Meditation benefits trump enlightenment through pointing?

Matt N, modified 9 Years ago.

Meditation benefits trump enlightenment through pointing?

Posts: 10 Join Date: 5/16/11 Recent Posts
Wondering peoples thoughts. I experienced no self from direct pointing about half a year ago after a year of meditation practices. Since then my meditation practice dropped for awhile.

I can still see no self quite evidently, but I don't see any benefit to it. Maybe I blame myself less because I realize there really is no me, its just a series of images and sounds playing in my mind in the moment. Maybe it's a little easier to be present.

My anxiety and inability to relax are still here though. Bad emotional control and understanding are still there.

In fact they've gotten worse without meditating. Meditation was helping these things, realization of no self does not seem to really do anything for them. They were the reasons for beginning meditation, and as a supposed end point for meditation, I guess I thought enlightenment would mean some change in those factors.

What real benefit is there for enlightenment then? My thoughts lately seem to say that the things cultivated over time with meditation are more important than simply understanding the nature of consciousness.
Stian Gudmundsen Høiland, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Meditation benefits trump enlightenment through pointing?

Posts: 295 Join Date: 9/5/10 Recent Posts
Enlightenment itself will do absolutely nothing for you. (Wouldn't it be cool if I just ended the post here?). The process of attaining enlightenment can do lots of stuff for you. Here's how I see it:

Two perspectives:

Negative: There are things standing in the way of 'enlightenment'. Through practice you can diminish and remove these things until there is sufficient lack of things standing in the way of 'enlightenment' for you to suddenly be enlightened.

Positive: There are certain insights one can have that enables one to 'see clearly'. After sufficient clarity, you 'get it'.

Not one specific practice actually gets you enlightened - it's a concerted effort best described as skillfully nurturing the right conditions of/for awakening. These practices (e.g. concentration practices) should simultaneously be a practice for itself, and a practice within a larger perspective. Yeah, sure, you'll get enlightened sometime, but realize that the practice actually doesn't get you enlightened. Therefore you need an ulterior motive to practice, and that motivation should be intimately connected with what a practice actually does for you (like dramatically increasing your skill of concentration).

For example: The eight jhanas, to me, is simultaneously a vehicle for enlightenment, but also skillful means of living. By hanging out in jhana, I get my dopamine/serotonin/pleasure fix. This way I won't go unskillfully looking for a fix 'outside' of myself:
- social status (e.g. putting other people down)
- entertainment (oh, what wonders it does for attention /sarcasm)
- obsessive past-times (like refreshing the recent posts page of this forum every 5 minutes)
- sticky-icky relationships (being 'needy' to the detriment of all parties involved)
- seeking comfort in food
- stimulating-simulating good/bad emotions for a 'rush' (morbid entertainment, porn, risky stunts)

A breakthrough for me was when I saw how the vast pool of practices in wisdom/insight/spiritual traditions are practices for the 'brain', not the 'soul'. In my view, our kind and awesome Overlord Daniel Ingram has a fetish for certain types of experiences - just like I have a pronounced interest in programming and many of it's aspects, so Dan has a pronounced interest in concentration and many of it's aspects. Considering only this, he is not anymore enlightened than me, not even a little bit. It just so happens that his interest in concentration is more conducive to enlightenment than my interest in programming.

The practice for enlightenment is a pastime with a specific set of advantages/benefits and disadvantages/harm. It has been meticulously refined and improved over the millennia to be as skillful and conducive to enlightenment as possible. But it doesn't produce enlightenment, it produces a person receptive to the grace of enlightenment.

Enlightenment doesn't fix you and it is utterly irrelevant to your life. But the practice leading up to it can definitely improve your life tremendously.

Matt N:
I can still see no self quite evidently, but I don't see any benefit to it. Maybe I blame myself less because I realize there really is no me, its just a series of images and sounds playing in my mind in the moment. Maybe it's a little easier to be present.

My anxiety and inability to relax are still here though. Bad emotional control and understanding are still there.

You have been tricked into believing that enlightenment fixes you. It doesn't. There are practices for you to do that will diminish and possibly remove anxiety, inability to relax and improve emotional control and understanding. I would also like to add that you are very probably not enlightened, at least by the usual standards of this forum.

