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Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford

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Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford Alan Smithee 12/5/12 10:48 PM
RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford Florian 12/5/12 11:40 PM
RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford Alan Smithee 12/5/12 11:56 PM
RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford Florian 12/6/12 4:22 AM
RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford Alan Smithee 12/6/12 11:45 AM
RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford Bagpuss The Gnome 12/6/12 11:36 AM
RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford Alan Smithee 12/6/12 11:43 AM
RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford Ona Kiser 12/6/12 12:40 PM
RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford Florian 12/6/12 2:18 PM
RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford Alan Smithee 12/6/12 3:09 PM
RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford Pål S. 12/6/12 5:34 AM
RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford Ona Kiser 12/6/12 7:09 AM
RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford Pål S. 12/6/12 3:30 PM
RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford Ona Kiser 12/7/12 2:50 AM
RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford Pål S. 12/7/12 4:33 AM
RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford Florian 12/7/12 5:49 AM
RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford Bagpuss The Gnome 12/11/12 10:25 AM
RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford Alan Smithee 12/13/12 10:36 AM
RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford Florian 12/13/12 3:30 PM
RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford Alan Smithee 1/27/13 11:49 PM
RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford Liam O'Sullivan 12/6/12 7:21 AM
RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford Pål S. 12/6/12 3:37 PM
RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford Alan Smithee 12/7/12 1:17 AM
RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford Derek 12/22/12 11:13 AM
RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford Derek 12/22/12 3:35 PM
Anyone read this? Thoughts?

I noticed it on Amazon as I was taking a look at MCToB. A reviewer named "Ron Holiday" wrote this about it: "This is what we call a hardcore dharma book, folks. These things are few and far between. Daniel Ingram's 'Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha' is another. Indeed, this book is dedicated to Daniel Ingram, which suggests that Daniel and his manner of teaching must have been a great influence on Duncan. That is a GOOD thing. What Duncan has done here is taken the virtues of Ingram's hallmark piece-the rawness, the honesty, the fearlessness of explicit description of states of consciousness-and fleshed them out with the lessons of his own personal experience as a spiritual practitioner."

This peaked my curiosity and I found my finger moving its way towards the "Add to Cart" button, when, suddenly, I read this part of the review: "Duncan comes at Buddhism from a very peculiar angle-that of Western occultism. This is very valuable because it highlights the critical point that Buddhism is just a piece of the puzzle (although probably the most cut and dry, detailed, accurate, and thorough piece) when it comes to describing reality."

Then I wasn't so sure anymore about buying it, as I am not a huge fan of New Agey stuff. That being said I was not ready to TOTALLY dismiss the book, and thought I'd see if anyone out there in Dharma Overground land had some thoughts to share on this text, etc.

RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford
Answer
12/5/12 11:40 PM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
Yes, I read it. It is a good book. It's a polished anthology of his articles from the (now defunct) "Open Enlightenment" website.

Highlights I remember: a very good chapter on perception and surrender. A nice model of enlightenment, with the meditator's attitude to meditation as milestones. A great passage about why enlightenment is not a thing in perception and yet we can talk about it. Like MCTB, it's to be read slowly, because almost every sentence contains some point.

Duncan used to post here, occasionally.

About the "Western Occultism" thing: Consider Daniel's take on Eastern New Agey stuff. Apply it to Western New Agey stuff, and you get something comparable to what Duncan writes about.

If you want to get an impression of Duncans writing before buying the book:

The Baptists Head (written before the "Handbook").

Occult Experiments in the Home (his current, ongoing blog).

I think you'll like the book.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford
Answer
12/5/12 11:56 PM as a reply to Florian.
Thanks. I think I will check it out. I am particularly interested in this work because the author was apparently influenced by MCToB, etc.

I guess something I am surprised about is that there aren't more books out there written about meditation, "enlightenment," paths, etc., which have been written by those influenced by MCToB, Dan's teachings, Dharma Overground, etc. All the folks out there who have worked their way through the four path model Dan discussed, who have explored and developed this system, who have found other nooks and crannies to explore, who have critiqued some of what was put forth in MCToB, who have investigated other types of mind training or enlightenment or states of perception, etc., who have blazed new trails, etc., where are their books? I guess we are just going to have to wait until Dan completes MCToB2 aka Remastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha since no-one else has really stepped up to the plate...

RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford
Answer
12/6/12 4:22 AM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
Alan Smithee:
Thanks. I think I will check it out. I am particularly interested in this work because the author was apparently influenced by MCToB, etc.


The fact that Alan Chapman and Duncan Barford "independently" reproduced many of the things described in MCTB in a different tradition (Western Mystery Tradition) was a big boost to my confidence when I found out about it.

All the folks out there ... where are their books? I guess we are just going to have to wait until Dan completes MCToB2 aka Remastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha since no-one else has really stepped up to the plate...


Yeah... here's another book by an author inspired in part by MCTB:A Little Death. She isn't writing from a Theravada perspective either, has her own background in African Diaspora religion, thus is closer to Duncan's work than MCTB.

As for the others, here's a thought: It takes the skills for book-writing to write a book, simply put, just as it takes teaching skills to be a good teacher. A few teachers associated with the DhO and MCTB have emerged - but also parents, workers, scholars, podcasters, retired people... there are many ways of expressing the Dharma beyond writing books and formally teaching people how to meditate.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford
Answer
12/6/12 5:34 AM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
I'm just as surprised as you that people have been doing this for thousands of years and still this young pragmatic community appears to be the "cutting edge".

Anyway I was going to post a youtube video of Duncan entitled: "Duncan Barford talks about his enlightenment" which demonstrates this kind of open, casual talk I enjoy and also gives you a pointer as to where he's coming from. Ironically though, it's been removed.

RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford
Answer
12/6/12 7:09 AM as a reply to Pål S..
Pål S.:
I'm just as surprised as you that people have been doing this for thousands of years and still this young pragmatic community appears to be the "cutting edge".

Anyway I was going to post a youtube video of Duncan entitled: "Duncan Barford talks about his enlightenment" which demonstrates this kind of open, casual talk I enjoy and also gives you a pointer as to where he's coming from. Ironically though, it's been removed.


Thanks for the mention, Florian.

@Pål S, I wonder sometimes about "cutting edge" and all that. I'm reading like a mad thing these days, and it seems the centuries are full of people who woke up, and then thought "Wow, this is so cool and I did it and surely other people could do it too, if they'd just do what I did, so here's how I did it! Come on, guys!" and then they get some students, and then sometimes they get turned into a guru or even a god. Sometimes their stories fade into the archives, sometimes they get turned into religions (and sometimes the original intent gets well lost or hidden under the growing institutionalization and politics.)

These accounts are important in that they inspire people to practice for themselves. I was blown away by MCTB, stuff I heard on Buddhist Geeks, and the work Alan Chapman and Duncan Barford were doing. The specific stories they told struck me at the right time and place in my life and motivated me to meditate like there was no tomorrow. And at a point I felt I had to write a book about it because I wanted to inspire other people - especially those who have a tendency to more ornate practice and energetic phenomena and so on.

But the more I read the old stuff, the more I think "why do we even bother? this has all been said so many times before!" Is it really so hard to encounter a sage of yore talking about chopping wood and carrying water, and not be able to get it because you don't heat your house with a woodstove and get water from a well? Does it need to be updated to say "write code, go shopping" to resonate with modern westerners? Maybe it does.

It is true that what motivated me most in reading the works by the guys I mention above is that they were not monks and they were not prim. That they were just normal everyday people. But I wonder if that was more to do with my own attachments to the pleasures of the world. Maybe I just wanted to think that waking up didn't have to mean giving up anything. In the brief hindsight I have I'd say I've rarely given anything up, but I sure have had stuff taken away. And sometimes that was not much fun at all. I seem to have gotten used to it though and tend to find it more entertaining than sad or scary. emoticon

I wonder what Duncan would say in that video now, years later?

Cheers.

RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford
Answer
12/6/12 7:21 AM as a reply to Pål S..
I suspect you mean one of these Open Enlightenment videos of Alan Chapman's?

RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford
Answer
12/6/12 11:45 AM as a reply to Florian.
Florian Weps:

As for the others, here's a thought: It takes the skills for book-writing to write a book, simply put, just as it takes teaching skills to be a good teacher. A few teachers associated with the DhO and MCTB have emerged - but also parents, workers, scholars, podcasters, retired people... there are many ways of expressing the Dharma beyond writing books and formally teaching people how to meditate.


