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MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?

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MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Daniel M. Ingram 4/27/13 3:21 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? bernd the broter 4/27/13 7:03 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Andy W 4/27/13 6:14 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 4/27/13 7:17 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Richard Zen 4/27/13 11:57 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Matthew 4/27/13 1:11 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Rod C 4/27/13 6:09 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? PP 4/28/13 1:45 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Some Guy 4/27/13 4:01 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Sleeping Buddha Syndrome 4/27/13 10:16 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? This Good Self 4/27/13 10:41 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Dream Walker 4/27/13 11:39 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Mind over easy 4/28/13 2:01 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Richard Zen 4/28/13 2:21 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? S. Pro 4/29/13 12:35 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? JohnM 8/13/19 5:44 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Alvaro MDF 5/1/13 12:39 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Piers M 5/29/13 5:17 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Daniel M. Ingram 5/29/13 2:08 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Piers M 5/31/13 5:42 AM
MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Ian And 5/31/13 2:34 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Daniel M. Ingram 6/1/13 1:41 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Tom Tom 9/20/13 2:19 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Sy Mian 6/10/13 3:03 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Florian 6/25/13 6:11 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? jer mur 8/6/13 5:11 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Rod C 8/7/13 1:28 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? B B 6/25/13 3:28 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Piers M 8/8/13 4:32 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Daniel M. Ingram 8/9/13 2:58 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Pål S. 8/9/13 4:29 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? B B 8/9/13 6:52 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Daniel M. Ingram 8/9/13 9:08 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? B B 8/10/13 3:32 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Rod C 8/10/13 4:33 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Daniel M. Ingram 8/10/13 5:24 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? B B 8/10/13 6:17 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Daniel M. Ingram 8/10/13 6:48 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? B B 8/10/13 8:23 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Daniel M. Ingram 8/10/13 3:02 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Daniel M. Ingram 8/10/13 3:34 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Daniel M. Ingram 8/10/13 7:17 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 8/10/13 10:11 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? M N 8/11/13 1:35 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? B B 8/13/13 5:21 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? M N 8/13/13 5:47 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? B B 8/13/13 9:00 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Jenny 7/8/14 9:25 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? B B 8/11/13 5:02 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Daniel M. Ingram 8/11/13 5:41 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 8/11/13 11:14 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Daniel M. Ingram 8/12/13 5:47 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Adam . . 8/12/13 8:48 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Daniel M. Ingram 8/12/13 5:06 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Daniel M. Ingram 8/12/13 5:42 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Adam . . 8/13/13 2:22 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? An Eternal Now 8/13/13 8:43 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Tom Tom 8/21/13 8:07 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 8/21/13 7:30 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Tom Tom 8/21/13 8:17 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Tom Tom 8/22/13 3:58 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Jinxed P 9/18/13 9:44 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Daniel M. Ingram 9/19/13 11:35 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? T DC 9/20/13 12:18 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Daniel M. Ingram 9/20/13 1:39 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Nikolai . 9/20/13 2:04 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Daniel M. Ingram 9/20/13 2:37 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Tom Tom 9/20/13 3:17 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Daniel M. Ingram 9/20/13 3:10 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Tom Tom 9/20/13 3:36 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Fitter Stoke 9/20/13 7:57 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? . Jake . 9/20/13 8:43 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Fitter Stoke 9/20/13 9:20 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? . Jake . 9/20/13 10:03 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/20/13 9:59 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Bruno Loff 9/20/13 10:23 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? . Jake . 9/20/13 11:08 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? T DC 9/21/13 3:03 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? . Jake . 9/21/13 5:03 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? T DC 9/22/13 4:57 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Jinxed P 9/23/13 6:39 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? T DC 9/24/13 12:09 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Nikolai . 9/21/13 5:56 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? T DC 9/22/13 5:58 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? An Eternal Now 9/22/13 6:23 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Dream Walker 9/22/13 5:27 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? T DC 9/22/13 5:58 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Jinxed P 9/21/13 5:27 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? An Eternal Now 8/13/13 6:07 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? bernd the broter 8/11/13 3:36 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Daniel M. Ingram 8/20/13 7:15 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Richard Zen 8/21/13 7:16 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Dada Kind 2/14/14 9:27 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Daniel M. Ingram 2/14/14 1:50 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Jareth Dekko 2/19/14 1:56 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? bernd the broter 2/19/14 4:35 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Dada Kind 2/28/14 11:12 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? T. Dan S- 3/2/14 4:03 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Daniel M. Ingram 3/2/14 4:17 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? T. Dan S- 3/2/14 4:53 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Jinxed P 3/7/14 9:02 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Banned For waht? 3/7/14 10:17 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Daniel M. Ingram 3/7/14 11:13 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Jinxed P 3/9/14 9:21 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Daniel M. Ingram 3/10/14 8:02 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Jinxed P 3/11/14 1:09 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Avi Craimer 3/12/14 12:59 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Daniel M. Ingram 3/12/14 7:44 AM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? Avi Craimer 3/12/14 11:02 PM
David Blain and Thread Split Daniel M. Ingram 3/9/14 12:05 PM
How can you continue to meditate after becoming an arhat? Avi Craimer 3/6/14 12:44 PM
RE: How can you continue to meditate after becoming an arhat? Nikolai . 3/6/14 2:06 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? bernd the broter 6/15/14 8:22 PM
RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include? J C 6/16/14 12:28 AM
Well, after many people asked for it, and also after much confusion by not putting it in there, I have decided that at the end of MCTB 2 will be a section that is autobiographical and will use that to illustrate various dharma points and talk about some things that are just easier to talk about that way.

So, I know what points I want to say in that section, but I was wondering, as I now finally have time to really work on MCTB2 (I have taken a new job the logistics of which leave more time for things like that), I thought I would ask if there was anything that people thought would be useful to include in that regard.

Anyway, if anyone has thoughts, let me know...

Daniel

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
4/27/13 7:03 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Generally, there's little information about the impact it made on the rest of your life. If this would be useful is another question. If it is, those questions come to my mind:

In hindsight, what would you have done differently?

What difference did it make to have experienced an A&P and not knowing what to do with this? How did people near you react to you telling about those experiences?

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
4/27/13 7:17 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
First, Daniel, I look forward to reading it. I think it's going to be funny and insightful, and you'll probably point to your own "mistakes" again to help the rest of us (well, me) be fine with/recognize those same mistakes should/when I make them, too.

I think it'd be great to include a section that considers adolescents' experiences. So many larger changes are happening to the brain in the teen years and a meditative map could be useful to adolescents who relate to meditation/contemplative traditions. If you recall your own adolescent experiences that could help...maybe even other teachers would contribute here. I remember Ven. Yutadhammo recounting some event in his adolescence and I thought, "probably a lot of kids experience this kind of thing or something similarly inexplicable". It doesn't have to be major, but I suspect a lot of us start down the meditative enthusiast route early on and that the adolescent brain offers up some significant fruit, which can be useful if a person has a choice to consider that fruit within some map they like.

And early childhood is also an interesting area. It could be neat to have an early childhood section in there for parents and include some stuff from the University of Virginia School of Medicine's Division of Personality Studies, Dr. Ian Stevenson's/Tucker's data collection. How parents could listen and not lead nor over-interpret a young child's speech and accounting --- as there are a small number of children who seem to know very specific facts about other lives and express this between the ages of 2 and 6 when language is forming. These children seem to occur in families of any cultural and religious tradition, so such a chapter could become a useful reference tool without becoming a huge book on the subject. Just a small, helpful chapter?

I don't know if these are up your alley or for this book, but also I'd say I hope you can take your time-- like I am thinking of how meditative experiences often take a year to consider and start to understand and you encourage people to watch over the course of a year to consider some meditative phenomena or the outcome of one experience. I have found this spot on advice. So I'm wondering if a book you write tomorrow, is it only editable by you in April 2014? You have a lot of experience and ability to connect across disciplines/subjects in that noggin, so I'm keen to read it and personally hope it's a "slow-food" meal. Make sense?

Thanks for asking.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
4/27/13 11:57 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I would like to hear how you dealt with work and school and meditation at the same time. Some of your retreat experiences that you touched on briefly in MCTB 1, if there any more interesting anecdotes, would be good reading. emoticon

It would be interesting to put in how meditation affects your career (what it does and doesn't do).

I would also like to know how you are now and how much meditation you do per day (if any).

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
4/27/13 1:11 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I wonder if it might be useful to have an introductory section with the basics of your story, the progress of insight, and how to do Mahasi-style vipassana, followed by a yogi toolbox runthrough including the most useful supplemental techniques you've found for aiding vipassana, and why they're useful:

  • alternate concentration practices and why some objects of concentration can be better than others, like using a bowl or candle as a kasina, why focusing on your heartbeat is problematic, whether you can get jhana concentrating on the movement of the breath through the whole body [and what focusing on the breath throughout the body really means: perception of air flowing into your lungs, but also breath-related changes in circulation and muscle activity]
  • what you consider the minimum criteria for calling a state 'jhana', whether attainment of this minimal or 'soft' first jhana is recommended or necessary for insight
  • HAIETMOBA and PCEs as tools for deepening insight practice, whether these states have any corollaries in older forms of buddhist meditation (e.g. are PCEs rigpa or not rigpa and whether that matters)
  • using self-inquiry (Who am I?) to identify regions of sensation that are poorly perceived and deserve special attention

Also, if all effective insight practices involve the development, recognition and strengthening of the same mental reflex, what are the essential characteristics of this mental reflex?

Echoing katy above, the supplemental practice and theory section might be followed with life advice, including tips for teens and those suffering with difficult home lives, mental illness, and/or chronic pain, and whether one should incorporate supplemental practices for dealing with the DN.

The expanded powers section could come last, with a warning that western materialists can safely skip it [until insight meditation shatters their precarious worldview].

You could produce volumes about your experience, but there's obviously merit in being able to recommend a relatively compact book as the all-in-one for effective insight practice.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
4/28/13 1:45 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel, do you perform [ or appreciate ] traditional arts like music, painting, fiction writing, dance, acting, martial art, etc ? How did that changed after enlightenment?

Edit: added in [ --- ]

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
4/27/13 4:01 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Post 4th path practices, and any adjustments/rebuttals to your view of maps and attainments. Looking forward to it!

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
4/27/13 6:09 PM as a reply to Matthew.
I agree with Katy and Matthew.
Your experiences of how to integrate practice into life to be a lifestyle.
More information on what to look for and the orders of magnitude to expect - some of the experiences can be very subtle and very hard to detect. This especially would be useful to the pre-path experiences and the fact that fixed definitions of milestones on the maps are not always helpful due to the tremendous variability of experiences around them

Additionally, if you have any experiences on how to integrate jhanas into practice ie effectively combining Shamata and Vipassana.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
4/27/13 6:14 PM as a reply to bernd the broter.
I'd like to know about the times when you got frustrated with the tradition, when you weren't so keen on meditation and when you almost jacked the whole thing in. (I am presuming these things happened to you and that I'm not the odd one out!)

Also, I want to hear the really mundane stuff about squeezing practice into your life, when you did lots of practice, when you did less, and so on.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
4/27/13 10:16 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I have never really found a satisfactory explanation on the different routes to enlightenment. Vipassana followed by samatha, samatha followed by vipassana, both simultaneously, and dry insight.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
4/27/13 10:41 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I'd very much like to read about your career as a doctor, specifically;

--Whether you have gained any special insight into illness and disease.
--Whether you believe illness and disease are created in the mind.
--Why you don't use high jhanic states to see inside patients' bodies in order to accurately diagnose tricky conditions.
--Why you don't use high jhanic states to see inside patients' minds, in order to diagnose faulty ways of thinking/perceiving
--Why you don't use high jhanic states to heal people of illness (but instead use only partially effective synthetic medicines).
--Why you need the high-stress, high-powered, high-status ED lifestyle.
--Why you suffered so greatly when you were ill recently. Since Buddhism is about putting an end to suffering, this is a real sticking point for me. Reading your account of that difficult time, I truly wondered whether you had achieved anything worthwhile at all. I asked the question on that thread but never got an answer. With no true answer to this, I'd have to conclude the Theravada practice is not one to engage.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
4/27/13 11:39 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Changes to the Self
How did your sense of self change at each path moment?(e.g...At what point did the sense of doer leave; when did proprioception shift to a nondual nature...etc?) Were the permanent changes only at path moments or were there also shifts between paths? Between 3rd and 4th path there seems to many shifts, could you go into your experience of that? Did the shifts change in intensity as if the selfing process had a rebooting ability or the selfing process adapted to the shifts? Post 4th path what modifications to the selfing process are you working on?

Magik
I would love to hear about your experiences with magik and how it played a part in your path.

Thanks,
~D

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
4/28/13 2:01 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I hear a lot of talk about Bill Hamilton. Bits of this and bits of that, but always excellent bits. Could you talk about Bill? Who he was, where he came from, his dharma journey, what he attained, what and how he practiced, his horizons, his beliefs and speculations, his teachings, and that sort of thing? It sounds like he was a key figure in your work, and an interesting dude in his own right, but I've not been able to find much information about him.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
4/28/13 2:21 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Read his book Saints and Psycopaths.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
dark night depression self-esteem jung
Answer
4/29/13 12:35 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Can´t wait to hold it in my hands!!!

How about
- Statistical data. How many vipassana hours do people need to reach stream entry?

- Neurological aspects a la "Zen and the Brain" by Steven Austin. There must be lotsa stuff out there. I also know a hardcore yogi who is a university neurologist, I could hook you up.

- psychological aspects. Self-esteem is a huge issue in spiritual circles as it seems. Sigmund Freud wrote about the neurotic aspects of being religious.

Dark night vs. depression (Ron Crouch researches on that).

Something I´m very interested in is C. G. Jung´s work on individuation which I assume has a great deal to do with depression.
Should you read that material I advise to also check out Joseph Campbell´s work on mythology and "the hero´s journey", he is very influenced by C. G. Jung.


Simply more geeky stuff about jhanas and nyanas ;-)

Any personal learnings, discarded beliefs, new understandings since MTCB1

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
5/1/13 12:39 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I'm curious to know how you choose your teachers. Did you find them by chance or did you seek out the best and travel as far as necessary to study with them? What criteria did you use to separate the good ones from the bad, the competent from the clueless and the just eccentric from the completely bonkers? Also what matters in a good teacher and what doesn't?
And feel free to name names. emoticon

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
5/29/13 5:17 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Hi Daniel,

Just a few thoughts/questions came to mind about the relationship between your work and your Dhamma practice:

I would really like to know about your relationship with the orthodox (conservative) medical establishment. Specifically, how much do they know (if at all) about your achievments/attainments in the field of meditation?

What (if any) aspects of what you have learned as truths (and not beliefs or speculation) about reality, are in direct contradiction to what is generally accepted in today's modern medical science? Is there anything that would be perceived as a "threat" by the orthodoxy?

Have your experiences ever gotten you in trouble at work. Have you ever been labelled a heretic, for example?

It would be interesting to know how much or how little you have discussed your "dharma life" with your peers at work.

Is it something you have kept fairly separate from other Doctors and medical staff, or is it something you have openly discussed?

Have you had any adverse reactions?

Would some Doctors view the experiences you have described as at best being hallucinations and at worst being some kind of mental disorder?

Not sure if some or any of these questions are useful to what you have in mind...

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
5/29/13 2:08 PM as a reply to Piers M.
That one has a really short answer:

Nearly total compartmentalization.

I don't talk about what I do related to meditation at work or with my colleagues or even in my home town barely at all except among the closest friends and then extremely rarely and in extremely superficial, whitewashed terms.

If they know anything, it is from the internet, and only perhaps 3 times in 10 years of working in hospitals has anyone asked me anything about that, and then it is the most basic questions, and the conversation has been less than 5 minutes each time, as there has been basically no conceptual or paradigmatic foundation for a conversation.

I might as well have said that I had a PhD in the advanced applications of differential equations to structural resonance problems or the severely endangered Micronesian language Woleaian. Nearly all have only asked out of some odd sense that it was strange, and not with any real interest, and it is nice that words like "arahat" mean as much to them as other Pali words, that being nothing.

In only the narrowest ways to those Venn Diagram circles overlap, and that is at places like the CDMP (Contemplative Development Mapping Project), where neuroscience, religious, psychological and the like researchers meet to discuss things related to the science of meditation, and in that one small circle of friends does my MD and MSPH in epidemiology hold some small relevance to things meditational and might get me some small bit of acceptance.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
5/31/13 5:42 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Thanks for the answer.

It kind of shoots a few holes into my concepts of an arahant. From a conventional point of view, I can understand why you haven't discussed meditation at all with colleagues or even "non-dharma" friends if I can put it like that. Some people will just never understand.

However, I had always thought that someone who is fully realized is also completely transparent, in the sense that their inner life and outer life are like mirrors. There's nothing to "hide".

For example, someone like Eckhart Tolle (it's not my place to say if he's an arahant or not in Buddhist terms, but surely having listened to many of his teachings he is certainly awakened to a high degree). He also appears to live the life that he teaches. Everyone one who meets him or sees him on You Tube etc. knows what he's about. There doesn't seem to be any compartmentalization going on there.

Same would be said of the Buddha and his closest disciples, right? And some of the highly attained monks from the forest traditions in more recent times.

But I guess there always has to be exceptions to the rule. Or I just had the thought that maybe there are more highly attained individuals around in everyday ordinary places than anyone would care to know (because usually exposure comes from those who are standing on a platform and teaching). Wonder how many preferred to just keep quiet...

MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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5/31/13 2:34 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Hi Daniel,

You skipped completely over this aspect of Piers' question, and it has been something I've been meaning to ask you about ever since our conversation back in 2005. If you'd prefer not to make a public statement about this, I can understand. Feel free to PM or email if you would like privacy and have the inclination to respond to this question.

Piers Mackeown:
What (if any) aspects of what you have learned as truths (and not beliefs or speculation) about reality, are in direct contradiction to what is generally accepted in today's modern medical science? Is there anything that would be perceived as a "threat" by the orthodoxy?


More specifically, I wonder whether or not you have noticed areas in allopathic treatments that conflict (or perhaps are not as efficacious) with what you know about medicine and how the body works. One particularly vicious treatment that comes immediately to mind is the chemo-therapy used in cancer treatment as opposed to certain alternative (and perhaps more natural) treatments that might be pursued. I've been studying these things for the past several decades, and most assiduously in recent years (now that I've become older) and have been using some treatments (some with great success) that might be considered as "folk medicine" by some modern practitioners of the healing arts, simply because they were never taught it in med school or never experimented with it for themselves.

There are a few old-school docs out there who are doing groundbreaking work in keeping the old knowledge alive. One of the docs I listen to and follow in his daily email list is Dr. Joseph Mercola. Another is Dr. Al Sears, who has traveled the world in search of alternative natural healing techniques.

Just to give one example, I've been using garlic gel tabs for stave off common colds for years with a nearly 100% success rate (depending on when I first noticed the cold coming on and whether I did something about it at the time). The allicin compound in garlic is the active ingredient, it being a natural anti-biotic that has slayed many a cold virus attempting to take hold of my body. And just recently, I've successfully used it as an alternative to amoxicillin (the pharmaceutical alternative to penicillin) to handle tooth aches.

