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A Better Map of Third Path
Answer
3/26/10 4:19 AM
Okay. So I don't really amount to everything the Arhats claim to be. I have ample evidence that I hit third path about a month ago, and I'm not going to offer any justification for why I think that. I don't think this is the time or place. What I want to offer in this discussion topic is a unique model for all of the insight path, but one that is more accurate in the hazy stages in third path and even goes over what development is like after Arhat-ship.

How would I know what development is like after Arhat-ship? Well, I don't. And this isn't my theory or map. This is something that was discovered and put forth in the psychology community by Hameed Ali (under his more famous pen name: AH Almaas). It's fascinatingly specific about spiritual progress and offers a deep understanding of human consciousness. I'm going to offer some of his basic theory (it gets very deep and complicated. He has books and books out on the entire process and as far as I know these books are only used in certain meditation groups.)

First of all, what you call Arhat-ship, he calls the Pearl Beyond Price (from now on known as the Pearl). I would like to ask the Arhats here if they would read this and see if they notice any correlation. The reason I believe they are the same thing is because of Kenneth Folks critique on van der Hut's Summary of Aziz Kristof. As a reader of AH Almaas, it is clear as diamonds that the "Heart" enlightenment (#3) is describing the same thing AH Almaas is when discussing the Pearl, and I couldn't help but notice how Kenneth seemed intimately familiar with the experience and called it Arhat-ship.

Almaas puts forth the Pearl as an ultimate goal in the spiritual process, but in his book Pearl Beyond Price, he was also able to describe some of the process that happens afterward (which should be of great interest to all Arhats on this board).

His process of enlighenment is based on the idea of Being (otherwise known as Emptiness in the theravada tradition). He talks about how one has to cultivate Essence in order to grow. He calls essence:
Essence is not an object we find within ourselves; it is the true nature of who we are when we are relaxed and authentic, when we are not pretending to be one way or another, consciously or unconsciously. Essence is the truth of our very presence, the purity of our consciousness and awareness. It is what we are in our original and undefiled beingness, the ultimate core reality of our soul. Essence is the authentic presence of our Being; it is, in fact, Being in its thatness. Different spiritual traditions have given it different names: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam called it Spirit; Buddhism calls it Buddha nature; Taoism calls it the Tao; Hinduism calls it Atman or Brahman. The various traditions differ in how they conceptualize Essence and how much they emphasize it in their teaching, but essence is always considered to be the most authentic, innate, and fundamental nature of who we are. And the experience and realization of Essence is the central task of spiritual work and development in all traditions. (Spacecruiser Inquiry, pg 8)



Another important part of his map is the theory of holes, which he defines as such:
Theory of Holes

Our understanding that the personality of ego is an imitation of the essential person, the person of Being, can be made more clear by what we call our “theory of holes.” This perspective, which was developed in detail in our books Essence and The Void, states that whenever an essential aspect is missing or cut off from one's consciousness there results a deficiency, a hole, in its place. This hole is then filled by a part of the psychic structure that resembles the lost essential aspect. One fills or covers the deficiency with a false aspect in its place. (The Pearl Beyond Price, pg 96)


Our personality (AKA our sense of self or "I") is just to cover up negative experiences from our past. He goes over the whole process to recover what that sense of "I" is covering up. Its completely bloody fascinating.

I'm just touching the surface of what he has to offer. He also has theorys on A&P/DarkNight and relates them to Mahler's seperation/individualization model of ego development (in the book Pearl Beyond Price). If you check out his website you'll find lots of good resources. A good book to start out with would be his book Essence, but any other works as he introduces his material in an easy to understand manner.

Highly, highly recommended. emoticon Tell me what you think. I will answer any and all questions to the best of my ability.

RE: A Better Map of Third Path
Answer
3/26/10 4:27 AM as a reply to J S S.
I also want to add that he points out the relationship between Bruno's ideas of yoga (which I thought was brilliant by the way) and Arhat-ship. In theory the Arhat will over time gain and integrate the 'highs' of yoga naturally and can speed it up with surrender and by increasing his inner sensitivity. Can you arhats confirm this?

RE: A Better Map of Third Path
Answer
3/26/10 11:50 AM as a reply to J S S.
J S S:
I would like to ask the Arhats here if they would read this and see if they notice any correlation.


Hi J S S,
Yes, I find these descriptions very much relate to my own experience. Very nicely put. Thanks for the link.

