RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

A D R, modified 8 Years ago.

My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

Posts: 678 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
Hello,

Before I start this post, I would like to make a disclaimer that some of what I post here is based on speculation. I have not yet a 3rd path winner based on the MCTB models. With this in mind I would like to debate the correlation between the MCTB paths and the Tibetan Paths and Bhumis.

I recently came across this article:

http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/sutra/level4_deepening_understanding_path/path/five_pathway_minds_five_paths/5_pathway_minds.html

It is very interesting to note that one who has achieved the state of shamata, with full, natural access to the formed and formless jhanas has, according to the article above, only reached the mature stage of the 1st Tibetan Path.
In MCTB, Danial says that one who has finished the 1st Tibetan path is one who has crossed the A and P.
Something to me isn't matching up here. I would regulate full mastery of the absorbed jhanas as something which comes via 3rd path MCTB. According to my understanding of the 9 stages of calm abiding which culminates in shamata (Tibetan Elephant Herding Model), one who has crossed the A and P is only on the 2nd of 9 stages that culminates in shamata (MCTB stream entry being the 3rd stage in this model according to my understanding).

Based on my reading of the article, I come to the conclusion that the path of seeing (first bhumi, 3rd tibetan path) is actually MCTB 4th path. The author of the article also seems to imply that this is equivalent with the Fetter Model Stream Entry.


I would be interested if someone with higher attainment would read the above article. I just really don't see how MCTB 1st path can be Stream Entry, as I still have doubt, identity views, and rituals. For me its just that simple.
End in Sight, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

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A D R:
I would regulate full mastery of the absorbed jhanas as something which comes via 3rd path MCTB.


If mastery of "jhana" means "Visuddhimagga jhana": not a chance, I don't think those states are even recognized by MCTB. (There is a short discussion on this subject with me and Dan, somewhere, which may clarify my position if you're not familiar with it.)

If mastery of "jhana" means being able to zip around the nanas and solidify them with some added concentration: sure, but I don't think it's what the Tibetans are talking about.

I just really don't see how MCTB 1st path can be Stream Entry, as I still have doubt, identity views, and rituals. For me its just that simple.


I found working out correspondences between sutta stuff and other stuff to be fairly uncertain, myself.

I think the major thing is to ask yourself, do you think what appears to be a moment of unconsciousness is nibbana? If so, the MCTB 1sth path = stream entry seems very plausible, no matter how the other issues are resolved. If not, then it doesn't seem very plausible, no matter how the other issues are resolved.

Separately, I've seen different translations for the third fetter; from "attachment to rituals" to "clinging to virtue as the highest". Does anyone know, definitively, what the third fetter is supposed to refer to?
A D R, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

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End in Sight:


If mastery of "jhana" means "Visuddhimagga jhana": not a chance, I don't think those states are even recognized by MCTB. (There is a short discussion on this subject with me and Dan, somewhere, which may clarify my position if you're not familiar with it.)

If mastery of "jhana" means being able to zip around the nanas and solidify them with some added concentration: sure, but I don't think it's what the Tibetans are talking about.


Yeah, I guess my interpretation of what is meant by achieving a state of "shamatha" is a state of mind that is both flexible and stable where the jhanas can be naturally accessed without manipulation by some kind of affective force of will (ie not scripted). I have yet to reach this state of mind so I can not really make much more comment (as I said this post has some speculation involved on my part).

End in Sight:

I found working out correspondences between sutta stuff and other stuff to be fairly uncertain, myself.

I think the major thing is to ask yourself, do you think what appears to be a moment of unconsciousness is nibbana? If so, the MCTB 1sth path = stream entry seems very plausible, no matter how the other issues are resolved. If not, then it doesn't seem very plausible, no matter how the other issues are resolved.

Separately, I've seen different translations for the third fetter; from "attachment to rituals" to "clinging to virtue as the highest". Does anyone know, definitively, what the third fetter is supposed to refer to?



That is very interesting about the third fetter, and that would make more sense from my perspective (that I haven't permanently uprooted it)

I suppose that what I am after here in this thread is to ascertain why Daniel makes the claims that the paths and bhumis correspond to the MCTB stages as they do when all the literature and correspondence with Tibetan teachers I have had points in a different direction. For me getting this stuff right is very important, because I have made myself frustrated/confused several times trying to find where I was on the bhumi path (with the assumption that MCTB 1st path equaled the 1st Bhumi) when I hadn't even arrived yet. Something about knowing I still have a long way to go is actually reassuring for me because it tells me things can get much better and I am not going around wondering why I wasn't living up to the descriptions I was reading.

If I am wrong on all this please tear me apart with supporting evidence. emoticon
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D Z, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

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A D R:

I suppose that what I am after here in this thread is to ascertain why Daniel makes the claims that the paths and bhumis correspond to the MCTB stages as they do when all the literature and correspondence with Tibetan teachers I have had points in a different direction. For me getting this stuff right is very important, because I have made myself frustrated/confused several times trying to find where I was on the bhumi path (with the assumption that MCTB 1st path equaled the 1st Bhumi) when I hadn't even arrived yet. Something about knowing I still have a long way to go is actually reassuring for me because it tells me things can get much better and I am not going around wondering why I wasn't living up to the descriptions I was reading.


I agree with you in regards to the MCTB stage not matching with the Tibetan Bhumis, as laid out in the book.

It is aesthetically appealing to have all the paths lead to the same place, but this has not been the case in my experience.
A D R, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

Posts: 678 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
D Z:
A D R:

I suppose that what I am after here in this thread is to ascertain why Daniel makes the claims that the paths and bhumis correspond to the MCTB stages as they do when all the literature and correspondence with Tibetan teachers I have had points in a different direction. For me getting this stuff right is very important, because I have made myself frustrated/confused several times trying to find where I was on the bhumi path (with the assumption that MCTB 1st path equaled the 1st Bhumi) when I hadn't even arrived yet. Something about knowing I still have a long way to go is actually reassuring for me because it tells me things can get much better and I am not going around wondering why I wasn't living up to the descriptions I was reading.


I agree with you in regards to the MCTB stage not matching with the Tibetan Bhumis, as laid out in the book.

It is aesthetically appealing to have all the paths lead to the same place, but this has not been the case in my experience.


I am not sure how I feel about what I posted at this moment (it seems like this is probably the case with a lot of posts I have made). One thing to keep in mind in this posting is that I think I was primarily operating with the assumption that the models always progress linearly, that the models work together as some kind of package (thinking bhumi/5 path here), that the models are 2 dimensional, etc.

An example would be:

I tried to "figure out" how all the Tibetan models work together (working out of a Gelupga tradition):

I was like, ok, first you finish the 9 stages of shamatha, then you work through the Bhumis, then you do the tantras from action all the way up to highest yoga tantra. There were several variations of this, but none of them left my mind satisfied.

So, the jury is out for me on all this at the moment. My approach now is that I should get some deeper insight before analyzing the teachings too much.
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Fitter Stoke, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

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I’m inclined to agree that MCTB 4th path is equivalent with stream entry on the 10-fetters model.

Part of the mismatch between our paths and the paths in other systems is that we’re using jhanas to determine how much progress someone has made. Presumably the idea for this comes from assertions of Buddhaghosa’s to the effect that only Anagamis and Arahants can access this or that jhana or state. This is true or false depending on what we mean when we say “jhana”.

Yuttadhammo says somewhere in a youtube video I cannot find that different teachers have very different concepts of what counts as jhana. I’ve observed this to be true. The jhana of Pa Auk Sayadaw is not the same as the jhana of Leigh Brasington, and I don’t think either of them is practicing the same jhana that a lot of people in pragmatic dharma practice. I’ve even gotten the impression that people in pragmatic dharma are not all practicing the same jhana, as some of them use antonyms to describe the same state.

The human mind is extraordinarily suggestible. I have no doubt that a meditation teacher can guide a student through “jhana”, and I’m not even doubting that there is some usefulness to this; though it’s a serious error to attribute any significance—especially this or that “path”—to the achievement of such a state without (a) specifying in precise terms what one means by "jhana" and (b) specifying exactly whose criteria/map one is using.

“Jhanas” are typically used to place people on the maps after our first or second paths, but we decide someone has achieved stream entry when they’ve completed the progress of insight as described by Mahasi. I’m not sure what to make of this.

On the one hand, for anyone who follows directions and develops strong insight technique, the progress of insight is going to arise. These insight stages arise like clockwork, even in people who have never heard of them.

Furthermore, these insight stages are not at all subtle for an outside observer listening to a yogi report their experiences. Sure, some of them blend into one another (I’m thinking especially of the way the second and third ñanas blend together, as well as ñanas 5-10). But it’s obvious as a dog’s balls when someone has hit the Arising & Passing or Equanimity Regarding Formations. So I’m dubious of the idea that we’re somehow misusing or misunderstanding the progress of insight. It happens in some cases, sure, but I’ve seen enough to believe this stages are real, that they unfold in roughly the way Mahasi described them, and that it’s possible for an experienced yogi to identify them with ease.

What I can’t understand is why so many people are able to complete the progress of insight—all the way up to fruition and review—and yet they clearly still have all the fetters intact. I’m moving toward the view that, while completing a full insight cycle can certainly advance one’s practice, and therefore move one closer to the ultimate goal of removing the conditions of dukkha, by itself it has no effect at all on how much dukkha one does or does not experience as a baseline. (It’s common to feel very little suffering in Review, though in my experience, that tends to drop off rapidly in the weeks following “path”.)

I’m not a teacher, but if I were one, I would suggest that, if you’ve completed the progress of insight, the best thing to do would be to use that momentum to get what we call “4th path” (MCTB 4th path) and not worry about anything in between. The mind develops powerful, deep insight into the condition of existing by going through the progress of insight, there’s no doubt. What we call “dark night” is an extremely potent tool for seeing the absolute unsuitability for lasting happiness of anything conditioned. Disillusionment followed by disidentification and relinquishment. This is really the key to the Buddhist path of liberation, in my opinion. Altered states like jhanas (insofar as the term isn’t fully ambiguous) are merely scaffolding for getting to this insight.
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Simon T., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

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Developing a better way to diagnose MCTB SE with be both useful for practice and theory. The fact that the first 3 fetters are generally said to be dropped, not just weaknened, might be unrealistic but it's also a matter of definition.

If my memory is correct, the Visuddhimagga classify the first two path as path of virtue, the third one as concentration and the last one as a path of knowledge, or something like that.

