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Guidelines for journals?
Answer
3/10/13 2:06 PM
I've noticed lately a lot of polite, thoughtful, studious trolling on practice threads with an agenda to discourage noting practice and convert people to "sutta-heads". It's a shame, because all that polite, thoughtful, studious time could really be helpful to people who want that. Instead it seems to derail discussion of focused practice and surely causes confusion for newer practitioners. I wonder if there is some structural forum change or policy change that could discourage that. Maybe an MCTB-practice journal category, and/or more moderator presence on practice threads. (I actually like the clear guidelines for journals at KFD, minus the other restrictions which seem to choke any feedback).

Or, perhaps what is needed is a sister site dedicated to journaling and teaching within some semi-loosely but meaningfully defined parameters.

I just think when new people come looking for advice, their odds of constructive help are hit or miss.

Any thoughts?

RE: Guidelines for journals?
Answer
3/10/13 2:41 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
i could start www.suttaheads.com

or www.wehatebuddhistprogress.com

or www.stuckin2500bc.com

or www.brainwashedbuddhists.com

or www.pragmaticdharmafreaksusout.com

or www.highchurchofthemostultraorthodoxbuddhismever.com

or www.thestagesofinsightsuck.com

it could be a public service to the aging, dogmatic, tech-illiterate dogma-loving boomers who clearly can't seem to find a safe home for their religious views and so prowl around sites like this one trying to feel better about themselves by picking off the newbies as best they can, offering the comfort of The Supremacy of Things that are Really, Really Old over the more practical Whatever Works approach that I prefer

I tolerate their subversive and derisive ploys as some do have some good, if dogmatically limited and hyper-doctrinal, practical wisdom mixed in with their archaic and needlessly restrictive blindness, and am perhaps too tolerant of their intolerance for things practical regardless of source, but I do often wonder if my tolerance of their intolerance just allows them to fill the place up with the calcified bullshit that so rankles my pragmatic sensibilities

today, obviously, my mood is a bit more edgy and outspoken against needless restriction on where we find wisdom, and it feels good

thoughts on this?

I am serious about this: if if they will tell me which of those names they prefer, or come up with one of their own, I will create the site

i think that every split so far off of the DhO has allowed people more freedom to find whatever specific prohibitions, dogmatic limits, authorities and cliques work for them, and so I am a fan of this general trend

creating a site where the stages of insight, noting, and commentarial wisdom, as well as non-suttic sources, would be strictly prohibited might really help them stay in their narrow little comfort zone: it could be posted at the door much the same way that the DhO posts the general prohibition against needlessly restrictive dogmatic religious prohibitions at its door

daniel

RE: Guidelines for journals?
Answer
3/10/13 2:53 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Thanks for the laughs, Daniel.

While it would be nice to create a problem dog zone for problem dogs, they won't go or stay of their own accord (hence they are problem dogs.)

I like the anarchic nature of DhO. I wonder if it could be preserved, though, while singling out the function of providing practice-related help as a special function requiring slightly less tolerance.

I started out journaling at KFD. I liked that they were about their business, and I came to DhO as a social site. But I didn't get any feedback at KFD and I did here. That enabled everything to change for me. It was amazing. But if someone else had weighed in rather than you or Tommy, it might have led to more diversions and delays in practice. Or maybe I'd have practiced differently with good results. I dunno. But I think this service of nourishing new practitioners is special, and perhaps it could be done better somehow.

RE: Guidelines for journals?
Answer
3/10/13 4:09 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Some Guy:
Thanks for the laughs, Daniel.

While it would be nice to create a problem dog zone for problem dogs, they won't go or stay of their own accord (hence they are problem dogs.)

I like the anarchic nature of DhO. I wonder if it could be preserved, though, while singling out the function of providing practice-related help as a special function requiring slightly less tolerance.

I started out journaling at KFD. I liked that they were about their business, and I came to DhO as a social site. But I didn't get any feedback at KFD and I did here. That enabled everything to change for me. It was amazing. But if someone else had weighed in rather than you or Tommy, it might have led to more diversions and delays in practice. Or maybe I'd have practiced differently with good results. I dunno. But I think this service of nourishing new practitioners is special, and perhaps it could be done better somehow.


Hm. I wonder if there's a better way to approach this issue, though. One which is kinder, more specific (so that people don't think the post might be about them when it's not about them), and which takes into account the fact that most people here seem to mean well?