Anyway, would be interested in your observations if you are of a mind to reply.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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6/1/13 1:41 AM as a reply to Ian And.
Dear Ian,

Hey, didn't mean to skip that part, just fit in a bit of an answer when I had a moment and just didn't think much about it.

Well, there are issues with what might be called "orthodoxy", but I think that some of that is breaking down as more people do more science on what has been considered the world of CAM, and more paradigms are shifting in places, though for most purposes, the emergency department is not really a place where I think much about those things, as it is based on a business model and constrained by factors that make it very fast. It requires rapid diagnoses and treatment effects within very narrow parameters, and the expectations of patients, particularly here in this relatively conservative part of the world (Missississississippi), make it such that basically nobody is asking about things like that, and I have so little time for much of anything that requires the slower, more specifically patient-centered and holistic paradigms that it really isn't much of something I think about day to day.

There are a few exceptions:

I consider much of we do in the realm of "saving" people who would have died an otherwise dignified death often to be excessive, unhelpful, and ultimately a waste of resources that also produces more suffering and less good in the world, so it is bad from all points of view: see this site by a friend and colleague of mine who shares this view:

Ok to Die

Beyond that, I often do trigger point injections often (something my colleagues basically don't except a few rare ones on occasion), which is sort of like basic acupuncture but with a medicinal kick (sensorcaine +/- decadron), and these are actually some of my happiest patients.

I did make a diagnosis of mercury poisoning after numerous specialists had worked this poor guy up for all sorts of things to the tune of 10's of thousands of dollars by asking something really basic that they didn't, namely, "What do you eat?" to which he replied, "Canned tuna."

I do try to ask people about things like stressors, diet, sleep, and the like, but it is extremely rapid-fire due to the pressures of where I find myself.

I can tell you that if I did get cancer, I would go full-court press: herbs, diet, exercise, shamans, energetic work, whatever it took to avoid chemo unless that really seemed the only thing or the time course required something extremely rapid (such as blast crisis in leukemia). I personally try to eat an organic, very healthful diet, something nearly none of my colleagues do except the rare few.

I have all sorts of theories about all sorts of things related to meditation and physiology, many of which were hinted at in the titles of the journal articles I wished to see in the call for a new scientific journal.

I have had all sorts of experiences that are so far out from anything related to what I do on a daily basis (such as the time I could see all my energy channels and manipulate them just by gently moving the energy around and opening the channels and the like) that I can't fit into any medical context easily in any practical way that would change what I actually do in the ER.

I think I do have an appreciation of what the mind can do to the body and vice versa that is beyond most of those I work with, but I could be wrong, as it is not something I have spent much time talking with them about, so this may be projection.

I get the sense that you have thoughts beyond those you mention below. What's on your mind?

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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6/10/13 3:03 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I completely agree with the call for bringing statistics & near-mainstream science to bear on the practice of enlightenment, for instance:

-- how do the various levels of attainment impact cognitive functioning (e.g IQ, working memory, attention, etc)

-- what changes occur in the brain during the journey (e.g. changes in EEG, fMRI, etc)

-- traits (personality, genetic, everyday environment) that can be used to determine which practices are best suited for a particular individual

comments on the following neurotheology/neurscience perspective on enlightenment
-- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqrpKUTMXgY

-- how do psychedelics and other practices help/harm enlightenment (e.g. polyphasic sleeping, lucid dreaming, calorie restriction, (intermittent) fasting, diet, brain trauma, electrical stimulation (tDCS, TMS, etc.)

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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6/25/13 6:11 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Hi Daniel

Here's something: what happened in your relationships with other people as a direct consequence of your spiritual quest.

You touch on this very briefly in the Dark Night material in the book.

I'm not asking out of sensationalism or trying to pry. Rather, many of the shifts I experienced in my own spiritual quest had profound impact on many of my relationships: some ended, some started, and some deepened as a direct consequence of my seeing things, including my own patterns of behavior, more clearly, and the resulting release from being bound up in them.

Since this is very personal, I understand if you don't want to discuss this, and will never mention it again emoticon

Maybe this would even make for a less autobiographical, more generalized chapter all of its own.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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6/25/13 3:28 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Could you go into a little more detail on why you think of yourself as an Arahat, despite still suffering, etc., and why you think thousands of Buddhist contemplatives have been denying the truth for over 2000 years? Now that I've stopped to consider this, I can see that it's really a gob-smackingly audacious claim... I mean, maybe if you had spent, say, 20 years in solitary retreat, ardently striving for the end of all suffering, it might not be completely ridiculous, but going by the retreat experience you've disclosed... it's almost beyond belief. To attempt an analogy, finding the DhO was like washing up on a small island after being lost at sea, pitching a tent, starting a fire... only to discover to my horror that I was actually atop a giant, prehistoric sea monster - in all my relief I had overlooked the suspicious-looking surface, and only after taking many steps back could I begin to see.

At the same time I'd like to reaffirm my gratitude to you for starting and maintaining this site, and writing MCTB. The openness and willingness to speak up against the unhelpful culture and dogma, etc., is something I really admire. But, whatever about being open about attainments, massively reducing people's aspirations for the sake of... what, exactly? Peace of mind?.. that's just plain unhelpful.

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8/6/13 5:11 PM as a reply to Florian.
Hi Daniel,

How about the brahma viharas and how to you think they should be integrated into ones practice(if at all). You mentioned in a post somewhere here that Metta was very good at increasing concentration, is Upekkha(equanimity) useful for reaching stream entry?. What about the 2 others? Its hard to find info on them.
Cheers,
Jerry

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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8/7/13 1:28 AM as a reply to Florian.
Florian's post + 1

B B:
Could you go into a little more detail on why you think of yourself as an Arahat, despite still suffering


That's a good question.

B B:
Now that I've stopped to consider this, I can see that it's really a gob-smackingly audacious claim... I mean, maybe if you had spent, say, 20 years in solitary retreat, ardently striving for the end of all suffering, it might not be completely ridiculous, but going by the retreat experience you've disclosed... it's almost beyond belief.


Not really a gob-smackingly audacious claim or beyond belief There are countless examples within the Pali canon of people becoming arahants or Stream Enterers etc. just from simple hearing a dhamma talk or even a few verses from the Buddha himself or another esteemed arahant. I am unable to give you the references as to where you'd find these in the canon (I'm sure more esteemed scholars out there could) but I have heard and read of these cases multiple times from multiple sources. As I understand it (crudely) it quite simply comes down to how many aeons/world cycles you've spent deveoping your virtues. If you've been "hanging around" for some time it could take you just 7 days of sustained practice, but if you're still relatively unripe it could take you 7 years of sustained practice to ripen. This is basically what the Buddha says in so many words, at the end of the Satipattana Sutta.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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8/9/13 2:58 AM as a reply to Piers M.
Alright, why "Arahat" despite suffering.

Here is the short version:

The Buddha suffered and so did numerous reported arahats, the most extreme one of which killed himself with a knife as the pain he experienced in his old age was too extreme. The Buddha suffered from headaches, among other things, but also frustration with his monks, logistical difficulties, and other complexities.

The Shorter Discourse on Voidness says that even for arahats there still remains that suffering that results from having been born and conditioned by life (MN121).

That pain would still be pain and there would still be conflicts, illness, and the like is to be expected. Even in dependent origination, it is still there as predicted in that profound teaching.

That all said, what I have done is remarkable and very unusual.

All sensations occur totally on their own, are known by themselves, where they are, without any Agent, Subject, Observer, Doer, Controller, or Knower at all, all the way through, evenly, without exception. This was finally locked in 10 years ago by a remarkable series of transformations. In short, the sense of a self in the sense caused by ignorance of the Three Characteristics is totally gone, flipped over, untangled at the core, and extirpated totally at the root. All actions occur totally on their own. The sense of a center-point is totally gone. Everything is just where it is in a totally integrated, totally transient, totally directly manifest field. At the time it happened, there was the profound sense, "Wow! That's it!" and that sense and the direct perceptual evaluation of the path of insight being completed on that front has remained ever since.

What would you call that?

It took me 7 years from Stream Entry (January, 1996), meaning nearly 9 from beginning to end (August, 1994, when I did my first retreat, to April, 2003, when I did my last retreat). Those years involved an extremely high level of engagement with the dharma.

As to world-cycles or the like, my past life experiences line up along the following lines, if you believe in such experiences having validity:

1) This life human.
2) Last life some sort of moderately powerful, clearly somewhat debauched male jealous god/sorcerer of some kind that was stabbed in the back with a dagger by a woman who he had wronged in some way, I think.
3) Some sort of mother skunk-like animal that was eaten by a large black dog or wolf.
4) Some sort of mother bat that was killed when the rock it was clinging to at the top of the cave fell to the floor.
5) Some sort of grim, gigantic, armored skeletal titan-like thing that ran tirelessly through space swinging a gigantic sword and doing battle nearly continuously without sleep for hundreds of thousands of years that was killed by something like a dragon.
6) Some gigantic, gelatinous, multi-tentacled, very alien being living in a very dark place for a very long time, probably under water, I think.

Other than some sense that the skunk-thing and the bat-thing were virtuous mothers, I have no sense that there was any profound previous dharmic development at least back that far, and, in fact, have the distinct sense that the previous one was a bit of a cad and not very ethical. Take that all for what you will.

Daniel

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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8/9/13 4:29 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
The Shorter Discourse on Voidness says that even for arahats there still remains that suffering that results from having been born and conditioned by life (MN121).

That's fine, but what about the arahat definition: the freedom from all defilements. Are you completely free from greed, hatred, delusion, ignorance and craving?

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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8/9/13 6:52 AM as a reply to Pål S..
Are you completely free from greed, hatred, delusion, ignorance and craving?

+1. I think that gets to the crux of it.

And if I could reiterate my thoughts from another thread that seems to have gotten buried:
  • How could something like greed still arise without some degree of ignorance remaining regarding the unsatisfactoriness of conditioned phenomena?
  • How is there suffering inherent the perception of pain? All along the path, I'm constantly being reminded that it's my reaction to sensations that cause suffering. How can you claim to truly grasp the emptiness of pain - and the perceiver of pain - and still suffer from it?
  • When there are so many openings and plateaus along the path that deceive so many people into believing "that was it", full enlightenment, how can you be so sure?

Edit: also Daniel, having just read that discourse, the word "dukkha" never appears in it:
He discerns that 'Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the effluent of sensuality... the effluent of becoming... the effluent of ignorance, are not present. And there is only this modicum of disturbance: that connected with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its condition.'

It's an extremely long stretch to say that the Buddha is referring to a form of suffering here.

How The Buddha Suffered

More than that, beware of chasing fantasies.

Eliminating the sense of a center-point, Subject, etc. is the ignorance to be eliminated, and removing that eliminates that strange way of holding the mind where part of it tries to get to or away from parts of reality, but a mammal was born, and it will feel pain, get sick, and die.

You have solid evidence otherwise?

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8/10/13 3:32 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
How The Buddha Suffered

This is entitled "Why the Buddha Suffered" and only describes him suffering in previous lives.
More than that, beware of chasing fantasies.

The possibility of vastly reducing one's suffering in such a fundamental way that it relieves stress most people are never even aware they are under is itself an absurd fantasy to most people. I would also have regarded the degree to which I've succeeded in reducing my own suffering over the past 6 months to have been an absurd fantasy - had I ever had the temerity to imagine it - even when I was convinced SE was possible within only a few years.
You have solid evidence otherwise?

You're the one denying the evidence of thousands of contemplatives over 2500 years. The burden of proof lies with you. And speaking of absurd fantasies, the notion that in that time, no-one has had the guts to speak out about this, as you write in MCTB - that all these monks who have given up all worldly possessions, who dedicate their lives to becoming ever more self-less, that essentially none have had the balls to contradict doctrine... that it's all come down to some "arrogant American" who doesn't even do this full-time. Words fail me - there's no summing-up that level of absurdity.

And personally speaking, as I've progressed I've noticed numerous situations where, though they would once have caused me intense suffering, I now no longer suffer at all, despite the intensity of the sensations remaining just as severe. You should also have plenty of experience with this correlation, yet in the "end" it is denied.

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8/10/13 4:33 AM as a reply to B B.
Just to clarify - from 'Why the Buddha Suffered'

The texts which are translated here describe the previous deeds of the Buddha which led in his last life to various kinds of suffering: from spending a long time in the wasteland of severe austerities; to receiving slander at various hands; to physical ailments of various kinds: being attacked and cut by rocks and scalpels; and getting headaches, backaches and dysentry.


Assuming 'Last Life' means the life including his time as a Buddha.

Peace

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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8/10/13 5:24 AM as a reply to B B.
Well, that is a traditionally-based response and a very interesting filter, a filter so strong that it would miss that the Buddha did have back aches and headaches and difficulties in the texts while he was a Buddha, and those stories are explaining the purported karma that lead to those afflictions while he was a living Buddha.

I have had poor success arguing with those with filters like those in place, so we will probably just have to agree to disagree, as I know what I have done, and you know what you believe, and there is not much to talk about beyond that, as I can't give you a tour of this, and you are not going to be able to convince me of your point of view based on the ancient dogmas.

We are both familiar with the dogma, so quoting that at each other will just go through our various ways of looking at this, and, if you don't have the basis in practice, then we can hardly talk on that level and have it mean anything real, so perhaps you should just see what you are able to do and where it leads and consider that there are maps out there that one day you might find helpful if you later decide to change your mind about them, and I wish you the opportunity to be able to make those comparisons against your own experience some day.

Just to tell a small story that is likely of little to no (or perhaps even negative) value...

I was on my last retreat in 2003 at MBMC in Malaysia. During the first two week I was there, before I had done it, Sayadaw U Pandita, Junior (so-called to differentiate him from the other, older Sayadaw U Pandita), the abbot of the center at the time, mostly talked about his home country, Burma, about things like how they have nice gems there and how they make nice lacquer boxes, and sometimes would just gently say things to me like, "Anytime! This is very nice! Come on! You can do it!" with him knowing explicitly that I considered myself an anagami at the time, knowing that I had 8 jhanas at a whim, knowing that I had Fruitions occurring about every 5 minutes or so even when walking, knowing that I had attained to Nirodha Samapatti a few times on that retreat just basically out of frustration as I didn't know what else to do and was, for a while, sort of flailing around (if that can all be considered flailing around) trying to figure out how to crack the nut that I had been beating my head against for 6 years, the last nut, the Big Nut, and that that was my explicit goal.

Finally, about two weeks in, I got it, the thing flipped over, and his message and stories totally changed on that day. There were only two of us there listening to that day's dharma talk, me and a novice meditator. He told this long story about a monk who visited another monk in another monastery and of their interactions and finally he said, looking straight at me, "So, the moral of this story is: if you are an arahat or have psychic powers, don't go around saying that!" He also gave me permission to teach, and, in fact, encouragement to do so, and didn't give me any other dharma instructions during that last week of the retreat, as what could he say?

Thus, you can take that as you like it, but there at least one monk, and a well-respected, lineaged monk that they let be an abbot of a major meditation center in the Mahasi tradition (and these are people with pretty high standards) who doesn't think that I am crazy, and, on the contrary, just thinks I am crazy to tell people about it. He may have a point, as this conversation demonstrates all too well, but still, I think the downsides are outweighed by the benefits.

When the knot is untangled, then there is nowhere to go on that front and nobody to go there, as everything is just where it is, and so all the motion of mind that was bound up in thinking there was some self in a permanent, separate way at the center of all of that doesn't happen. As the monk said, "This is very nice! You can do it! Come on! Anytime!".

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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8/10/13 6:17 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Very interesting filter?
Honestly, how many times in the Pali canon is some variation on the phrase "freedom from all suffering" used? The Buddha was being unequivocal. It wasn't "freedom from all suffering, apart from, er... headaches, and really, pain in general. Oh, and logistical difficulties." Don't be daft. Suffering is not inherent to pain, as you really should know by now.

Good luck in the next life. Personally, I've had enough of this shit!

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8/10/13 6:48 AM as a reply to B B.
You need to read the fine print: it is intrinsic to the Dependent Origination framework and explicit: there is Nibbana and there is Parinibbana, and one has remainder, and that remainder is subject to pain, sickness, old age and death.

Consider the arahat to killed himself as the pain of old age and sickness was to great: Channa was his name. The Pali Canon is trying to tell you something.

Consider that pain is still pain regardless of any lack of clarity about it or any incomprehension of the truth of it. The Buddha talked about the suffering inherent in having been born and in this round of rebirths.

His truth of suffering is truth number one and he was very explicit about all the things that were suffering. He didn't say only that your mind's reactions to pain are suffering, but that pain itself is suffering.

All suffering ends at the death of a fully enlightened being, so the teachings explicitly go. Until then, you were born, and that has very predictable consequences.

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8/10/13 8:23 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
He didn't say only that your mind's reactions to pain are suffering, but that pain itself is suffering.

Daniel, can I refer you to the second Noble Truth: that the origin of dukkha is craving. How much more explicit can it get?

Having just read the passage on Channa's suicide, it's not at all clear that he was suffering from this pain, and in all likelihood simply thought that he could do no more good in the world lying on his sickbed as an old man.

And it's explicitly stated that all suffering ends on the attainment of Nibbana, i.e. Arahatship.

It's really dismaying watching you jump through all these mental hoops in a desperate attempt to cling to this viewpoint.

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8/10/13 3:02 PM as a reply to B B.
Yes, craving,
And craving leads to birth.
Dependent Origination: very specific about this and the timing of it.
To get off of the round of rebirths.
This is not mental gymnastics, it is just obvious and straightforward.
As the standard dogma goes, there is ignorance
That leads to a bunch of steps, one of which is craving
And after that one a few steps down is birth,
And right after that suffering, old age, and death, as we all know and live daily.
With the extirpation of ignorance, the thing begins to collapse,
But that last birth did occur...
And birth leads exactly to what we all obviously know it leads to as we all observe daily,
Particularly if you work in an emergency dept,
As I do.
So, apparently you believe that all suffering will vanish and pain will totally cease to be any problem at all before death: find me the living confirmation of that: one that could, for example, undergo major surgery without anesthesia of some kind, or have a major broken bone reset without pain medication or flinching of any kind and truly consider that no problem at all.
Your view does go against both the dogma, as Dependent Origination is very specific in its sequence and timing, and obvious living fact, and so the burden of proof is clearly on you.
It is not that things can't get much better in some ways, as they can and have, but still, birth occurred.

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8/10/13 3:34 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I wonder how far you cold take your view of the thing...

Could you, for example, take an arahat as you conceive of them being today and, say, slowly burn their legs off in a fire while pouring acid into their eyes and gently removing the bones of their spine with red-hot tongs with them calmly reciting a dharma talk with normal vital signs, etc., for example? It is a truly morbid, horrible thought, obviously, but still, I wonder how far your belief system goes in that regard, as you seem to conceive it as being without physiological limits or thresholds, and that is truly amazing.

It would imply things that I consider totally physiologically impossible, this being from one who is a well-trained vipassana practitioner given permission to teach by two respected teachers, one of which was a lineaged Mahasi abbot, and also an emergency department physician who daily sees what pain does to humans and how they react and has for 10 years, with causes and their effects being very straightforward in that regard, and as one who has had some truly intense pain from kidney stones and seen how this mammal reacted to it despite some very strong practice, I can say that to make extremely intense pain no problem at all, you would truly have done something remarkable, something beyond anything I have knowledge of or have ever heard reported in this life or seen, and I have been lucky enough to hang out with a bunch of very strong, well-trained practitioners from a bunch of traditions.

