Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

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Avi Craimer, modified 7 Years ago.

Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

Posts: 114 Join Date: 10/29/13 Recent Posts
I've done a lot of work with shamanic journeying, which is related to the “powers” realm. Until recently, I didn't make much connection between my shamanic work and vipassana. Shamanic journeying seemed to be all content related, talking to spirits, discovering archetypes, healing emotional wounds, that sort of thing.

One common occurrence in the shamanic world is something called dismemberment, which is where the shaman sees his body torn apart by spirits, often in graphic and brutal fashion. Usually, after a dismemberment one experiences a re-birth into a new and more powerful form. Despite it’s gruesomeness, the dismemberment is always beneficial for the shaman. I can't help but see a parallel between this process and the insight cycle. The dukka stages being dismemberment, and equanimity/fruition being the rebirth. In fact, I suspect strongly that this is more than a parallel, but may be actually the same thing reflected through two different levels of consciousness. i.e., the dissolution and clear perception of some aspect of our attachments, which would be experienced through vipassana as the stages of insight, is experienced through the shamanic world in terms of content which symbolically reflects the stages.

At any rate, although I'd experienced numerous death-rebirth cycles in the shamanic world, a few days after my vipassana meditation retreat a week ago, a very strange thing started happening when I went to the shamanic world. It seemed that the entire world was in the process of dying. As soon as I entered the lower shamanic world, I was surrounded by zombie like corpses of all my familiar spirit helpers. Going to familiar places in the shamanic world, all was ruin and decay with walls and trees dripping in blood. Buildings and even mountains started crumbling to pieces before my eyes. It reminded me a great deal of the film The Never Ending Story, where Fantasia is swallowed up by The Nothing. I realized that that film is actually a key to this process of world-dismemberment. I felt a strong feeling that as the world fell apart, the separation between me and it was also breaking apart. This definitely seemed to be vipassana related.

Anyway, I stayed with the process, not freaking out and just watching everything crumble. This took me through a few review cycles. A few days later when I returned, the process had accelerated to the point where the moment I looked at anything solid it instantly shattered into thousands of pieces. Looking closely at the pieces they melted away into impermanent vibrating flux. One cool thing was that the non-solidity of the observer became very clear to me in this space. I found for a while that I could hold the shards of the formerly solid objects perfectly still, but when I did so then the "camera angle" through which I was watching them kept moving about. When I let the shard go back to flying around, the camera became still. This clearly illustrated the lack of separateness between the observer and the observed. Finally, I tried to let the shards and the camera move at the same time and this quickly caused the whole thing to implode into cessation.

For the last week or so, a new cycle of insight has be popping up and then disappearing again (I made a resolution to stay with the review cycle as long as possible to do more work). This morning I woke up and realized I was solidly in the new cycle. I have only the most vague awareness of the rapid fruitions of the old cycle, and the dominant experience is of some nasty hard pain in my spine, and there is a vague awareness of totally new objects that seem for the moment to be impenetrably dense. I checked back in with the lower world. As soon as I arrived, everything instantly shattered into tiny particles with no effort whatsoever. Then, however, my oldest and most trusted spirit helper re-appeared and was solid and impenetrable. I realized that this was my experience of him at the level of the new insight cycle. When he spoke to me, it was with a refreshing directness that I hadn’t heard before and he gave me some really good guidance. He told me not to try to dissolve the new layer of the shamanic world yet, but just to explore and work with content initially. This makes good sense to me. We went and visited some giant tribal mask things.

I have a strong hunch that unravelling the mysterious connection between the symbolic imagery of the shamanic world and the raw sensate level of vipassana is closely connected with the development of sambhogakaya, which Daniel describes as follows:

They see that the world of concepts,
language, symbols, visions, thoughts and dreams is fundamentally the
same as the world of materiality, that they both share the same essential
nature from an experiential point of view. Mastering the Budda's Teachings, p. 311


So the adventure continues!

I'd love to hear any other people's experiences of what the emergence of sambhogakaya was like.

Avi
Toronto Spiritual Direction
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
My reply isn't about sambhogakaya but I thought it would be relevant anyway based on what you said.

Avi Craimer:
I checked back in with the lower world. As soon as I arrived, everything instantly shattered into tiny particles with no effort whatsoever. Then, however, my oldest and most trusted spirit helper re-appeared and was solid and impenetrable. I realized that this was my experience of him at the level of the new insight cycle. When he spoke to me, it was with a refreshing directness that I hadn’t heard before and he gave me some really good guidance. He told me not to try to dissolve the new layer of the shamanic world yet, but just to explore and work with content initially. This makes good sense to me. We went and visited some giant tribal mask things.

If you're gonna keep going this route I would second 'his' advice. After my stream entry I was very hyper-charged and energetic. My first review phase was amazing and I could fruition at will doing just about anything. I would totally show off with it, too. Like I would be like "ok I'm gonna lean back in my chair, hang my head upside down, then have a fruition just for the heck of it", and then I would do exactly that. Great stuff.

Encouraged by that ease of mental manipulation, I decided to make as rapid progress as I could through the next cycle. Things started falling apart pretty quickly, though, and I got myself into a pretty unpleasant state wherein I would be making rapid progress through the cycles, yet I would also be in a lot of pain as a result of not going through it all carefully. I would say to take your time and really investigate, and heed well Daniel's advice in this easy-to-miss sentence of his:

On the other hand, even if you gain all kinds of strong concentration, look deeply into impermanence, suffering and no-self, but can't just open to these things, can't just let them be, can't accept the sometimes absurd and frightening truths of your experience, then you will likely be stuck in hell until you can, particularly in the higher stages of insight practices.

Further:
Too often there is an imbalance between the first three [factors] (mindfulness, investigation, and energy), and the last three [factors] (tranquility, concentration and equanimity). The vast majority of aspiring insight meditators are, to be honest, way, way, way too slack about the first three. Just so, some gung-ho meditators get into trouble when they don't cultivate enough acceptance, balance and peace, related to the second three. When people focus only on the middle factor, rapture, they become vapid bliss-junkies. In short, all seven factors are very important.

I've bolded the section that was relevant to me, and might also be relevant to you, as I notice you pouring tons of energy into this practice.

Good luck, and I would recommend you reflect often and well on what exactly your motivations are for pursuing this - that is, what you expect to get out of it - and what you are currently getting out of it, and whether those two are matching up.
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Avi Craimer, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

Posts: 114 Join Date: 10/29/13 Recent Posts
Thanks for the heads up, it's certainly always worth remembering how important equanimity is! Actually, I've already been through the kind of hell you describe. I started serious meditation about 5 years ago, and I started doing jhana practice with very little insight practice. Then on my first retreat I got stream entry, although I didn't know anything about the stages until about a month ago when I finally found Daniel's book. So, I hit my post-stream entry dark night phase and they just kicked my ass. I was stuck in what essentially felt like hell for the good part of two years. I basically tried to abandon insight practice and turned to western psychology, and other practices that focused on emotional content. This wasn't such a bad idea, and although the dukka stages kept on kicking my ass time and again, I just kept practice acceptance, love, divine service, mind-body work (tai-chi, body-work, etc), and symbolic work (Jungian, shamanism, crystals, sacred geometry, alchemy, etc). This actually brought me through at least one whole cycle of insight, as well as a lot of content-level physical and emotional healing, and developing a ton of equanimity. Of course, inevitably I was still using mindfulness and seeing my experience to some extent, but I wasn't doing any formal vipassana or mindfulness meditation for 3 years after my steam entry. Finally, last May, I got back to doing mindfulness meditation mixed in with a lot of devotional love practice (bhakti). This got me through to the end of another cycle. I don't know exactly if the cycle I've just started is my 3rd cycle of my 4th, because I didn't know about cycles at the time, and I wasn't keeping track, but clearly it's at least 3rd.

Encouraged by that ease of mental manipulation, I decided to make as rapid progress as I could through the next cycle. Things started falling apart pretty quickly, though, and I got myself into a pretty unpleasant state wherein I would be making rapid progress through the cycles, yet I would also be in a lot of pain as a result of not going through it all carefully.


Yeah, I can see how you could mess yourself up that way and your "proceed with caution" is very much appreciated. It's anyway the course I was planning to take. I resolved to stay in my previous cycle as long as possible to do as much work at that level as I could before moving on. I'm really not so anxious to move fast through this cycle, as the prospect of a totally new dark night scares the shit out of me. On the other hand, I think that I'll be so much more prepared to handle a new dark night, now that I actually have a good understanding of the process, which is so freaking valuable. I can hardly express the deep deep gratitude I have for Daniel and this whole community being open about this stuff. It's absolutely vital information, and it's almost criminal that the vast majority of meditation teachers who run silent retreats either don't know this stuff, or choose to keep it a secret. In my spiritual practice work, I've encountered several people in the midst of the dark night, who have know idea what's happening to them. I think unrecognised spiritual dark night stages are currently a massive epidemic that are causing untold havoc in our society.

Good luck, and I would recommend you reflect often and well on what exactly your motivations are for pursuing this - that is, what you expect to get out of it - and what you are currently getting out of it, and whether those two are matching up.


Well, in the review mastery phase that just ended I was getting lot's of great insight of both the vipassana variety and the philosophical variety (I happen to value the latter just as much as the former). I've also gotten a lot of personal healing, a vocation (spiritual director), a deeper connection to God and the spirit world, a deeper appreciation for the human condition (10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows), access to all the unconditional love and acceptance I could ever want . That's the big stuff. Lots of other cool side-effect stuff along the way too, like improved physical fitness, greater emotional intelligence (empathy), better physical balance, joint flexibility, and nearly completely resolving serious life-long chronic muscle pain.

What do I hope to get from continuing on the path going forward? After 5 years of big highs and lows, I'm simply committed now, and I want to bring this whole thing to something that feels like completion. I believe that I'll continue to serve God and do shamanic work long after I've reached the end of the insight path. I'm starting to become aware of the split here between those who are looking for what Daniel has attained, and the total freedom school that wants to end emotions completely. On a personal level, I'm definitely more interested in what Daniel's got. For me emotions are the stuff of life, and I have no wish to stop having them, any more than I'd want to stop having a body that gets sick and injured some of the time. I'm also very interested in sambhogakaya, and the other kayas, because they sound like the type of integrated holistic understanding of reality that I've always been searching for as a dedicated philosopher. Although, again, I don't think that enlightenment will end my philosophical quest, but rather it will free me to pursue it even more passionately.

What are your motivations Beoman?

