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Plugging the gap
Answer
11/12/12 3:21 PM
Aside from the details of meditation practice, samatha vs vipassana, jhana this and dark night that, there's simply a persistent gap in what I read on MCTB, and even beyond.

One the one hand, this path -- lifestyle, pursuit, whatever you want to call it -- is spoken of with high regard. When asked if it's worth doing "as if your hair was on fire" it's common to get a strong yes. On the other hand, people here at least, if not in the broader Buddhist community, are not afraid to point out that there are downsides. At very least, it takes time and effort. More than that, it can involve some pain and suffering, in the form of the so-called "dark night". And in fact, it can involve a lot of such things. From MCTB:

MCTB:
I should further mention that the path I have followed has been dangerous, destabilizing more often than calm, excruciating more often than pleasant, harder to integrate than most other dharma paths I have heard of, and in general quite a rough ride.


To someone viewing the path from the early stages, and trying to maintain enough "faith" to keep going, that creates a bit of a challenge. Apart from the overall question as to whether any of it is genuine at all (there is, after all, a lot of snake oil in the world of religion or spirituality or "subjective scientific enquiry" or whatever unladen word we choose), there is the question as to whether the benefits are worth it given the costs. And so we get to the question as to exactly what the benefits are. What are they, and just how significant are they?

And that's the problem. The only descriptions of the benefits, other than "they're really cool, well worth it" appear to be about what they are *not*. For example, from MCTB:

MCTB:
"...you would be amazed how angry, lustful or ignorant enlightened beings can be, and they can still do all sorts of stupid things based on these emotions, just like everyone else."

So from that I take that whatever Buddhism gets you -- whatever it means to become enlightened or an Arahant or whatever -- freedom from anger or lust or being an ignorant tosser isn't it.

OK, but what *is* it? Again, MCTB:

MCTB:
This is a very tough thing to talk about, and certainly doesn’t sell as well as saying: “Do these things, and you will be free from all negative emotions,” or worse: “We did these things and so are free from all negative emotions, and so you should worship us, give us donations, support our center, buy our books, give over power to us, think of us as very special or amazing, stand in awe of us, sleep with us, allow us to act like raving nutcases, etc.” I think you get the picture. Thus, what happens in reality is that segments of the process of making specific categories and patterns of the causal, sensate field into a separate “self” is reduced and then stops. However, many of the traditions advertise eliminating negative emotions and the sensations of craving or aversion. The two couldn’t be more different, and yet they are described as being the same.

Hm. So you can take this shit all the way and still get angry and lustful; what's more you can pretty much still experience all the negative emotions. What's more, some people who have taken it all the way, in addition to still being angry, lustful, and subject to negative emotions will also go as far as tricking people into thinking that they *don't* suffer from those things.

So, WTF? The "bad side" points are mounting up here people. Can we get some "good side" points please?

MCTB:
"Those darn Buddhists have come up with very simple techniques that lead directly to remarkable results"
OK, so whatever the good stuff, it's remarkable. It's not freedom from anger or lust, but it's remarkable.

Cool, but what *is* it? MCTB:

MCTB:
"...the path I have followed has been ... profound, amazing, and more glorious than most other paths I have heard tell of.

Wow. Excellent. Cool.

But in what way? In what way was it profound, amazing, and more glorious? MCTB once more:

MCTB:
You could throw out all of the spiritual trappings on the Buddhist path and still have a set of basic practices that lead to the effects promised. You could also keep all of the spiritual trappings, do the basic practices, and produce the same results,

Dammit, fine fine fine! But *what* are the promised effects? *What* are those results?

And it turns out the only actual "benefit" I can find is that awakening brings an end to some kind of illusion concerning reality. A final dip into MCTB:

MCTB:
What they are attempting to say is that the sense of the observer, center point, continuous and separate subject, watcher or however you want to describe the sense that there is some Self at the center of all this stuff is, in fact, just a bunch of sensations. When these begin to be perceived as they are, the sense of how special the center point is begins to lose its grip on perception, which begins to become wider, more inclusive, and more even in its basic treatment of phenomena. Thus, as there doesn’t seem to be so much of a this side and a that side, attempts to get away from that side when it is bad, get to that side when it is good, or just tune out to the whole thing when it is boring diminish at some basic perceptual level, and so the system functions better as it is better at realistically interpreting the information coming into it.