Please, the living example today. The Proof. If these techniques produced such effects in the distant, ancient past but don't today, then the tradition is hardly worth arguing about, as it has lost its potency.

If, on the other hand, part of the past was highly mythologized, as even the most cursory reading of the Pali texts show it was (gods and earthquakes, lotus blossoms blooming from his footsteps, and the list goes on and on and on and on, with mythology clearly swamping good, practical advice in sheer volume, not that there isn't some very good stuff in all of that), then we must look to current reality for answers, and currently reality is pretty straightforward.

Read "After the Ecstasy, the Laundry" by Jack Kornfield, one of the most respected of the modern meditators and one who has also been researching this stuff and teaching this stuff for decades and is a PhD psychologist and also trained with some of the very best meditators of the last century and also had the opportunity to interview some of the very best masters of the last century. You won't find your view confirmed by the facts of what the best of Buddhism has produced in the last 80 years or so that we know of and can confirm for ourselves.

Read The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying: in it you will find a lineaged Tibetan teacher of the highest level saying how difficult life was and how hard practice was in the face of the endless injections and other things he was subjected to in the hospital as he was dying. He did not say, "This mind was perfectly clear and perfectly free from suffering despite all the pain." Nothing of the kind.

Reality is telling you something. The very best alive today are telling you something. This human life you have been born into is telling you something. The clinging is yours.

By pursuing a dream, you will miss this reality, and this reality is where the payoff that can be obtained in this reality is found.

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8/10/13 7:17 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
The body and mind are profoundly connected.

You release enough adrenalin, the brain really changes its perspective and function.

You release enough immune chemicals, leukotriene, prostaglandins, TNF-alpha, and brain function really changes.

The notion that the body could be profoundly suffering, with severe injuries or pain and yet the mind not only be totally clear but functioning at some peak and transcendent level is naive. The system in reality simply doesn't work like that.

Again, this is not fantasy, this is the gritty reality of being a human, the basic and perhaps advanced physiology of how the system works.

Even the far fringe of promise makers, such as Richard of AF, take their pain medications for pain. Why, if it was all bliss and totally suffering free? Why get constipated and waste your time if there was no suffering?

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8/10/13 10:11 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
What about the self-immolating monks which remained unmoving while their bodies burned away?

Also you have stories like these:

Mansur believed in union with the Divine, that God was within him, and that he and God had become one and the same. Mansur was cut into many pieces because in the state of ecstasy he exclaimed Ana Abrar-al Haq "I am the Abrar of truth". He was executed in public in Baghdad. They cut him into pieces and then they burnt his remains. He kept repeating "I am the Truth" as they kept cutting his arms, legs, tongue and finally his head. He was smiling, even as they chopped off his head
[...]
His legs were cut off, he smiled and said, "I used to walk the earth with these legs, now there's only one step to heaven, cut that if you can. " And when his hands were cut off he paints his face with his own blood, when asked why, he says: "I have lost a lot of blood, and I know my face has turned yellow, I don't want to look pale-faced (as of fear)... ."


EDIT: Hmm ok I thought that Mansur one happened more recently. Other accounts of that event go like this:
Hallaj's hands and feet were then tied to the stake, and with a single stroke of his sword the executioner severed Hallaj's hands. As the blood spurted out from his wrists it was seen to form the words 'I am the Truth' (Anal-Haq) as it poured onto the wooden boards of the scaffold

So that one can be taken with a grain of salt. But the self-immolating monk phenomenon is pretty recent.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
8/11/13 1:35 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
@Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem
I'd consider that kind of things ot have a lot to do with the powers and very little to do with enlightenment.


@BB
All sensations occur totally on their own, are known by themselves, where they are, without any Agent, Subject, Observer, Doer, Controller, or Knower at all, all the way through, evenly, without exception. This was finally locked in 10 years ago by a remarkable series of transformations. In short, the sense of a self in the sense caused by ignorance of the Three Characteristics is totally gone, flipped over, untangled at the core, and extirpated totally at the root. All actions occur totally on their own. The sense of a center-point is totally gone. Everything is just where it is in a totally integrated, totally transient, totally directly manifest field. At the time it happened, there was the profound sense, "Wow! That's it!" and that sense and the direct perceptual evaluation of the path of insight being completed on that front has remained ever since.

What would you call that?


That's the thing that interests me the most in regard to your POV.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
8/11/13 3:36 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:


[...]

When the knot is untangled, then there is nowhere to go on that front and nobody to go there, as everything is just where it is, and so all the motion of mind that was bound up in thinking there was some self in a permanent, separate way at the center of all of that doesn't happen. As the monk said, "This is very nice! You can do it! Come on! Anytime!".


If there's nothing else to do on that front, to what front did/do you ascribe the shift stated below?

Daniel M. Ingram:

There was a resynchronizing of something, such that, if you imagine a watch with the second hand just one gear-tooth out of sync, such that at, say, the stroke of midnight the second hand was one second behind, and then suddenly the teeth synced up properly, such that suddenly everything was time aligned properly for the first time, that is what this feels like, such that time pressure is significantly less if there at all (again, we'll see how this holds up over time as the months go on and things morph as they do). This has had numerous subtle and not so subtle motivation implications as well as increased a general sense of satisfaction and sense of wellbeing, and my mouth ulcers which I have had nearly daily for years have been gone now since that time, which has happened at times in the past and may not be related, but is worth mentioning, and continues to make me wonder about immune mechanisms and attentional things. I have noticed before that a retreat of over a week or so would give me at least 1-2 months aphthous ulcer free in the past...

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
8/11/13 5:02 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I could attempt to pick apart your argument again (and I'm certainly not convinced by it), but as you say, there is no point beyond slightly shifting a few persons' opinions one way or the other.

Look, ultimately it's all just electrical signals hitting the brain. Whether you've got a headache or are being slowly skinned alive is a difference of degree, not of kind. What really matters is our reactions to those sensations - do we experience a desire to preserve the body, or in some sense believe that not being in pain would give us something of lasting worth?

We are lost in profound illusion - in quantum information science, the notion that we may all be mere bits compressed into a 2D array on a quantum computer is being taken very seriously. In the Samyutta Nikaya, the Buddha says that the most profound teaching is that which deals with emptiness, any other subject is superficial, and that there must be a Tathagata enlightened in the world for it to be taught. If Pac-Man doesn't have to suffer, then neither do we, only understand at a deep enough level the emptiness of phenomena - the un-reality of dukkha. And then our authentic experience will be one of absolutely no unpleasantness, anesthesia or not, just as no longer believing you have a phantom limb will cause the pain in it to cease. To call it quits once the subject has been "removed" is a cop out, especially when you're claiming full enlightenment.

When many westerners live the lives of demi-gods from the perspective of the disease-ridden peasants of the Buddha's time, it's no wonder the possibility of overcoming severe pain is met with disbelief. This is what causes the dharma to become lost to the world, as our lives are filled with ever-more realistic and pleasurable forms of entertainment, and within a decade or two, full virtual reality indistinguishable from "real" life, not to mention life-extending treatments, eventually allowing humans to live the lives of devas. Who's going to sit on their ass and put up with searing pain in their joints then, or even think it possible to find equanimity and overcome that?

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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8/11/13 5:41 PM as a reply to B B.
We are a very long way from having pain-free lives, as any day in an emergency department will tell you. Stroke victims with horrible sacral ulcers from not being turned enough in nursing homes. Severe back pain in so many people who had work-related injuries, car accidents, blown disks, failed lumbar spine fusion surgeries, and the like. Migraines and migraines and migraines...

People hurt, and they hurt often. It is extremely common. I don't think we will eliminate severe pain being a frequent visitor to many people, particularly as they get old and get arthritis and their spines collapse (as in the woman I saw last night who fell down and shattered a few lumbar vertebrae as her bones were so thin), and they have heart disease and chest pain and diverticulitis and on and on and on. People come in with severe menstrual cramps, some every month as they are so bad. Endometriosis really hurts. Kidney stones are seen daily in my emergency department: talk about pain. Every day people wreck their cars and break something or severely strain their backs and necks: sometimes those never really get better.

There is a reason there is a massive epidemic of opiate pain medication use and abuse in this country, and only part of it is that they are addictive: most got addicted because they hurt a lot. A some were just partiers and using them recreationally, but the number of older people who are on seriously high doses of opiates would probably amaze you.

We saw about 220 patients just in our emergency department yesterday and nearly all of them hurt. That is 365 days/year, and that is just one of about 13,000 emergency departments, not to mention all the chronic pain clinics, primary care doctor visits, and people who just buy off the street, or drink, or whatever as they have lots of pain. It is not that there isn't lots of drug abuse, as there is, but there is also a ton of pain.

As to the example of the person who was cut into pieces while feeling one with God, it is definitely true that people can get into some very strange mind states that allow a very altered relationship to pain.

For example, I saw a thin teenage female who came in about to deliver her baby and having frequent contractions. She was brought in by her grandmother who didn't know she was pregnant until her water broke. The patient was smiling and laughing the whole time she was delivering, claiming to anyone who would listen that she was not pregnant, had never had sex, and that she was fine. She delivered a 6-pound healthy baby and when it was presented to her said, "This can't be my baby, as I am not pregnant!" while laughing in this somewhat nervous, odd way the whole time. Her vitals stayed stable, she never flinched from a contraction, never broke a sweat, never showed any sign of pain when being injected with lidocaine for the episiotomy I performed, as the baby was stuck and starting to have some heart slowdowns, and, except for the baby she delivered, you would never have known she was in labor. It was her first child. I have seen labor probably 60 times: nobody I had ever seen before looked that totally calm, didn't sweat, didn't have a heart rate increase, didn't scream at some point (one exception to that last one being a 38 year-old delivering her 10th baby who did it on one, calm easy push like the expert she was). In short, she had somehow dissociated from the situation so entirely that she was living in an alternate reality where it wasn't happening. I don't consider that wisdom, and in fact consider it some variant of psychosis, but admit that its implications for what might be possible are ambiguous.

Similarly, I have seen people so high on drugs that they seemed totally impervious to pain at all, as well as psychotic people who seemed to not feel pain in the least. In short, I do know of pathological states where, for short periods of time, pain doesn't seem to get through in any normal way.

While I agree to some degree that emptiness is very important, there is a flip side to that.

I quote from one of my favorite texts, one I have gone back to often, that being The Light of Wisdom, from the last paragraph of the root text:

"The causal vehicle of the paramitas
Is to gradually attain the paths and bhumis.
On the path of fruition, you should still regard
The practice of unified emptiness and compassion as the basis of the path."

I think that this is very profound and helpful.

It is easy to go so far into the emptiness end of emphasis in our practice that we begin to dissociate, yearn for extinction, yearn for total transcendence, yearn to be untouched by the troubles of the world, yearn to be totally disconnected from pain, harm, conflict, illness, difficulty and death.

I think that remembering that compassion and emptiness are unified, in that this points to the fact of these bodies, in this world, with this suffering in us all, and the same final outcome of this birth, together, and being realistic about that, honest about that, and really inhabiting this body, this place, this community we find ourselves, this troubled world: all of that requires acknowledging the pain, the suffering, the conflict, the reality of what this moral coil is.

When we are well and don't hurt, we can easily forget all of this. We can imagine that it will all feel ok forever: it won't. Similarly, when we hurt, we can imagine that we can read the dharma as offering a way out of pain totally in this life: I also feel that this is impossible, though clearly we can change numerous aspects of something in the illusory nature of the odd relationship to pain that exists while it seems there is still a center point, doer, controller, feeler in some separate but oddly connected way, and that does help, but it doesn't mitigate all of it, and in some ways makes it worse, as, when that odd defense mechanism is gone, there is this very direct connection, this inherent clarity.

I have notice that this direct, unfiltered connection to the sensate world does a few things.

It is true that it really does help in some way. The silence of the mind in the face of much of what goes on, the spaciousness of perspective, the things just in their own proportion-ness of clear sense perception and panoramic perspectives, in which thoughts are like luminous phantoms as part of a much wider space, in which where is not a split of this and that, is much better. Ordinary sensations that would typically have been missed have this really nice, fresh, pleasing something about them, and there is something really great about that, except that there is a flip side to that:

It becomes no longer possible to dissociate from really bad pain so far as I can tell. This was a surprise.

I remember my first kidney stone. It started while I was playing bass on stage with my band. I thought I had gas cramps or something, as we had eaten Mexican food before the show and I had eaten a bunch of beans, and I didn't really want to fart right there on stage, and some of those cramps were really bad, but I just kept playing, focusing on the music and finally the show ended. For much of the show the pain was there, but I didn't really notice it much, like it was happening in some other space somewhere, meaning that I had managed to dissociate from it. When I got home I noticed that the pain really was bad, and so I ended up in the emergency department after writhing around on the floor like an alligator that had been stabbed in the back with a spear. After waiting for about 3.5 hours to be seen, the pain suddenly ended, just like that, when I passed the stone into my bladder.

Compare that to a stone that hit me this Spring. The odd thing about having a system that is now hardwired into reality is that there is no escape in some way, such that, whereas before there was a way to detune somehow from the pain, now pain that is really terrible is right there and very clear in a way that doesn't seem to be able to be shut out or dissociated from at all.

So here is the odd thing about this from a physiological point of view: I drove to the emergency department sweating and shaking as the pain threatened to make me pass out: totally dangerous: don't do this. I was really nauseated, though I didn't vomit. I show up and stagger to the bed. While this is happening, the staff commented that it was very odd the way that I could calmly recite my medical history and give all the details while my body was sweating and shaking. Odder still, my vitals were totally normal: heart rate about 60-70, blood pressure about 110/60: nothing like what people ordinarily look like when they are in terrible pain, which I definitely was, and I see people with bad pain all the time: few have normal heart rates and blood pressures when really bad pain hits, though we do see it on occasion.

So, while it didn't affect something, to say there was not terrible, really debilitating pain that was immaculately clear for every instant of it would be missing something, as you should have seen how I was walking: it looked like I had been shot in the back or was being beaten in the back with a large stick, and there didn't seem to be anything I could do about that.

A shot of toradol (like fancy ibuprofen) and a few minutes later the stone passed and I was ok. Until that time, there would be no way to say that I was ok, as terrible pain is definitely not ok and it definitely had serious effects, just different in some ways than they would have been before.

Another example: I worked a shift while passing a stone some years back. That stone wasn't as bad but was still pretty strong and impressive pain. I would give that pain a 7/10 as opposed to the 10/10 my last stone caused. Nobody during the shift could tell, as I was calm, friendly, working fast, and appeared normal, but the clarity of the pain second after second was profound, and I certainly wouldn't say that wasn't suffering, as that would be really missing something bad about that experience. That the mind was very clear about the pain, and that the mind wasn't producing reactions that impaired my ability to work or stay calm and professional, that there didn't seem to be anything in the center of the brain that was observing the pain, and all the rest of the benefits of this attainment still don't change the fact that that stone really hurt, and I would have compassion for anyone in a similar state of attainment with a similar stone, as clearly reality would be better without pain like that. That is the compassion part of the emptiness, the unification of the two.

More practically, I think that being careful to watch for the desire to dissociate, to escape, to totally transcend is important for good practice: those are subtle or gross ignorance, aversion to pain and desire for escape that is missing something that is required to untangle the knot, and that is a full and total commitment to this sense sphere however it is, here and now, in this fathom-long body, all the way through. Investigating the sensations that make up those patterns of tendencies is very good practice.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
8/11/13 11:14 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Hey Daniel,

Daniel M. Ingram:
Compare that to a stone that hit me this Spring. The odd thing about having a system that is now hardwired into reality is that there is no escape in some way, such that, whereas before there was a way to detune somehow from the pain, now pain that is really terrible is right there and very clear in a way that doesn't seem to be able to be shut out or dissociated from at all.


Is that really accurate - that there is no escape in some way - or have you just not chosen to figure out how to do that? You can enter formless jhanas, wherein there is no sense of your body, no? Wouldn't you not feel the pain in those? If not, then it's possible to knock out a bunch of stuff along with the pain. Then the question is, would it be possible to knock out just the pain - or at least ameliorate it - and not some other stuff such that you could still, for example, drive, without the pain being so intense? Maybe it's just a manner of exploring that direction?

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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8/12/13 5:47 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
it is a fair question

in that circumstance, all i could think was that my kidney was going to explode and i should seek medical attention immediately, as that was the most pain i had ever experienced and, at the time, was more pain than i thought it was possible to experience and stay conscious

while in theory i guess one could try something like formless realms, in practice i think that in the face of such intense formed input that it would be totally beyond my capabilities, though, having not tried it, i can't be absolutely certain

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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8/12/13 8:48 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel one contemporary source I have read who I find to be a reliable and advanced practitioner is Byron Katie. she talks about having no beliefs, no sadness anger or fear etc. as tested by things like being robbed at gunpoint and not having any sense of fear, not even an increased heart rate or blood pressure, noticing how beautiful her attackers eyes were and how she hoped he wouldn't bring this on himself (this trauma of killing her). she also mentions being totally joyful despite not eating for 29 days and having a painful blinding eye ailment can't remember if these were at the same time.... ;0 not quite the acid and fire test but maybe something more than what you describe for yourself?

just a suggestion that maybe you are putting a ceiling somewhere on your development with all your medical knowledge and understanding of physiology or all your spiritual wisdom. though maybe I am just reading too much into your words. I haven't achieved these things either, certainly not, but at the moment I am letting myself stay entirely unknowing with regard to what's possible... why not? for all I know there is no physical body just a convincing dream.

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8/12/13 5:06 PM as a reply to Adam . ..
I will check out her work. Thanks for the recommendation.

You might be correct in that I might be artificially limiting myself, as that is always a possibility.

Anyone here have any real-world experience with her, such as hung out with her for any substantial period of time, know any reliable second-hand reports from years-long close colleagues, friends, siblings, parents, business associates and/or partner(s), know what she is like when not in front of a camera or on the front cushion, etc.?

Unfortunately, I have a number of examples of people claiming remarkable things that by all external appearances seem to be total bullshit, but that doesn't mean that everyone who makes those claims is wrong, just all the ones I personally know of have turned out to not perform as advertised under close scrutiny, and there is a very long tradition of that, unfortunately, and includes some of the best respected names in this field.

Time and time again, once the truth comes out, it just wasn't what it initially appeared or what it was claimed to be.

Still, I can be skeptical of my own skepticism, but I would like more data if possible, solid data, or as solid as we can get in this slippery business.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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8/12/13 5:42 PM as a reply to Adam . ..
Well, this was an interesting read on BK.

The School sounds somewhat creepy, but clearly others have gotten a lot out of it. The very long days and fasts and other strange situations made me think of "The Teachings" mentioned by Bill Hamilton in Saints and Psychopaths, but then there may not be good close parallels in other aspects, as the comments about how BKs stuff did or didn't mimic standard cult practices shows.

I will do more research. Do we have a new AF suddenly arriving here? Time will tell.

Interestingly, my step-daughter just bought and started reading one of her books and just showed it to me a few weeks ago. She was finding it helpful, she said.