Avi
Toronto Spiritual Direction
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Avi Craimer:
Thanks for the heads up, it's certainly always worth remembering how important equanimity is! Actually, I've already been through the kind of hell you describe. I started serious meditation about 5 years ago, and I started doing jhana practice with very little insight practice. Then on my first retreat I got stream entry, although I didn't know anything about the stages until about a month ago when I finally found Daniel's book. So, I hit my post-stream entry dark night phase and they just kicked my ass. I was stuck in what essentially felt like hell for the good part of two years. I basically tried to abandon insight practice and turned to western psychology, and other practices that focused on emotional content. This wasn't such a bad idea, and although the dukka stages kept on kicking my ass time and again, I just kept practice acceptance, love, divine service, mind-body work (tai-chi, body-work, etc), and symbolic work (Jungian, shamanism, crystals, sacred geometry, alchemy, etc). This actually brought me through at least one whole cycle of insight, as well as a lot of content-level physical and emotional healing, and developing a ton of equanimity. Of course, inevitably I was still using mindfulness and seeing my experience to some extent, but I wasn't doing any formal vipassana or mindfulness meditation for 3 years after my steam entry. Finally, last May, I got back to doing mindfulness meditation mixed in with a lot of devotional love practice (bhakti). This got me through to the end of another cycle. I don't know exactly if the cycle I've just started is my 3rd cycle of my 4th, because I didn't know about cycles at the time, and I wasn't keeping track, but clearly it's at least 3rd.

Oh ok, that makes sense. I likewise decided that discontinuing vipassana meditation was ultimately the way to go, though I don't plan on going back to it anytime soon (more below). I recognized the energy in your posts as that of a caliber equivalent to post-stream-entry which is why I thought you had just gotten that.

Avi Craimer:
What are your motivations Beoman?

Well whenever I was asked or asked myself what I wanted out of life, the only thing close to a satisfying answer I could come up with was "to be happy". The thought process was something like, well it's not a job in particular, or a family in particular, or a girl in particular, or a possession in particular, because I could have either one of those things without being happy. Rather, those are the things that might - or might not - be part of the life I want to have. The overarching theme is to be happy. However, I didn't really know how to go about doing that - being happy.

Then a new life began one New Year's Eve after dropping pure MDMA for the first time. A new world opened up! This awakened in me the notion that there was more to life than I previously thought. I am generally an anxious person and in that drug-induced state I felt so wonderful, and so free of any sort of anxiety or inhibition - yet also not aggressive by any means - that I knew I essentially wanted to feel that way all the time.

Fortunately I was not an idiot so I knew that simply taking MDMA on a regular basis was not a sustainable or ultimately satisfying approach. A few days before I had begun meditating out of the blue - I was just curious about it - and I figured meditation might be a way to get to that place. So I started doing that. At the same time, unrelated to the meditation, I simply began paying a lot more attention to how nice things really looked, how nice it was to shower, etc., basically things that rolling showed me a different perspective on. So my motivation at that point I suppose was to get closer and closer to a rolling-like state while sober.

Eventually I conflated the meditation with the enjoyment of the senses and thought they were doing the same thing. Plus there's tons of stuff about how to meditate *via* focusing on the senses. And a lot of material on how to meditate and how to get enlightened by meditating. Ooh boy I'm getting a feeling now like I did when I first got into this stuff. It was very exciting. Dan's book sealed the deal for me - I was going to get enlightened!

Thus my initial life motivation of just being happy, which later turned into wanting to experience life like rolling - which truly is a happy state - got transmogrified into the motivation to become enlightened. So I spent about a year and a half on that, getting some nice concentration along the way, stream entry as I've already mentioned, went through a bunch of cycles - I stopped counting but it was well over 10, and at some point they became irrelevant anyway - experienced a bunch of nice ASCs like all the jhanas and the "arupa jhanas" (what they are understood to be in MCTB, anyway), etc. But I wasn't getting happier. I was actually feeling worse than I used to before! I put it down for as long as I could to recurring dark nights and more meditation solving the issue, but at some point that was just untenable. It was clear meditating was making me feel worse.

So about a year and a half ago I visited a dude called Richard who claimed he found a third approach to life - one different than the scientific-materialistic 'normal life' that I used to be going through, and also different to the religious-mystical 'spiritual life' that I had been pursuing. You can read his story here if you are interested, and look at a website he helped to set up here for more, although there is a steep "learning curve" of getting used to the site... it's decidedly Web 1.0.

Essentially my goal now is not elimination of emotions, per se, but elimination of identity in total. Not only eliminating the ego, but also the soul. The soul is the seat of emotions, so when the soul gets eliminated, so do all of the following: the affective faculty, emotions, soul, ego, love, jealousy, rage, equanimity (as an emotional state), divine service, God itself, Emptiness, Nirvana, any Gods whatsoever, angels and demons, the 'real world' itself, the 'spiritual world' in its entirety, 'connections' and emotional bonding between people, etc... the 'good' emotions all along with the 'bad', since they are the same energy at root.

This might sound awful until you view it in terms of what remains. The main point is that the physical world is primary, not secondary. It's the physical world that gives rise to consciousness, not consciousness that gives rise to the physical world as is the conclusion one inevitably reaches if one pursues a spiritual path enough. What remains is just this physical world, with this body init - and consciousness as well, of course, for it's not consciousness that is eliminated, just the identity (and all the above). The nice thing about what remains is that it's amazingly impeccable. There's nothing wrong with it at all. All 'bad' emotions are gone, so there's no need for any 'good' emotions in order to cover them up. Plus it's a direct experience of the world as-it-is - I as the body am the senses, as opposed to a 'me' in here experiencing the senses. I realize that that's unfortunately not very helpful, since I read people saying that many times and didn't get it until I experienced it for myself, temporarily... In any case, it's intrinsically enjoyable, immensely pleasurable - Richard says he is swimming in largesse.

'I' can't get rid of 'myself', though - that only keeps 'me' alive. So the way for identity to be eliminated is that 'I' have to allow it to happen - then the universe does it for me. And the way of getting to the point where I would allow it to happen is by feeling - emotionally - as happy and free from malice as possible, because that is the only way to weaken 'me' to the point where I will allow 'myself' to disappear in order to allow the actual world to come into view.

Thus the goal of my life now is to be happy, and I'm actually undertaking a path whose explicit, primary goal - not a secondary one - *is* to be happy. So I'm much closer to what I wanted out of life when I was younger vs. when I undertook that spiritual detour! And I am definitely preferring this way of living.

Cheers,
Beoman Claudiu
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Avi Craimer, modified 7 Years ago.

Debate about Actualism vs Soul's Purpose

Posts: 114 Join Date: 10/29/13 Recent Posts
Dear Beoman,

Thanks for your honest sharing. I think our motivations couldn't be more different. I respect the fact that if your ultimate goal is to be happy, then the Actual Freedom path you describe might be the right way to go. I've never felt that happiness per se is the ultimate for myself. I taught university philosophy courses for a while, and it was always interesting to see how students responded to Robert Nozick's Experience Machine essay. Usually about half of them said they'd gladly step into the machine, and the other half said they wouldn't. When I first encountered that little thought experiment in undergrad, I was clearly on the side of not entering the machine. This may just be a split in basic temperaments, some are drawn to happiness above life purpose, others are drawn to life purpose above happiness.

Ramakrishna has a great quote about the attitude of the true Bhakti Yogi, heavily paraphrased, it's something like, "The Bhakti is so in love with God, that he says 'Please my Beloved, I want to be re-incarnated into this world of woe 10,000 times just for the chance to love You again." When I read that quote, I felt my heart melt, and knew that I'm a Bhakti Yogi in my core.


Thus my initial life motivation of just being happy, which later turned into wanting to experience life like rolling - which truly is a happy state - got transmogrified into the motivation to become enlightened. So I spent about a year and a half on that, getting some nice concentration along the way, stream entry as I've already mentioned, went through a bunch of cycles - I stopped counting but it was well over 10, and at some point they became irrelevant anyway - experienced a bunch of nice ASCs like all the jhanas and the "arupa jhanas" (what they are understood to be in MCTB, anyway), etc. But I wasn't getting happier. I was actually feeling worse than I used to before! I put it down for as long as I could to recurring dark nights and more meditation solving the issue, but at some point that was just untenable. It was clear meditating was making me feel worse.


Where you doing any kind of healing work at a content level or were you simply trying to meditate through it? Of course, you're going to feel shitty after all your "stuff" starts rising to the surface if you don't get some good therapy and other forms of healing as well as a lot of unconditional love for all that you are. You really need a ridiculous amount of self-love and compassion during the de-repression phases in order to hold the space for emotional wounds to clear and soul-integration to take place. That's one reason I find God to be such a useful concept in my spiritual practice. If I feel like I can't personally generate enough love and acceptance to hold space for something that is rising to the surface, I know that God has an infinite amount of love on tap to help me out.


Essentially my goal now is not elimination of emotions, per se, but elimination of identity in total. Not only eliminating the ego, but also the soul. The soul is the seat of emotions, so when the soul gets eliminated, so do all of the following: the affective faculty, emotions, soul, ego, love, jealousy, rage, equanimity (as an emotional state), divine service, God itself, Emptiness, Nirvana, any Gods whatsoever, angels and demons, the 'real world' itself, the 'spiritual world' in its entirety, 'connections' and emotional bonding between people, etc... the 'good' emotions all along with the 'bad', since they are the same energy at root.


So, because you've had bad experiences meditating you conclude that the only solution is to unravel all that makes you human? That seems a bit extreme to me. Wouldn't it make sense to at least try facing and accepting your "stuff" before deciding that it's all crap to be eliminated? In my experience, some of the very darkest, horrible seeming shadow material, holds within it the keys to tremendous strength, growth, and orientation to purpose. There are diamonds in the shit, but you'll never find them if you just hold your nose and run away.

What remains is just this physical world, with this body init - and consciousness as well, of course, for it's not consciousness that is eliminated, just the identity (and all the above). The nice thing about what remains is that it's amazingly impeccable. There's nothing wrong with it at all. All 'bad' emotions are gone, so there's no need for any 'good' emotions in order to cover them up.


Sigh, again this might just be a temperament difference, but what you describe sounds like an absolute nightmare to me. It's like Stepford Wives, or the Borg, or name your pop-culture reference point for a vapidly happy but utterly pointless existence. What would you do with your life if you were to achieve this state? Just wonder around in a state of bliss perpetually? What's the point of that?

I don't mean to come off sounding judgemental or disrespectful. I understand that this means a lot to you, and you care deeply about it. However, I truly can't understand the appeal of the AF model. Maybe you find it equally mystifying how the idea of realizing my Soul's purpose can motivate me. It is interesting to be aware of such vast differences between people. I want to thank you again for sharing so honestly, and I hope that you find what your way on your path.

Avi
Spiritual Direction
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Hey Avi,

I agree that our motivations are quite different! I would say they're just about exactly opposite. I knew this before I wrote my reply, based on what you had written, so mostly I wrote for the purpose of, as you mentioned, showing how there can be such vast differences between people. Your life is yours to lead, and mine mine, so we can each make choices based on what we think is best. That being said I'll reply again to try to elucidate my point of view, my rationale, my reasoning, etc., but it's not to convince you to change your path. I'm actually almost certain it's impossible to convince anyone of anything, nowadays. All one can do is present facts and opinions and it's up to the other to take them in, interpret them, etc.

Avi Craimer:
I respect the fact that if your ultimate goal is to be happy, then the Actual Freedom path you describe might be the right way to go. I've never felt that happiness per se is the ultimate for myself. I taught university philosophy courses for a while, and it was always interesting to see how students responded to Robert Nozick's Experience Machine essay. Usually about half of them said they'd gladly step into the machine, and the other half said they wouldn't. When I first encountered that little thought experiment in undergrad, I was clearly on the side of not entering the machine. This may just be a split in basic temperaments, some are drawn to happiness above life purpose, others are drawn to life purpose above happiness.

