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MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm

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MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm J C 4/15/10 3:01 PM
RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm Jackson Wilshire 4/15/10 4:02 PM
RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm J C 4/15/10 4:38 PM
RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm J Adam G 4/15/10 6:48 PM
RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm Daniel M. Ingram 4/16/10 1:26 AM
RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm Jackson Wilshire 4/16/10 12:14 PM
RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm J C 4/16/10 1:58 PM
RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm J Adam G 4/16/10 10:39 PM
RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm Chuck Kasmire 4/17/10 1:05 PM
RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm This Good Self 4/18/10 1:30 AM
RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm Bruno Loff 4/18/10 3:37 AM
RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm Chuck Kasmire 4/18/10 11:07 AM
RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm tarin greco 4/18/10 2:41 PM
RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm This Good Self 4/20/10 9:14 PM
RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm tarin greco 4/27/10 3:31 PM
RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm Mike Monson 4/27/10 2:17 PM
RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm tarin greco 4/27/10 2:50 PM
RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm Mike Monson 4/27/10 3:23 PM
RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm tarin greco 4/27/10 3:27 PM
RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm Mike Monson 4/27/10 3:52 PM
I would like to quote several comments that seem not to be true or realistic. Bold type is my doing.

It says on page 251:
"A nonreturner is incapable of even fantasizing about sex, let alone performing any sexual act. So someone who is sexually active is certainly not a nonreturner, and the same goes for someone whi is obviously angry."

Again on page 251: "For the arahant, the signs are clearer still. All the qualities of the stream winner and the nonreturner must be present, plus qualities such as the nine things that an arahant is incapable of doing, such as storing up possessions."

And on page 250: "So for example, if someone has no respect for the Sangha, or claims not to believe in rebirth, or holds the view that the mind(citta) or mentality(mano) or consciousness (vinnana) is everlasting, then one can know for sure that this person is not a stream winner."

Is this doctrinal bull shit?

RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm
Answer
4/15/10 4:02 PM as a reply to J C.
J C:
Is this doctrinal bull shit?


I sure as hell think so. Those statements reek of mythic dogma. Yuck.

~Jackson

RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm
Answer
4/15/10 4:38 PM as a reply to Jackson Wilshire.
So a person can be a non returner or arahant or even more fully awakened, and yet own a house and a car, be a married person, capable of sexual intercourse (God willing), and doesn't need to believe in re-incarnation. Right?
Secondly, is it possible some of us in this group could be Buddhas? Or is that an every 2 thousand years phenomenon? But hey, it's been two thousand years since the Buddha lived in Northern India!
J

RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm
Answer
4/15/10 6:48 PM as a reply to J C.
Love his book as a meditation manual, and it includes some useful information on using jhana for insight, but the book was chock-full of this kind of stuff. Everything that isn't meditation instruction or explanation is a slam on something else, whether it's the Mahayana or people who don't believe in literal rebirth as depicted in the suttas or ideas of enlightenment that don't include the total elimination of the fermentations.

RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm
Answer
4/16/10 1:26 AM as a reply to J C.
I tend to leave the question of Buddhahood as something not that helpful.

My recommendation: get at least stream entry, and see for yourself. Soon second path will follow, and you will see the tension between your experience and the old lies, and by anagami the gap is glaring. Arahats are those who know and perceive the here and now as it is with a simple direct clarity, regardless of what is manifesting, and the craziness that gets spread about arahats is truly bizarre.

I go on and on about this in MCTB: see here: http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/MCTB%20Models%20of%20the%20Stages%20of%20Enlightenment?p_r_p_185834411_title=MCTB%20Models%20of%20the%20Stages%20of%20Enlightenment

Yeah, that stuff you quote is trash dogma at its worst.

RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm
Answer
4/16/10 12:14 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
My recommendation: get at least stream entry, and see for yourself. Soon second path will follow, and you will see the tension between your experience and the old lies, and by anagami the gap is glaring. Arahats are those who know and perceive the here and now as it is with a simple direct clarity, regardless of what is manifesting, and the craziness that gets spread about arahats is truly bizarre.


The lion roars!

In all seriousness, I wholeheartedly agree. The first step in really clearing up the many myths and misconceptions about what it means to be enlightened is to enter the stream. That's not enough in itself, as I'm sure Mr. Brahm has made a great deal of meditative progress in his long life as a monk, and he is (dare I say) still quite deluded about enlightenment. But for those of us who are engaged in the "marketplace" of life, which provides a greater potential to develop a strong sense of the difference between myth and spirituality, getting stream entry is one's first real initiation into a profound understanding of what enlightenment is and what it isn't. There's a long way to go from there, but that shouldn't downplay the significance of this landmark.

