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Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?

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Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Robert McLune 7/27/13 1:06 AM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? tom moylan 7/27/13 3:31 AM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Robert McLune 7/27/13 11:18 AM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? B B 7/27/13 4:52 AM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Simon T. 7/27/13 11:09 AM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Robert McLune 7/27/13 11:36 AM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Richard Zen 7/27/13 12:53 PM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Robert McLune 7/27/13 2:56 PM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Adam . . 7/27/13 3:20 PM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Robert McLune 7/27/13 4:02 PM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Adam . . 7/27/13 4:44 PM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Robert McLune 7/27/13 5:01 PM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Adam . . 7/27/13 5:15 PM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Robert McLune 7/27/13 6:12 PM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? . Jake . 7/27/13 6:51 PM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Robert McLune 7/27/13 8:46 PM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Adam . . 7/27/13 7:30 PM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Robert McLune 7/27/13 9:12 PM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Adam . . 7/27/13 10:02 PM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Simon T. 7/27/13 1:24 PM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Robert McLune 7/27/13 2:58 PM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Dream Walker 7/27/13 12:43 PM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Robert McLune 7/27/13 2:50 PM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Robert McLune 7/27/13 3:49 PM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Richard Zen 7/27/13 6:03 PM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Robert McLune 7/27/13 8:32 PM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Dream Walker 7/27/13 6:15 PM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Robert McLune 7/27/13 8:31 PM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? . Jake . 7/27/13 6:45 PM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Robert McLune 7/27/13 8:59 PM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Robert McLune 7/27/13 9:26 PM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? Robert McLune 7/27/13 10:53 PM
RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input? -- Timus -- 7/28/13 11:20 AM
I'm practicing away every morning -- just sitting for about 35 minutes, noting breath at the nostrils or my abdominal movements on days when my nose is blocked(!) My intent is really just to establish a good consistent habit of daily sitting, maybe achieving access concentration or into jhanas after a while. All standard samatha-in-preparation-for-vipassana stuff. I can develop other aspects later -- for now, build the habit and try not to kill anyone in the process.

Also, I precede each morning sit with 5 or 10 minutes of reading, just to calm my thinking down a bit. I have, to a fault, a very "intellectual" tendency (I mean I analyze stuff a lot, not that I'm smart), so for the time being I stay away from analytical and scholarly works. My reading is more spiritual-motivation than theoretical, although I don't want touchy-feel fluff. I started with something simple -- Vern Lovics "22 Day" course -- and then looked at some pieces from the Dhammapada. I'm currently on "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind". In each case I read just a chapter or two each morning, and then I sit.

But I fear that in my reading I have unintentionally opened a can of worms!

First, I'll note that I have been finding "Zen Mind Beginner's Mind" really helpful. I did try to read it once before, a year or so ago, and couldn't make head nor tail of it. I'm not sure that "making head or tail" is what I'm now managing to do, but it's definitely clicking more for me. The problem is that it's very usefulness has triggered what at first was a minor niggle but which then grew into a full-bown "WTF?". Basically I'm seeing that on the one hand both the Dhammapada and ZMBM (plus Lovic's admittedly less prestigious book -- although I thought it was great) to be useful, I also see that they appear *utterly different*. I mean, let's not mess with words here, whatever Zen is, it seems to be utterly different from the general thrust of MCTB (for example). And now that I've started digging, I find that the single word "Buddhism" is covering a *vast* pile of stuff, a lot of parts therein that bear almost no resemblance to any other parts.

For now, I'm still sitting, but it is a sheer act of faith on my part. I have some kind of gut feel that somewhere deep in that vast pile there is something worth sitting for. But it also seems that much of the pile is, to put it mildly, shit. And maybe what I'm doing now is shit.

Based on what the vastness of this entire area, and the huge number of different teachers and practices, simple math says that unless much of it is "valid" the probability of a non-expert picking something worthwhile may be vanishingly small. It is quite depressing. And even "just keep sitting and noting" is not useful advice because the problem I'm facing is one of choosing, and that advice *is* a choice. Maybe sitting and noting is shit!

Anyone got any advice on handling this confusion? I mean, here's a specific example. My initial interest in Buddhism came from watching Matthieu Ricard (Tibetan) on TED. Probably as a reaction against my own religious background, I began practicing in Zen (thinking, at the time, it was the least "religious" kind of Buddhism). But what really lit a fire under my ass was Daniel's MCTB (Theravadan Vipassana-ish, especially Mahasi). And that latter was enhanced by watching some of Noah Yuttadhammo's videos. Then, bringing it up to date, I really am liking the "Zen Mind Beginner's Mind" stuff, and there's a very active Zen center in my town where I could get good practice support. So should I join my Zen center and give that a go? or try the local Theravadan monastery? Or maybe look for some Tibetan teaching? Or just keep doing stuff on my own? All of those have appeal. But all of it may well be crap. Or maybe some is. I really have no idea.

HOW ON EARTH DOES ONE CHOOSE!?

Any help appreciated. (I can't be the first person to face this question.)

