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The Isolation of Blowing It

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The Isolation of Blowing It Daniel M. Ingram 7/8/13 9:18 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It John Wilde 7/9/13 1:43 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Fitter Stoke 7/9/13 4:59 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Dream Walker 7/10/13 12:02 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Bruno Loff 7/10/13 7:07 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Daniel M. Ingram 7/10/13 9:51 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Bruno Loff 7/10/13 10:49 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Daniel M. Ingram 7/10/13 5:20 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It J 7/11/13 8:09 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Daniel M. Ingram 7/12/13 12:31 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Robert McLune 7/13/13 11:43 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Colleen Peltomaa 6/21/14 12:30 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Dharmasar 7/30/13 12:30 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Daniel M. Ingram 7/30/13 4:56 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Dharmasar 7/30/13 5:34 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Piers M 7/30/13 11:25 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Daniel M. Ingram 7/31/13 5:22 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Piers M 7/31/13 4:03 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Colleen Peltomaa 6/28/14 7:43 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Eva Nie 6/28/14 8:08 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Jorge Caneda 2/15/15 1:19 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It CJMacie 2/15/15 5:53 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Steph S 2/16/15 9:28 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It CJMacie 2/17/15 8:28 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 2/16/15 8:22 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Stephanie Bryant 11/14/13 8:14 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Dharmasar 11/16/13 4:52 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It triple think 11/16/13 6:41 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Dharmasar 11/16/13 6:54 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It triple think 11/17/13 2:54 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Stephanie Bryant 11/22/13 6:18 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It triple think 11/17/13 5:40 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Stephanie Bryant 11/22/13 6:38 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It triple think 11/25/13 1:47 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It triple think 12/6/13 1:13 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It triple think 12/8/13 2:43 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It triple think 12/11/13 6:27 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It johan christiaan hellemons 12/11/13 3:48 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It triple think 12/15/13 3:05 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It No-Second-Arrow Z 12/16/13 4:52 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It triple think 12/16/13 5:56 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/2/19 1:42 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Laurel Carrington 1/2/19 3:59 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/2/19 4:45 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It J C 1/5/19 3:25 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/5/19 5:51 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It J C 1/9/19 3:16 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/9/19 4:11 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Chris Marti 1/9/19 7:10 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Noah D 1/9/19 9:26 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Andromeda 1/12/19 6:41 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Chris Marti 1/12/19 10:42 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Andromeda 1/12/19 11:36 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Chris Marti 1/12/19 11:55 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Andromeda 1/12/19 4:04 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Chris Marti 1/12/19 4:11 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Anna L 1/12/19 9:02 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Andromeda 1/13/19 6:36 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Andromeda 1/13/19 7:01 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Chris Marti 1/13/19 11:41 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Andromeda 1/13/19 12:17 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Noah D 1/13/19 10:45 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Chris Marti 1/13/19 10:59 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Andromeda 1/13/19 11:21 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It J C 1/14/19 1:03 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/14/19 2:02 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It J C 1/14/19 3:35 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/15/19 2:47 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Andromeda 1/15/19 4:31 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Chris Marti 1/15/19 6:38 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It matthew sexton 1/15/19 11:10 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Anna L 1/15/19 3:44 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Anna L 1/14/19 3:58 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/15/19 2:51 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Andromeda 1/14/19 2:06 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/19/19 7:42 AM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Anna L 1/13/19 6:13 PM
RE: The Isolation of Blowing It Christophe Fournier 1/9/19 11:43 AM
The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
7/8/13 9:18 PM
The known problems with goal-oriented practice are many, and this experiment in the Dharma Overground community, with open disclosure and a culture of labels, stages, states, levels of attainment, and the like, along with a pretty highly skilled group, has created some really good things. People have aimed high, achieved great things, made remarkable discoveries, learned a lot, grown as people and practitioners, and had a great time.

That said, there are some obvious downsides to goal-oriented, high-achievement communities, some of which have become more obvious recently. Here I am specifically thinking about one of the many possible problems, that being something like the following scenario:

A person is all excited about practice.

They practice hard and well, aiming for a very specific goal.

They achieve something that, at that time, really feels like they have done it.

They are not consciously trying to fool themselves or anyone, just honestly feel they have attained to whatever state, stage, realization or transformation.

They make the claim that they have done it.

They receive whatever social benefits and downsides result from having made that claim.

Time passes.

Things begin to show up that clearly are not as well seen as they thought they were, not as transformed as they thought they were, and they begin to feel that they were wrong about what they had done.

Were they totally delusional? Were they bad people? Was it just that, at that time, that really seemed to have been what they thought it was and anyone would have been fooled as they had been? Was it really that they had done that thing at that time, but that thing was not as permanent as they thought it was? Could they have possibly known at the time that it wasn't that thing or that it wouldn't last? These are hard questions to answer, but that is not really the important thing.

Where the real problem comes is the let down, the embarrassment, the strange role reversals they might find themselves in if that attainment transported them into some sort of teacher or authority role, the personal confusion about what is suddenly happening and why, the disappointment that comes when we worked so hard and things didn't work out as they thought they did.

All of that can cause the worst part of it all: isolation. If we find ourselves unwilling to admit to others that we were wrong, or feeling like we are unable to do so, or that we will be ridiculed, blamed or ostracized if we reveal that what we know know to not have been true, then real damage is done, for it is in those times that we most benefit from friends who can help us put it back together, go back to basics, regroup, re-tool or modify our practice, learn, grow, and move on.

Instead, we may find ourselves feeling like outcasts, failures, victims of our own hubris, afraid of being thought of as liars or fools or both. We may disconnect from our fellow dharma companions, communities, teachers, friends, family members, and wander lost and confused, which is something that very few handle that well in the shadow of some feeling of past glory and achievement. That isolation is where the real damage happens.

As one who has gone through lots of cycles over the years that led to lots of plateaus, many of which were quite impressive for some period of time but later faded or reality-tested at a lower level than first impressions seemed to indicate, I can totally sympathize, as I have been there and done that and very well may do it again. It can be very painful and disorienting.

It should be realized that this sort of thing is not only going to happen, it is actually very normal in this open-disclosure world of states, stages, names of levels, and achievement-oriented culture. If we recognize this as a community and can talk about it, then when it happens, which it has and will again, perhaps often, then the members of the community, who are then dealing with all the complexities that these strange phases can cause, won't have to deal so much with the additional stigma of feeling like people think they are freaks, losers, or unwilling or willing charlatans when they face the expected outcome of sometimes totally blowing it and making some claim that didn't turn out to hold up over time.

Thus, I urge each of you, should you run into someone who has this happening to them, to have similar sympathy, to wish that person well, to realize that, if you are in this rarified business long enough, it will likely happen to you also, and, when it does, think about how you would want to be treated and pass that on ahead of time.

So far, we have generally been pretty good with this, actually, and I hope that trend continues. Lots can be learned from these sorts of mistakes, as I personally know from having made many of them. Hopefully, by recognizing this potential shadow-side of gung-ho meditation culture, we will be more prepared to handle it well.

Thanks,

Daniel


RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
7/9/13 1:43 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Great stuff, and well said.

I think, as well as what Daniel has said here about considering the personal feelings of people in this situation, it's very worthwhile looking at the interpersonal aspects too. People don't just suddenly assume a powerful / privileged position relative to others. It's not just something that happens in a person or to person; it's something that happens between people.... and we all play a part in that.

It has often been fascinating to me how a person's words are weighted differently according to what label is applied to their particular way of being human. One day Person X can be deemed an exemplar of Condition Y, and people hang on their every word. Next day, the officialness of the Condition Y label is withdrawn, and suddenly that person's words and experiences, no matter how remarkable or valuable they might be in themselves, are bereft of meaning and status... for better or worse.

It's not (just) something that's happened to them; it's largely something that is happening between us. We all have a role in creating and sustaining these ebbs and flows of esteem, privilege, authority, etc.

This is not to suggest that we're all the same, that there aren't any worthwhile distinctions to be made between people's mode of experience, or that there aren't any degrees of progress along a certain trajectory of development. Clearly there are differences, and it makes a lot of sense in some contexts to be very precise about those differences. But, to my mind, it's always worth remembering that the meaning and value of those differences is as much political as phenomenological... and that tends to get less attention in forums like this one.

Being somewhat acquainted with some of the people Daniel alluded to, I would hate to think that any of them would feel isolated, embarrassed or humiliated as a consequence of having their condition re-interpreted, re-evaluated, re-narratised, either by themselves or by anyone else. These situations are also a good source of insight, and it's a no less important type of insight than, say, insight into the 3Cs or any intra-personal insights one gains from meditation (or other practices). And none of it was entirely their doing.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
7/9/13 4:59 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
This needed to be said.

It's unfortunate it needed to be said - given the stated intent of our culture and community - but it needed to be said.

For what it's worth, a few months back, I said I had gotten 4th path (as defined by our hardcore dharma community). I've concluded since then that I did NOT achieve 4th path. Something quite unique happened, which I described at the time, but I did not lock in that state as my baseline. It dissipated about a month and a half after I achieved it.

I don't feel any shame about this. It's not like I or someone else is harmed by me saying I think I got an attainment I didn't. The reason I didn't bring it up sooner is because I kind of lost interest in this model shortly after my alleged attainment, and that loss of interest wasn't helped by realizing I hadn't in fact gotten the attainment.

Strangely, my teacher - who I no longer work with - still believes I got 4th path. It's quite possible that, by the way she understands 4th path, I got it, but the lack of a standard for these things in the wider hardcore dharma community is something I've complained about in the past, but I've been told more than once and by more than one person that this is not a fruitful avenue of inquiry, discussion, or debate. I would disagree strongly, but like I said, I've kind of lost interest.

I still have a lot of interest in the spiritual path. Since pulling back a little bit from the hardcore dharma frameworks, I've come to appreciate different dimensions of that development. I just don't have the motivation right at this point to lock in "4th path" - or whatever it was I hit and enjoyed this past winter.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
7/10/13 12:02 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
Something quite unique happened, which I described at the time, but I did not lock in that state as my baseline. It dissipated about a month and a half after I achieved it.

Fitter,
If you feel up to it could you start a thread detailing the dissipation phase and how this was different than the last 3 paths?
I have noticed a definite cooling off after 1st and 2nd path moments that lasted about a month each. It was like a bunch of energy was transferred at path time then it faded....has this been discussed before?
Thanks,
~D

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
7/10/13 7:07 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
The worship culture is one of the reasons I really like your "mind training terms" project. A cold, value-less, phenomenological terminology.

The goal-oriented aspect can still survive in that model, since people can have an overall view of what is possible in each category, and work towards progressing to specific, reasonably-well-defined stages within each category. That is much better and richer than having this silly linear model of progress, where people are labeled 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4. Seeing mental training as a collection of skills and brain tweaks, which is all it really is (for me anyway), is much more reasonable than seeing it as this stupid sort-of "ascension into sainthood".

What happened with that project, anyway? I can't find the web address for it.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
7/10/13 9:51 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
What happened to Mind training terms was a combination of lack of outside interest, the pull of other projects, and the further invasion of my work life into my dharma life. However, I made a few connections at the Contemplative Development Mapping Project a month or two back and may be able to convert that into its resurrection, perhaps in a month or two.

Buddhist Geeks might give me the impetus to really try to get that going like I dreamed it would.

Daniel

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
7/10/13 10:49 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I would be interested in having a wiki version here at the DhO that any member could edit. I do see value in having it done in some sort of inter-university/meditation center/whatever collaboration, but as long as that doesn't happen, we might as well have a low-maintenance wiki page laying out these things (with no warranties and limited accountability). I see no better place for it than the DhO.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
7/10/13 5:20 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
So true. In fact, I have been working on that for nearly two years now.

Four developers have not been able to do it for reasonable costs (one couldn't do it at all, two were kind volunteers who later had other commitments take that offered time away (which is understandable, and their offer to try was very much appreciated), and one of which came up with a solution that would have cost about $6000 or more.

I have found a developer who will try it for $2000, and we are working on that now. Hopefully, the upgrade to a better server platform (Epsilon), will also help with that. When we get to Liferay 6.1, it apparently has workflow controls that will allow the wiki to be open widely and yet let changes be approved so nobody can get in and trash the place out, so that hopefully will be soon.

It has been a long time coming. I promise I have spent many hours and a lot of thought on how to get this done. Standard Liferay upgrade pathways totally failed, and then it got complicated.

Anyway, we may finally be close.

Daniel

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
7/11/13 8:09 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
"and why claim an attainment anyway?"

If the models are a reasonable reflection of human experience, then the reason to claim attainment is to receive feedback on potential areas to focus on in the next phase.

Also, if a person is willing to put themselves out there and others poke holes in their claims, then hopefully some learning will come from the interaction.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
7/12/13 12:31 AM as a reply to J.
nice!

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
7/13/13 11:43 AM as a reply to J.
Justin Chapweske:
"and why claim an attainment anyway?"

... to claim attainment is to receive feedback on potential areas to focus on in the next phase.

