The Fall

Robert McLune, modified 9 Years ago at 11/20/12 11:21 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/20/12 11:10 PM

The Fall

Posts: 255 Join Date: 9/8/12 Recent Posts
Another story of an alleged scandal: http://sweepingzen.com/everybody-knows-by-eshu-martin/

Whether or not that particular story is true, similar stories arise sufficiently often to make it seem likely that *some* of them are true. So what's the deal? What is the mechanism whereby someone of a very advanced level of mastery -- fully enlightened? --should do what appears to be succumbing to sensual temptation?

I've seen glib answers to that kind of question in the past; answers of the form, "Come now, becoming an arhat doesn't make one superhuman. Stop having such childish expectations." But I believe such an answer *is* glib and tries to avoid the unavoidable dissonance these kinds of apparent moral lapses create. If someone has achieved enlightenment, and as a result is genuinely equanimous in the face of things like sexual temptation, use of alcohol, etc and had actually realized dissolution of self, then what happens that they fall?

Some possibilities:
1. The fall is an indicator that despite any apparent attainment, they never actually were fully enlightened in the first place
2. Being fully enlightened doesn't actually confer the liberation it is purported to confer.
3. The behaviour isn't actually a lapse at all, and just seems so from my unenlightened position

1 would make sense. 2 would too, but seems to reduce Buddhism to some nice mental gymnastics. 3, I find repugnant. Are there any other options?

Put another way: how does one reconcile Joshu Sasaki Roshi (if true) and similar stories, with something like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thich_Quang_Duc#Self-immolation
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Nikolai , modified 9 Years ago at 11/21/12 12:54 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/21/12 12:44 AM

RE: The Fall

Posts: 1648 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Robert McLune:

Some possibilities:
1. The fall is an indicator that despite any apparent attainment, they never actually were fully enlightened in the first place
2. Being fully enlightened doesn't actually confer the liberation it is purported to confer.
3. The behaviour isn't actually a lapse at all, and just seems so from my unenlightened position


In my experience, if craving and aversion are not addressed in practice, then you might have all sorts of 'openings', but act on all sorts of cravings and aversions still. What goes overlooked and ignored or not taken as far as possible will most probably leave conditioning in place. it may be attenuated and less sticky maybe after certain 'openings'/baseline shifts, but the conditioning may still be in place to trigger future arisings. If that conditioning of a lifetime is not dealt with, then what behavioural changes will there be? Certain 'openings'/shifts may provide the fertile soil for there to be great bahvioural changes but in my experience, one has to work at investigating the behaviours that result in suffering (for the person or others) to see cause and effect in play in real time and have the intent (dispassion towards) to experience the cessation of such causes and this effects. If the intent is not there to do such a thing, what cessation will their be? Terminology, 'stages' and concepts of 'full enlightenment' aside, if one does not address the causes for the arising of craving and aversion and all that may follow, then there is still the possibility and tendency to act on and further fuel more of the same phenomena, regardless of how one sells it to one's self and others.

My 2 cents.

Edited a few times.
Robert McLune, modified 9 Years ago at 11/21/12 1:08 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/21/12 1:07 AM

RE: The Fall

Posts: 255 Join Date: 9/8/12 Recent Posts
Thanks Nick,

Nikolai .:
In my experience, if craving and aversion are not addressed in practice, then you might have all sorts of 'openings', but act on all sorts of cravings and aversions still.

What do you mean by "openings"?

What goes overlooked and ignored or not taken as far as possible will most probably leave conditioning in place. it may be attenuated and less sticky maybe after certain 'openings'/baseline shifts, but the conditioning may still be in place to trigger future arisings.

So one is developing a *capability* to be free of such conditioning, but one may still need (e.g. in the case of a life-long habit) to deploy that capability specifically on any given conditioning in order to eradicate the latter? Otherwise, one has developed merely the *potential* of liberation, but not necessarily the *actual*?

Not to trivialize this area then, but can I learn anything from it in a particular sensuality challenge I myself face, namely over-eating? One thing I could take from these big news stories is that it may not matter how highly attained I become, that attainment in and of itself isn't going to result in me becoming indifferent to food. Is there something specific I should be looking at in my practice in order to gain equanimity in the face of food?
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Nikolai , modified 9 Years ago at 11/21/12 1:20 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/21/12 1:17 AM

RE: The Fall

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By openings I mean like MCTB 4th path, some experience of a shift in perception that allows one to see things in a new light. What I came to call craving and aversion within my own experience was only made less sticky and easy to let go of. But it kept arising. the conditioning was still in play. It may be the goenka/theravada conditioning that influences, but I found it lacking in what I was conditioned (for good or bad) to aim for, i.e. the end of craving and aversion in all manifestations.