The first path doesn't increase much the degree of presence, perception-wise. That make it difficult to diagnose if the event was sublte the person hadn't a too debilating dark night and confusing equanimity, to contrast it with coming back to full cognitive abilities.

The reason I took so long to claim SE (beside it happening on mushroom but I will leave that to another discussion...) is that the results weren't that impressive. It was obvious I was out of the dark night but for a while I was thinking I had just reset my brain and was back to baseline.

So we have a wide range of perceived change at SE from people to people. Kenneth Folk said it took him quite a while before he acknowledge SE to himself. There quite a few people here that aren't too sure if they got SE or not. I suppose some of us did and some of us don't. On the other end of the spectrum, you have people that feel super Enlightened after SE, at least for a while. It's quite possible that account of sudden Enlightenement (as opposed to 4 stages) by prominent gurus fall into that category.

So as long as we don't have better way to diagnose MCTB/Therevada SE, it's going to be hard to align it with what is found in any other tradition.

So, how do these 3 fetters manifest? I remember wanting to leave one of my first retreat during some difficult stage because I was thinking I didn't have accumulated enough merit. I was thinking of going do some charity work to make me feel good about myself. That's what I consider to be identity view. Trying to find some comfort in things we identify to, like academic or work achievement, sexy girlfriends, etc. Emotion of pride and shame will still arise after SE but they aren't comforting.

After SE, you know what is path and what is non-path. If I don't wake up in the morning to go practice or do some important stuff, it's just because "fuck it". I don't really tell myself anymore a story about how I deserve this extra sleep because I've been working so hard. This relate to the doubt in the dharma that should be dropped at SE. There is no doubt that waking up and practicing is the way to go for progress. There is no need for justification for doing otherwise. Those justifications are what is casting doubt on the dharma.

Before SE entry, it's very difficult to align the training of morality with practice since we have all those stories we tell about ourselves. We tell a story of self-loathing, then we counterbalance it with a feel-good story, and we buy into them.

After SE, we have much more power to be virtuous but we are also warned by the elders (a quote by Buddhadasa come to mind) that attachment to virtue is the most dangerous of all. The path requires accepting our how humanity, hence our own limitations. I found the second dark night to be when the new found virtues of SE are put to test.

I'm getting somewhat carried away so better I stop here. My point is that it's all fuzzy.
Some Guy, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

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Personally, I have found the paths to mark profound shifts in baseline suffering. And I haven't really understood the idea that the fetter model is so far beyond MCTB practice. It seems to me a matter of degrees, and variations in personal value systems.

But I have wondered about many 4th path experiences (not thinking of any in particular) and whether they line up with what Mr. MCTB describes. Daniel says 4th path for him was "absolute centerlessness... absolute agencylessness..." I'm quoting from memory, but it was all fairly absolute. Yet other 4th path yogis have said, there is still sort of a self there, and sort of a center there, it's just less sticky. And from what I can tell the 4th path diagnosis is the toughest of all. So, we may not be discussing the same MCTB model. I dunno.

Thinking over the questions raised in this thread, it occurs to me that a thorough, high-quality survey could shed a lot of light. It wouldn't be very expensive. It would just take some expertise and free time (2 things that rarely occur together ha ha ), but add it to the MCTB science journal project.

Fitter, I wonder if your sense of the baseline not shifting much between paths has to do with the speed with which you progressed.
Russell ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

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I think the speed of progress is a huge factor in all of this. We are talking big changes to the mind, very quickly. There is a lot of integration post 4th path. You look at someone like Daniel or Kenneth who practiced for years and years to figure this stuff out, and by the time they finally did it, there was a lot of purification along the way. Now take Fitter or myself who got it in a little over a year, well, now it's time for the purification/integration process to ripen. I already see it happening.
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Simon T., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

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Russell .:
I think the speed of progress is a huge factor in all of this. We are talking big changes to the mind, very quickly. There is a lot of integration post 4th path. You look at someone like Daniel or Kenneth who practiced for years and years to figure this stuff out, and by the time they finally did it, there was a lot of purification along the way. Now take Fitter or myself who got it in a little over a year, well, now it's time for the purification/integration process to ripen. I already see it happening.


Did you make that progress on retreat or working on this in "real" life? Dealing with this stuff on a cushion vs dealing with it in a conference room or facing deadlines could lead to a different kind of reprogramming.
Russell ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

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All in "real life". Never been on a retreat.
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Fitter Stoke, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

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Some Guy:
But I have wondered about many 4th path experiences (not thinking of any in particular) and whether they line up with what Mr. MCTB describes. Daniel says 4th path for him was "absolute centerlessness... absolute agencylessness..." I'm quoting from memory, but it was all fairly absolute. Yet other 4th path yogis have said, there is still sort of a self there, and sort of a center there, it's just less sticky. And from what I can tell the 4th path diagnosis is the toughest of all. So, we may not be discussing the same MCTB model. I dunno.


I strongly agree with this. There are yogis who have been declared 4th path by their teachers who are pretty sure they are not 4th path, at least in the sense that either Kenneth or Daniel achieved. (No, I cannot share who I have in mind, unfortunately.) And then there have been a few high profile examples of the opposite, where a person thought they got 4th path, but one person or another (maybe someone who knew their practice or maybe someone who didn't) was loudly dubious.
Some Guy, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

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Does anyone have links to a good philological discussion of the fetters? It occurs to me maybe the reason I don't think they're a big deal is that I'm misinterpreting them.

For example, I think of ill will as meaning hate. I don't really see hatred in myself as compared to before. So, personally, I feel satisfied with the weakening of that fetter. I don't really wish anyone ill. On the other hand, I still dislike some and prefer others. Similarly for sensual desire. I don't feel compelled to distraction... much. That's very liberating. But if enlightenment = celibacy, then I'm not close to attaining the insight that would make that desirable.

Anyway, the idea that MCTB practice is just the beginning is pretty exciting. Nice to think this can only get better. emoticon
Matthew Horn, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

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Some Guy:
Does anyone have links to a good philological discussion of the fetters? It occurs to me maybe the reason I don't think they're a big deal is that I'm misinterpreting them.

For example, I think of ill will as meaning hate. I don't really see hatred in myself as compared to before. So, personally, I feel satisfied with the weakening of that fetter. I don't really wish anyone ill. On the other hand, I still dislike some and prefer others. Similarly for sensual desire. I don't feel compelled to distraction... much. That's very liberating. But if enlightenment = celibacy, then I'm not close to attaining the insight that would make that desirable.

Anyway, the idea that MCTB practice is just the beginning is pretty exciting. Nice to think this can only get better. emoticon


Can anyone point to a solid scholarly treatment of the various developmental models in early Buddhism, including the asava (influx/canker), 10-fetter, and 4-stage models? With so much unsourced theory floating around, it's difficult for any one of us, much less the community, to establish the common definitions we'd need as a baseline to begin identifying these models' commonalities and oppositions.

Fitter: "I’m inclined to agree that MCTB 4th path is equivalent with stream entry on the 10-fetters model."

How does this claim hold up against a Vissuddhimagga/MCTB stream-entrant's:

-Ability to experience the initial path fruition and subsequent fruitions; if these experiences of the unfabricated aren't nirvana, what are they? Are there any textual descriptions of a nirvana-like cessation event, contemporaneous with a profound and permanent elimination of dukkha, that also doesn't coincide with stream-entry?

-Abandonment of identification with personality view; I interpret this to mean emotional attachment to the life narrative or idea of a permanent, inescapable body-mind self existing throughout time, and whether this self was or will be good or bad, worthy or worthless. If you disagree with this definition of the 'personality view' fetter, how would you define it?

-Abandonment of doubt concerning the practice; knowing that specific intentions and actions lead to liberation from specific subtypes of dukkha [not dukkha-dukkha] in this lifetime. This abandonment of doubt is a consequence of internalizing the practice that originally led to stream-entry.

-Abandonment of rites and rituals; no longer believing in the efficacy of OCD tendencies and/or oblations to a deity for bringing about the extinction of dukkha. A practitioner with severe OCD might still experience compulsive thinking and urges, but the compulsive thinking would be seen more clearly as not-self (the same goes for any chronic mental illness post-SE). Also, a post-SE practitioner with specific types of siddhi cultivation might believe that a sincere, concentrated/clear-willed attempt to request clarification or instruction from the Suddhavasa devas would result in a response, but this is equivalent to a cosmic Skype call, it's not the same as believing that path progress can only be bestowed by divine grace.

I'm inclined to agree that experiences of MCTB/Vissuddhimagga path-and-review after stream-entry potentially don't sync up with the fetter model at all. Daniel's notes on the "twelfth path" phenomenon describe many path-and-review stages sometimes needed merely to attain MCTB 4th path, so the progress to 4th path isn't easy to model even within the MCTB framework. Obviously Daniel himself doesn't satisfy the fetter model of enlightenment, despite Sayadaw U Pandita, Jr. having recognized his arahat attainment. The only record I can find of Daniel's post about this is here, about halfway down the page. I remember reading the original somewhere but I can no longer find it.

I don't think there's any textual justification for the idea that someone who has experienced X-number of path-and-review stages as described in the Vissuddhimagga will necessarily eliminate particular fetters. The misconception might have come about because MCTB/Vissuddhimagga stream-entry does lead to the abandonment of the first three fetters, whereas the subsequent paths do not necessarily make one a sakadagami, anagami, or arahat, but that's pure speculation.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

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@Fitter Stoke: you assume that Kenneth and I achieved the same thing: we describe our experiences and what we consider important and essential to what occurred very differently, just FYI. I am not trying to re-open the proprietary fight for control of the criteria for the term 4th path, but instead trying to get to something that is more divorced from trying to cram so much into one term and instead focusing on the phenomenology.

Kenneth focuses on the feeling of doneness in what he did. For him, that was really important.

I found that suddenly there was no sense of center-point, doer, controller, Subject, and that there was and just is this transient, flickering, luminous, essentially self-aware/manifest field of experience, one part of which is this body and mind.

These debates focus things back on religions/proprietary/sectarian term definition wars and less on practice, what is going on, and what is possible on many and various fronts of development, and I would prefer to try to get to the latter and try to draw what is skillful from the former only as it helps with the latter, being a pragmatist and non-dogmatician at heart.
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Fitter Stoke, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

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Daniel M. Ingram:
These debates focus things back on religions/proprietary/sectarian term definition wars and less on practice, what is going on, and what is possible on many and various fronts of development, and I would prefer to try to get to the latter and try to draw what is skillful from the former only as it helps with the latter, being a pragmatist and non-dogmatician at heart.