Another important part of his map is the theory of holes

"whenever an essential aspect is missing or cut off from one's consciousness there results a deficiency, a hole, in its place. This hole is then filled by a part of the psychic structure that resembles the lost essential aspect. One fills or covers the deficiency with a false aspect in its place. "

Exactly! Looking back, I feel the entire awakening process is one of unfilling the holes and reconnecting with that lost essential aspect. 4th path in a sense = 20/20 vision for discovering filled in holes - the rest is left as an exercise for the arahat.

"Our personality (AKA our sense of self or "I") is just to cover up negative experiences from our past."
Yes. In my experience we in a sense recoil from the totality of our experience in an effort to avoid these negative experiences. This recoiling manifests as locked in tension in the body. Our solution is to turn away from this tension - numb the body essentially. This tension does not disappear but instead manifests as a projected world of self and other in the mind. I feel the 4 paths allow us to see this tension and process of recoiling very clearly - but they do not actually release it.

I am writing this up as an exercise to put forth my own understanding. Now I can go look more at what he has to say. Thanks for the links,
-Chuck

RE: A Better Map of Third Path
Answer
3/26/10 12:17 PM as a reply to J S S.
J S S:
I also want to add that he points out the relationship between Bruno's ideas of yoga (which I thought was brilliant by the way) and Arhat-ship. In theory the Arhat will over time gain and integrate the 'highs' of yoga naturally and can speed it up with surrender and by increasing his inner sensitivity. Can you arhats confirm this?


Which post or thread of Bruno's do you have in mind?

Thanks,
-Chuck

RE: A Better Map of Third Path
Answer
3/27/10 12:18 AM as a reply to J S S.
This may simply be a personality quirk of mine, but his writing style, flowery language, and what seems to me to be loose use of terms (I haven't gone back and read the source stuff where he may very well define them, don't know) somehow makes my skin crawl, but that is probably just my own stuff, which perhaps is from my own holes, or whatever.

Regardless, somehow I had a very hard time figuring out exactly what he was saying that didn't sound like fluffy New Age fru fru whatnot and thus find it hard to line things up with the rigor I usually like, and thus I many not be much help on this one.

RE: A Better Map of Third Path
Answer
3/31/10 9:11 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
his writing style, flowery language, and what seems to me to be loose use of terms (I haven't gone back and read the source stuff where he may very well define them, don't know) somehow makes my skin crawl,


I have been doing the work for 4 years. I have gotten a lot out of it. However I agree, and lots of other students would agree, that he is not a great writer. And saying that is being polite.

The actual techniques and the presence of the teacher are what have been important. I may never attempt to read one of the books again.

If you want to read about him, get What Really Matters by Tony Schwartz. Schwartz was Donald Trump's ghost writer, was turned off by all the materialism, and took several years on a quest which involved interviewing most of the well known spiritual teachers in the USA in the 90's. Those that he was most impressed by he calls the Integrators. They include Jack Kornfield, Ken Wilber and Hameed Ali (AKA A.H. Almaas)

RE: A Better Map of Third Path
Answer
4/1/10 9:29 AM as a reply to J S S.
Theory of Holes

"Our understanding that the personality of ego is an imitation of the essential person, the person of Being, can be made more clear by what we call our “theory of holes.” This perspective, which was developed in detail in our books Essence and The Void, states that whenever an essential aspect is missing or cut off from one's consciousness there results a deficiency, a hole, in its place. This hole is then filled by a part of the psychic structure that resembles the lost essential aspect. One fills or covers the deficiency with a false aspect in its place. (The Pearl Beyond Price, pg 96)"

Our personality (AKA our sense of self or "I") is just to cover up negative experiences from our past. He goes over the whole process to recover what that sense of "I" is covering up. Its completely bloody fascinating.


Yikes. This "theory of holes" is part of the "Diamond Approach," which Almaas created. While it sounds nice, it actually contains many pre/trans fallacies regarding awakening. For, you see, the D.A. is all about recapturing an innocence lost in childhood, and see the ego as a distortion of our former purity. Nonsense. This approach confuses pre-egoic innocence with trans-egoic Essence.

This theory obviously became popular due to the fusion of psychotherapy and Eastern meditation practices. Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is a process of looking into one's unconscious to discover aspects of one's self which have been repressed due to immature defense mechanisms. When one begins to re-integrate such aspects of their personality (and stops fighting them), they tend to feel more balanced, more resilient to external influences. This is, however, not the same thing as spiritual awakening. Failure to see the difference is what allow the Diamond Approach to be taken seriously.

So in a sense, the Diamond Approach may help someone to drudge up old memories and discover areas where they feel a lack, and thus learn to re-contextualize those experiences into something that brings a feeling of wholeness and personality integration. But all this does is bring fractured pre-egoic stuff back up to the ego level. It's nice, but it isn't trans-egoic insight.