I would have to agree with what you say. The potential is given quite fertile soil to really dig some stuff up at the root. This has been the experience of quite a number of us post-MCTB 4th.

What causes the overeating? What is the phenomenological process that results in over eating? Are there sensations felt in the body that trigger a mental urge? Or viceversa? or both? Certain thoughts? A certain sublte way of mental holding the food in front of you as 'object'? Does such an 'object' seem to trigger a sensation in the body? Does the sensation trigger thoughts of want? Do such thoughts trigger more sensations? etc etc? What arises to trigger the over eating? This type of discernment leads to seeing cause and effect relationships. and when causes at the deepest level are seen, perhaps at a much deeper level than one realises, then one can also see how their cessation comes about too. No cause, no effect. No overeating.
Robert McLune, modified 9 Years ago at 11/21/12 1:46 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/21/12 1:46 AM

RE: The Fall

Posts: 255 Join Date: 9/8/12 Recent Posts
Nikolai .:

What causes the overeating? ...

Actually, this is an important topic to me in its own right, so I've forked it over to a new thread and continued from there.
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Florian, modified 9 Years ago at 11/21/12 4:39 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/21/12 4:39 AM

RE: The Fall

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Robert

Here's a lot of material by Stuart Lachs about the mechanisms and conditions underlying such scandals:

Essays Critical of Zen.

Applies to all hierarchies, of course, including Theravada...

And here's an older discussion over at Kenneth Folk Dharma Forum, about Genpo Roshi's escapades:

Genpe Roshi's resignation, moralism, and growing up

On page 2 of that thread, Kittydew wrote this:

Kittydew:
Maybe I am being overly pessimistic, but every time I see a Dharma leader wrapped in his/her own ego/pathos/issues I can't help but wonder, "If this stuff is supposed to end suffering, why the heck is THAT guy suffering like that if he's supposed to be so good at it?"

I keep thinking, I sit on the cushion and I suffer a little less. So. If I keep going, keep at this, it will bring a cessation or at least a serious diminishment of my suffering. That's why I play. I know other's may have loftier goals, and I know I am not as hardcore as most here, at DO and other groups, but that's why I STARTED doing this, why I keep doing it, to suffer less. Then I look at many teachers, yes, I know they are just frail humans as well, but whether Brad W. is wrapped in his own angst over his ego and affair or how Big Mind didn't save Roshi from his own stupidity I ask myself, "Why the hell am I sitting everyday?"

Am I missing something? Am I not advanced enough? Why do we put so much time/effort/mindfulness into this if not to suffer less?
Sorry, throwing some of my own angst in the mix, I know, but I ALWAYS wonder this when I see this kind of story. I get back on the cushion anyway but it sticks with me. I'd really be curious of other's thoughts on that.


Which is pretty much the same question you ask.

I still like what I wrote back then:

monkeymind:
Good question, Kittydew.

Me, I want to find out, that's why I sit and do other practices. I want to stop fooling myself over reasons why I might be suffering, and instead find out why I'm suffering.

If people suffer from stupid mistakes (mine and other peoples' mistakes - and it doesn't matter at all if it's me or HH the DL or some venerable Ajahn or Roshi being a stupid git - there is only suffering, not holy suffering vs. profane suffering), well, I'd say there is more work to be done, more clarity to be gained, more fooling myself to be debunked. Now at the level I'm referring to, here, the only person who can do this is me. That's why I practice. It's got nothing to do with the hustle and bustle of sangha functionaries anywhere. This is utterly personal, between me and suffering.

And in day-to-day human interaction, this kind of investigation (and its results) is still useful, but can't replace a dedication to being nice, avoiding harmful crap, and generally trying to increase the amount of good things being done, and being circumspect about it. You know, giving them a good performance, as an artist friend of mine puts it.

BTW, being aware of these doubts, by noting them, for example, is great practice towards the end of suffering.


That artist friend of mine I mentioned has a few good one-liners, two of which apply here:

Everything holy stinks.

Nothing's holy that eats and craps.

Cheers,
Florian
John Wilde, modified 9 Years ago at 11/21/12 5:59 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/21/12 4:56 AM

RE: The Fall

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
Robert McLune:

Whether or not that particular story is true, similar stories arise sufficiently often to make it seem likely that *some* of them are true. So what's the deal? What is the mechanism whereby someone of a very advanced level of mastery -- fully enlightened? --should do what appears to be succumbing to sensual temptation?