For what it's worth, I see forms of trolling here on a regular basis that are more damaging than what you describe. I say this not to diminish what you're saying, which seems valid. Just that, if it's a choice between "sutta heads" and some of the other forms of malignancy I see expressed sometimes, I'd probably opt for the fuddy-duddies. But maybe that's just my taste...

RE: Guidelines for journals?
Answer
3/10/13 4:40 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Some Guy:
I've noticed lately a lot of polite, thoughtful, studious trolling on practice threads with an agenda to discourage noting practice and convert people to "sutta-heads". It's a shame, because all that polite, thoughtful, studious time could really be helpful to people who want that. Instead it seems to derail discussion of focused practice and surely causes confusion for newer practitioners. I wonder if there is some structural forum change or policy change that could discourage that. Maybe an MCTB-practice journal category, and/or more moderator presence on practice threads. (I actually like the clear guidelines for journals at KFD, minus the other restrictions which seem to choke any feedback).

Or, perhaps what is needed is a sister site dedicated to journaling and teaching within some semi-loosely but meaningfully defined parameters.

I just think when new people come looking for advice, their odds of constructive help are hit or miss.

Any thoughts?


Are there any specific examples of this "trolling"? You say "a lot of converting to sutta-heads" has been occuring. I am not aware there has been "a lot" of this and certainly not "trolling" (unless you mean James Yen's posts - he has been continuously banned as he signs on with yet another account for past actual trolling even though he was apparently serious about his sutta related advice).

I am for 'whatever works' (and MCTB worked for me to get me to places where the mind is much more malleable and pliant), but I am also open to the notion that 'whatever works' may not equal 'same results'. Sutta approaches add more data to the notion of different practices resulting in a wide variety of results (and my own practice of sutta-based approaches has shown differing results to say the noting practice I employed to great effect).

Using such terms as "sutta head" runs the risk of tagging anyone and everyone who talks about said approaches with such a negative label. I understand Daniel's rant, that talking down other approaches in favour of one's own approach as not within the spirit of the DhO and should be discouraged. I agree, each to his own, and am in favour of the DhO supporting the differing approaches, buddhist, non-buddhist alike.

I think though that using the term "sutta-head" runs the risk of creating a taboo around using (and talking about here) some of the approaches (and takes) that can be found or read into within the suttas that may be taken to diverge from the MCTB framework. Since this place has integrated a lot of different approaches within the possible things to practice and discuss, others who have a bias for all things 'sutta-related' should respect this fact about the DhO. The Dhamma Wheel forum is a place for those that do not wish to support this fact.

An MCTB-practice journal category which would focus on talking about progress within the framework MCTB offers, would be a clear message to allow people to operate within that framework without receiving advice that takes one away from said framework. Daniel?

Nick

RE: Guidelines for journals?
Answer
3/10/13 5:07 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Can you be more specific? give examples? As a general rule it seems like proselytizing folks on their practice threads should be a no no. But I'm having trouble knowing what you are talking about (maybe I am not reading these threads where this is happening?). Maybe you want to avoid confrontation, or offending specific posters, but I second the concern that vague critiques could be misunderstood.

RE: Guidelines for journals?
Answer
3/10/13 5:14 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter:
Hm. I wonder if there's a better way to approach this issue, though. One which is kinder, more specific (so that people don't think the post might be about them when it's not about them), and which takes into account the fact that most people here seem to mean well?


Jason:
...all that polite, thoughtful, studious time could really be helpful to people who want that....

RE: Guidelines for journals?
Answer
3/10/13 5:32 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
I'd rather not give examples honestly. I'm not looking for a fight. But for clarity, here is one example where a new poster specifically asked advice on Mahasi noting, and was advised by at least two posters to leave off noting. As I already said above, I like the openness here. But this is not supportive of good practice. It's confusing.

Nic, I apologize for quoting Daniel's use of "sutta-heads." Thank you for the thoughtful chiding. Is there a word other than trolling that describes something more subtle and insidious?

RE: Guidelines for journals?
Answer
3/10/13 6:58 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Thanks, that really helps.

I think part of the issue is that people who've participated here for a while are familiar with other posters, and would know something about Ian and CCC's posting habits and general reputations in the community. It is tough when first posting on a board to get the lay of the land in situations like that, but given that knowledge wouldn't you say there is some difference between the level of practice and result reported by those two respondents? Ian's post seemed pretty mellow and open minded. I wouldn't say he was discouraging the OP from noting (altogether), I would say he was offering an alternative. Yes there is a flavor of orthodox sutta-ism to Ian's posts a lot of the time. But I think he did a good job in that post of being open minded. I would hate to see a 'political correctness' emerge on the board where people are not allowed to mention alternative methods? That wouldn't make any sense.