Of course, that effect is often then spoken of as a key factor in achieving the "end of suffering". In fact, it may be that the very diminishing of attempts to either get away from or to a "side", or to tune out, *is* part of the "end of suffering". But as we've just seen, whatever "end of suffering" means in that context, it's not anything like what the phrase "end of suffering" means in normal use.

So we could compare:

So *why* is it you practice calculus?
So I can do integration by change of variable, and solve partial differential equations.
And why do you want to do that?
So I can design rockets to fly to the moon.
But what's the point of that?
It'll get me a great job, lots of money, and beautiful women will desire me more than jewelry.
You mean, Sarah McSpotty with the hair lip will finally go out with you?
<Slap> No. I mean Aishwarya Rai; I mean Adriana Lima; I mean Helen of Troy on a blanket you moron.
Ah. Kewwwwlll!


with:

So *why* is it you practice insight meditation?
So I can do jhanas and stuff, and cross the A&P, and DN and all that shit.
And why do you want to do that?
So I can come to see the true nature of reality and become an Arahant
But what's the point of that?
Because it'll bring freedom from suffering
You mean, you won't suffer *at all*?
<Slap> No, I mean ... I mean ... weren't you listening; there's jhanas and seeing reality and stuff.
Ah. Keww .... No, wait. Huh?



Can someone plug the gap for me?

RE: Plugging the gap
Answer
11/12/12 4:04 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Robert McLune:

]So *why* is it you practice insight meditation?


Before I started meditating, I suffered from depression for a long time. It came and went, but it was a constant part of my life. Once I started my practice, it seriously decreased. The bottom that I could hit was bouncy and a lot higher than the rock bottom I would hit before. Once I got the 1st path, except for bouts of the dukkha ñanas, every minute of life was much better than before I started my practice.

As for the dukka ñanas, once I knew them for what they were, their power to affect me was seriously diminished. Depression is a pack of lies. Once you see the lies for what they are, you cease to fully believe in them. Bit by bit, you cease to believe in the negative sensations, see them as just being sensations and they lose their grip on you, for good. The extent to which you can eradicate unhappiness in this way is radical. I'll let other practitioners who are more advanced pipe in, but I can definitely say that for me meditation as a whole has made me happier and the type of vipassana discussed here has done it more than anything else. The reason it has worked out so well isn't necessarily the superiority of the technique, but rather how simple and well documented it is in practice rather than in theory and the sheer amount of support available to those who do these sorts of techniques from people who have taken it much further.

The problem with MCTB is that it's a snapshot of a particular stage of Daniel Ingram's practice. He and many other people have moved past that stage. I'm hoping to get there.

RE: Plugging the gap
Answer
11/12/12 4:08 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
:< this question seems to pop up on practically a weekly basis. maybe there should be a big sticky?

Robert - I will try to be as concise as possible but there is a lot of debate and controversy about all these things and I am really no authority but I will give a brief summary. The ideas about what the limits of the human capacity to end suffering are in MCTB are outdated in terms of what this community has seen and different people in it report on in their experience. There are huge improvements on '4th path' to be had. Additionally it should be noted that the MCTB interpretation of the suttas, particularly what it is to be an arahant is just one man's opinion, and an extremely radical and minority opinion in terms of Buddhism over the years and around the world.

RE: Plugging the gap
Answer
11/12/12 4:44 PM as a reply to Adam . ..
Adam . .:
:< this question seems to pop up on practically a weekly basis. maybe there should be a big sticky?

Robert - I will try to be as concise as possible but there is a lot of debate and controversy about all these things and I am really no authority but I will give a brief summary. The ideas about what the limits of the human capacity to end suffering are in MCTB are outdated in terms of what this community has seen and different people in it report on in their experience. There are huge improvements on '4th path' to be had. Additionally it should be noted that the MCTB interpretation of the suttas, particularly what it is to be an arahant is just one man's opinion, and an extremely radical and minority opinion in terms of Buddhism over the years and around the world.