The correct amount of theory to have is always precisely the amount of theory I have right now. Anyone who has less theory than me just doesn't have the tools necessary to penetrate reality. Anyone who has more theory than me is excessively heady. ;-)
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dream walker, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

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It's always frustrating reading these cross path comparisons as that they always seem to be speculation and not of actual first hand experience. Is there a tibetan path person that has traversed the bhumis and can speak from experience? If no why not? Shouldn't there be a bhumioverground somewhere?
An Eternal Now, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

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A D R:
Hello,

Before I start this post, I would like to make a disclaimer that some of what I post here is based on speculation. I have not yet a 3rd path winner based on the MCTB models. With this in mind I would like to debate the correlation between the MCTB paths and the Tibetan Paths and Bhumis.
Without going into details, but based on Mahayana texts (part of what I'm writing is based on what I've read in Chinese so don't ask me to reproduce it in English):

1st bhumi = direct realization of twofold emptiness, removal of view-confusion (all forms of self view in terms of subjective self and objective phenomena)
2nd bhumi onwards = gradual perfection of paramitas, qualities, and attenuation of afflictions in terms of craving, aggression and delusion. Gradual removal of practice-confusion
8th bhumi = complete elimination of afflictions
11th bhumi/buddhahood = removal of remaining cognitive obscurations (http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Cognitive_obscurations) preventing omniscience. Perfection of all qualities

MCTB 4th path I'd say is something like realizing firstfold emptiness, anatta.

In terms of four fetter path, how does it line up with 10 bhumis? In terms of insight, there is some difference, as the arahant path is considered to only realize firstfold emptiness (though I'm not sure if the original arahants of Buddha's times do realize twofold emptiness or not, Buddha certainly did as expressed in Pali suttas). Mahayana path requires realization of twofold emptiness to ascend to 1st bhumi.

In terms of affliction/fetter model correlation, 1st bhumi is somewhat analogous to sotapanna, 2nd to 7th bhumi is somewhat analogous to sakadagami to anagami, 8th bhumi is analogous to arahantship. An 8th bhumi bodhisattva has removed the same afflictions or fetters an arahant has removed.

However when Daniel lines up MCTB 4th path to 8th bhumi, there is a problem, as 8th bhumi correlation with arahantship is based on 'fetter model arahantship', but MCTB 4th path does not really follow fetter model, though it could be equivalent to fetter model sotapanna. Is 8th bhumi exactly the same as fetter model arahantship? I don't think so, but in terms of affliction removal there is that correlation.

Oh and is MCTB 1st path equivalent to first bhumi? Definitely not. In fact I would not say it is fetter model sotapanna either. See http://sgforums.com/forums/1728/topics/447451

You will not find any experiential correlation of MCTB 1st path to any Mahayana and Vajrayana paths. I agree with EIS: "I think the major thing is to ask yourself, do you think what appears to be a moment of unconsciousness is nibbana? If so, the MCTB 1sth path = stream entry seems very plausible, no matter how the other issues are resolved. If not, then it doesn't seem very plausible, no matter how the other issues are resolved."

I do not see any tradition nowadays apart from some Burmese practitioners like Mahasi Sayadaw equating 'a moment of unconsciousness' with Nibbana. Not that this attainment is not to be esteemed etc, it just isn't considered as an indicator of enlightenment in all the Theravada [e.g. Thai forest tradition]/Mahayana/Vajrayana traditions with exception of those Burmese schools. It is a unique aim of particular schools within Theravada.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

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@An Eternal Now: It is not unique to that tradition of Buddhism (Mahasi) to equate Fruitions with one of the meanings of Nibbana: see the Abhidhamma for the source of this, which is obviously old, and referenced even occasionally by the Tibetans as well as all the major Theravadan traditions I am aware of. It is amazing how these simple points have to be made again and again and again. I'll bet this is the 5th time I have posted this somewhere on the DhO.

Nibbana is used two ways, one as Fruition (that vanishing of reality that occurs at Stream Entry and subsequent Paths and Review Cycles), one as the dissolution of the ignorance that creates a separate identity, correlating however you like.

Daniel
An Eternal Now, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

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Daniel M. Ingram:
@An Eternal Now: It is not unique to that tradition of Buddhism (Mahasi) to equate Fruitions with one of the meanings of Nibbana: see the Abhidhamma for the source of this, which is obviously old, and referenced even occasionally by the Tibetans as well as all the major Theravadan traditions I am aware of. It is amazing how these simple points have to be made again and again and again. I'll bet this is the 5th time I have posted this somewhere on the DhO.

Nibbana is used two ways, one as Fruition (that vanishing of reality that occurs at Stream Entry and subsequent Paths and Review Cycles), one as the dissolution of the ignorance that creates a separate identity, correlating however you like.

Daniel
I'm sure whatever you said has some basis on commentaries and texts. However the commentaries and texts all say different things. Some may even tell you that enlightenment has nothing to do with realizing no-self but realizing the changeless True Self beyond all aggregates, and they can also cite some Mahayana texts to prove their point.

The point is not that the kind of blackout fruition that you're talking about is not important as I'm sure it is important to your path... the point is that different paths have different emphasis and markers for enlightenment.

I do not think MCTB talks about I AM realization in the nanas and paths, but in my path, that is an important marker for an important realization. It is not necessarily what the Buddha taught or his disciples went through (more Hindu related), but it is to me an important realization. But it is also not necessarily what Buddha saw as enlightenment. It could be what some Hindus see as enlightenment though.

If you talk to Zen masters and Tibetan masters, they may probably dismiss blackout fruition experiences as being unimportant or unrelated to the path. Also not only Zen and Tibetan - the Thai forest masters, as Jack Kornfield pointed out, has little regard for those blackout fruitions too.

But if you talk about your MCTB 4th path insight, there may be common areas to discuss. When I talked about my no-self experience and realization with two Zen masters - one from the Soto Zen (at a zen center in Brisbane where I'm at now, which I frequent) and another from Kwan Um (Korean) Zen school, both teachers have no problems relating with what I said at all. They smile in recognition and elaborate on my experience. But they do not teach anything related to blackout fruition.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

Posts: 3169 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
The point of what you call blackout Fruition is actually not the blackout Fruition, really, so that represents a misunderstanding on your part, and perhaps plenty of other people's parts.

Fruitions are very nice, make permanent changes to the mind at times (new paths or cycles or whatever you want to call them). Conformity knowledge is actually in many ways as or more important than the Fruitions, as that moment or two that occurs right before Fruitions, for those who recognize what it is, really shows one something profound about the true nature of things, something that can become more and more a part of one's waking, living, walking around experience.

In the early paths, at least in the system I work in, Fruitions tend to stand out, make an impression, and may be associated with the sense of the Ultimate, such as some Ultimate Potential that lives between the Frames of Manifestation, or something like that, at least in the meditator's way of trying to conceptualize something about Fruitions, as conceptualization and analysis is a normal activity of the mind.

However, as things go along, the focus of practice shifts to seeing all sensate manifestation as the point, and the luminosity, integration, emptiness, fullness, transience, causality, naturalness, centerlessness, directness, immediacy, vibrancy, and that sort of thing become more and more the focus, with Fruitions just being some nice thing that happens sometimes.

Thus, while you associate Fruitions with having some importance to what you call MCTB 4th (a term that basically everyone here defines at least slightly differently if not profoundly differently from how I define it, whatever...), in fact, at the higher stages of awakening they are not particularly important, except that just before them there is this glimpse of a totally integrated, totally instantly and directly self-comprehended (in that the field of manifestation/space/awareness or whatever you want to call it naturally and totally and effortlessly comprehended directly the whole of itself in both its relative and ultimate natures, there at that point being no difference between those).

I agree with you totally that Zen has no interest in anything like Fruitions, just the results of those Fruitions, and they could be classified as either the total sludge at the bottom of the barrel regarding the world of meditative phenomenology and mapping, or could equally be praised for not even wasting their time with things like how it all goes down, just with the results. I can make a strong case for both points, but I can make a stronger case for knowing both what the punch line is and also having gotten the joke that lead to it.

Regarding Tibetan Masters, I have had varied answers regarding this in my very brief conversations with them, and would consider myself no expert in their opinions on this matter, so will leave that to your expertise.

However, I can definitely say that recognizing Fruitions when the happen and realizing what they are and aren't can have pragmatic value, particularly in trying to remember what happened just before them, as that just before them was a taste of something that, when it develops and becomes more and more of one's waking experience, is extremely profound.
Roger that, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

Posts: 10 Join Date: 4/8/13 Recent Posts
I myself have never experienced any "blackout fruitions" but I consider myself a sekha-patipada (ditthi patta, saddha vimutta etc.) I can't really comment on fruitions in and of themselves, but I would like to make another point: despite the fact that MCTB framework may be bizarre in relation to the sutta framework, this is one of those curious situations where, on a whole, there is plenty of progress being made. As such the issues of whether or not fruitions are really fruitions, where or not the insight knowledges are real, are really just minor things.
Matthew Horn, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

Posts: 119 Join Date: 1/30/13 Recent Posts
While AEN's post is excellent from a scholarly exegetical point of view, it exemplifies some common issues with discussion about the maps of insight as they pertain to actual dharma practice.

Please throw us a bone
I can go plenty of places on the internet to find people:
  • Cherry-picking the suttas and commentaries to 'disprove' somebody else's quote from the suttas and commentaries, thereby proving over and over, to the benefit of nobody's practice, that the suttas and commentaries contradict themselves and each other, which we already knew
  • Quoting an eminent teacher to 'disprove' somebody else's quote from an eminent teacher, thereby proving over and over, to the benefit of nobody's practice, that eminent teachers contradict each other, which we already knew
  • Arguing, that since a) A particular real-life advanced practitioner's carefully elucidated phenomenology of insight practice doesn't describe real attainment because it doesn't match something in a book; then b) The real-life advanced practitioner's phenomenology and claims to attainment should be rejected; without pointing out any of the following:
    i. An alternative real-life advanced practitioner who possesses 'real attainment'
    ii. An alternative carefully elucidated phenomenology of 'real insight'
    iii. Actual or better practices that lead to 'real insight', as opposed to those practiced by the not-truly-advanced real-life practitioner whose fake attainment and fake/worse practices should rejected

In MCTB, Daniel claims that 1) practicing concentration to purify and sharpen the mind and 2) investigating the three characteristics in moment-to-moment experience lead to insight, and he explains what's expected to happen when an individual follows these instructions. Daniel’s instructions and phenomenology, while informed by his experience, are basically derived from the Vissudhimagga/Vimuttimagga commentaries on the suttas and teachings of the Mahasi tradition. Can you point out which elements of MCTB's instructions and phenomenology are incorrect, or if not, can you point me to someone who can?