Makes sense. But I think, given our "western", especially North American, culture, the word "claim" may be causing issues for some. Actually, so might "attainment". In general, "claim an attainment" really just means "check[1] my progress", no?

The point is that "claim an attainment" can conjure up a picture of Gollum on the edge of the Orodruin crater, raising up The One Ring after biting it off Frodo's finger, and screaming exultantly, "We Has The Precious!", and I think that's not exactly what we're after here.
emoticon

R

[1] Or maybe "confirm" or "validate" would be better words, given the alternate sense of the word "check", namely "stop".

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
concentration cycling buddist meditation calmness community buddha daniel ingram maturity metta sayadaw
Answer
7/30/13 12:30 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:

All of that can cause the worst part of it all: isolation. If we find ourselves unwilling to admit to others that we were wrong, or feeling like we are unable to do so, or that we will be ridiculed, blamed or ostracized if we reveal that what we know know to not have been true, then real damage is done, for it is in those times that we most benefit from friends who can help us put it back together, go back to basics, regroup, re-tool or modify our practice, learn, grow, and move on.

Instead, we may find ourselves feeling like outcasts, failures, victims of our own hubris, afraid of being thought of as liars or fools or both. We may disconnect from our fellow dharma companions, communities, teachers, friends, family members, and wander lost and confused, which is something that very few handle that well in the shadow of some feeling of past glory and achievement. That isolation is where the real damage happens.


Hello All,

After happening upon this forum and Daniel's site, I read through MCTB once to get some background. I like Daniel's flexibility and openness to the real experiences of contemporary spiritual life, rather than trying to fit everything into some ancient pattern. I have been looking around this forum, trying to get a sense of the community and where I can begin to interact. I didn't see an Introductions section, so I picked this post to respond to, since the quote above pretty much describes my story.

I am an older guy with roots in the 60s West Coast spiritual culture. Having been through many different schools, processes and models of spiritual growth, I finally settled on the Theravāda Buddhist practice and approach. After traveling to various retreat centers in Thailand and Sri Lanka for some time, I now live as an Upāsaka in a small Sri Lankan monastery of the Sayādaw lineage—only four monks, and three of them are kids. We're way up in the mountains, most days looking down on the clouds. Nobody but myself meditates.

I'm here because the chief monk is a younger ambitious guy with vision who wants to develop the place into a retreat center. We have become good friends. I'm OK with all of this, especially since my monk friend totally understands that I am not into the religious aspects of Buddhism and just want a safe place to meditate. I'm retired and have no plans to return to the West—in fact I find Westerners, even the meditators I run into here, to be rather unpalatable compared with the upcountry locals here.

Historically, in almost every spiritual group or model I have participated in, I was the guy on the fringe with all kinds of other interests. From my point of view, the communities were too sectarian, narrow and limited. Nevertheless, to participate I had to stay in the closet about my broad interests.

For a long time I was a student of classical bhakti-yoga. I lived in India on and off for many years. In between I studied all kinds of other stuff, including Tantra, Taoism and of course Buddhism. Eventually I became viewed as a senior disciple of my guru and became a teacher. I wrote books, attracted students and created a community with an ashram in India.

I still maintained my broad interests and tried my best to get my students to see the value of these other traditions and practices. However, they were turning out like Hindu fundamentalists. The whole situation became very unpleasant, so I resigned from guru and dissolved the community. I wanted space and time to try to understand what went wrong and explore other possibilities. My ex-students became very bitter and created lots of trouble, which led to complete disconnection from my previous spiritual community.

Thankfully, one of the more open-minded students remained supportive, and we became partners in a deep investigation of what went wrong. We began with leadership studies, and I learned that attaining some spiritual insight or realization does not automatically qualify or make one a great teacher or leader. They are completely different areas of skill and expertise. I began to see that both teaching and leadership involve being and becoming. That led to a review of the Theravāda teachings, and well, here we are.

Over the years I had countless spiritual experiences, awakenings and realizations. Then afterwards things became much as they were before, with some subtle differences that add up over time. After reading MCTB I can see that these were part of cycles, as described in the book. Daniel's model opened up a lot of insights for me, although I would be wary of applying any model too obsessively.

In fact a big part of the confusion surrounding spiritual life and advancement seems to be the notion that it has to conform to some model at all. As times change, society's values shape our experience in various ways. For example, my experience in traditional communities in India suggests that celibacy is just not that big a deal to people raised in the old ways. For Westerners, however, it's a huge issue. It's probably unreasonable to expect most Westerners to be celibate without becoming neurotic.

If we assume that people start out in spiritual life with a sincere desire to attain enlightenment, then the problems start when they adopt an inadequate model: one that is either too restrictive or too inflexible, or that is based on obsolete or inapplicable cultural norms. My own isolation is certainly due to the lack of an adequate model that, in software terminology, handles degradation gracefully. In other words, when unexpected things happen, most systems or models can't deal with it and break down.

Any system of stages or states is only a map, and cannot describe or predict everything that will happen. On the other hand, it's far better to have a map than be without one. Daniel's map is the best and most flexible so far, yet there are still discussions on this forum that show that it doesn't work for everyone. I think it's enough to know that everything, including most spiritual realizations and breakthroughs, is impermanent and that spiritual growth is a spiral rather than a linear progression.

Also, the Buddha's path is not so much a matter of 'getting' things as losing them; not so much a matter of 'achieving' things as letting go; not so much about doing things as allowing doing to come to an end. This mood does not fit very easily into Western goal-oriented models of achievement. I'm not sure I understand it myself, but as I relax more and more into Buddhist practice and culture, I'm getting a feel for all these things.

At the moment I am rather isolated, but that's OK. My ex-student has gone back to his home country and I spend most of my time in splendid silence and seclusion. I'm building a stone hut, and plan to get ordained and stay here the rest of my life. Still it would be helpful to have a community of like-minded folks to share and discuss with.

As far as my practice, I don't follow any particular method, but regular sitting and concentration, and deal with whatever shows up. I have my gung-ho moments, but in general I'm quite content to sit and enjoy whatever I am. Sure, I have good and bad days like everybody else; but in general, since taking up more or less regular meditation practice, my level of suffering is maybe 10% of what it was.

Gradually I have let go of the desire to be a teacher, writer or 'authority', as I have both seen and experienced that without extraordinary leadership ability, that is only a thorny thicket of troubles. I am a conservatory-trained composer, and used to be a music producer and recording artist. I have let that go too, because of lack of interest. The same goes with most relationships.

I don't think I'm fooling myself, but rather have really seen through the illusion to the stark reality of the unsatisfactoriness of the things most people, even most spiritually-oriented people, think are necessary. I could still go back to the west, pick up my musical career, engage in relationships and so forth, but why bother? I don't see this loss of interest as a bad thing, but as a natural consequence of giving up 'I'-making and 'mine'-making.

Nor do I see much point in 'trying' to 'achieve' enlightenment. The progress I have made since understanding the process of the Buddha has been more than satisfactory. I feel confident that if I continue doing the process, the opening that leads to enlightenment will become obvious.

One thing I find curiously missing from MCTB and this site is discussion of mettā and its role creating the karma for enlightenment. But maybe that's a subject for a separate post. I'm happy to have found this community and look forward to some interesting and helpful exchanges.

with mettā,
Buddha-vaṃsa

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
7/30/13 4:56 AM as a reply to Dharmasar.
Thanks for your post and story.

Regarding metta, you are right, it doesn't get discussed much here.

Coincidentally, I am in a bit of a powersy phase at the moment (one of many that have arisen and vanished), and that often leads to more metta practice, as it seems one of the safest and most fundamental uses of that frame of mind, and so have been doing more it in the last month or so and found it helpful.

Glad you found this place. There are other sister websites that are also interesting and help augment what happens here: see the links page.

Regarding metta, it sounds like you have some thoughts on it. What are they?

Daniel

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
7/30/13 5:34 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:

Regarding metta, it sounds like you have some thoughts on it. What are they?
Daniel


Daniel,

Thanks for the warm welcome. Briefly (just taking a break from practice), I have found the practice of mettā invaluable when there is any disturbance of the mind due to fear, anger or other negative emotions. For example, when waking up after a bad dream or if the mind gets disturbed due to the unsatisfactoriness of ordinary things.

Another subject rarely discussed around here is karma (Pāli: kamma). Enlightenment (or anything else) occurs when the karma for it is mature. There are things we can do to create that karma, and in my experience, one of the most helpful and powerful is practicing mettā.

Strangely, it doesn't seem to matter if you really feel that you want all beings to be safe and happy, or whatever form your mettā practice takes. It seems to be enough to fabricate the determination/intention, even if it's not so deeply heartfelt or sincere as we might like it to be. I have got very good results with even small amounts of this practice, and encourage others to try it and report.

with mettā,
Buddha-vaṃsa

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
7/30/13 11:25 AM as a reply to Dharmasar.
Thanks for the post.

Upāsaka Buddha Vaṃsa:

Another subject rarely discussed around here is karma (Pāli: kamma). Enlightenment (or anything else) occurs when the karma for it is mature. There are things we can do to create that karma, and in my experience, one of the most helpful and powerful is practicing mettā.


I think it's an important point. I don't think you can't just "power your way through" to enlightenment. Sure, effort, determination and all that is needed.
If the Paramis are not developed enough, despite trying hard, can you reach a fruition moment? I honestly don't know.

Upāsaka Buddha Vaṃsa:
Strangely, it doesn't seem to matter if you really feel that you want all beings to be safe and happy, or whatever form your mettā practice takes. It seems to be enough to fabricate the determination/intention, even if it's not so deeply heartfelt or sincere as we might like it to be. I have got very good results with even small amounts of this practice, and encourage others to try it and report.


I'm really glad you said this because I've had a lot of difficulties in practicing metta meditation. To illustrate, it's often taken the form of "thinking nice thoughts" ie "May all beings be happy" or "May I be happy" or some particular individual. But I've often thought that it's not REAL METTA. It's just fabricated. I'm trying to cultivate a wholesome state, but I don't really FEEL it strongly enough. I've often felt it a bit easier when I'm just doing it in amongst ordinary activities like walking down the street or sitting on the bus, rather than when I'm dryly sitting on the cushion.

I'm some way off what Ajahn Brahm recounts in his book Mindfulness, Bliss, And Beyond : Many years ago in my monastery in Perth, we were chanting the Buddha's verses for spreading loving-kindness. The chant lasts only five minutes. I had been meditating deeply beforehand, and when we began chanting my mind engaged with metta so completely that I was unable to continue with the chanting. Boundless metta was pouring out of me in a torrrent in all directions, and I became happily immersed there. I never did complete those verses. My mind had been made so soft and pliant by my earlier meditations that the Buddha's original words on how to spread loving-kindness triggered an irrepressible outpouring of metta.

However, I like to think that what I am doing does still have some value and is worth it in some way.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
7/31/13 5:22 AM as a reply to Piers M.
Check out Sharon Salzberg's Lovingkindness, the Revolutionary Art of Happiness, for examples of really light, non-jhanic, ultra low-end metta practice that still produced good effects anyway.

While I am not particularly a Salzberg fan for complex historical and paradigmatic reasons, the book is a good read.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
7/31/13 4:03 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Thanks. I'll check it out.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
11/14/13 8:14 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
What if you just really don't know whats going on? In american society its very easy to get labeled as a nut job for seeing real reality for what it is. For a person who has just woken up t this it's terrifying.I was an atheist! Isnt this what the thread for attainment is for? to keep us in check when we feel weve reached something? Im really asking here. I dont have a guru and live in a part of the country that conisders buddhists christians, well anyone religious, to be a deluded nutcase.I can verify my conclusions by reading old buddhist texts, but the collective doubt is still there. I cant get a real answer, or question even addressed. it sucks. I have no Sangha and know no buddhists other than myself, and I think there are alot of people experiencing this.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
11/16/13 4:52 AM as a reply to Stephanie Bryant.
Looking back, and almost every time I contact Americans these days, American culture is so heavy and aggressive. If you're not a predator, ready to show tooth and claw, they will chew you up and spit you out. There is no Buddhist gift culture; even Buddhist teachers charge for their services.

In that context to develop soft heart, to have mettā is dangerous. You are an outsider, a threat because your softness reveals how much pain everyone else is in. You cannot be tolerated, they will pile on you and run you out of town on a rail, tarred and feathered. Give the dog a bad name and shoot it.

Especially since moving to Sri Lanka and going very deep in meditation over Rains, and getting ordained, it has become almost impossible to communicate with Americans. Now, I am not a typical product of the American factory schooling system; I realized in the 4th grade that it was a social control mechanism, and fought tooth and nail to keep my individuality. I was a professional technical writer, contracting with major corporations for over 20 years. So I do know what words mean and how to articulate my thoughts.

Nevertheless whenever I try to communicate with Americans, even American Buddhists, there is a complete misunderstanding. They cannot get my points and an argument inevitably ensues, in which I get beat up by the majority for, apparently, contradicting their beliefs or something.