~Jackson

RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm
Answer
4/16/10 1:58 PM as a reply to Jackson Wilshire.
[quote=Jackson "awouldbehipster" Wilshire]
Daniel M. Ingram:
My recommendation: get at least stream entry, and see for yourself. Soon second path will follow, and you will see the tension between your experience and the old lies, and by anagami the gap is glaring. Arahats are those who know and perceive the here and now as it is with a simple direct clarity, regardless of what is manifesting, and the craziness that gets spread about arahats is truly bizarre.


The lion roars!

In all seriousness, I wholeheartedly agree. The first step in really clearing up the many myths and misconceptions about what it means to be enlightened is to enter the stream. That's not enough in itself, as I'm sure Mr. Brahm has made a great deal of meditative progress in his long life as a monk, and he is (dare I say) still quite deluded about enlightenment. But for those of us who are engaged in the "marketplace" of life, which provides a greater potential to develop a strong sense of the difference between myth and spirituality, getting stream entry is one's first real initiation into a profound understanding of what enlightenment is and what it isn't. There's a long way to go from there, but that shouldn't downplay the significance of this landmark.

~Jackson
I too would agree absolutely on this consensus assessment. We can see what's true ourselves from the perspective of our own "attainments," fellow peacocks. Nevertheless, dogmatic pronouncements by someone like Ajahn Brahm, a published author, and according to liner notes, an abbot of a monastery, causes confusion with such comments, and secondly, calls into question what part of the rest of his book(s) can be trusted as well. I think his discussion of the jhanas is satisfactory, though adding nothing new nor particularly helpful compared to more authoritative sounces.

RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm
Answer
4/16/10 10:39 PM as a reply to J C.
I would argue that he provides a much more thorough coverage of the territory between everyday life and the first jhana than most other authors out there. Most others just say "You start out being unable to focus, then you get access concentration, then you get first jhana." Brahm details a path to getting really hard jhana states starting with cutting out thoughts of past and future, then cutting out verbal thoughts altogether, then focusing on the breath, then effortlessly focusing on the breath, then the arising of the first pitisukha with the "beautiful breath" (or other meditation object), then the nimitta, then jhana. Covering all of this territory gives people who are new to shamatha much more information than a simple path from normal mindstate to access concentration to first jhana.

He also gives some useful information about dealing with the hindrances. Every author seems to have a few unique contributions to that.

RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm
Answer
4/17/10 1:05 PM as a reply to J C.
J C:
Is this doctrinal bull shit?


You would have to ask Ajahn Brahm. If he is speaking from his own experience then, no - it isn't. One thing I have learned in my process along this path is that everyone experiences it differently and that most of us tend to see our own experience as representing some 'truth'. I think to reject statements by others simply because their experience does not match ours - is not the way to investigate this phenomena. Such a response simply contributes to the mushroom factor in that people no longer want to speak openly about these things.

What does seem true is that there is a process that these various traditions point to that leads to a much greater sense of well being. There seems to be a wide variation in how this is experienced and how it unfolds. To suggest that all these different traditions' practices lead to some common end - or even to definable stages is unrealistic - given the wide range of practices and the wide range of experiential evidence available. If I reject Ajahn Brahm's statements as bull shit without trying to ascertain if he is speaking from his own experience then to that extent I have limited my understanding of his path and what it may lead to.

RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm
Answer
4/18/10 1:30 AM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
I'm just going to tag a question on the end for anyone that might be able to help. It's to do with extinction of the ego.

Is the ego (and its desire for money, sex, power, status and praise) ever fully trasncended? What I've read is that the ego doesn't actually 'die', but the enlightened person operates without being at all directed by the ego. Instead his actions are directed by Spirit or God because he is in direct communion with It. In this way, an enlightened person is very unlikely to have much sex, and very unlikely to hoard material possessions, but if it's 'God's will' that he behave this way at certain times, then he does. But if he does, his action comes from a totally different place, free from craving and unsatisfactoriness. What would the scholars say about this view?

RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm
Answer
4/18/10 3:37 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
CCC, I think that big confusion arises when one uses vocabulary with technical meaning to discuss common-sense issues (such as money, sex, power ...).

In my understanding, ego, attachment, aversion and ignorance, properly used in the context of meditation practices, are technical terms. This means that they intend to refer to very concrete processes of the mind.

In a common-sense context, these terms mean something else. So it is perfectly possible that a meditator has seen beyond the ego, or even gotten rid of the process altogether, technically speaking, but is an egotistical asshole, speaking in common terms.