Adam, thank you. And yes, I think a sticky would be cool. Even if if it's only to say "Look, everyone asks this question, but it's in the nature of the beast that it's hard to answer unless you've seen it." That said, if that *is* the only kind of answer to be given, anything by way of analogy, personal anecdotes, whatever, could be useful in that sticky.

To your answer. I think I get that Daniel's story is Daniel's, is not right up to date, and is controversial. And in fact he himself makes the first and last of those clear. The fact that he is currently considering a second edition of MCTB suggests he gets the middle point too.

But crucially, your answer itself is an example of the general style of answer. (NOTE: I'm not remotely criticizing you here. I'm simply pointing out a challenge in the style of language used for anyone wanting to learn). You said:

"The ideas about what the limits of the human capacity to end suffering are in MCTB are outdated in terms of what this community has seen and different people in it report on in their experience."

OK, good. MCTB is our of date now. You're saying we've moved on. Cool. But on to what? I haven't seen much in the way of concrete reports on people's experiences. It's all stuff about the path itself, not about where the path leads, and certainly not about liberation from suffering in any way that phrase would normally be used. There appear to be people on here who are *extremely* adept in the technical nature of the meditation stuff. But the bottom line is, being able to do the mental equivalent of a triple back somersault with twist, while impressive, isn't any more impressive than the ability to recite PI to a jillion places. What does those technical skills lead *to*?

You said:
"There are huge improvements on '4th path' to be had."
Good. Improvements from what? More to the point, improvements on the path *to* what?

You again:
"Additionally it should be noted that the MCTB interpretation of the suttas, particularly what it is to be an arahant is just one man's opinion, and an extremely radical and minority opinion in terms of Buddhism over the years and around the world"
Superb. So MCTB isn't getting it exactly right. But as I say, it mostly says words to the effect of "Enlightenment isn't X". So what does the rest of Buddhism say? What *does* it mean to be an Arahant?

Again, I stress, I'm not trying to pick a fight or poke holes in what you said.

RE: Plugging the gap
Answer
11/12/12 4:47 PM as a reply to Jigme Sengye.
Thanks Jigme And that's very clear. In your case, vipassana actually diminished a "clear and present" form of suffering: depression. Cool.

Jigme Sengye:
The problem with MCTB is that it's a snapshot of a particular stage of Daniel Ingram's practice. He and many other people have moved past that stage. I'm hoping to get there.

What is "there"? Where do you hope this will takes you?

RE: Plugging the gap
Answer
11/12/12 5:09 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Robert, to be sincere, in my 2-3 years of practicing meditation I never saw a description of enlightenment that is complete and understandable for someone that never experienced it.

In my experience, one thing that can really confuse people seeking buddhist teachings, is that there is more than one meaning to the word enlightenment, depending on which group uses it and so on.

I present to you some of my favorite zen stories, which I found relevant to the discussion.

One about an enlightened person:
The Voice of Happiness:

After Bankei had passed away, a blind man who lived near the master's temple told a friend: "Since I am blind, I cannot watch a person's face, so I must judge his character by the sound of his voice. Ordinarily when I hear someone congratulate another upon his happiness or success, I also hear a secret tone of envy. When condolence is expressed for the misfortune of another, I hear pleasure and satisfaction, as if the one condoling was really glad there was something left to gain in his own world.

"In all my experience, however, Bankei's voice was always sincere. Whenever he expressed happiness, I heard nothing but happiness, and whenever he expressed sorrow, sorrow was all I heard."

http://www.101zenstories.com/index.php?story=27


Another one that might be of help to you:
A Cup of Tea:
Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. "It is overfull. No more will go in!"

"Like this cup," Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"

http://www.101zenstories.com/index.php?story=1

You see, your intellectual thirst is not bad, it is good, but
1 - only contemplating the theory won't get you enlightened, it must be informed by practice, no matter how much you read about how it is to taste a lemon, if you never tasted a lemon before, how can you know?
2 - ideally you should balance faith and wisdom

RE: Plugging the gap
Answer
11/12/12 5:34 PM as a reply to John P.
John P:

You see, your intellectual thirst is not bad, it is good, but...