Now, 'more subtle and insidious' than trolling is quite the loaded phrase-- it came off as a bit passive aggressive to me to be honest, but of course I have no idea whether that's accurate or not. Beside the point, just figured I would mention it in case there was a grain of truth to it (in which case, I can see why you would intuitively not want to get in a fight; myself, I notice an aversion to confrontation arise when I'm not totally sure how to disentangle a personal reaction from a valid critique in my response to another person.)

But it sounds like what you are objecting to is proselytizing, or selling one's own (currently) preferred method or view by denigrating other methods and by pushing it on others in overt and covert ways. I think this (and other forms of unsupportive response, *especially* to new posters) is best addressed by other members stepping in with a more supportive and welcoming tone. I think it is HUGELY important that we as a community make an effort to welcome new posters in particular so they don't get scared off by a forceful or insulting or dismissive sounding response.

It's an interesting thread topic, anyway, and I'm glad you brought it up as it seems it is always good to address interpersonal dynamics in groups, so thanks!

RE: Guidelines for journals?
Answer
3/10/13 8:52 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
. Jake .:
It's an interesting thread topic, anyway, and I'm glad you brought it up as it seems it is always good to address interpersonal dynamics in groups, so thanks!


Well, I'm glad it's interesting. I didn't really mean for it to be about interpersonal dynamics although it seems to be turning out that way. I really tried to write a post that was clear and relevant about the way the forum is set-up and managed. I'm surprised by the fingerwagging I'm getting from several.

Now, 'more subtle and insidious' than trolling is quite the loaded phrase-- it came off as a bit passive aggressive to me to be honest, but of course I have no idea whether that's accurate or not.


Then why mention it? It seems like a change of subject. Do you feel like my posting style is more important than the subject of the thread? I really want to know. Nic thought trolling was a loaded phrase. Here's the Wikipedia definition of trolling: In Internet slang, a troll (pron.: /ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion." Some of that applies to what I'm describing, but the uglier side doesn't. So, I asked for a better suggestion. Maybe you chaffe at the word insidious: "Proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects: "the insidious effects of stress". That sounds pretty good to me.

Honestly, my reply to Nic was meant to be ironic. I thought it strange that I had a comment, which was basically a reply to Daniel's epic rant, and people are disconcerted by my small contribution, not the rant. ("Disconcerted..." "Contribution..." I chose those words carefully, hoping I wouldn't have to explain, defend, or recant them.) Nobody is offended by Daniel's beautiful outrage. I feel a bit like the footman who is punished for the prince's faux pas. So, yes. I replied somewhat ironically to Nic, who scolded me slightly for using Daniel's phrase, while lauding Daniel's message (whic message seems more or less in line with mine, I think.)

It's also been submitted that my comments should be kinder. Please re-read my posts. Then re-read this:

...it could be a public service to the aging, dogmatic, tech-illiterate dogma-loving boomers who clearly can't seem to find a safe home for their religious views and so prowl around sites like this one trying to feel better about themselves by picking off the newbies as best they can, offering the comfort of The Supremacy of Things that are Really, Really Old over the more practical Whatever Works approach that I prefer

I tolerate their subversive and derisive ploys as some do have some good, if dogmatically limited and hyper-doctrinal, practical wisdom mixed in with their archaic and needlessly restrictive blindness, and am perhaps too tolerant of their intolerance for things practical regardless of source, but I do often wonder if my tolerance of their intolerance just allows them to fill the place up with the calcified bullshit that so rankles my pragmatic sensibilities...


So, I'm baffled. Actually, I have spent many hours re-reading past posts to understand how I've miscommunicated or come across unpleasantly. I've often f'ed up. But this is silly. Perhaps I've been labled as troublesome. Sorry, guys. I'm really trying. (Feel free to PM me if you want to respond w/o publicizing drama.) Anyway, the topic here is not that crucial, although you will find a pattern if you look for it. People will find their way somehow.

RE: Guidelines for journals?
Answer
3/10/13 9:11 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
This is partly directed at me, though I'm definitely not a sutra head.

I suffered greatly because of noting, so I warn people off it if they are demonstrating some of the signs I had. I don't go onto threads where people have used noting successfully and had no side effects.