******************************************************************************

(As a possibly totally unrelated aside: anyone familiar with Adi Da? Wow! That is some freaky stuff... My wife was just telling me about all the crazy stuff she was reading about his life and teachings and crazy "wisdom" and other totally narcissistic nut-job stuff: amazing what otherwise sane adults can believe and follow and in such large quantities.)

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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8/13/13 2:22 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Yea that did sound a bit creepy. but maybe it could work?! i don't know. i think the work itself is definitely a valid technique, i also think she is legit in terms of intention and insight.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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8/13/13 6:07 AM as a reply to Adam . ..
Adam . .:
Byron Katie. she talks about having no beliefs, no sadness anger or fear etc.
Never found time to read about her yet - I have a friend who has been telling me to check her out. She is a facilitator of the Byron Katie teachings and worked with the teachings for many years.

I told her I remember a nice description of Byron's awakening about the cockroach seven years ago. She said, "It is a short book, the first book she wrote... There she is very clear. Later, she changed the message because people didn't understand her. Loosing The Moon is the first one" It seems like many people benefited from the work and overcome much psychological suffering.

As for the cockroach awakening description I was saying:

"Less than two weeks after I entered the halfway house [for eating disorders], my life changed completely. What follows is a very approximate account.

One morning I woke up. I had been sleeping on the floor as usual. Nothing special had happened the night before; I just opened my eyes. But I was seeing without concepts, without thoughts or an internal story. There was no me. It was as if something else had woken up. It opened its eyes. It was looking through Katie's eyes. And it was crisp, it was clear, it was new, it had never been here before. Everything was unrecognizable. And it was so delighted! Laughter welled up from the depths and just poured out. It breathed and was ecstasy. It was intoxicated with joy: totally greedy for everything. There was nothing separate, nothing unacceptable to it. Everything was its very own self. For the first time I — it — experienced the love of its own life. I — it —was amazed!

In trying to be as accurate as possible, I am using the word “it” for this delighted, loving awareness, in which there was no me or world, and in which everything was included. There just isn't another way to say how completely new and fresh the awareness was. There was no I observing the “it.” There was nothing but the “it.” And even the realization of an “it” came later.

Let me say this in a different way. A foot appeared; there was a cockroach crawling over it. It opened its eyes, and there was something on the foot; or there was something on the foot, and then it opened its eyes — I don't know the sequence, because there was no time in any of this. So, to put it in slow motion: it opened its eyes, looked down at the foot, a cockroach was crawling across the ankle, and … it was awake! It was born. And from then on, it's been observing. But there wasn't a subject or an object. It was — is — everything it saw. There's no separation in it, anywhere.

All my rage, all the thoughts that had been troubling me, my whole world, the whole world, was gone. The only thing that existed was awareness. The foot and the cockroach weren't outside me; there was no outside or inside. It was all me. And I felt delight — absolute delight! There was nothing, and there was a whole world: walls and floor and ceiling and light and body, everything, in such fullness. But only what it could see: no more, no less.

Then it stood up, and that was amazing. There was no thinking, no plan. It just stood up and walked to the bathroom. It walked straight to a mirror, and it locked onto the eyes of its own reflection, and it understood. And that was even deeper than the delight it had known before. It fell in love with that being in the mirror. It was as if the woman and the awareness of the woman had permanently merged. There were only the eyes, and a sense of absolute vastness, with no knowledge in it. It was as if I — — she — had been shot through with electricity. It was like God giving itself life through the body of the woman — God so loving and bright, so vast — — and yet she knew that it was herself. It made such a deep connection with her eyes. There was no meaning to it, just a nameless recognition that consumed her.

Love is the best word I can find for it. It had been split apart, and now it was joined. There was it moving, and then it in the mirror, and then it joined as quickly as it had separated— — it was all eyes. The eyes in the mirror were the eyes of it. And it gave itself back again , as it met again. And that gave it its identity, which I call love. As it looked in the mirror, the eyes — the depth of them— were all that was real, all that existed — prior to that, nothing. No eyes, no anything; even standing there, there was nothing. And then the eyes come out to give it what it is. People name things a wall, a ceiling, a foot, a hand. But it had no name for these things, because it's indivisible. And it's invisible. Until the eyes. Until the eyes. I remember tears of gratitude pouring down the cheeks as it looked at its own reflection. It stood there staring for I don't know how long.

These were the first moments after I was born as it, or it as me. There was nothing left of Katie. There was literally not even a shred of memory of her —— no past, no future, not even a present. And in that openness, such joy. “There's nothing sweeter than this,” I felt; “there is nothing but this. If you loved yourself more than anything you could imagine, you would give yourself this. A face. A hand. Breath. But that's not enough. A wall. A ceiling. A window. A bed. Light bulbs. Ooh! And this too! And this too! And this too!”

All this took place beyond time. But when I put it into language, I have to backtrack and fill in. While I was lying on the floor, I understood that when I was asleep, prior to cockroach or foot, prior to any thoughts, prior to any world, there is nothing. In that instant, the four questions of The Work were born. I understood that no thought is true. The whole of inquiry was already present in that understanding. It was like closing a gate and hearing it click shut. It wasn't I who woke up: inquiry woke up. The two polarities, the left and right of things, the something/nothing of it all, woke up. Both sides were equal. I understood this in that first instant of no-time .

So to say it again: As I was lying there in the awareness, as the awareness, the thought arose: It's a foot. And immediately I saw that it wasn't true, and that was the delight of it. I saw that it was all backward. It's not a foot; it's not a cockroach. It wasn't true, and yet there was a foot, there was a cockroach. It opened its eyes and saw a foot, and a cockroach crawling over the foot. But there was no name for these things. There were no separate words for foot or cockroach or wall or any of it. So it was looking at its entire body, looking at itself, with no name. Nothing was separate from it, nothing was outside it, it was all pulsing with life and delight, and it was all one unbroken experience. To separate that wholeness and see anything as outside itself, wasn't true. The foot existed, yet it wasn't a separate thing, and to call it a “foot,” or an anything, felt like a lie. It was absurd. And the laughter kept pouring out of me. I saw that cockroach and foot are names for joy, that there are no names for what appears as real now. This was the birth of awareness: thought reflecting back as itself, seeing itself as everything, surrounded by the vast ocean of its own laughter.

When I try to explain how The Work was born in that instant of realization, I can analyze the instant, slow it down, and tell it so that it takes on time. But this is giving time to an instant that wasn't even an instant. In that no-time, everything was known and seen as nothing. It saw a foot, and it knew that it wasn't a foot, and it loved that it was. The first and second of the four questions is like the slow-motion mechanics of the experience. “It's a foot” — is that true? Can I absolutely know that it's true? No. What was it like before the thought of “foot” appeared, before there was the world of “foot”? Nothing.

Then the third question: How do I react when I believe the thought? I was aware that there's always a contraction, that when I believe any thought I create a world separate from myself, an object that is apparently “out there,” and that the contraction is a form of suffering. And the fourth: Who would I be without that thought? I would be prior to thought, I would be —— I am —— peace, absolute joy. Then the turnaround: It's a foot / it's not a foot. Actually, all four questions were present in the first —— Is it true? — and everything was already released in the instant that the first question was asked. The second, third, and fourth questions were embedded in the inquiry that was there in the experience. There were no words for any of the questions— — they were not explicit, not thought, not experienced in time, but present as possibilities when I looked at my experience later and tried to make it available for people. With the fourth question the circle is complete. And then the turnaround is the grounding, the re-entry. There's nothing / there's something. And in that way people can be held without the terror of being nothing, without identity. The turnaround holds them until it's a comfortable place. And they realize that nowhere to go is really where they already are."

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
8/13/13 5:21 AM as a reply to M N.
For all sensations to be known all the way through, it would be known that they are empty all the way through. As Ajahn Chah apparently said, "there is nothing". A subtle distinction exists between knowing something and being aware of something. For the Knower to have truly been eradicated, there would be freedom for endless re-interpretations of this hallucination.

Equating pain with suffering is not the behaviour of someone who can claim full enlightenment. Daniel is saying that to no longer believe you are suffering is delusion, when in fact it is delusion to believe that suffering truly exists, that there is someone here who could suffer, that pain is suffering, that it is impossible to truly rid oneself of these fallacies, that we are trapped for the rest of our lives taking phantom medication for phantom pain in our phantom limbs on these phantom bodies in this phantom world. That's not full enlightenment, that's being enslaved to illusion.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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8/13/13 5:47 AM as a reply to B B.
Do you believe the realization of the ultimate truth to be incompatible with experiencing the normal phenomena that happen when we get sick, such as going to the doctor, taking drugs, enjoying the attentions of our loved ones and so on?

Equating pain with suffering is not the behaviour of someone who can claim full enlightenment


In MTCB the difference between conventional suffering and the suffering that comes from the illusion of duality is explained quite clearly; have you red the book?

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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8/13/13 8:43 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Well, this was an interesting read on BK.

The School sounds somewhat creepy, but clearly others have gotten a lot out of it. The very long days and fasts and other strange situations made me think of "The Teachings" mentioned by Bill Hamilton in Saints and Psychopaths, but then there may not be good close parallels in other aspects, as the comments about how BKs stuff did or didn't mimic standard cult practices shows.

I will do more research. Do we have a new AF suddenly arriving here? Time will tell.

Interestingly, my step-daughter just bought and started reading one of her books and just showed it to me a few weeks ago. She was finding it helpful, she said.

******************************************************************************

(As a possibly totally unrelated aside: anyone familiar with Adi Da? Wow! That is some freaky stuff... My wife was just telling me about all the crazy stuff she was reading about his life and teachings and crazy "wisdom" and other totally narcissistic nut-job stuff: amazing what otherwise sane adults can believe and follow and in such large quantities.)
Had a conversation:

Today
9:13pm
AEN

daniel m. ingram asked regarding byron katie, " Anyone here have any real-world experience with her, such as hung out with her for any substantial period of time, know any reliable second-hand reports from years-long close colleagues, friends, siblings, parents, business associates and/or partner(s), know what she is like when not in front of a camera or on the front cushion, etc.? " in http://dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/4565336
9:13pm
AEN

thought u might be an appropriate person to reply him
9:51pm
N

Hi Soh

hahahaha

Why does he need informations about BK?
10:01pm
N

Waw! I read that long comment... brilliant!
10:02pm
AEN

which comment?
10:02pm
N

But i should read all that thread to understand what it's about

Your comment
10:03pm
AEN

i see

that is byron's text

i believe u read it before?
10:04pm
N

Yes

I guess is great that you posted there...

"The work" is a really great tool

But it takes time and desire to understand "the work"
10:11pm
AEN

i see..
10:12pm
N

I was reading

http://www.theflawofattraction.com/one-persons-experience-with-byron-katie/

I found this link in Daniel's comment

hahahahahaha

What is said there is true, but only half and depend of our perception of things

Katie never forced or constrain someone to do something

She said from the beginning that if we don't trust the work or we are afraid of something, it is our freedom to don't follow what she is saying

Yes, we were asked not to use the phones those nine days, because we payed that money to focus on out mind and for that we need a quiet time... and she was right

Was like 9 days of meditation... writing down our thoughts and looking at them...
10:22pm
N

All nine days we had the best food i ever eat, the best fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese, tea anytime, fish, a lot of food... was self-service, four places in the hotel where we could eat and in each place 4-5 very long tables with food... I honest never eat in my life so many and good fruits... those german people from the hotel was very kind and attentive us to have what we need all the day long
10:24pm
N

Yes, we had few days without food... anyone knows that only tea is cleaning the body and the mind is more quiet... it's not a secret... but if someone didn't want that, they got food... was totally freedom, totally our choice. Katie was just saying "would be good for you if you would do that, try and if it's not working, forget about it"....
10:25pm
N

Of course strong egos or people who was there only from curiosity didn't agree with that

Was the best nine days of my life...

So many people in the world are grateful for going to that school... so one or two who didn't like are not a problem... means their suffering didn't touch the limit... hahahaha
10:30pm
N

In a school are students (new to "the work") and facilitators like me... usually are 300 new students and 200 facilitators... Each new student can call or meet a facilitator 24/7 if has a problem or wants to do the work... no matter if it is the middle of the night... The school is perfect organize, you "feel" that you are not alone, even if are 500 people there...
10:32pm
AEN

wow.. sounds like a good retreat...

i think you should post it in dho about that
10:34pm
N

There are coming people with different levels of understanding and education and expectations... I expeceted nothing... I was going "blank" there... zero expectations... and was GREAT! I need two weeks to speak about it... was so many interesting exercises and enquiries...

No Soh... i don't post... my english is not so good.... hahahahaha
10:36pm
AEN

i see...

can i post this conversation there then? i can remove ur name if u like
10:37pm
N

Yes, you can, but without my name, please.... we are not allowed to give informations about the school...
10:37pm
AEN

i see.. ok.

thanks

10:38pm
N

Katie said that if i tell my story about school you can like it or not, better you to have your direct experience, and she is right...
10:38pm
AEN

i see..

10:38pm
AEN

i see..
10:39pm
N

Yes, the day i was alone in that town, without money, and didn't eat three days before, was the greatest experience of my life...

No passport, no money, no nothing... and Katie said : don't do idiot things, i will not take you out from police! hahahahahahaha

I was so afraid and curious in the same time...

We where not allowed to talk to people
10:41pm
AEN

i see.. that sounds wonderful. where was the retreat held?
10:42pm
N

We were allowed to smile and to sit close to people after asking : "May i join you?" ... i have even today in my bag some small papers where is written "May i join you?"

hahahahahhahahha
10:43pm
AEN

lol..
10:43pm
N

In Germany

Usually it is in julie

It is a huge hotel in a small village

Beautiful place

It is close to Koln
10:46pm
AEN

i see.. thats nice.. btw the thread says that byron claims to be free of beliefs, sadness anger or fear etc, is that true?
10:49pm
N

Yes

She claims that and in my experience it's true

Doing the work longer, the "windows" in the mind is changed... so if a negative thought is arising automatically the turn around arises too and laugher... hahahaha...

The mind "sees" the middle, always....
10:58pm
N

In the beginning of doing the work (maybe 5-6 months) the turnarounds are replacing the original stressful thought... but in time and if you follow The Institute of the Work for being facilitator, you have many Teleclasses on Skype where old facilitator are explaining deeper the functioning of the work... So in time, it is realized the neutral position of the mind, on a hand it is seen the stressful thought, on the other hand are seen minimum three turnarounds to that thought, and all of them are left behind, the mind finding peace into the heart... It is realized that all thoughts are equal true and untrue in the same time....
10:59pm
N

And this is the Middle Way in Buddhism... free from the fours extremes

The work it is a very very complex method

What is seen on youtube or in her books is maybe 10% from what is the work....

If one is doing the work honest and genuine (it is very important to be honest) it is free from emotions and "sit" in a clear mind each moment... and a clear mind is a kind mind....

And this is the biggest problem today in "spirituality" world.... no matter how awakened one is, if he doesn't solve the conditionings, he becomes aggressive and unkind... opossite to what these teachings are good for...

It is very rare one to leave behind the conditionings in the moment he/she awakened

So The Work, like Buddha, promise/invite people to stop suffering... and it is very possible if it is will and honesty

Of course no one is expecting the work to resonate with everyone... not everyone can open the mind and accept both polarities to be true...

And this is the beauty of life, abundance in teachings too

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
8/13/13 9:00 AM as a reply to M N.
Do you believe the realization of the ultimate truth to be incompatible with experiencing the normal phenomena that happen when we get sick, such as going to the doctor, taking drugs, enjoying the attentions of our loved ones and so on?

No, definitely not. It's a matter of how to best spend one's enormously valuable time as a fully enlightened person. Taking drugs to recover from an illness, appreciating the love of other conscious beings, etc., can all be a part of that.

In MTCB the difference between conventional suffering and the suffering that comes from the illusion of duality is explained quite clearly; have you red the book?

Yes, though not recently. The formulation the Buddha used was that there are 3 types of suffering - describing it in terms of 2 is promoting your own agenda.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
8/20/13 7:15 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Fruitions happen
Rate varies a lot and it is not always clear why
Ability to set up the conditions that make them happen are pretty good
But that varies also
Luckily, they are not important to me in the way they were before
Still nice though

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
8/21/13 8:07 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
As a possibly totally unrelated aside: anyone familiar with Adi Da? Wow! That is some freaky stuff... My wife was just telling me about all the crazy stuff she was reading about his life and teachings and crazy "wisdom" and other totally narcissistic nut-job stuff: amazing what otherwise sane adults can believe and follow and in such large quantities


There is actually some good stuff in some of Adi Da's writings and talks. Particularly a book of his called "Easy Death" (which I have read) and an article in it titled: There is no individual self that dies: http://www.adidam.org/death_and_dying/journal/no_self_dies.htm

Originally I thought some of his behaviors seemed more bizarre than abusive. It should also be considered that a lot of the weird sexual behavior/polygamy/polyamory was occurring in the context of the counterculture of the 70s (before I was born) and the "free love/hippie" movement. However, recently, I have seen a few reports such as the below:

"It was common knowledge in Adi Da's community that Adi Da had on a
number of occasions beaten his wife N. At one raucous party, Adi Da
pulled a chunk of hair from her head and bruised her face, giving her
a black eye. He also threw her down a flight of stairs during a fight,
causing bruising and injury.
(seen by Jackie Catalfo and others, reported in Mill Valley Record
4/3/85, SF Chronicle 4/4/85)."

If these reports are true then he should not be read or taken seriously. This definitely crosses the line from bizarre to abusive.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
8/21/13 7:16 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Paweł K:
Another question and probably stupid one emoticon

Do you believe or can use telepathy, mind reading and related stuff?
Can you sense what people send through telepathic means as sensations?



RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
8/21/13 7:30 PM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Tom Tom:
If these reports are true then he should not be read or taken seriously. This definitely crosses the line from bizarre to abusive.

There's a hand site called Stripping the Gurus that has all sorts of stuff about gurus like Adi Da. If you ever thought your guru was clean, take a look at the site and see if he isn't listed there. Here's some choice excerpts from their page on Adi Da:

[Da, they claim] would have them watch pornographic movies and engage in anal sex—sometimes in front of him, and sometimes tell them to go to their bedrooms (in Lattin, 1985a).
As a child, [a devotee of Da] had been sexually abused by a neighbor. To help her through her sexual fears said, Da Free John told her to have oral sex with three group members, and then the guru had sex with her himself.
“I was hysterical,” she said. “After it was over, I went out into the parking lot and found an open car, and had a good cry and went to sleep. I was traumatized. It’s years later that I came to terms with it” (Butler, 1985a).
In later years, a married couple of Da Party Animal’s followers were apparently invited over to his house, only to find the guru in bed, drinking beer and surrounded by cigarette smoke.

In short order, the wife was allegedly prepared by other followers, to be taken sexually by the guru. “And so she was.”

Suppressing his “irrational feelings” into numbness, however, the husband soon found a suitable rationalization for that, convincing himself that the guru was simply teaching him to not be emotionally attached to his wife.

And yet, doubts linger, both about whether the same lessons could possibly have been learned in some easier way, and otherwise:

There is one thing that has persistently bothered me about the incident, and that was the pressure on me to drink alcohol in an attempt to get me drunk. I still feel I was being manipulated on this count. I also never quite understood why we were asked to keep the whole incident quiet (in Feuerstein, 1992).
Yes, interesting questions, all.
[...]
Or contemplate Jones’ alleged reaction (reported in the Mill Valley Record) to the devotee laborers on a construction project having worked many sixteen-hour days in building a home for him:

The work schedule and the meager fare took a toll on the work force. On Christmas Day, Miller says he told Jones, “The people are tired. They need a break.” Miller says Jones replied, “They will work for me until they drop and then they’ll get up and work some more” (Colin, et al., 1985).