John, are you saying that the answer to the question "What is the purpose of Buddhism?" or "Why meditate?" is *completely* ineffable? Are you saying that we can know absolutely *nothing* about it without finally reaching the end of the path?

From another thread I see you are a Christian. And from this one I see you have been meditating for 2-3 years (from which I take it you are not yet at the end of the meditation path).

So the fact that you have decided to pursue meditation even this far shows that you yourself have made certain inferences from what people are telling you. You are deciding *before you get there* that wherever this path goes is worth going and is compatible with your Christian beliefs. For example, you must have decided, I assume, that the mention of how meditation can bring people into contact with supernatural beings, is not a problem for you.

Now I personally don't believe in demons, or hell, or any of those things. (I don't not believe in them either). But still, I am probing and testing all the time. There are even people on DhO who will argue that this enture approach is simply bad news. They will argue that alternatives such as Actual Freedom are the right choice. And they may be right.

As long as people use words to denote, assert, and refute -- which seems to comprise 99% of what goes on on DhO -- they are using intellect.

RE: Plugging the gap
Answer
11/12/12 5:47 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Ok, I wanted to be concise, but I warn you that you have now given me the opportunity to throw a buttload of material at you, prepare yourself. emoticon I will be getting some sources together...

RE: Plugging the gap
Answer
11/12/12 6:06 PM as a reply to Adam . ..
Adam . .:
Ok, I wanted to be concise, but I warn you that you have now given me the opportunity to throw a buttload of material at you, prepare yourself. emoticon I will be getting some sources together...

Hey concise is good! emoticon All I'm looking for is just a bit more of "The point is X" and a little bit of less of "The point is not Y"

RE: Plugging the gap
Answer
11/12/12 6:55 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Robert McLune:
John, are you saying that the answer to the question "What is the purpose of Buddhism?" or "Why meditate?" is *completely* ineffable? Are you saying that we can know absolutely *nothing* about it without finally reaching the end of the path?

Rereading it, it was a bit confusing indeed.
What I meant is, there is no way to describe it in a complete way.
One can describe many qualities and give pointers, but our ideas are constructed upon our past ideas, how can we learn something different from anything we experienced before?

Let me describe some random things that I experience different from before:
- the experience of time changed in a way... one second is still one second, but things that happened two days ago can seem like one week ago or more... I believe the reason for that is the bigger amount of "data" received, the higher attention given to the present and higher body awareness
- the experience of pain is surprisingly different, the mental suffering the pain generates is several times lower, and yet, I feel the physical sensation in the same intensity and without excluding other sensations of the body
- I feel way less "social pressure" when in a group of friends, and even when I feel it, I become aware of it
- many limiting beliefs were shattered, like the belief that you need money and/or a marriage and kids to be happy, many "we" against "others" beliefs, that you must be sad when someone you love leaves or dies, that you must miss a dear friend when you are far from him because otherwise you don't love him, etc

Robert McLune:
From another thread I see you are a Christian. And from this one I see you have been meditating for 2-3 years (from which I take it you are not yet at the end of the meditation path).

I am not a Christian, I consider myself a (pragmatic) Buddhist nowadays. I was a christian in the past because I was born in a christian family. In the other thread I mentioned recently a friend convinced me to go to the church with him, it was only one sunday, and in exchange he would go to the buddhist sangha I sometimes go to.
I don't believe in god, although I am aware I cannot deny the possibility for sure, I think it's unlikely, and in the chance it is true, I don't believe god would send to hell a truly good person(which is what I earnestly strive to be)
No, I don't think I even got stream entry yet(but I do wonder about that sometimes), although I said I practiced meditation for 2-3 years, it wasn't a regular practice, interrupted several times by changes in my life and other things, and I didn't decide to consider myself a buddhist until about one year ago.

Robert McLune:
So the fact that you have decided to pursue meditation even this far shows that you yourself have made certain inferences from what people are telling you. You are deciding *before you get there* that wherever this path goes is worth going and is compatible with your Christian beliefs.