Sigh :-(

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 3:31 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Hey Robert,
i can certainly relate to your motivational issues. i too have spent a great deal of time and energy trying to parse the truth out of many different teachings and teachers and reconciling those to a standard mechanistic or even quantum world view.

that is all an attempt to find an intellectual framework in which to fit the enormous volume of experience you have. some of it fits some of it doesn't and everyone is subtley unique in how the process these apparent paradoxes.

there is something driving you in this direction. is it only intellectual? psychological? who knows?

in my opinion, trying to compare philosophies might be relavant and or pleasurable but in the end they play a supporting role at best in the drive to direct ultimate experience. in zen they sit and don't talk much about how that works. in mahayana buddhism they teach a lot and talk a lot about rational frameworks filled with tons of content. in the mahasi tradition the focus mainly on a simple technique and a relatively pared down rational framework. and there are lots and lots of other mystical traditions out there with a plethora of techniques, psychological frameworks and dogmas.

sitting and focusing in and stilling the compulsive mind work is common to most traditions and is the way to dive down into direct experience and to ultimately see past the intellectual conundrums.

so, find a contemplative practice which allows you to get down to simpler and simpler states of being. try to notice patterns over time and sits. that will make you your own authority based on your own experience.

i like the satipatana framework because it helps me get past some of my own intellectualizing tendencies. it lets a part of my mind hold onto the intellectual part of that meditation until i no longer need that support because at some point i am automatically pulled in the direction of vipassana. your mileage may vary and there are lots of techniques as you know.

when milarepa was leaving his long time student, gampopa, for the last time his final lesson as he walked away over a bridge wsa to pull down his pants and show Gampopa his leathery wrinkled ass. this was to show hime that he could intellectualize all he wanted to but in the end it was the time spent on his hind end that mattered most.

cheers

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 4:52 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Tbh, what helped me the most to choose was my understanding of my Myers-Briggs personality type! This issue of being overwhelmed by possibilities that all seem to be perfectly valid is a result of your extroverted intuition. And judging by your self-description as being highly intellectual, this function is likely to be either your dominant or auxiliary (I'll spare you the details). But the thing to see is, because of its prominent role in how you choose to deal with the world, a meditation technique (like noting) that draws from that energy could actually be a lot more beneficial to you than, say, contemplating zen koans, which strike me as suitable for individuals with a dominant/auxiliary introverted intuition.

The MBTI does have a few superficial aspects to it that could be off-putting for some, but dig deeper into it and you will find a lot of invaluable information... and probably even valid explanations for why, based on your cognitive functions, you were one of those people!

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 11:09 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
A thing you can do, is to pay attention to the push/pull process that arises in you. Just sit there and pay attention to what want to get you moving. There will be aversion, desire, discomfort. There will take the form of intention in the mind but get to the root of it, that is, the actual physical discomfort associated with it. See how some basic discomfort, or suffering, make the mind suggest alternative activities, to avoid staying with it. Ask yourself if you are Enlightened yet. If you can answer no to that question, you know why you are interested by this practice. If you can see in you what make you not enlighten, you know why you want to do this practice. Stay with this awareness of what make you not enlighten as long as you can, as often as you can during the day, during any activities. Develop the habit of remembering it again and again and again. Once this will be well established in your mind, the appeal of the various meditation techniques will manifest by itself. In other words, get to know the problem before picking the tool.

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 11:18 AM as a reply to tom moylan.
Tom, BB, thanks for your replies. I really appreciate you taking the time. But I clearly wasn't clear in my description of the problem.

From my unenlightened position, the world of meditation practice and so on reduces to a range of guidelines about "what to do next". For example:
  1. Do Mahasi noting
  2. Just sit
  3. Do metta
  4. Find a pretty girl and stay within 15' of her at all times
  5. Sit upright and watch your breath, AND EVEN VARIOUS FORMS OF:
  6. "Find a contemplative practice which allows you to get down to simpler and simpler states of being. try to notice patterns over time and sits." OR EVEN THINGS LIKE
  7. "Use MBTI"
  8. And many *many* more from all the "teachers" and all the schools and methods that identify themselves in some way as "Buddhist"

Faced with that list my question is simple (to state, at least):

Given that some of the items on the list are probably hokum, how do I identify at least one that is *not* (hokum)?

But Tom, your answer to that was essentially to say "Oh well 6 is not hokum, so choose 6".

You may even be right, but I can't tell. I don't know you, I don't yet know what a "simpler state of being" is, so item 6 may well be hokum. In fact, based on probabilities, its a fair bet that it is, but only because I suspect there's more hokum than non-hokum on the list and so the chances are that *any* given item on the list is hokum. This isn't a problem of you, or a problem of the essential profundity and "goodness" of whatever the core essence of Buddhism is. It's a problem of humanity, and of contamination of the good by the mundane. I cannot rely on my own authority (yet) -- if I could, I would. By all accounts, many practice approaches can take many years to get one to the stage where it becomes clear that "Yeah, that's actually been working" and not "Oops, hokum! Twenty years wasted."

And BB it's not a problem of me being overloaded by analysis either[1] (see item 7 above, but also [2] and [3] :-) ). Nor is it me refusing to have a poisoned arrow removed until I know who shot it. This is me saying that I absolutely want the arrow out but that I can see that not everyone who *claims* to provide arrow-removal services actually knows what they're doing. Some of them are just charlatans, well-meaning or not. At best case they may just waggle the arrow around, not making me much worse, but certainly not making me any better. Worst case , some actually shove in *more* arrows (maybe that's what acupuncturists are :-) ).

There's nothing new here. Surely concern for the significance and difficulty of this question was a primary part of Daniel's motivation for writing MCTB in the first place? Surely it's a primary part of what DhO is about?

But in that case, the problem -- separating the Gold Merchants from the Pyrites Pedlars -- is not in any way helped by someone saying "Well, *I* (or *That Guy There*) is a Gold Merchant; buy some of my/his stuff and in thirty years you'll see"

when milarepa was leaving his long time student, gampopa, for the last time his final lesson as he walked away over a bridge was to pull down his pants and show Gampopa his leathery wrinkled ass.