If 'seeing no self' has no benefit to you, then you have most likely not gained any insight of anatta ('seeing not-self'). If whatever perception you had is not beneficial to you, drop it. Find something that is simultaneously less deluded than your current view and also beneficial to you. Help yourself, but know that a lot of people have tried to help themselves throughout history, and some of them came up with pretty nice stuff - so don't go and needlessly re-invent the wheel.

Matt N:
What real benefit is there for enlightenment then?

The benefit of enlightenment is nothing measurable. The foregone weeding out of nasty habits and obsessiveness - that is the benefit. Enlightenment is a save point. If you have no progress to save, loading the save point produces no progress.

Paraphrasing Bill Hamilton:
Enlightenment is not like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It's more like you've been picking up gold pieces all along the way and enlightenment is just a pot to keep them in.


$0.2


PS: I don't want to get into this in this post, but will say that if you go on spiritual shopping, eventually it becomes clear that different people speak of different things. There are certain distinctions that can be helpful to know about, but seeing that you might not yet have been confused by that whole mess, I keep it out of this post.

EDIT:

Enlightenment is not haphazard, nor is it ultimately structured. Between deterministic causation (this practice produces enlightenment) and divine grace (no grace, no enlightenment) lies the middle way.

$0.4
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Meditation benefits trump enlightenment through pointing?

Posts: 706 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
like refreshing the recent posts page of this forum every 5 minutes


There should be a specific practice to counteract this unwholesome mind state!
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Andrew Jones, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Meditation benefits trump enlightenment through pointing?

Posts: 336 Join Date: 5/23/11 Recent Posts
thanks for that Stian, be-a-uti-ful...and just to pigyback on Bagpuss' joke; excuse me, I think someone else just posted something...

emoticon
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Thom W, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Meditation benefits trump enlightenment through pointing?

Posts: 63 Join Date: 12/31/10 Recent Posts
Stian Gudmundsen Høiland:
Enlightenment itself will do absolutely nothing for you...

...Enlightenment doesn't fix you and it is utterly irrelevant to your life. But the practice leading up to it can definitely improve your life tremendously...

...The benefit of enlightenment is nothing measurable....


Hmm. I think I see the point you're making here Stian...but from a practical perspective, saying the benefit of enlightenment is nothing measurable is perhaps a little facile. From an experiential perspective it's totally measurable - you suffer less. Sometimes in previously unimaginable ways.

I accept that your point is (if I paraphrase correctly) that it is the process that decreases our propensities to cause ourselves pain, rather than the acheivement of a goal, but by defining enlightenment separately you seem to be separating it from the process somehow, which is isn't.

However, practically speaking, I feel it's important to understand that there can be moments in life (generally arrived at through some kind of practice, but sometimes not) experienced in normal, linear time where humans can hit a developmental stage that is generally agreed to be some kind of "enlightenment". Hitting these points does make a difference in our lives, just not in the way many would hope or expect due the kind of education most humans have about these potentials and the results of moving towards these potentials.

So yeh...saying stuff like "Enlightenment itself will do absolutely nothing for you..." and that "it's irrelevant to your life" are nice sound bites, but come with their own problems that I think you only partially address in your post.

Cheers

Thom
Stian Gudmundsen Høiland, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Meditation benefits trump enlightenment through pointing?

Posts: 295 Join Date: 9/5/10 Recent Posts
Yes, I agree with pretty much all you say, Thom.

Thom W:
(...) saying stuff like "Enlightenment itself will do absolutely nothing for you..." and that "it's irrelevant to your life" are nice sound bites, but come with their own problems that I think you only partially address in your post.

Absolutely, so it's nice that you highlight these problems.

For someone who sees my view in contrast to your view, this might be a bit befuddling, so I'll highlight what I see as some important points in your post:
Thom W:

Hmm. I think I see the point you're making here Stian...but from a practical perspective, saying the benefit of enlightenment is nothing measurable is perhaps a little facile. From an experiential perspective it's totally measurable - you suffer less.

(...)

However, practically speaking, I feel it's important to understand that there can be moments in life (generally arrived at through some kind of practice, but sometimes not) experienced in normal, linear time where humans can hit a developmental stage that is generally agreed to be some kind of "enlightenment".


Thom W:
I accept that your point is (if I paraphrase correctly) that it is the process that decreases our propensities to cause ourselves pain, rather than the acheivement of a goal, but by defining enlightenment separately you seem to be separating it from the process somehow, which is isn't.