I am about to give up on them. I am getting so comfortable in the Sri Lanka forest tradition, I really don't want to leave here or talk to people outside this reality who always get it wrong. The Suttas tell it like it is; there's no need to fudge the Dhamma, it's as clear as the sun. Apparently the Americans don't agree. Too bad, they can have their compromised Buddhism; I'll stick with the real thing.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
11/16/13 6:41 PM as a reply to Dharmasar.
You Go Thero! Don't look back. If you honestly do owe anyone anything they will find you eventually and they will compel you pay up. Otherwise, run, hide, and watchfully care, for real.

-triplethink, still running, still hiding, occasionally still caring, maybe...

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
11/16/13 6:54 PM as a reply to triple think.
triple think:
If you honestly do owe anyone anything they will find you eventually and they will compel you pay up.


Nope, don't owe a thing to anyone. Not a cent, nor any karmic debts either. When I walked away from my old life, the cord was cut completely. On both sides. Now nobody cares, and I am free. Freeeeeee!

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
11/17/13 2:54 AM as a reply to Dharmasar.
Ven. Nyanasara Thero:
triple think:
If you honestly do owe anyone anything they will find you eventually and they will compel you pay up.


Nope, don't owe a thing to anyone. Not a cent, nor any karmic debts either. When I walked away from my old life, the cord was cut completely. On both sides. Now nobody cares, and I am free. Freeeeeee!


Sweet. Sounds set to readily become sweeter. All the best in it. I also find the quality of metta carefully considered and skillfully developed to be of considerable importance and benefit to cultivate. Many people in the west, maybe everywhere, I don't know, do not appear to recognize or understand how their genuine and applied concern for everyone and everything will in due course in itself prove to be most particularly beneficial primarily for themselves. There is a widespread cultural misconception about or fixation with how concern is of benefit when one is somehow the object of the concern. This is possibly so to a limited extent but it pales in comparison to the extensive benefits of developing appropriate concerns for everyone and everything. It makes no difference if we never meet. I recognize that you are doing your very best in regards to all of our best interests. I share similar concerns and I thank you.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
11/17/13 5:40 AM as a reply to Stephanie Bryant.
Stephanie l Bryant:
What if you just really don't know whats going on? In american society its very easy to get labeled as a nut job for seeing real reality for what it is. For a person who has just woken up t this it's terrifying.I was an atheist! Isnt this what the thread for attainment is for? to keep us in check when we feel weve reached something? Im really asking here. I dont have a guru and live in a part of the country that conisders buddhists christians, well anyone religious, to be a deluded nutcase.I can verify my conclusions by reading old buddhist texts, but the collective doubt is still there. I cant get a real answer, or question even addressed. it sucks. I have no Sangha and know no buddhists other than myself, and I think there are alot of people experiencing this.


I don't quite think so. Think about it some more. You can become aware of whatever, lets say all of a sudden your awareness expands to almighty Godlike and omniscient proportions. No one is going to label you as anything if you can keep this or that development to yourself. You will discover that faithfully keeping your own council is very hard for anyone else to mess with in any way. People get labeled a nut for making nut like statements or acting in nut like manners. You can be completely out of your mind crazy nuts, smile and wave, nod appropriately, and no one would ever have the slightest clue that you have completely lost it. Good to consider this about people in general too, what may be that you do not know about at all.

So that is good to know about, about how and why silence is golden, for the one who rightly regards, respects and treasures it. No matter how any of it may go otherwise, smooth or crunchy, you will benefit from regularly considering this about silence.

I think I can recognize at times in my life very comparable strong anxieties and agitations as these you appear to be expressing here if I've understood you correctly. I can offer some perspective on contending with these kinds of concerns in the immediate and over the longer term if you or anyone else is in pursuit of employable perspectives that will assist in moving these concerns along into a potentially less anxious and or agitating perspective.

I get that sometimes one unexpectedly observes some phenomenon or has an unexpected realization or a powerful mode of understanding of some kind may have formed and this may be profoundly revolutionary for one's perceptions and or one's conceptions and this may have broad implications for their lives ongoing. For better and or for worse, this may be so. Changes like this may appear to be exhilarating or liberating in some senses and yet may at the same time appear devastating or confining in other senses.

One may have the sense that in important respects one is entirely alone in this experience or in this observation or in this realization or in some new found knowledge or understanding. Consider well how this sense of how and why one is alone in whatever respects is not a valueless observation. That strong sense of perhaps having been opened up somehow and alienated somehow at the same time is an important indicator of some discernible qualities you are sensing or maybe that you are becoming more broadly genuinely aware of. These are qualities that perhaps are pressing on your awareness for additional attention. Due to some conditions and qualities of this or that sort that it would very likely also be useful to investigate these perceptions which are pressing to become known to you. If they are pushing or pulling, then allow these qualities or conditions to more completely reveal themselves until this inflow of whatever it is relaxes from the other side of its wherever that is also.

Very likely any newly found perceptions are not the scary monsters they may have initially appeared to be in the half light of the earlier stages of one's considerations, perhaps in the full light of day of a longer term more complete and comprehensive consideration these same forms are comically funny looking. Powerfully impressive or unnerving perceptions are very likely in important and meaningful ways accurate and useful perceptions of some kind which when placed into perspective in a fuller understanding prove highly valuable. You, I, we are each of us demonstrably and effectively alone in a range of important ways that we might apply to a more comprehensive consideration of any perceptions of aloneness. This is not a type of perception that is insignificant or unimportant. It is a sensibility that is worthy of a lot of careful investigation and consideration. I have found it particularly valuable to strive to be honest and frank within my own mind about this quality that is perceived as a separateness, aloneness, solitude or isolation, and valuable to consider the perceptible extents of and the perceptible limits of this type of a perceived quality.

So do not give any support to any despair about how all of this may appear or how anything like this may continue to appear. Please! It will not be of benefit to cultivate any of the anxiety, agitation or despair about how or in what important senses one might be alone or sense that one is separate or in some type of relative solitude or isolation. I recognize that anxiety, agitation and despair can arise about the qualities of solitude and separation.

However given sufficient consideration one will predominantly find that the related anxieties in this case will prove unfounded. Further, fortunately, were these qualities of solitude and separation not arranged in relation to other qualities in these ways that these are, and if the qualities could only be arranged otherwise instead, that if it were all only otherwise then it would be a far far less desirable set of conditions facing all of us. In time when one can manage to get this all more fully into perspective one will be much more relieved about the structures and functions of it all then one may be anxious about any of this now owing to the facts that it is like it is and not otherwise.

If an awareness of a quality of separate-ness, different-ness or alone-ness or solitude or isolation or anything similar begins to feel oppressive take a slower measured breath and relax into it and allow the truth of what this is and what it is not reveal more of itself. The sensation of being alone or something similar is signaling some kinds of insights important for your understanding and some sort of resistance to that understanding changing some more is likely producing anxiety and agitation.

Cognizance of differences, aloneness, isolation or solitude are a profoundly valuable kinds of perceptions. Most useful when skillfully employed within suitable conditions and yet cognizance of the same quality can produce serious dysfunction and distress when it is mishandled or misapplied within unsuitable conditions. Our sense of qualities of separateness in many senses is as fortunate as in many other senses it is perhaps as unfortunate.

Where you write "What if…and I think there are a lot of people experiencing this." I read in this that you are encountering what is for you a new sense of stuff or new understandings of all kinds of stuff or something like this lately. Maybe kind of all of a sudden and unexpectedly. I sense your cognizance of some noteworthy qualities of what I take to be newly encountered qualities of isolation together with something seemingly expansive. It sounds, appropriately, as it likely would be initially, in some ways highly frustrating. I sense a varied range of responses to these emerging perceptions and newly emerging and accompanying uncertainties, perhaps some new found certainties and entirely new considerations. Some overly energetic concern that has become uncomfortable maybe? Am I close?

I'm suggesting, relax somewhat, at least until the focus on seriously relaxing somehow in some real ways is effectively providing you some genuine relief. I am confident all of this pressing concern can and will resolve itself into some more acceptable forms if you allow this the time it will require to sort itself out. There are significant advantages to how and why there is any sense of separation or of aloneness or of solitude. I suspect, in due course you may come to appreciate aspects of the appearance of this aloneness much more than you maybe are lately. The quality of aloneness also has aspects which can be upsetting and in which there are persistent and serious disadvantages for us. I consider these relatively less significant than the advantages but no less worthy of appropriate concern. If this is either appropriate or if I have entirely misread you but something like this is really bugging you we can commiserate and thrash it out some together in my triplethunk thread or some other suitable thread of your devising or choosing. I've extended my olive branches to the curious at the thunk thread but these anxieties and concerns of yours sound more like some worthwhile stuff to explore with you if you would like to do so in that thread at some point or elsewhere. Your concern seems somewhat tangential to the expressed purpose of this thread as far as that might be a concern for you or I or anyone else.

until whenever then
-triplethink

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
11/22/13 6:18 AM as a reply to Dharmasar.
Thanks. Don't give up on all of us! He he, it's hard to be modest and live without a wall in this country, you are 100% correct. I suppose I am more worried about my family, but just got to do what we feel is correct right? I agree also about not wanting to compromise to my own comfort when it comes to Buddhism. Thank you! emoticon _/\_emoticon

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
11/22/13 6:38 AM as a reply to triple think.
Thank you so much for that Valuable insight. You've hit the nail on the head. Overthinking and over analyzing. Your response was beautifully put together and well understood. Thank you for understanding where I am coming from. You've hit the nail on the head. I'd also like to thank you for addressing me considerately and respectfully, as well as addressing the issue. Again thank you. _/\_
emoticon

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
11/25/13 1:47 AM as a reply to Stephanie Bryant.
Extracted from:
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/78218

Author: xsurf

Just a side note.. Daniel seems to describe the experience of 'I AM' as being a jhana beyond the 8 jhanas, but prior to nirodha samapatti:

http://web.mac.com/danielmingram/iWeb/Daniel%20Ingram%27s%20Dharma%20Blog/The%20Blook/2CECD5EA-6058-4428-8DDD-002856C2E28A.html

There is also a state somewhere in that territory that seems basically like pure presence, like being a super-pervading Watcher, with the quality of perceiving or awareness itself being the dominant quality. This has a very different quality from the 6th jhana Boundless Consciousness, and in my opinion is far superior, more fundamental, and could be argued as the highest of the states that involve experience. However, the fact that states that are so clear to me continue to show up that were never described in the old texts so far as I can tell brings up another important point: the territory out there past the fourth jhana and particularly the eighth jhana is very malleable.

Author: marigpa

I guess it depends on what you mean by a 'dzogchen novice'.

I have heard it stated that anyone who receives dzogchen teachings, to all intents and purposes for the first time in their life, has had a prior connection with the dzogchen teaching. This of course presupposes previous lives. On this basis, it is possible that a seeming 'first-timer' may have quite a high capacity for understanding / knowing the state of dzogchen.

Another person may have a lower capacity for being/remaining in this knowledge, or may have obstacles to maintaining this understanding for more than a few moments at a time. Nevertheless, according to the dzogchen teaching at least, dzogchen is the true nature/condition of all sentient beings, and called "the state of total completedness" and "the self-perfected state" because it naturally 'posseses' non-duality and emptiness, among other things, "wearing them like ornaments" ... in other words, if a person even of lower capacity were to find themselves in the state of guru yoga which is synonymous with the state of dzogchen, for just a few moments, and a thought were to arise in that time period, this thought would spontaneously self-liberate. My point being that such a person wouldn't have needed to have already had deep insights into non-duality and emptiness from prior practice / experience ... they are already part of that person's 'real condition'.


I'm beginning to wonder if this (if it's not already) is getting off-topic. Apologies if so.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
12/6/13 1:13 AM as a reply to triple think.
I have done my best in the 200 odd threads I have been involved in to make 0 claims.

However I am... very strange.

If forced to make a claim...

It would likely be an estimate only. Any attempt to pin that down will or will not proceed, dependent upon conditions, in the tripleops thread. It is very difficult to estimate the sentiments of others at a great remove from 'oneself' so to speak.

In the interests of maintaining the peace and the order and all of the other benefits of DhO for all participants I currently am of the view that I may well be concluding my active participation here for an unknown length of time, possibly many years, very soon again. All I have of consequence to offer the community is already posted. I could edit for errors to an extent but I am also of the thinking that it is as well to let whatever record of my efforts here exists at the moment, stand, as is.

I have other concerns as well.

So still no claims whatsoever based on the classical theravada approach and surrounding culture, in my view, should or could be made.

Based on the developmental models in vogue here at the DhO I think/feel my response would have to vary dependent on the nature of the enquiry.

I think/feel there are multiple sufficient basis, given these kinds of existing models, for anyone to mistake other phenomena of many kinds for something else, such as 'attainments'.

Given these general provisions among others this seems the most appropriate place to make a closing statement about 'Claims' and 'attainments'.

Based on all I have read here one might easily regard me as anything from 1234 DhO-etc. via these models.

I think there has been more than enough evidence presented for extensive Iddhi and other phenomena in my case that further adds to the difficulties of any clear assessment.

Given all of this many may conclude, no, he is an Iddhi - 0t.

So, in conclusion consider me a concerned 0, concerned enough to attempt viewing all of this in the ways that a 3 or a 4 would.

