowledge could help others reach true liberation, so what!

nota: i asked Google Gemini about my understanding of "Emptiness" which I described in a prompt and it mostly validated it and at the same time unpacked it.
As you all know there are now many apps that teach Meditation but they are mostly based on teachings provided by real people. However we can imagine a very near future where an AI agent could be the perfect Meditation teacher.  For this it will not have to be conscious nor enlightened! 

thoughts?
‎ ‎Nihila, modified 1 Month ago at 4/6/24 1:57 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 4/6/24 1:57 PM

RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment

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Yes, it's actually very common. It's known as spiritual bypassing.
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 4/7/24 7:27 AM
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RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment

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My take on these questions: Waking up isn't like solving math equations, reading books, or taking IQ tests. It's not an intellectual exercise, and it doesn't result from that. It's based on personal experience, and from deeply, deeply seeing (seeing, grokking) the nature of being human. Someone can try to fake being awake by parroting what they read and hear from others, but that won't fool a person who has had the very personal experience of waking up. 

If one can read books and use the practices therein properly and effectively to awaken (this happens), then that same thing can happen with AI - the AI will have exposure via its training data to many practices that can lead to awakening by the human being who diligently applies those practices.

Spiritual bypassing is something different. It's about fooling yourself, not other people. It's using spirituality to avoid facing difficult emotions and other things that arise during one's practice.

I read somewhere that a highly intelligent artificial intelligence could masquerade being conscious. And we would have no way to know for sure whether it is indeed conscious or not. 

Todo, look up the term "Chinese Room" using Google. It's a famous re-formulation of the Turing Test by John Searle. That said, the topic of AI sentience, consciousness, and self-awareness - generally referred to as "AGI" - is a whole different subject best left to another message board.
Todo, modified 1 Month ago at 4/6/24 3:02 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 4/6/24 3:02 PM

RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment

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Chris, 
you're right, AGI is better left for some other forum. 

my post was mostly about human omposters and some context might help here. The other day I watched a YouTube conversation between Daniel and some other guy. I had the deep feeling that that guy was a fake despite him clearly claiming to be enlightened and having students. That guy was even explaining to Daniel the difference between arahat & buddhas, saying that he was talking from "personal experience". I wondered why Daniel was even talking to this guy. However upon watching closely I saw that Daniel had one of those half smiles that speak volumes.
‎ ‎Nihila, modified 1 Month ago at 4/6/24 3:16 PM
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RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment

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Chris M
Spiritual bypassing is something different. It's about fooling yourself, not other people. It's using spirituality to avoid actually facing difficult emotions and other things that arise during one's practice.
Is this not a way it expresses? Someone spiritually bypasses, and believe they have higher attainments than they have?
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 4/6/24 3:27 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 4/6/24 3:25 PM

RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment

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Nihila, in my estimation the key aspect of spiritual bypassing is the avoidance of facing difficult experiences. Not doing the hard work. I guess that could be interpreted as thinking one knows something they actually don't but the result is fooling oneself.
‎ ‎Nihila, modified 1 Month ago at 4/6/24 3:47 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 4/6/24 3:30 PM

RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment

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Yes, exactly. In this case the intellectual understanding is an avoidance of experience.

There's a great discussion/interview here on the topic. Great examples of teachers guilty of this.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHIfLboiMQY
Martin, modified 1 Month ago at 4/6/24 4:21 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 4/6/24 4:21 PM

RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment

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I think that a high level of intellectual understanding can masquerade as attainment but that cannot fool people who have the experience of attainment.

A good meditation teacher has had experiences of the things that they are teaching, and that experience allows them to recognize those experiences in others and so progressively guide them to subsequent points of development. AI cannot experience, and so my guess is that it will not be able to assess experiences in others, and therefore will not be able to tell whether the student is reporting actual insights or simply reciting things that they have heard/read. 
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Erin E Brown, modified 1 Month ago at 4/6/24 9:10 PM
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RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment

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RE: Toto..."If sharing their intellectual knowledge could help others reach true liberation, so what!"

I think the intelligence of formless awareness wakes us up through many forms, through what appear as fully enlightened beings and also as repetition of the message through "fakes".
I think that awareness is one unity, so in reality, how could any of it really be more real than any other? The substance of all being made of awareness itself.

I feel that the experience of consciousness is formless intelligence, having a natural creativity. That creativity could look like a masquerading character, their true being made of the same oneness.
What I think is worth mentioning is the difference between relative level (subject and object) and the level of ultimate reality (oneness). My teachers in the Advaita Vedanta teaching say that there is no teacher, only the self knowing itself and speaking from emptiness. The only difference being the student is measuring experience on the relative level and the teacher is experiencing reality. I think relative level is quantitative, and reality qualitative/formless.
I'm getting in the weeds but I am excited about this...

Difference being noted here is quantity, (the measurability of a thing) but then there is qualia (the sensation-quality) of a thing.  Taste of a banana... It can't be quantified. Or (as one teacher put it to me) the experience of falling in love...can't be quantified.
Immediate and direct perceptions that are experienced by consciousness can't be located "inside" me, when I look for the center.

...all of this being said, what I really want to say is that the understanding of awakening, knowingly being one with all that is- is a qualitative knowing. 

Accumulation of texts/teaching can coexist with the quality of knowing, but is altogether different from the knowing itself. Understanding is without a quantity of information- it is purely experiential. 

For me, the knowing is empty of all books and teachings. When I am directly knowing myself...as Being, being... There is no object to know. This being said, it certainly seems possible to have no book knowledge and be oneness... Or have ALL the book knowledge and not knowingly-be that oneness.