Yes, I came all this way making certain inferences and all.
Perhaps I focused too much on the zen aspect of "beginner's mind" in the previous post, I'm not criticizing your intellectual investigation of the path, but I think you may be doing it in excess recently, please read this link I posted before if you haven't done so already, what is pointed out there is what I'm trying to say.
Like you, I'm a computer scientist, and like exact and logical things, and am lazy(not that you are), I also spent perhaps way too much time in philosophical self-aggrandizement, and I can say now that when not coupled with practice, most of it was just like a dog chasing its own tail.
Some people say only paying attention to this moment is enough, while maybe it's true, I think this is too idealistic, and I can't see myself building motivation enough to getting even where I am now just from hearing that, but if you use only intellectual understanding as motivation, you will see it will naturally lose its grip eventually, and it will for sure, even if it can come back later, it can be enough to interrupt a practice.
I don't think you need to believe in the end goal already, you must know that there are several scientific studies proving attention enhancement, stress relief and more coming from meditation practice, start believing from there(that's where I started!), then you can practice and little by little you will start to understand what the rest is all about.

RE: Plugging the gap
Answer
11/12/12 7:52 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Don't do it, quit meditating ;)

RE: Plugging the gap
Answer
11/12/12 8:11 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Here are some journals, mostly about post-4th path 'baseline modes of experience' from some of the most best journalers in the pragmatic dharma community.

Nikolai:

http://the-hamilton-project-forum.2294154.n4.nabble.com/Nikolai-s-Practice-Journal-td3662485.html

Antero:
journals in order:
http://kennethfolkdharma.wetpaint.com/thread/3918314/Antero%C2%B4s+practise+journal
http://kennethfolkdharma.wetpaint.com/thread/4129982/Antero%27s+pactise+journal+2

4th path attained after this one^

http://kennethfolkdharma.wetpaint.com/thread/4445735/Antero%27s+practise+journal+3
http://kennethfolkdharma.wetpaint.com/thread/4687982/Antero%27s+practice+journal+4
http://kennethfolkdharma.wetpaint.com/thread/4961818/Antero%27s+practice+journal+5

End In Sight:

http://kennethfolkdharma.wetpaint.com/thread/4641050/first+ever+practice+journal%21

they use tons of technical terms, but you should be able to get an idea I am sure.

RE: Plugging the gap
Answer
11/12/12 8:46 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Robert McLune:
Thanks Jigme And that's very clear. In your case, vipassana actually diminished a "clear and present" form of suffering: depression. Cool.

Jigme Sengye:
The problem with MCTB is that it's a snapshot of a particular stage of Daniel Ingram's practice. He and many other people have moved past that stage. I'm hoping to get there.

What is "there"? Where do you hope this will takes you?


I wrote that at the end of my work day and was in a bit of a hurry, so I didn't word it too well. To be clear, except for during some (and not all by any means) parts of the dukkha ñanas, I now have no depression whatsoever and haven't since I got stream entry. I've actually consistently been very happy. Just after stream entry, you feel that a tangible amount of suffering has been permanently destroyed. Second path wasn't like that, instead anything that I concentrate on has become somewhat jhanic. I got some nasty dukkha ñanas immediately upon getting second path which mostly wouldn't surface during practice but rather would only affect me the rest of the time. That's gone as of last week and with it some other emotional stuff that had been nagging at me. Being unambiguously happy and positive the majority of the time and occasionally having to deal with dark night stuff that I know is temporary is vastly superior to my emotional state prior to starting my meditation practice.

As for where it will take me, even though "MCTB 4th path" isn't arhatship (and the 2nd path I have doesn't quite line up with the fetter model sakadagami), from the descriptions in many practice reports, it seems to be a very useful and worthwhile goal. The amount of suffering that people who here who have gone past it experience is minuscule. See Nick and Tommy's descriptions of how they feel. Also, the "MCTB 4th path" is apparently an excellent stepping stone to practices from other systems. As far as I'm concerned, spending the rest of my life feeling that happy is definitely worth a few hundred hours of my time doing my meditation practice. Since there's also a qigong aspect to my vipassana practice, it may also be good for my health.