Ken Wilber uses the following analogy: "If you step on an acorn, you are going to damage it, and it will have a hard time growing into the oak that it might be. But what you are hurting and repressing is the acorn—you are not repressing or stepping on the oak, because that hasn’t emerged yet—there aren’t any leaves, branches, roots, etc., to step on. So you can definitely repress or damage joy at any of its stages of growth, and this will make it less likely that Essential Joy will emerge later in development. But that Essence is an emergent that comes down, not a recontacted infantile state coming back up. It is God descending, not id arising."

In my understanding, based on the findings of developmental psychology, the ego was not a mistake to be corrected. Rather, the adult personality is a step forward from pre-egoic, narcissistic childhood modes of being into healthy adult modes of being. That's not to say that the ego can become sick, which is why personal psychotherapy is so important.

A healthy ego acts as a sound launching pad for trans-egoic realization, which is always accomplished with much more grace and tact when a healthy sense of self is retained before, during, and after the process of awakening. Just because a person may realize, or even dwell in, levels of consciousness that are above and beyond the ego, the ego continues to function and play an immensely important role in the life of the individual and those in which s/he has the opportunity to be in relationship with.

Ken Wilber wrote an excellent critique of the Diamond Approach in his book "The Eye of Spirit." It is worth reading, even if only for the sake of clarity. He makes some really good points that I don't think can be overlooked. Needless to say at this point, I am not a fan of the Diamond Approach. There are much better maps out there.

RE: A Better Map of Third Path
Answer
4/1/10 2:38 PM as a reply to Jackson Wilshire.
I was very briefly a clinical pyschology undergraduate student about 30 years ago. I remember asking one of the professors about Freud and psychoanalytic theory and he laughed and said "no one teaches that stuff in regular colleges anymore." He said it was because there was no scientific basis for Freud's opinions and that his books belonged in the "literature department."

RE: A Better Map of Third Path
Answer
4/1/10 3:08 PM as a reply to Mike Monson.
Mike Monson:
I was very briefly a clinical pyschology undergraduate student about 30 years ago. I remember asking one of the professors about Freud and psychoanalytic theory and he laughed and said "no one teaches that stuff in regular colleges anymore." He said it was because there was no scientific basis for Freud's opinions and that his books belonged in the "literature department."


Your professor held quite an unfortunate view, as do many psychologists today - especially professors. I'm not a big fan of Freud, being that I think he got a lot of things wrong. But I have a feeling this professor didn't care about whether or not Freud's theory was valid in terms of treatment or articulation of 1st person interior realities. Rather, the scientific materialist paradigm rejects interiors as either unreal/unverifiable, or just the side effects of physical, observable material realities. They have an exterior-only paradigm, which is, like I said, unfortunate, as it denies the fact that interior realities can influence external correlates (i.e. matter) just as much as the external realities can influence interior ones. The mutual dependence is hard to miss, even though we still can't see another persons thoughts, feelings, unconscious, or shadow.

Sorry for going so far off topic.

RE: A Better Map of Third Path
Answer
4/1/10 3:40 PM as a reply to Jackson Wilshire.
Ken Wilber wrote an excellent critique of the Diamond Approach in his book "The Eye of Spirit." It is worth reading, even if only for the sake of clarity. He makes some really good points that I don't think can be overlooked. Needless to say at this point, I am not a fan of the Diamond Approach. There are much better maps out there.


Thanks for the reference to the book. I will read what he has to say.

For me, human consciousness is mysterious. I have tentative theories about some things, but I am certain of very little.

Both Wilber and Almaas and lots of their followers all seem too certain. I have been doing the Diamond work for 4 years but I will probably never chime in to defend one point of view against another. I am not an expert.

I enjoy reading the back and forth discussion of these issues though, so please keep posting.

I will say that I take Wilber less seriously ever since I read his comments on the evolution of the wing in "A Brief History of Everything". It seemed to me that he didn't have an understanding of the basic theory of evolution as taught in an undergraduate biology class. He acts like he is such an expert on everything.

RE: A Better Map of Third Path
Answer
4/1/10 4:40 PM as a reply to Tom Smith.
Tom Carr:
I will say that I take Wilber less seriously ever since I read his comments on the evolution of the wing in "A Brief History of Everything". It seemed to me that he didn't have an understanding of the basic theory of evolution as taught in an undergraduate biology class. He acts like he is such an expert on everything.