More specifically, should I not concentrate on a meditation object to purify and sharpen the mind before investigating the three characteristics of sensations to penetrate their nature? If so, what should I do instead? Should I reject my cycling through the nanas as irrelevant to insight practice, instead looking to other markers of progress? If so, what are they?

What is the character of the experiences one is expected to have while progressing toward a path attainment, and what happens in moment-to-moment experience when someone who was a worldling becomes a sotapanna, a sotapanna becomes a sakadagami, etc.? How does a person change after a path attainment? Surely people must be doing this somewhere and be willing to talk about it.

'MCTB Nibbana' (whatever that is) as 'a moment of unconsciousness'
Nibbana, as described by Daniel and confirmed by many yogis here and elsewhere, is an experientially unique state in which 'awareness is present' without any subject, object, inflows to the six sense doors, dukkha, or excitation of any kind. Here are some excellent descriptions of nibbana from the suttas themselves:

Bahiya Sutta
Where water, earth,
fire, & wind
have no footing:
There the stars don't shine,
the sun isn't visible.
There the moon doesn't appear.
There darkness is not found.
And when a sage,
a brahman through sagacity,
has realized [this] for himself,
then from form & formless,
from bliss & pain,
he is freed.


Nibbana Sutta
There is that dimension, monks, where there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind; neither dimension of the infinitude of space, nor dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, nor dimension of nothingness, nor dimension of neither perception nor non-perception; neither this world, nor the next world, nor sun, nor moon. And there, I say, there is neither coming, nor going, nor staying; neither passing away nor arising: unestablished, unevolving, without support. This, just this, is the end of stress.

Nibbana, the supramundane cessation of fabrications, is something totally unique in that it is the only unfabricated 'experience'. It is quite distinct from "a moment of unconsciousness" or mundane cessation of sensory experience. Momentary unconsciousness can begin in many ways, have many aftereffects, and any of us can enjoy its varied flavors by taking a nap, hitting our heads, drinking bourbon until we black out, or entering nirodha-samapatti, a special variety of mundane unconsciousness in which all experience ceases, except the impression of 'awareness' or 'experience' remains afterward. The Vissudhimagga explains that nirodha-samapatti (momentary meditative unconsciousness) is available only to anagamis and arahants, unlike the supramundane cessation called ‘nibbana’, which sotapannas and sakadagamis will have already experienced. Daniel, Kenneth Folk, and many of their students discovered they were able to enter nirodha-samapatti after attaining "MCTB 3rd path", suggesting these MCTB 3rd path-ers were also "Vissudhimagga anagamis".

Ajahn Yuttadhammo, a Thai forest monk, on the difficulty of describing the experience of nibbana
More Ajahn Yuttadhammo about the experience of nibbana – The released, unfabricated state of nibbana is clearly distinct from mundane unconsciousness.

Not a path attainment?
For myself and many other practitioners, the sutta descriptions of nibbana and Ajahn Yuttadhammo's description in the videos above do match the Mahasi-style fruition ‘experience’. Path fruitions are followed by colossal, unmistakable, and permanent reductions in dukkha. If these supramundane cessations aren't nibbana, what are they? If stream-entry isn’t that first Mahasi-style fruition followed by a dramatic, permanent eradication of dukkha as a consequence of abandoning particular ways of being (which match the first three fetters of the suttas), then what does stream-entry look like in terms of moment-to-moment experience? Can you point out any teachers who, upon reviewing Kenneth or Daniel’s attainments face-to-face, would almost certainly say ‘this person is a mere stream-enterer?’

Will the real arahant/bodhisattva please stand up?
While not discussing one’s attainments, not describing what they’re like and how to ‘get’ them, is definitely a good idea most of the time, there are scads of practitioners with “little dust in their eyes...perishing from not hearing the dharma”, who don’t practice because they've been told attainments are impossible for householders, westerners, etc. There are also scads of ‘Buddhists’ claiming that pragmatic dharma teachers don’t have real insight because they don’t meet arbitrary sets of sutta criteria. If only these Buddhists would come forward with alternative practice tools that actually work and contact info for real teachers, who presumably must exist out there somewhere. There's always the possibility that the real enlightened masters are all Asian, don't want to be found, and don't see an urgent need for true dharma teaching in the West, but for various reasons that seems pretty unlikely.

If you’re reasonably sure MCTB is counterfeit dharma, and you know of an arahant/bodhisattva teaching the true dharma (presumably there must be bodhisattvas on Earth who have stuck around to help us), you have a very serious responsibility to pass that information on to the many yogis who’ve wasted their time with false meditation practices chasing mastery of fake attainments. If not, we can keep quoting suttas and commentaries forever without referring to our direct experience (I predict different suttas and commentaries will contradict each other!) until somebody drops the Kalama-bomb and kills the discussion.
An Eternal Now, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

Posts: 638 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
Matthew Horn:
While AEN's post is excellent from a scholarly exegetical point of view, it exemplifies some common issues with discussion about the maps of insight as they pertain to actual dharma practice.

Please throw us a bone
I can go plenty of places on the internet to find people:
  • Cherry-picking the suttas and commentaries to 'disprove' somebody else's quote from the suttas and commentaries, thereby proving over and over, to the benefit of nobody's practice, that the suttas and commentaries contradict themselves and each other, which we already knew
  • Quoting an eminent teacher to 'disprove' somebody else's quote from an eminent teacher, thereby proving over and over, to the benefit of nobody's practice, that eminent teachers contradict each other, which we already knew
  • Arguing, that since a) A particular real-life advanced practitioner's carefully elucidated phenomenology of insight practice doesn't describe real attainment because it doesn't match something in a book; then b) The real-life advanced practitioner's phenomenology and claims to attainment should be rejected; without pointing out any of the following:
    i. An alternative real-life advanced practitioner who possesses 'real attainment'
    ii. An alternative carefully elucidated phenomenology of 'real insight'
    iii. Actual or better practices that lead to 'real insight', as opposed to those practiced by the not-truly-advanced real-life practitioner whose fake attainment and fake/worse practices should rejected

In MCTB, Daniel claims that 1) practicing concentration to purify and sharpen the mind and 2) investigating the three characteristics in moment-to-moment experience lead to insight, and he explains what's expected to happen when an individual follows these instructions. Daniel’s instructions and phenomenology, while informed by his experience, are basically derived from the Vissudhimagga/Vimuttimagga commentaries on the suttas and teachings of the Mahasi tradition. Can you point out which elements of MCTB's instructions and phenomenology are incorrect, or if not, can you point me to someone who can?

More specifically, should I not concentrate on a meditation object to purify and sharpen the mind before investigating the three characteristics of sensations to penetrate their nature? If so, what should I do instead? Should I reject my cycling through the nanas as irrelevant to insight practice, instead looking to other markers of progress? If so, what are they?

What is the character of the experiences one is expected to have while progressing toward a path attainment, and what happens in moment-to-moment experience when someone who was a worldling becomes a sotapanna, a sotapanna becomes a sakadagami, etc.? How does a person change after a path attainment? Surely people must be doing this somewhere and be willing to talk about it.

'MCTB Nibbana' (whatever that is) as 'a moment of unconsciousness'
Nibbana, as described by Daniel and confirmed by many yogis here and elsewhere, is an experientially unique state in which 'awareness is present' without any subject, object, inflows to the six sense doors, dukkha, or excitation of any kind. Here are some excellent descriptions of nibbana from the suttas themselves:

Bahiya Sutta
Where water, earth,
fire, & wind
have no footing:
There the stars don't shine,
the sun isn't visible.
There the moon doesn't appear.
There darkness is not found.
And when a sage,
a brahman through sagacity,
has realized [this] for himself,
then from form & formless,
from bliss & pain,
he is freed.


Nibbana Sutta
There is that dimension, monks, where there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind; neither dimension of the infinitude of space, nor dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, nor dimension of nothingness, nor dimension of neither perception nor non-perception; neither this world, nor the next world, nor sun, nor moon. And there, I say, there is neither coming, nor going, nor staying; neither passing away nor arising: unestablished, unevolving, without support. This, just this, is the end of stress.

Nibbana, the supramundane cessation of fabrications, is something totally unique in that it is the only unfabricated 'experience'. It is quite distinct from "a moment of unconsciousness" or mundane cessation of sensory experience. Momentary unconsciousness can begin in many ways, have many aftereffects, and any of us can enjoy its varied flavors by taking a nap, hitting our heads, drinking bourbon until we black out, or entering nirodha-samapatti, a special variety of mundane unconsciousness in which all experience ceases, except the impression of 'awareness' or 'experience' remains afterward. The Vissudhimagga explains that nirodha-samapatti (momentary meditative unconsciousness) is available only to anagamis and arahants, unlike the supramundane cessation called ‘nibbana’, which sotapannas and sakadagamis will have already experienced. Daniel, Kenneth Folk, and many of their students discovered they were able to enter nirodha-samapatti after attaining "MCTB 3rd path", suggesting these MCTB 3rd path-ers were also "Vissudhimagga anagamis".

Ajahn Yuttadhammo, a Thai forest monk, on the difficulty of describing the experience of nibbana
More Ajahn Yuttadhammo about the experience of nibbana – The released, unfabricated state of nibbana is clearly distinct from mundane unconsciousness.

Not a path attainment?
For myself and many other practitioners, the sutta descriptions of nibbana and Ajahn Yuttadhammo's description in the videos above do match the Mahasi-style fruition ‘experience’. Path fruitions are followed by colossal, unmistakable, and permanent reductions in dukkha. If these supramundane cessations aren't nibbana, what are they? If stream-entry isn’t that first Mahasi-style fruition followed by a dramatic, permanent eradication of dukkha as a consequence of abandoning particular ways of being (which match the first three fetters of the suttas), then what does stream-entry look like in terms of moment-to-moment experience? Can you point out any teachers who, upon reviewing Kenneth or Daniel’s attainments face-to-face, would almost certainly say ‘this person is a mere stream-enterer?’