RE: Plugging the gap
Answer
11/12/12 8:53 PM as a reply to Bailey ..
Blue .:
Don't do it, quit meditating ;)

Did you miss a "Fine then! Have it your own way!" at the start of that? emoticon

RE: Plugging the gap
Answer
11/12/12 9:47 PM as a reply to Adam . ..
Adam, thanks. Those links look particularly useful. I'm going to take some time to digest. My first thought after a brief scan is that it should be possible to distill some kind of "Best Of Stream Entry And Beyond" or something from them because I think they do indeed start to bridge the gap I'm describing. I mean, they're still as obscure as crap to a beginner like me, and to be honest are mildly scary in parts. But they're beginning to provide some positive[1] description of what's out there. I've never for a moment felt that this stuff needs to or even can be explained in normal language terms. But, to utterly abuse some Wittgenstein, some things, although they cannot be said, still they can be shown. emoticon I think some of what I've seen in EndOfSight's stuff begins to do that.

As you pointed out, my question pops up all the time, and it's a shame that a lot of the reaction is of the form "now now, child, don't be too intellectual". It takes a certain kind of bloody-minded individual to put up with that and many would just get pissed off and be chased away from what could be a hugely life-enhancing endeavor. Thanks for taking my questions seriously and for providing those pointers.

Robert

[1] I use that not in the sense of "good" but in the sense of being of the form "It has property X" rather than "It doesn't have property Y"

RE: Plugging the gap
Answer
11/12/12 10:03 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Robert McLune:

So from that I take that whatever Buddhism gets you -- whatever it means to become enlightened or an Arahant or whatever -- freedom from anger or lust or being an ignorant tosser isn't it.


It is possible to be free of (or atleast have greatly diminished) anger and lust.

I think you will enjoy this podcast, its about a social scientist who conducted a bunch of lengthy interviews with a bunch of 'enlightened' people (including a few from DhO), to tease out some real concrete answers regarding their experience of reality. This is about as concrete a description as you are going to find...

http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2011/07/bg-225-the-end-of-self-referencing/

RE: Plugging the gap
Answer
11/12/12 11:14 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
I've been thinking about ways to add to this discussion, and I find it's quite hard to come up with something that satisfies.

I consider myself a synthesizer, in short that means I have my own personal far-reaching models that subsumes, systemizes and distills a lot of information. I'm sure some of that stuff would be appreciated, but in my thinking about this discussion something specific happened and I think that possibly that is more helpful. Admittedly, it is seen as more helpful from my current perspective, and I can easily see that to benefit from it, one would have to have already "gotten it".

So, my brain is churning along on some discursive stretch of thought - abstracting and searching the banks for something that I believe you would deem a satisfactory addition to the discussion. And then I remember. Not through a reconstructed memory, but through a present-moment recognition (ie. something happens, real-time, and as it happens it is recognized as having happened before). "Discursive thoughts are discursive thoughts" - it is circular. You will not find the answer in thoughts like this, but you might find it as thoughts like this.

What the hell does that mean?

Can you trace back your asking and questioning? Not in a fancy, metafantastical sense, but simply in the same way that you would look for the answer to the quesiton, "why do you ask (about plugging the gap)?" or "why do you need to know (how to plug the gap)?".

(...)

I've been working on trimming the fat from my writing. Know that I cut out 90% of what I originally wrote as a reply. The reason I'm saying this is so that you consider what you are about to read as significant and thought-out as if it was 90% longer. Some tend to think lots of word means lots of wisdom, but they'd be mixing up correlation and causation.

Try this:

Discursive thoughts are discursive thoughts. It's circular. You will not find the answer in thoughts like this, but you might find it as thoughts like this - I did, trying to come up with a cool post for this thread.

Can you trace back your questioning? Simply, "why do ask these questions, Robert?".

You can be 'released' from your questioning. When you do drop the incessant sense-making, you'll find a mode where everything in obvious and immediate. I dunno whatever happens in the brain at that time, but you should try it out emoticon

(...)

This is my third attempt at writing something to post in this thread. Know that I spent an irregularly long time coming up with what follows (except the list - that was surprisingly easy).

By dropping your discursive thoughts, you can arrive at a mode where everything is obvious and immediate, and you will not experience a need to have your questions answered. For someone like you, this will be eye opening - just as it was for me.