Yeah, and Abraham almost stabbed his kid to death on a hillside.
Flashing and near-homicide -- those old religious dudes sure issued forth a lot of hokum didn't they ;-)

R

[1] I *do* have that tendency, to be sure. But it's not what's at stake here.
[2] http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/4427952#_19_message_4473141
[3] http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/4427952#_19_message_4482556

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 11:36 AM as a reply to Simon T..
Thanks Simon

Simon T.:
A thing you can do, is ..


Add that to the list. :-)

I mean, yes, sure, absolutely. In fact I'm doing exactly what you suggest. But I don't happen to have a teacher for that approach, whereas there is a local Zen center. Should I go there instead? I do *like* the whole "Zen Mind Beginners Mind" thing. But then, if I do, should I then *not* do what you just suggested and instead do what they suggest (some form of "just sit")? Do they *not* do the concentration, and jhana, and vipassana thing of which Daniel Ingram speaks so very highly? Are they even heading in the same overall direction? What about Shinzen Young etc? Is *he* moving in the same direction? Are they all moving in the same direction? Are any of them moving in the *wrong* direction? Are any of them talking crap?

Let's look shall we? Google google google, and WTF!? Turns out what you just proposed, and Soto Zen, and Shinzen, and this, and that, and the other, are the tip of the iceberg. But in fact, it's a shitberg. Depending on how you look at it, "Buddhist meditation" covers only a tight circle of approaches centered around Mahasi Sayadaw or some bald guys in a Thai forest, or a well-nigh infinitely wide circle that includes alternative medicine, quantum mechanics, and sex with goats.

I'm not looking for yet another recommendation for an approach to meditation. I'm looking for an approach to choosing an approach. I have a poisoned arrow stuck in me; my hair is on fire. Yet it's not at all clear how many of the people offering to help aren't actually about to pour gasoline on my head while jiggling the arrow about.

Presumably you're following your own advice and doing the paying attention thing. In other words, you are *not* "just sitting" a la Zen, you're *not* sitting in a forest wearing robes, and you're *not* having sex with goats.

So you *made a choice*.

How?


In other words, get to know the problem before picking the tool.

That -- getting to know the problem -- requires the tool. You just proposed one in your "pay attention" suggestion. Fine, but it doesn't deal with the issue. Why that method of getting to know the problem? A Zen guy would say otherwise. A Tibetan, something else. A goat-shagger, something else again.

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 12:43 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Robert McLune:


HOW ON EARTH DOES ONE CHOOSE!?

Any help appreciated. (I can't be the first person to face this question.)

Sigh :-(

I found that underlying most of the traditions (besides the ritual religious crap) they agree with meditating of some sort. This breaks down to two kinds, concentration vs insite. If you focus on something static (unchanging) it is concentration and if you focus on something transitory it is insite.
You are trying to modify the sense of a permanent separate self such that you eliminate it. Insite seems the best way to do this with some concentration mixed in a little. Choose a insite practice that makes sense to you and that you can find support for. Look for pragmatic results oriented approaches if that is what you're into.
Zen will confuse the hell out of you...do you feel it? Is this post a reflection of this? That is what it is supposed to do. Break you out of your pattern of self. You will probably need professional guidance with this path to get nowhere/somewhere/moon on a puddle is not.
Oh, and stop waking the monkey and feeding him right before meditation. Read after meditation with the calmness and serenity and see what you get then.

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 12:53 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Most people don't know what tool will be best but use many of them and find out on the way. Experiment and find out for yourself what actually works. Thinking about future results is just more fixation no different than fixating on which item to choose on a menu. Papanca/mental proliferation/fixation on likes and dislikes and wanting things a certain way is a perfect example of stress that you are supposed to see and let go of in any practice. That stuff is right in front of you and you can let it go.


With noting (or any insight practice of BARE attention) the purpose of it is tuning you into what's automatically vibrating in your senses and then when you allow thoughts (including ones you want to get rid of) passaway naturally without repression (because you don't add a fixation over a like or dislike) you go in the direction you need to go. Thoughts are treated like a sixth sense and you need to see how certain mental fixations and thoughts hurt your body in REAL TIME. How do thoughts feel as opposed to what they mean? Seeing phenomena (especially in your mind) as all appearing to consciousness or knowing part of your mind (therefore it can't be a "self" or permanent) and disappearing over and over again will gradually get you disenchanted with those phenomena so that you will feel less mentally addicted/sticky and clingy towards them. You fixate less which reduces mental stress which gives you more energy to get on with your life and major goals.

There's no other way. You have to read lots and practice lots.

I hope that's useful.

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 1:24 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
How are you sure I'm not having sex with goat? emoticon My post what more about dealing with the motivational issue than a substitute for techniques. It's more something that I consider to be complementary. I don't like do give too many advice about practice as there is people here which much stronger practice than me and I'm starting to see the limits of my approach to this things and I'm in the process of changing it as it's not longer well suited for the stage I am in. My approach has been more about putting a lot of energy in the training in morality, making the goal of putting my shit together an urgency, and using my sitting practice to support that goal. But it worked so far to some extend. I see the practice as a constant alignment of intention and action. I want to eliminate the gap between my ideal response and my actual response, and this imply improving myself, actually making effort toward a goal that I consider to be wholesome and free of a self, but also lowering the bar, revisiting all those ideas I have of perfection.

When it comes to techniques, each techniques will give different results depending the stage you are in. Consider someone who didn't cross the A&P and is just beginning the practice. What could be useful to that person is a technique to actually "get it". To know the difference between paying attention and getting lost in content. Mahasi noting is very powerful to train the mind to do that but there is still people that can sit on retreat for weeks and manage to not get anywhere. The reason might be that to make progress you actually need to make efforts, to really want to do this thing, and if someone doesn't consider Enlightenment the meaning of his life to begin with, it's going to be much easier to delude himself in some sort of "I'm mediating so well right now" thought process.