Ha, ha! Yeah, Wilber can come off as a bit of a 'know-it-all' at times. Hell, so can I! So I know what you mean, and I appreciate your comment.

I have no real beef with the Diamond Approach as a practice that some people might find beneficial to some degree. What I disagree with is the theoretical orientation behind the work; namely, the romanticized idea that we were born "pure" but somehow lost this original purity as we moved through adolescence into adulthood. This goes against the research of all of the major developmental psychologists, whose work has been tested countless times over many decades in many different cultures.

Young children do seem joyous, don't they? They seem to be free to be happy, and they aren't bogged down with worldly concerns like we adults are. Well, this isn't actually the case. Most children younger than 5 are not able to really take the perspective of another, and are thus inherently narcissistic, egocentric, and just plain old selfish. The pleasure principle reigns supreme. It is at the ages between 5 and 7 that children begin to understand that others are important, too, and thus they become more socio-centric (or ethnocentric, family/community centered). Would we say, then, that the pure, joyous young children were cast down from their inherent "goodness" in order to find greater concern for others? I think not. For the lower stages offer nothing great in terms of compassion, care, justice, or true, deep, honest love. For how can we know the joy of fully loving another if we cannot even consider their perspective? Do you see what I'm getting at?

And this is what the D.A. is based on - recapturing "innocence" or "purity" that was lost.

That's not to say that we can't benefit from depth work that allows us to discover and reintegrate those aspects of ourselves that were repressed due to immature defense mechanisms. Of course we can! But this isn't reaching into a higher, wider sense of being. But rather, re-incorporating lower, less significant, less spiritual aspects of our selves that are causing us to act out in maladaptive ways. This is why psychoanalytic psychotherapy can be helpful, and why so many Westerners find value in body-scanning and noting practices found in meditative techniques like vipassana. It helps us to get back in touch with our body so we don't feel so fractured (of course, vipassna is used to gain real insight as well). But the sense of wholeness gained via depth psychology (as well as, I would argue, the D.A.) is NOT the same as transpersonal insight or awakening.

That's my opinion at least. Thoughts?

RE: A Better Map of Third Path
Answer
4/1/10 5:35 PM as a reply to Jackson Wilshire.
Hello Jackson,

The DA material, although I am only vaguely familiar with it, seems to be useful insofar as it can help a person be aware of things they were previously not aware of. As one cannot willingly, purposefully change something unless they're aware of it, I think the approach may be useful in aiding that process, if nothing else.

I second the notion that children are not born innocent. Children are quite capable, as you mention, of many selfish and downright aggressive acts against others. For example, fighting over toys, or crying when they don't get candy at the super market.

[quote=Jackson "awouldbehipster" Wilshire]For the lower stages offer nothing great in terms of compassion, care, justice, or true, deep, honest love.

I was wondering if you would be willing to share more of your thoughts on the quoted section above. There are several interesting things in this one sentence. For instance, when you refer to "lower stages," you seem to be making a hierarchical judgment that might imply much more than what is being said. What might be being implied, why is it being implied and to what end is that being done?

I was also wondering if you are (and I would not want to put words in your mouth) making a distinction that implies that "compassion, care, justice (and) true, deep, honest love" are the "higher stages?" With that said, what exactly are the "lower stages," and why are they "lower?" I ask because compassion, justice, and love are all selfish to the core and, upon close inspection, validate their opposites' existence. And so, although well-meaning, the antedotal aspects of, for instance, "compassion," actually serve to validate sorrow (as a generality) which allows it to continue wreaking havoc on the person feeling it.

With that in mind, and this is mostly a question based in curiosity, would you say that an arhat is "innocent?"

Feel free to PM me / e-mail me if you would rather reply that way (if you reply at all), I would not want to drive the topic too far off of its' original course.

Regards,
Trent

RE: A Better Map of Third Path
Answer
4/1/10 6:26 PM as a reply to Trent ..
Hi Trent,

I agree that the D.A. practice could be effective to do what you stated - to make consciousness that which was previously unconscious, so as to be to face up to it and learn to re-integrate it in a more skillful, mature way.

When I say "lower stages," I am referring to those early, self-centered stages we all go through as we develop from infants to children to adolescents to adults, and higher. The reason I consider them to be in a hierarchy (or "holarchy" as Wilber often calls them - more on that in a minute) is that the scope of one's concern expands as one's identity shifts from being totally self-centered (egocentric), to being identified with one's self and other's close to them (ethnocentric/socio-centric), to being identified with and concerned with one's self and all human beings (world-centric), and so on.