Will the real arahant/bodhisattva please stand up?
While not discussing one’s attainments, not describing what they’re like and how to ‘get’ them, is definitely a good idea most of the time, there are scads of practitioners with “little dust in their eyes...perishing from not hearing the dharma”, who don’t practice because they've been told attainments are impossible for householders, westerners, etc. There are also scads of ‘Buddhists’ claiming that pragmatic dharma teachers don’t have real insight because they don’t meet arbitrary sets of sutta criteria. If only these Buddhists would come forward with alternative practice tools that actually work and contact info for real teachers, who presumably must exist out there somewhere. There's always the possibility that the real enlightened masters are all Asian, don't want to be found, and don't see an urgent need for true dharma teaching in the West, but for various reasons that seems pretty unlikely.

If you’re reasonably sure MCTB is counterfeit dharma, and you know of an arahant/bodhisattva teaching the true dharma (presumably there must be bodhisattvas on Earth who have stuck around to help us), you have a very serious responsibility to pass that information on to the many yogis who’ve wasted their time with false meditation practices chasing mastery of fake attainments. If not, we can keep quoting suttas and commentaries forever without referring to our direct experience (I predict different suttas and commentaries will contradict each other!) until somebody drops the Kalama-bomb and kills the discussion.
First of all, nobody said Daniel's MCTB phenomenology and instructions are incorrect. I am only saying that MCTB phenomenology and instructions only apply to a particular type/group of practitioners and do not apply universally across traditions, even within Theravada Buddhism, needless to speak of Mahayana and Vajrayana. Of course there are always aspects of insight practice that are universal elements in all paths, but the details makes the difference.

Maybe for every 2 or 3 groups of insight practitioners that describe the experience of MCTB 1st path, there can be 30 to 50 of other groups of insight practitioners that do not, yet they also describe deep realizations that may parallel MCTB 4th path, for example. Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, having very established insight practice traditions, with advanced meditative technologies and maps, do not necessarily follow or describe 16 nanas even if aspects may be shared the exact details of how experience and insight arise and the order in which they do are not always the same. And they have never described or encouraged practitioners to develope black-out type fruitions. Ajahn Amaro, Kenneth Folk, Jack Kornfield and many others have noted this difference - even within Theravada there are different understandings on this.

If you want to look for alternatives, check out http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com.au/2007/03/thusnesss-six-stages-of-experience.html and my own e-book based on my experience: http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2010/12/my-e-booke-journal.html
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

Posts: 3169 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
My parallels come from Kenpo Karthar Rinpoche's fine book Dharma Paths on Snow Lion, which details his take on the Tibetan 5 Path Model, and the correlations with those stages he details are uncanny.

Different sources have different criteria. It complicates things. Try to figure out how many Bhumis there are: depending on the source, the number varies from about 8-21, I think, as least by my, obviously incomplete, knowledge of the Bhumis.

See this article on Bhumis

I attempt to provide these correlations just for those who are trying to work across paths. At times such things can cause confusion.

I have moved to a mapping system that largely decouples attainments from occurring in lock step or coming in perfectly fixed packages and instead focuses on the phenomenology as it occurs.

Helpful?

Daniel
A D R, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

Posts: 678 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
My parallels come from Kenpo Karthar Rinpoche's fine book Dharma Paths on Snow Lion, which details his take on the Tibetan 5 Path Model, and the correlations with those stages he details are uncanny.

Different sources have different criteria. It complicates things. Try to figure out how many Bhumis there are: depending on the source, the number varies from about 8-21, I think, as least by my, obviously incomplete, knowledge of the Bhumis.

See this article on Bhumis

I attempt to provide these correlations just for those who are trying to work across paths. At times such things can cause confusion.

I have moved to a mapping system that largely decouples attainments from occurring in lock step or coming in perfectly fixed packages and instead focuses on the phenomenology as it occurs.

Helpful?

Daniel


Thanks Daniel,

I think that is quite helpful actually. I feel the need to formally disavow my claim of Stream Entry. For me the dots just don't form any coherent kind of picture anymore, other than I am trying to find some health and sanity in order that I can be happy and help others do the same. I really appreciate this forum and plan on continuing to contribute, but I just can't find a useful reason to hang on to the standard models anymore as they are really a hangup for me at the moment. This feels like a relief.

Edit: I have since switched positions on the stream entry position to possible/probable. See thread ADR Mapping Thing for more>
Matthew Horn, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

Posts: 119 Join Date: 1/30/13 Recent Posts
A D R:

I think that is quite helpful actually. I feel the need to formally disavow my claim of Stream Entry. For me the dots just don't form any coherent kind of picture anymore, other than I am trying to find some health and sanity in order that I can be happy and help others do the same. I really appreciate this forum and plan on continuing to contribute, but I just can't find a useful reason to hang on to the standard models anymore as they are really a hangup for me at the moment. This feels like a relief.


If you're still on the fence, I'm wondering: do you ruminate at all on your life story or whether your individual personality is intrinsically good or bad anymore? After the moment you'd thought was stream-entry, how much did the intensity of abstract worrying decrease? Can you describe mental events just before, at, and after the event that led to your original claim?
A D R, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

Posts: 678 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
Matthew Horn:
A D R:

I think that is quite helpful actually. I feel the need to formally disavow my claim of Stream Entry. For me the dots just don't form any coherent kind of picture anymore, other than I am trying to find some health and sanity in order that I can be happy and help others do the same. I really appreciate this forum and plan on continuing to contribute, but I just can't find a useful reason to hang on to the standard models anymore as they are really a hangup for me at the moment. This feels like a relief.


If you're still on the fence, I'm wondering: do you ruminate at all on your life story or whether your individual personality is intrinsically good or bad anymore? After the moment you'd thought was stream-entry, how much did the intensity of abstract worrying decrease? Can you describe mental events just before, at, and after the event that led to your original claim?


You have really got me there. I do worry a bit if this response is good or bad, though.
Matthew Horn, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

Posts: 119 Join Date: 1/30/13 Recent Posts
An Eternal Now:

Maybe for every 2 or 3 groups of insight practitioners that describe the experience of MCTB 1st path, there can be 30 to 50 of other groups of insight practitioners that do not, yet they also describe deep realizations that may parallel MCTB 4th path, for example. Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, having very established insight practice traditions, with advanced meditative technologies and maps, do not necessarily follow or describe 16 nanas even if aspects may be shared the exact details of how experience and insight arise and the order in which they do are not always the same. And they have never described or encouraged practitioners to develope black-out type fruitions. Ajahn Amaro, Kenneth Folk, Jack Kornfield and many others have noted this difference - even within Theravada there are different understandings on this.

If you want to look for alternatives, check out http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com.au/2007/03/thusnesss-six-stages-of-experience.html and my own e-book based on my experience: http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2010/12/my-e-booke-journal.html


Here's an example of the fruition/nirvana experience from Zen master Hakuin's autobiography, when he was 21 (full disclosure, I pulled this from Wikipedia's kensho article):

At around midnight on the seventh and final night of my practice, the boom of a bell from a distant temple reached my ears: suddenly, my body and mind dropped completely away. I rose clear of even the finest dust. Overwhelmed with joy, I hollowed [sic] out at the tops of my lungs, "Old Yen-t'ou is alive and well! [...] After that, however, I became extremely proud and arrogant".

There’s no difference between Hakuin's first kensho experience, "body and mind dropped completely away...I rose clear of even the finest dust[...]After that, however, I became extremely proud and arrogant", and "Mahasi-style" stream-entry fruition (fruition = direct experience of nirvana/the Deathless element).

Regarding 'black-out type fruitions', from what I’ve read, the mundane perceptionless samadhi comparable to a blackout is nirodha-samapatti. It's a side-effect of advanced practice. Fruition is a direct 'experience' of nirvana described in the sutta quotes I posted above, what Hakuin calls 'the dropping away of body and mind'. I’d appreciate clarification from more advanced practitioners on whether nirodha-samapatti is an extended fruition a different beast from fruitions altogether.

To paraphrase Reggie Ray, Theravadin vipassana begins with 'chipping away' at delusion by perceiving the three characteristics in a particular meditation object [end paraphrase], whereas mahamudra/dzogchen points directly to the corelessness & impermanence of phenomena in the entire field of awareness. The practices converge at high equanimity, where Theravadin vipassana meditators must perceive the three characteristics in the entire field of experience, otherwise insight won’t happen, without exception.

You could conceptualize progress through the nanas as improving the quality of attention up to the A&P; this attention then widens in each of the dukkha nanas until it’s supremely wide & encompassing at high EQ. The practices are seemingly different for beginners, since Zen or mahamudra vipassana meditators observe phenomena in the whole field of experience (but for beginning meditators they'll be observing arising phenomena as attention shifts randomly between them, since formations won't always be perceivable as a whole) whereas Theravadins are more likely to deconstruct a particular meditation object (e.g. the breath). At the end of a path, the practices must converge on awareness of the entire field of experience (formations).

Some comments on your book:

Vipassana practice and mindfulness practice (experiencing the minutest details of the senses as clear as can be) as Thusness and I understand it can result in Anatta realization in a more gradual manner…But I should say, when I advise people on how to move from non-dual to anatta, I always advice both direct path contemplation and also the practice of vipassana and mindfulness. So it is not always an 'either/or' case. In a way both can support each other.

...

Direct path does not mean if you take up this practice, you will attain awakening today or tomorrow (it took me 1 year 10 months of self-inquiry to realize I AM and a couple of months more to realize the further stages of insights, which nonetheless I don't consider too long, and I consider the time I took to realize this stuff as not so surprising given the directness and effectiveness of the direct path contemplation).

So you recommend including vipassana and mindfulness practice along with direct path. Did you do this yourself on the route from nondual to anatta realization? Do you really have a basis for comparison to determine whether what you practiced is faster or slower than other methods?

If direct path is the fastest, what’s your rationale for working in vipassana and mindfulness? How do direct path and ‘vipassana’ complement each other, exactly?

As I said earlier, realization has nothing to do with states of concentration - and while its true my mind was very stilled before I realized I AM, I was not in any altered states of perception (just a very still mind) when that eureka moment of realization occurred for me. Furthermore: anatta realization happened to me Oct '10 in *a non-meditative setting*, when I was marching (lol) to the cookhouse in my military uniform and contemplating on the instructions to Bahiya, when I was in basic military training (I'm still in army doing my mandatory national service). No jhanas at all. Before that, an intense and long NDNCDIMOP (non-dual, non-conceptual, direct mode of perception) of the senses happened when I was dancing in the nightclub in August 2010. That shifted me from I AM to 'non-dual in the foreground practice'.

