Twelfth Path

Florian, modified 9 Years ago at 10/19/12 9:21 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 10/19/12 9:21 AM

Twelfth Path

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Here's a really, really good passage from MCTB. The entire chapter is one big, solid gold, chocolate-covered nugget. Below are my favorite crunchy bits.

MCTB Beyond First Path (What Next)

There can arise an odd phenomenon that has been referred to by one of my teachers as “Twelfth Path,” though this phrase is not in common usage. It is, however, a common phenomenon in those who have attained at least stream entry and is probably the most important concept in this book for those working on the higher paths, particularly beyond second path. Twelfth Path is making a joke about the fact that there are at most four stages of enlightenment in the Theravada map and five or ten in the Tibetan maps. However, it can easily seem that more than ten brand-new and full-blown cycles of insight have been completed and yet there is still much more to go.


I have come to the conclusion that fear, anxiety, confusion, indecision and even certainty about these issues are clear markers of what needs to be investigated, i.e. those things themselves. In this way, these aspects of suffering have become trusted friends, clear signposts and red flags, as well as aspects of the goal, which is the path in the end. The more we realize that those very processes are it, those very sensations are it, the closer reality is to understanding itself. The closer reality is to understanding itself, the less fundamental suffering there is.

I have also come to the conclusion that the best reason to take these detailed maps to this extreme is that eventually they become way too ridiculous and cumbersome. Thus, eventually they can be laughed at and yet make their few useful points also, while leaving us with no option but to be with reality, one aspect of which is the sensations that make up thoughts about maps. We can learn to laugh at ourselves and our deep-seated but futile desire to simplify fresh patterns of sensations and solidify them into a sense of an attainment that “we” have.

On the darker side, when we are unable to do this, unable to laugh at our deluded attempts to fix or freeze a sense of what some illusory “we” has done or attained, the phenomena of Twelfth Path and the complexity of the territory between paths can cause considerable doubt, pain, frustration and cynicism, the flip side of which is grandiosity. The more afraid we are of not making progress, the worse these sorts of feelings can become. The more we compare our practice to the misunderstood sensations that make up the sense of “others,” the more needless suffering arises. These sensation patterns must be investigated clearly and seen as they really are, as always.

And here's a passage from a Mahayana text called the Prajnaparamita-Ratnagunasamcayagatha, or "Ratnaguna" for short, which to my understanding expresses the same sentiment (the two verses describe someone struggling against 12th path and someone aligned with it respectively):

Ratnaguna vv.112-3:
When a Bodhisattva (falsely) reveals form, perception, feeling, will,
Or thought as impermanent (claiming that they are destroyed), -
In the counterfeit (perfection of wisdom) he courses, considering not wisely;
Because the learned never effect the destruction of a dharma.

Wherein of form, of feeling, or perception,
Or consciousness, or will there is no apprehension:
By the method of emptiness and non-production (he) cognizes all dharmas.
This is the practice of wisdom, the foremost perfection.

Thoughts? Experiences? Anyone else in the process of discovering how Perfection of Wisdom texts, held the right way, are highly relevant to Hardcore Dharma theory (i.e. maps) and practice rather than being coy excuses for avoiding to practice?

Stian Gudmundsen Høiland, modified 9 Years ago at 10/19/12 11:42 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 10/19/12 11:36 AM

RE: Twelfth Path

Posts: 296 Join Date: 9/5/10 Recent Posts
Liam O'Sullivan and I was just talking about this. Cool quotes, especially the second one. I concur. Here's a little reformulation of what I see as the nugget of the nugget (of the nugget, of the nugget, of the...):

Stian Gudmundsen Høiland:

Fear, anxiety, confusion or even certainty about paths/maps and progression are aspects of suffering that are actually helpful markers/clear signposts/red flags that guide investigation and can become trusted friends. They are actually what needs to be investigated.

The points about ridiculous and cumbersome, yet surprisingly helpful maps and being afraid of not making progress are subtle and very pervasive in my own experience. It's one of those things that I deal with 'internally' every day, but never speak of because it's hard to convey to others.


Also, those points, especially about making progress, are not at all confined to post stream entry.
Fitter Stoke, modified 9 Years ago at 10/19/12 2:19 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 10/19/12 2:19 PM

RE: Twelfth Path

Posts: 487 Join Date: 1/23/12 Recent Posts
Being in that area after second path where these cycles become extremely tedious, I would say this subject is relevant to my interests.

Stian Gudmundsen Høiland:
Also, those points, especially about making progress, are not at all confined to post stream entry.

I agree. I remember it being one of the decisive discoveries that helped lift me out of dark night as I was going for SE. I remember having a lot of thoughts about maps while meditating. When I realized the attachment to map-thoughts was hindering the meditation, I tried to push them away. That made map-thoughts happen more frequently. It was only when I saw map-thoughts as just other sensations, really no different in kind from a sensation of my left big toe, except that I was embedded there, then those thoughts slipped away, like much else, and I entered Equanimity.

There's really nothing wrong with maps or map-thoughts in themselves. It's not because they have to do with maps that they become troublesome. It's the identification at that level that causes the trouble.

In a way, it feels as though the entire territory between second and third paths is that very same problem writ large.
Matthew, modified 9 Years ago at 3/28/13 9:38 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 3/28/13 9:38 PM

RE: Twelfth Path

Posts: 119 Join Date: 1/30/13 Recent Posts
Which ways of being and doing fall away with 2nd and 3rd path, in your experience?