Then there is a stage like the A&P where you can harness all that energy to really go for it, on the cushion or real life. Then, after the A&P a person is now fucked up enough to know that he has not other choice but doing this thing. But then things fluctuate, some stages requires to be more gentle, some needs all our effort.

The irony here is that the Burmese are the one with the most comprehensive map but for most have a one-size-fits-all approach, which works very well on retreats if you can handle it, but which can be difficult to apply in real life in some context. Many advice you will get have their background in retreats, not real life.

We can develop concentration, we can develop insight, but if there is something we always feel like we never have enough, it's motivation. It's what make us go the extra mile, and there is always an extra mile to go. to become more and more uncompromising about this thing is a true measure of progress. To really bet all our chips on this thing. Let face it, we are dealing with the fundamental fear of death and there is nothing in this world that can be said to be important in the face of this reality.

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 2:50 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:

Zen will confuse the hell out of you...do you feel it? Is this post a reflection of this?

Yep, definitely. But it's not so much Zen per se, but rather when I saw how different Zen was from the Vipassana stuff, it just opened the floodgates to a "well what *else* is there I need to consider!"

If it was just Zen or Vipassana, I could pick one and get on with it. Actually, I may literally just reduce it to that and ask for specific advice on that question. But, in the context of this thread, the problem was when I saw just over overly simple that dichotomy was.


Oh, and stop waking the monkey and feeding him right before meditation. Read after meditation with the calmness and serenity and see what you get then.

I'm concluding that :-)
I thought it was helping. Actually, it was and *is* helping. The stuff I'm reading isn't "exploratory" or "investigative". It's verging on meditative itself. What woke the monkey (big-ass angry gorilla more like) wasn't my 5am dip into ZMBM but the subsequent hours on Google when I was thinking over the bigger picture. My plan here is to get that big-ass gorilla back in his playpen for a while.

Thanks for the input. Watch this space for my question on a Zen/Vipassana choice.

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 2:56 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen:
There's no other way. You have to read lots and practice lots.

I hope that's useful.


Thanks Richard. It all was, and especially the last bit. Me asking here is part of the "read lots" aspect.

I don't and never have expected anyone to provide The Answer in this stuff. This struggle -- and again, I don't think it's just or even mainly a function of me -- is presumably part of the Buddha's final "Work hard to gain your own salvation."

When I was a Christian, a common phrase I heard was that in trying to "spread the word of Christ" one of the biggest challenges is to first clear up the mess that other Christians have left behind. I don't think that's entirely inappropriate here. I still believe -- suspect, hunch, smell, call it what you will -- that somewhere in this Buddhism business is something of unbelievably high value. But that hasn't stopped a couple of millennia of human ideological detritus building up over the years, making the job harder than it otherwise would be. Dukkha piled on the dukkha. Ah well :-)

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 2:58 PM as a reply to Simon T..
Simon T.:
How are you sure I'm not having sex with goat? emoticon

Because I asked her and she said she belongs to me and me alone :-)
(If I find out she's been cheating on me, it'll be goat-korma-alama-ding-dong when I get home!)

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 3:20 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Hey Robert

The thing is that no matter how deep your analysis goes you will never find certainty through it. No interpretation or belief or moral will be stable, ever.

Think about it: can you imagine any scenario that would be undoubtable? Any incredible vision or unfathomable silence of mind that would let you know with certainty that you are on the True Path? I have had some crazy experiences and the next morning I wake up and the thinking mind is 100% capable of doubting it. The thinking mind/personality/ego will never ever find certainty, but I think that is what you are hoping for.

Certainty/safety are simply not to be found that way. Here is a nice quote that explains where certainty/truth are found from J. krishnamurti's own description of the core of his teachings:

http://www.jkrishnamurti.org/about-krishnamurti/the-core-of-the-teachings.php
The core of Krishnamurti’s teaching is contained in the statement he made in 1929 when he said, “Truth is a pathless land”. Man cannot come to it through any organization, through any creed, through any dogma, priest or ritual, not through any philosophical knowledge or psychological technique. He has to find it through the mirror of relationship, through the understanding of the contents of his own mind, through observation and not through intellectual analysis or introspective dissection.

Man has built in himself images as a fence of security—religious, political, personal. These manifest as symbols, ideas, beliefs. The burden of these images dominates man’s thinking, his relationships, and his daily life. These images are the causes of our problems for they divide man from man. His perception of life is shaped by the concepts already established in his mind. The content of his consciousness is his entire existence. The individuality is the name, the form and superficial culture he acquires from tradition and environment. The uniqueness of man does not lie in the superficial but in complete freedom from the content of his consciousness, which is common to all humanity. So he is not an individual.

Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not choice. It is man’s pretence that because he has choice he is free. Freedom is pure observation without direction, without fear of punishment and reward. Freedom is without motive; freedom is not at the end of the evolution of man but lies in the first step of his existence. In observation one begins to discover the lack of freedom. Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.

[...]


TJ Brocoli in a DhO post put it another way, a reflection I have used over and over and over again.

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/2324721#_19_message_2325446
think about it--what's the only thing you have that's totally fail-proof? the only way to stay perfectly clear from any kind of wrong view? how can you orient your mind so that there's not a chance you're gonna screw it up and generate new tensions, complications, or hindrances? the only thing you can really really trust is how things appear to your perception at the sense doors--feel that sensation, see that, hear that, taste that, smell that, notice that thought arise. those are your only faculties for direct knowledge and your express ticket for moving in the right direction, so keep your watch at the sense doors like a top guard dog, and every thought and feeling that arises concerning practice (that's not about paying attention to the senses) is potential bullshit and not to be trusted, and a waste of precious moments of practice opportunities.