(I'm not talking PCE or anything like that, but simply stopping the self-inflicted pressure to know, figure out, make sense of.)

You are grasping for something solid. No such something exist. No matter what you find to fill the gap
(ex. "you'll be rid of emotional turbulence",
"you'll attain omniscience regarding all knowables",
"you'll never experience depression again",
"you'll be capable of astonishing mental acrobatics",
"you'll become kind and compassionate and loving and..."
"you'll see through the center-point and stop reifying those sensations with others",
"you'll feel light and experience will be more transparent, as a burden lifts",
"you'll live in an ever-happy fairytale-state the rest of your conscious life",
"you'll experience steady incremental increases in baseline mood and happiness",
"you'll never again experience self-narrative",
"you'll feel endless, infinite, caressing love flowing from the Heart",
"you'll experience an inexpressible deconstruction of existence",
"you'll see through the illusion and know it all to be dream-like", etc.),
there will be alternative perspectives and opinions about that - others will disagree and suggest ever-more stuffing/filling. And moving just a little bit to the left, or the right, or stepping a little back or a little forward, will reveal that that thing you filled the gap with is not that thing after all.

If you are merely looking for motivation to practice, you should realize so, and appropriately pursue that.

(...)

4th attempt:

So *why* is it you practice insight meditation?
Through a insatiable hunger for growth (human potential) and mental challenge, I became very interested in the concept of Enlightenment. Subsequent research revealed that there's more to it than I've been taught through pop-culture. I wanted superlative, never-ending happiness and anything as close to omniscience as possible.
And why do you want to do that?
I think happiness is a natural drive. Omniscience had for myriad reasons been conflated with happiness.
But what's the point of that?
Happiness is fucking awesome. Omniscience is fucking cool.
You mean, you won't suffer *at all*?
Nope, not a single drop. I dunno if I'll get there, but given my current understanding of traditions and practices, and my own experiences and second/third-hand experiences, I'm pretty sure it's humanly/brainly possible.


(...)

Shit happens. Breath. Just do it. Measure twice cut once. Do what makes you happy. Question the answer. Don't worry, be happy - there's nothing serious going on here.

RE: Plugging the gap
Answer
11/13/12 8:14 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
I think this video might be relevant in this topic...

RE: Plugging the gap
Answer
11/13/12 12:03 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
My perspective is that practice leads to practical understanding of karma, and karma runs our lives most of the time. The profound realizations and blissful mental states are wonderful, but what I really value is that understanding. It leads to a liberation from suffering which is akin to the liberation we now enjoy from infection as a result of understanding microbiology.

If you aren't convinced by the various soteriologies, you don't have to be. Pick some area of life which is a mess, overrun by patterns of behavior and delusional perceptions, and make that the topic of your meditation. This approach is more pragmatic, and likely to bring faster and more concrete positive results. Mixing concentration and insight with the deconditioning diet mentioned in another thread would be one good place to start. Once you've seen how it works in this limited context, the benefits of seeing your mind's operation in its entirety will be clearer to you.

Just as if there were a pool of water in a mountain glen — clear, limpid, and unsullied — where a man with good eyesight standing on the bank could see shells, gravel, and pebbles, and also shoals of fish swimming about and resting, and it would occur to him, 'This pool of water is clear, limpid, and unsullied. Here are these shells, gravel, and pebbles, and also these shoals of fish swimming about and resting.' In the same way — with his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability — the monk directs and inclines it to the knowledge of the ending of the mental fermentations. He discerns, as it has come to be, that 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the way leading to the cessation of stress... These are mental fermentations... This is the origination of fermentations... This is the cessation of fermentations... This is the way leading to the cessation of fermentations.' His heart, thus knowing, thus seeing, is released from the fermentation of sensuality, the fermentation of becoming, the fermentation of ignorance. With release, there is the knowledge, 'Released.' He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'


(Incidentally, that sutta is titled "The Fruits of the Contemplative Life." You may want to read the whole thing.)