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
8/21/13 8:17 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Yes I've seen the site and read those before. I wouldn't say he was "my guru" but I have read some of his stuff. Again the sexual stuff seems a bit strange rather than abusive and the drug and alcohol use isn't a big deal to me. The thing about overworking people on christmas and physically beating people is abusive.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
8/22/13 3:58 AM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Also websites like stripping the gurus have their place, but I could easily see Daniel Ingram written up on that website with plenty of "evidence" showing what a nut he is.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
9/18/13 9:44 AM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Daniel,

I agree that it seems silly to believe we can eliminate all suffering, especially that of the burning acid on your frayed skin variety. But what about mental suffering? Worry,anxiety, stress? Did you feel anxiety while you were having your kidney stone?

There are members of this board such as Omega Point who claim to have freed themselves from these negative affects. Do you still think it is impossible as you wrote in the "emotional models" chapter of your book?

Also, you seem to say that the goal of Buddhism and enlightenment is to see that there is no Doer, no self. But this seems in contrast to the Buddha's message in which the goal of enlightenment is to end suffering, and seeing that there is no self is just a helpful tool to help end suffering.

It's like you have the goals switched around. Am I misinterpreting you here? If I had to guess, I would say this is the main confusion with your book. So little talk about suffering and how the path has helped.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
9/19/13 11:35 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
I think your point about not talking much about suffering elimination is valid in some ways. I still experience worry, stress and anxiety. There are ways in which some aspects of those are very different, particularly related to duration, triggers, lack of contraction into those from a cognitive point of view, something of the sensate vibrancy and fresh directness that I didn't appreciate before, something in the wide perspective that notices the wide space in which they occur, and something in the lack of something in relationship to them is very much better, but they still occur.

As to suffering and anxiety during the kidney stone, with that last one in particular being by far the worst pain I have ever had and a few steps beyond what I imagined was possible, to say that this mammal wasn't stressed in that circumstance would be totally absurd, unfortunately. There was the single odd data point about my vital signs being so oddly normal in the face of that sort of pain, but there were plenty of other stress signs: profound sweating, near vomiting, at points feeling like I might pass out (and I actually hoped I would in some way), real difficulty driving (given the massive amount of sensate input coming in that seemed to take away from ordinary cognitive function), and the like. I don't know if you have had the experience of a bad kidney stone, but they are really something. Women I know who have had natural childbirth and kidney stones at the very least equate the two and some would prefer natural childbirth but never once have I heard one prefer a bad kidney stone.

From a strict Buddhist point of view, and from my experiential point of view, some consideration of the specific teachings and the underlying realities must be taken into account.

First: Dependent Origination: a body was born and it will get sick, feel pain and die. This is a fixed law.
Second: read carefully the few suttas that give clues to the facts of physical pain and the enlightened: as is often pointed out, there was an arahat named Channa who killed himself due to the pain he experienced, and the Buddha himself had headaches and back pain and a lot of pain during the time he was dying.
Third: Consider that the teachings of paranibbana are explicitly saying that the full end of suffering doesn't occur until there is an end to the round of rebirths.

That is a start, anyway. Thoughts?

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
9/20/13 12:18 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I have a thought.

What makes you think you're at the end of the road? If 4th path as you delineated it in your book is what you claim to be the end of suffering, then you are wrong. '4th path' is only the end of the Hinayana; seeing 'form is empty'. Then there's the Mahayana, then there's the Vajrayana..

Don't be so arrogant as to assume no one ever got past the level your at.

What about the Heart Sutra? Form is empty is the first line. There are three more lines: emptiness also is form, form is none-other than emptiness, emptiness is none other than form. These are implicitly described attainments, as you should know!

Thank you for your book, but you are wrong now to assume you're done.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
9/20/13 2:19 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
For example, I saw a thin teenage female who came in about to deliver her baby and having frequent contractions. She was brought in by her grandmother who didn't know she was pregnant until her water broke. The patient was smiling and laughing the whole time she was delivering, claiming to anyone who would listen that she was not pregnant, had never had sex, and that she was fine. She delivered a 6-pound healthy baby and when it was presented to her said, "This can't be my baby, as I am not pregnant!" while laughing in this somewhat nervous, odd way the whole time. Her vitals stayed stable, she never flinched from a contraction, never broke a sweat, never showed any sign of pain when being injected with lidocaine for the episiotomy I performed, as the baby was stuck and starting to have some heart slowdowns, and, except for the baby she delivered, you would never have known she was in labor. It was her first child. I have seen labor probably 60 times: nobody I had ever seen before looked that totally calm, didn't sweat, didn't have a heart rate increase, didn't scream at some point (one exception to that last one being a 38 year-old delivering her 10th baby who did it on one, calm easy push like the expert she was). In short, she had somehow dissociated from the situation so entirely that she was living in an alternate reality where it wasn't happening. I don't consider that wisdom, and in fact consider it some variant of psychosis, but admit that its implications for what might be possible are ambiguous.]


This is definitely psychosis, though psychosis is not necessarily the opposite of wisdom if anyone is taking that as an assumption from the above. Psychosis is also not necessarily a "dissociation" from what is happening either, as psychosis can occur with complete knowledge of what is happening (meaning the sensations that create/indicate psychosis arise from organic causes).

Schizophrenia is known to give certain benefits, one of which is a marked decrease in sensitivity to pain. The patient above is clearly a case of someone with schizophrenia who is giving birth:

Some excerpts from the book "Healing Schizophrenia" by Abram Hoffer:

[People with schizophrenia] are free from many common physical complaints and seem to able to survive misfortunes that would kill other people.

Schizophrenics can suffer extensive burns, severe injuries, fractures, heart attacks, acute appendicitis, and even self-mutilation with abnormal stoicism and detachment. While some people faint when blood is drawn, one schizophrenic patient cut his throat and bled so much that he required five pints of blood, with little sign of shock. Some have cut off fingers and hands without collapsing or appearing to be affected in any other way. They have been known to escape shock symptoms usually suffered at the beginning of a perforated ulcer.

The resistance to pain can be dangerous, however, for acute illnesses are often ignored until too late. Psychotic patients die more often from ruptured hearts than normal people do, without complaining of pain or giving other signs of severe difficulty.

We suggested that schizophrenia is part of a genetic polymorphism. This means that some non-schizophrenic relatives of schizophrenics have biological advantages over the normal population.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
9/20/13 1:39 AM as a reply to T DC.
It is interesting that I was discussing these sorts of things with Maria Montenegro at Buddhist Geeks this year, and she commented when I described my practice that I had seemed to have Vajrayana results with Theravadan methods. More specifically, she made that comment when I began describing how what I was experiencing as I left out past second path and into territory that diverged widely from the standard Theravadan models, and included this luminosity and emptiness of the rich field of manifestation and a more full appreciation of the wide range of emotion as just the textures of space, and the like.

It should also be noted that there was and still is substantial Vajrayana and Mahayana influence on my practice. I was actually just re-reading Trungpa's Journey Without Goal a few days ago in the section on the Five Buddha Families, which is one of the most profound thing I think he wrote that I have read (as I haven't read all of his stuff, just a good chunk of the usual things you find commonly). During what I thought of as my "middle period" from about late 1996 to somewhere in early 2003, most of what I read was from the Mahayana and Vajrayana, and I also did engage in some tantric diety practices during that time and did sit at times with a few teachers in those lineages.

The emptiness and form debates (and who is emptier and then how much emptier, which can sometimes unfortunately take on a bit of the feel of whose penis is emptier) and all of that have raged here periodically, and you can find previous ones related to that topic where various people, including myself, have gone at it. I am not sure that much came of it, but it obviously had to happen, as it did. I am a bit too tired to reignite that battle-loving spirit at this moment, but perhaps some other time we can give that particular one a go. Search around for things like two-fold (could also try twofold and two fold) emptiness and you might find them, as that term came up in the last major flare of that sort of thing.

What is your conception of the end of the path that is possible while alive and what are your specific theoretical and experiential sources? Do you know of specific living people that you personally have seen who are, say, immune to pain, like they could have, say, their spine operated on without anesthesia or any sort of suffering, or that sort of thing? I have been doing this long enough that, were such people to exist, I would presume that I would have heard of them and that someone would have definitely studied such a remarkable phenomena, but I haven't come across them yet. They might still exist, as I certainly wouldn't claim that just because I have never heard of them that they aren't out there. Thoughts? Reports? Case studies?

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
9/20/13 2:04 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
I

The emptiness and form debates (and who is emptier and then how much emptier, which can sometimes unfortunately take on a bit of the feel of whose penis is emptier) and all of that have raged here periodically, and you can find previous ones related to that topic where various people, including myself, have gone at it. I am not sure that much came of it, but it obviously had to happen, as it did. I am a bit too tired to reignite that battle-loving spirit at this moment, but perhaps some other time we can give that particular one a go. Search around for things like two-fold (could also try twofold and two fold) emptiness and you might find them, as that term came up in the last major flare of that sort of thing.



I'd be interested in hearing what you think of this critique by one of the Non-Buddhism fellows on tutteji's blog.


As for the Ingram thing, above–I’ve read his book. It’s clear, and free of all that platitudinous x-buddhist crap. Ingram is what I call an “Atman Buddhist,” faithful to the belief in a completely dualistic and transcendent consciousness (he calls it “non-dualistic” because he doesn’t understand what the term dualism means–it is completely separate from the time-space continuum, he says, and so is not “permanent” becaus it is not in this world at all, like the god of negative theology). There is no way to argue against such faith; the whole goal of meditative practice becomes to create the experience(illusion) of this transcendent awareness, and any effort to change the world we live in is pointless.
http://tuttejiorg.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/buddhism-andas-communism/#comments

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
9/20/13 2:37 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
I actually just got done having an exchange with Tom (it was my first, as I have just heard about the SNB crew from Kenneth) about this by email just this evening, as he wouldn't allow me to post to his blog thread about this topic. Basically, Tom found me mentioning that I wished to have a dialogue with Craig (I tried to invite him to Skype with me to try to clear up whatever issues he had with me), who had called me a deluded, stupid asshole in that thread, or something of the sort, (along with Kenneth and Vince), not in keeping with the spirit and intent of his forum, or some such thing, though clearly, as it is a moderated forum by him, he felt that Craig calling me those things was just fine.

Basically Tom asserts that he can tell from reading my book (even though he has never met me and knows basically nothing so far as I can tell about my practice and experience of the world) that I am still believing in some Atman, some ground of being or permanent transcendent awareness, whereas I totally claim that it says the opposite and means the opposite and that I believe in no such thing as a transcendent and/or stable awareness, believing that to be one of the standard traps along the way to total field transience in both the digital and analog sense and a total lack of any sense that anything is other than transient sensations, as in "in the seeing, just the seen", all of which is causal and thus not self.

I will summarize what was a relatively contentious exchange, in which I was called various things that were pejorative in nature (any of you familiar with Tom's somewhat bracing style?) and in which there was not the level of listening and nuanced, gentle response that I think is best when addressing these levels of subtlety about personal practice, and finally Tom and I ended it and agreed to disagree.

He is still convinced that I am fooling myself, and I am convinced that he has no idea about my practice and totally misread my words through his own Atman-Buddhism-seeking filter with his projected image of me filling for him some fixed need for a foil to his ideas. We let the matter rest there, and I have no interest in re-opening the debate, as certain aspects of the exchange I found not to my taste.

He did, however, extend and invitation to meet him up in Connecticut if I was ever there, a gesture of friendliness that was incongruous with the general tone of the rest of the exchange.

I hope that my tendency to understate the tenor of our exchange for humorous effect is not lost on anyone.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
9/20/13 3:17 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
that I am still believing in some Atman, some ground of being or permanent transcendent awareness, whereas I totally claim that it says the opposite and means the opposite and that I believe in no such thing as a transcendent and/or stable awareness, believing that to be one of the standard traps along the way to total field transience in both the digital and analog sense and a total lack of any sense that anything is other than transient sensations, as in "in the seeing, just the seen", all of which is causal and thus not self.



There is also “awareness”, but awareness is not a thing or localized in a particular place, so to even say “there is also awareness” is already a tremendous problem, as it implies separateness and existence where none can be found. To be really philosophically correct about it, borrowing heavily from Nagarjuna, awareness cannot be said to fit any of the following descriptions: that it exists, that it does not exist, that it both exists and does not exist, that it neither exists nor doesn’t exist. Just so, in truth, it cannot be said that: we are awareness, that we are not awareness, that we are both awareness and not awareness, or even that we are neither awareness nor not awareness. We could go through the same pattern with whether or not phenomena are intrinsically luminous.

For the sake of discussion, and in keeping with standard Buddhist thought, awareness is permanent and unchanging. It is also said that, “All things arise from it, and all things return to it,” though again this implies a false certainty about something which is actually impenetrably mysterious and mixing the concept of infinite potential with awareness is a notoriously dangerous business. We could call it “God,” “Nirvana,” “The Tao,” “The Void,” “Allah,” “Krishna,” “Intrinsic Luminosity,” “Buddha Nature,” “Buddha,” “Bubba” or just “awareness” as long as we realize the above caveats, especially that it is not a thing or localized in any particular place and has no definable qualities. Awareness is sometimes conceptualized as pervading all of this while not being all of this, and sometimes conceptualized as being inherent in all of this while not being anything in particular. Neither is quite true, though both perspectives can be useful.


There is only phenomena, phenomena is not other than this "awareness." Perhaps this is not stated clearly enough in this particular chapter? I understand the book is out of date. EDIT: This can be be elucidated in the new revision of the book (since that is what this thread is all about).


(Note: I'm a different Tom than he is talking about above)

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
9/20/13 3:10 AM as a reply to Tom Tom.
In part of the exchange I explicitly stated that revising that chapter to make it more clear was on the to-do list of things to get to in the book, as it had caused confusion and probably wasn't stated that well at all, but Tom wasn't buying it. He misses other points along the way as well and seems to focus on that small section.

For instance, this point above it:

"You see, there are physical phenomena and mental phenomena, as well as the “consciousness” or mental echo of these, which is also in the category of mental phenomena. These are just phenomena, and all phenomena are not a permanent, separate self, as they all change and are all intimately interdependent. They are simply “aware,” i.e. manifest, where they are without any observer of them at all. The boundaries that seem to differentiate self from not-self are arbitrary and conceptual, i.e. not the true nature of things. Said another way, reality is intimately interdependent and non-dual, like a great ocean."

I should probably just take out the whole chapter. To someone with a philosophical mind like his, it is not going to do anything useful, as is demonstrated clearly.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
9/20/13 3:36 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I should probably just take out the whole chapter.


I understand that there has to be this sort of "awareness/luminous" "attribute" to phenomena as otherwise there would be no experience of experience. However, the vast majority of the un-enlightened population (and a good amount of the enlightened population) believes in a different kind of "awareness" and this chapter seems to cater to this if people aren't particularly good at reading between the lines.

Most people without the requisite insight would simply tune out the bold portion below:

We could call it “God,” “Nirvana,” “The Tao,” “The Void,” “Allah,” “Krishna,” “Intrinsic Luminosity,” “Buddha Nature,” “Buddha,” “Bubba” or just “awareness” as long as we realize the above caveats, especially that it is not a thing or localized in any particular place and has no definable qualities.

Perhaps just leaving the chapter at the below statement and removing all the metaphysical God-like descriptions of "awarenesss." However, it does sort of cater to people who want to believe in such things, but you're probably going for consistency and honesty in the new book.

"You see, there are physical phenomena and mental phenomena, as well as the “consciousness” or mental echo of these, which is also in the category of mental phenomena. These are just phenomena, and all phenomena are not a permanent, separate self, as they all change and are all intimately interdependent. They are simply “aware,” i.e. manifest, where they are without any observer of them at all. The boundaries that seem to differentiate self from not-self are arbitrary and conceptual, i.e. not the true nature of things. Said another way, reality is intimately interdependent and non-dual, like a great ocean."

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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9/20/13 7:57 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
In part of the exchange I explicitly stated that revising that chapter to make it more clear was on the to-do list of things to get to in the book, as it had caused confusion and probably wasn't stated that well at all, but Tom wasn't buying it. He misses other points along the way as well and seems to focus on that small section.

For instance, this point above it:

"You see, there are physical phenomena and mental phenomena, as well as the “consciousness” or mental echo of these, which is also in the category of mental phenomena. These are just phenomena, and all phenomena are not a permanent, separate self, as they all change and are all intimately interdependent. They are simply “aware,” i.e. manifest, where they are without any observer of them at all. The boundaries that seem to differentiate self from not-self are arbitrary and conceptual, i.e. not the true nature of things. Said another way, reality is intimately interdependent and non-dual, like a great ocean."

I should probably just take out the whole chapter. To someone with a philosophical mind like his, it is not going to do anything useful, as is demonstrated clearly.


The Buddha passes over most of this in silence. Perhaps we should, too, lest we end up in a fetter of views, a tangle of views, a fever of views, etc.

Also, there appears to be plenty of dualism in the Buddha's teaching. There is the difference between skillful and unskillful, for instance. And there is the conditioned and the unconditioned. But it is always and everywhere a mistake to see any of these (even the unconditioned) as a self, as containing a self, or as being contained in a self.

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9/20/13 8:43 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:

The Buddha passes over most of this in silence. Perhaps we should, too, lest we end up in a fetter of views, a tangle of views, a fever of views, etc.



Or we could just accept that, for people who are caught up in descriptions (as evidenced by things like being hung up on terminology, not listening, talking past others, creating paper tigers), there will allways be a thicket of views. Being hypersensitive to how someone may misinterpret a particular description doesn't alleviate the fact that the real issue, for that person, is they don't understand how language works. Anything one says or doesn't say to such a person is likely to reinforce their confusion.

There is pragmatic validity to some of those descriptions, for many practitioners, at points along the path. Leaving them in silence is like leaving a hammer hidden in the toolbox for fear that someone ignorant of tools will try to use it to drive a screw. Sure, that's possible. But whose problem is it?

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9/20/13 9:20 AM as a reply to . Jake ..
. Jake .:
There is pragmatic validity to some of those descriptions, for many practitioners, at points along the path.


Is that true, though? I've studied a lot of philosophy - specifically phenomenology - to the point where I have letters after my name in the subject. Maybe it's a matter of personal taste or predilection, but I've never found anything life-changing about any of that - not to the extent that following simple, clear meditation instructions has been life-changing.

What I have observed, both in the context of Buddhist history and pragmatic dharma, is schisms over interpretations of experiences which are themselves probably ineffable. And I've also seen what is uncommonly clear (the path leading to the end of stress) turned into the uncommonly murky (all this business about unchanging Awareness, which is or comes very close to a re-Atman-ization* of the Buddha's teaching).

But there are times even when my practice is very strong and consistent that I get to thinking about these issues, and it's hard to see what harm such reflections have caused me. For people with inflexible minds that always need to theoretically figure everything out before trying something, no amount of editorial care will prevent a lengthy detour up Bullshit Mountain. I see where you're coming from. Yet I can't help but think there was a good reason the Buddha refused to answer questions of this nature (self, object, cosmos, and their relation) and remained fixated on dukkha and its cessation to the near exclusion of everything else.