But what if life's purpose itself is - in and of itself - happiness? Then one would be missing out on life's very purpose by not making happiness one's goal =P. I don't know about the experience machine. I think I'd refuse on the grounds that the universe is capable of far, far more than humans could ever come up with in terms of a machine to produce the "best" experiences. The universe is the ultimate experience machine, in that sense, in that it is the basis for every single person's experiences.

Avi Craimer:
Ramakrishna has a great quote about the attitude of the true Bhakti Yogi, heavily paraphrased, it's something like, "The Bhakti is so in love with God, that he says 'Please my Beloved, I want to be re-incarnated into this world of woe 10,000 times just for the chance to love You again." When I read that quote, I felt my heart melt, and knew that I'm a Bhakti Yogi in my core.

Ah hehe yes, I just looked up Bhakti yoga. That really shines through in your writing. Yeah we really couldn't be more opposite in our choices of path. Though I wonder if there's a deep commonality underpinning it all which we do share. Maybe if I ask - what is your motivation for being devoted to God? As you asked me - what is the point of that?

Avi Craimer:
Thus my initial life motivation of just being happy, which later turned into wanting to experience life like rolling - which truly is a happy state - got transmogrified into the motivation to become enlightened. So I spent about a year and a half on that, getting some nice concentration along the way, stream entry as I've already mentioned, went through a bunch of cycles - I stopped counting but it was well over 10, and at some point they became irrelevant anyway - experienced a bunch of nice ASCs like all the jhanas and the "arupa jhanas" (what they are understood to be in MCTB, anyway), etc. But I wasn't getting happier. I was actually feeling worse than I used to before! I put it down for as long as I could to recurring dark nights and more meditation solving the issue, but at some point that was just untenable. It was clear meditating was making me feel worse.


Where you doing any kind of healing work at a content level or were you simply trying to meditate through it? Of course, you're going to feel shitty after all your "stuff" starts rising to the surface if you don't get some good therapy and other forms of healing as well as a lot of unconditional love for all that you are. You really need a ridiculous amount of self-love and compassion during the de-repression phases in order to hold the space for emotional wounds to clear and soul-integration to take place. That's one reason I find God to be such a useful concept in my spiritual practice. If I feel like I can't personally generate enough love and acceptance to hold space for something that is rising to the surface, I know that God has an infinite amount of love on tap to help me out.

There was just about zero healing work on a content level. I noticed that meditating on metta made me feel a bit better but I could never get myself to do it consistently. There wasn't unconditional love or God or God's love on tap or anything. So it was pretty rough, of course. Two things come to mind about what you wrote, though:

1) Why unconditional love for all that I am? Part of what I am is a violent, malicious being. I don't mean this in a sense of being especially hard on myself, but this is part of what it means to be a human. Just look at human history and how full of senseless violence it is. This doesn't come out in my daily life in the form of actually going about and stabbing or raping people or whatever, but it does in its incipient forms of being angry or even just annoyed or irritated at someone. Accept the fact so that I can change it? Yes. But love it? I definitely see the appeal - it feels amazing to be accepted - but I would rather just change those aspects of myself.
2) I disagree that the result of stuff rising to the surface absent love and compassion is necessarily feeling shitty. I am on a path right now wherein love and compassion are to be avoided* in the same manner as malice and aggression and sorrow, yet I no longer feel shitty as I go about discovering what 'I' am made of - part of which is quite 'bad' of course. And discovering what 'I' am is absolutely necessary for my path. Instead, I accept that not all of 'me' is pearls and roses, so then it's not a surprise when I come across something nasty. Plus it is then obvious that any feeling shitty as a result of knowing what 'I' am will just make 'me' stronger, albeit a sorrowful, angry 'me', which is against the point of 'me' disappearing entirely.

It's a different approach than the one of using love as an antidote to malice, and I also posit that using love in that way keeps the original cause - malice - alive and well. You need constant vigilance - constant love, or constant devotion - to keep it from spilling out. Do you find that to be the case at all in your experience?

*EDIT: "avoided" is a poor choice of words, here. It's not like something I have to keep dodging and trying to run away from it. It's just understanding that, just like malice is not the ultimate solution to anything - so if I am feeling malicious, I do something to change that in order to feel harmless, instead - likewise love is not the ultimate solution to anything - so if I am feeling loving, I do something to change that in order to feel happy, instead.

Avi Craimer:
Essentially my goal now is not elimination of emotions, per se, but elimination of identity in total. Not only eliminating the ego, but also the soul. The soul is the seat of emotions, so when the soul gets eliminated, so do all of the following: the affective faculty, emotions, soul, ego, love, jealousy, rage, equanimity (as an emotional state), divine service, God itself, Emptiness, Nirvana, any Gods whatsoever, angels and demons, the 'real world' itself, the 'spiritual world' in its entirety, 'connections' and emotional bonding between people, etc... the 'good' emotions all along with the 'bad', since they are the same energy at root.


So, because you've had bad experiences meditating you conclude that the only solution is to unravel all that makes you human? That seems a bit extreme to me. Wouldn't it make sense to at least try facing and accepting your "stuff" before deciding that it's all crap to be eliminated? In my experience, some of the very darkest, horrible seeming shadow material, holds within it the keys to tremendous strength, growth, and orientation to purpose. There are diamonds in the shit, but you'll never find them if you just hold your nose and run away.

Well, see the previous section of my reply - it's not about running away per se. It is an unraveling of all that makes me human, though, in the sense of an emotional being at least - see below about what remains - but I'll repeat part of point #1 again. Humans are pretty messed up as a species. Look at what we've done to each other over the years! God isn't necessarily the answer, either, given how much violence there has been as a result of people with different Gods fighting each other.

Avi Craimer:
What remains is just this physical world, with this body init - and consciousness as well, of course, for it's not consciousness that is eliminated, just the identity (and all the above). The nice thing about what remains is that it's amazingly impeccable. There's nothing wrong with it at all. All 'bad' emotions are gone, so there's no need for any 'good' emotions in order to cover them up.


Sigh, again this might just be a temperament difference, but what you describe sounds like an absolute nightmare to me. It's like Stepford Wives, or the Borg, or name your pop-culture reference point for a vapidly happy but utterly pointless existence. What would you do with your life if you were to achieve this state? Just wonder around in a state of bliss perpetually? What's the point of that?

That is certainly an understandable reaction. What I would do with my life is enjoy it immensely! Consider how good it feels to be around somebody who is themselves in a good mood. Anybody I interact with will also benefit from my unshakeable happiness. Plus there would be no malice or aggression in me at all, either. I would be incapable of emotionally influencing anybody, so I wouldn't have any power - I would automatically be letting people live their lives as they wish to be.

As to it being vapid, that may only be because you are imagining what it would be like, instead of remembering what it is like to experience the world without an identity - with neither an ego nor a soul. Here are some excerpts from this link of people reporting their experiences. Mine is tucked in here somewhere, too, but I won't say which =P.

I remember the first time I experienced being the senses only during a PCE. There was no identity as ‘I’ thinking or ‘me’ feeling ... simply this body ambling across a grassy field in the early-morning light. A million dew-drenched spider-webs danced a sparkling delight over the verdant vista and a question that had been running for some weeks became experientially answered: without the senses I would not know that I exist as this flesh and blood body. And further to this: I was the senses and the senses were me. With this came an awareness of being conscious – apperception – rather than ‘I’ being aware of ‘me’ being conscious.

I had arranged with my partner at the time to spend a weekend in a holiday house by the foreshore of a large salt-water lake. We arranged a comfortable picnic spot by the lake and, as I strolled off by myself, a pure consciousness experience crept up on me. I remember walking in the shallow water and marvelling at my magical fairy-tale-like surroundings. A vast blue sky overhead with an ever-changing array of wispy white clouds. The sun glistens on the tiny ripples of water washing gently over my feet. The sensual feel of the mud oozing between my toes as they sink into the muddy beach. Huge pelicans glide overhead and I liken them to the jumbo jets of the bird world as they come in to land on the water some distance out. The sun on my skin is warming me through and through, the breeze is ruffling my hair and tingling my forearms, and the water is cooling on my feet. It is so good to be alive, my senses bristling and everything is perfect. Absolutely no objections to being here – pure delight!
After a while I turn to my partner who is sitting in the shade beneath a wonderfully gnarled and ancient tree on the lake’s edge. There sits a fellow human being to whom I have no ‘relationship’. Any past or future disappears; she and I are simply here together, experiencing these perfect moments. The past five years that I have known her, with all the memories of good and bad times, simply do not exist. It is just delightful that she is here with me, and I do not even have any thoughts of ‘our’ future. In short, everything is perfect, always has been, and always will be. It is an experience of actual freedom where I, as this body only, am able to experience with my physical senses the perfection and purity of the physical universe, free of the psychological and psychic entity within.

The PCE came on sometime from that point to when I exited the park a few minutes later. I simply really took notice of what was going on and was simply enjoying it all. I noticed some motion to my right, stopped suddenly to take a look, and there was a squirrel! I got a bit closer without scaring it away and managed to take a look. I wondered that I hadn’t seen a squirrel in forever. Its heart was beating so fast. At first it seemed timid but then it looked up at me and sort of stood on its hind legs. I think it wanted food.
I moved on, taking particular note of how awesome the trees looked. What ensued was a really brilliant interplay of me noticing something with delight, then me reacting to it/contemplating it with delight, then doing something else with delight, etc., all because it was just delightful. Like I stopped at the crosswalk and I had a red light. So I looked around to see if there were cars coming, and they weren’t. So then I started walking across. Then a car came and started turning left onto the road I was crossing, so I bolted the rest of the way, with no fear at all, almost just because it was fun, but also so I wouldn’t get run over. Then I decided to stand to the left of a parking meter instead of the right, when waiting to cross the other street, because I was curious how that looked. (...)
The ‘WOW’ factor was definitely there. And this ‘WOW’ factor definitely comes from the identity. Unbidden thoughts arising of like ‘wow this is just so amazing!’ I was now at a point where I could choose to go either way. I noticed that thoughts were totally unnecessary, and that indeed I was enjoying myself the most when thoughts were not occurring. This is because they were feeling-fueled thoughts, spinning around about ‘me’, ‘me’, ‘me’. Whereas I could simply enjoy life without the thoughts. All the decisions I made when I described the crosswalk experience were made without thoughts at all, just a direct appraisal of the situation, though of course I understood exactly what was going on and why and I can now put it into words. But it was totally pointless to put what was already going on and being understood into thoughts and then go on thinking about it.

Had a PCE today... it was clear that no amount of imagination is comparable with this actual world. I could see the long sidewalk I was walking much further than I see usually, and the three dimensional purview was amazing.
My vision and enjoyment was unimpeded by any worry-full identity... it is clear that the actual space I perceived was more than any of the imagination. The identity is clearly seen to be non-existing in actuality, and its activity is nothing compared to the actual stuff that is happening all around me. It was a jamais vu... everything is fresh and quite interesting: nothing boring. It was like being a tourist in my own neighbourhood.