And of course one should remain concerned with one's own welfare each step of the way. This is why each stage is it's own holarchy, in that it transcends and includes the level that came before it. Just because someone is world-centric doesn't mean they should care about one's self or one's family, local community, or nation. The difference is that they are not "just" selfish; "just" self-interested at everyone else's expense. It's all included as one develops, unless of course there are any major pathologies occurring at any of these stages… but that's another topic entirely.

So, in short the answer is Yes. I do think that considering another person as well as one's self to be "higher" than only considering one's self. And that is why I see compassion, love, care, and justice (and other things I'm leaving out) to be relatively high attributes of mature, responsible human beings.

You wrote:
I ask because compassion, justice, and love are all selfish to the core and, upon close inspection, validate their opposites' existence. And so, although well-meaning, the antedotal aspects of, for instance, "compassion," actually serve to validate sorrow (as a generality) which allows it to continue wreaking havoc on the person feeling it.


I recognize this line of reasoning from my brief encounter with AF, though I never was able to buy into it. It sounds as though you are saying that compassionate action somehow encourages sorrow, or even enables it. Any act that enables and perpetuates sorrow is clearly "idiot compassion" - which is like giving a beer to an alcoholic experiencing withdrawal, because you don't want him to suffer the pains of withdrawal. That's not compassion in my book. It would be more compassionate to stay with that person in their struggle to overcome the addiction, so they wouldn't have to go through it alone. In this way both people suffer, and healing results rather than perpetual sorrow/suffering. At least that's how I see it.

Although, now that I've re-read the quote, you seem to be implying that one's abillity to feel compassion is the very thing that allows them to feel sorrow themselves? Not sure that I follow... Are there any sources outside of AF for this?

And no, I wouldn't consider an arhat innocent. I'm not even fond of that term anymore, as it's obviously not one's personal identity who gets enlightened. Awakened or not, we're all people, and we're all imperfect, and we're all worthy of being called out on our shit. That's not an excuse, but a call to continue our efforts to grow and mature in a way that is beneficial to ourselves and as many others as possible.

Thanks for the engaging questions :-)

Jackson

RE: A Better Map of Third Path
Answer
4/2/10 12:18 AM as a reply to Jackson Wilshire.
Hello Jackson,

[quote=Jackson "awouldbehipster" Wilshire] When I say "lower stages," I am referring to those early, self-centered stages we all go through as we develop from infants to children to adolescents to adults, and higher. The reason I consider them to be in a hierarchy (or "holarchy" as Wilber often calls them - more on that in a minute) is that the scope of one's concern expands as one's identity shifts from being totally self-centered (egocentric), to being identified with one's self and other's close to them (ethnocentric/socio-centric), to being identified with and concerned with one's self and all human beings (world-centric), and so on.

And of course one should remain concerned with one's own welfare each step of the way. This is why each stage is it's own holarchy, in that it transcends and includes the level that came before it. Just because someone is world-centric doesn't mean they should care about one's self or one's family, local community, or nation. The difference is that they are not "just" selfish; "just" self-interested at everyone else's expense. It's all included as one develops, unless of course there are any major pathologies occurring at any of these stages… but that's another topic entirely.

Okay, thanks for clarifying.

[quote=Jackson "awouldbehipster" Wilshire] So, in short the answer is Yes. I do think that considering another person as well as one's self to be "higher" than only considering one's self. And that is why I see compassion, love, care, and justice (and other things I'm leaving out) to be relatively high attributes of mature, responsible human beings.

I sincerely agree that "considering another person" is a sensible thing to do, as is caring. But I wonder, what does compassion, love and justice, have to do with that? Of the two options, do you think that it's a better idea to care and feel compassionate, or to care without compassion?

As a follow-up question, what do you think is "higher:" feelings such as compassion, love and justice or the acts of caring, intimacy (closeness), and allowing others the freedom to be without "my" sense of justice?

[quote=Jackson "awouldbehipster" Wilshire] I recognize this line of reasoning from my brief encounter with AF, though I never was able to buy into it. It sounds as though you are saying that compassionate action somehow encourages sorrow, or even enables it. Any act that enables and perpetuates sorrow is clearly "idiot compassion" - which is like giving a beer to an alcoholic experiencing withdrawal, because you don't want him to suffer the pains of withdrawal. That's not compassion in my book. It would be more compassionate to stay with that person in their struggle to overcome the addiction, so they wouldn't have to go through it alone. In this way both people suffer, and healing results rather than perpetual sorrow/suffering. At least that's how I see it.