Pure camera-like observingness is your faculty for direct knowledge. Look there for certainty. You will find joy, caring, and friendliness too if you trust the actions that spontaneously arise from it.

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 3:49 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
OK, thanks everyone for your advice. It's been *very* helpful. Actually, just *getting* advice was helpful. Nice to know one isn't alone, right? So, let me wind this down by focusing back on a specific and very practical point and maybe you can advise.

I'm managing to get a decent base of practice going, at least in terms of doing it regularly. But it's all on my own, and based on only a cursory understanding from things like MCTB plus various internet places. I think I need to find some support, at least in the form of other meditators, but ideally also with a teacher involved. I can think of at least three options that make practical sense. One is to join my local Zen center and get involved there. Another is to make use of a local Burmese Theravadan monastery connected (I believe) with this guy. A third option is to get into some of Shinzen Young's Home Practice stuff. Here's what I'm thinking on those:

Zen

Pros:
I like the austere, non-intellectual approach, as a counterbalance to my innate tendency to intellectualize.
It is a well-established Zen center, resident priests, good community of people, retreats, etc. They sit daily -- twice daily even.
Cons:
WTF *is* Zen!?
My original motivation for doing meditation was to enhance concentration and focus, and although I'm seeing beyond that now, it's still a motivation. I've heard all about how samatha meditation helps with that, but zazen? Does it lead anywhere; does it do anything? Does it manage to achieve it in less than 70 years of work?


Vipassana/Theravada

Pros:
This seems to be closest to MCTB and is really why I'm here (as I understand it at the moment). Samatha and then Vipassana, jhanas, progress of insight, dark night, stream entry, the whole shebang.
Cons:
I don't know the local monastery people much at all. They're Burmese and it's heavily "cultured" (less a problem, more just a bit strange). They don't meet too often. And I don't know much at all about Sitagu Sayadaw (Ashin Nyanissara). Again, there's the "hokum or no-hokum" question. Are they legit?

Shinzen

Pros:
I really like Shinzen's style, from what I've seen. He is a mad geek of a meditator, and in some ways he may have done all the hard hokum/no-hokum work for me. He's done the Zen thing, and the Vipassana thing, and he appears to be cutting away the crap and getting to the good stuff. What's not to like? Well, two things
Cons:
I don't think that home practice isn't going to be as good face-to-face involvement. I've no doubt it's way better than nothing, but I imagine even Shinzen would say it's better if you teacher and student can be in the same place.

OK, so there you go. Any advice on choosing?

R

P.S. There is a second "Con:" for Shinzen, but I'm pulling it down here so as not to muddy the above with tangential discussion. It is however a big red flag for me. Shinzen gave a public endorsement of his onetime teacher Joshu Sasaki. It was before the recent allegations of misconduct, and I don't believe that Sasaki's alleged behavior necessarily in any way reduces the validity of Shinzen's teaching, but he really should address this hanging thread. Curiously I can no longer find the video where Shinzen says he reckons that Sasaki is pretty much at the Bodhisatva stage, but I'm sure he said it. And anyway, this video contains an almost equally ringing endorsement, when Shinzen refers to Sasaki as being "arguably the senior living Buddhist master in the world" (sure, "senior" can mean anything, but there's no doubt Shinzen was giving a heavy duty endorsement of Sasaki in this case). For me, Shinzen's approach and his judgement is significantly undermined until he balances his earlier comments in light of the recent scandal. If Sasaki did the things he did (although, to be fair, how could the vast majority of any of us out here on the internet know that), then it demands an explanation, especially given the public nature of Shinzen's early comments.

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 4:02 PM as a reply to Adam . ..
Hey Adam,

I'm concluding this thread in another post with a practical question about choosing some next steps in my practice (see my most recent post). But, since I'm feeling playful :-) (and there is a serious issue at stake) ...

Adam . .:
The thing is that no matter how deep your analysis goes you will never find certainty through it.

Are you certain about that?
If you are, how did you find certainty and how can you being certain be made relevant to someone else, in this case me?
If you are not certain, why should I listen to you?

No interpretation or belief or moral will be stable, ever.

Is what you just said -- it's an interpretation .. a belief, right? -- stable?
If so, whence the stability?
If not, you're just another part of the noise, no?

Certainty/safety are simply not to be found that way. Here is a nice quote that explains where certainty/truth are found from J. krishnamurti's own description of the core of his teachings...


And what about those very teachings from Krishnamurti? Are they reliable? Is his statement that "Truth is a pathless land" true?
If so (or not) how do you know?

You see where this goes, right? We're bumping into Wittgenstein's "Whereof one cannot speak, thereon one must remain silent." This is his Tractatus's ladder.

Pure camera-like observingness is your faculty for direct knowledge. Look there for certainty. You will find joy, caring, and friendliness too if you trust the actions that spontaneously arise from it.

Of course I will -- if what you just said is true. And I won't if it's not.

So we're still at square one.

Look. I have a practice for you. I guarantee it will bring you immediate and full liberation from all suffering in five days. It is the purest form of what the Buddha said. It has none of the since-added contaminants and all of the wisdom and skillfulness he first articulated. It is 100%, no doubt about it, absolutely certain even despite what Krishnamurti said, The Real Deal.

Would you like to take on this practice?
If not, why not?

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 4:44 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
are you experiencing what you are experiencing?

do you see the existential significance of the fact that you can't doubt that you are experiencing what you are experiencing?

sorry to ignore your questions but I do think you missed my point. I wasn't trying to convert you to a practice just pointing out the one thing that is certain: that you are aware. aren't you though?