It's definitely neither vapid nor pointless. Rather, every moment abounds with meaning. There's the constant wordless appreciation - this is what it means to be alive!

Avi Craimer:
I don't mean to come off sounding judgemental or disrespectful. I understand that this means a lot to you, and you care deeply about it. However, I truly can't understand the appeal of the AF model. Maybe you find it equally mystifying how the idea of realizing my Soul's purpose can motivate me. It is interesting to be aware of such vast differences between people. I want to thank you again for sharing so honestly, and I hope that you find what your way on your path.

I think I understand how that can motivate you. It's that promise of ultimate fulfillment as a being, right? To be the very best that 'I' can be. It still pulls at me on occasion. I just have to remind myself that ultimate fulfillment lies not in being a special kind of 'me', but rather, in 'me' disappearing and letting life live itself, instead. It's quite the head trip...

In any case, I hope that sheds some light on my point of view. I likewise hope that you find what you're looking for.
- Beoman Claudiu
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Avi Craimer, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

Posts: 114 Join Date: 10/29/13 Recent Posts
Hey Beoman,

But what if life's purpose itself is - in and of itself - happiness? Then one would be missing out on life's very purpose by not making happiness one's goal =P.


If one believes in a beneficent creator (which I'm guessing you don't) there is good reason to think that the purpose of individual human life is not happiness per se. The reason is that the greatest happiness would be to merge back into our divine source forever, i.e., to not have any earthly existence. Therefore, the fact that we are embodied and ensouled implies that there is some other purpose to human life besides our happiness. If you deny the goodness of creation, then there may other reasons to think that happiness isn't the ultimate goal. Of course, Aristotle defined the truest happiness or Eudaimonia as fulfilling our telos, so in that case it would be tautological to say that happiness and purpose are one. But in that case, he had a substantive notion of the telos of human beings, which when beyond simply feeling good all the time.

Ah hehe yes, I just looked up Bhakti yoga. That really shines through in your writing. Yeah we really couldn't be more opposite in our choices of path. Though I wonder if there's a deep commonality underpinning it all which we do share. Maybe if I ask - what is your motivation for being devoted to God? As you asked me - what is the point of that?


Good question! It's always hard to give reasons for these fundamental existential commitments. However, if I had to answer that, I'd say the following. Loving and serving God grants me the ultimate freedom from the tyranny of contingent social mores and constantly supports me in my quest to express my deepest nature. On some level it was a pragmatic choice. After experimenting with various options, I discovered that Bhakti offered me the greatest sense of empowerment and satisfaction.

There was just about zero healing work on a content level. I noticed that meditating on metta made me feel a bit better but I could never get myself to do it consistently. There wasn't unconditional love or God or God's love on tap or anything. So it was pretty rough, of course. Two things come to mind about what you wrote, though:

1) Why unconditional love for all that I am? Part of what I am is a violent, malicious being. I don't mean this in a sense of being especially hard on myself, but this is part of what it means to be a human. Just look at human history and how full of senseless violence it is. This doesn't come out in my daily life in the form of actually going about and stabbing or raping people or whatever, but it does in its incipient forms of being angry or even just annoyed or irritated at someone. Accept the fact so that I can change it? Yes. But love it? I definitely see the appeal - it feels amazing to be accepted - but I would rather just change those aspects of myself.


This gets at the nub of the difference in the two approaches. You are consciously rejecting the parts of yourself that you judge as "bad", and you realize that in order to truly eliminate them, you have to also eliminate much that is standardly regarded as "good" (such as love, soul, self, etc). I appreciate the honesty in that at least. Far too many religions have preached the elimination of shadow while simultaneously telling us to embrace the light side of our emotional nature. You are more consistent in acknowledging that it all comes of goes as one piece. However, my view is that the bad parts, even the truly vicious, violent parts, etc. are not truly evil, but rather serve a purpose. The strong tendencies towards violence and aggression in men, for example, are part of our evolutionary heritage as hunters and warriors. Now we could look at this and say, look how much bloodshed it's caused, let's just get rid of it. But, I tend to think instead that we can look at how valuable the energy of the warrior can be when it's channelled into a productive and beneficial direction. Over and over again, in my archetypal work, I've seen how archetypal figures that appear demonic and horrible when I first encounter them, gradually evolve into helpful human figures as I integrate them with their polar opposites.

It's a different approach than the one of using love as an antidote to malice, and I also posit that using love in that way keeps the original cause - malice - alive and well. You need constant vigilance - constant love, or constant devotion - to keep it from spilling out. Do you find that to be the case at all in your experience?


Vigilance arises from a need to protect oneself against a perceived threat. Intially, it can feel like we are using love as a shield to armour ourselves against our personal demons. But true love is also curious, it desires intimacy and understanding of everything it meets. In my experience the really nasty emotions like malice and so on just don't survive the encounter with sufficiently powerful and inquisitive love. Rather they reveal themselves to be something other than they seemed. For example, a powerful feeling of hatred for somebody might be revealed to be rooted in a deep jealousy of them, further inquiry shows this jealousy is rooted in feelings of personal unworthiness, further inquiry shows that the feelings of unworthiness originated in feeling rejected or misunderstood at some point in the past. Once you bring enough acceptance and understanding to this very specific wound, then the whole chain of negative emotions is cut off at its root and they disappear completely. However, in order to trace things back to the root, you need to bring love every step along the way. If you don't love the initial hatred, it will never melt enough to show what's beneath it. On the flip side, if you just try to melt the hatred, but don't trace it back to its root cause, then as soon as you stop actively loving, the hatred will return.

It is an unravelling of all that makes me human, though, in the sense of an emotional being at least - see below about what remains - but I'll repeat part of point #1 again. Humans are pretty messed up as a species. Look at what we've done to each other over the years! God isn't necessarily the answer, either, given how much violence there has been as a result of people with different Gods fighting each other.


I can't argue there. No question we've got a lot of work still to do to realize our full potential. If you were to have fully eliminated your ego, soul, and all human emotions, would you still care about ending human violence? If so, on what basis? If not, then wouldn't it be better to keep being human so that you could work to skilfully reduce violence within humanity?

Plus there would be no malice or aggression in me at all, either. I would be incapable of emotionally influencing anybody, so I wouldn't have any power - I would automatically be letting people live their lives as they wish to be.


What would stop other people from oppressing you? There are many examples in human history of extremely peaceful utopic societies that just get absolutely slaughtered by violent societies precisely because or their lack of cultivated aggression. You might say that being oppressed wouldn't bother you since you'd be happy no matter what others did to you. However, presumably, there would still be lots of other humans around who wouldn't have achieved the AF state, and you would have no ability to muster any kind of aggression to be able to stand up for them.

As to it being vapid, that may only be because you are imagining what it would be like, instead of remembering what it is like to experience the world without an identity - with neither an ego nor a soul. Here are some excerpts from this link of people reporting their experiences. Mine is tucked in here somewhere, too, but I won't say which =P.


I read those examples, and I've got to say they still don't interest me much. They sound like drug trips or extreme dissociative states.

I think I understand how that can motivate you. It's that promise of ultimate fulfillment as a being, right? To be the very best that 'I' can be. It still pulls at me on occasion. I just have to remind myself that ultimate fulfillment lies not in being a special kind of 'me', but rather, in 'me' disappearing and letting life live itself, instead. It's quite the head trip...


I tend to be less motivated by ideas of reaching some ultimate goal, than by the idea of a constant unending quest. Each new stage of the quest is totally novel, non-repetitive, with new layers of emergent complexity at every level, yet it never reaches a final conclusion. If the quest ended in some kind of ultimate realization, then there would be nothing left to do and life would be pointless. My model of happiness or eudaimonia could be summarized as follows: flourishing as a living being and continually expressing one's nature as a human being, which is to be the ever enfolding nexus of finitude (body-soul), infinitude (God/Forms), and nothingness (Void/Nibbana).
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Hey Avi,

Good stuff! I'm understanding your point of view better & better and I find your replies readily prompt me to write more.

Avi Craimer:
But what if life's purpose itself is - in and of itself - happiness? Then one would be missing out on life's very purpose by not making happiness one's goal =P.


If one believes in a beneficent creator (which I'm guessing you don't) there is good reason to think that the purpose of individual human life is not happiness per se. The reason is that the greatest happiness would be to merge back into our divine source forever, i.e., to not have any earthly existence. Therefore, the fact that we are embodied and ensouled implies that there is some other purpose to human life besides our happiness. If you deny the goodness of creation, then there may other reasons to think that happiness isn't the ultimate goal. Of course, Aristotle defined the truest happiness or Eudaimonia as fulfilling our telos, so in that case it would be tautological to say that happiness and purpose are one. But in that case, he had a substantive notion of the telos of human beings, which when beyond simply feeling good all the time.

That makes sense. One thing I find is that a) there is no ultimate real-world or spiritual-world meaning in what I am doing - so it is meaningless in those terms, and b) any real-world and spiritual-world values are themselves ultimately meaningless in terms of what I am doing. That is to say, both are meaningless in terms of the other. Which is interesting if you think about it. I do understand though that as a soul there isn't much meaning in 'just' being happy.

Avi Craimer:
Ah hehe yes, I just looked up Bhakti yoga. That really shines through in your writing. Yeah we really couldn't be more opposite in our choices of path. Though I wonder if there's a deep commonality underpinning it all which we do share. Maybe if I ask - what is your motivation for being devoted to God? As you asked me - what is the point of that?


Good question! It's always hard to give reasons for these fundamental existential commitments. However, if I had to answer that, I'd say the following. Loving and serving God grants me the ultimate freedom from the tyranny of contingent social mores and constantly supports me in my quest to express my deepest nature. On some level it was a pragmatic choice. After experimenting with various options, I discovered that Bhakti offered me the greatest sense of empowerment and satisfaction.

Ah see that's quite interesting because I could give almost the same answer. Social mores can indeed be quite tyrannical, and my path does grant freedom from those too, without requiring either Love or God. As to the deepest nature part, the analogous part for me would be experiencing myself as a flesh and blood body that is conscious, sans identity - that is ultimately my actual nature (identity as ego and soul is ultimately dependent on that nature to survive - when the body dies, so too do they).

Avi Craimer:
There was just about zero healing work on a content level. I noticed that meditating on metta made me feel a bit better but I could never get myself to do it consistently. There wasn't unconditional love or God or God's love on tap or anything. So it was pretty rough, of course. Two things come to mind about what you wrote, though:

1) Why unconditional love for all that I am? Part of what I am is a violent, malicious being. I don't mean this in a sense of being especially hard on myself, but this is part of what it means to be a human. Just look at human history and how full of senseless violence it is. This doesn't come out in my daily life in the form of actually going about and stabbing or raping people or whatever, but it does in its incipient forms of being angry or even just annoyed or irritated at someone. Accept the fact so that I can change it? Yes. But love it? I definitely see the appeal - it feels amazing to be accepted - but I would rather just change those aspects of myself.