*Horrible neologism, I know. Blame my philosophy background. ;-)

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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9/20/13 9:59 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I should probably just take out the whole chapter. To someone with a philosophical mind like his, it is not going to do anything useful, as is demonstrated clearly.
Meh. If Devadatta parted with Gotama, you'll probably also have people misunderstand you, too, for their own reasons and/or naturally just understand you and/or the point you're making on their own terms. This is part of teaching, no? It seems up to you if you think a new writing will help others/yourself.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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9/20/13 10:03 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
Yet I can't help but think there was a good reason the Buddha refused to answer questions of this nature (self, object, cosmos, and their relation) and remained fixated on dukkha and its cessation to the near exclusion of everything else.



Yes, I agree, there was a good reason; good point. Simply, most people don't relate to language in a way that will allow them to entertain such descriptions without reifying them. That's probably just as true nowadays as it was then, to some extent. Taking a sort of apophatic approach to the descriptive act can help with this and is itself an important descriptive tool.

On the other hand, i can't help but wonder whether our times call for a different approach to this underlying issue. For example, I think a fair case could be made that much of what ails the world concrentely-- whether it's the 'clash of civilizations' or global warming-- would be awefully improved if more folks were raised to relate to descriptions in a pragmatic/poetic way rather than a dogmatic way. I think there is evidence that this can be accomplished pedagogically and that it's desirable. And anything that increases our ability as a species to meet our basic needs without killing each other is of direct benefit both immediately and in terms of freeing up time for practice.

But, that was a bit of a sidebar, more in explanation of why I prefer not to kow tow to people who take everything literally and generally have an immature relationship to language (of whom there are plenty who are good practitioners but who still rely on paper tiger arguments against other traditions, talk past practitioners with different backgrounds, etc.). I think the basic issue (for me), as it plays out on DhO or in other pragmatic dharma scenes where there are practitioners with different backgrounds, is the tendency of practitoners whon are accomplished to still subtly buy into their tradition's way of describing things as if it weren't a description, but were merely 'the way things are', which then makes for a lot of silly arguments emoticon

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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9/20/13 10:23 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
I should probably just take out the whole chapter. To someone with a philosophical mind like his, it is not going to do anything useful, as is demonstrated clearly.


Coincidentally, I find this the worst chapter in the book... it is the only part of the book that feels like empty discourse of no practical consequence... But maybe it is useful for some people?

Maybe some people go: "Oh man I was really not getting it when you were talking about states and stages, but suddenly I read that part about reality being intimately interdependent and non-dual — like a great ocean — and that really helped my practice!" ? emoticon

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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9/20/13 11:08 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
Daniel M. Ingram:
I should probably just take out the whole chapter. To someone with a philosophical mind like his, it is not going to do anything useful, as is demonstrated clearly.


Coincidentally, I find this the worst chapter in the book... it is the only part of the book that feels like empty discourse of no practical consequence... But maybe it is useful for some people?

Maybe some people go: "Oh man I was really not getting it when you were talking about states and stages, but suddenly I read that part about reality being intimately interdependent and non-dual — like a great ocean — and that really helped my practice!" ? emoticon


Metaphors can indeed be pointers. For some people, they work really well.

In my case, I was not very motivated to practice regularly for a very long time, not because I was caught up in philosophizing about 'the nature of things', but because I have always been highly sensitive to pointers and metaphors. I have always had easy access to moments of deep insight whether just through a random experience- light glinting off of the waters of a river, the clouds in the sky-- or through reading a passage of poetic description (say from a Zen or Dzogchen source.) So having access to such insights certainly had its pluses and minuses, but one plus was that, once I did begin a regular practice (and started to experience transformation/awakening), I had those moments of insight as a kind of benchmark that actually has helped me to *not* stagnate or settle but to continue breaking new ground.

Traditionally, that is one function of pointers-- to provide (re)orientation towards experience. This can be highly complementary to formal practice by shaking us up and keeping us from settling for partial awakenings and half baked insights. But of course, your mileage may vary.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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9/21/13 3:03 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
It is interesting that I was discussing these sorts of things with Maria Montenegro at Buddhist Geeks this year, and she commented when I described my practice that I had seemed to have Vajrayana results with Theravadan methods. More specifically, she made that comment when I began describing how what I was experiencing as I left out past second path and into territory that diverged widely from the standard Theravadan models, and included this luminosity and emptiness of the rich field of manifestation and a more full appreciation of the wide range of emotion as just the textures of space, and the like.

It should also be noted that there was and still is substantial Vajrayana and Mahayana influence on my practice. I was actually just re-reading Trungpa's Journey Without Goal a few days ago in the section on the Five Buddha Families, which is one of the most profound thing I think he wrote that I have read (as I haven't read all of his stuff, just a good chunk of the usual things you find commonly). During what I thought of as my "middle period" from about late 1996 to somewhere in early 2003, most of what I read was from the Mahayana and Vajrayana, and I also did engage in some tantric diety practices during that time and did sit at times with a few teachers in those lineages.


First, I should make clear that I was not referring to the three yanas as systems of practice, but as three graduated systems of attainment. Thus, having completed the attainments of the Hinayana, one naturally moves on to the Mahayana, and then to the Vajrayana. Regardless of which yana's practices one is doing, I do not believe it is possible to skip attainments. Thus, though a Hinayana level practitioner may Varjayana practices, the outcome will not be Vajrayana attainments. I'm not trying to attack you here, but trying to make clear my firm belief that the spiritual is ONE long road, of which spiritual practitioners must tread it all.

Daniel M. Ingram:
The emptiness and form debates (and who is emptier and then how much emptier, which can sometimes unfortunately take on a bit of the feel of whose penis is emptier) and all of that have raged here periodically, and you can find previous ones related to that topic where various people, including myself, have gone at it. I am not sure that much came of it, but it obviously had to happen, as it did. I am a bit too tired to reignite that battle-loving spirit at this moment, but perhaps some other time we can give that particular one a go. Search around for things like two-fold (could also try twofold and two fold) emptiness and you might find them, as that term came up in the last major flare of that sort of thing.


Fair enough. I will be frank as to why I am posting this. If what you have described as fourth path is what I experienced as 4th path, then I know that there is much more to be done after. Thus: 1. If you have remained at 4th path for the last ten years, then you are stuck so to speak, and you need not be, and 2. If you tout 4th path as enlightenment, and as well the goal of Tibetan Buddhism, then you are spreading misinformation, which is not helpful. I will explain this more below..

Daniel M. Ingram:
What is your conception of the end of the path that is possible while alive and what are your specific theoretical and experiential sources? Do you know of specific living people that you personally have seen who are, say, immune to pain, like they could have, say, their spine operated on without anesthesia or any sort of suffering, or that sort of thing? I have been doing this long enough that, were such people to exist, I would presume that I would have heard of them and that someone would have definitely studied such a remarkable phenomena, but I haven't come across them yet. They might still exist, as I certainly wouldn't claim that just because I have never heard of them that they aren't out there. Thoughts? Reports? Case studies?


My conception of the end of the path is my own experience. I have completely finished. I have deepened enlightenment to its fullest extent. Beyond the full recognition of non-duality, I have seen through all of my karma, such that no conceptual thought remains in my mind.

Immune to pain? Why have you chosen this as an indicator of full enlightenment? Just as that link above talked about the Buddha's suffering, even after enlightenment, one still has a body, with nerves, or whatever else, and thus pain is still felt. It's not such a big deal, but pain is just a fact of life on Earth. That's almost like saying sight would be eradicated after enlightenment.

Anyhow, I would very much like to come to an understanding with you on this. I have formulated a map of the full path if you (or anyone) is interested. Due to the difficulty in describing non-conceptual mind state, discussions of this kind can be frustrating, but hopefully with civility we can prevail.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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9/21/13 5:03 PM as a reply to T DC.
T DC:


First, I should make clear that I was not referring to the three yanas as systems of practice, but as three graduated systems of attainment. Thus, having completed the attainments of the Hinayana, one naturally moves on to the Mahayana, and then to the Vajrayana. Regardless of which yana's practices one is doing, I do not believe it is possible to skip attainments. Thus, though a Hinayana level practitioner may Varjayana practices, the outcome will not be Vajrayana attainments. I'm not trying to attack you here, but trying to make clear my firm belief that the spiritual is ONE long road, of which spiritual practitioners must tread it all.



Interesting-- do you mind sharing which vajrayana schools you have practiced within and why you believe the bolded portion? Is that an explicit teaching of the Vajrayana lineage you practiced within, or is it in your view the nature of all vajrayana teachings?

It makes sense in a certain way. However, I think an alternative version of the three yanas is also plausible and practicable, depending on your definitions of the yanas. What exactly would you describe as the attainments of each yana? And why couldn't they be skipped?

For instance, one assumption I could make about what you mean by the three attainments that is consitent with the vajrayana teachings with which I am familiar would be:

hinayaya: emptiness of self (but aggregates still seen as substantial or actual in some way)

mahayana: twofold emptiness (aggregates do not make a self or belong to one etc but also, aggregates themselves are simply conceptual imputations on suchness)

taking these two yanas, it's not hard for me to imagine that one could skip the hinayana. couldn't twofold emptiness be realized without passing through debunking aggregates-as-self?

I guess this brings up another question: aside from the quality or content of an attainment, what defines the attainment of that attainment? Given your evident vajrayana background I'm assuming by attainment you mean completely non-backsliding ongoing knowledge/recognition of whatever the truth in question is. I ask because sometimes people seem to imply that attainment is having a moment of clear insight which leaves the mind permanently changed but not necessarily permanently and invariently perceptive of that truth which was clear in the moment of attainment.

"Beyond the full recognition of non-duality, I have seen through all of my karma," <-- So for instance, in this example of a claim to attainment, is the 'full recognition..' ongoing and unchangingly characteristic of each mind moment? Or was there a moment in which there was such 'full recognition' in the wake of which you have been permanently transformed, yet the 'full recognition' comes and goes? Same with the "seeing though all my karma" bit: did that happen in one moment which left you somehow different, or is it that whenever your karma arises you see through it (i.e., see it as wisdom energy?) Or is it that absolutely no karmic patterns arise anymore? Do you ever experience the five poisons as different from the five wisdoms? Or is your experience one of continuously changing wisdom-qualities that are never mistaken for poisons? Or what? I ask because, if you attain the traditional Theravada attainment of no more delusion/passion/aggression, period, ever arising, period, then how could one possibly progress to vajrayana attainments, which depend on transforming/liberating the three/five poisons?


T DC:

My conception of the end of the path is my own experience. I have completely finished. I have deepened enlightenment to its fullest extent. Beyond the full recognition of non-duality, I have seen through all of my karma, such that no conceptual thought remains in my mind.

Immune to pain? Why have you chosen this as an indicator of full enlightenment? Just as that link above talked about the Buddha's suffering, even after enlightenment, one still has a body, with nerves, or whatever else, and thus pain is still felt. It's not such a big deal, but pain is just a fact of life on Earth. That's almost like saying sight would be eradicated after enlightenment.

Anyhow, I would very much like to come to an understanding with you on this. I have formulated a map of the full path if you (or anyone) is interested. Due to the difficulty in describing non-conceptual mind state, discussions of this kind can be frustrating, but hopefully with civility we can prevail.


Interesting; it would be cool to hear more about your path. Claims such as you are making (completely finished) are pretty strong, so it's good to have more to offer than the claim. If you've already posted something about your practice experience here, could you link it? If not, could you post something about that in another thread perhaps? Thanks!

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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9/21/13 5:56 PM as a reply to T DC.
T DC:


First, I should make clear that I was not referring to the three yanas as systems of practice, but as three graduated systems of attainment. Thus, having completed the attainments of the Hinayana, one naturally moves on to the Mahayana, and then to the Vajrayana. Regardless of which yana's practices one is doing, I do not believe it is possible to skip attainments. Thus, though a Hinayana level practitioner may Varjayana practices, the outcome will not be Vajrayana attainments. I'm not trying to attack you here, but trying to make clear my firm belief that the spiritual is ONE long road, of which spiritual practitioners must tread it all.


Hi T DC,

Thank you for the disclaimer. Can you provide phenomenological descriptions of your claim of being completely done as well as what you practiced to get there?

Fair enough. I will be frank as to why I am posting this. If what you have described as fourth path is what I experienced as 4th path, then I know that there is much more to be done after. Thus: 1. If you have remained at 4th path for the last ten years, then you are stuck so to speak, and you need not be, and 2. If you tout 4th path as enlightenment, and as well the goal of Tibetan Buddhism, then you are spreading misinformation, which is not helpful. I will explain this more below..


Where does Daniel say what he calls 4th path the goal of Tibetan Buddhism? Can you provide a link? I haven't gotten that impression from what I have read. Maybe I missed something. For more info on what Daniel has experienced post whatever go here.

My conception of the end of the path is my own experience. I have completely finished. I have deepened enlightenment to its fullest extent. Beyond the full recognition of non-duality, I have seen through all of my karma, such that no conceptual thought remains in my mind.


Your 'conception' of the end of the path is the end of all 'conceptual thought'?

A 'firm belief', like the one you expressed above, in my experience, is a locked in loop of 'conceptual thought'. Maybe not always a string of words or word but also a subtle way of holding experience. A mental overlay, if you will, that filters experience. It could even be conditioned by the absence of 'thoughts' or having the term 'non-dual' attached to it. A 'non-dual' filter.

Thank you again for the disclaimer. So far all of what you said is simply a 'firm belief'. More phenomenological descriptions are needed to see what you are talking about on an experiential level. Are you sure you aren't still filtering experience through some subtle overlay?

Anyhow, I would very much like to come to an understanding with you on this. I have formulated a map of the full path if you (or anyone) is interested. Due to the difficulty in describing non-conceptual mind state, discussions of this kind can be frustrating, but hopefully with civility we can prevail.


I've read all your past posts. What practice did you do to get to where you claim?

Nick

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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9/21/13 5:27 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
I think your point about not talking much about suffering elimination is valid in some ways. I still experience worry, stress and anxiety. There are ways in which some aspects of those are very different, particularly related to duration, triggers, lack of contraction into those from a cognitive point of view, something of the sensate vibrancy and fresh directness that I didn't appreciate before, something in the wide perspective that notices the wide space in which they occur, and something in the lack of something in relationship to them is very much better, but they still occur.


That is a start, anyway. Thoughts?


So they still occur, but do anxiety, worry and stress occur less often?

When I asked forum member D Z to quantify it, say does he suffer half as much as he used to? 1/10th the amount? His reply was that he suffers approximately 1/100,000 what he used to.

Have you noticed anything at all similar to that? Could you attempt to quantify how much less suffering you experience now?

Shinzen Young said that he doesn't know a single person who is enlightened who would trade one single day of enlightenment for 100 years of normal life, and forum member Nick agreed. What makes it so awesome, it has to be that suffering is so much less right?

The Four noble truths and the eightfold path are supposed to lead to the end of suffering. We agree that doesn't include physical pain of the kidney stone, acid on your skin variety, and you say that anxiety, worry, etc are still there. I'd like your opinion then on the efficacy of his path in if not eliminating suffering, greatly reducing it.

Bhante G. wrote "The highest happiness is the bliss of attaining stages of enlightenment. With each state, our load in life is lightened, and we feel greater happiness and freedom. The final stage of enlightenment, permanent freedom from all negative states of mind, brings uninterrupted, sublime happiness."

Thoughts on that? Do you experience something close to uninterrupted, sublime happiness? Do you think he is over selling his point and that that is impossible?

How would you answer the question, how good do you feel on a scale of 1 to 10 right now? With 10 being awesome, and 1 feeling uber depressed and 5 feeling neither good nor bad.

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9/22/13 4:57 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
Some good questions..
. Jake .:
Interesting-- do you mind sharing which vajrayana schools you have practiced within and why you believe the bolded portion? Is that an explicit teaching of the Vajrayana lineage you practiced within, or is it in your view the nature of all vajrayana teachings?


I did not practice Vajrayana teachings the way they are usually conceived, such as visualizations and such. Of Varjrayana teachings, I practiced Mahamudra and Dzogchen, which come from the Kagyu and Nyigma schools, though that is essentially irrelevant. When I say I practiced these teachings, what I mean is I used them as an attainment guide. The teachings implicitly and explicitly describe the minor attainments one passes through on the path, as though describing the rungs of a ladder.

As for the bolded portion, this is not Varjayana, this refers to the entire path. Consider, it is usual for someone just starting out the dharma to attain first, or second path first? Of course they attain first path first, I do not think anyone really considers this up for debate. Very rarely you find people, like Eckart Tolle, who have randomly awakened to a high degree from nothing. However this is so rare and random as to be somewhat ridiculous to consider an option for those on the path. Thus from the perspective of a dharma practitioner, it makes sense to consider the path in an obvious linear manner.

. Jake .:
It makes sense in a certain way. However, I think an alternative version of the three yanas is also plausible and practicable, depending on your definitions of the yanas. What exactly would you describe as the attainments of each yana? And why couldn't they be skipped?


Which came first, the human mind, or religion? Religion is an organized way of unlocking the secrets of the mind, it does not create them. The practices of a religious tradition, such as the Vajrayana, do not create attainments. They help one to gradually unlock one's potential. There is a reason the three yanas are graduated. If you're only on the 1st rung, you're going to have much more success reaching for the 2nd rung then the 7th. For practical purposes, you can only take one step at a time; you can only attain the next immediate attainment.

. Jake .:
For instance, one assumption I could make about what you mean by the three attainments that is consistent with the vajrayana teachings with which I am familiar would be:

hinayaya: emptiness of self (but aggregates still seen as substantial or actual in some way)

mahayana: twofold emptiness (aggregates do not make a self or belong to one etc but also, aggregates themselves are simply conceptual imputations on suchness)

taking these two yanas, it's not hard for me to imagine that one could skip the hinayana. couldn't twofold emptiness be realized without passing through debunking aggregates-as-self?


That's the thing, it doesn't usually work like that. Practice doesn't have anything to do with attainments. At all levels of practice, mediation is essentially the same: you try not to get caught up in thoughts, and stay grounded in the present moment. What you do in mediation is see through thoughts, A.K.A. patterns of delusion. If you are at level 1, you need to see through the associated specific confusion. Once you have seen through that, then you can try for level 2.

The key to meditation is honesty with your self. If you're still suffering, if you still don't really know what it is to be at one with all things, a part of you knows this, and is unhappy. You're still suffering. Thus, you need to proceed onward! The path isn't about getting to level 23, it's about eliminating suffering. Only you can know when you have done this in your own experience. However, this is where the teachings come in. The teachings of the 3 yanas describe what it's like at the various stages, at the end result, where you maybe need to put a little more attention if your at this level, what to look for at this level..

Your not doing this for fame and glory, this is entirely within your own head. If you're not enlightened, then you're not satisfied, and you are not going to be until you sack up, admit where you are, and put your effort into resolving this issue.

. Jake .:
I guess this brings up another question: aside from the quality or content of an attainment, what defines the attainment of that attainment? Given your evident vajrayana background I'm assuming by attainment you mean completely non-backsliding ongoing knowledge/recognition of whatever the truth in question is. I ask because sometimes people seem to imply that attainment is having a moment of clear insight which leaves the mind permanently changed but not necessarily permanently and invariently perceptive of that truth which was clear in the moment of attainment.