Sticky stuff, indeed. I see the process of practice towards enlightenment as a frighteningly complex network of cause and effect with synergies and a vast amount of different and similar effects, which can be both positive and negative, and only a few effects considered "enlightenment". I have no clue how to put into words, or even how to think about, the dynamics of these causes and effects, especially considering the synergistic stuff that can happen.

Defining enlightenment separate from this tremendous network of cause and effect, so that the outcome of engaging in the process of enlightenment becomes more than just to achieve enlightenment, I see that as a good thing, because there is so much more to the process of enlightenment than enlightenment itself. As I wrote, only a few effects of the practice are considered "enlightenment", and I don't think it's a good idea to limit oneself to only achieving this.

In other words, I see it a worthy endeavor to engage in the process of enlightenment, even without the goal of enlightenment - this because there is so much more to the process.

This implies a certain distinction between the path and the fruit. In many ways the path is the fruit, in some ways it's not.


$0.6
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N A, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Meditation benefits trump enlightenment through pointing?

Posts: 157 Join Date: 7/10/11 Recent Posts
Thom W:

I accept that your point is (if I paraphrase correctly) that it is the process that decreases our propensities to cause ourselves pain, rather than the acheivement of a goal, but by defining enlightenment separately you seem to be separating it from the process somehow, which is isn't.


That's the original poster's claim, though - that through direct pointing, they became enlightened without going through the usual "process" of meditation.
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Tommy M, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Meditation benefits trump enlightenment through pointing?

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
Wondering peoples thoughts. I experienced no self from direct pointing about half a year ago after a year of meditation practices. Since then my meditation practice dropped for awhile.

I can still see no self quite evidently, but I don't see any benefit to it. Maybe I blame myself less because I realize there really is no me, its just a series of images and sounds playing in my mind in the moment. Maybe it's a little easier to be present.

My anxiety and inability to relax are still here though. Bad emotional control and understanding are still there.

In fact they've gotten worse without meditating. Meditation was helping these things, realization of no self does not seem to really do anything for them. They were the reasons for beginning meditation, and as a supposed end point for meditation, I guess I thought enlightenment would mean some change in those factors.

What real benefit is there for enlightenment then? My thoughts lately seem to say that the things cultivated over time with meditation are more important than simply understanding the nature of consciousness.

What you're saying seems quite common to a lot of the direct pointing crowd who claimed to have gotten enlightened through that method, you get some insight into the whole no-self thing but gradually come to realize that it didn't really change all that much about your life. That in itself should be enough to indicate that you're not enlightened and that there's more to be done.

To be able to see no-self isn't enough, it's only one of the three marks of existence along with impermanence and suffering and they all need to be experienced and understood directly. This is where meditation comes in handy as it makes it easier to examine and observe these things as they happen. No amount of direct pointing, particularly when it's done by people who don't really know what they're talking about, is going to cut it for the vast majority of people.

So, you're aware that this "series of images and sounds playing in my mind in the moment" isn't you. Can you honestly say that this is the way in which you experience these things, or is there still some form of identification with them going on? You can intellectually understand that these things are not you, yes, but that's not the same as having seen through it entirely.

I suggest that you look long and hard at your current experience of the world. Drop all the ideas you've got with regards to what you've attained so far, find a technique which works for you and then get down to some serious meditation practice otherwise you'll go around in circles indefinitely. Enlightenment is worth the effort, the practices skills you learn along the way are worth the effort, and the practices involved are worth the effort.
wylo ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Meditation benefits trump enlightenment through pointing?

Posts: 166 Join Date: 11/18/11 Recent Posts
as someone who has now made serious progress far beyond direct pointing, and has began to truly shed any sense of control at all, I would still have no issue calling the result of direct pointing for some people enlightenment.

But then again, its just a word, and Tommys right, you're in no way done whatsoever after seeing no self, you do get a few months of serious clarity and freedom out of it, but conscious effort is required to keep pushing further. And decent meditation is required if you simply want to be happier.
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Nikolai ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Meditation benefits trump enlightenment through pointing?

Posts: 1648 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
You see the 'default mode network' as 'no-self', yet the default mode network keeps activating. More meditation will regulate and de-activate the DMN and triggers for negative emotions will be dealt with. You might have seen something 'no-selfy', yet 'self' as an experience continues to haunt the corridors of your brain.

http://tinyurl.com/7puc2ty

http://www.pnas.org/content/106/6/1942.full.pdf+html

Nick
wylo ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Meditation benefits trump enlightenment through pointing?