This gets at the nub of the difference in the two approaches. You are consciously rejecting the parts of yourself that you judge as "bad", and you realize that in order to truly eliminate them, you have to also eliminate much that is standardly regarded as "good" (such as love, soul, self, etc). I appreciate the honesty in that at least. Far too many religions have preached the elimination of shadow while simultaneously telling us to embrace the light side of our emotional nature. You are more consistent in acknowledging that it all comes of goes as one piece.

I'm glad to see that you also understand that they come and go as one piece!

Avi Craimer:
However, my view is that the bad parts, even the truly vicious, violent parts, etc. are not truly evil, but rather serve a purpose. The strong tendencies towards violence and aggression in men, for example, are part of our evolutionary heritage as hunters and warriors. Now we could look at this and say, look how much bloodshed it's caused, let's just get rid of it. But, I tend to think instead that we can look at how valuable the energy of the warrior can be when it's channelled into a productive and beneficial direction. Over and over again, in my archetypal work, I've seen how archetypal figures that appear demonic and horrible when I first encounter them, gradually evolve into helpful human figures as I integrate them with their polar opposites.

I agree that they aren't truly "evil", but for a different reason. 'Evil' is a human invention, and these traits arise not out of humanity but out of, let's call it animality. That is, it's our heritage as animals that explains why the aggression and the sorrow. Animals fight and kill and are afraid and are nurturing as well. We inherited these traits from them. So people can call them evil all they want, but that doesn't change where they came from.

As to them being productive and useful, that's certainly true. The human race wouldn't be where it is today if we didn't evolve with these instincts - we would've been killed and eaten or out-competed by other animals. But now that we are an intelligent species, the instincts are causing more harm than good. Fear is useful when you don't understand what can kill you and there's a predatory animal after you. It's not as useful when you understand exactly the various things that can kill you and you're sitting there in a classroom trying to take a test... more on this immediately below.

Avi Craimer:
It's a different approach than the one of using love as an antidote to malice, and I also posit that using love in that way keeps the original cause - malice - alive and well. You need constant vigilance - constant love, or constant devotion - to keep it from spilling out. Do you find that to be the case at all in your experience?


Vigilance arises from a need to protect oneself against a perceived threat. Intially, it can feel like we are using love as a shield to armour ourselves against our personal demons. But true love is also curious, it desires intimacy and understanding of everything it meets. In my experience the really nasty emotions like malice and so on just don't survive the encounter with sufficiently powerful and inquisitive love. Rather they reveal themselves to be something other than they seemed. For example, a powerful feeling of hatred for somebody might be revealed to be rooted in a deep jealousy of them, further inquiry shows this jealousy is rooted in feelings of personal unworthiness, further inquiry shows that the feelings of unworthiness originated in feeling rejected or misunderstood at some point in the past. Once you bring enough acceptance and understanding to this very specific wound, then the whole chain of negative emotions is cut off at its root and they disappear completely. However, in order to trace things back to the root, you need to bring love every step along the way. If you don't love the initial hatred, it will never melt enough to show what's beneath it. On the flip side, if you just try to melt the hatred, but don't trace it back to its root cause, then as soon as you stop actively loving, the hatred will return.

That's interesting and it makes sense, but I would say that even true love doesn't go far enough. Consider what we agreed on above that the 'good' and the 'bad' sides all comes as one package. True love is of course part of this package. This means that ultimately true love won't be able to look at itself - being part of the package, it can only look at other parts of the package. So true love will ultimately remain - which I guess is your point - but that keeps the rest of the package around as well.

I agree with the benefits or intimacy and understanding, however, and I strive for those qualities with all of 'my' sides as well. But I do this not via love, but rather via contemplation that is enabled by felicity. No longer blaming myself for 'my' bad sides, I am free to look at them freely. As you mentioned, with true love you do trace back to a more primitive cause. However, you don't ever get to the root cause, because that would end up eliminating true love as well, and true love neither wants to nor can eliminate itself. The root cause is, as I mentioned above, our animal heritage. Even without any slights ever having occurred to a human, that human will be malicious or sorrowful at times. It's not that society instills children with violence, it's that children are born violent and the particular society and culture merely shapes how that is expressed. In warrior cultures it is lauded and extolled, although only against the enemies of the group or the undesirables in the group. In more modern cultures it is put down and controlled to attempt to keep everything more peaceable.

True Love and Compassion are noble ideals that strive to correct for all this violence, but they are part of the same package as that very violence... so you need something else to really end all violence.

Avi Craimer:
It is an unravelling of all that makes me human, though, in the sense of an emotional being at least - see below about what remains - but I'll repeat part of point #1 again. Humans are pretty messed up as a species. Look at what we've done to each other over the years! God isn't necessarily the answer, either, given how much violence there has been as a result of people with different Gods fighting each other.


I can't argue there. No question we've got a lot of work still to do to realize our full potential. If you were to have fully eliminated your ego, soul, and all human emotions, would you still care about ending human violence? If so, on what basis? If not, then wouldn't it be better to keep being human so that you could work to skilfully reduce violence within humanity?

Yes, of course. I know from myself that being hurt sucks. Hurting others also sucks, actually, but that's a bit harder to see. In any case, I don't want other people to keep on hurting themselves. Just because I stop hurting myself and others doesn't mean others will also stop hurting themselves and others.

Avi Craimer:
Plus there would be no malice or aggression in me at all, either. I would be incapable of emotionally influencing anybody, so I wouldn't have any power - I would automatically be letting people live their lives as they wish to be.


What would stop other people from oppressing you? There are many examples in human history of extremely peaceful utopic societies that just get absolutely slaughtered by violent societies precisely because or their lack of cultivated aggression. You might say that being oppressed wouldn't bother you since you'd be happy no matter what others did to you. However, presumably, there would still be lots of other humans around who wouldn't have achieved the AF state, and you would have no ability to muster any kind of aggression to be able to stand up for them.

Ah that's a good point, and that's why pacifism doesn't work. To that I say, just as you can help another without loving them, you can also physically hurt another without hating them. There would be no reason to do so unprovoked, but if provoked, you can non-maliciously disable them. It only makes sense to do so. This would be the use of force, of course, but aimed not at hurting the other for the sake of hurting the other, or out of revenge or anger at having hurt yourself, but as a way of preventing yourself and others from getting hurt. There's nothing loving about this, which is sort of the point. Then again the Dalai Llama said (I'm paraphrasing), when asked what he would do if a thief came into his house and tried to kill him, is that he'd shoot him in the legs, call the cops and the ambulance, and then stay with him and comfort him until they came.

Avi Craimer:
I think I understand how that can motivate you. It's that promise of ultimate fulfillment as a being, right? To be the very best that 'I' can be. It still pulls at me on occasion. I just have to remind myself that ultimate fulfillment lies not in being a special kind of 'me', but rather, in 'me' disappearing and letting life live itself, instead. It's quite the head trip...


I tend to be less motivated by ideas of reaching some ultimate goal, than by the idea of a constant unending quest. Each new stage of the quest is totally novel, non-repetitive, with new layers of emergent complexity at every level, yet it never reaches a final conclusion. If the quest ended in some kind of ultimate realization, then there would be nothing left to do and life would be pointless. My model of happiness or eudaimonia could be summarized as follows: flourishing as a living being and continually expressing one's nature as a human being, which is to be the ever enfolding nexus of finitude (body-soul), infinitude (God/Forms), and nothingness (Void/Nibbana).

I can see the appeal. I rather tend to think that when I accomplish my goal it will be more like the start of my life. From that point I could just live my life - or rather, let life live me - and experience all that entails, unfettered by all the difficulties of being a being and a soul.

If you think about it a bit the endless quest thing rings a bit hollow doesn't it? Your'e saying you need constant entertainment and novelty or... what, you'll get bored with life? That doesn't seem like freedom at all. The thing with freedom is that it seems like it would either be boring, or vapid, or that there would be nothing to do with it. But quite the contrary - it's that you would be unable to choose to be dissatisfied with life any longer. From that point of relentless fulfillment, you would then be able to do whatever it is on earth that you would want to do, without being driven by the need for it.
Richard:
Apperception is the clear and direct experiencing of being just here at this place in infinite space right now at this moment in eternal time – sans identity and its feeling-fed realities – and it is a wordless appreciation of being alive and awake on this verdant and azure planet.
Apperception is where one is living in the already always existing peace-on-earth and is where one is blithe and carefree, even if one is doing nothing: doing something – and that includes thinking – is a bonus on top of the never-ending perfection of the infinitude which this material universe is.
Apperception is where one is the universe being stunningly aware of its own infinitude. [link, emphasis added]

Another way to look at it is that life is already meaningful, and it's the identity - as ego and/or soul - which obscures that meaning and then strives to find some other meaning - such as union with a believed-in Benevolent Creator - because it doesn't have any access to the actual, already-existing meaning.

Cheers,
Beoman Claudiu
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Avi Craimer, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

Posts: 114 Join Date: 10/29/13 Recent Posts
Beoman,

I appreciate your spirit in this discussion. I'm going to respond to your last post with a certain degree of firmness, and I hope this won't be received as an attack. I get the sense from your writing that you are a deeply considerate and compassionate person, and I truly wish you the best.

I echo Bill's point, which I hinted at when I suggested that the experience of PCE may be dissociative. What I mean by that is that it's possible that in PCE, none of the emotions, soul, self, etc. are actually gone they are simply out of view. I've had similar experiences in vipassana and Jhana practices lots of times, where I suddenly thought that some core structure of my normal experience was lost, but with enough time and perspective this always turned out to be either a temporary state caused by selective focus (samadhi) or a temporary dissolution caused by the dark night stages of the insight cycle. Once the cycle for any given object reaches fruition or the samadhi fades, these core structures always reappear (sometimes in a new light). That said, with samadhi you can really get "good" at self-deception by constantly maintaining an unconscious selective bias about what you attend to. If you adopt a belief system that says it's possible and good to eliminate emotions, you're likely to start selectively attending to other aspects of experience such as the qualities of bare awareness. If your samadhi is strong enough this could be a very convincing illusion.

Bill, I'd like to see Daniel's essay about the re-canters. Can you post the link?

I agree with the benefits or intimacy and understanding, however, and I strive for those qualities with all of 'my' sides as well. But I do this not via love, but rather via contemplation that is enabled by felicity. No longer blaming myself for 'my' bad sides, I am free to look at them freely.


This seems to be getting into semantic differences. In my lexicon, intimacy, understanding, and non-blame (i.e., acceptance) are all deeply related to love. I am not sure what you mean by "felicity", but this sounds suspiciously like a slippery term used to name something that actually depends on emotions, soul, or spirit.

However, you don't ever get to the root cause, because that would end up eliminating true love as well, and true love neither wants to nor can eliminate itself. The root cause is, as I mentioned above, our animal heritage. Even without any slights ever having occurred to a human, that human will be malicious or sorrowful at times.