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 5:01 PM as a reply to Adam . ..
Adam . .:
are you experiencing what you are experiencing?

Yes, of course, provided "what you are experiencing" is a coherent concept (which it is for me). Your question is testing a tautology which is true by definition. That's what "tautology" *means*. The truth of "The thing you are experiencing is the thing you are experiencing" is built into our use of words. It has nothing to do with Buddhism.

do you see the existential significance of the fact that you can't doubt that you are experiencing what you are experiencing?

No. I see existential significance in the mere fact that I *am* experiencing. But there's nothing existentially significant in propositions of the form "X is X".

sorry to ignore your questions but I do think you missed my point. I wasn't trying to convert you to a practice just pointing out the one thing that is certain: that you are aware. aren't you though?

I didn't think you were trying to convert me, but I did think you were trying to make language do something it cannot do. As to the significance of "cogito ergo sum", I'm in two minds about that. Or maybe I'm in "no" minds about it! emoticon

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 5:15 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Yes, of course, provided "what you are experiencing" is a coherent concept (which it is for me). Your question is testing a tautology which is true by definition. That's what "tautology" *means*. The truth of "The thing you are experiencing is the thing you are experiencing" is built into our use of words. It has nothing to do with Buddhism.


yes, it is tautological.

nothing to do with buddhism but something to do with the nature of reality. you said you didn't see the significance of it so let me try and point it out. if everything you are aware of is the same insofar as you are aware of it, then there is a stillness, a certainty, a safety, an unaffectability inherent to perceptual immediacy.

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 6:03 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
I would learn them all.

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 6:12 PM as a reply to Adam . ..
Adam . .:
you said you didn't see the significance of it so let me try and point it out. if everything you are aware of is the same insofar as you are aware of it, then there is a stillness, a certainty, a safety, an unaffectability inherent to perceptual immediacy.


"everything you are aware of is the same insofar as you are aware of it" ?? That's not what you asked me about.

The thing of which I saw no existential significance was the fact that I cannot doubt the truth of a tautology. And of course I can't. I can no more see such significance in the proposition "p is p" than I can in the contradiction "p is not-p". But these are just high school grammar and logic games. They have no epistemological or ontological (or "existential" if you like) significance whatsoever. I mean, do *you* see existential significance in the fact that <wibbledy-wobbledy-woo> is <wibbledy-wobbledy-woo>?

OK, but *here* in *this* post you seem to have moved onto a different topic. You're now, anew, talking about "sameness" across my perceptions. That's a completely different thing to what you were asking before. Or, at least I think it is; I'm not actually sure now what you're saying.

I suspect there's something cool you have to say here, but you need to be careful with words. What we "say" is made of words and something otherwise profound can be rendered nonsense by words. So, what is it you are saying?

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 6:15 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Robert McLune:
OK, thanks everyone for your advice. It's been *very* helpful. Actually, just *getting* advice was helpful. Nice to know one isn't alone, right? So, let me wind this down by focusing back on a specific and very practical point and maybe you can advise. Any advice on choosing?

What's your goal? I assume enlightenment. Which one? That answer might narrow it down...
Zen - I just read Alan Watts "The way of Zen" and it explains it pretty well....so much better than Zen Mind Beginners Mind...but still mostly un-understandable as far as what are they doing what they do and how "it" happens. I see it being kinda hard outside of being in the middle of it at a monastery for a long time. Try reading Watts' book and see what you think.
Vipassana - Read MCTB, practice, follow the progress of insite when you can and BAM ....no self style enlightenment....
Shinzen - I like his talks, have not followed his results of teaching. Are his students getting to enlightenment? Probably.

What's your timeframe? Why not try them all and see what does it for you? Oh, yer in a hurry? I hear Vipassana is kinda fast and has good luck at getting you to stream entry and beyond.
Message me if you wanna chat sometime.
Good luck,
~D

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 6:45 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Correct me if I'm wrong but it sounds like you are asking whether to study with this group or that group... if so, the issue is less to do with the content of their teaching (Zen? Theravada? Shinzen?) and more to do with the concrete dynamics of your interaction with that group and teacher. The content of all those teachings appears sensible to me according to my own experience and practice, although they are indeed different; they can be complimentary. But the real issue with a group/teacher is the interpersonal dynamics and whether you are compatible with them. You could get the best advice about the perfect teaching to follow and then go to that center and not get on well with the teacher or community; or they could even be dysfunctional.

You've gotta just try it. Try them all. See them (teachers, teachings and groups) pragmatically and not dogmatically. They don't need to be 'right' or 'true' and you simply don't need to be certain or correct. Just go in there with the attitude of finding what is useful to you and putting it into practice. How do you choose what to put into practice if you don't know? Put it into practice and feel it out, test it out. There is no other way. This is not something that you can conceptualize the perfect view of beforehand. However, if you are really strongly driven to 'have it all figured out' before hand, then just pick any of them, buy into it completely, and practice wholeheartedly for six months. Then check in with yourself to see how it has held up in your experience.

Oh, and you already are the authority in your own experience. There's no way around that either. You are the authority in believing in your doubting questioning thoughts, and in asking these penetrating questions. You are the authority when you practice a method and experience what comes of it. You are already the authority in your own experience.... best to be honest about that. No one is really going to answer your question to your satisfaction, most likely. But maybe at some point you will decide that they have and follow their advice.

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 6:51 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Robert McLune:
Adam . .:
you said you didn't see the significance of it so let me try and point it out. if everything you are aware of is the same insofar as you are aware of it, then there is a stillness, a certainty, a safety, an unaffectability inherent to perceptual immediacy.


"everything you are aware of is the same insofar as you are aware of it" ?? That's not what you asked me about.