I have time and again, numerous times, been astonished by the writing and teaching skills of a great gaggle of folks on this very board. I sometimes imagine that if folks took all the advice they've dispensed, all the reflections they've shared, etc., edited it up, organized it, etc., then we could have at least a half dozen other amazing new books to guide us on the path, or at least we'd be a huge part of the way closer to having our MCToB expansion project completed.

RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford
Answer
12/6/12 11:36 AM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
I just ordered this, thanks Alan and Florian!

RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford
Answer
12/6/12 11:43 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Bagpuss The Gnome:
I just ordered this, thanks Alan and Florian!


Be sure to let us know what you think.

I'm also kinda interested in Duncan's book The Retreat - A Semi-Fictional Memoir Exploring Common Problems in Meditation and Contemporary Spirituality, simply because it looks like it might be fun. Having sat my first ten-day last year, and planning on going for another this summer, I'm curious if he managed to capture the nutty essence that is the retreat experience.

RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford
Answer
12/6/12 12:40 PM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
Alan Smithee:

I'm also kinda interested in Duncan's book The Retreat - A Semi-Fictional Memoir Exploring Common Problems in Meditation and Contemporary Spirituality, simply because it looks like it might be fun. Having sat my first ten-day last year, and planning on going for another this summer, I'm curious if he managed to capture the nutty essence that is the retreat experience.


I thought it was hilarious. All the stock characters, weird obsessions, annoying rules, and frustrating teachers you expect at a retreat... he is happy to make fun of all of it, and himself as well.

(edited to fix mangled quote code)

RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford
Answer
12/6/12 2:18 PM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
Alan Smithee:
I'm also kinda interested in Duncan's book The Retreat - A Semi-Fictional Memoir Exploring Common Problems in Meditation and Contemporary Spirituality, simply because it looks like it might be fun. Having sat my first ten-day last year, and planning on going for another this summer, I'm curious if he managed to capture the nutty essence that is the retreat experience.


Again, I'm sure you'll enjoy it. It features the roommate's nightly struggles with brahmacariya ... the silent power plays at the salad bowl... the arrival of the Jet-Set teacher and his bus full of devotees... and much more.

Cheers,
Florian

(Will have to arrange with Duncan to send me my provision before Christmas emoticon )

RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford
Answer
12/6/12 3:09 PM as a reply to Florian.
I've heard mention of Duncan Barford's "Milestones of Meditation" as a particularly interesting article because it details a useful model, but the specific article seems to have been taken off the internet. Am I to understand that this article -- or at least the content which was in it -- has been incorporated into the "Handbook" in some way, shape, or form?

RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford
Answer
12/6/12 3:30 PM as a reply to Ona Kiser.
Ona Kiser:
But the more I read the old stuff, the more I think "why do we even bother? this has all been said so many times before!" Is it really so hard to encounter a sage of yore talking about chopping wood and carrying water, and not be able to get it because you don't heat your house with a woodstove and get water from a well? Does it need to be updated to say "write code, go shopping" to resonate with modern westerners? Maybe it does.


I thought the exact same thing myself. At times I feel like sharing something that was important to me and which I think other people could benefit from, then on second thought I reach the conclusion that it's all out there. Enough information is available to those who wish to practice. After all most of it is just a rinse and repeat process anyways.

The problem with the old stuff is that you almost need to know what you're looking for to get a grasp on it. For someone already acquainted with this stuff the message is clear, but what about the new guy?

It seems like most of us here have experienced the relief of discovering someone talking and writing about this stuff in a straightforward way, and maybe more importantly, that someone being a regular everyday normal guy, like me!

This is what baffles me, that thousands of years later, this is still not common knowledge. By which I don't mean that everyone should be doing it by now, but why is the subject not commonly known? The subject not being "there are religions and spiritual practices that some people are into" but something more like "enlightenment, what is it? -for dummies".

RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford
Answer
12/6/12 3:37 PM as a reply to Liam O'Sullivan.
No, it was Duncan talking about his enlightenment with Alan. It's not important, I just remember watching him talking about emptiness-something and going "yes... yes!", like finally finding someone who's into the same weird hobby you are. That's why I remember it.

RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford
Answer
12/7/12 1:17 AM as a reply to Pål S..
I ordered the book, by the way. I'll let folks know what I think after reading it, for which I'm sure everyone will be waiting with bated breath while desperately trying to suppress quivers of anticipation. If I dig it then I'm also gonna also get the retreat book.

RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford
Answer
12/7/12 2:50 AM as a reply to Pål S..
Pål S.:
...

The problem with the old stuff is that you almost need to know what you're looking for to get a grasp on it. For someone already acquainted with this stuff the message is clear, but what about the new guy?

It seems like most of us here have experienced the relief of discovering someone talking and writing about this stuff in a straightforward way, and maybe more importantly, that someone being a regular everyday normal guy, like me!

This is what baffles me, that thousands of years later, this is still not common knowledge. By which I don't mean that everyone should be doing it by now, but why is the subject not commonly known? The subject not being "there are religions and spiritual practices that some people are into" but something more like "enlightenment, what is it? -for dummies".


It's true! And maybe that's why it's not so commonly known - it does seem you have to stumble on that one book or teacher or person who says things in a way that brings that hint of relief, and then you can launch yourself down the rabbit hole. So maybe that's why it's a useful and necessary thing for there to be constant new tellings of the story.

Maybe there can't be just one version of the story (ie the For Dummies version) that works for everyone, but there have to be all these myriad variations so that each of us can (maybe) run into a story that catches us? I mean, this forum is largely people who happened to find MCTB triggering, but surely there are plenty of people who would read that and shrug and say "makes no sense, whatever" but go to a talk by some lama or read a poem by Rumi and have their "oh!" moment there.

RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford
Answer
12/7/12 4:33 AM as a reply to Ona Kiser.
The strange thing is, I know the rules of chess and I never play. Maybe I prefer to play backgammon or checkers? It doesn't matter if you dislike board games altogether, it's still common to know what chess is about because it has been played for so many years by so many different people.

Now what about the idea that normal people can get paths (and what that means). How many in this world know about this? You would think that theme had a lot more juiciness to it than chess! Especially considering the amount of people who are religious/spiritual/philosophical/curious...

Weird, eh?

RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford
Answer
12/7/12 5:49 AM as a reply to Pål S..
Pål S.:
The strange thing is, I know the rules of chess and I never play. Maybe I prefer to play backgammon or checkers? It doesn't matter if you dislike board games altogether, it's still common to know what chess is about because it has been played for so many years by so many different people.


I think a useful analogy would be: knowing the rules of a board game = understanding how a specific spiritual practice is performed. Many people know that "to meditate" = "to sit still in a cross-legged posture". Getting paths is analogous to reaching new levels of competence with a board game: where you don't have to think your way through it each time you play, where you recognize patterns of configuration on the board; where you know which pattern leads to which situation; and so on. This emerges from the rules, but it's not the rules.

Now what about the idea that normal people can get paths (and what that means). How many in this world know about this? You would think that theme had a lot more juiciness to it than chess! Especially considering the amount of people who are religious/spiritual/philosophical/curious...

Weird, eh?


It usually boils down to fear and various strategies of denial (of that fear). Chess is nicely self-contained, but the juiciness of spiritual investigation turns out to be one's own life-blood... and, well, that frightens a lot of people. Religion/spirituality/philosophy/curiosity is almost always seen as an optional extra or hobby or improvement or status symbol rather than a form of surrender of all of these to the inevitable.

The tornado of self can incorporate mastery of chess into its funnel, but the suggestion to stop spinning is threatening to its very being a funnel at all.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford
Answer
12/11/12 10:25 AM as a reply to Florian.
I've read about 3/4 of the book now. It's a bit too intellectual for me, I'm a simple kind of pussy cat. But the conversation between Eris and Angelos was rather well done, if a little odd and really helped me to understand the concept of the Absolute.

Cheers,

RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford
Answer
12/13/12 10:36 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Bagpuss The Gnome:
I've read about 3/4 of the book now. It's a bit too intellectual for me, I'm a simple kind of pussy cat. But the conversation between Eris and Angelos was rather well done, if a little odd and really helped me to understand the concept of the Absolute.