When I spoke of root cause, I meant the root cause of hatred, malice, jealousy, etc, not the root cause of emotions per se. I think that extreme forms of emotion, the kind that are dangerous and can cause harm, need to be healed, but not the more moderate forms that constitute the healthy manifestation of the very same emotional energies. So for example, rage can be very dangerous, but there is nothing wrong with healthy anger at wrong done to oneself or to others. Jealousy isn't very helpful, but the underlying yearning to achieve and be successful is very useful. Also, I think that even the harm caused by extreme emotions is overstated. Very few instances of malice, rage, jealousy, etc, lead to actual harm to others, and they only harm ourselves to the extent that we don't take the steps necessary to take care of them properly. I actually think that a lack of human emotions has much more potential for harm, but more on this below.


Avi Craimer:

I can't argue there. No question we've got a lot of work still to do to realize our full potential. If you were to have fully eliminated your ego, soul, and all human emotions, would you still care about ending human violence? If so, on what basis? If not, then wouldn't it be better to keep being human so that you could work to skilfully reduce violence within humanity?

Yes, of course. I know from myself that being hurt sucks. Hurting others also sucks, actually, but that's a bit harder to see. In any case, I don't want other people to keep on hurting themselves. Just because I stop hurting myself and others doesn't mean others will also stop hurting themselves and others.


I don't buy this answer. When you say that being hurt "sucks" you are expressing some kind of emotional attitude toward being hurt. Even the concept of harm goes beyond merely having a painful sensation, it requires some sort of negative impact on a person. Now, if in the PCE state one truly perceives all of actuality as meaningful, wonderful, etc., then getting tortured on the rack would be just as interesting, wonderful, meaningful, etc., as sitting in a sunlit field full of flowers. Of course, one situation involves painful sensations while the other doesn't, but painful sensations aren't inherently harmful. There are lots of cases where people derive satisfaction from painful sensations, and I presume that in a perpetual PCE state, this would be the case. As for your attitudes toward other people who still have souls to be hurt, again, how would you be able to judge that it was "bad" or that it "sucks" for another to be hurt. You would see another person being violently hurt and experience it as being just as wondrous and meaningful as anything else. You would feel no emotion that would tell you "this is wrong." You might have a purely intellectual idea that it's wrong, but if that idea is unmoored from any emotional underpinning then it would be easy to abandon this idea as "unnecessary". You might on a whim decide that you'd like to dedicate your life to savouring the inherent meaning and wondrousness of all the different kinds of human suffering. There would be no emotion to tell you that this was a bad idea.

In short, you'd be operating very much like a psychopath. The most terrifying psychopaths are those that actually don't seem to have regular human emotions. They don't commit crimes based on malice or aggression toward their victims. They do it simply for the pleasure of it. Now of course, you could argue that there's some messed up emotional stuff underlying the pleasure they take in hurting others, and you'd be right, but the totally unemotional person would be capable of all kinds of atrocity if some seemingly rational thought told him it was a good idea. I say "seemingly" rational, because I don't think that practical rationality is even possible without emotions (and most philosophers agree on this point). Emotions function as our pragmatic guidance system. They don't work perfectly, but without them we'd be like those perennial sci-fi robots who end up destroying humanity because they are following an un-emotional "rational" algorithm.

To that I say, just as you can help another without loving them, you can also physically hurt another without hating them. There would be no reason to do so unprovoked, but if provoked, you can non-maliciously disable them. It only makes sense to do so. This would be the use of force, of course, but aimed not at hurting the other for the sake of hurting the other, or out of revenge or anger at having hurt yourself, but as a way of preventing yourself and others from getting hurt. There's nothing loving about this, which is sort of the point. Then again the Dalai Llama said (I'm paraphrasing), when asked what he would do if a thief came into his house and tried to kill him, is that he'd shoot him in the legs, call the cops and the ambulance, and then stay with him and comfort him until they came.


The Dalai Llama has compassion, which is what underlies his proposed action. Without compassion, one might just kill the thief because he happened to be inconvenient, or for that matter, one might just let the thief kill oneself because the experience of being killed was just as inherently wondrous and meaningful as any other experience.

If you think about it a bit the endless quest thing rings a bit hollow doesn't it? Your'e saying you need constant entertainment and novelty or... what, you'll get bored with life? That doesn't seem like freedom at all.


Actually, I've always felt the concept of "total liberation" rings a bit hollow. What am I liberated to do/be? If I'm liberated from everything that I am, from everything that's important to me, then I'm not actually getting to live the life I want, rather I'm losing everything that matters to me, and instead I'm living some totally different form of existence that in my current form I can't see the value of. It was for the same reason that for a long time I resisted the Arhat ideal in Buddhism. Based on the way that many authors and traditional sources describe Arhatship, I felt that it sounded more like a living death than a state of realization. However, after assimilating Daniel's perspective and working through some important hang ups in my meditation practice recently, I've embraced the Arhat ideal in Daniel's sense of it. However, the reason for this is that nothing that is actually important about one's life on the level of content is lost or problematically changed by achieving arhatship. The arhat still thinks, still strives, still has emotions, still has a soul. All that changes is that the arhat's sensory field is perfectly integrated, thereby eliminating various perceptual distortions that cause most of us a great deal of extra stress that has nothing to do with the meaning of our lives. I think of eliminating clinging and learning to see emptiness as clearing out the static in our sensory systems so that we can get on with the business of living human life to the fullest. As Daniel says, after arhatship, the arhat simply "does what there is to be done," i.e., he goes back to living his life, but now with a lot less meaningless stress.

As for the unending quest being about constant novelty, there is a difference between kinds of novelty. I'm interested in new orders of emergent complexity that yield synthesis of previous layers. That's a very special kind of novelty, one which I value highly for reasons I'll not get into here. It's not a matter of endlessly retelling the same story with different characters, or playing the newest pop song hit. It's more like baroque counterpoint as it layers each new theme into the tapestry of notes. If you've ever read Hesse's Glass Bead Game, you'll have an idea of what I'm talking about.

The thing with freedom is that it seems like it would either be boring, or vapid, or that there would be nothing to do with it. But quite the contrary - it's that you would be unable to choose to be dissatisfied with life any longer. From that point of relentless fulfilment, you would then be able to do whatever it is on earth that you would want to do, without being driven by the need for it.


Your point illustrates the fact that there is no coherent concept of total freedom. In your favoured state, you would be un-free to be dissatisfied, while in my favoured state I am un-free to be satisfied with anything other than fulfilling my soul's purpose. Either way, freedom and constraint go together like subject and object. However, in my case, being un-free in this way also makes me free to live a life in pursuit of my soul's purpose, which is a life that I value, in fact, it's the only life I value. In your case, I'm not so sure that you'd be free to do much of anything other than enjoy the flowers (or the rack). I challenge you to think about your idea that after being totally satisfied with life in every moment as it is, one would still be able to do "whatever it is on earth that you would want to do." What is the basis of wanting when one has no emotions and no dissatisfaction? I submit that the in that state wanting to do anything at all would be incoherent. Any actions would flow from unmotivated whims or intellectual programming. That doesn't sound like freedom to me.

With great respect,
Avi
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Interesting conversation, I hope you don't mind me butting in.

Avi says this in as many words, but what is striking to me with all the talk from Beoman about how bad emotions like hate go with good emotions like love, and to get rid of one you have to get rid of the other, it all sounds strange when what Beoman apparently describes is just substituting a range of emotions for just experiencing a couple to the exclusion of others (primarily variations of wonder, awe and appreciation).

Avi, I have raised this before, and in your answer I didn't get a sense if you thought spiritual ideals were achievable? So it seems to me very clear that nothing can ever be perfect (like perfection sensory integration), just as there is nothing we can achieve that is ultimate (like ultimate freedom). Unimageable ideals, such as God, are important to spiritual practices, but it seems problematic to think we can actually achieve them. Or is this is really what faith is all about - not thinking they are real, but having faith in them? But I am not sure this works for human level ideals.
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Avi Craimer, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

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Hey Sawfoot,

Well, this has become quite the far ranging discussion. I'm kind of bummed that nobody has shared their thoughts on Sambhogakaya, but all this general world view debate is interesting too.

Avi, I have raised this before, and in your answer I didn't get a sense if you thought spiritual ideals were achievable? So it seems to me very clear that nothing can ever be perfect (like perfection sensory integration), just as there is nothing we can achieve that is ultimate (like ultimate freedom).


The two might not be the same. Ultimate freedom is impossible conceptually, because the very concept of ultimate freedom is incoherent (in my view). In contrast, I don't think that perfect perceptual integration is conceptually impossible. It might seem unlikely that anybody could achieve it in practice. I don't know about this, all I have to go on is reports from people like Daniel. He says that there comes a point where the mind just gives up on trying to maintain the illusion of separateness within the field. It might be possible because it's a kind of tipping point. It doesn't necessarily require that we actually perceive every sensation with perfect clarity, only that we perceive enough sensations with enough clarity that the illusion can't be sustained any more. Hence, getting perfect or complete sensory integration, only requires that we cross a sufficiency threshold in the clarity of our sense perceptions. I agree that it's likely impossible to achieve total clarity in our sense perceptions, although that seems to be the goal of schools like Pu Auk, who obsessively examine the rupa kalapas (atoms of experience), but that starts to smell of fundamentalism to my nose.

Unimaginable ideals, such as God, are important to spiritual practices, but it seems problematic to think we can actually achieve them. Or is this is really what faith is all about - not thinking they are real, but having faith in them? But I am not sure this works for human level ideals.


As for God, there are many many different levels of experience of God. I think it's problematic if anybody claims to have a complete or total experience of God. As the history of religion amply demonstrates, God comes to us in many forms, and speaks many different words to different prophets and mystics from different cultures. That's because God Godself is supersensible, but the non-sensory experience of God leaves traces on the mind which can be expressed in words and images. Yet, these words and images are always drawn from the finite mind of the prophet or mystic, so they reflect his or her cultural and individual concepts and narratives. That doesn't mean that divine inspiration and prophecy are made up, just that we should avoid the fundamentalist stance that posits any revelation as the absolute and final truth.

Does that answer your question?
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

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Thanks Avi.

Sorry, not many shamans around here! And I don't really know what sambhogakaya is, though I looked it up (I see it is part of Mahayana metaphysics, mainly in Tibetan contexts, which is not really this crowd's thing).

Avi Craimer:


Avi, I have raised this before, and in your answer I didn't get a sense if you thought spiritual ideals were achievable? So it seems to me very clear that nothing can ever be perfect (like perfection sensory integration), just as there is nothing we can achieve that is ultimate (like ultimate freedom).


I still have issue with words like "total/complete/perfect", which don't make sense to me in respect to mental phenomena, but I think you are just using language differently to how I would. I guess this partly reflects that when you say clarity and illusion it implies that there is a correct way of seeing and a value judgement, whereas I see it more that there are just different ways of seeing. If you have the experience of separateness within the field then that is your just experience.

Avi Craimer:

That doesn't mean that divine inspiration and prophecy are made up, just that we should avoid the fundamentalist stance that posits any revelation as the absolute and final truth.

Does that answer your question?