On the question "does it matter?", I would say yes (and no?), because the highest service we can offer all beings is our own earnest participation in the evolution of our awakening. To shine as our true nature. To awaken to oneness.
I would say a natural result of this is compassion for all beings on Earth...
so with only masquerading, with true compassion being vacant, evolution/growth/transformation through the power of impersonal (but total) Love is not wholly possible for all beings. At the same time, it is all one already ...so who has a problem with it?

For me, my highest attainment (through awakening) would be to knowingly shine as my true nature, while effortlessly offering this invitation to all beings I encounter. ​​​​​​​ Without actually shining as that, I couldn't offer this.
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 4/7/24 7:47 AM
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RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment

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Hello, Erin, and welcome to DhO!

May I suggest something for you to consider when posting? You seem to have a long practice, and I'm pretty sure you have useful and interesting things to say. But it will be better understood and accepted if it comes from your very own genuine Erin voice, not the voices you seem to be using. Be you!

My apologies for being blunt, but it's quite noticeable and I feel it's better to point this out than to ignore it.

PS: I'm pretty sure you're not an AI  emoticon
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 4/7/24 8:10 AM
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RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment

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This link is an interview with the person who coined the term spiritual bypassing.
http://www.johnwelwood.com/articles/TRIC_interview_uncut.doc

Spiritual bypassing is when you use spirituality or claim a spiritual reason to avoid an unpleasant situation. It could be something internal or external.

For example someone in your ashram isn't doing their fair share of the chores, they are always absent when it is time to clean the bathrooms, you say you don't want to confront them because it isn't spiritual, you don't want to be negative, people should be tolerant, non-attached, etc, the but the real reason is that deep down inside you are afraid of a confrontation because your parents got divorced after an argument about who was supposed to clean the bathroom. You are afraid of a confrontation because you fear that if you have one, everyone will leave your asharm and you will be a guru with no followers.

Faking enlightenment isn't spiritual bypassing, it's just faking enlightenment.

Some of Buddhas followers woke up while listening to him lecture. These people awakened from intellectual knowledge. 
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Erin E Brown, modified 1 Month ago at 4/7/24 11:11 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 4/7/24 7:56 AM

RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment

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Re: Chris-
"But it will be better understood and accepted if it comes from your very own genuine Erin voice, not the voices you seem to be using. Be you!"

This is genuine, how creativity is communicating how I feel and experience this topic and question- unscripted.
I have contemplated the reactions that arise to feeling not acceptable to this space- perhaps that will appear in a log as I persevere in this space with y'all...(good advice)

​​​​​​​I welcome your feedback, as it is honest. Thank you for being you!
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 4/7/24 9:47 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 4/7/24 8:02 AM

RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment

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I have contemplated the reactions that arise to feeling not acceptable to this space- perhaps that will appear in a 'log' as I preserve in this space with y'all.


Aw c'mon. Just yell "F*ck you!" back at me  emoticon
‎ ‎Nihila, modified 1 Month ago at 4/7/24 8:39 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 4/7/24 8:39 AM

RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment

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I stand corrected, not sure why I conflated the two. emoticon
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Month ago at 4/7/24 10:31 AM
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RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment

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I'm such a spiritual bypasser! I'm full of it! 

​​​​​​​Ah emoticon reactive patterns are so much fun! emoticon 
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Erin E Brown, modified 1 Month ago at 4/7/24 11:12 AM
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RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment

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I am, too! When I think I'm limited, I'm in bypass-mode! The ultimate bypass is acting and believing I am separate from you (whereas there could be deepening by using the reactions as process-gold!). The way I notice bypassing in me is a sensation- as in, a sensation that comes into the body with the conversation here (re: Aw c'mon. just yell fuck you at me), there is a kind of jolt of avoidance of the feeling that happens in me reading those words. I really want to use the urge to yell fuck you as an invitation to see what I don't want to in me. The way I notice a spiritual-ego in me is when I expect or reject how others will respond to me. I'm grateful for this space as another way to investigate, and for the initial question!
‎ ‎Nihila, modified 1 Month ago at 4/7/24 12:38 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 4/7/24 12:38 PM

RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment

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Honey, no one here is going to blame you for not being perfect.
brian patrick, modified 1 Month ago at 4/7/24 2:36 PM
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RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment

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‎ ‎Nihila
Honey, no one here is going to blame you for not being perfect.


Oh yes I am! It helps foster my spiritual bypassing and bolsters my false sense of superiority. 
Martin, modified 1 Month ago at 4/7/24 4:16 PM
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RE: Can a high level of intellectual understanding masquerade as attainment

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I terms of how it is used, I think "spiritual bypassing" means using spirituality in a way that avoids doing something that the speaker (and sometimes also the listener) considers more suitable, such as therapy, or narrative remodeling or, as in the example Jim is quoting, confronting someone. So there has to be a value judgment as to the best course of action that makes the spiritual thing "bypassing." If the person doing the spiritual thing doesn't agree then, for them, it is just right action. It is even possible to see the other action as the bypassing, a sort of therapeutic or materialistic bypassing, if you will. 

In any case, the Bhagavad Gita is probably the best discourse on spiritual bypassing ever written. It's focused on an example very close to what Jim mentions (conflict avoidance -- in this case war). In the Bhagavad Gita, and actually all of the Maha Bharata, which keeps coming back to this theme, the argument is implied because right action is predetermined by caste but the arguments are interesting nonetheless. 

It's very hard to say what is right action and what is bypassing. Certainty in this regard is often a good indication that more thought is required. 
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