Theravadin practitioners also experience insight observing sensate reality while walking among people. Sitting balls deep in jhana isn’t a prerequisite, although it’s debatable whether having a very still mind immediately preceding insight, as you describe above, is distinguishable from the 4th jhana. Can you describe exactly what was happening in your mind just before, during, and after the ‘anatta realization’, like really precise phenomenology: exactly what you were thinking or not thinking, where your attention was directed, and what you perceived?

What I have told Thusness since long time ago is that the path laid out in Thusness 7 stages has nothing to do with nanas and jhanas and the cycling as I don't begin any sort of cycling through any of those altered states of perspectives through that practice, and this is something Thusness agrees with me. This does not mean I cannot enter jhana, but jhana is something totally different from what the 7 stages present. If anything, the direct path presented here is more about ‘noticing’ and ‘realizing’ facts of reality that is always already so (even in the most mundane and ordinary of all circumstances in a non-altered state of perception), and this can result in permanent realizations. As for the sixteen nanas, it is my understanding that one will only experience or go through them if one practice in a particular way – it definitely does not apply to all kinds of practitioners as it does not apply to me or Thusness.

In other words, you experienced no fear, sadness, or revulsion for worldly things at all the whole time you were practicing up to the anatta realization? Cycling is usually subtle, without klaxons or smoke bombs to mark the shift between nanas. The changes do follow a specified order, but backsliding can occur, which makes it difficult if not impossible for the less-realized to discover that there exists something like the progress of insight on their own. If your mind was very still right before you realized anatta, what was your mind like the rest of the time?

Usually having an insight of anatta does not confer the end of all fetters, and Thusness informed me over the years that he had undergone stages that cleared fetters even after his initial realization of anatta (for example, overcoming sexual craving is something that Thusness experienced at one stage).

What are the qualities of mind right before and after these fetters are broken? Does the breaking of any fetters, or the total elimination of certain types of thinking, coincide with the attainment of any of the stages you and Thusness describe? The nondual angle can be useful for describing insight, but what other ways of thinking, unskillful behavior, and suffering disappear forever after each insight? Which characteristics of attainments did the Buddha emphasize, and what might his reasons have been for doing so?

From what I’ve read of the material you and Thusness have produced, you place huge emphasis on the nonduality, luminosity, and selflessness of an advanced practitioner’s sensory experience, without defining those terms precisely or presenting them in a manner that could make sense to anyone who hasn’t realized the same insights. The hyper-circular arguments with Jackson Peterson on your Facebook group, basically debating whose emptiness is the emptiest, are symptomatic of the same problems. Word games will proliferate like tribbles, and beginners will have no idea what you’re talking about at all, unless you’re willing to observe and discuss your moment-to-moment experience in really precise terms.

Here are some terms from your book and website that could use precise paragraph-long definitions: statements of exactly what they are and aren’t in terms of ongoing mental experience.
Non-dual luminosity
Non-dual Pure Presence
I AM (stage 1 and 2)
Entering into a state of nothingness (stage 3)
Non-dual (stage 4)
Anatta (stage 5)
Shunyata (stage 6)
Presence is spontaneously perfected (stage 7)


Consider applying the following descriptions of mental processes as they relate or don’t relate to your stages:

|The mind struggles to solidify a separate & permanent mundane self.

The mind struggles to solidify the “ground of awareness” (perceived as a boundless, utterly still and stainless field of awareness or background), as a separate, permanent, unchanging self-like thing.

The mind struggles to solidify the absence of any ground of awareness as a separate, permanent, unchanging self-like thing.

The mind struggles to reify the spontaneous arising and disappearing of phenomena as a separate, permanent, unchanging self-like thing.

The mind doesn’t struggle to solidify or reify anything self-like at all, which could be said to have various interesting effects on moment-to-moment sensory experience.|

Are you really certain that you, Zen, and Dzogchen meditators never experience cycling or fruitions, or is it possible we’re just emphasizing different aspects of our shared experience? Improved phenomenology and brain science will bring about some syncretism between paths whether we want it or not. If seemingly disparate practices and attainments converge in the future, how might those changes benefit beginning meditators who are unsure whether to enter the dharma because they don't know if attainments are possible or desirable? What practices, aspects of our experience, and benefits of insight could we emphasize right now to maximally benefit beginners?
An Eternal Now, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

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Wow, thanks for the long and detailed analysis...

I'm having another class soon so I'll keep this short and maybe come back with more details later.

First of all, when reading through nanas, only A&P is quite clear to me as I have experienced those many years ago (say, 2008), but I don't experience much of any other nanas nor fruition as an unconscious event (and yes I'm aware its "more than just an unconscious event" but there never was, as I recall, any kind of 'unconscious' event in my practice - on the other hand for Thusness there was a Stage 3 that I'm not sure if it is related to nirodha samapatti). I don't seem to experience nanas nowadays. What I experience is: centerless, boundless, direct, immediate, gapless, radiant, blissful, wonderful, illusory perception of 'everything'.

Second of all, in this forum, I find that I can better recognize much of Actual Freedom's descriptions than the 16 nanas - PCE and so on. I would say my path from the point between August 2010 to Anatta was more close to AF form of practice than noting. I can recognize more similarities with AF than 16 nanas path. It's not that I intentionally followed the practice of AF, it's just that after an experience I had, my whole practice shifted in a way that sort of resembles AF practice to certain degree (as expressed in my e-book). But foreground practice is not my 'final shift'. Also, I do not necessarily agree with every point that AF makes. What I find however is that without deep and clear PCE kind of experience, it is not as easy to realize anatta. When you practice vipassana, there is this direct mode of sensing reality, this is important and becomes a basis for contemplation (say, on Bahiya Sutta) until insight of anatta arises, then naturally that mode of perception becomes effortless.

The Vipassana that I talked about is not 'noting' form of vipassana, but something akin to Kenneth Folk's Direct Mode. Here's what I mean by 'Vipassana': http://sgforums.com/forums/1728/topics/256048

Another point I want to make now is that I am familiar with zen's "mind body drop", and it is not an unconscious event.

Let's look at Hakuin's statement:

At around midnight on the seventh and final night of my practice, the boom of a bell from a distant temple reached my ears:

This is a very common theme to all the Zen master's enlightenment experience. Some sound is heard, sound sight is seen, and an enlightenment is triggered. How so? By contemplating, hearing a sound, suddenly the sense of a hearer or seer behind seeing/sound is being penetrated and seen through.

As one Zen Master exclaimed upon his enlightenment, ‘When I heard the temple bell ring, suddenly there was no bell and no I, just the ringing’.

Next:

suddenly, my body and mind dropped completely away. I rose clear of even the finest dust.

I am familiar with mind-body drop. I would call it a distinct phase of enlightenment, and it has to do with deconstruction of the image of a body. The image of a body is simply an image containing imprints - of having shape, size, solidity, inside and outside - and this image causes us to contract and hold. But once we see through this image, we realize the there is no inherent 'body' - only sensations. There is no edge or shape of body that can 'enclose us' - only arising sensations. Then there is boundless opening without sense of a body. However it is not an unconscious even like what fruition seems to be. You can read my own description of it in my own e-book.

Also, in http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com.au/2007/05/different-degrees-of-non-duality.html, Thusness said:

2. Perception is dropped. Mind/body dropped. A very important phase. ‘Body’ is but a ‘mental construct’. When that ‘imprints’ and ‘meanings’ of ‘body’ is dropped, division between inner and outer is gone. All divisions of senses are also gone. All is One Taste. Just Isness. Manifold of presence experienced clearly.


Toni Packer said:

"Before inquiring into a new way of listening, let me just share the joy of walking through the fields and woods on this extraordinary land. Just stepping out of the reception area, closing the door behind me, walking away from the overhang that shields one from the sun and rain, there isn't any enclosure left—not even a body! All I am is the birds singing and fluttering, bare branches swaying in the breeze, the ground partly frozen yet melting, the pond covered with a thin layer of ice, and the blue hills, sky and wandering clouds within close reach. There is also a throbbing heart and the people walking on the path. Even those who are not here—aren't we all together this one moment—beholding everything out of stillness?"


Dogen said:

"To study the Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things of the universe. To be enlightened by all things of the universe is to cast off the body and mind of the self as well as those of others. Even the traces of enlightenment are wiped out, and life with traceless enlightenment goes on forever and ever."

Comments: Dogen directly related "be enlightened by all things of the universe is to cast off ..." which means it is a form of non-dual penetration with six senses wide open, not an unconscious event.

In http://home.primusonline.com.au/peony/zen.htm :

Zen Buddhism affirms the body as the means of our self-realisation. It is, perhaps, for this reason that so many westerners have found Zen attractive as a philosophy and spiritual practice. From the Zen point of view, to live the body's life fully is to be self-realised:

A monk asked Master Tung-shan, “Cold and heat descend upon us. How can we avoid them?”
Dongshan answered, “Why don’t you go to the place where there is no cold or heat?”
The monk continued, “Where is the place where there is no cold or heat?”
Dongshan said, “When it is cold, let it be so cold that it kills you. When hot, let it be so hot that it kills you.”

In Zen practice freedom comes when identification with the body and body-image is ended; this is to transcend the 'fabricated body' and realise the 'true body' of grass, trees, and wall rubble; wind, rain, water and fire. "The Buddha-body", says Dogen, "is the manifesting body, and there is always a body manifesting Buddha-nature."


In DhO, Tommy also wrote about his experience of mind-body drop and related it with PCE: http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/3081514#_19_message_3081511

I also wrote my comments to him there about mind-body drop.


Overwhelmed with joy, I hollowed [sic] out at the tops of my lungs, "Old Yen-t'ou is alive and well! [...] After that, however, I became extremely proud and arrogant".

It is naturally to be overwhelmed with joy after initial realization and this continues for 60-90, after which point subtle propensities can return to 'dull' the experience until further deepening of insights, the experience will stabilize.
An Eternal Now, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

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Matthew Horn:

To paraphrase Reggie Ray, Theravadin vipassana begins with 'chipping away' at delusion by perceiving the three characteristics in a particular meditation object [end paraphrase], whereas mahamudra/dzogchen points directly to the corelessness & impermanence of phenomena in the entire field of awareness. The practices converge at high equanimity, where Theravadin vipassana meditators must perceive the three characteristics in the entire field of experience, otherwise insight won’t happen, without exception.
I'd say it is a different path...