Yes by attainment I mean a permanent shift in perception. Frankly, if you're not fooling yourself, you know when this happens. I've fooled myself before, and pretty soon it becomes clear what's up. When you have a permanent mind shift it's usually pretty obvious. If you're following along a map, then it's even more obvious. You know what you have been going for, you know what will be left when you achieve it, you can have a reasonably good idea of how it manifests.. Especially after an attainment is a good time to re-read the path maps, and see how your experience lines up with what has been written. Then you can be confident as to where you are, and where you must go next.

. Jake .:
"Beyond the full recognition of non-duality, I have seen through all of my karma," <-- So for instance, in this example of a claim to attainment, is the 'full recognition..' ongoing and unchangingly characteristic of each mind moment? Or was there a moment in which there was such 'full recognition' in the wake of which you have been permanently transformed, yet the 'full recognition' comes and goes? Same with the "seeing though all my karma" bit: did that happen in one moment which left you somehow different, or is it that whenever your karma arises you see through it (i.e., see it as wisdom energy?) Or is it that absolutely no karmic patterns arise anymore? Do you ever experience the five poisons as different from the five wisdoms? Or is your experience one of continuously changing wisdom-qualities that are never mistaken for poisons? Or what? I ask because, if you attain the traditional Theravada attainment of no more delusion/passion/aggression, period, ever arising, period, then how could one possibly progress to vajrayana attainments, which depend on transforming/liberating the three/five poisons?

Interesting; it would be cool to hear more about your path. Claims such as you are making (completely finished) are pretty strong, so it's good to have more to offer than the claim. If you've already posted something about your practice experience here, could you link it? If not, could you post something about that in another thread perhaps? Thanks!


Yes, here I am referring to a permanent shift. There was a moment of full-recognition of non-duality, which came at the end of a long path. At this point however, my karma, or 'storehouse' of thought patterns, was not exhausted. The exhaustion of the karmic storehouse occurred, and the end of conceptual thought and emotion disturbance occurred also as a distinct moment, in which it was finished. It remains finished, there is no possibility of un-finishment.

As for seeing through Karma, once you reside in non-duality, and are thus enlightened, your karmic patterns have no hold on you, they simply blow through your mind. However they do blow through, which is somewhat irritating. Having continued to meditate after enlightenment, I saw through more and more of my conceptual baggage, until at last there was no more.

Five poisons, five wisdoms, who can say if this is really accurate. After I was enlightened I still experienced most notably jealousy and insecurity. I do not think it was an expression of wisdom. Having exhausted all karma, this issue is no more. I now bask in a state of radiant self-confidence 24/7, haha, but seriously.

. Jake .:
I ask because, if you attain the traditional Theravada attainment of no more delusion/passion/aggression, period, ever arising, period, then how could one possibly progress to vajrayana attainments, which depend on transforming/liberating the three/five poisons?

In my opinion, the descriptions givin to some attainments may be a bit over-blown. Is 4th path arhatship is the traditional theravada attainment you described above? If it is, realistically as an arhat one now understands a bit about empitness, but there is quite a ways to go, and much confusion to be eliminated. The best idea is to become an arhat, and then see if you're still suffering.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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9/22/13 5:27 PM as a reply to T DC.
T DC:
I have formulated a map of the full path if you (or anyone) is interested. Due to the difficulty in describing non-conceptual mind state, discussions of this kind can be frustrating, but hopefully with civility we can prevail.

I would like to see your map...I like maps, it speaks to the project manager in me. Could you post a new thread?
Thanks,
~D

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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9/22/13 5:58 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Nikolai .:
My conception of the end of the path is my own experience. I have completely finished. I have deepened enlightenment to its fullest extent. Beyond the full recognition of non-duality, I have seen through all of my karma, such that no conceptual thought remains in my mind.


Your 'conception' of the end of the path is the end of all 'conceptual thought'?


As I tried to make clear in the above post, I am not conceiving of the end of the path, I am living it.

Nikolai .:
Thank you again for the disclaimer. So far all of what you said is simply a 'firm belief'. More phenomenological descriptions are needed to see what you are talking about on an experiential level. Are you sure you aren't still filtering experience through some subtle overlay?


Again, no I am speaking from personal experience. What you seem to be arguing here is semantics. Do you wish me to say "the way it is", or "my personal experience" instead of 'firm belief'? I did say that I have gone beyond conceptual thought, and that applies to my entire post.

Nikolai .:
Can you provide phenomenological descriptions of your claim of being completely done as well as what you practiced to get there?


Yes, but I warn you, it's quite simple. I have completely overcome dualistic confusion. Thus I know intrinsically, always, that all things are one without separation.
As for practice, I practiced meditation which could be described as recognition of the nature of mind. Nature of mind in this case refers to simple awareness in the present moment, whatever level you may be at. Thus mediation involved sitting and trying not to be distracted by thoughts, trying to come back to awareness and stay there. As well I used the breath and body sensations as objects of concentration when my mind was flighty. I can describe this in more detail if you wish. Essentially it was just trying to see through thoughts, and remain in a a state of awareness, when meditating and not.

Nikolai .:
Where does Daniel say what he calls 4th path the goal of Tibetan Buddhism? Can you provide a link? I haven't gotten that impression from what I have read. Maybe I missed something. For more info on what Daniel has experienced post whatever go here.


What I was referring to was pg. 320 of MCTB where he equates the Tibetan 3 yana system to the 4 path system culminating in the well known, 4th path. This I find to be ridiculous.

Thank you for the link, that was interesting to read.

Nikolai .:
I've read all your past posts. What practice did you do to get to where you claim?


My past posts are one thing, but I have progressed significantly since the last time I posted. As I said earlier, simple mediation got me through. As well, I answered this question somewhat in my reply to Jake when I talked about using maps. To clarify, while on the path I identified as Tibetan Buddhist, and I did take refuge vows in a Tibetan Buddhist lineage. And the teachings I followed were Tibetan Buddhist.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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9/22/13 5:58 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
yes will do

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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9/22/13 6:23 PM as a reply to T DC.
T DC:
Yes, but I warn you, it's quite simple. I have completely overcome dualistic confusion. Thus I know intrinsically, always, that all things are one without separation.
Can you elaborate on what "dualistic confusion" is and how "all things are one without separation"? What is that experience like?

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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9/23/13 6:39 PM as a reply to T DC.


Your not doing this for fame and glory, this is entirely within your own head. If you're not enlightened, then you're not satisfied, and you are not going to be until you sack up, admit where you are, and put your effort into resolving this issue.


T DC,

Would you say that you have completely eliminated suffering? You say you radiate self-confidence 24/7, would this hold true even if you were giving a speech in front of thousands of people? if you were walking up to hit on a beautiful woman at a bar? What about if you nearly got in a car accident, would there still be a sudden rush of anxiety as you swerve out of the way? What if a loved one dies? Do you feel suffering?

On a scale of 1 to 10 how do you feel throughout the day? Is it always a 10 no matter what? What if you only get an hour or two of sleep? Does that have no effect on your mood? Or wake up with a crank in your neck?

Do you still have desires for sex, love, relationships with people? Do you ever feel lonely?

How long did it take you from beginning of the path to the very end? How often did you meditate? How many hours a day?

Do you still have a normal job? What is it? How has your attainments effected your ability to perform tasks at work? Are there downsides to not having conceptual thoughts?

Do people notice that you radiate? Are you smiling all the time?

Thanks, would really appreciate answers to these.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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9/24/13 12:09 AM as a reply to Jinxed P.
I posted a new thread, so see if I answered your questions there..emoticon

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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2/14/14 9:27 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
If you're still taking suggestions...

A section about putting people onto meditation would be helpful: when it's appropriate, how to do it skillfully, how to work with people where they're at, how to unobtrusively pique someone's interest, the best way to help suffering loved ones, etc

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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2/14/14 1:50 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
As much as I am into meditation, I am actually very far to the "do not evangelize under any circumstances" end of things regarding my personal life. I pretty much totally keep it under wraps with most friends and nearly totally at work unless someone comes up to me and starts the conversation, and then I very carefully don't push at all past where they are and what questions and interest they bring from their side.

It is a paradox, but I have tried many variations of the other way and they nearly all went badly.

It might be something about me or my style or whatever, so I don't consider myself an expert in now to subtly or skillfully evangelize or whatever, and in fact consider myself to be heavily deficient in that regard, so that would be something that I probably shouldn't write about, as it is not in my skill set to any appreciable degree.

If you actually figure out how to do this, please write something on it, as I could learn from you. Anything would probably be an improvement, as my experiments were mostly disasters.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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2/19/14 1:56 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
The parts of MCTB which I found the most interesting and useful were the ones on the progress of insight, the later chapter on the three doors, and the chapter on Bill Hamilton's model (mainly your description of traversing the vipassana jhanas using a purely visual object).

I found the flowchart you posted here on the forums extremely valuable as well, MCTB2 should definitely include something of that sort.

I would like more detailed specifics of your internal experience of unusual but reproducible states, and more information on patterns you've observed which suggest a relationship between insight practice (intentional or otherwise) and other aspects of human experience, such as psychological disorders, therapeutic techniques, drugs, personality, vocabulary, and changes in human culture as a whole.

I like the "cut-through-the-bullshit" style of MCTB, but I think readers would connect to it better if it was accompanied by a more whimsical tone. Many people I've shared excerpts of the book with are wary of your spiritual authority because of the disagreeable character of your writing, and I myself was surprised by how cheerful you were when I first heard you speak, despite your choice of words being much the same in speech as in writing.

I get the impression a lot of the seriousness stems from a misguided attempt emphasize various warnings and instructions. I think the more serious a warning is, especially in a spiritual context, the more the reader feels like the main character of a story in which fucking up and doing the thing you're telling them not to do is essential to getting the plot moving...

And to be fair, there may be a sense in which that's true. You advise the reader to stick to bare sensations, to make a beeline for stream entry, and to observe basic lab safety at all times; wear goggles, wash your hands, keep backpacks off the floor, etc. And this is certainly sane and practical advice, but especially for those of us who, like you, found our way into the lab by accident, something about it feels a bit off. In the words of Slavoj Zizek, why be happy when you could be interesting?

Additionally (and maybe more importantly), even if the reader does take your advice to heart, they live in a world surrounded by people with no intention of following it or even reading it, many of whom are nonetheless walking the path. Even if the reader makes every attempt to eliminate the complex interference pattern between insight stages and the myriad other aspects of human experience, they would undeniably benefit from whatever illumination you could provide on the subject. I personally far prefer theory to practice; the easiest way to dissuade me from replicating a dangerous experiment you've performed is to share your data.

I find your descriptions of the experience of three doors fascinating, as it's a reproducible spiritual experience which is commonly accompanied by permanent psychological effects and has a small set of nuanced and peculiar presentations that seem to differ surprisingly little from mind to mind. I would like to see diagrams, to the extent that you can draw them, of the more visual presentations, specific examples of the things you and other skilled meditators have seen or felt or heard (you once said that you experience high equanimity as silent, how universal is that?), statistical data, raw event logs of the aspects present in sets of consecutive occurrences, and anything else you could think to say on the subject.

Considering the progress of insight as a game of snakes and ladders, MCTB provides fairly robust information on the ladders but not too much on the snakes. In your flowchart, there are arrows back down only from certain stages, but I get the impression that's a simplification, and that a more accurate model is that there's a ratchet which can become disengaged. Is this accurate, and if so, what factors are relevant to its disengagement? Eating, sleeping, sexual activity?

Simply providing a long list of activities which have insight as a possible side effect would be useful both in clarifying what insight is and in helping the reader figure out where they are and how they got there. For instance, I unwittingly crossed re-observation several times while attempting to transition to a polyphasic sleep schedule, and I know someone who crossed the A&P while learning to drive. The mindfulness required by these kinds of activities is easy to see, but if the reader's attention is never drawn to them, even in passing, it's unlikely they'll examine them in the first place.

In particular, you should probably give some attention to the increasingly popular and numerous alternative therapies for children with developmental disorders, virtually all of which seem to be unknowingly insight-based, and some of which look like they were lifted straight from the visuddhimagga. The more effective ones are typically accompanied by warnings that they should be done in moderation or "emotional disturbances" may result, but the therapists who employ and develop them seem to have no idea why, and the warnings are frequently ignored. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that most of the world's hardcore insight meditation was being done by children.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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2/19/14 4:35 PM as a reply to Jareth Dekko.
Jareth Dekko:

In particular, you should probably give some attention to the increasingly popular and numerous alternative therapies for children with developmental disorders, virtually all of which seem to be unknowingly insight-based, and some of which look like they were lifted straight from the visuddhimagga. The more effective ones are typically accompanied by warnings that they should be done in moderation or "emotional disturbances" may result, but the therapists who employ and develop them seem to have no idea why, and the warnings are frequently ignored. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that most of the world's hardcore insight meditation was being done by children.


Which therapies do you mean?

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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2/28/14 11:12 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
As much as I am into meditation, I am actually very far to the "do not evangelize under any circumstances" end of things regarding my personal life. I pretty much totally keep it under wraps with most friends and nearly totally at work unless someone comes up to me and starts the conversation, and then I very carefully don't push at all past where they are and what questions and interest they bring from their side.

It is a paradox, but I have tried many variations of the other way and they nearly all went badly.

It might be something about me or my style or whatever, so I don't consider myself an expert in now to subtly or skillfully evangelize or whatever, and in fact consider myself to be heavily deficient in that regard, so that would be something that I probably shouldn't write about, as it is not in my skill set to any appreciable degree.

If you actually figure out how to do this, please write something on it, as I could learn from you. Anything would probably be an improvement, as my experiments were mostly disasters.


Unfortunately I have little experience with evangelizing, and my few attempts have been mostly failures. If I ever figure it out I'll be sure to write up How To Make Hardcore Meditators.

But, I did think of another suggestion for MCTB2. Since MCTB focuses so much on the 3Cs I think it would be helpful to offer several translations for each C in MCTB2. For example, the section on Impermanence could be called "Anikka - Impermanence/Change/Inconstancy/Transience/etc", the section on Suffering could be called "Dukkha - Suffering/Sorrow/Unsatisfactoriness/etc", the section on Noself could be called "Anatta - Noself/Emptiness/Absence of Ego/etc" with all the translations you find befitting for each C (I'm not sure if you approve of all these).

My suggestion might seem trite, but I believe it could be vastly helpful for a couple reasons. Humans have the peculiar tendency to confuse the word with the thing named (map is not the territory, etc). Offering or using several terms shakes up this tendency. Also, many people have preconceived associations for some of those words (especially suffering). Different words may click better with different people. For me, Unsatisfactoriness clicked better than Suffering.

Hope you'll consider it

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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3/2/14 4:03 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:

As much as I am into meditation, I am actually very far to the "do not evangelize under any circumstances" end of things regarding my personal life. I pretty much totally keep it under wraps with most friends and nearly totally at work unless someone comes up to me and starts the conversation, and then I very carefully don't push at all past where they are and what questions and interest they bring from their side.


Perhaps you're doing just fine and simply assuming a deficiency because of an inability to "convert" people around you?

If you come at it from a "how do I evangelize best" approach and try to meld it with professional life, conflict will be inevitable.
The most sensible approach to me seems to be to treat it like you would any other hobby/interest...ie, applying basic business etiquette: "how do I make the people around me comfortable". You don't hide that you do it, you elaborate with a few (casual) words on why it's nice, and don't push it if unprompted by your audience. Read into the tonality of their responses / body language when you're not sure. Basically what you're already doing.

People who like the TV show Mad Men, or rock climbing, and don't hide it, come across as normal. People who talk their coworkers ears off about it come off a socially mis-calibrated. People who appear as if they're hiding something seem weird.

A typical "evangelist" interaction in my mind is unprompted...instead of notices [non-meditator] with a problem and opens with "hey, looks like insight practices could help solve your problem!", I think [non-meditator] approaches with "Hey, how are you so calm and cheerful all the time?"

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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3/2/14 4:17 PM as a reply to T. Dan S-.
Your thoughts on this are largely along my own thinking on this, but with a difference: I don't think this is like Mad Men. It is, to most people, more like being a space alien: just that ridiculous.

If someone asked me why I am happier at work than most people, the honest answer about reality happening on its own and non-duality and the like wouldn't work well. It is a problem. It would be as strange to most people as if I said I was from Mars. People don't find interest in Mad Men weird, as it has nothing to challenge their fundamental paradigms about core things like perception and the mind and all sorts of other things. Thus, this is in some other category, and category I generally just totally don't address in any way when working.

A few people at work have found my website and book, read the blurb and the like, and then they will mention this, get this odd look on their face, and the conversation ends right there. I generally think that is the best place for it to have gone: nowhere at all, oddly. It is much easier, vastly easier, and probably much better in all ways.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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3/2/14 4:53 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
That's the sometimes-hypocritical nature of etiquette...if the honest answer will make people uncomfortable (by challenging fundamental paradigms), you don't give the honest answer (at least as it corresponds to that particular version of truth). You don't lie, because that might offend them too if they find out. In this context, it's "I meditate sometimes, I find I'm more calm throughout the day. *smile*" instead of "self-less, watcher-less reality happening on its own as a wondrous luminous fluxing field". Where I'm from (predominantly caucasian, urban west coast Canada), the first sentence is innocuous enough because there are enough articles in reputable newspapers and magazines that associate meditation (basic mindfulness) with positive things. Is that not the case in Alabama?

To push the example with a little more detail:
Most people don't understand why they like Mad Men. I think it has a lot of to with gender roles and morality in the 60s, and is compelling because of the interactions between characters (and the archetypes/principles they represent). The water cooler version of this: "It's a cool show / the ending was disappointing / it was great when X did Y". I could challenge the right person's core beliefs about marriage/masculinity in a conversation about Mad Men, and I would be being honest as those were real thoughts stimulated by my watching the show...I just don't address that at work, as you wouldn't.

All that said, I have a friend of mine who coaches newly unemployed job-seekers. I'm certain she'd say something like "Never mention any uncommon interests. You went fishing. Be as ordinary/faceless as possible at work; stand out with your performance instead." I don't think there's anything deficient about that. One is recognizing an accepted social situation and behaving appropriately.

How can you continue to meditate after becoming an arhat?
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3/6/14 12:44 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I didn't have a chance to read all the replies to this thread so I don't know if this has been mentioned before.

I'd like you to address the seeming conceptual problems that after arhatship, in which you supposedly have complete non-dual consciousness, you nevertheless continue to cycle, experience dissolution, dark night, and fruition, etc. This seems like a paradox to me (and not the good kind). If the non-dual consciousness were really complete, wouldn't all cycling stop. It should be impossible to even do vipassina meditation any more if there is no more false clinging to duality to investigate.

Same problem comes up for jhana meditation. To do jhana meditation you need to start with a subject attending to an object and then eventually let those two merge into one. That process doesn't really make sense any more if supposedly the arhat has a completely non-dual experience. It would be impossible to even begin the process of getting jhana off the ground. Yet, you claim that the arhat can do all the jhanas. Again, conceptually how is this possible?