I think "the deal" is that some people reach a condition that feels (or doesn't feel) so pure and perfect that ordinary human morality seems worlds away. Moral restraint is meant for the poor slugs who need it because they don't know any better; not for those who have seen through and uprooted the causes of suffering and strife. You can feel so pure and innocent that you think you're essentially incapable of causing harm. Even if your actions are generally viewed as immoral by the masses, it's because they don't/can't understand the innocence from which your actions proceed. Their consternation seems petty, ugly and misguided.

This is especially insidious if it's backed up by a worldview in which you believe that, by virtue of your condition, you're always automatically acting in the other's ultimate best interests, whether they think so or not. And any problems that arise between you are a consequence of their deficiencies, because you don't have any. You've dealt with yours; they haven't.

How that relates to traditional or contemporary models of enlightenment, I don't really know. But it arises from something very seductive. I think it's one of the risks of something we're all striving and hoping for: a condition in which it's completely safe to take your hands off the wheel, to be able to be yourself with utter abandon, and to know that no harm is going to come to anyone as a result, because the causes of any such harmfulness and suffering have been uprooted.

It seems so doable too. Unfortunately there are plenty of examples of it not working out too well... and not many examples of it working out as one might hope.

[Numerous edits. Apologies to those who get their DhO updates by email!]
Rotten Tomato, modified 9 Years ago at 11/21/12 6:00 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/21/12 6:00 AM

RE: The Fall

Posts: 22 Join Date: 7/24/12 Recent Posts
John Wilde:

I think "the deal" is that some people reach a condition that feels (or doesn't feel) so pure and perfect that ordinary human morality seems worlds away. Moral restraint is meant for the poor slugs who need it, who don't know any better; not for those who have seen through and uprooted the causes of suffering and strife. You can feel so pure and innocent that you're essentially incapable of causing harm. Even if your actions are generally viewed as immoral by the masses, it's because they don't/can't understand the innocence from which your actions originate. Their consternation seems petty, ugly and misguided.

This is especially insidious if it's backed up by a worldview in which you believe that, by virtue of your condition, you're always automatically acting in the other's ultimate best interests, whether they think so or not. And any problems arising between you are a consequence of their deficiencies, because you don't have any. You've dealt with yours; they haven't.
<snip>.


I think the main factor for their confidence in their own "purity" comes from the ending of the self. Now that there is no 'I" ,"me" involved, their actions are unsullied. And automatically.

UG K put it thus:

"
Questioning my actions before and after is over for me. The moral question -- "I should have acted this way; I should not have acted that way. I should not have said this" -- none of that is there for me. I have no regrets, no apologies; whatever I am doing is automatic. In a given situation I am not capable of acting in any other way. I don't have to rationalize, think logically -- nothing -- that is the one and only action in that particular situation."


Full text from here

And he said, from the same url above, this:

"the moral codes of conduct have no relationship whatsoever to this. Not that this man is immoral; he cannot be immoral -- it is impossible for him, you see, impossible.


Hmmm...!
John Wilde, modified 9 Years ago at 11/21/12 6:11 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/21/12 6:08 AM

RE: The Fall

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
Rotten Tomato:

I think the main factor for their confidence in their own "purity" comes from the ending of the self. Now that there is no 'I" ,"me" involved, their actions are unsullied. And automatically.


Yeah, definitely the case in our (mystico-spiritual / actualist) circles. I suppose in other environments it might be complete identification with a social/political cause, or the will of a divinity, or whatever. Any kind of felt release from finiteness and fallibility. (Or non-felt release from the feeling of finiteness and fallibility).

Rotten Tomato:

UG K put it thus: <snip>


Classic example!
This Good Self, modified 9 Years ago at 11/21/12 7:35 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/21/12 7:35 PM

RE: The Fall

Posts: 946 Join Date: 3/9/10 Recent Posts
I honestly believe there are more 'advanced' people in non-spiritual circles. It's quite possible that none of the self-proclaimed or other-proclaimed Masters are nothing of the sort.

Fear of death -- there's your litmus test. Find your beloved Master, grab him in the middle of the night and put a knife to his neck! See what happens. Does he remain serene and smiling? Does he shit his pyjamas?