When a poster (new or otherwise) expresses difficulty with noting, and someone says "persist!", which is basically what happens, how many times does that work out? How many times does a poster report back with "well I was severely depressed, and I was aching all over, but I just kept noting and I broke though"? I've never seen it, and since this site is about "what works", that should be the focus.

RE: Guidelines for journals?
Answer
3/10/13 9:26 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
Hey CCC, I should mention that EXACTLY what you just suggested has happened to me a few times. When my go to practices were surrender-type things I found that I was just getting spaced out and mind-wandering so I really sat down and persisted hardcore with intensive noting... cuts out the narratives and brings you into the moment enough to get back to a state of calm and balance even though it seems effortful when you first start.

RE: Guidelines for journals?
Answer
3/11/13 3:43 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
Some Guy:


Honestly, my reply to Nic was meant to be ironic. I thought it strange that I had a comment, which was basically a reply to Daniel's epic rant, and people are disconcerted by my small contribution, not the rant. ("Disconcerted..." "Contribution..." I chose those words carefully, hoping I wouldn't have to explain, defend, or recant them.) Nobody is offended by Daniel's beautiful outrage.


My post above is aimed at anyone using the term 'sutta-head' or any other derogatory terms to classify a person with whatever views and practice. My post is aimed at Daniel too.

To be clear, I agree that we should discourage the interrupting of people's practice threads, trying to divert them from their objectives (i.e. to master whatever paradigm or approach or technique they have chosen to follow) and being so overly biased and not open to other approaches and their efficacy, which all goes against the grain and spirit of the pragmatic dharma movement. But I am also wary of the risks of branding others with such 'stigma'. 'Whatever works' includes sutta based approaches. It would be nice that this place (presumably) would continue to be open to whatever approach one wished to follow to add more data of 'whatever works' for the wide variety of positive results we have seen in the last number of years..

A practice notes category for practices within the MCTB paradigm and framework with the MCTB advertised aim and results would be a good idea in my opinion, since we have the 'actual freedom category' and categories for other approaches as well. This place isn't exclusively about the MCTB approach nor results anymore as far as I know.

Nick

RE: Guidelines for journals?
Answer
3/11/13 4:26 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Dear Nicolai,

How in the world did you take what I said as a critique of sutta-based approaches? Mahasi practice is a sutta-based approach. The vast majority of the practice I did and still do was and is based on the suttas to various degrees.

I am purely critiquing their intolerance of the commentaries, of things post, say, 100BC or so, of things not strictly in accordance with their very narrow way of considering what is authentic, right, proper, holy, correct, doctrinal, etc. and not for one skinny instant saying or implying anything about there being problems with practicing from the sutras.

Wow, this gets so difficult, as people suddenly project like crazy and then we are off and running smack dab away from what the original intent of the posts were.

From the Daniel Ingram Unabridged Dictionary I Just Made Up:

"Sutta-head: n. 1) One who thumps on the suttas as the true, righteous, holy, perfect, one true authority for meditative practice. 2) One who bashes on the commentaries regardless of any pragmatic value in them. 3) One who bashes on other effective techniques and sources based on similar beliefs. 4) One who is intolerant and disparaging of sources of wisdom beyond the Pali Canon despite any evidence of its efficacy."

Does that help?

I myself poured through many thousands of pages of the suttas. I own thousands of pages of suttas. I recommend people to the suttas routinely. The commentaries that I so appreciate: many parts of are themselves mostly based on the suttas. I spent countless hours learning techniques from the suttas, contemplating the suttas, delving into what practical wisdom I could find there. A huge portion of the dharma terminology I use comes from the suttas. In short, I am a fan of what pragmatic wisdom can be found there, as I am for any other source. I have also drawn from a great deal of non-suttic sources.

It is like situation in the US regarding religious freedom:

Religious freedom is considered a basic, fundamental right.
Many religious believe that that religion and only that religion is fundamentally right.
Thus, the basic fact of religious tolerance tolerates religions that explicitly preach an end to the tolerance that would allow any other religion other than them.
The question then becomes how far to we tolerate the evangelism of intolerance, as at some point the fundamental right we hold dear, namely freedom, becomes subsumed in the intolerant view of some dominant or even violent group whose first value is orthodoxy at all costs.

The same applies here:

The DhO values the freedom to explore and practice and draw from diverse sources.
Some of those sources come along with the cultural baggage of narrow fundamentalism and intolerance of other sources regardless of their pragmatic value.

The issue is a near equivalent.