Right, as any expression of divinity in the human world is in the world of form, and hence can't be absolute once it is expressed in form.
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Avi Craimer, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

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Sawfoot,

I still have issue with words like "total/complete/perfect", which don't make sense to me in respect to mental phenomena, but I think you are just using language differently to how I would.


Check out this link for a simple illustration of how shifts in the perceptual field can be unidirectional and irreversible. For most people when they first see this image it's just a bunch of dots. However, after looking at is long enough, or having the figure pointed out, you can see a dalmatian dog on the right side of the image. The interesting thing is that after seeing the dalmatian, it's not so easy to go back to seeing the image as being nothing but black splotches. The mind automatically and effortlessly sees the pattern that's there to be seen. Also, once the dog has been seen, there is absolutely no question in one's mind, that the dog is in fact in the photo, it's not like looking at clouds and imagining images that aren't there, the dog just locks into perception as being the correct way to perceive the photo (on a content level). Of course, being vipassana meditators we could dissolve the image of the dog into fluctuating particles, however, even seeing the impermanence of the dog percept would not be the same thing as unseeing the dog. There's a difference between seeing nothing but splotches at the content level, and seeing how the dog perception is made up of fluxtuations at the raw sensate level.

Now, suppose that becoming an arhat is something like seeing the dog in the photo (except obviously involving a much much more complex perceptual shift). Once you have sufficient awareness of how ordinary reality is generated out of raw sensation, then you are able to see clearly something fundamentally different about the nature of reality (non-dualism). As with the dog in the photo, you can't unsee it once you've seen it. I emphasized the word sufficient, because you don't need to perfect anything in order to have this shift, you just need to get good enough.

I guess this partly reflects that when you say clarity and illusion it implies that there is a correct way of seeing and a value judgement, whereas I see it more that there are just different ways of seeing. If you have the experience of separateness within the field then that is your just experience.


I don't think that a value judgement is involved in the perceptual shift itself, although surely value judgement is involved when arhats tell us after the fact that their experience of reality is better in many ways that it was before enlightenment. The reason that the perceptual shift doesn't involve a value judgement is it's not a matter of seeing two equally possible interpretations of sensate reality and saying "I like the non-dual one better". This image illustrates something analogous to that. The drawing is truly ambiguous, so you are free to choose based on your preferences whether to see the young woman or the old woman. However, according to those who have achieved arhatship, seeing the world as non-dual is not like the young/old woman drawing, but more like the dalmatian photo. Reality doesn't give you a choice to see it any other way once you have sufficient perceptual clarity.

Avi
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

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Avi, This seems like a really nice analogy, and I thank you for it. However, since neither of us are 4th path then it is hard to know how good that analogy really is.
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Avi Craimer, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

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sawfoot _:
Avi, This seems like a really nice analogy, and I thank you for it. However, since neither of us are 4th path then it is hard to know how good that analogy really is.


True enough. I suppose if we were 4th path, we wouldn't need analogies any more to understand it emoticon
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

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Allrigh, lots of stuff to reply to! I'll start with sawfoot.

sawfoot _:
Interesting conversation, I hope you don't mind me butting in.

Avi says this in as many words, but what is striking to me with all the talk from Beoman about how bad emotions like hate go with good emotions like love, and to get rid of one you have to get rid of the other, it all sounds strange when what Beoman apparently describes is just substituting a range of emotions for just experiencing a couple to the exclusion of others (primarily variations of wonder, awe and appreciation).

Well, sort of. Think of a feeling-being as being a sea of emotional energy. This sea manifests as various things at different times - ranging from powerful passions like rage and terror to subtler things like slight boredom or generally being in a good mood. The actualism method is, as a feeling-being, to get yourself to manifest only as felicitous feelings like happiness and joy, and affective wonder and appreciation, as you mentioned. But that isn't the end-goal. The end-goal is when 'I' as a feeling-bieng allow 'myself' to disappear entirely. Then what remains is a direct apprehension of the mind, not via the affective faculty, which direct apprehension is inherently enjoyable.

So that is to say, at first you channel all the emotions into emotional wonder and awe etc., yet these emotions are only imitations of the delight that is possible when there is no 'being' to get in the way.
William Finch, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

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"Essentially my goal now is not elimination of emotions, per se, but elimination of identity in total. Not only eliminating the ego, but also the soul. The soul is the seat of emotions, so when the soul gets eliminated, so do all of the following: the affective faculty, emotions, soul, ego, love, jealousy, rage, equanimity (as an emotional state), divine service, God itself, Emptiness, Nirvana, any Gods whatsoever, angels and demons, the 'real world' itself, the 'spiritual world' in its entirety, 'connections' and emotional bonding between people, etc... the 'good' emotions all along with the 'bad', since they are the same energy at root.

This might sound awful until you view it in terms of what remains. The main point is that the physical world is primary, not secondary. It's the physical world that gives rise to consciousness, not consciousness that gives rise to the physical world as is the conclusion one inevitably reaches if one pursues a spiritual path enough. What remains is just this physical world, with this body init - and consciousness as well, of course, for it's not consciousness that is eliminated, just the identity (and all the above). The nice thing about what remains is that it's amazingly impeccable. There's nothing wrong with it at all. All 'bad' emotions are gone, so there's no need for any 'good' emotions in order to cover them up. Plus it's a direct experience of the world as-it-is - I as the body am the senses, as opposed to a 'me' in here experiencing the senses. I realize that that's unfortunately not very helpful, since I read people saying that many times and didn't get it until I experienced it for myself, temporarily... In any case, it's intrinsically enjoyable, immensely pleasurable - Richard says he is swimming in largesse.


Cheers,
Beoman Claudiu"

Hi Beoman,

This is Bill. We had a short discussion about reincarnation on kfd a few months back. I read this with interest. I have to admit AF has never been of much interest to me, so pardon me if this has already been discussed repeatedly, but what reason do you have to believe that any of this true? I don't mean this in a confrontational way, and I hope it doesn't come across so, but with the folks who previously claimed af had eliminated all affective feelings later recanting (according to Daniel's essay) I am curious where you have developed such fervent faith in these beliefs? Have you spent a signifigant time (meaning months, years on a regular basis) with anyone who has claimed the above to the extent that it was likely from your observations that what they were claiming was true?

There's much more that seems dubious to me, but I'm tired, and lazy sometimes, and I guess this is what stuck out the most.

Bill
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

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Hey Bill, thanks for joining.

William Finch:
I have to admit AF has never been of much interest to me, so pardon me if this has already been discussed repeatedly, but what reason do you have to believe that any of this true? I don't mean this in a confrontational way, and I hope it doesn't come across so, but with the folks who previously claimed af had eliminated all affective feelings later recanting (according to Daniel's essay) I am curious where you have developed such fervent faith in these beliefs? Have you spent a signifigant time (meaning months, years on a regular basis) with anyone who has claimed the above to the extent that it was likely from your observations that what they were claiming was true?

There's much more that seems dubious to me, but I'm tired, and lazy sometimes, and I guess this is what stuck out the most.

Heh yea dubeity is by far the most common reaction to somebody talking about this stuff. I generally don't talk about it unless prompted, which usually only ends up happening on the internets.

To answer your last question, no, the most I did was spend about a week with Richard and Vineeto a year and a half ago. It is interesting in that I went into that week thinking that Actualism and Buddhism pointed to the same thing, that Tarin & Trent & Nick were all actually free and that Richard was nitpicking on language or refusing to admit they were for whatever unfathomable reason. I left that week thinking that Actualism and Buddhism were actually completely different, that Tarin & Trent & Nick were not actually free and that Richard had simply evaluated what they had been saying and concluded that they were talking about something else, simply because they were describing different things than he was describing. Interesting now that some of them have recanted, according to Daniel's essay, no?

In any case, certainly in that week I experienced them as being exactly how they describe themselves, which was fascinating. Plus the crazy thing is that they had no vibes whatsoever. When you are with people, you usually don't notice this, but everyone has sort of a vibe around them. When someone is intensely emotional you can feel that as well. Yet with these two, there was absolutely nothing there - a total lack of vibes. They were just like the furniture in terms of how many vibes they were putting out - that is, none at all. Plus during that time I experienced in varying levels of intensity a sweetness that was quite distinct from anything emotional in nature - this is what they call pure intent.

So I have plenty reason to think that it's all true. There are many indicators pointing to it being true and not many pointing to it not being true.
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John P, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Plus the crazy thing is that they had no vibes whatsoever. When you are with people, you usually don't notice this, but everyone has sort of a vibe around them. When someone is intensely emotional you can feel that as well. Yet with these two, there was absolutely nothing there - a total lack of vibes. They were just like the furniture in terms of how many vibes they were putting out - that is, none at all.


Hi, I met Trent personally last year, and I can say he had "no vibes" too. It was just like you said, no vibes to the point that's noticeable.

EDIT: Just remembered. The last time I met Russel, he claimed he was at 3rd path, and he had "less vibes" than a normal person. It was not "no vibes", but it was indeed "less vibes".

PS: I am not saying having no vibes is the way to go(I wouldn't know), just saying what I noticed.
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William Golden Finch, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

Posts: 558 Join Date: 11/17/13 Recent Posts

Heh yea dubeity is by far the most common reaction to somebody talking about this stuff. I generally don't talk about it unless prompted, which usually only ends up happening on the internets.

To answer your last question, no, the most I did was spend about a week with Richard and Vineeto a year and a half ago. It is interesting in that I went into that week thinking that Actualism and Buddhism pointed to the same thing, that Tarin & Trent & Nick were all actually free and that Richard was nitpicking on language or refusing to admit they were for whatever unfathomable reason. I left that week thinking that Actualism and Buddhism were actually completely different, that Tarin & Trent & Nick were not actually free and that Richard had simply evaluated what they had been saying and concluded that they were talking about something else, simply because they were describing different things than he was describing. Interesting now that some of them have recanted, according to Daniel's essay, no?

In any case, certainly in that week I experienced them as being exactly how they describe themselves, which was fascinating. Plus the crazy thing is that they had no vibes whatsoever. When you are with people, you usually don't notice this, but everyone has sort of a vibe around them. When someone is intensely emotional you can feel that as well. Yet with these two, there was absolutely nothing there - a total lack of vibes. They were just like the furniture in terms of how many vibes they were putting out - that is, none at all. Plus during that time I experienced in varying levels of intensity a sweetness that was quite distinct from anything emotional in nature - this is what they call pure intent.

So I have plenty reason to think that it's all true. There are many indicators pointing to it being true and not many pointing to it not being true.

Hey Beoman,

Thank you for responding. I appreciate your candor and directness. Is dubiety a word? If it's not it should be. It has a nice ring to it.
I have at times felt what you have referred to as "vibes" in the presence of others, but I am never certain if that is truly coming from another or is just my projection. It seems impossible to be certain. I have no feeling that your pursuing a path where there are no vibes is a bad thing in itself, but what is an emotion anyways? In my experience the body is a movement of sensations, unbounded and direct, that in an attempt to control and define, becomes an emotion that I identify with, a boundary of separation. I see no issue with the energy, and I'll be honest, i see the war on the relative emotional world as being futile as well, not because I believe those things couldn't change -my own experience would seem to suggest that the emotional identifications become more subtle or less present- but because I believe any sort of intention we bring to practice creates a whole worldview of assumptions that will justify and create a worldview ad infinitum. I don't know if I used that phrase correctly ha.
Anyways, I was just writing to say thanks for the honest response.

