Avoiding the spiritual path?

Tom Tom, modified 12 Years ago at 4/7/10 2:33 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/7/10 2:33 AM

Avoiding the spiritual path?

Posts: 466 Join Date: 9/19/09 Recent Posts
I was reading up on some of that Reggie Ray "body work" stuff Chuck referred me to and I saw an interview where Reggie Ray quotes Chogyam Trungpa, 'If you can possibly avoid the spiritual life you should do so."

This one really got the doubt rolling in my mind. Is this just a quote that people like to roll of their tongues in the midst of a nasty dark night, or does it have some legitimacy?

Anyways, I saw the quote here: http://www.dharmalife.com/issue26/playing.html

I thought this response here was a little over the top and contradicted many of the audio talks he has on karma (and overcoming your karmic situation). Though he is talking about the "tantric path" which is different than what is discussed here.
Tom Tom, modified 12 Years ago at 4/7/10 2:56 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/7/10 2:56 AM

RE: Avoiding the spiritual path?

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This also contradicts Buddha's assertion that the most valuable thing one can do with one's life is to learn and teach the dharma. Seems like they might have been having a bad day?
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Florian, modified 12 Years ago at 4/7/10 3:45 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/7/10 3:45 AM

RE: Avoiding the spiritual path?

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Hi Thomas,
I can think of many angles on this quote:

1. The "Insight Disease" quip by Daniel and others. Crossing the A&P, you "contract insight disease", and the only cure is more insight, until the disease goes away (arahatship). It's a funny way to put it, but it's true: once on the ride, you can't get off, and trying to get off will make you miserable. Most people I know don't want to get on that ride. Those who completed it report that it was worth it, and that's where the Buddha quote comes from, I guess.

2. Most people I know, if they are interested in meditation and other "spiritual" practices at all, just want a bit of calm, some sense of purpose, the aesthetics of spirituality (candles, cushions, community life, celebrations, noble ideals), fesivals and rites of passage, and so on. They wish to augment and enhance their lives, not get launched into a spiritual quest. This is perfectly legitimate, and if such a person were to accidentally cross the A&P by unwittingly doing a practice designed for that, their life would be "ruined" in the sense alluded to by Reggie Ray.

3. Meditation is often advertised as something purely beneficial, and expectations are severely skewed as a result. Daniel has a nice rant in MCTB where he compares insight practices to a potent medication that will upset one's brain chemistry as a side-effect. Such a medication would come with warnings and would be prescribed by trained physicians. So Daniel goes to great lengths to describe the possible side-effects.

4. As you say, the article is about specific Tibetan practices. But the "warning" applies to all insight practices.

You mentioned doubt rolling in your mind. In my experience, doubt always follows the pattern of "is this person right? Is that book correct? Will these practices lead to those results? ..." i.e. trying to find a satisfactory ordering of increasing "correctness" for lining up and comparing opinions, to decide which one I should hold. The only "cure" for this kind of spiritual doubt I'm aware of is to actually do the practices, and see for myself.

Cheers,
Florian
Tom Tom, modified 12 Years ago at 4/9/10 12:10 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/9/10 12:10 AM

RE: Avoiding the spiritual path?

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Okay, he elaborates on this is in an audio file "the tantric journey is down."
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 12 Years ago at 4/9/10 5:04 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/9/10 5:04 PM

RE: Avoiding the spiritual path?

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I also think you have to take statements by Chogyam Trungpa in the context of the time, culture, scene and who he was and what he was into talking about and how he said things.

He was reacting against a culture that he felt needed to hear things like that due to the imbalances he saw at that time from his point of view and tried to talk in a language he thought they would understand.

Having read a lot of his stuff and talked to a lot of people who know something more direct about what was happening then and who his audience was, I think what he was saying makes sense.

It obviously is nothing like what the Buddha was saying to potential monk recruits in India 2,500 years ago, as that context and style of presentation is completely different, so just a literal comparison of those words doesn't make much sense unless you consider broader factors.