Having said that, there are specific reasons why sexuality, or apparent lack of a sex life, is associated with mysticism. From what I have been reading about Yoga, it seems that parallel to the massive improvement in concentration usual in all meditation traditions, it is possible to develop the sexual function of the nervous system so that a certain aspect of bodily functioning, usually associated with orgasm, becomes prevalent allover. This is called "radiance" in Yoga, it is described as a feeling of ecstatic conductivity emanating outwards from the spinal chord. Supposedly, the sexual function plays a crucial role in sustaining this condition permanently; depending on one's age, partial or total abstainment from ejaculatory orgasm is required in order to sustain this process. Sex and orgasm can happen, and are sometimes even encouraged, but always without spilling of the seed, i.e., tantric sex. This is why sexual self control (brahmacharya) is mentioned in many world religions.

But, once again, if one does not look at brahmacharya technically, one will make the mistake of thinking that sex is bad. This is similar to when one does not look at attachment technically, one might conclude that one should not be attached to friends and family, in the common-sense meaning of attachment.

Mistaking these two levels of meaning leads not only to confusion regarding spiritual practices, but also renders an inappropriate, lame, bullshit spiritual morality.

RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm
Answer
4/18/10 11:07 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
What I've read is that the ego doesn't actually 'die', but the enlightened person operates without being at all directed by the ego.

In my experience it goes something like this: the sense of ego (or to be more specific: the sense of a self in a big world that identifies with mental and physical phenomena as constituting a separate self) is simply seen through - the phenomena that one identifies with as me or mine is still there but the identification is not (this is what is meant by the breaking of the fetters - fetters are not the phenomena but the habit of identifying with them as a self). So the ego does not die (it never existed) it is just seen to be an illusion.

Once the illusion has collapsed (post 4th path) - what you do or how you act is essentially undefined in conventional terms. Some traditions use terms like god but I think this takes one off on another tangent similar to stating that the ego dies - if you don't have the inside scoop on what that term is actually refering to in a particular tradition. And even then, you can't really know until you experience it for yourself. I think much of the language that we have difficulty with here was simply meant to provide a provisional understanding until one gained deeper insight. These terms need to be updated for a modern society - but whatever replaces them will still be provisional.

Awakening seems to be a mind/body process. Some traditions focus more on mind side aspects where as others put more attention on body side - but you can't mess with one without affecting the other to some extent. I agree with Bruno's assessment of the role of sexual energy and I think this kind of detailed understanding is going to come out more with body side approaches where it plays a more central role - though it may use very different language (for example, I think the breath-energy jhana practice in the suttas (anapanasati) is working with the same process).

Mind-side develops more the insight/emptiness/concentration stuff where as body-side develops qualities like inclusivity/expansivenss/tranquility/compassion.

RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm
Answer
4/18/10 2:41 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
I'm just going to tag a question on the end for anyone that might be able to help. It's to do with extinction of the ego.

Is the ego (and its desire for money, sex, power, status and praise) ever fully trasncended? What I've read is that the ego doesn't actually 'die', but the enlightened person operates without being at all directed by the ego. Instead his actions are directed by Spirit or God because he is in direct communion with It. In this way, an enlightened person is very unlikely to have much sex, and very unlikely to hoard material possessions, but if it's 'God's will' that he behave this way at certain times, then he does. But if he does, his action comes from a totally different place, free from craving and unsatisfactoriness. What would the scholars say about this view?


the majority of my reading of the buddhist texts available is of works in the pali canon and of the more well-known commentaries, and is a selective reading (i am primarily interested in works that have to do with technique and and with descriptions of states of attainment); my reading of hindu works are even more limited. this hardly qualifies me as a scholar, but i have some direct experience of the matter, and while i am not sure of what scholars would say about the statements you put forth or about my reply to them (nor am i particularly interested), here is the latter:

speaking personally, i have no desire for money, sex, power, status or praise - none whatsoever survived the last change in mode of experience i underwent, which i would describe as the total extirpation of any sense of being whatsoever (whether a being that is personal or of the collective unconscious; personal desires as well as primal, instinctually passional drives have vanished completely.

however, i achieved the above through means which i have not found documented anywhere in buddhist or hindu sources (i have only found those means in the actual freedom writings), nor have i anywhere come across a contemporary buddhist or hindu (or otherwise spiritual) practitioner who has afforded me a clear description of their mode of experience as being such continuously and uninterruptedly. the writings i've read and the descriptions from contemporary practitioners i've come across that approximate my experience most closely are the ones that idealise this state; yet, they are not accounts of having lived or professions of living it continuously and uninterruptedly (as they contain admissions of intruding thoughts and feelings which, while only coming and going quickly, and being brief interruptions, are still coming in the first place). the matter of why those interruptions still occur for them but not for me is, i speculate, due to the differences in intent (intent is what drives a practice and determines its methodologies). as chuck said, there is a wide variation in how the development of well-being unfolds, and not a common end.