Compassion and the act of caring / giving needed aid (perhaps what you meant by "compassionate action?") are two entirely different things. I am quite capable of aiding another, if they need and/or request, but need not share their sorrow to do so. I think this is a healthy alternative, as this keeps me happy personally, allows me to function more effectively (I don't have to worry about myself), and also demonstrates to the sorrowful persons that they need not hurt (demonstrating an alternative to sorrow in a situation that feeling sorrow is "normal.") With that in mind, is it still necessary to share the alcoholic's suffering; or does it seem more helpful to care without being compassionate?

Further, given your example, all compassion would have to be "idiot compassion," as any demonstration of sorrow (in this case, sharing someone elses') sets an example ("enables and perpetuates") that it is okay to feel bad about situation X, Y and Z for whatever reason.

[quote=Jackson "awouldbehipster" Wilshire] Although, now that I've re-read the quote, you seem to be implying that one's abillity to feel compassion is the very thing that allows them to feel sorrow themselves? Not sure that I follow... Are there any sources outside of AF for this?

Well, I am not saying that specifically. I think perhaps I've clarified this by my other responses, but if not, feel free to ask again. As for sources, the question doesn't really make sense to me. Rephrased, the question reads "are there any sources outside of (an actual freedom from the human condition) for this?" With that in mind, I suppose any opinion by a human being whom is not free from the human condition would constitute such a source. My point being: you're speaking with a fellow human right now, and I am speaking my mind genuinely (rather than repeating someone's "teachings" or the like).

[quote=Jackson "awouldbehipster" Wilshire] And no, I wouldn't consider an arhat innocent. I'm not even fond of that term anymore, as it's obviously not one's personal identity who gets enlightened. Awakened or not, we're all people, and we're all imperfect, and we're all worthy of being called out on our shit. That's not an excuse, but a call to continue our efforts to grow and mature in a way that is beneficial to ourselves and as many others as possible.

I see. Evidently I'm a bit slow, though, as I am not following the "obviousness" of your next sentence. Who's identity gets enlightened, if not an identity specific to one human being (hence, a personal identity)?

Do you think that humans are capable of outgrowing their "imperfect(ion)" so that no one needs suffer anymore? Or are you using "imperfection" in the sense of "infallibility?"

[quote=Jackson "awouldbehipster" Wilshire] Thanks for the engaging questions :-)

Anytime, it's fun to talk about the things that concern us all and to work together to try to figure out how to improve our lot in life.

Regards,
Trent

RE: A Better Map of Third Path
Answer
4/2/10 11:52 AM as a reply to Jackson Wilshire.
Trent:
I sincerely agree that "considering another person" is a sensible thing to do, as is caring. But I wonder, what does compassion, love and justice, have to do with that? Of the two options, do you think that it's a better idea to care and feel compassionate, or to care without compassion?

As a follow-up question, what do you think is "higher:" feelings such as compassion, love and justice or the acts of caring, intimacy (closeness), and allowing others the freedom to be without "my" sense of justice?

Compassion and the act of caring / giving needed aid (perhaps what you meant by "compassionate action?") are two entirely different things. I am quite capable of aiding another, if they need and/or request, but need not share their sorrow to do so. I think this is a healthy alternative, as this keeps me happy personally, allows me to function more effectively (I don't have to worry about myself), and also demonstrates to the sorrowful persons that they need not hurt (demonstrating an alternative to sorrow in a situation that feeling sorrow is "normal.") With that in mind, is it still necessary to share the alcoholic's suffering; or does it seem more helpful to care without being compassionate?


Thanks for clarifying. It seems as though you view compassion as a feeling or emotional response as unwise or unhealthy, but you see no problem with what I described as compassionate action. Helping people is OK, but feeling compassion or sharing in their sorrow (which you seem to find synonymous) are to be avoided. Is that right?

Further, given your example, all compassion would have to be "idiot compassion," as any demonstration of sorrow (in this case, sharing someone elses') sets an example ("enables and perpetuates") that it is okay to feel bad about situation X, Y and Z for whatever reason.

I have a problem with what you wrote above, because I don't see any emotional response as being right or wrong. I think it is very hurtful to think that it is wrong to experience an emotion, which is why I take issue with some forms of conservative Buddhism. Feelings of compassion naturally arise when we are able to take on the perspective of another, and that person is suffering. If someone you love, say a close friend, loses their child in a car collision, and you see them suffering, a natural, uninhibited response is empathy. You feel sad because they feel sad. There is a collective sharing of the grief, and I don't see this as a bad thing at all. Emotions, in my understanding, are not the cause of suffering, as the autonomous human being always has an option of how they will respond to them. So rather than promote a kind of mass anhedonia, I think we'd be better off promoting mass maturation.