Mahamudra introduces the nature of mind as the inseparability of luminosity and emptiness gradually. In the four yoga schemes, in the first yoga of one-pointedness there is an experience of the luminous clarity aspect of mind. In the second yoga of simplicity there is an insight into the emptiness of mind (emptiness here does NOT mean 'fruition' but realizing the 'empty nature' of mind in conscious experience). In the third yoga of one taste there is an insight into the inseparability of samsara and nirvana, and perceiver/perceived dichotomy is penetrated such that everything (all thoughts and perceptions) is experienced to be mind or cognizant-emptiness. In the last and fourth yoga of mahamudra the trace of effort is dissolved into non-meditation, in the yoga of non-meditation there is neither a meditator nor an object of meditation. There are varying interpretations on how the four yogas correlate with the general Mahayana bhumi maps. Dakpo Tashi Namgyal, whose book I very highly recommend along with Thrangu Rinpoche's commentary, considers one taste as first bhumi onwards. Each of the four yogas can be separated into three sub-levels - e.g. lower simplicity, medium simplicity, higher simplicity, etc.

In Dzogchen, one is first introduced into the unconditioned clarity or radiance of Rigpa. Here one recognizes one's essence of luminous clarity, which is the pure knowingness of mind or experience. This is not yet the full entirety of rigpa, but it is a basis for practicing trekchod (cutting through). Without recognizing this unconditioned clarity of rigpa, there can be no Dzogchen practice. However, for those who have not yet recognized through the master's direct introduction, there are self-introduction practices like semdzins and rushan. When trekchod is realized (as distinct from merely practicing it), the Kadag aspect of rigpa is realized - kadag as referring to the primordial purity of the basis and its emptiness (emptiness here, again, not referring to 'fruition' but the 'empty nature' of everything free from extremes or any self/substance that can be pinned down). With Trekchod as basis one can start practicing and progressing along with the path of thodgal. In the path of Thodgal, emptiness is realized at 3rd vision and rainbow body in the 4th. In the path of Thodgal one also realized Lhungrub, which is natural formation, in which everything is experienced as an unceasing, unobstructed, self-luminous display of rigpa (rigpa = knowledge). A friend of mine Kyle Dixon who is a Dzogchen practitioner describes lhun grub in this manner: "Alive without self/Self a.k.a. autopoiesis a.k.a. lhun grub a.k.a. spontaneous natural formation a.k.a. auto-luminous". Finally, all the three wisdoms of Rigpa are realized and fully actualized and at that point one achieves the rainbow body.

The 16 nanas don't really apply in this scheme, they have their own maps that is relevant to their path. As for how three characteristics come in - in my understanding at the level of one taste there is a direct penetration into no self... in these paths there may be an emphasis on realizing the 'luminous essence' first, followed by its non-dual and empty nature. This is somewhat akin to Thusness and my experience.

You could conceptualize progress through the nanas as improving the quality of attention up to the A&P; this attention then widens in each of the dukkha nanas until it’s supremely wide & encompassing at high EQ.

No, this is not how direct path practitioners practice. I do not focus on improving attention at all, mine is a form of direct inquiry into the nature of mind until there is a direct realization. Take Who am I for example. By contemplating on this question, thoughts dissolve into one's source, one is directed into a clear and doubtless realization of I-I - a formless, all-pervasive and doubtless presence-consciousness. One realizes one's pure sense of existence or presence and it is unshakeable. But that is just the I AM realization. There is no going through a&p and so on.

Now for anatta, take Bahiya Sutta for example. I do not practice improving attention up to a&p before widening it etc before insight happens. I do not experience equanimity nana. There is simply contemplation of what it means by "in seeing only the seen, in hearing only the heard" until the very notion of a hearing apart from heard, a hearer apart from sound, a seer apart from seen is completely penetrated by insight-realization. There never was a seer-seeing-seen, seeing is just seen, seen is seeing, just one perception that is self-felt.
The practices are seemingly different for beginners, since Zen or mahamudra vipassana meditators observe phenomena in the whole field of experience (but for beginning meditators they'll be observing arising phenomena as attention shifts randomly between them, since formations won't always be perceivable as a whole) whereas Theravadins are more likely to deconstruct a particular meditation object (e.g. the breath). At the end of a path, the practices must converge on awareness of the entire field of experience (formations).

Why do you assume that every path has to follow the nanas? Do you think for example, the AF teachings lead a person through 16 nanas to fruition to gradual ascendance of four paths?

Now, I'm not suggesting that my path is exactly the same as AF - but I'm suggesting that there are more ways a person's spiritual path can unfold depending on how he/she practices.

If you recall, there was a thread in DharmaOverground where Daniel wrote about how the PCE mode and Cycling mode with its "attention wave" is vastly different. In PCE mode there is no "tunable thing"/"attention wave" involved, only the direct luminous immediate sensate perception.

You can say that my practice is this "direct luminous immediate sensate perception" without a "tunable attention wave". I have never practiced based on attention wave ever since setting on the direct path, and so naturally I do not experience those nanas, fruitions, etc. See: http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/600967

Much of what Zen and Tibetan Buddhism teaches does not deal with attention wave either.
If direct path is the fastest, what’s your rationale for working in vipassana and mindfulness? How do direct path and ‘vipassana’ complement each other, exactly?
Vipassana (the way I define it) only comes in after the experience in August 2010. So the entire practice shifted from just abiding as a formless Self/Presence to experiencing the pure sensation, scenery, sounds without a perceiver/perceived dichotomy.

However without insight that could hardly be effortless. Then with further contemplation that challenge the view of subject-object, self/Self, seer seeing seen, awareness-manifestation etc - non-dual insight and realization arose, and by anatta realization it becomes quite effortless. At that point there is no need to deliberately practice vipassana as all moments of experience becomes naturally 'vipassanic'.


Theravadin practitioners also experience insight observing sensate reality while walking among people. Sitting balls deep in jhana isn’t a prerequisite, although it’s debatable whether having a very still mind immediately preceding insight, as you describe above, is distinguishable from the 4th jhana. Can you describe exactly what was happening in your mind just before, during, and after the ‘anatta realization’, like really precise phenomenology: exactly what you were thinking or not thinking, where your attention was directed, and what you perceived?
I do not remember having a very still mind preceding anatta realization as I was not even doing sitting meditation but marching in my uniform, but there was some level of effort directed at penetrating bahiya sutta's instructions, a form of contemplating on what exactly is 'seeing', 'seen', 'subject', 'object' etc. I would say it was definitely not 4th jhana at all, not a jhanic state at all. Just contemplation in a normal state of consciousness.


In other words, you experienced no fear, sadness, or revulsion for worldly things at all the whole time you were practicing up to the anatta realization?
Not really a lot of it. I do not remember having experienced 'dark nights' or maybe I have misunderstood what it means. I was kind of a happy person.
What are the qualities of mind right before and after these fetters are broken? Does the breaking of any fetters, or the total elimination of certain types of thinking, coincide with the attainment of any of the stages you and Thusness describe? The nondual angle can be useful for describing insight, but what other ways of thinking, unskillful behavior, and suffering disappear forever after each insight? Which characteristics of attainments did the Buddha emphasize, and what might his reasons have been for doing so?
Interesting, that should be a question directed to Thusness as he is probably much more experienced than myself. I can only say that afflictive emotions have tremendously lessened. The seven factors of enlightenment are experienced to a certain degree, those are the qualities of mind after enlightenment (or even before, to a certain degree, but after enlightenment it becomes intensified).
From what I’ve read of the material you and Thusness have produced, you place huge emphasis on the nonduality, luminosity, and selflessness of an advanced practitioner’s sensory experience, without defining those terms precisely or presenting them in a manner that could make sense to anyone who hasn’t realized the same insights.
I defined them very clearly in my e-book. Thusness's 'must read articles' are also very clear IMO.
The hyper-circular arguments with Jackson Peterson on your Facebook group, basically debating whose emptiness is the emptiest, are symptomatic of the same problems. Word games will proliferate like tribbles, and beginners will have no idea what you’re talking about at all, unless you’re willing to observe and discuss your moment-to-moment experience in really precise terms.
Jackson Peterson is at the "One Mind" phase of non-dual in my terminology. It is super obvious to me and many others because we've been through it. He is always talking about I AM and One Mind. There are peak experiences of No Mind but no clear anatta insight yet. Again, all these terminologies are explained in my article http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com.au/2011/12/experience-realization-view-practice.html
Here are some terms from your book and website that could use precise paragraph-long definitions: statements of exactly what they are and aren’t in terms of ongoing mental experience.
Non-dual luminosity
Non-dual Pure Presence
I AM (stage 1 and 2)
Entering into a state of nothingness (stage 3)
Non-dual (stage 4)
Anatta (stage 5)
Shunyata (stage 6)
Presence is spontaneously perfected (stage 7)


Consider applying the following descriptions of mental processes as they relate or don’t relate to your stages:

|The mind struggles to solidify a separate & permanent mundane self.

The mind struggles to solidify the “ground of awareness” (perceived as a boundless, utterly still and stainless field of awareness or background), as a separate, permanent, unchanging self-like thing.

The mind struggles to solidify the absence of any ground of awareness as a separate, permanent, unchanging self-like thing.

The mind struggles to reify the spontaneous arising and disappearing of phenomena as a separate, permanent, unchanging self-like thing.

The mind doesn’t struggle to solidify or reify anything self-like at all, which could be said to have various interesting effects on moment-to-moment sensory experience.|
See http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com.au/2011/12/experience-realization-view-practice.html

Are you really certain that you, Zen, and Dzogchen meditators never experience cycling or fruitions, or is it possible we’re just emphasizing different aspects of our shared experience? Improved phenomenology and brain science will bring about some syncretism between paths whether we want it or not. If seemingly disparate practices and attainments converge in the future, how might those changes benefit beginning meditators who are unsure whether to enter the dharma because they don't know if attainments are possible or desirable? What practices, aspects of our experience, and benefits of insight could we emphasize right now to maximally benefit beginners?
I have never read about Zen/Dzogchen cycling or fruitions. Have you?
Matthew Horn, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

Posts: 119 Join Date: 1/30/13 Recent Posts
Thank you very much for the detailed responses. I'm going to switch my practice over to mahamudra and see what happens. I'm listening to Reggie Ray's Mahamudra for the Modern World right now and I'll pick up the books you mentioned. I think it may be productive to try a new practice so I can compare phenomenology of the results myself. Can you recommend any other direct path instructions or practices? When you ask yourself 'Who Am I?', does the questioning eventually become nonverbal?