I do not even know how I would assess any of this tomorrow or in the future. So, in the last few days I fully intend to participate and remain here feel free to make your open assessments, be these 0-4 and simply be and behave towards me as you feel is merited as you see this and as you would like me to interpret it.

If all goes well I plan to simply look in from time to time, ongoing.

If it appears as if the tolerance of the community is stressed, I will go forth, and wander on elsewhere and if this is clear enough by Sunday, then my insight into the notion that my presence would be most useful for a period of about three weeks will have proven largely correct and I will simply bow out for the most part.

This experience for my part has been, so far, fun and interesting, and about what I expected it would be like,

thank you to you all for your tolerance and patience,

and I wish you all ongoing well being and success in your various purposes for participating here and in life in general.

nathan / triplethink

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
12/8/13 2:43 AM as a reply to triple think.
Ok then everyone,

that is "blowing it" for me, if you will,

love it hate it, this is three times the posts I added five years ago.

I am logging off now. Enjoy it. Hate it. I honestly do not care.

It's Christmas 2013, after the end of the world.

I am going to have a Dhamma Good Time.

I will be back in about a week to see where the chips have fallen.

see ya

- triplethink

__________________________________________________________
The below index and Rant posted to SOME of the active triplethink threads as of the above posted date:

(I'm not going to bump em all up.)

Triplethink:
- for the moment, here is a supplementary index to triplethink threads throughout the DhO.
This list will be amended to the first post of any and all active triplethink initiated threads.

threads about triplethink

triplethunk: ask triplethink

tripleops - methodology

tripleplay

tripleslam - Welcome to the Arena

triplethink initiated threads

? = Atman ><?> Zoo Station<? = .Camp Concentration =>


KAMMA SURFER SUTTA - How to work to 0 - Outflow and Inflow

Inclining towards = VOID LOGOS => VOID STATION => the Deathless

Universal Scalar Bubble Nesting

SIT Tank - Tank Time - Tank Talk - Tank Tips

DOB - Dhamma Oceanic Bestiary

See Also:

Karmic view of war

______________________________________________________________________________________

A note about the ever slower-ness of computers and computer networks


It is a shame, but computers just get dumber. I could see it coming as the stuff got rolling but I have to admit I was disappointed at first.

I don't know if anyone else is old enough to remember this, but there was a time when transistors were "new" and we used tubes to do what transistors do now.

Anyways I was already into electronics (in grade 5, age 10) when the first silicon chip became available ( the 555 timer chip ).

I don't remember what I paid for it at radio shack but I had a bag full and I well understand what this technology is and is not.

I remember holding it in my hand at the time, kid that I was, bag full of marvel comics in the other hand ( circa. 1973 ) and I could "see it", see it all, all of this, that IS, right now. The 52 inch plasma screen that I am watching a re-run of an old SNL
Christmas Special on right now, the Mac Book Pro, the digital audio playing "George Winston's - December", the remote controls, the whole ninety-nine yards. I could see way back then, in an instant, what digital tech was/is capable of, and also I could just as easily see what it was/is not capable of. The net, the tech, all of it, right down to the laser temperature meter, all OBVIOUS.

It has it's uses, many uses, but it is not capable of bringing any human being even a hairs width closer to AWAKENING TO THEIR OWN NATURE.

Just saying, it does nothing for that. Not a thing.

AWAKENING
IS
A RETURN TO YOUR SENSES
AND
A RETURN TO SENSIBILITY

I highly recommend it, almost urge people to do it, but I won't ever push or insist or compel anyone to do or think or feel or imagine ANYTHING.

Right now I have state of the art computers. I have a direct Fibre Optic Line into the backbone of the Net.

My Computer has NEVER BEEN SLOWER.

Take note of this, it is worth knowing.

OK, RANT COMPLETED resume normal life...........

- triplethink

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
12/11/13 6:27 AM as a reply to triple think.
This seems to best place to add an important note about the difference(s) between my approach to Dharma/Dhamma and the approach adopted by Daniel in the first edition of his book and thus far here at the DhO.

Daniel has presented his own Model or System for the evaluation of Truth or Dharma and how he relates to this which he refers to when he refers to his personal progress with regards to the Truth. I have no quarrel with this kind of approach by him or others and so far as he or others considers themselves to be arahata in relation to these truths in these ways I have no quarrel with any others either.

I have no such finished or completed 'Models' of my own which I am keen to present even though I happily play with all sorts of 'models' and appreciate much about such approaches. For the most part I prefer to make reference to long established systems of thought as these are relatively stable in relation to more contemporary thought. So for the most part I prefer to refer the the system of thought now often known as Theravada Buddhism or which I prefer to regard simply as BuddhaDhamma or the Truth of the Awakened One.

So in reference to Daniel's approach I have no idea where I would fit in his scheme of things or how I might be thereby regarded. In relation to the BuddhaDhamma I likewise have no certainties as to where I stand. I may be a simple worldling, like any other or I may have made some considerable progress on the path.

In any case I have long felt/thought that making claims is of relatively little importance in relation to moving along with the pathwork and the encouragement of open dialog and discourse.

It is in relation to the advancement of the pathwork and the encouragement of ever more open dialog and discourse that I fully support Daniel's efforts here and fully encourage him to continue with his courageous and healing work here at the DhO.

Mudita HolyDays One and All

triplethink///nathan

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
12/11/13 3:48 PM as a reply to triple think.
Hi,
The bemoan golem included a link to this forum in one of it's posts on the yahoo mailing list,
where the practice of AF is being evaluated/discussed /elaborated upon also.
When reading the thread that the link lead to, I was twigged to subscribe to this forum,
I yet have taken ample time before it felt to be the right time to join this conversation and to get comfortable enough to actually write a few lines.
It was particularly the response of tripple think to the bemoan golem, that
made me think an re-reconsider, what I have been experiencing while reading and at times writing on
the yahoo AF-list.
Aloneness can be a blessing as we'll as it can be a curse.
It is a curse when it becomes isolation, it is blessing when it becomes a realization that there is nothing unique
or even special about it.
So..
my main motivation to join this forum is to feed the fire that is needed to burn all the bs that is in the way of discovering perpetuating and enhancing this kind of aloneness.

I find myself ad ods with the AF-paradigm.
Reality is a thin veneer overlaying the actual world.
The parasitical entity that dwells in the socalled flesh blood body is causing the production
production/generation of this thin veneer.
The feeling being, which causes the sense of being anything at all,
morphs into a grandiose entity (me as the soul) which alledgedly happens during an ASC.
As it is now I think the above is nothing but a theory based on a personal experience of Richard.
I once saw very clearly in an acid trip that god, Buddha, death and even my body
were just concepts created by my brain which in its turn also was again a concept.
This led to the insight that took a long time to realy get rooted in my daily experience.
Only recently I find myself able to word it.

Any process can be considered as a more or less complex rearrangement of matter in space.
Space (from a dulalistic matter vs space viewpoint) must be the prerequisite for the facilitation of any motion.
Therefor mind can be regarded as essentially a movement in space.
That is if one considers consciousness as derivative of a material process.

There is also another way of looking at this.
Space and matter are in principle the same iow matter is a modification of space.
What we 'perceive' as motion is instantaneous transmission of information.
Possibly this information consists of data that is read as parameters for density and structure.
In short each information pattern is somehow embedded /kept/stored in the OPMOE(the omnipresent matrix of existence.
In this case mind refers to the the motion in and of the OPMOE.

So...
Life from a macro or micro perspective is essentially a process that is rooted in something that cannot possibly be
directly experienced........
ultimately it is through inference only that I can understand the limitation of any
activity of the brain (since the brain itself is an information pattern)
be that as perception, thinking or feeling what that something is.
Yet it is understood that that something is real.

It is IMO a mystery that one helplessly will have to accept;it is also
the very core of ones aloneness.
This understanding can and will only only lead to a sense of humility,
This kind of humility is not some sort of pride cleverly disguised nor is its the arrogance of
knowing better then x, y aso. does.
I have also no problem to refer to that something as God.
If that makes me a spiritualist then so be it....
Thanks for taking the time to read and
Metta for what ever it is worth.
;)
Johan

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
12/15/13 3:05 AM as a reply to triple think.
Another note about 'self' 'mastery'.

I was reflecting on the elusive nature of 'control' in relation to the progress of insights, the development of self knowledge, the perfections of wisdom and of understanding and the ultimate hope for the liberation of a percipience from it's bondage or binding up with being and becoming.

Control is elusive and fleeting, temporary at best and the frequent un-doer of all kinds of 'claims'. Mastery of perceptual and cognitive phenomena often involves various kinds of practical control over multiple qualities and conditions which must typically be optimized, coordinated and balanced in order for a given kind of performance to manifest and be momentarily 'realized'. These kinds of manifest, demonstrable and therefore verifiable 'realizations' do have a variety of immediate effects and long term impacts on perception and cognition however just as obviously these kinds of experience alone can not change the nature of every aspect of a living percipient and sentient being in its entirety and overall.

For instance it is widely observable that in a great many respects 'hormones rule the world'. Hormones are responsible for the ongoing maintenance of living bodies and organic life forms. Hormones are responsible for the reproduction of species and hormones continue to operate in many of the same ways as these typically do regardless of whatever may or may not have been otherwise 'realized' by a percipient being.

The difference between the appearances of beings such that one might be considered admirable and another considered disreputable often have to do with various kinds of control over just such otherwise autonomous physiological processes.

The Buddha and his disciples for example were mendicants (beggars) and recluses (lived apart and frequently in solitude or small groups away from society in general). The Buddha prescribed a very strict code of conduct and an austere discipline which when undertaken as a continual practice was effective in producing a large group composed of many thoroughly self restrained and self disciplined women and men.

This can be quite different from what we may see today in the conduct of some of those who describe themselves as 'enlightened' in one way or another. It may well be the case that some or even many of those who are considered 'enlightened' people today have had any number of perceptual or cognitive realizations of one kind or another. However this is not in itself necessarily going to have a significant effect on how such people behave in relation to other people or the extent to which they have arrived at a comprehensive kind of self mastery and self liberation.

It is also obvious that the world in as an aggregate compound heap of self delusive interests is quite a different animal than it was in north central India two and a half thousand years ago.

It can be difficult to understand how someone might have amassed a great many acquisitions such as a large estate, great personal wealth, a large group of devoted 'followers', be married and well respected by such a community and then decide to abuse members of that community or disrespect those relationships by breaking such kinds of trust as are typical of the intimacies of marriages or of other close personal confidences. Such behaviors as sexual abuse or extramarital affairs and so on are as likely as not a consequence of having failed to develop insight of one kind or another into the nature of processes such as the hormonal impulses at work in their own bodies and minds such that the bondage to or binding up within such impulses has not been overcome or 'mastered'. So if such persons were to represent themselves as fully awakened or fully unbound then such demonstrations of thought, speech and action very obviously proves them to be delusional in their self assessments.

On the other hand various persons may appear otherwise quite normal in many respects[ they may be doctors or truck drivers or accountants or whatever and in no way otherwise appear exceptional or unusual and yet may have entirely freed themselves from every kind of binding up or bondage to being and becoming and be entirely self liberated. It is the thought, speech and action which demonstrates both internally and to others when, where and how such liberation is effective and present and when it is not. Noble beings may be encountered in any number of circumstances and it pays to keep an eye out for exceptional people and to learn what can be learned from the admirable qualities of anyone and everyone whenever and wherever this kind of noble being is seen, known and understood to be so.

I'm not arguing here for one definition of mastery against another and I am all for whatever realizations and self disciplines people are capable of developing and perfecting for and within themselves. I am attempting to point out that there are many kinds of self knowledge and self discipline and that these are of many kinds. I am also keen to point out what a huge project any kind of comprehensive self mastery necessarily must be.

Any kind of liberation or self mastery that might be said to be all inclusive would be by definition a supreme kind of perfection of one's nature but I do not suppose that there is any one specific or particular kind of perceptual or cognitive realization that somehow serves as a shortcut for the perceptual or cognitive realization of all of the other sorts of self mastery that also must be involved to bring such an effort to completion. To argue so would be, for example, like suggesting that mastery of golfing automatically qualified one as an airline pilot, which is of course ridiculous.

I have had a great many kinds of meditative experiences, insights and some knowledge and understanding about that has developed. I have also encountered many of the resulting consequences of this kind of stuff but I am too far gone with it to make the mistake of thinking that this is the same as complete mastery over the conditions which make up my being and becoming in whatever ways that nexus of being is wired into the rest of the phenomena of this universe.

I can't honestly say I am entirely free from the forces of bondage within the dependent and conditional universe until I can demonstrate that this is so, first of all for and to myself. When I indicate freedom from and for myself I do not mean freedom from the mere idea of some kind of a self. I mean instead to indicate freedom from everything that goes into perpetuating the ongoing nature of being and becoming, everything good, bad and neither that is involved in that aggregating of phenomenal being and ongoing becoming. There is a lot that goes into that. It is relatively easy to summarize the nature of all of that, to describe it all to various extents, however it is another thing to deal with all of it such that I have effectively put an end to it.