The thing of which I saw no existential significance was the fact that I cannot doubt the truth of a tautology. And of course I can't. I can no more see such significance in the proposition "p is p" than I can in the contradiction "p is not-p". But these are just high school grammar and logic games. They have no epistemological or ontological (or "existential" if you like) significance whatsoever. I mean, do *you* see existential significance in the fact that <wibbledy-wobbledy-woo> is <wibbledy-wobbledy-woo>?

OK, but *here* in *this* post you seem to have moved onto a different topic. You're now, anew, talking about "sameness" across my perceptions. That's a completely different thing to what you were asking before. Or, at least I think it is; I'm not actually sure now what you're saying.

I suspect there's something cool you have to say here, but you need to be careful with words. What we "say" is made of words and something otherwise profound can be rendered nonsense by words. So, what is it you are saying?


Sometimes something profound is rendered nonsense by an obsession with preconceived notions. From my experience in practice, I found Adam's two posts coherent and sensible. You are quibbling semantics and he is pointing at your experience. Experiencing your experiencing, explicitly, without adding a bunch of preconceived concepts and assumptions to what that *is*, is the whole point of practice. Expressed linguistically it is just a pointer; interpreted literally it is merely a tautology. Nevertheless, each one of us to varying degrees is clear/unclear on the simple significance of experiencing and what experiencing actually is. So, are you experiencing your experiencing right now? How hard is it to do that? When you let it be that simple, is there clarity or doubt in your experience as a whole? If you are full of doubts and questions, aren't you clear about that fact? Aren't those thoughts and feelings and sensations what you are experiencing right now? How is it with those thoughts feelings and sensations? How do they manifest and interact with each other?

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 7:30 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
well I was definitely thinking of the same insight throughout these posts but I'm not surprised it doesn't seem so. let me say what I am trying to say in the clearest way possible, there is an inherently liberated aspect of perceptual immediacy that is certain in that you don't have to believe in anything to recognize it.

I thought it would be good to point this out to you at this time as you seem to be looking for direct knowledge through indirect means I.e. descriptions of reality: concepts, schools of thought, analyses and interpretations.

I do find significance in tautologies such as p is p. people say things like "it is the way it is" or "we will get there when we get there" all the time. these are tautologies pointing to the stillness of existence, how things are always here and now (in other words everything that we experience is awareness). they point to the fact that whatever happens it is of the "one taste" of *happening* the taste of existence. tuning to that taste is the one safe way to incline the mind.

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 8:31 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:

What's your goal? I assume enlightenment. Which one? That answer might narrow it down...

To begin with, it was to get more concentration in my daily life. Also, maybe get more focus and "self control" -- help me lose some weight and so on.

But now, having been practicing for a while and having learned more about it, my goal is bigger than that. I don't know how much bigger to expect, but enlightenment? Sure.

Which one? How many are there?

What's your timeframe? Why not try them all and see what does it for you? Oh, yer in a hurry? I hear Vipassana is kinda fast and has good luck at getting you to stream entry and beyond.

As soon as possible, but as long as it takes? Yes, I'm in a hurry, but I'm not hurrying, if you know what I mean.

But take your Vipassana comment. If it's fast then why would someone *not* choose to do it, and instead do something else?


Message me if you wanna chat sometime.


Thanks, I may take you up on that.

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 8:32 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen:
I would learn them all.

In parallel? Or in sequence?

I'm guessing by your display name that you practice Zen, yes? Have you done others? Again, at the same time, or one at a time?

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 8:46 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
. Jake .:

Sometimes something profound is rendered nonsense by an obsession with preconceived notions. From my experience in practice, I found Adam's two posts coherent and sensible.

And sometimes nonsense can be mistaken for profundity by an obsession with pseudo-religious terminology.

It's nice you found Adam's posts coherent, although that may say more about your tendency to see nonsense as sense, than my tendency to see the opposite. More important though, Adam was talking to me, not you, and in the context of questions I raised, so he needs to speak a language I understand. You may already get what he's saying, and so can overlook his words, but I don't so I can't.

You are quibbling semantics and he is pointing at your experience.

He may have been *trying* to point at my experience, but he didn't do that. The concepts at stake here -- and whether they are real or imagined, worthy or not -- are both significant and difficult (for me). Lack of precision in our speech just makes matter worse. So I'm not quibbling, I'm trying to get clarity. As I say, *you* may be able to *assume* Adam's intended meaning because you already know what he's trying to say, but can't because I don't.

Experiencing your experiencing, explicitly, without adding a bunch of preconceived concepts and assumptions to what that *is*, is the whole point of practice.

Yeah, in your opinion. But I don't know you. I don't know your practice, nor your level of understanding. So merely asserting things isn't adding anything to the conversation. Worst case, you're just accusing me of quibbling and implying that I'm obsessed.

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 8:59 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
. Jake .:
Correct me if I'm wrong but it sounds like you are asking whether to study with this group or that group... if so, the issue is less to do with the content of their teaching (Zen? Theravada? Shinzen?) and more to do with the concrete dynamics of your interaction with that group and teacher.

This latter part of the thread is about studying with this or that group, yes. But you can say the content doesn't matter because you have arrived at a place where you believe that ... well, that the content doesn't matter! :-)

I'm not there yet. Maybe the content does not matter, but *I* -- in working out my own salvation -- haven't yet concluded that. In fact, I'll go further. I currently believe that the content *does* matter. I don't think everyone in the world who calls themselves a Buddhist teacher is an effective Buddhist teacher. I don't believe that everyone in the world who says that by doing what they suggest I can be enlightened is genuine or correct.

People talking nonsense do exist.

You've gotta just try it. Try them all.