in further response, i will add that my actions are not directed by Spirit or God and that i am not in direct communion with It - It, or Spirit, or God, went extinct along with the collective unconscious. as far as i can tell (and to borrow a phrase), they, as soul, are, along with the ego, as dead as the dodo. what i experience is only this sensate world, and as such, my actions - as this flesh-and-blood body only - are totally free of craving and unsatisfactoriness, which things don't exist in this world. will (the body's innate intelligence) is what operates here, not drive or desire (either ordinary or sublime). and again, i have not found a similar account in any spiritual writings i've read nor heard descriptions of such from contemporary spiritual practitioners; the ones that do address the topic have claimed, as you wrote, to be in direct communion with Spirit or God. as such, i am not surprised that they claim their desires (for money, sex, power, status and praise, for instance) don't actually die... as the fabric of that communion is the very thing that produces desire.

tarin

RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm
Answer
4/20/10 9:14 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
Thanks everyone. An important point for me to understand properly.

greco, you say you are now directed by your body's innate intelligence. I assume that's the same intelligence that eg. beats your heart, repairs tissues and filters toxins - that sort of intelligence? If so, how does this intelligence manifest in outward actions? How does it direct things like work, relationships, ordinary interpersonal exchanges, leisure/passtimes, etc. How are they different...or do they just feel differently? Is it noticeable to outside observers?

It's hard for me to comprehend someone living without desire. What sort of things does the will will?!! emoticon

Thanks

RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm
Answer
4/27/10 3:31 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
Thanks everyone. An important point for me to understand properly.

greco, you say you are now directed by your body's innate intelligence. I assume that's the same intelligence that eg. beats your heart, repairs tissues and filters toxins - that sort of intelligence?


yes, and it is the same intelligence which, at a higher level (a level involving more complex function), directs thought, reflection, consideration, planning of courses of action, fine motor function (such as typing this)... in short, matters of attention and conscious activity.

C C C:

If so, how does this intelligence manifest in outward actions?


largely by involving itself with practical concerns... which, within the context of my lifestyle, is mostly lounging around enjoying myself in absolutely every task or lack thereof.

C C C:

How does it direct things like work, relationships, ordinary interpersonal exchanges, leisure/passtimes, etc. How are they different...or do they just feel differently? Is it noticeable to outside observers?


work is easy and done without a trace of resentment or impatience, relationships are easy and unmarked by divisive or invidious feelings, leisure is at an all-time high, and pastimes no longer pass the time (no time passes here) but anything i set out to do for entertainment's sake is, well, entertaining (as usual). everything has a sort of lightness and glitter to it now.. making sensory experience perpetually fascinating. i experience an acutesensitivity to the details, the minutiae, of what everyday living as a flesh-and-blood body comprises.. stripped off the feeling of being and of its feelings (its power to fabricate them), there is nothing that interferes with this clarity inherent in being alive.

off the top of my head, i can recall that various observers have commented on me seeming, inter alia, kinder, more courteous/considerate, more sensitive/receptive/empathic (funny that last one, as i actually experience no feelings), more tidy, more indifferent/more uncaring toward them, vastly more communicative of this particular mode of experience (for which i had previously only been striving rather than continuously living), easier to talk to, sharper, etc .. since this change occurred.

C C C:

It's hard for me to comprehend someone living without desire. What sort of things does the will will?!! emoticon


in a few words: beneficial things.

tarin

RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm
Answer
4/27/10 2:17 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
tarin's state matches the sort of idealized model of enlightenment that I really don't believe in anymore.
but, I'm not saying that tarin isn't enlightened or that he isn't in the state he describes.
maybe he is just really unusual and unique?

RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm
Answer
4/27/10 2:50 PM as a reply to Mike Monson.
Mike Monson:
tarin's state matches the sort of idealized model of enlightenment that I really don't believe in anymore.
but, I'm not saying that tarin isn't enlightened or that he isn't in the state he describes.
maybe he is just really unusual and unique?


or maybe he undertook a different practice which hardly anyone else has done?

here is another formulation of that same method.

tarin

RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm
Answer
4/27/10 3:23 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
the prisoner greco:
Mike Monson:
tarin's state matches the sort of idealized model of enlightenment that I really don't believe in anymore.
but, I'm not saying that tarin isn't enlightened or that he isn't in the state he describes.
maybe he is just really unusual and unique?


or maybe he undertook a different practice which hardly anyone else has done?

here is another formulation of that same method.

tarin


still making you highly unusual, right?

RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm
Answer
4/27/10 3:27 PM as a reply to Mike Monson.
Mike Monson:
still making you highly unusual, right?


unusual, though not at all unique; i know of at least half a dozen others who acknowledge having done this.

RE: MIndfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm
Answer
4/27/10 3:52 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
the prisoner greco:
Mike Monson:
still making you highly unusual, right?


unusual, though not at all unique; i know of at least half a dozen others who acknowledge having done this.


To tell you the truth I can't even read that stuff, it's like there is a force field preventing my brain from absorbing it. I need to at least try, though.