I don't know how this is working out for other people, I hope it is going well. I think it would be fair for my part to say that I don't have much left of the same kinds of motivations that I typically read about when people are describing their motivations for entering into these kinds of practices and paths. Happiness is relatively meaningless to me, self conceptions are laughable for me and worldly acknowledgments are meaningless as well. I am for all practical intents and purposes completely useless so far as the purposes of this or most any conceivable world are concerned. However I would not prefer in any sense to go back to or become like most people are or appear to be.

I have a very clear sense of the kind of a path I am on that I did not have earlier on in life when I was no less so also on it. I have the sense of a kind of an entirely satisfying and lasting total and complete existential finality at the end of this path and as real a sense of an unbearable infinity of being and becoming that stretches out into the imponderable past. I have no confidence, such as many suppose they have that being and becoming simply ends because of physical death. I have a very clear sense that the death of a body and the end of a life is relatively inconsequential in relation to this process of ongoing being.

As such the efforts I have been and I am continuing to make are not in any significant sense investments in this body or in this mind or in the trappings of this lifetime. The work I am doing within this process of being and becoming is more along the lines of an investment in particular inclinations or tendencies to be or not to be in a variety of ways. It is difficult to relate what this is like to people with much more conventional outlooks and it as often as not sounds kind of nuts even to attempt to communicate about it. Still, this ongoing undoing of being has a kind of momentum that doesn't even care what I might think, do or say about what is happening and this "unbecoming" has a strong sense of inevitability about it.

I think and feel that it will continue to require an immense amount of perceptual and cognitive skill to adequately assess the causes and conditions for this binding up within the elemental universe as a kind of existing entity and an immense amount of self discipline to become free of the kinds of forces involved both within and without this body and mind. So while I may be well aware of what the structure of the body/bodymind/mind is and understand much about how this functions; while I may have considerable insight into how these qualities and conditions interact in mutual dependence and support, this is not the same as having become entirely free of these processes. I think to become entirely free of all of that is a massive undertaking such that even were I to do nothing else it still could very well take many lifetimes to accomplish such a feat.

I am encouraged to have observed that it does appear that some of these changes, once established do persist even when one life ends and another kind of being and becoming arises. At the same time it doesn't necessarily make life any easier when one finds oneself compelled to undertake various kinds of living and practicing even when one has no idea why one is doing so.

In this life I am aware that I have resented and resisted this process at least as much as I have resumed an engagement with it. However the force of the process is obviously greater than any will I can otherwise conjure up and bring to bear on the circumstances, so I have inevitably acquiesced to what appears inevitable with or without my willingness. Even so, I expect it will take a long time to complete this transformation from a kind of being which is composed of or bound up together with a great many kinds of automatic or robotic processes or dependent conditions to being of the nature of someone who is composed of entirely conscious or self aware processes or independent conditions such that it would represent a kind of being which is Fully Awakened, Fully Aware and Fully Liberated from all such dependencies and conditions.

triplethink///nathan

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
12/16/13 4:52 AM as a reply to triple think.
triple think:
I have a very clear sense of the kind of a path I am on that I did not have earlier on in life when I was no less so also on it. I have the sense of a kind of an entirely satisfying and lasting total and complete existential finality at the end of this path and as real a sense of an unbearable infinity of being and becoming that stretches out into the imponderable past. I have no confidence, such as many suppose they have that being and becoming simply ends because of physical death. I have a very clear sense that the death of a body and the end of a life is relatively inconsequential in relation to this process of ongoing being.

As such the efforts I have been and I am continuing to make are not in any significant sense investments in this body or in this mind or in the trappings of this lifetime. The work I am doing within this process of being and becoming is more along the lines of an investment in particular inclinations or tendencies to be or not to be in a variety of ways. It is difficult to relate what this is like to people with much more conventional outlooks and it as often as not sounds kind of nuts even to attempt to communicate about it. Still, this ongoing undoing of being has a kind of momentum that doesn't even care what I might think, do or say about what is happening and this "unbecoming" has a strong sense of inevitability about it.

I think and feel that it will continue to require an immense amount of perceptual and cognitive skill to adequately assess the causes and conditions for this binding up within the elemental universe as a kind of existing entity and an immense amount of self discipline to become free of the kinds of forces involved both within and without this body and mind. So while I may be well aware of what the structure of the body/bodymind/mind is and understand much about how this functions; while I may have considerable insight into how these qualities and conditions interact in mutual dependence and support, this is not the same as having become entirely free of these processes. I think to become entirely free of all of that is a massive undertaking such that even were I to do nothing else it still could very well take many lifetimes to accomplish such a feat.

I am encouraged to have observed that it does appear that some of these changes, once established do persist even when one life ends and another kind of being and becoming arises. At the same time it doesn't necessarily make life any easier when one finds oneself compelled to undertake various kinds of living and practicing even when one has no idea why one is doing so.

In this life I am aware that I have resented and resisted this process at least as much as I have resumed an engagement with it. However the force of the process is obviously greater than any will I can otherwise conjure up and bring to bear on the circumstances, so I have inevitably acquiesced to what appears inevitable with or without my willingness. Even so, I expect it will take a long time to complete this transformation from a kind of being which is composed of or bound up together with a great many kinds of automatic or robotic processes or dependent conditions to being of the nature of someone who is composed of entirely conscious or self aware processes or independent conditions such that it would represent a kind of being which is Fully Awakened, Fully Aware and Fully Liberated from all such dependencies and conditions.
nathan


This is a beautiful post, Nathan. Do I sense a great deal of samvega?
It's difficult to talk about these things, in a world that -for a large part - doesn't believe in samsara.
Yet, you are not alone in this. While I didn't believe in these things a year back, one day that suddenly and to my utter amazement changed and now I feel the urge to enter into the stream before I die. The stream entry like the buddha described. And, like you, I'm pretty sure I have a lot of work ahead of me, certainly not going to be able to do all of this (arahanthood) in one lifetime. But for the first time in my life I feel that I'm on the right track and that gives a lot of comfort. Just like the fact that I'm not alone in this journey.
So, onwards we go...

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
12/16/13 5:56 PM as a reply to No-Second-Arrow Z.
No-Second-Arrow Z:
triple think:
blah blah blah...
nathan
This is a beautiful post, Nathan. Do I sense a great deal of samvega?
It's difficult to talk about these things, in a world that -for a large part - doesn't believe in samsara.
Yet, you are not alone in this. While I didn't believe in these things a year back, one day that suddenly and to my utter amazement changed and now I feel the urge to enter into the stream before I die. The stream entry like the buddha described. And, like you, I'm pretty sure I have a lot of work ahead of me, certainly not going to be able to do all of this (arahanthood) in one lifetime. But for the first time in my life I feel that I'm on the right track and that gives a lot of comfort. Just like the fact that I'm not alone in this journey.
So, onwards we go...
hi No-Second-Arrow Z;

Uhm, Samvega, huh, not sure, it depends. Perhaps I addressed this to some extent in a couple recent triplethink posts, I dunno. I did cover a lot of stuff there today. I think for this body/bodymind/mind heap it is more like simply waiting on a tottering fence to fall over. So it aches and wobbles and makes ungodly noises but there will simply be a sense of peace and satisfaction when it slams into the dust at last.
On the other hand, looking out on this world, all these beings, the rising flames, the falling dark, yes, I could weep without 'ceasing, possibly for an eternity. Again, I dunno. Does this cover the issue somehow more directly?
Tag me again in the triplethink thread if you want something more specific on this, ok?

Maybe the easiest way to consider the stuff I write is simply as

a cry for help
with any expectations whatsoever
of ever receiving any such help
long since dead and buried

-triplethink

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
6/21/14 12:30 AM as a reply to J.
Agreed:  "Why claim attainment?"   I did that twice and fortunately the people around me were wiser than I and very patient and quietly waited for me to "come down to earth".  

There can be a big chunk of some past or long term important goal that falls away or is nulled temporarily at which time the person can calibrate (Dr. Hawkins calibrations) high.   Also, I stopped doing my practice and simply enjoyed being a stranger on a beautiful planet for which I knew not the names of anything.  

I think my egoic mind finally gave me something I could shake hands with.  emoticon

But that was early on and after following my practices for several years I'm getting wiser about this job of vanishing the mind.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
6/28/14 7:43 PM as a reply to Dharmasar.
Ven. Nyanasara Thero:
Daniel M. Ingram:

Regarding metta, it sounds like you have some thoughts on it. What are they?
Daniel


Daniel,

Thanks for the warm welcome. Briefly (just taking a break from practice), I have found the practice of mettā invaluable when there is any disturbance of the mind due to fear, anger or other negative emotions. For example, when waking up after a bad dream or if the mind gets disturbed due to the unsatisfactoriness of ordinary things.

Another subject rarely discussed around here is karma (Pāli: kamma). Enlightenment (or anything else) occurs when the karma for it is mature. There are things we can do to create that karma, and in my experience, one of the most helpful and powerful is practicing mettā.

Strangely, it doesn't seem to matter if you really feel that you want all beings to be safe and happy, or whatever form your mettā practice takes. It seems to be enough to fabricate the determination/intention, even if it's not so deeply heartfelt or sincere as we might like it to be. I have got very good results with even small amounts of this practice, and encourage others to try it and report.

with mettā,
Buddha-vaṃsa
I am new to this forum and am catching up on older posts.  I enjoyed reading your story of your increased simplicity through practice.  I first learned the concept of "metta" from Lester Levenson who said to "square things away with love".   In my practice, after I dislodge a past unpleasantness and am no longer disturbed by it I "re-script" the incident, both as myself and as the "other".   Additionally, in my creative visualization I put gold auras around others who threaten my ego; visualize more complementary interactions; even visualize non-complementary interactions until my mind goes null on the topic -- doing consciously what my mind does unbidden.   I find I can be much more creative than my egoic mind -- on either side. 

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
6/28/14 8:08 PM as a reply to Colleen Peltomaa.
Yeah, the rescripting/refaming thing really helps me with a lot of things in daily life.  To do it, you need to be paying a lot of attention to thought processes and emotions (and not just when meditating), which is good.  Second, there is a process of learning to handle them without getting emotional about your emotions, ie without getting sucked in, feeling inferior, self judgemental or whatever.  Then once you can get to there, you can then dig in even more and look into the details, start to see things that some things may be not logical or reasonable, pull on the strings and see where they lead, etc.  Seems like a lot of advice in this meditation arena tends to emphasize more just going to the second step only and then being or accepting what you see, welcoming it, or other kinds of terminology along those lines.  Which makes sense for on the mat.  Personally, when I notice something, I don't always feel like I want to 'welcome' it, especially if it's something like greed or jealousy, so that's not my favorite terminology to use, but I do think it's a good idea to take a neutral observational stance when possible.  Beyond that in daily life, after just noticing it, I like to look into it further and dig for details.  But the reframing thing, not sure if that counts as a typical technique here, perhaps because it implies passing a judgement on something observed and trying to change things instead of accepting them they way they are.  But I think when not meditating, it's a very useful method to deal with some things that are not useful. 
-Eva

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
2/15/15 1:19 PM as a reply to Dharmasar.
Ven. Nyanasara Thero:


I am an older guy with roots in the 60s West Coast spiritual culture. Having been through many different schools, processes and models of spiritual growth, I finally settled on the Theravāda Buddhist practice and approach. After traveling to various retreat centers in Thailand and Sri Lanka for some time, I now live as an Upāsaka in a small Sri Lankan monastery of the Sayādaw lineage—only four monks, and three of them are kids. We're way up in the mountains, most days looking down on the clouds. Nobody but myself meditates.

I'm here because the chief monk is a younger ambitious guy with vision who wants to develop the place into a retreat center. We have become good friends. I'm OK with all of this, especially since my monk friend totally understands that I am not into the religious aspects of Buddhism and just want a safe place to meditate. I'm retired and have no plans to return to the West—in fact I find Westerners, even the meditators I run into here, to be rather unpalatable compared with the upcountry locals here.

Historically, in almost every spiritual group or model I have participated in, I was the guy on the fringe with all kinds of other interests. From my point of view, the communities were too sectarian, narrow and limited. Nevertheless, to participate I had to stay in the closet about my broad interests.

For a long time I was a student of classical bhakti-yoga. I lived in India on and off for many years. In between I studied all kinds of other stuff, including Tantra, Taoism and of course Buddhism. Eventually I became viewed as a senior disciple of my guru and became a teacher. I wrote books, attracted students and created a community with an ashram in India.

I still maintained my broad interests and tried my best to get my students to see the value of these other traditions and practices. However, they were turning out like Hindu fundamentalists. The whole situation became very unpleasant, so I resigned from guru and dissolved the community. I wanted space and time to try to understand what went wrong and explore other possibilities. My ex-students became very bitter and created lots of trouble, which led to complete disconnection from my previous spiritual community.

Thankfully, one of the more open-minded students remained supportive, and we became partners in a deep investigation of what went wrong. We began with leadership studies, and I learned that attaining some spiritual insight or realization does not automatically qualify or make one a great teacher or leader. They are completely different areas of skill and expertise. I began to see that both teaching and leadership involve being and becoming. That led to a review of the Theravāda teachings, and well, here we are.