OK. Well I forgot one option. Can you advise me on this.

This style of Buddhism involves never meditating. Instead you have to analyze things to death, quibbling over semantics, and seeing things dogmatically, not pragmatically. An essential part of it is that you must never practice. It also says that you must never ever consider yourself to be an authority in your own experience. Instead, you have to kiss the feet of the head guy in this system and pay him $50.

Now, given that you say content doesn't matter, should I go ahead and begin that Buddhist path? Do you still think I should "try them all"?

No? Good. Then how do you decide which ones are not even worth trying?

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 9:12 PM as a reply to Adam . ..
Adam . .:
people say things like "it is the way it is" or "we will get there when we get there" all the time. these are tautologies pointing to the stillness of existence, ...

No they're not. They're cultural idioms, or codes for "Try to accept what you cannot change" and "Would you kids stop asking 'are we there yet?'!" They are ways of saying things subtly, and in a disguised fashion, because for some reason the clearer and direct approach is inappropriate. The tautology is not carrying meaning, it is *hiding* meaning, but it's hiding it on purpose.

But here, you are simply not saying what you think you are saying -- not to me anyway. As I say, you may well have something important to say, and apparently Jake thinks so too. But presumably he knows your code. I don't.

For example:

they point to the fact that whatever happens it is of the "one taste" of *happening* the taste of existence. tuning to that taste is the one safe way to incline the mind.


You see, I don't speak that code. Ich verstehe nicht, was das bedeutet. Deine Worte sind ungenau und verwirrend, weil ich nicht verstehe Ihre Sprache. But at least you're no longer using *broken* language. Now me not understanding what you're saying is *merely* because I haven't yet grasped the mapping from your words to the underlying concepts. That's a tractable problem. Trying to extract meaning from "p is p", in this context, is not, because using "p is p" in that way is a whole other Language Game. And I'm not even sure it's well-formed, Jake's claim to understand you notwithstanding.

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 9:26 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Here's a little example of what I'm talking about. It's from the comments here -- the one by "david stringer" on Jan 14 2013:

I practised Zen (Shikantaza) for 12 years before realising it just wasn’t “doing it” for me, even after 6 week-long retreats or “sesshin” under a wonderful sensei. I thus began studying the Buddha’s own teachings in the sutras and after reading the descriptions of Jhana I very soon found my sits increasing naturally from the usual Zen 35 minutes to an hour and longer. Piti and sukha and a sometimes blinding white “nimitta” became regular friends and now, two years later, I practise 2 hours daily, in addition to trying to stay “mindful” also throughout the day. I am astounded and disappointed that so many “Buddhist” teachers disrespect Jhana (I have personally encountered this) and am sure it is simply because they have not been able to experience it. Once you do, you would never diss it. I have now completely left behind the Mahayana teachings with their heavy North Asian cultural influences, and am completely happy with the the Dharma in the Buddha’s own words.


Twelve years. Twelve f*cking years! Now I realize that this was just his experience. And it's conceivable that he benefited hugely from those 12 years, prior to moving to the other style. In fact it's also conceivable that he made a bad move and should have stuck with the Zen.

But let's call a spade a spade people. It's also conceivable that he would have been far better figuring it out in year one, and moving to Theravada/Vipassana/whatever-the-hell-it-was-he-moved-to right away! Isn't that whole bloody point of some of Daniel's rants in MCTB. SOME. OF. THE. STUFF. OUT. THERE -- even some of what looks old and venerable -- IS. CRAP.

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 10:02 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
let me say what I am trying to say in the clearest way possible: there is an inherently liberated aspect of perceptual immediacy that is certain in that you don't have to believe in anything to recognize it.


That aspect is simply its presence, its existence. What has this quality of presence? Anything you know directly. What do you know directly? sights, sounds, tastes, smells, feelings, thoughts i.e. experiences. This quality of presence is safe and stable because it exists in/as everything. You can pick up this quality of reality by paying attention to things in terms of their presence rather than in terms of their goodness/badness/helpfulness/meaning/rightness/wrongness etc. In other words by paying bare attention, bare of interpretation or judgment or evaluation (just what everyone always says... this really is nothing new).

I will put in a disclaimer because this seems more obvious with this way of explaining it and we have gone to such trouble over it. I am pointing these qualities of presence out because you seemed to be looking for the qualities (namely certainty) in schools of thought and other such things. Certainty can be found in the discernment of presence through attention/sensing/awareness. When discerning the presence of sight you can be certain that sight is present.

One can take refuge in the certainty, stillness, clarity etc. of this discernment of presence.

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/27/13 10:53 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Thanks all for your various inputs. But here's exactly what I was looking for. Shinzen, once again, logical and precise as ever, nails it:

http://here-and-now.org/VSI/Articles/TheoryMed/theoryHow.htm

RE: Hitting a big motivational issue - any input?
Answer
7/28/13 11:20 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Hi Robert, I've not much to add here. Just 2 points:

Often practice tends to be rather tedious and hard work at the beginning. A lot of folks don't like that. (Especially when they have read all kind of awesome stuff about stages and such and they don't show up right away.) And one way to avoid that is to get into discussions and struggles like yours here. I'm not saying that's what's happening! Just be aware.

You seem to trust Daniel and tend to have an inkling toward vipassana? If so, I'd recommend to take that road. Put in as much hard work as possible for a couple of months. It's highly likely that you will then move into the 2. vipassana jhana, and when that's done you don't have to care about motivation for a while. Afterwards you know it's for real and don't worry on that front so much any more. Probably. No guarantees though. emoticon

Edit: I forgot: Check out the last two Buddhist Geeks podcasts with Ken McLeod, especially number 291 Questioning Frameworks of Practice.