Cheers,


I read the chapter "What Enlightenment Is and How to Attain It" and it wasn't very good. He claims to be speaking about his experiences of enlightenment which resulted from his Vipassana meditation, but, counter to the tenets of hardcore dharma, he doesn't actually use any of the technical terms, discuss his own experiences, etc., so that, for instance, when he talks about his "four milestones of meditation," I have no idea whether he is talking about four "coded" milestones within 1st Path [for instance, perhaps something like A+P, Dark Night, Equanimity, and then Path] or whether he is talking about 1st Path, then 2nd, then 3rd, and then 4th. The whole article suffers from this resistance to being specific or technical. He also doesn't talk AT ALL about any of his own experiences with meditation, meaning, he doesn't give any personal accounts, which were what I was hoping to read - a discussion of how he got enlightened and what he saw and learned before/during/after the process. Therefore, the article ends up being so general and vague that I can't imagine anyone who is already interested in vipassana meditation would find anything of use here, and it wasn't specific and pragmatic and hardcore enough excite perhaps what is his target audience -- those mucking around with "western magic"-- into getting interested in vipassana meditation. For someone who was supposedly really influenced by Dan and his pragmatic approach, he really didn't seem to learn anything from him, as this article is the kind of bland, mushy philosophizing which gets critiqued all the time on this message board. As a work which purports to be about "Truth" in a postmodern/relativist age, believe me, this is the height of sophistry.

RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford
Answer
12/13/12 3:30 PM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
Hi Alan

I hope you're not too disappointed after I recommended it to strongly.

Alan Smithee:
I read the chapter "What Enlightenment Is and How to Attain It" and it wasn't very good. He claims to be speaking about his experiences of enlightenment which resulted from his Vipassana meditation, but, counter to the tenets of hardcore dharma, he doesn't actually use any of the technical terms, discuss his own experiences, etc., so that, for instance, when he talks about his "four milestones of meditation," I have no idea whether he is talking about four "coded" milestones within 1st Path [for instance, perhaps something like A+P, Dark Night, Equanimity, and then Path] or whether he is talking about 1st Path, then 2nd, then 3rd, and then 4th.


The four milestones is a map, similar to the "simple model" in MCTB, so it parallels the Theravada 4-path model, not the ñanas of a single path.

One of the things I really liked about this book was in fact that it didn't rely on Buddhist technical terms but uses "ordinary" words. When I found MCTB, I was instantly, totally hooked - the detail, the technical, precise language... at one point, later on, I began to appreciate that it's possible to talk about subtle insights in unsubtle, more general terms.

The whole article suffers from this resistance to being specific or technical. He also doesn't talk AT ALL about any of his own experiences with meditation, meaning, he doesn't give any personal accounts, which were what I was hoping to read - a discussion of how he got enlightened and what he saw and learned before/during/after the process.


Yeah, he did that, too, in the "Baptists Head" books and website. Some samples:

Metta Bhavana on a retreat. I Was Molested by a Phantom Nun

Stream-entry: Honeymoon With An Angel

For someone who was supposedly really influenced by Dan and his pragmatic approach, he really didn't seem to learn anything from him, as this article is the kind of bland, mushy philosophizing which gets critiqued all the time on this message board. As a work which purports to be about "Truth" in a postmodern/relativist age, believe me, this is the height of sophistry.


If he weren't such a hardcore meditator and practitioner of Magick, I'd agree. There are many ways to write about this: Daniel's is hyper-analytic, geeky, and technical; Jack Kornfield is all about heart stuff; Duncan is philosophical. They all have the diamond core underneath all the sugary frosting. (and yes, the über-technical geek-mode stuff in MCTB is candy bait designed to motivate geeks to actually practice this stuff instead of reading and writing about it emoticon )

But all people don't have to be into the same books.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford
Answer
12/22/12 11:13 AM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
Alan Smithee:
I guess something I am surprised about is that there aren't more books out there written about meditation, "enlightenment," paths, etc., which have been written by those influenced by MCToB, Dan's teachings, Dharma Overground, etc. All the folks out there who have worked their way through the four path model Dan discussed, who have explored and developed this system, who have found other nooks and crannies to explore, who have critiqued some of what was put forth in MCToB, who have investigated other types of mind training or enlightenment or states of perception, etc., who have blazed new trails, etc., where are their books?


Sometimes it seems that the natural consequence of postmodernism is that we all end up inhabiting microcultures, each too small to support cultural industries of its own.

RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford
Answer
12/22/12 3:35 PM as a reply to Florian.
Florian Weps:
Duncan used to post here, occasionally.


I just downloaded the Kindle version, and the first thing I notice is: "Dedicated to Daniel Ingram."