Trent:
"As for sources, the question doesn't really make sense to me. Rephrased, the question reads "are there any sources outside of (an actual freedom from the human condition) for this?" With that in mind, I suppose any opinion by a human being whom is not free from the human condition would constitute such a source. My point being: you're speaking with a fellow human right now, and I am speaking my mind genuinely (rather than repeating someone's "teachings" or the like)."


Pardon my asking for "sources". My comment did indeed come off as a bit pretentious. I don't mean to ask for sources of someone else's "teaching". Rather, I highly value empirical scientific research in the field of psychology, though it's not the only thing I care about. Developmental psychology is one of those disciplines that is very well researched and documented, and the conclusions drawn are difficult to refute. Human beings follow are "growth to goodness" course throughout their lives, so long as their development is not arrested along the way due to abuse or other trauma (physical or psychological). Emotions play a large role in that, which is why I have a difficult time finding validity in any view that suggests that certain emotions should be completely cut off.

Anyways, I was asking because I didn't know if the AF model or theory (not just an 'actual freedom from the human condition' as an actual achievement) was based on or at all validated by good science. Science has its limitations, but it is also a very reliable tool when wielded properly.

Again, I'm enjoying our conversation. Thank you for taking the time to explain some of your ideas. I've been wanting to gain a better understanding of your ideas for a while now, and this helps.

~Jackson

RE: A Better Map of Third Path
Answer
4/2/10 12:45 PM as a reply to Jackson Wilshire.
Are theories useful?

I've been thinking about what value theories really have for us. We debate - such as on this thread - which theory is more valid than another. What value do they actually have?

Personally, I think we should focus on the effectiveness of practices as opposed to the accuracy of theories. All traditions claim to be 'the truth' and many claim to be 'the direct path' or 'the true path' - they can't all be right - yet many seem to provide a reasonable path. Not knowing why bread rises doesn't prevent you from making bread.

Primarily, I feel they provide a conceptual framework for practice and living ones life and as such compose an element of what Buddha termed a 'raft to carry you to the far shore'. The question is 'Does this raft get someone to the other side?'.

An aspect which makes all this stuff tricky is 'How do I know that a particular approach is founded on an actual deep awakening experience?'.

We have to consider the flavor of the language and the territory that language covers and not try to make too much of individual terms like 'true self' or 'ultimate' or ‘Nibbana’. We have to look at the various qualities of the transcendent experience that a tradition is trying to point out. Then we can see if something is clearly missing or perhaps just less emphasized. Another way, and perhaps more useful, is to ask ourselves 'Do developed practitioners of this tradition demonstrate the transcendent qualities that the tradition speaks of?'

For example, here is a description of Nibbana from The Island by Ajahn Amaro and Ajahn Pasanno of the Thai Forest Tradition:
Nibbana is a word that is used to describe an experience. When the heart is free of all obscurations, and is utterly in accord with nature, Ultimate Reality (Dhamma), it experiences perfect peace, joy and contentment. This set of qualities is what Nibbana describes. ...From the Buddhist viewpoint, the realization of Nibbana is the fulfillment of the highest human potential – a potential that exists in all of us, regardless of nationality or creed.

So if I go hang out with these guys, to what extent do they embody these teachings? Not only does such a description tell me something about what qualities the tradition is aiming at but also how to judge the effectiveness of that tradition - by spending time with those that have followed that path.

RE: A Better Map of Third Path
Answer
4/2/10 3:09 PM as a reply to Jackson Wilshire.
[quote=Jackson "awouldbehipster" Wilshire]
Thanks for clarifying. It seems as though you view compassion as a feeling or emotional response as unwise or unhealthy, but you see no problem with what I described as compassionate action. Helping people is OK, but feeling compassion or sharing in their sorrow (which you seem to find synonymous) are to be avoided. Is that right?

Correct. To clarify slightly, I think it is unwise, unhealthy, uncomfortable, inhibits clear comprehension of a situation, and simply does not help.

[quote=Jackson "awouldbehipster" Wilshire]
I have a problem with what you wrote above, because I don't see any emotional response as being right or wrong. I think it is very hurtful to think that it is wrong to experience an emotion, which is why I take issue with some forms of conservative Buddhism. Feelings of compassion naturally arise when we are able to take on the perspective of another, and that person is suffering. If someone you love, say a close friend, loses their child in a car collision, and you see them suffering, a natural, uninhibited response is empathy. You feel sad because they feel sad. There is a collective sharing of the grief, and I don't see this as a bad thing at all. Emotions, in my understanding, are not the cause of suffering, as the autonomous human being always has an option of how they will respond to them. So rather than promote a kind of mass anhedonia, I think we'd be better off promoting mass maturation.