Over the years I had countless spiritual experiences, awakenings and realizations. Then afterwards things became much as they were before, with some subtle differences that add up over time. After reading MCTB I can see that these were part of cycles, as described in the book. Daniel's model opened up a lot of insights for me, although I would be wary of applying any model too obsessively.

In fact a big part of the confusion surrounding spiritual life and advancement seems to be the notion that it has to conform to some model at all. As times change, society's values shape our experience in various ways. For example, my experience in traditional communities in India suggests that celibacy is just not that big a deal to people raised in the old ways. For Westerners, however, it's a huge issue. It's probably unreasonable to expect most Westerners to be celibate without becoming neurotic.

If we assume that people start out in spiritual life with a sincere desire to attain enlightenment, then the problems start when they adopt an inadequate model: one that is either too restrictive or too inflexible, or that is based on obsolete or inapplicable cultural norms. My own isolation is certainly due to the lack of an adequate model that, in software terminology, handles degradation gracefully. In other words, when unexpected things happen, most systems or models can't deal with it and break down.

Any system of stages or states is only a map, and cannot describe or predict everything that will happen. On the other hand, it's far better to have a map than be without one. Daniel's map is the best and most flexible so far, yet there are still discussions on this forum that show that it doesn't work for everyone. I think it's enough to know that everything, including most spiritual realizations and breakthroughs, is impermanent and that spiritual growth is a spiral rather than a linear progression.

Also, the Buddha's path is not so much a matter of 'getting' things as losing them; not so much a matter of 'achieving' things as letting go; not so much about doing things as allowing doing to come to an end. This mood does not fit very easily into Western goal-oriented models of achievement. I'm not sure I understand it myself, but as I relax more and more into Buddhist practice and culture, I'm getting a feel for all these things.

At the moment I am rather isolated, but that's OK. My ex-student has gone back to his home country and I spend most of my time in splendid silence and seclusion. I'm building a stone hut, and plan to get ordained and stay here the rest of my life. Still it would be helpful to have a community of like-minded folks to share and discuss with.

As far as my practice, I don't follow any particular method, but regular sitting and concentration, and deal with whatever shows up. I have my gung-ho moments, but in general I'm quite content to sit and enjoy whatever I am. Sure, I have good and bad days like everybody else; but in general, since taking up more or less regular meditation practice, my level of suffering is maybe 10% of what it was.

Gradually I have let go of the desire to be a teacher, writer or 'authority', as I have both seen and experienced that without extraordinary leadership ability, that is only a thorny thicket of troubles. I am a conservatory-trained composer, and used to be a music producer and recording artist. I have let that go too, because of lack of interest. The same goes with most relationships.

I don't think I'm fooling myself, but rather have really seen through the illusion to the stark reality of the unsatisfactoriness of the things most people, even most spiritually-oriented people, think are necessary. I could still go back to the west, pick up my musical career, engage in relationships and so forth, but why bother? I don't see this loss of interest as a bad thing, but as a natural consequence of giving up 'I'-making and 'mine'-making.

Hi Thero

Funny, even though I followed a very different route, I've encountered similar situations.  I grew up in Spain in the 50's 60's and 70's. In the late 70 I identified as a hippie, Gandhi non-violent anarchist.  In 1977 I moved to San Francisco and started an social experiment which still exist, though I don't identify with it anymore, I do still live there www.ganas.org. 
I also become a bit of a guru and a somewhat known figure in the communities movement (www.ic.org), which was a total, unexpected and (consciously) unwanted position.  I have also always stayed at the margins of things, even the things I co-created myself.

What you say about western culture somewhere below has been what I wanted to experiment changing, within myself, with a group of people.  But the tides of the mainstream culture are very strong. Now I am in a healing journey, a hero's journey to the unknown,  I have become a hermit in the commune I used to help run.  Quite a trip. Luckily, the social ambience of tolerance we created permits such moves, from center to perifery, navigating the feelings of abandonment and betrayal, the ego loss, the skill and effort wtihdrawn.  And yes, the vulnerability of the heartful, co-operative, childlike naivitè is very appealing to the anger and dissatisfaction within the culture.  I experience the fight within myself. I grew up with a genetic condition called diastrophic dysplasia, fending off the onslaught of pitty, aggression, undervalue, derision, etc.  I created a very thick crust and became the victimizer myself.  I  forgot the mechanisms of surrender. 
I believe it is this that making it hard for kundalini to flow easily through me.

Since this intense energy awakened I have had the image of doing what you are doing,  in a little monastery, without getting caught in the monks's stuff, silence and simplicity.  I don't think I could phsysically hack it though.

I am grateful that you chimed in.

Jorge 

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
2/15/15 5:53 PM as a reply to Jorge Caneda.
re: Jorge Caneda (2/15/15 11:19 AM as a reply to Ven. NyanasaraThero.)

(Not a reply specifically to Jorge Caneda)

Strange experience!

This thread pops up, I read along through it, finding parts relevant to the here-and-now (and how it's colored by the last two weeks of DhO drama), and, after 30 or so posts as it starts to get s/w tedious (triplethink, triplethink, triplethink,...), only then noticing, that it's mostly dated end of 2013, with a couple in mid-2014, but all triggered by (shows in in 'Recent Posts') a single post:

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Jorge Caneda (2/15/15 11:19 AM as a reply to Ven. Nyanasara Thero.)

i.e. today, and by someone who just joined-up today ("Join Date: 2/15/15").

Notable too arriving here to reply to something from 3 years ago. And scanning Jorge's other two posts, he's there replying to posts of 4 years ago. (Nothing personal intended here about Mr. Caneda or the content of his posts.)

Feels like I've been through some time-/mind-warp. (Or has the time-stamp mechanism here been hacked, or spontaneously gone into hyperspace?)

Anyway, much like much of the content of this peculiar thread – feeling like having been jerked into and then back out of some state of dream-like delusion…

And what's the significance of the lightning-bolt icon () before the name of the thread in the "Recent Posts" lists?

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
2/16/15 8:22 AM as a reply to Jorge Caneda.
Nyanasara:

Also, the Buddha's path is not so much a matter of 'getting' things as losing them; not so much a matter of 'achieving' things as letting go; not so much about doing things as allowing doing to come to an end.
"Blown out", deflated, unbound.


My first formal training in buddhist study of mind was through Dainin Katagiri's lineage. Later Natalie Goldberg spoke about the failure of this teacher in his sexual relations with students. One excerpt from her comments on this is (reminds me of Milan Kundera: "Tragedy brings us down to earth," from his old work, The Unbearable Lightness of Being):
Disappointment and failure bring us down to the ground so we can see through our ideas to the way things really are. And when that happens, it is really the Great Success.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
2/16/15 9:28 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
Chris - Actually, I would highly suggest reading through triplethink's posts (either in this thread or others). They are often dense reads, yes, and there are sincere nuggets of insight gold within many of them.  You may have to re-read a few times to really get what he's saying. ;)

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
2/17/15 8:28 AM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
Chris - Actually, I would highly suggest reading through triplethink's posts (either in this thread or others). They are often dense reads, yes, and there are sincere nuggets of insight gold within many of them.  You may have to re-read a few times to really get what he's saying. ;)


Thanks for pointing that out, Steph. Earlier in the thread I was impressed by his material. But then running into a long series of just these posts, and bringing attention to the dating ("Christmas 2013),  my attention got derailed. Then I switched to just scanning (rather then carefully reading) for more overview, to see why this thread had been resurrected now after more than a year. I'll go back and re-read the thread more closely.

About half the names (writers) I could recognize from my relatively brief exposure to DhO (since 08/2014). The others were new (to me), and many strikingly insight-provoking – this discussion a s/w different picture of DhO than what's come down here recently. Where are they now? … A sense of loss, of nostalgia– but I wasn't there – maybe past-life nostalgia ("ghosts of Christmas's past"? emoticon ).

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
1/2/19 1:42 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
This is such an important post. I believe it is essential to keep coming back to cultivating a climate where reconsidering claims of progress or success does not lead to negative social consequences, but is met with compassion and respect. After all, reconsideration is often valuable learning that leaves a person wiser than before, and most of us probably have a lot to learn from what is shared.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
1/2/19 3:59 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Thus, I urge each of you, should you run into someone who has this happening to them, to have similar sympathy, to wish that person well, to realize that, if you are in this rarified business long enough, it will likely happen to you also, and, when it does, think about how you would want to be treated and pass that on ahead of time.


Yeah, has happened to me, and I’ve been embarrassed about it. I got to third, and thought I was at fourth. It’s been over five years. Recently had it clarified, although I’ve known for a long time. I’ve been reasonably content to hang here for awhile. 

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
1/2/19 4:45 PM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Thank you for sharing! I feel the deepest respect for anyone who admits to their mistakes honestly and humbly. Also, every time somebody comes forward to do that, it makes it easier for others to follow, and that enables true wisdom.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
Answer
1/5/19 3:25 PM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Laurel Carrington:
Thus, I urge each of you, should you run into someone who has this happening to them, to have similar sympathy, to wish that person well, to realize that, if you are in this rarified business long enough, it will likely happen to you also, and, when it does, think about how you would want to be treated and pass that on ahead of time.


Yeah, has happened to me, and I’ve been embarrassed about it. I got to third, and thought I was at fourth. It’s been over five years. Recently had it clarified, although I’ve known for a long time. I’ve been reasonably content to hang here for awhile. 

Same with me - I thought I was at fourth/arahat for years, and now I'm pretty sure it was actually second.

My theory is that thinking you're done is an essential step in the process because if you think you're done, and then you realize you're not, it helps you let go of your attachment to being enlightened and your identification as enlightened.

It's frustrating that there are so many "pragmatic dharma" teachers who don't really understand the paths and claim fourth/arahat when they're not, and then fail to challenge students' claims of being at fourth. A couple pragmatic dharma teachers (who I was paying) accepted or failed to challenge my claim of being fourth, and I think it prevented me from looking closer, even though I knew somewhere that it wasn't right.

This is a major reason why I think paying for dharma or meditation lessons is unethical. It distorts the dharma and prevents people from properly advancing in their practice.

I've also noticed the proliferation of post-fourth path models that seem to be motivated only by wanting to preserve the modeler's claim of being fourth while allowing for further advancement. Some posters here claim to be fourth path but say it's not the end of the line - if you're not at the end of the line, you're not fourth path.

I have this fantasy that Daniel kidnaps all the pragmatic dharma teachers in the world and locks them in a compound somewhere while he trains them to be real arahats.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
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1/5/19 5:51 PM as a reply to J C.
•giggling•

While I sympathize with your frustration, I think I would be even more worried about my faith in humanity if an arahat were to kidnap people like that. I must confess though that I sometimes fantasize about having as my super power the ability to call down self awareness / psychological maturity upon people. If they behave really horribly I may even fantasize about sudden and complete self awareness. That would be hellishly evil, though, so I’m grateful that I don’t possess super powers. Kidnapping and training people would be charity in comparison.

On a more serious note, that does sound like a severe problem. The hypothesis that having to let go of one’s claims is part of the process makes sense. One could hope that more people would eventually grow to realize that they were mistaken by themselves even though nobody challenges them.

Even at newbie level it’s hard to find an available teacher experienced enough to challenge one’s too cocky ideas. I’m very grateful for the feedbackand shared knowledge on this forum.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
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1/9/19 3:16 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
•giggling•

While I sympathize with your frustration, I think I would be even more worried about my faith in humanity if an arahat were to kidnap people like that. I must confess though that I sometimes fantasize about having as my super power the ability to call down self awareness / psychological maturity upon people. If they behave really horribly I may even fantasize about sudden and complete self awareness. That would be hellishly evil, though, so I’m grateful that I don’t possess super powers. Kidnapping and training people would be charity in comparison.

On a more serious note, that does sound like a severe problem. The hypothesis that having to let go of one’s claims is part of the process makes sense. One could hope that more people would eventually grow to realize that they were mistaken by themselves even though nobody challenges them.

Even at newbie level it’s hard to find an available teacher experienced enough to challenge one’s too cocky ideas. I’m very grateful for the feedbackand shared knowledge on this forum.

Why would giving them self-awareness be evil? Seems like a good thing to me.

And plenty of enlightened people have done things much worse than kidnapping and training - I hope you don't lose faith in humanity just because of that! I always find it helpful to remember to keep the three trainings separate - wisdom and morality are separate trainings and someone can have high wisdom and low morality or vice versa.

Though I would argue kidnapping the teachers who claim to be arahats in order to train them might actually be the most moral action...

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1/9/19 4:11 AM as a reply to J C.
Very sudden awareness of too much junk is too much to bear. It would break them. Gradual awareness is more helpful.

Yes, I know that there are enlightened people who have done terrible things, but I need to believe that there are also some good people out there. Too much cynism breaks my heart. I haven’t reached equanimity yet.