Another good test would be to severely humiliate and embarrass him in front of his students, but in a way that the students can't jump to his defense. Watch the muscles in the side of the neck. Watch his eyes. So much information in the eyes - oh boy!
Change A, modified 9 Years ago at 11/25/12 11:39 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/25/12 11:39 AM

RE: The Fall

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You have provided two links, the first of which is about falling to pleasure and second is about not falling to pain. Having read about other examples of similar nature my guess is that meditation practice makes one stronger about not falling to pain but not as strong as not to fall to pleasure.
Robert McLune, modified 9 Years ago at 11/25/12 11:58 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/25/12 11:58 AM

RE: The Fall

Posts: 255 Join Date: 9/8/12 Recent Posts
Change A.:
You have provided two links, the first of which is about falling to pleasure and second is about not falling to pain. Having read about other examples of similar nature my guess is that meditation practice makes one stronger about not falling to pain but not as strong as not to fall to pleasure.

Yeah, I've been wondering that myself. Shinzen talks about how meditation practice can help remove the connection between pain and suffering, but that it can also *enhance* the connection between pleasure and whatever the opposite of suffering is. I found that surprising because I'd always thought that the end result was detachment from both pain and pleasure, in the sense that one became equanimous in the face of both.
Adam , modified 9 Years ago at 11/25/12 2:04 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/25/12 2:03 PM

RE: The Fall

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As I recall from listening to him a while back he said more *satisfaction* is derived from pleasure and less suffering from pain. In both cases this seems to be a sort of unconditional contentment.
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James Phillip Turpin, modified 9 Years ago at 6/21/13 3:45 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 6/21/13 3:45 AM

RE: The Fall

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Wait, why do people consider him to have attainments in the first place?

I find the wikipedia articles has a nice little irony to it:

Kyozan Joshu Sasaki did not give dharma transmission,[2] which is in Rinzai the qualification needed to train students in a trainghall to become a priest.


Then:

I was told by one Osho and one senior student I would be blamed [...], and that I would be responsible for ruining his legacy.


Ruining the legacy of somebody who didn't pass on dharma transmission to any students? He already destroyed his own legacy by not giving transmission. Such irrational rationalizations.
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Sweet Nothing, modified 9 Years ago at 6/21/13 6:19 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 6/21/13 6:15 AM

RE: The Fall

Posts: 164 Join Date: 4/21/13 Recent Posts
What is "Full Enlightenment", according to you ? In my opinion, a handful of people have reached that state while still alive. This is a bag of worms, so it's upto you whether you want to dig deeper into this.

Who better to answer your questions than the foremost student of the Rinzai Zen master ?

I recently read "A Heart Blown Open", a honest and humble autobiography of 70+ year old "Jun Po" Denis Kelly, who was in my knowledge the first Roshi in the Rinzai Zen lineage in the US, and is today a master in his own right. He has spent more than a decade by the side and a better part of this period being the abbot of the monastery. He also spent considerable time training with the master/founder of Asthanga Yoga in Mysore.

In his book, Denis Kelly gave multiple references to his teacher's eyes wandering in questionable places while around female students. He never confronted the teacher directly about it. Some years after he became a Roshi, he had his own zen thing going on and for a while he sheltered the typical rebel teen girl who ran away from her home. IIRC she was 15 or at most 17 while he was well in his 60s or 50s. She went out at night and came back in the morning smelling of alcohol and cigs while he was still in his bed. She got in his bed and started kissing him. It all happened so quick that almost by instinct his hand slid into her shirt, at which point she backed off saying something like "I just wanted to kiss and hug". That's the point where he was forced to look into himself and why even after so many years of solid practice he is still so conditioned. Over his life he had innumerable partners (ex free love hippie) and several stable relationships/marriages, and even after this incident he got into two more relationships always getting bored of the old and getting drawn to the new partner, despite his age.

Denis Kelly then did some intense shadow emotion/psychological work to dig deeper into the problem. He also describes the meeting he had with Dalai Lama several years ago. At the meeting one other western teacher raised a question, "Why is this certain tibetan master indulging in sexual misconduct with his students?" To this, DL replied that "His insight isn't deep enough." This infuriated Denis who shot back saying "Bullshit, that guy spent 3 years in a cave, etc." and DL laughed and responded saying "Your insight isn't deep enough." At the time Jun Po did not agree, but decades later he does.

His conclusion is that very few people can awaken to the level where you're free of all wrong doing. I like what Goenkaji has to say on this. An advanced Vipassana yogi is able to distinguish from his emotional states and see them as they are, without indulging in them. Lust is not love, because love does not wish anything in return, which is why lust is unwholesome. A good practitioner regardless of attainment must emnate compassion/love/metta, also as a counter measure to succumbing into unwholesome states. In one of his hindi tapes he says that "As a Vipassi meditator keeps practicing and making progress, he will automatically realize the why and become celibate (without any sexual repression)."