Just as an aside, I am borrowing examples that Bart Ehrman, my New Testament professor in college used to use, when considering quotes from the Bible, but it applies here:

"I don't cheat on my income taxes" sounds straight forward enough and we all think we know what it means, unless you heard it said by someone with certain emphases, such as:

"I don't cheat on my income taxes"
"I don't cheat on my income taxes"
"I don't cheat on my income taxes"
"I don't cheat on my income taxes"

Or another phrase, one that seems so straightforward: "I love you."

We all think we know what this means, until you hear it in these contexts:

A mother says "I love you" to her son who has just been sentenced to death for murder.
A man says "I love you" to a prostitute he has just met.
A pet-owner says to their favorite cat, "I love you."
A husband who has been happily married to his wife of 50 years says "I love you" to her.
A 14-year old girl says to her new boyfriend of 2 days, "I love you".

None of those mean anything resembling the same thing except at the most superficial level.

Helpful?

Daniel
Tom Tom, modified 12 Years ago at 4/9/10 11:30 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/9/10 11:30 PM

RE: Avoiding the spiritual path?

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HAHA, I like this response. I suspected as much.
This Good Self, modified 12 Years ago at 4/10/10 12:48 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/10/10 12:48 AM

RE: Avoiding the spiritual path?

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I'm still wondering whether a spiritual life would be worthwhile for me to embark upon.

Here's a story about my work life. In my field of work, there used to be a widely held belief that to be really effective, you had to complete a particular post-graduate diploma. This diploma is 1 year full time study, and it's so intense and rigorous that it is well-known for breaking up marriages. As a new graduate, I was impressed by the way the diploma graduates spoke, the way they held themselves and the way they talked about the course. There was a lot of mutual backslapping amongst diploma graduates, and they always told degree graduates (like myself) that it was a necessary evil to complete this course. But I always questioned them, and I watched what they did very carefully, and after a while I realised they were no more accomplished than me. What they did was no better, their outcomes were no better, and the processes employed were usually identical. In fact my clients often told me they preferred what I did to what the diploma holders did. So they did all this study for nothing.

The universities had good intentions when they set up the course, and it was extremely rigorous and detailed, but the graduates and their clients were no better off. So in the end I didn't do it and I am so glad I didn't get sucked in by what others were saying. It was almost as if "well, I have suffered, now you must also" type of vibe. Nowadays no one does it.

Committing to the spiritual life seems like it may have some similarities!!! Sorry, but where are all the people with special powers? Where are the people who can heal? Where are the people who can see into the future? And much more important than all of this: where are the people with boundless joy for life?. I was sort of expecting people to be *more* happy than those who don't meditate. And if they aren't what's the point?
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 12 Years ago at 4/10/10 1:47 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/10/10 1:47 AM

RE: Avoiding the spiritual path?

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While I generally don't like to go here, perhaps this is my own stuff or something, but I am so much happier and more peaceful and clear due to the meditation things I have learned and done that words are unable to express it. I would recommend it to everyone who could possibly do it and believe the world would be a better place if people really saw into sensate reality as it is and the tangle of perception that drives them to unskillful internal experiences and external actions.

I haven't met anyone who had done it who didn't say it was worth it and more.

Things to consider,

Daniel
This Good Self, modified 12 Years ago at 4/10/10 2:37 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/10/10 2:33 AM

RE: Avoiding the spiritual path?

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Daniel, what's wrong with telling new guys like me how it has improved your life? It is the single most important thing I need to know!!. I trust what you say, enough to buy your book. I'm a good judge of character and I know you don't BS. So why not sing the praises of the payoffs it has given you? I want to know the payoff before I start - it makes perfect sense to me to approach it this way. I've read enough psychology to know that every single action we take will be to increase our pleasure/joy/happiness (or reduce their opposites). The Pleasure Principle, and all that stuff. Remember I'm a guy who has done very little in the way of meditating. I'm sitting on the sidelines wondering whether to jump in. If people say nothing about the benefits, how else could I understand why to start? One thing I like about Richard's approach (AF website) is that he describes in exqusite detail how wonderful and exciting and fulfilling his new life is. Whether or not i trust him is another matter, but I need a 'feel good' goal. I would never do this to make the world a better place or to appease God or Jesus or Buddha. If I'm happier, then I've improved the world in the process.
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 12 Years ago at 4/10/10 2:49 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/10/10 2:45 AM

RE: Avoiding the spiritual path?