Teaching them, yes; using force - not so much.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
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1/9/19 7:10 AM as a reply to J C.
JC --

It's frustrating that there are so many "pragmatic dharma" teachers who don't really understand the paths and claim fourth/arahat when they're not, and then fail to challenge students' claims of being at fourth. A couple pragmatic dharma teachers (who I was paying) accepted or failed to challenge my claim of being fourth, and I think it prevented me from looking closer, even though I knew somewhere that it wasn't right.

This is a major reason why I think paying for dharma or meditation lessons is unethical. It distorts the dharma and prevents people from properly advancing in their practice.

I've also noticed the proliferation of post-fourth path models that seem to be motivated only by wanting to preserve the modeler's claim of being fourth while allowing for further advancement. Some posters here claim to be fourth path but say it's not the end of the line - if you're not at the end of the line, you're not fourth path.

I really appreciate this evaluation and description of where we're "at" in terms of Theravada practice and pragmatic dharma these days. I'm not as negative on paying for dharma teaching but if I am going to pay I'm going to do my damnedest to make sure that the teacher I'm paying is awakened.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
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1/9/19 9:26 AM as a reply to J C.
In my opinion based on my own practice & watching about 30 friends over several years, there are personal bars one can use that are independent from maps.  These personal bars are more valid & efficacious because they make you more happy & more able to help others.  These personal bars would include things like:

-How surrendered-to/equanimous-with/detached-from it all am I (regardless of happiness level), relative to what I imagine to be possible or relative to how I was several months ago?
-How happy am I, relative to how happy I want to be, based on what I imagine to be possible?
-How much sensory clarity do I have in terms of the overall container of the field, as well as it's contents do I have?
-What percentage of the day am I at my cutting edge with these qualities?

The thing that originally inspired me about pragmatic dharma & continues to drive me forward in my training to this day, has absolutely nothing to do with labels of attainments & absolutely everything to do with the wonderous & stunningly real world of permanent reduction to different types of dissatisfaction & unpleasantness that I have seen happen again & again, in myself & others.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
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1/9/19 11:43 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Thank you so much for posting this. I blew it big time and am barred from IMCW, Barre Massachusetts and Bhavana (unless I manage to get a hold of Bhante G who was on retreat when I blew my lid and always stood by me). So, I'm doing 5, 6 hours of meditation a day and finding myself a bit lonely, went back to MCTB, found what I was looking for and more: this site, the man in virtual person.

I just want you to know that, if you too blew it, mindfulness can fix it. It might be hard, depending on how much damage you did to yourself, but it is possible. And if you have any doubts, I will be happy to share my experience in the hope of convincing you. The work we do is also about compassion and the belief (for those of us who are still seeking the knoweldge) that we are all one (even if it's still an ego thing ;)

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
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1/12/19 6:41 AM as a reply to J C.
J C:
[quote=
]
It's frustrating that there are so many "pragmatic dharma" teachers who don't really understand the paths and claim fourth/arahat when they're not, and then fail to challenge students' claims of being at fourth. A couple pragmatic dharma teachers (who I was paying) accepted or failed to challenge my claim of being fourth, and I think it prevented me from looking closer, even though I knew somewhere that it wasn't right.



I'm curious, JC--did you ever go back and discuss this with your previous teachers? When trying to look at things from their perspective, it seems likely to me that they must have been doing their best to help you and perhaps just trying to do what they had learned from their own teachers, or something. Who knows? Everyone makes mistakes and we're all human, dharma teachers included. I know that in my career, when things haven't turned out as planned and people have let me know that the impact of my actions did not match my intentions, I've been very grateful they took the time and made the effort to tell me so I could learn to do better in the future (even though of course it was painful for me to hear at the time). It might be an awkward conversation to have, but if tactfully done it's possible your feedback could have a positive effect and help future students of those teachers in addition to the teachers themselves. Just a thought.

There is an aphorism called Hanlon's Razer: never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity. We're all stupid and ignorant sometimes, but it doesn't mean we're bad and ignorance has the potential to be fixed.

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1/12/19 10:42 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
This is just my opinion but I think JC has a point about some pragmatic dharma teachers jumping to teach before they really should, if they should at all. I've witnessed this personally, the while fallout hasn't reached life or death importance, it has been unwise, unhelpful and certainly not useful. Most of these people, if not all of them, are well-meaning, but they have unexamined motivations and interests that need to be vetted. It happens with some frequency and it makes me shiver when I see it.

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1/12/19 11:36 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Absolutely, Chris, and I've also seen it, much to my horror. I agree with everything you said there and could add to your list of concerns. I guess my point is: what if anything can be done about this as far as damage control? Might at least some of these teachers be receptive to feedback? Because it's very worrisome to see. 

Or maybe all that can be done is try to educate potential students? I don't know.  :/

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1/12/19 11:55 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
I do think talking about it openly is best, which then helps educate people.

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1/12/19 4:04 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
And props to Laurel and JC for being open about this stuff, btw. I think that's very helpful for people to read and it takes guts to post, so thank you.

I've also got to wonder: what exactly does "pragmatic dharma" even mean these days? It seems like this term gets tossed around by a lot of people (google turns up plenty) but it's not clear they're all talking about the same thing. It seems like anybody can set up shop as a "pragmatic dharma teacher." Like it's some sort of formal lineage, except with a traditional lineage you get at least some quality control assurance that the teacher has a certain amount of training and has received mentorship from somebody willing to put their name on the line that their mentee is actually teacher material. 

There's just so much that can go wrong with teaching--the ethics of whether or not/how to charge is just the tip of the iceberg...

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1/12/19 4:11 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Yes, and yes.

Pragmatic dharma is not well defined. As I've said before, the best thing about pragmatic dharma is the openness about maps, states and stages, and the worst thing about pragmatic dharma is the openness about maps, states and stages.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
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1/12/19 9:02 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
And props to Laurel and JC for being open about this stuff, btw. I think that's very helpful for people to read and it takes guts to post, so thank you.

I've also got to wonder: what exactly does "pragmatic dharma" even mean these days? It seems like this term gets tossed around by a lot of people (google turns up plenty) but it's not clear they're all talking about the same thing. It seems like anybody can set up shop as a "pragmatic dharma teacher." Like it's some sort of formal lineage, except with a traditional lineage you get at least some quality control assurance that the teacher has a certain amount of training and has received mentorship from somebody willing to put their name on the line that their mentee is actually teacher material. 

There's just so much that can go wrong with teaching--the ethics of whether or not/how to charge is just the tip of the iceberg...

This is why I think Daniel should set up a Pragmatic Dharma teacher training group ;) Given the current popularity of meditation (and I don't see this waning any time soon) there's a huge amount to be gained from having experienced PD teachers on the ground. 

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1/13/19 6:36 AM as a reply to Anna L.
Hrm, I really don't know about formal teacher trainings when the goal is awakening. Sure, you can teach people to teach certain skills, but it's not the same thing. Completing a teacher training program doesn't mean a person is actually awake, it just means they have completed a program. There is no substitute for deep ongoing personal practice and close mentorship from experienced teachers. 

If you look at the situation in yoga, teacher training programs basically evolved as a way for yoga teachers to earn a living and a 200-hour teacher training certification doesn't mean much (they're really more appropriate for beginners to go deeper into their practices). IMO a noob with only a few years experience in yoga and a 200-hour certification knows just enough to hurt you and I wouldn't trust them with my body. And this is just asana we're talking about--awakening is a whole other kettle of fish. I suspect a PD teacher training program would be a fast track to watered down dharma and setting the bar increasingly low. It's not like it would be happening in a monastery or retreat center where new teachers would have ongoing training and access to more experienced teachers.

Also, we still haven't nailed down what Pragmatic Dharma is or isn't, and since there are already plenty of people using it as a name brand the market is pretty crowded. 

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
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1/13/19 7:01 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
The thing is, I really think systems are mostly bullshit. Sure, they have their uses--I'm extremely grateful for Daniel to have written his book, for example, and have learned a ton from it. But it's not like you can get everything from just one teacher/system. At least I can't, and I've never met anyone else who could and really went far. There are many paths up many mountains and in the end we each have to find our own way alone.

So any teacher training program would be at best appropriate for the wide end of the funnel, seems like, and there's already plenty of that out there. If "pragmatic dharma" is anything at all, I would like to think it has something to do with setting a very high bar for practice. Resources for getting to and pushing the envelope of practice at the narrow end of the funnel.

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1/13/19 10:45 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Don't worry everyone, the seattle spuds website created the official definition of pragmatic dharma like two years ago.

http://seattlespuds.org/

(yes I'm mostly being sarcastic, but also just sayin')

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
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1/13/19 10:59 AM as a reply to Noah D.
That's certainly a good start. Here's a more detailed definition from a friend of mine, Ron Crouch, also a former student of Kenneth Folk:

https://alohadharma.com/2015/11/03/what-is-pragmatic-dharma/



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1/13/19 11:21 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
That Ron Crouch article is really good. "Pragmatism, transparency, a digital community, secularism, and focusing on awakening in ordinary life."

No wonder I'm a black sheep around here--I'm a non-mappy mystic! =D

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
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1/13/19 11:41 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
How about this: systems of teaching and meditation focus on the wide end of the funnel because that's where standardized systems work best. In the beginning stages of practice, there really is a "one size fits all" capability that Buddhist and other spiritual traditions can use pretty effectively. Learn to sit still, learn to focus, learn what your mind is really like, learn concentration skills, learn to pay attention to the playing out of perception and experience. Then, once we get past a certain point, individuality becomes more important, critical actually, to further the process of awakening. That deeper and individualized process is more personality and individuality dependent and takes a much more nuanced approach. That's the realm of one-on-one teaching, and not very many students reach that narrow end of the funnel, so the limited resources of instruction from a limited number of truly awakened teachers can be more effective.

I suspect this is why spiritual traditions tend to allow journeyman students to teach - they're applying the one-size-fits-all stuff and they can address a large audience. This same thing happens in pragmatic dharma but the openness and the more public nature of the paradigm can cause a journeyman student to think they're more adept than they may actually be, and there is no one to correct them as there might be in Zen, or Vajrayana.

Just a thought.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
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1/13/19 12:17 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
That sounds like a pretty good description of the situation, Chris. 

So the pragmatic dharma types maybe get a little insight but they don't have anybody to challenge them or pull the rug out from under them or correct any misunderstandings. Not only are they stagnating as practitioners, but they think they know more than they really do and taking up teaching sounds like a great idea. And it's easy to rationalize that decision, especially with so many absolute beginners around desperate for assistance who are impressed by any degree of insight. It keeps them busy, which makes it easier to ignore whatever they'd rather not look at so closely. "Teaching is my practice now." And it feels good, it's validating. "I'm spreading the dharma out of compassion and a desire to serve others!" Attachment to the teacher identity and being one of the "awakened" sets in. Hard to back out at that point. What a shame.

Just some thoughts on how that might play out... 

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
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1/13/19 6:13 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
Hrm, I really don't know about formal teacher trainings when the goal is awakening. Sure, you can teach people to teach certain skills, but it's not the same thing. Completing a teacher training program doesn't mean a person is actually awake, it just means they have completed a program. There is no substitute for deep ongoing personal practice and close mentorship from experienced teachers. 

If you look at the situation in yoga, teacher training programs basically evolved as a way for yoga teachers to earn a living and a 200-hour teacher training certification doesn't mean much (they're really more appropriate for beginners to go deeper into their practices). IMO a noob with only a few years experience in yoga and a 200-hour certification knows just enough to hurt you and I wouldn't trust them with my body. And this is just asana we're talking about--awakening is a whole other kettle of fish. I suspect a PD teacher training program would be a fast track to watered down dharma and setting the bar increasingly low. It's not like it would be happening in a monastery or retreat center where new teachers would have ongoing training and access to more experienced teachers.

Also, we still haven't nailed down what Pragmatic Dharma is or isn't, and since there are already plenty of people using it as a name brand the market is pretty crowded. 

Yep, there would definitely have to be a prerequisite for own practice and own stabilised insights. It couldn't just be a "sign up here online" thing. 

Yes, I agree re yoga techer training. I have had a personal asana practice for 10 years. 5 years ago I started practising seriously at home (giving up classes) and also working one-on-one in weekly private lessons with an experienced ashtanga teacher (she's fourth series). Only this year, after a decade of personal practice, have I decided to enrol in a teacher training course and I chose one that is 500 hours and focuses on one-on-one individualised teaching (how yoga is traditionally supposed to be taught). The instructor has been practising and teaching for many decades and also has a clinical psych degree and a PhD. That's how pedantic I am! ;) Even after this course is complete, there will be a lifetime of ongoing training.

Having said that, I think we have to also be careful not to be too perfectionistic about it all. There will never be a perfect guaranteed system but we can still set the bar high and there will always be the handful who genuinely care and want to teach to the highest standards possible. Given the demand for yoga/meditation/awakening, isn't it fortunate that we have that handful?