RE: Plugging the gap
Answer
11/13/12 6:27 PM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
D Z:

I think you will enjoy this podcast, its about a social scientist who conducted a bunch of lengthy interviews with a bunch of 'enlightened' people (including a few from DhO), to tease out some real concrete answers regarding their experience of reality. This is about as concrete a description as you are going to find...

http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2011/07/bg-225-the-end-of-self-referencing/

Superb, DZ; that was excellent! I listened to it and the earlier part 1. Don't know how I'd missed it; I thought I'd listened to all the BG podcasts so far. Anyway, *really* useful. Thanks for the pointer.

RE: Plugging the gap
Answer
11/13/12 11:24 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Hi Robert

an older thread about this gap: Why would anyone do this?

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Plugging the gap
Answer
11/14/12 7:49 AM as a reply to M N.
Mario Nistri:
I think this video might be relevant in this topic...

Thanks Mario, that was interesting. I looked around some of the other stuff by that guy -- this one was quite cool too http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCcsBtAo844 (not least because it took me a minute or two to spot that it was the same guy but with hair emoticon ) And the video you linked to was one quoted by Nick in another thread, so that was great to get the surrounding context of Nick's quote.

RE: Plugging the gap
Answer
11/14/12 3:40 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Oh my... My neurons just connected and I just realized that you are asking this question for real, reading it I thought it was somehow provocative...

So I'll try, after all the other, to give an answer.

The whole insight thing is designed with the only purpose to debunk the sense of self, since it's commonly understood in theese circles that duality is the root cause of all of the suffering.
Unfortunately, no-one seems to be desperate about getting rid of the illusion of duality; I doubt that anyone in here began practicing thinking something like "I want to get rid of this incredibly painful illusion that there is a continuous entity that is separated from the moment-to-moment stream of consciousness"... that just doesn't happen XD

What happens, most of the time, is that there is something that we don't like in our lifes that we want to fix or improve, and we hope that meditation will do the trick (wich, most of the time, will actually do) even if that's not what the whole thing is about; it's not bad having mundane goals (i.e. improving our life in a conventional way, being happier and experiencing less bad emotions).
Here I'm quoting MCTB:
Some may then say, “That is not right motivation! You cannot proceed without right motivation!” Well, aside from the fact that this simply isn’t true, such people trap themselves in a Catch 22. To attain this “very pure” motivation, to use dangerous language, one must understand what it is that one wants to use this “pure motivation” to understand. Thus, were we unable to proceed based upon our somewhat deluded motivations, awakening would be impossible by definition.

In other words: it's not how wonderful the experience of enlightnment is that drives you, and understanding exactly, intellectaully what it is won't help for motivational purposes.

So, however, based on our very personal and very mundane and very deluded motivations we start meditating, and after a while things like Mind&Body or the A&P happens... and then we are caught in the trip, because thoose experiences tend to be pretty much life-changing.
We fall in the Dark Night, if we are lucky we know that we are there and we meditate in order to get out.
And then we get out, we hit HightEq and then SE, and at that point we look back and we are glad that things went the way they did, and we keep going, this time with some more precise grasp on what we are actually doing.

So, in the end, my short answer to the question "Why are we doing this?" is, basically, "For the reason X (put here whatever you want) that has absolutely nothing to do with enlightment"... wich is totally fine, as I see it.

RE: Plugging the gap
Answer
11/15/12 3:22 PM as a reply to M N.
Mario Nistri:
Oh my... My neurons just connected and I just realized that you are asking this question for real, reading it I thought it was somehow provocative...

Heh. emoticon If it's any consolation, my experience on DhO suggests I have a substantial gift for being provocative unintentionally. But be assured my questions are heartfelt.

I just want to thank you again though for the Shinzen link. I've been watching a lot more of his videos on YouTube and I'm finding the guy absolutely superb. It's as if he's reading my mind and answering questions just before I ask them. It may be as significant for me as finding MCTB and DhO in the first place, so again thanks for pointing me at him.

RE: Plugging the gap
Answer
11/16/12 2:02 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Glad you've found a teacher you feel in tune with...

If you are interested in his way of teaching, this book he wrote is a quite concise and comprehensive description of his approach to vipassana meditation... and, by the way, if you are trying to get access concentration, you might want to give a try to the chapter on the restful states (the way of tranquillity)...

Bye!