RE: Handbook For The Recently Enlightened by Duncan Barford
Answer
1/27/13 11:49 PM as a reply to Florian.
Florian Weps:
Hi Alan

I hope you're not too disappointed after I recommended it to strongly.

Alan Smithee:
I read the chapter "What Enlightenment Is and How to Attain It" and it wasn't very good. He claims to be speaking about his experiences of enlightenment which resulted from his Vipassana meditation, but, counter to the tenets of hardcore dharma, he doesn't actually use any of the technical terms, discuss his own experiences, etc., so that, for instance, when he talks about his "four milestones of meditation," I have no idea whether he is talking about four "coded" milestones within 1st Path [for instance, perhaps something like A+P, Dark Night, Equanimity, and then Path] or whether he is talking about 1st Path, then 2nd, then 3rd, and then 4th.


The four milestones is a map, similar to the "simple model" in MCTB, so it parallels the Theravada 4-path model, not the ñanas of a single path.

One of the things I really liked about this book was in fact that it didn't rely on Buddhist technical terms but uses "ordinary" words. When I found MCTB, I was instantly, totally hooked - the detail, the technical, precise language... at one point, later on, I began to appreciate that it's possible to talk about subtle insights in unsubtle, more general terms.

The whole article suffers from this resistance to being specific or technical. He also doesn't talk AT ALL about any of his own experiences with meditation, meaning, he doesn't give any personal accounts, which were what I was hoping to read - a discussion of how he got enlightened and what he saw and learned before/during/after the process.


Yeah, he did that, too, in the "Baptists Head" books and website. Some samples:

Metta Bhavana on a retreat. I Was Molested by a Phantom Nun

Stream-entry: Honeymoon With An Angel

For someone who was supposedly really influenced by Dan and his pragmatic approach, he really didn't seem to learn anything from him, as this article is the kind of bland, mushy philosophizing which gets critiqued all the time on this message board. As a work which purports to be about "Truth" in a postmodern/relativist age, believe me, this is the height of sophistry.


If he weren't such a hardcore meditator and practitioner of Magick, I'd agree. There are many ways to write about this: Daniel's is hyper-analytic, geeky, and technical; Jack Kornfield is all about heart stuff; Duncan is philosophical. They all have the diamond core underneath all the sugary frosting. (and yes, the über-technical geek-mode stuff in MCTB is candy bait designed to motivate geeks to actually practice this stuff instead of reading and writing about it emoticon )

But all people don't have to be into the same books.

Cheers,
Florian


Okay, so I read the section in the book on chakras and I really liked it. One of the unusual discoveries which I did not expect when I started doing vipassana was that I would have so much energetic phenomenon at the brow and crown chakra. Before I started experiencing such phenomenon, I totally thought chakra stuff was New Age garbage. Anyway, what I liked about the section is that Duncan is not afraid to say if he doesn't know something, and so he mostly just discusses his experiences with chakra sensations, and some of the different meditations he did to activate the chakras, but beyond that he doesn't propose any major utility regarding the chakras, although he does propose a few interesting theories about them. When I started meditating and I started getting weird energetics, etc., I posted stuff on the DhO about it, but mostly people seemed to ignore or disregard or not be interested in it, so it was nice to see something concrete written about it, since I have kinda been wondering about it.

Now I wonder if Duncan has written anything about kundalini...

So, having liked the section on chakras I went ahead and listened to the Buddhist Geeks interview and I realized something: When Duncan is going on and on about postmodernism vs truth -- in the section "What Enlightenment Is and How to Attain It" -- what he is really arguing against is the relativistic tendencies of Chaos Magic, not really so much "postmodern philosophy." This being the case, his article makes a lot more sense. As I stated earlier, if he were trying to argue against postmodern philosophy [whatever THAT is {the only two folks in philosophy I'd really argue are genuinely "postmodern" are Baudrillard and Lyotard, although some folks include post-structuralists, post-Marxist, and the like as well, such as Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze and Guattari, Lacan, etc.}] then he did a ridiculously half-assed job [compared to say, Alain Badiou, Fredric Jameson, Louis Althusser, etc.]. If, on the other hand, his target is basically Chaos Magic, or other relativistic magic arts, then I like the article better. Still, he doesn't state his terms in the article, which would have cleared this misunderstanding right from the start. Anyway, I'm going to give the rest of the book a look now. And if I like it, perhaps read The Blood of Saints as well. I'm also interested in A Little Death...