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
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1/14/19 1:03 PM as a reply to Noah D.
Noah D:
Don't worry everyone, the seattle spuds website created the official definition of pragmatic dharma like two years ago.

http://seattlespuds.org/

(yes I'm mostly being sarcastic, but also just sayin')
Noah, that definition is missing something important, which is the way that paying for dharma teachings or meditation lessons distorts and corrupts the dharma. I believe you've posted about being reluctant to share information that you paid teachers for, thinking that other people shouldn't get it for free. This to me contradicts the spirit of pragmatic dharma as well as ethical principles. You write "friends helping friends awaken," which I agree with - but it's not "friends helping friends" when some people are getting paid and hoarding information for their own financial benefit.

When two people work together, friends helping friends, they should both have the motive of encouraging both of their development. When a teacher teaches a student dharma, the teacher and student should have the same motive - encouraging the student's development. Not getting paid. That is a separate motivation that creates a conflict of interest.

I see this as directly related to "The Isolation of Blowing It" - financial incentives really prevent people from being honest about where they are and admitting that they've "blown it."
Andromeda:

I'm curious, JC--did you ever go back and discuss this with your previous teachers... they must have been doing their best to help you and perhaps just trying to do what they had learned from their own teachers...  if tactfully done it's possible your feedback could have a positive effect and help future students of those teachers in addition to the teachers themselves...

There is an aphorism called Hanlon's Raz\[o\]r: never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity. We're all stupid and ignorant sometimes, but it doesn't mean we're bad and ignorance has the potential to be fixed.

I'm a big fan of Hanlon's Razor, and I agree that these teachers are not malicious. They're just stuck. But it's not a matter of feedback about teaching - this is more of an ethical issue. I don't see the point of making minor corrections in didactic techniques when it doesn't affect the root of the problem, which is the distortion caused by charging money. For one thing, they'd charge me for having a conversation with them about this! For another, I doubt they'd be willing to concede that they shouldn't be charging people.

In my view, there's currently a schism in the pragmatic dharma movement over this issue, with one group - Kenneth Folk and his line - all stuck at anagami level at best, claiming to be "technical 4th path," and charging for the dharma. They put themselves over others as the esteemed teachers and disdain the collaborative approach where we all learn from each other. This group is further marketing and promoting the term "pragmatic dharma," in my view poisoning the term.

I don't think it's a coincidence that this group is all stuck and doesn't seem to be able to progress to the arahat/4th path level, whereas everyone else doesn't seem to be stuck in the same way. So I think charging money for teaching dharma not only prevents the teacher's recognition of "blowing it" but encourages the teacher's stagnation, possibly accompanied by the delusion that the teacher is an arahat.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
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1/14/19 2:02 PM as a reply to J C.
I can see a democratic problem here as well, if learning is only possible for those who can afford maybe many years of classes. Awakening shouldn’t be a privilege for the rich. On the other hand, if it really worked, maybe they wouldn’t stay rich... so that could be a very temporary problem. Unfortunately, such a development is not yet heard of.

I agree that there is a conflict of interest when payment is involved, or at least a risk for it. Still, how are the teachers supposed to make a living in societies where there is no tradition to support meditation teachers with food and somewhere to live? Is it reasonable to demand that they make their living and then teach in their spare time? Maybe it is. I don’t know. Or maybe society is unreasonable. *deep sigh*

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
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1/14/19 2:06 PM as a reply to J C.
Thanks for your perspective, JC. I've never been a very mappy practitioner and so was mostly oblivious to the map politics until quite recently. It's some ugly stuff. emoticon

I absolutely agree with you about the corrupting effects of money on the dharma, but I still can't take a hard line against people charging even if it isn't my cup of tea--I just can't see things as that black and white. There is a lot of demand for teaching at the wide end of the funnel and teachers have to eat. For-fee dharma teaching may not be an ideal solution, but I can't think of anything better. Should all those people go without teachers? It would be great if books and internet forums were enough, and for some it is, but most people need more than that. Should teachers have day jobs and just teach for free in their spare time? Some do, but not nearly enough to meet demand. Should teachings be dana only? That would be great, but my understanding is that it is difficult to scrape by this way. 

I'm temperamentally unsuitable for being a wide end of the funnel teacher, but it sure is nice to play with people when they get into the narrow end. Most of them will need help along the way and it has to come from somewhere.

Can you think of any better solutions?

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
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1/14/19 3:35 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I agree that there is a conflict of interest when payment is involved, or at least a risk for it. Still, how are the teachers supposed to make a living in societies where there is no tradition to support meditation teachers with food and somewhere to live? Is it reasonable to demand that they make their living and then teach in their spare time? Maybe it is. I don’t know. Or maybe society is unreasonable. *deep sigh*
Andromeda:
I absolutely agree with you about the corrupting effects of money on the dharma, but I still can't take a hard line against people charging even if it isn't my cup of tea--I just can't see things as that black and white. There is a lot of demand for teaching at the wide end of the funnel and teachers have to eat. For-fee dharma teaching may not be an ideal solution, but I can't think of anything better. Should all those people go without teachers? It would be great if books and internet forums were enough, and for some it is, but most people need more than that. Should teachers have day jobs and just teach for free in their spare time? Some do, but not nearly enough to meet demand. Should teachings be dana only? That would be great, but my understanding is that it is difficult to scrape by this way.
The assumption here seems to be that there is some overall value to teaching that is paid for. If this assumption is true, then there might be a trade-off where paying for teaching allows there to be more teaching of value even if there is also some harm done.

I disagree with this assumption - I believe money so corrupts teaching that the paid-for teaching is of no value overall. In my view, corrupt teaching is worse than no teaching. Better to have 10 true teachers and 0 corrupt teachers than 10 true teachers and 10,000 corrupt ones.

Now of course it is possible to get some little nugget of wisdom from a teacher even if you paid for the teaching. But what I'm saying is that the detriments, which can be very subtle, outweigh the benefits, to the point where in total, overall, there is a negative effect to paid teachings. That's what I mean by saying money corrupts the dharma.

Note that this is a practical objection as much as it is a moral one. It's just not possible to provide teaching of any value overall while charging. The money robs the teaching of its value, and there's no way around that.

So, yes, I'm on the "get a real job, you bums" team.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
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1/14/19 3:58 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I can see a democratic problem here as well, if learning is only possible for those who can afford maybe many years of classes. Awakening shouldn’t be a privilege for the rich. On the other hand, if it really worked, maybe they wouldn’t stay rich... so that could be a very temporary problem. Unfortunately, such a development is not yet heard of.

I agree that there is a conflict of interest when payment is involved, or at least a risk for it. Still, how are the teachers supposed to make a living in societies where there is no tradition to support meditation teachers with food and somewhere to live? Is it reasonable to demand that they make their living and then teach in their spare time? Maybe it is. I don’t know. Or maybe society is unreasonable. *deep sigh*

There are plenty of free retreats, books, resources and even teachers who teach for free (or for a donation).

However, I think that if you are a secular lay person living in modern society and you want the priviledge of having one-on-one private secular instruction from another lay person living in modern society, from the comfort of your own home or somewhere close to where you live, then absolutely it is only fair that you will have to pay that person for that instruction.

If you're talking about Buddhism, then historically, the lay community has always financially supported the monastic communities anyway. However, now we find ourselves in a new situation where meditation is being taught outside of formal religions, by lay people to lay people. This is a unique situation! Is it still "dharma"? That is up for debate! 

Yes, it is just how our society is set up. People I know who work in professions such as medicine and law (and are ethically minded) manage to negotiate this by offering full fees to those who are employed, reduced fees to those who are underemployed and doing a fixed percentage of pro bono work. I think this is a nice way to approach it if you can also personally afford to operate this way and support yourself/family.

P.S. Also, I would probably not want a teacher who has a day job and then teaches in their "spare time" (unless they are Daniel and can somehow miraculously manage to do that). I want an expert who is 100% dedicated to what they do and is also available to teach me. E.g. my own yoga teacher practices 5 hours per day herself. She is in the top 1% of technically brilliant asana teachers and I am very happy to pay to learn from her and to enable her to continue her own practice/study which is then passed on to me. emoticon

In the end, it all comes down to context and our own personal preferences. I think we are lucky to live in a time where there are lots of different options for different people and their requirements. 

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1/15/19 2:47 AM as a reply to J C.
JC, I think that’s a very interesting view. I happen to believe that payment corrupts basically everything. I don’t believe in a capitalist society. I’m not in a position to judge those who make a living out of meditation teaching, though, since I get paid for my work as a researcher. As a newbie meditator I’m not qualified to evaluate the effects of payment on the dharma. I can’t help but thinking, though, that in buying into the story of how they have to make a decent living and therefore charge large sums, there is a certain clinging to it. And as I said, I’m not in a position to judge, but maybe if what one really wants is full liberation, then one has to let go of that too. I wouldn’t know. What I do know is that humanity is destroying this planet by constantly craving more than we actually need, but that’s political territory.

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1/15/19 2:51 AM as a reply to Anna L.
Anna, yes, I’m very grateful for all those resources that are available for free. I have the deepest respect for that kind of generosity.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
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1/15/19 4:31 AM as a reply to J C.
J C:
I disagree with this assumption - I believe money so corrupts teaching that the paid-for teaching is of no value overall. In my view, corrupt teaching is worse than no teaching. Better to have 10 true teachers and 0 corrupt teachers than 10 true teachers and 10,000 corrupt ones.
So, yes, I'm on the "get a real job, you bums" team.


Interesting. That sounds pretty extreme, as I know people who say they have benefited from paid teaching, but my only formal teachers have been monastics and so my experience here is limited. I would consider myself mystically inclined rather than secular and so mainstream professional teachers don't interest me personally. And the best learning by far has come from spiritual friends/mentors (a hodgepodge of householder, ordained, or some combination of the two). I think one can absolutely dedicate one's life to it without ordination--I did and it's why I went into a service profession. The householder path can be quite a powerful way to go, if challenging, although monastics can face a surprising number of obstacles to good practice as well.

When considering potential spiritual friends and mentors, what I look for most is humility, dedication, and a willingness to go deep into the dark stuff. And that's not really very marketable. The people I respect the most would have a hard time making a living doing what they do best because very few people are into it. 

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
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1/15/19 6:38 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
JMHO, but the juxtaposition of a social system and culture that was prevalent on the Indian subcontinent 2,500 years ago and modern western social and economic systems makes this an unsolvable problem. Unless..... unless we just let folks choose their own path. Maybe this, too, is an area where our practice can help guide us.

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RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
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1/15/19 11:10 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
..... unless we just let folks choose their own path. Maybe this, too, is an area where our practice can help guide us.

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I feel that's the practice oriented choice.  I mean, maybe I'm just in a phase, but lately I'm of the opinion that there's no limit to the depth of the chasm between one persons perceptions and understandings and another persons . To me this means that we are each in our own ship and there is usually not much, except a current that we can't even feel, or an iceberg that we are blind to that will make a difference to us. [Jeez, that's some poetic, absolutist sh*t I'm laying down, i do recognize that].

Just to continue/own the absolutist line here: there's one exception to the current/iceburg rule, it's when the seeker gets a whim of an idea to try something.  What us big mouths here are doing is trying to figure out the best advise to give someone for picking a teacher. My big-mouth opinion is that if the seeker has an urge to change course, the best advise is to say go ahead and keep your eyes open.  Trying a lame teacher (with your eyes open) is much better than holding off till you find what is obviously the perfect teacher.

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
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1/15/19 3:44 PM as a reply to matthew sexton.
So many well considered opinions and ideas in this thread. I am really enjoying this conversation. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to respond! 

RE: The Isolation of Blowing It
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1/19/19 7:42 AM as a reply to J C.
J C:
I believe you've posted about being reluctant to share information that you paid teachers for, thinking that other people shouldn't get it for free. This to me contradicts the spirit of pragmatic dharma as well as ethical principles. You write "friends helping friends awaken," which I agree with - but it's not "friends helping friends" when some people are getting paid and hoarding information for their own financial benefit.


While I can definitely understand the feeling of not wanting to share information that one has had to pay for, in the context of awakening I cannot but wonder why one would act on that feeling. Isn’t that very contraproductive if one wants to get rid of the illusion of self? The notion of any information as being ”mine” because ”I paid for it” seems to be based on the belief in a separate self that competes with other separate selves about resources that are scarce. And of course the amount of available resources in terms of teachers is scarce at this moment in time, but knowledge doesn’t have to be. What is the purpose of keeping knowledge to oneself? How would that help? Would it make full awakening more accessable in this lifetime? I don’t think it would. I think it would make it less accessable because of the clinging. Also, it would make it less accessable for others, and those others are not separate but connected. Would it make full awakening more accessable in another life? I we were to assume that we have separate souls that can be reincarnated, then karma would probably take its toll. If we instead assume that consciousness just returns to its source (nothingness, emptyness or whatever term is most accurate) and then is recycled, just like matter is, then there is no separate entity that can be reborn. Insights and habits and reactive patterns may be reborn in new individuals, maybe several different individuals, but they wouldn’t belong to a separate soul that goes through different incarnations intact. So why keeping knowledge to oneself? It would only hold back humanity from developing.

I see money creating such unnecessary conflicts with regard to basically anything. When people act out of fear that they will not have enough food and water, it is understandable but still very counterproductive, since scarcity is created by people taking more than they need out of fear that others will do so. When it comes to insights... it makes absolutely no sense.