Posts: 166 Join Date: 11/18/11 Recent Posts
Its "haunting" it (for want of a better phrase) less and less tbh.
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Nikolai ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Meditation benefits trump enlightenment through pointing?

Posts: 1648 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Its "haunting" it (for want of a better phrase) less and less tbh.

The manifestation and experience of 'self' or 'being' can go through some pretty gnarly changes, getting subtler and subtler and harder to objectify and pry apart. If i were you and I was wanting to avoid resting laurels at any stage due to not seeing the 'selfing experience' that was the norm before, I'd consider the notion of 'self' as anything that resembles an experience of tangibly mentally felt sense of being / presence / location in the world / agency (something seemingly in control of the body) / sense of existing as anything as well as any sense of the flow of time. It may have been seen to be illusory, but some igorance of something or other is giving rise to it still.

Nick
wylo ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Meditation benefits trump enlightenment through pointing?

Posts: 166 Join Date: 11/18/11 Recent Posts
Nikolai .:
Its "haunting" it (for want of a better phrase) less and less tbh.

The manifestation and experience of 'self' or 'being' can go through some pretty gnarly changes, getting subtler and subtler and harder to objectify and pry apart. If i were you and I was wanting to avoid resting laurels at any stage due to not seeing the 'selfing experience' that was the norm before, I'd consider the notion of 'self' as anything that resembles an experience of tangibly mentally felt sense of being / presence / location in the world / agency (something seemingly in control of the body) / sense of existing as anything as well as any sense of the flow of time. It may have been seen to be illusory, but some igorance of something or other is giving rise to it still.

Nick


Hi Nick,
Cheers,
Yea, I know it may seem Im like Im settled and there isnt "further" but believe me Im pushing hard at this, now more than ever, and yes since my initial awakening where I saw the illusion (very clearly), I've moved on to the list of yours...
I'd consider the notion of 'self' as anything that resembles an experience of tangibly mentally felt sense of being / presence / location in the world / agency (something seemingly in control of the body) /
, and even then Im shedding alot of those experiences you talk about. Especially location in the world and agency.
Even today for example , just little things, people walking past me, cars driving by, it really didnt feel like it was "me" they were going past, almost like its the story of this body/this reality is being watched.
The sense of self can be so shed that there is really is NO ONE/NOTHING left centrally here, not even someone trying to "look" (direct pointing) Obviously Im not all the way but Im getting there. It can be so intense at times that even if Im resting on a couch or walking it doesnt even feel like the body weight is there, just the direct sensations of whatevers touching another object.

Regarding loss of flow of time, hmmm, tough one, I havent looked out for it, with the exeption of when Im meditating, recently I am shocked by how little time is gone sometimes. I may extraordinarily deep and relaxed in a jhana state/nothingness, then feel quite energetic and small bit restless afterwards, Id look at the clock and about 8 or 9 minutes would be gone, it would feel like itd have been going on for 20/30.
Thats probably not what you're talking about though. All in time. Im not putting the feet up yet. emoticon


And you're right, its all about trying not to live in ignorance or assumption. It often takes a bout of honesty to reveal something you'd be ignoring for months in a row.
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Nikolai ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Meditation benefits trump enlightenment through pointing?

Posts: 1648 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
wylo .:
Nikolai .:
Its "haunting" it (for want of a better phrase) less and less tbh.

The manifestation and experience of 'self' or 'being' can go through some pretty gnarly changes, getting subtler and subtler and harder to objectify and pry apart. If i were you and I was wanting to avoid resting laurels at any stage due to not seeing the 'selfing experience' that was the norm before, I'd consider the notion of 'self' as anything that resembles an experience of tangibly mentally felt sense of being / presence / location in the world / agency (something seemingly in control of the body) / sense of existing as anything as well as any sense of the flow of time. It may have been seen to be illusory, but some igorance of something or other is giving rise to it still.

Nick


Hi Nick,
Cheers,
Yea, I know it may seem Im like Im settled and there isnt "further" but believe me Im pushing hard at this, now more than ever, and yes since my initial awakening where I saw the illusion (very clearly), I've moved on to the list of yours...
I'd consider the notion of 'self' as anything that resembles an experience of tangibly mentally felt sense of being / presence / location in the world / agency (something seemingly in control of the body) /
, and even then Im shedding alot of those experiences you talk about. Especially location in the world and agency.
Even today for example , just little things, people walking past me, cars driving by, it really didnt feel like it was "me" they were going past, almost like its the story of this body/this reality is being watched.
The sense of self can be so shed that there is really is NO ONE/NOTHING left centrally here, not even someone trying to "look" (direct pointing) Obviously Im not all the way but Im getting there. It can be so intense at times that even if Im resting on a couch or walking it doesnt even feel like the body weight is there, just the direct sensations of whatevers touching another object.