From my point of view, freedom and pragmatism will reign, and orthodoxy can go fuck itself. This meta-intolerance of intolerance is not itself anything like the fundamental intolerance it doesn't tolerate, and understanding things at that level requires a degree of cognition that will certainly vex some minds. If anything, I have been too un-meta-intolerant of intolerance for far too long.

Does that make it more clear?

RE: Guidelines for journals?
Answer
3/11/13 4:13 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
Dear CCC,

Noting also broke me through many hard spots again and again, as it has for many people I know.

You are right, however, that "persist in doing it the way you are doing it" is certainly not always the right advice.

For instance, on a retreat I ran here at one stage noting was just winding the person up tighter and tighter, and attempts at correcting imbalances in practice failed, so I switched them to jhana at the height of Re-Observation, and everything worked out.

This is just one example.

It really helps to have pragmatic options, other tricks, various sources to draw on, and a wide range of perspectives to help one navigate in complicated territory. Noting is just one of many potentially useful or not useful tools, depending on the person, the situation, the goal, the way it is applied in practice, etc.

RE: Guidelines for journals?
Answer
3/11/13 4:23 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:


Does that make it more clear?


Yes, yes it does.

Wow, this gets so difficult, as people suddenly project like crazy and then we are off and running smack dab away from what the original intent of the posts were.


Isn't it good to be triggered to make things clearer? Maybe it raises one's shackles (is that the phrase?), but others will benefit from making it clearer. I think 'clearer' is always a good thing. In my experience it is good to consider everyone having such a habit of projecting, including myself. Then i communicate something and it triggers clarity.

;-)

Nick

RE: Guidelines for journals?
Answer
3/11/13 4:23 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Good points.

D

RE: Guidelines for journals?
Answer
3/11/13 5:59 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Nikolai .:
Maybe it raises one's shackles (is that the phrase?)


Raises one's hackles - as in, the fur on the back of a dogs neck that it raises when it's angry/frightened/upset.

You did ask. emoticon

Simon

RE: Guidelines for journals?
Answer
3/11/13 6:03 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
Look, I meant no offence. Interpersonal dynamics and forum management and posting styles seem obviously related to me. I shared my impression of how your post came off to me because it seems possibly relevant and I tried to make explicit that it was indeed my impression. It seems even more relevant to share now since you bring up the difference between the responses to your post and Dan's rant. His was obviously a rant where he was blowing off steam. It seemed like you were making practical suggestions, but given your example I became confused what you were suggesting. I think I got the impression you were trying to change the rules (the group dynamics) so that there could be a sub forum where people would not be allowed to post feedback that conflicted with the OP's chosen method. That seemed problematic to me but maybe I misunderstood.

RE: Guidelines for journals?
Answer
3/11/13 8:22 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
"Sutta-head: n. 1) One who thumps on the suttas as the true, righteous, holy, perfect, one true authority for meditative practice. 2) One who bashes on the commentaries regardless of any pragmatic value in them. 3) One who bashes on other effective techniques and sources based on similar beliefs. 4) One who is intolerant and disparaging of sources of wisdom beyond the Pali Canon despite any evidence of its efficacy."


But who here does this? Even in the thread Jason linked, I couldn't see anyone doing this. The closest I see to anything like this is in some of Ian's comments, but they're usually a lot more circumspect than what I'm seeing portrayed here.

For what it's worth, here's my recommendation/considered opinion on this issue and issues connected with it:

Only make a criticism if you are pretty sure it's going to improve the other person. If there's reasonable doubt, either don't make the criticism, or save it for a time/place when it may be more effective.

This isn't directed specifically at Daniel or Jason. It's just a guideline that, if followed by all, would resolve the issue you're concerned with and which would obviate the need to create a special section of the forum.

As an aside, I'm very impressed by the diversity of opinions and techniques practiced and espoused here. People are almost never told to "note no matter what". The reality of hardcore dharma is a lot more flexible, a lot more versatile than that. Most of the yogis I've met through this tradition/school/whatever are pretty well-rounded in terms of what they can do on the cushion.

RE: Guidelines for journals?
Answer
3/11/13 8:25 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
I'd also say don't greet newcomers with cryptic, off-the-wall responses dripping with sarcasm as a hazing technique just to "see what they're made of." Think about the "Right Speech" segment of the 8-fold path. I also watched with dismay as a member of several months standing was thrashed soundly for being silly. I can sympathize with these posters' frustrations, but the way it was handled unsettled me. I am enough of a sutra-head to value kindness.