In conversation with Vincent Horn, we've sort of been discussing an alternative model of what 4th path really amounts to. On this model, 4th path is not the achievement of total non-dual consciousness since the continued possibility of vipassina cycles prove that some duality remains. Then the question arises, "what does 4th path amount to?" since there seems to be some undeniable change in the quality of experience after this threshold. My understanding of Vincent's way of characterizing the shift is that it's a complete letting go of the tendency of the mind to look for an end point to experience, i.e., giving up on the idea of some permanent, fixed, stable resting point for consciousness. Experience stops showing up as progressing towards a determinate goal. Hence, even if duality remains, it no longer seems as if the process of vipassina is one of progressing toward non-duality. This might account for the strong sense that one has achieved everything one possibly could achieve vis-a-vis non-duality, even though in fact this isn't strictly true.

I'd like to see you elaborate on these points as they are germane to larger questions about the nature of enlightenment.

More generally, the existing version of the book is very vague and hand-wavy about the experience of moving from 3rd path to 4th path, especially in comparison with the level of detail given about the process of getting to stream entry. I'd like to see more attention given to this transition, including what it was like for you when you transitioned. It would be helpful to have more detailed phenomenological description of what it's like to experience the world from a 4th path perspective and what are the subtle differences between this and the experience in late 3rd path. Obviously, this is somewhat of a self-serving request since I'm in late 3rd path and keep wondering what the hell I'm missing ;)

RE: How can you continue to meditate after becoming an arhat?
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3/6/14 2:06 PM as a reply to Avi Craimer.
Avi Craimer:
Obviously, this is somewhat of a self-serving request since I'm in late 3rd path and keep wondering what the hell I'm missing ;)


This advice and more or less just sitting with this advice for a few days flipped it for me.


Nick, I feel you, man. I'm not sure there's any one thing you "should" be doing or not doing at this point. One important thing that will sound silly to you right now is that this is not happening to "you" and there is nothing that "you" need to do, or can do for that matter. It will just happen, sort of like lightning striking a tree out of a clear blue sky. I recall being absolutely overwhelmed by the thought that there was something I was missing, and being so focused on that. I tried to drop it, to let go of it, but even if it wasn't being fretted over by conscious mind it percolated somewhere unseen. I was certain there was something I was missing. What did other people see that I didn't see???

Turns out there was a "something" but it wasn't something I needed to add. It was something I was doing that made it seem like something was missing, sort of. The last few thoughts I had before the blip were about the not-sacred nature of everything. THE NOT SACRED NATURE OF EVERY PHENOMENON. So what do you think you're looking for? Is there anything that special?Quote by Chris Marti

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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3/7/14 9:02 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:


If someone asked me why I am happier at work than most people, the honest answer about reality happening on its own and non-duality and the like wouldn't work well. .


Are you just being humble here? Or you only happier than 'most' people, or are you happier than everyone? If there are people at work who are happier than you, what is it that they are doing right that you are doing wrong? Has your last 20 years of practice while beneficial to you, was not as optimally beneficial as whatever it is that people who are happier than you are doing?

Do you feel that you have maxed out your happiness potential? If not, what else could you be doing to make yourself happier?

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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3/7/14 10:17 AM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Jinxed P:
Daniel M. Ingram:


If someone asked me why I am happier at work than most people, the honest answer about reality happening on its own and non-duality and the like wouldn't work well. .


Are you just being humble here? Or you only happier than 'most' people, or are you happier than everyone? If there are people at work who are happier than you, what is it that they are doing right that you are doing wrong? Has your last 20 years of practice while beneficial to you, was not as optimally beneficial as whatever it is that people who are happier than you are doing?

Do you feel that you have maxed out your happiness potential? If not, what else could you be doing to make yourself happier?


According to your theory, at some point you will die because of happiness.

If you have 100 units of happyness then you also have 100 units of not happiness.

ice water, vapour, snow
and its neither ice water, vapour nor snow.

I have 1000 units of happiness, i need less energy to become conditionally happy(than average person for example). You won't die because you have exact opposite amount of not happiness like you have happiness.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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3/7/14 11:13 AM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Regarding happiness, one must be careful when trying to compare people and some reasonable qualification is helpful, I feel, based on the following points:

1) The correlation between how people seem externally to others and how they perceive themselves is clearly not perfect, meaning that there are people who externally may seem happy but are not that happy and those who also don't seem as happy as they actually are. This is due to a mix of subjective and "objective" factors, meaning that how we perceive someone is partially due to them and partially due to how we perceive them. Going from theory to real-world specifics: at all moments would I appear happier than everyone around me? Clearly not. We have some people at work that seem quite happy often, and at times, I would suspect that, if some group of people were asked to evaluate their perception of whether or not I seemed happier than the happiest-seeming person in the emergency department (it is a big place, so we have lots of employees), I am pretty sure that I would not always be voted the most happy-seeming person.

2) A perfect A/B and straightforward comparison of mind states in general and happiness in particular is not currently possible that I know of. My thesis that I am happier more of the time than most people I know is not provable. That I am vastly happier than I was is not even easily proven in absolute and final terms, given that I can't be sure I can accurately A/B my mind states across years and decades, as it is all based on memory of pleasant and unpleasant experiences, which itself is known to be faulty. Do I believe that I am vastly better of: definitely. Can I be 100% certain that at all times my current mind states are all superior to the very best mind states I had in the past? No.

3) Happiness, being a mind state, is transient, ephemeral, variable, subject to moment-to-moment fluctuations and modifications based on the standard laws of causality. I would not classify myself as being happy all the time, as that would be preposterous. A very wide range of mental qualities manifest and change rapidly.

I can't remember the last time someone accused me of possibly being humble, and given general trends and tendencies this is unlikely to have occurred here, but some I am very aware of the problems that arise in comparison of all sorts of qualities between people across times and the variability of mind states.

To try to answer your question about cultivating happiness and what I could do to optimize happiness: that is the perennial question, and then the question of how my answer might apply to you I can't be certain. Do I believe that non-dual perception really helps? Definitely. Do I think there is lots of standard, generic advice that might generally promote well-being, given many qualifiers? Definitely. A good example: eat a healthy diet, exercise and get enough sleep. There are times when I work too hard and don't exercise enough and don't get enough sleep. Do I believe that if I exercised a bit more and my circadian rhythm wasn't as disrupted by my job as it is that I would be happier? Definitely. More to the point: how will you be happier, which I presume is the essence of your question: that is a moving target, but the fundamentals likely apply.

David Blain and Thread Split
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3/9/14 12:05 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
In order to give this discussion about pain and heroics its own thread I have split this off of the MCTB2 My Spiritual Quest, Anything You Want to Hear thread, as it seemed to be its own topic with its own life.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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3/9/14 9:21 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Fwiw Daniel, every interview I've seen you in, the Cheetah house videos or the buddhist geeks podcasts you come off as very happy and enthusiastic.

It's hard for me to be able to put in proper perspective just how happy enlightenment makes someone, when Shinzen Young claims that he wouldn't trade one day of enlightenment for 100 years of normal life. And yet you are not sure you are the happiest person in your office (or was it that you just are not sure you appear to be happier?)

I actually worked in a lab during grad school studying positive psychology and happiness and ran many studies to measure people's happiness. The two main methods were experience sampling- randomly texting people during the day and asking them how good they felt on a scale of 1 to 10. Over time you get a line graph of their happiness. Or asking them to fill out more in depth surveys such as the PANAS scale (positive and negative affect scale) asking them to what degree did they feel stress/anxious/joyful/happy/proud/sad/excited/enthusiastic/caring ..etc etc..over the past 24 hours, week, two weeks or however long a time period you want to measure them for. How happy a person is becomes the ratio of positive to negative emotions.

In this way you can get a numerical score of somone's happiness. Is this method perfect? Not even close. For many of the reasons you mentioned and others. Is my 7 out of 10 very different from someone else's 7 out of 10? Probably, but the law of large numbers leads us to be able to draw correlations and other useful facts about the happiness of populations. And yes, I agree that diet, exercise and sleep are all in the top 5 of things that lead to happiness. I would also include genetics and social relationships in there.

So how good do you feel right now on a scale of 1 to 10? 5 being neither pleasant or unpleasant. How might you have answered this question before gaining your attainments?


Do you feel that the path is the very best way to reach happiness? While there have been hundreds of studies on meditation, most of them have been pretty vanilla. Your typical mindfulness reduces stress kind of thing. Studies on enlightenened meditators are few and far between. The most notable being the brain scans of Yongey Mingur Rinpoche and Mattieu Ricard and a few other tibetan monks. Those brain scans seemed to show something pretty fantastic.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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3/10/14 8:02 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
I think one of the problems with scales measuring mind states is that as each thing changes you arrive at some new normal and then there is variability within that normal, but we rapidly re-adjust to the new thing and forget the old thing.

Memories of pain and pleasure are not that reliable.

How to compare things accurately? Not easy over large time distances.

If I compared, say, my first kiss, which totally blew my mind at the time, to my mind state now as I sit writing this, and could objectively A/B them back and forth and really sample each, what would I think?

Furthermore, if I could take my worst day now and compare it to my worst day from, say, 20 years ago, how much worse would that worst day be from the past in comparison to now and how would you measure that?

What do the ranges look like? Do they overlap somewhat? In whose opinion?

If I took some of the most thrilling and amazing moments of my life from, say, 20 years ago, before I got into meditation and the like, and compared them to my best moments now, how different would they be? Some things would be different, but if one tried to come up with some absolute satisfaction or happiness scale, how much better would things be now? It is a really hard thing to imagine doing, as I am pretty sure my memories of how things were are pretty poor, and there is no way to flip back once certain things are flipped.

I can tell you about a strange period on retreat almost exactly 10 years ago when for a week I flipped back and forth between full non-dual, non-localized, intrinsic, effortless awareness and something that had lots of elements of that but wasn't the totally done thing and did so every 1-3 hours or so. It was one of the heaviest emotional roller coasters of all of my retreat time. The difference was night and day. Each time I would slide back into subtle dualistic perception and caring about things like states and stages and all of that, it was like getting my heart broken, like losing a loved-one, like failing the most important exam of my life, totally crushing, like realizing you just totally forgot the most important appointment of your life, like watching your house with all your most valuable positions burn before your eyes, like watching your life's work flushed down the toilet.

Each time I would flip back to the better mode of perception, it was like, "Oh, my God, Buffy! That's it! That's the thing! Wow! Amazing! How could I have missed this? It is so obvious! So perfectly perceptually right!" and then it would fade, and my heart was broken again. Imagine dating the hottest woman in the world except that every 2 hours she decides she hates you, and then every 2 hours she loves you again. It was a week of that. Finally, it stayed. That was a huge relief. I definitely wouldn't want to go back to the other way of perceiving things: it is just so totally wrong in so many ways and the mind thus flips all over the place like a fish on a line trying to figure out how to get things right again.

That's the best A/B comparison I know of, and while Shinzen is perhaps waxing slightly hyperbolic, I get the general sentiment of where he is coming from.

Does that help?

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
3/11/14 1:09 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:


Each time I would flip back to the better mode of perception, it was like, "Oh, my God, Buffy! That's it! That's the thing! Wow! Amazing! How could I have missed this? It is so obvious! So perfectly perceptually right!" and then it would fade, and my heart was broken again. Imagine dating the hottest woman in the world except that every 2 hours she decides she hates you, and then every 2 hours she loves you again. It was a week of that. Finally, it stayed. That was a huge relief. I definitely wouldn't want to go back to the other way of perceiving things: it is just so totally wrong in so many ways and the mind thus flips all over the place like a fish on a line trying to figure out how to get things right again.

That's the best A/B comparison I know of, and while Shinzen is perhaps waxing slightly hyperbolic, I get the general sentiment of where he is coming from.

Does that help?


Ha. Great analogy. I once dated a runway model who in hindsight probably had a mild case of borderline personality disorder. Hot/Cold..Hot/Cold..

But yea..that definitely helps.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
3/12/14 12:59 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
A more objective approach to comparing the degree of suffering in the two states would be to look at the degree of effortlessness and non-emotional impact of doing things that are known to be very difficult for perceptual reasons. You could do this in controlled labratory conditions for real scientific evidence. For example, you could have an arhat and a non-arhat try to solve math problems under both normal conditions and in a room laced with the chemical putrescine. The non-arhat should find it extremely difficult to complete the math problems due to the noxious smell, while the arhat's performance should be almost undiminished since the debilitating effect of the chemical is only due to it's perceptual terribleness. Of course strong concentration skills might allow the non-arhat to overcome the effect of the smell, but it would still presumably take longer relative to his non-putrescine baseline to establish and maintain the concentration than it would for the arhat who wouldn't have to get himself into any sort of special state. Sample size would be problem, however, since there aren't too many arhats kicking around looking to participate in such research.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
3/12/14 7:44 AM as a reply to Avi Craimer.
I am not sure the effect would be as you think it would be, as distraction based on intense sensate input can still occur

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
3/12/14 11:02 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Are you saying that there might be no objective measurable correlates of having dramatically reduced perceptual suffering? This seems implausible to me. In my own life I've noticed an incredible increase in my capacity to do things I was unable to do before as aversion and attachment diminish. Maybe the test I suggested was not the best idea, but I really do think that the phenomena should show up in some measurable way. Of course, this makes me sound like some type of scientific positivist, which I most assuredly am not, it just seems unlikely that such dramatic subjective changes would not correlate with measurable improved performance in at least some aspect of external functioning. I suppose the real problem from a scientific point of view is that any differences in functioning could be explained away as differences between individuals that may have pre-existed the attainment of arhatship. This is similar to the critiques of the Richard Davidson research on the Tibetan Monks which said that their unusual EEG activity might have pre-existed meditation. Science is such a crude instrument when it comes to these things.

My intuitive side wants to say that it's not a matter of A/B comparisons or estimated happiness levels, but rather a matter of observation. When you watch a small child, even one who is crying and throwing tantrum, there is something undeniably perceptible about the child's presence which speaks of a level of core wellness far beyond that of almost all adults. I think something similar is true of enlightened individuals. It's not to say that they are childlike in any cognitive sense, but there is something about their presence as it is expressed through their body, speech, and gesture, that speaks directly to the observer of a profound wellness or ease. That's not quantifiable, but it's clear enough to those with eyes to see.

I've also observed something similar in my 101 year old grandmother before she died. She never practised a day of formal meditation but she lived with excruciating osteoporosis pain for the last 30 years of her life and in her stubborn way she refused to take pain killers. I think this daily encounter with sensory suffering brought her to a very high level of enlightenment. In the last few years of her life, her presence was so radiant it was hard not to notice it. In some ways her personality never changed that much, but in others she was profoundly transformed. Some her final words as she lay dying in the hospital of a fractured hip where, "we always live in hope." That's the kind of data you can't quantify, but to me it speaks of the worthiness of the process of facing perceptual suffering head on.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
6/15/14 8:22 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Here's another question that came to my mind:
Did you ever consider ordination? What made you not do it?

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
6/16/14 12:28 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
What I'd like to see in MCTB2:

More on the relationship between Daniel and Kenneth: what caused their various falling outs, what they've agreed on and disagreed on, and so on. There used to be a letter online somewhere that Kenneth wrote to Daniel about discovering the insight stages, but I never got to read it: anyone know where it is? That should be in MCTB2.

A bibliography sorted by topic so it's easy to find recommended books on particular subjects.

More background info on different meditation and Buddhist traditions, like what is dzogchen and how did it influence Daniel, what is mahamudra, rigpa, tantra, thodgal, and so forth, and how they all fit together

More on the powers, theories about how they might work, with a nod to those of us who are skeptical that the powers are real and think that if you can influence the empirical world, there should be some sort of empirical test or experiment that gives some evidence, and without that it's much more likely the powers are just in the mind

Stuff on reality, consensus reality and its limitations, what truth is and how it's determined, evidence, and so forth

More on what it's like to be an arahat, compared to any of the other stages... free will, how the illusion of free will and the self is constructed, what kinds of self-delusion people enter into when they try to think they can control things or make things be other than how they are

More criticism of Boomer Buddhism and more chapters with asterisks... that's the good stuff. More on what mainstream Buddhism is, because if you grab a typical book or read an encyclopedia article about Buddhism, it won't talk about any of this stuff, which makes it seem a little strange to people first encountering it

More info on different meditation techniques, shikantaza, Shinzen's "do-nothing" technique, different types of noting and possible noting choices, possibly with some practice exercises, sample transcripts of different noting sessions "rising rising touching falling falling rising"

Info on who's who in the pragmatic dharma community and how they're connected: what was the relationship between Shinzen Young and Bill Hamilton, for instance, and Vince Horn, Ron Crouch, Kenneth, etc.

More on Daniel and Bill Hamilton's fractal theories: which sub-sub-jhanas or nanas correspond or have similarities to which other ones, what's the difference between j4.j6 and j6.j4 and j6, for instance, and how to tell

More on the sutras... how to wade through them, why they're important, recommended sutras

More info on cycling and how that works day-to-day, how to tell which stages you're in, more on how perceptual awareness thresholds change from stage to stage, how one moves between stage to stage and when you can move forwards and backwards, how the loop works when you don't hit a new path (Eq transitions to A&P?), the relationship between on-the-cushion and off-the-cushion stages

More on concentration/visualizations, how they work in combination with the stages of insight, more on how it works to switch off between samatha and vipassana (along the lines of the "Talking in Jhanas" post on the Hamilton Project.)

Who shot the arrow, what kind of wood it was made of, and what kind of bow was used ;)

1. The suffering of suffering (pain)
2. The suffering of change
3. All-pervasive suffering (duality)

Traditionally, enlightenment is said to end No. 3, not the first two. Emptiness is emptiness of inherent it-ness, not nothing: co-dependent arising of phenomena, conditions, etc.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
8/13/19 5:44 AM as a reply to S. Pro.
S. Pro:
Can´t wait to hold it in my hands!!!

How about
- Statistical data. How many vipassana hours do people need to reach stream entry?

- Neurological aspects a la "Zen and the Brain" by Steven Austin. There must be lotsa stuff out there. I also know a hardcore yogi who is a university neurologist, I could hook you up.

- psychological aspects. Self-esteem is a huge issue in spiritual circles as it seems. Sigmund Freud wrote about the neurotic aspects of being religious.

Dark night vs. depression (Ron Crouch researches on that).

Something I´m very interested in is C. G. Jung´s work on individuation which I assume has a great deal to do with depression.
Should you read that material I advise to also check out Joseph Campbell´s work on mythology and "the hero´s journey", he is very influenced by C. G. Jung.


Simply more geeky stuff about jhanas and nyanas ;-)

Any personal learnings, discarded beliefs, new understandings since MTCB1
Some years ago I taught classes on The Hero/Heroine's Journey (the hero is gender-neutral) of Campbell's Monomyth model. What intrigued me what that the cycles of THJ closely mirror the stages of insight. This led me to conjecture that THJ and the progress of insight are features of nature in a time/space-bound universe, much like fractals or spirals, rather than a philosophical construct or something unique to 20th-century American university professors, etc.

I borrowed this graphic version from the Internet (how cool is this?) to illustrate and explore it. Credit in the graphic.
Then I made a blank version to print and play. I've written multiple versions of this over the years, as my own path has spiraled (mostly) upward. Dice optional - for me it's a tool for reflection, and also for identifying the sixth of the Kübler-Ross five stages of grief - Finding New Meaning.