Regarding loss of flow of time, hmmm, tough one, I havent looked out for it, with the exeption of when Im meditating, recently I am shocked by how little time is gone sometimes. I may extraordinarily deep and relaxed in a jhana state/nothingness, then feel quite energetic and small bit restless afterwards, Id look at the clock and about 8 or 9 minutes would be gone, it would feel like itd have been going on for 20/30.
Thats probably not what you're talking about though. All in time. Im not putting the feet up yet. emoticon


And you're right, its all about trying not to live in ignorance or assumption. It often takes a bout of honesty to reveal something you'd be ignoring for months in a row.

Hey,

One simple thing I keep in mind to keep the bar raised very high for myself is: does there seem to be something taking birth again and again from moment to moment, even when interspersed with moments of seeing in the seen? Is there something interrupting that seeing in the seen, hearing in the heard etc. If so, I keep looking, prying apart, seeing what maybe overlooked, or not paid attention to head on.

Nick
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Steph S, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Meditation benefits trump enlightenment through pointing?

Posts: 647 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
Nikolai .:

One simple thing I keep in mind to keep the bar raised very high for myself is: does there seem to be something taking birth again and again from moment to moment, even when interspersed with moments of seeing in the seen? Is there something interrupting that seeing in the seen, hearing in the heard etc. If so, I keep looking, prying apart, seeing what maybe overlooked, or not paid attention to head on.

Nick



rad. thanks for bringing that up, nick. was starting to think it's time to raise the bar yet again.
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fivebells ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Meditation benefits trump enlightenment through pointing?

Posts: 566 Join Date: 2/25/11 Recent Posts
These are not matters I have a great deal of direct experience with, but this discussion reminds me of the Khemaka sutta:

"Friends, even though a noble disciple has abandoned the five lower fetters, he still has with regard to the five clinging-aggregates a lingering residual 'I am' conceit, an 'I am' desire, an 'I am' obsession. But at a later time he keeps focusing on the phenomena of arising & passing away with regard to the five clinging-aggregates: 'Such is form, such its origin, such its disappearance. Such is feeling... Such is perception... Such are fabrications... Such is consciousness, such its origin, such its disappearance.' As he keeps focusing on the arising & passing away of these five clinging-aggregates, the lingering residual 'I am' conceit, 'I am' desire, 'I am' obsession is fully obliterated.
Luna Swift Arrow, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Meditation benefits trump enlightenment through pointing?

Posts: 5 Join Date: 3/7/12 Recent Posts
Matt N:
Wondering peoples thoughts. I experienced no self from direct pointing about half a year ago after a year of meditation practices. Since then my meditation practice dropped for awhile.

I can still see no self quite evidently, but I don't see any benefit to it. Maybe I blame myself less because I realize there really is no me, its just a series of images and sounds playing in my mind in the moment. Maybe it's a little easier to be present.

My anxiety and inability to relax are still here though. Bad emotional control and understanding are still there.

In fact they've gotten worse without meditating. Meditation was helping these things, realization of no self does not seem to really do anything for them. They were the reasons for beginning meditation, and as a supposed end point for meditation, I guess I thought enlightenment would mean some change in those factors.

What real benefit is there for enlightenment then? My thoughts lately seem to say that the things cultivated over time with meditation are more important than simply understanding the nature of consciousness.


I found my emotions were enhanced after receiving teachings similar to 'pointing out'. It is all part of a process of unfolding fermentations, including unpleasant ones. One benefit is that you get to see the beginnings of feelings/thoughts/perceptions more clearly, along with a sense of their impermanence. This also helps vivify the subtle body, which leads naturally to seeing yourself as something more than flesh and blood, which in turn it makes it easier to develop meditative focus. Anxiety can be seen as an energetic state. To be honest, I've become an feeling/sensation junkie in some ways, because I've become interested in how these constellations of feeling etc. develop, and how they course through your body. The human being really is a marvel. In that context, restlessness and trepidation are just physical/mental states, like beads on a rosary.