If I have more practice questions after you respond, I will start a new thread.
An Eternal Now, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

Posts: 638 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
Matthew Horn:
Thank you very much for the detailed responses. I'm going to switch my practice over to mahamudra and see what happens. I'm listening to Reggie Ray's Mahamudra for the Modern World right now and I'll pick up the books you mentioned. I think it may be productive to try a new practice so I can compare phenomenology of the results myself. Can you recommend any other direct path instructions or practices? When you ask yourself 'Who Am I?', does the questioning eventually become nonverbal?

If I have more practice questions after you respond, I will start a new thread.
Cool. Mahamudra has some good investigations too... Who am I is more Advaita related (see: ramana maharshi, or ken wilber in http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com.au/2007/05/some-writings-on-non-duality-by-ken.html) Who am I is sort of like a non-verbal investigation... then when realization arises the question and all thoughts dissolve into complete certainty of self-realization.

Anyway just now I found an old post by Kenneth Folk that seems to be in accord with what I just said:

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/84153;jsessionid=DC4516193ED6CEB9741649140EE24B2C

RE: Fruition and Emptiness and Mr. Sam Harris
2/27/09 1:16 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.

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Hi Tracy,

This is an interesting question, and one that only someone well-versed in Theravada theory would ask. It would be difficult to find a reference to cessation in the literature of any other tradition. And yet surely everyone is talking about the same developmental process. Other traditions tend to emphasize the awake no-self experience over the erased-self experience of cessation. If you aren't looking for cessation and/or haven't been told that it is significant, it's just another of the thousands of things that can happen during a meditator's day.

Mahasi teachers love cessation because it helps them locate students on the map. Furthermore, Mahasi taught cessation as something to be cherished and cultivated. But even within Theravada there are teachers who don't believe that cessation should even be considered Nibbana. There is no one way to interpret these phenomena. What we know for sure is that First and Second Path, as defined by the Visuddhimaga, each culminate in a moment of cessation. So for map-mongers, cessation is an important landmark.

I would not evaluate the enlightenment of people from other traditions based on whether they mention cessation, as to do so would lead to the mistaken impression that only Theravada Buddhists get enlightened. In fact, I used to read J. Krishnamurti and imagine that he was talking about cessation when he described his no-self experiences. He wasn't. I was just "shoehorning," i.e. trying to force other people's experience into the narrow framework of my own limited belief system.

Kenneth
An Eternal Now, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

Posts: 638 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
Matthew Horn:
The hyper-circular arguments with Jackson Peterson on your Facebook group, basically debating whose emptiness is the emptiest, are symptomatic of the same problems. Word games will proliferate like tribbles, and beginners will have no idea what you’re talking about at all, unless you’re willing to observe and discuss your moment-to-moment experience in really precise terms.
Jackson Peterson situation wasn't easy, he was in the substantialist non-dual realization, view and practice for decades, and also has been teaching this view for decades as a teacher (for those that didn't know: he was being asked to teach by his Ch'an teacher since 1970s I think, and he is also a kind of controversial self-styled Dzogchen teacher)... for him to break his attachment on the Absolute is not as easy as myself cause I started with a "relatively clean slate" without that much of a conditioning as him. But he has been trying to integrate anatta into his understanding and experience (the I AM Presence, one mind etc) for some time though he had deep unwillingness to let go of the ultimate.

Today, however, he had a moment of clarity. He even agreed with Kyle Dixon in the group chat (lol, surprise!) I had sensed his breakthrough was coming. He had always been attached to the mirror bright awareness as background container subsuming all as its own reflections. So the hyper-circular arguments appeared to work afterall, lol.

Today he said:

"What is described is exactly what I call "transparency". There is no sense of observer and observed. Its one piece of self-knowing clarity. Its arisen in this moment as I write. The post transparency mode is where the mistaken imputation occurs. The mind labels the transparency mode as "awareness in oneness with experience". This is the basic error and imputation. Experience is its own awareness, a non-dual happening occurring to "no one". Due to the dualistic imputation, the mind then attempts to focus on the "awareness" side in order to recover the "transparency event". But there is no free-standing "awareness". In this case one is then developing the "awareness witness" mode. It can be pleasant and spacious, but it is not the non-dual "transparency" where luminosity is its own awareness without remainder. The propensity of the mind to impute a separate and subjective awareness as a "mirror" to experience, is now no longer unrecognized. Otherwise its a kind of egoistic eternalism as being a "changeless awareness". The mind likes that imputation.

The vast Intelligence IS the entire event, not a source of it. Here we can also error in separating the Intelligence from experience, as being a "constructor" instead of seeing the event as complete Intelligence itself. There is no "mirror" in transparency, yet the post state is subject to ones conditioning."


.................

Nisargadatta says: "the personality gives way to to the witness, then the witness goes and pure awareness remains." I then would continue the deconstruction to then say: "pure awareness" goes revealing that which is truly "unestablished" as being beyond conceptual description. This is the single step beyond Advaita that differentiates Buddhism from Advaita.


The problem is one like Santa Claus. All the young children across the world agree there is a Santa Claus, but differ regarding his costume and how he arrives.

They don't consider that perhaps there is no Santa Claus at all, and that it was just a "belief". But then they argue: well then how do you account for all our presents that "he" brought us?

We infer a Santa Claus based on experience and evidence. Santa Claus was a convenient explanation and fostered belief only.

Likewise looking deeper we may learn something about "awareness". Because our dualistic mind rips reality into two separate pieces, a perceiving subject and object, we sense an awareness that perceives and objects perceived. In this dualistic illusion we can mistake "awareness" as being one half of the whole. We then create a story about the half alone. This is like ripping the waves off the ocean and discussing the waves as though a possible independent reality as just "pure waves" independent of "ocean and water" were possible.

We do the same with awareness. In the moment of immediate experience as a thought or sensory perception. There is a vivid happening like the gong of a bell. Our mind rips the experience into two pieces, the sound texture and the awareness of it. But in fact the experiential event is a flashing forth of aware-sound-texture, as a unit-like self-known-event. Because of this mental bifurcation, the mind imputes experienced texture and awareness as two independent realities. We then believe in an independent "awareness" or super-pure-awareness. But unfortunately this is a belief that we can successfully verify in dualistic vision from moment to moment, just like looking at pictures of Santa Claus that prove his existence. We remain trapped in our own self-validating loop of dualistic illusion.

Then some guy comes along and says: Hey! There is no Santa Claus and no "awareness" either! Ho, ho ho..,

.................

Beyond Awareness...

Its interesting how these discussions evolve between the "awareness" approach and the other regarding the "emptiness" approach. Some I think get the idea that awareness "disappears" in the "emptiness of awareness" insight. It doesn't disappear by any means, so its not that "awareness" is seen to be an illusion. What is the illusion is that "awareness" exists on its own side as a "perceiver", as though experiences are arising "to awareness".

I found when this is really seen clearly, experiences appearing like the gong sound of a bell, contain the "awareness" element as the sound itself, without a "listener". In Dzogchen all phenomena are described as "essence, nature and energy". Essence is the empty aspect, nature is the clarity and awareness luminosity aspect, and energy is the formative aspect. Energy (thugje) implies a quality of "compassionate reflexiveness" that runs through the whole continuum as Bodhicitta.

So cognitive awareness is a quality of all experience, inherently so or the experiences would never be known, its just not a separate viewer of experience. In Dzogchen one can speak freely of the cognitive "clarity" aspect as though it was a stand-alone phenomena. In fact it is this aspect that is pointed out in what is called a "direct introduction". The intelligence is the "clarity" as "wisdom" (yeshe). Therefore the empty aspect is never absent of awareness-clarity, nor are the appearances. So we could invent a new word: "empty-awareness-luminous-appearances" and I would add that there is an overall "intent" embedded in that totality as a "resonating compassionate concern" as Bodhicitta. As such there is no reason to postulate a background awareness or Brahman. Its all self-contained as non-dual "empty-awareness-luminous-appearances".

We could further refer to "empty-awareness-luminous-appearances" as simply "Buddha Nature". That would mean that all phenomenal and cognitive aspects could be called "Buddha Nature". The term Buddha Nature also implies this quality of a Buddha, compassion. How is this compassion expressed? It is the compassionate action of "awakening" due to pointing out the "right view" that allows the release of all suffering.

To clarify: The Buddha Nature is empty, yet is cognitively bright, and has a quality of self-presenting itself as appearances called "experience". It also has the Buddha qualities of compassion, wisdom and power. The Buddha Nature is never absent at any time as it is all there is on any level. Hence we can more easily understand Dogen's and others comments that "mountains, rivers, streams and the grasses" are all the Buddha Nature. There is only Buddha Nature.

The empty aspect of the Buddha Nature means its is intrinsically free of inherently existing afflictions and substance, yet the luminous clarity and compassionate "alive responsiveness" aspect ensures it's functions for the benefit of all. "Buddhahood for all" is embedded in the display as Bodhicitta and therefore we can always find the true Guru or Buddha within. Its the very essence of what we are.
Matthew Horn, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

Posts: 119 Join Date: 1/30/13 Recent Posts
Glad to hear that Jackson is coming around. My real beef with Advaita, and other practices where ongoing nondual experience is the cream dream, is the ease with which practitioners can get stuck in lesser stages of nonduality where an unchanging basis or self is still imputed, yet believe they're wholly enlightened. There's no way to know for sure, but I presume the ranks of Western neo-Advaitist (a term that can only be used loosely) gurus are packed with semi-realized teachers who sincerely believe they've gone all the way. Nondual realization seems damned hard to diagnose without other indicators of attainment. That's why I'm relatively obsessed with map syncretism. I agree with Shinzen Young's statement in a Youtube video somewhere that none of the maps are adequate representations of the many developmental axes belonging to the set 'results of vipassana meditation'.

On the other, possibly more annoying extreme, you have those intellectually brilliant yogis who failed to attain stream-entry in what they considered to be a reasonable timeframe, succumbed to doubt, and through extraordinarily twisted ratiocinations have convinced themselves that enlightenment doesn't exist and the Buddha was really propounding their favorite ideology: "the Buddha was really an anarcho-communist", or "the Buddha was really a western materialist and his talk about devas was uhhh satire", etc. Sometimes I wish somebody would replace their morning wheatgrass with ayahuasca.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: My Disagreement with the MCTB Models

Posts: 3169 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
That was probably my favorite post of the last year!

Thanks for that,

Daniel

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