I too do not see any emotional responses as being "right" or "wrong." These words carry all sort of connotation regarding reward and punishment, and are often used as charged words to justify a selfish position. Feelings of compassion naturally arise, but I do not think this validates compassion as something to indulge in. I can think of all manner of things which are "natural" which are better off kept under control. Compassion has gotten by thus far through history as an "okay" selfish feeling to partake in, and I'm not really sure why (though I have my guesses). After all, one is called all manner of things when one chooses to no longer share in others' sorrow, such as "cold," "uncaring," etc; which has little to do with why one would choose to no longer feel compassion. My point being that compassion has become sacred and that sacrosanct status is locking humans into a cycle of endless suffering...and for what?

Emotions are not the cause of suffering, specifically. It is the identity which is the source of the instinctual passions, which could be thought of as a conditioned blue-print of the world which says "react to X, Y, Z because of A, B, C." Suffering is nothing more than a term we ascribe to a chemically caused tension-- felt in the brain and/or psyche-- set off by a self-justified imperative to survive (which could be personal or group related) and reproduce. The specifics of these imperatives vary a bit from person to person due to their unique experiences (parents, peers, other influences), but also share staggering similarities due to many of them being endemic. For instance, the instinctual drive to reproduce is part of one's blue-print regardless of where one was born. This is how blind nature equips a species: a rough and ready software package for survival at all costs. It does not care a bit about you or I personally, it is simply what you're born into.

Humans, with their unique ability to "always (have) an option of how they will respond to them," -- which is due to the intellect-- are in a distinct position to rewire the entire blue-print of the human condition until selfishness is gone entirely. Perhaps I am mistaken, but is not human maturation in this context generally seen as a process of becoming less selfish and more sensitive to others? With that in mind, I think that this is very much a promotion of "mass maturation," it is just a radical step in that direction; hence the hesitation / wariness to step away from the tried and true methods we've been passed down since birth.

[quote=Jackson "awouldbehipster" Wilshire] Pardon my asking for "sources". My comment did indeed come off as a bit pretentious. I don't mean to ask for sources of someone else's "teaching". Rather, I highly value empirical scientific research in the field of psychology, though it's not the only thing I care about. Developmental psychology is one of those disciplines that is very well researched and documented, and the conclusions drawn are difficult to refute. Human beings follow are "growth to goodness" course throughout their lives, so long as their development is not arrested along the way due to abuse or other trauma (physical or psychological). Emotions play a large role in that, which is why I have a difficult time finding validity in any view that suggests that certain emotions should be completely cut off.

No problem. There is not, to my knowledge, "official" academic research in the form that I think you are looking for. For one, freedom from the human condition is a relatively new discovery. In this case, though, one's own intellect is plenty enough to validate the claims (rather than deferring to the irrational notion of what has been deemed "credible" by the masses). The entire field of psychology is currently quite a corrupt and confused mess. It is a case of the blind leading the blind. We humans are in a position to ameliorate and end all sorrow from ourselves, and yet our modern day "psychology experts" would much rather keep us all at a "normal" degree of suffering, because it's "natural." After all, ya "can't change human nature," eh? Fortunately, they are incorrect: it is possible. And not only is it possible, but it is necessary. One only needs to open a page of news to see war, rape, murder, abuse, suicides from loneliness and all the like ravaging the otherwise fair people of this earth. Does one dare to care enough to end all of that (personally, which if done by all, is globally) by taking a radical step of self maturation?

[quote=Jackson "awouldbehipster" Wilshire] Anyways, I was asking because I didn't know if the AF model or theory (not just an 'actual freedom from the human condition' as an actual achievement) was based on or at all validated by good science. Science has its limitations, but it is also a very reliable tool when wielded properly.

The methods for gaining an actual freedom from the human condition have been empirically proven to work by humans whom were enlightened and those that were not-- without significant variation thus far-- in other words: "good science."

[quote=Jackson "awouldbehipster" Wilshire]Again, I'm enjoying our conversation. Thank you for taking the time to explain some of your ideas. I've been wanting to gain a better understanding of your ideas for a while now, and this helps.

I'm glad to hear that you're enjoying the conversation. It takes a considerable amount of openness and patience to even begin to question some of the things we're talking about, and I'm glad to partake in that investigation with you.

Regards,
Trent