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Note that even among the AF kids, of the 6 that say they have done it, 3 are highly skilled insight meditators who were at least anagamis when they did it, and they did it in much faster time than any of the pure-AF track practitioners, so things to consider.

A more thorough discussion of AF is long overdue here, and perhaps a new thread should be started to work out some things related to it, how it relates to the other traditions, methodologies, other ways of looking at it, and Richard's particular way of describing things.

I explain why I don't talk about the benefits in very specific terms from a methods point of view in my book at length, as I feel that selling it in various ways can gunk up insight practices, but this is a perennial debate about how we should advertise and describe these things, and there are many arguments to taking an approach other than mine and plenty who do, so if you need that, there are plenty of places to find it.
This Good Self, modified 12 Years ago at 4/11/10 2:18 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/11/10 2:18 AM

RE: Avoiding the spiritual path?

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ok that's good to know.

Richard certainly has a strange way of speaking at times, making it sound like he is the only person in history who has achieved what he has. I haven't read the entire site but I tend to believe what he says about himself, although I'm uneasy about him saying his method is better than every other. Has he met every practitioner on the planet? On the flip side, his descriptions of wonder and awe in every moment are compelling. I'd also like a new thread on his AF stuff.

Still in my 'due diligence' phase.
Kate Gowen, modified 12 Years ago at 4/11/10 2:25 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/11/10 2:25 PM

RE: Avoiding the spiritual path?

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Thomas Allen Vitale:
I was reading up on some of that Reggie Ray "body work" stuff Chuck referred me to and I saw an interview where Reggie Ray quotes Chogyam Trungpa, 'If you can possibly avoid the spiritual life you should do so."



To the best of my understanding, that quote is CTR's contemporarily-phrased version of what has been said in Tantric teachings for generations. The usual analogy is of a snake entering a bamboo tube: there is only one way out-- forward. The whole quotation as I have heard it repeated is , "Better not to enter the spiritual path; once entered-- better to complete it." That's what all the widely-misunderstood stuff about "Vajra Hell" is about: thinking that you can go back to 'before' when the going gets hard, and discovering that you're stuck in what you folks call the Dark Night.
aaron , modified 12 Years ago at 4/11/10 4:17 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 4/11/10 4:17 PM

RE: Avoiding the spiritual path?

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Hello Daniel,

I'm a former meditator myself who has been practicing the actualism method for a number of years(I practiced both actualism and vipassana at the same time for a number of years before stopping formal sit-down meditation for the last year and a half or so). I've been reading your message board for awhile and have read your excelent book.

>Daniel: Note that even among the AF kids, of the 6 that say they have done it, 3 are highly skilled insight meditators who were at least anagamis when they did it, and they did it in much faster time than any of the pure-AF track practitioners, so things to consider

# I'm very interested to hear this. My tally of actually free folks who have "gone public" are Richard, Peter, Vineeto, Pamela, and Justine. That makes five. Of course it sounds like Tarin is actually free now as well, but he has not explicitly said it on this board(though for anyone familiar with actual freedom it seems quite clear that he is describing this experience). So, I assume that is your six person. However, to my knowledge that would only be *one* highly skilled insight meditator. So, perhaps you have not heard of Justine becoming actually free and your considering l Trent as being actually free. That is still only 2 highly skilled insight meditators. Do you consider Peter, Vineeto or Pamela highly skilled insight meditators?

I indeed find this something "to consider" as if insight meditation does indeed facilate/speed up the process to actual freedom then that information needs to be put out in the open in a upfront and honest way without compromises. Practicing actualists should be aware of this even though it *may* be at odds with the "partyline"(so to speak) of the offical Actual Freedom Trust. However, this info may change their opinion(Peter, Vineeto, Richard) as they have changed their mind about other things when new facts have been presented.

Peter and Vineeto did have past vipassana practice. I'm not sure what Pamela practiced but I know she was a meditator. She by the way became actually free rather quickly from what I recall(quickly in comparison to Peter/Vineeto that is. 3 or so years I think, but I'm not sure). Justine apparently became actually free in less than 2 years I think(not sure if he was a meditator or not).

I have no wish to hijack this thread, so I'd be glad to take this to another thread.

Cheers!

Aaron

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