Bill
Adam . ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

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claudiu, is "no vibes" basically an absence of both favoring and opposing?
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

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Adam . .:
claudiu, is "no vibes" basically an absence of both favoring and opposing?

No, they clearly favored some things over other things. For example we had cappuccinos on a few different days at the same cafe. On one day it was super delicious, while on another day it was really beautifully presented, but didn't taste nearly as good. So they made comments to that effect - how it didn't taste as good, they'd prefer the other one, etc. Or they told me about how there's various places they get croissants and which ones they preferred.

No vibes meant no emotional charge - no emotional identity there. No soul or spirit. Nothing and no one to connect with on an emotional level.

In terms of how it felt to me - when I tried to intuitively feel out other people in an airport, for example, there was some intuitive latching-on-to of the other person. I *felt* like there was somebody there. Whereas when I tried the same with Richard and Vineeto, my feeling-feeler just went right past them. It *felt* like there was nobody there at all. Even though there was obviously a human there sitting and talking to me.

I haven't felt that around anybody else, including Tarin & Trent. Actually I did the same experiment with them, before meeting Richard & Vineeto, and with Tarin I felt a definite something, while with Trent I felt something which at the time I interpreted as no-vibes. Trent was very much out-of-the-way and non-imposing, sort of I guess like he was minimizing his presence as much as he could, but there wasn't a crystal-clear read of "nobody there", which I didn't realize until I did get a crystal-clear read of "nobody there" with Richard & Vineeto.

Unfortunately it is not 100% reliable. Bill said "I am never certain if that is truly coming from another or is just my projection". Richard told me of the case where he met somebody, and the person told him that he felt love emanating out of Richard. Richard basically said no, that's just impossible. But they guy insisted that that's what he felt. So, take it with a grain of salt, but for me it is good enough for now.
Adam . ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
Note: I am kind of thinking while writing here so bear with me, it might not be perfectly organized.

Ok, so you were very inspired by these people and as best you could tell their way of living was unique and worth imitating.

What is interesting to me is this certainty you radiate about the overarching direction of your path. For periods I have been deeply inspired by PCE experiences or by individuals who talked about living permanently in PCE experiences. I have thought to myself that I knew exactly what to do in life, it seemed really obvious that i just had to do this practice and then i would be living from something like a permanent effortless PCE and everyone would love me and I would eventually become famous for teaching people how to become like me, and all the people who argued with me would eventually see how wrong they were.

How do you see your life playing out as your practice develops? What images and hopes give you motivation for your practice? Do you see a vastly better and different future for yourself after some huge turning point in your life wherein you become Actually Free? Or is it more that you will be extraordinarily ordinary (to the masses' perception) and live a quiet anonymous life but with a deep and ultimate insight into life that perhaps only a few people recognize your possession of?

This must sound insulting but it is my observation that either I am depressed and bored or I have (or am driven by) a great fantasy of my future or I am in a state of flow/concentration. The 'third alternative' of concentration is simply directing attention onto the present whereby I forget about these things entirely. Concentration as such could come from drugs, meditating, or some engaging and fun activity like rock climbing or maybe reading. Basically it is directing all my "CPU" into something so that none of it is left over for self-consciousness or evaluation of life.

The most honest is the bored state, the most habitual and easy is the fantasy-driven state, and the most pragmatic and pleasant is probably the forced attention state. Do you think your life correlates to one of these types of consciousness? Obviously none of these are very dignified or special, and none of them constitute a "resolution" to life, but I don't understand or believe in the suggested alternatives.

I suppose that as all of these are basically manifestations of a fundamental sense of discontent, the real "resolution" would be the absence of this discontent. I don't understand what the absence of discontent is though. It seems like it is no different from death, and I simply don't have the first clue what would cause it.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Adam . .:
Ok, so you were very inspired by these people and as best you could tell their way of living was unique and worth imitating.

Yeah, roughly speaking. Though it's more about their way of existing, with the way of living being a natural consequence of that way of existing.

Adam . .:
What is interesting to me is this certainty you radiate about the overarching direction of your path. For periods I have been deeply inspired by PCE experiences or by individuals who talked about living permanently in PCE experiences. I have thought to myself that I knew exactly what to do in life, it seemed really obvious that i just had to do this practice and then i would be living from something like a permanent effortless PCE and everyone would love me and I would eventually become famous for teaching people how to become like me, and all the people who argued with me would eventually see how wrong they were.

Haha this paragraph made me smile. I guess I'll answer your questions sequentially.

Adam . .:
How do you see your life playing out as your practice develops?

I suppose I should first mention that I don't think "practice" is a good way to characterize what I am doing. It implies it's something that I have to do or get myself to do, and it also implies that it's something separate from the actual living of my life. There is no practice and life, anymore. Just life! This was true after I had been meditating for a while, also. At first it was life and then i would meditate separately from that. After that, I would just meditate and attend all the time and it wasn't so separate from life, per se. Now, there's no meditation anymore either, but rather, I'm just figuring out the best way to live my life in a more active manner than most people, perhaps.

Adam . .:
What images and hopes give you motivation for your practice?

Well it definitely isn't to be loved by everybody, nor to be adored or adulated or to be seen highly by everyone, or something like that. Even if it was, I know that that wouldn't happen - just look how much scorn is heaped on Richard in his correspondences, for example. I used to think it was because of the way he wrote, or something, but after I started saying basically the same things in as good a way as I knew how, I found people to be opposed in much the same way. It does seem to be the message and not how it is put. The difference is that I back down sometimes because I don't like it when people disagree with me so much, whereas he doesn't, which I think is a better approach ultimately.

A huge one is to live a life without fear. Can you imagine what that would be like, when some undercurrent of fear motivates so much of what we do? To live a life of fulfillment, contentment. A peaceful and peaceable life. A life without needless worry or pain. Also a life wherein I don't burden others with my demands, and one where I don't take offense or offend others.

Adam . .:
Do you see a vastly better and different future for yourself after some huge turning point in your life wherein you become Actually Free? Or is it more that you will be extraordinarily ordinary (to the masses' perception) and live a quiet anonymous life but with a deep and ultimate insight into life that perhaps only a few people recognize your possession of?

Hmm I donno. I'll probably still talk about it on the internets. In person I'll talk about it if it comes up, I suppose. I might also contact Jud and see if he wants to scan my actually free brain, that might be fun. I am optimistic that more and more people will recognize this actual freedom thing for what it is, but I am not sure how that'll go about happening. I think it will be a good future overall.

Adam . .:
This must sound insulting but it is my observation that either I am depressed and bored or I have (or am driven by) a great fantasy of my future or I am in a state of flow/concentration. The 'third alternative' of concentration is simply directing attention onto the present whereby I forget about these things entirely. Concentration as such could come from drugs, meditating, or some engaging and fun activity like rock climbing or maybe reading. Basically it is directing all my "CPU" into something so that none of it is left over for self-consciousness or evaluation of life.

The most honest is the bored state, the most habitual and easy is the fantasy-driven state, and the most pragmatic and pleasant is probably the forced attention state. Do you think your life correlates to one of these types of consciousness? Obviously none of these are very dignified or special, and none of them constitute a "resolution" to life, but I don't understand or believe in the suggested alternatives.

I suppose that as all of these are basically manifestations of a fundamental sense of discontent, the real "resolution" would be the absence of this discontent. I don't understand what the absence of discontent is though. It seems like it is no different from death, and I simply don't have the first clue what would cause it.

That doesn't sound very insulting. I recognize all of those states. Today and yesterday I was rather bored, for example. I ended up filling my time with more or less meaningless things. It wasn't very satisfying. I find myself doing this once in a while and I wonder why! The driven-by-the-great-fantasy-of-my-future one hasn't happened in a while. And the flow/concentration one is great, though by concentration I mean in the colloquial sense, not the meditative one. While playing the drums, for example, or while on a roll when programming.

Neither of them are what I'm ultimately after, though. I suppose the flow one would be the closest to it, but it doesn't quite match up to what the PCE is, although you could call PCE a flow state. I suppose I'd say that not all flow states are PCEs, but PCEs have properties of flow states. Anyway, that is definitely the way I want to live permanently.

Discontent is ultimately caused by being a 'being'. Being a soul, or being an ego and having a soul. Without all that, there's no discontent. It's insanely amazing. Literally, there is simply nothing that has to be done in order to not be discontented if there is no 'me' or 'I' anywhere. This is what apperception is. It just goes on its own without requiring any fuel. There's absolute freedom to do whatever one wants, without anything to get in the way of it. It is a really really simple way to exist and it's just so darn great! Highly recommended. I only wish there was an easier or more sure-fire way for people to understand what it is. Words definitely don't work reliably. People will read this paragraph and think it is all sorts of things that it isn't, unless they've experienced it and known it while experiencing it, at which point there will be an instant recognition and a desire to live that way forever, if they aren't already.
Adam . ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
Discontent is ultimately caused by being a 'being


for me that's basically the same as saying discontent is caused by the potential for discontent. what causes being a being? the rest of what you said was basically dharma porn. it is just the stuff of those fantasies I was talking about.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Adam . .:
Discontent is ultimately caused by being a 'being


for me that's basically the same as saying discontent is caused by the potential for discontent. what causes being a being?
Being born.

Adam . .:
the rest of what you said was basically dharma porn. it is just the stuff of those fantasies I was talking about.
Good talk.
Christian B, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Sambhogakaya and the Impermanence of the Shamanic World

Posts: 88 Join Date: 10/23/10 Recent Posts
Avi Craimer:
I've done a lot of work with shamanic journeying, which is related to the “powers” realm. Until recently, I didn't make much connection between my shamanic work and vipassana.


Hi Avi,

I'm curious about the techniques you use for your shamanic journeying. As far as I can tell, there seems to be an element of strong visualization involved, and maybe something else to induce a very calm and/or dreamlike mindstate that supports visualization. This might be anything from things like lucid dreaming and related practices at the edge of sleep to rhythmic breathing, drumming, yoga, entheogens etc. I'd like to hear what technique you use, if you don't mind sharing.

Also, how would one go about learning this? A quick google search tells me that there is very much material around, and as far as I can tell, quality seems to vary a lot and someone who isn't already familiar with this territory would have a very hard time picking something useful. Is there by any chance a book or other resource that does for shamanic journeying what MCTB has done for buddhist meditation? What approach would you recommend to someone with a background in buddhist meditation?

Thank you & best wishes
Christian
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Avi Craimer, modified 7 Years ago.

How to Start with Shamanic Journeying

Posts: 114 Join Date: 10/29/13 Recent Posts
Hey Christian,

The truth is that after my stream entry, I started spontaneously getting shamanic type visions breaking through, and I pursued the practice in order to start making sense of them, and to learn to work with them intentionally. I imagine it should be relatively easy for somebody with good meditation training to travel to the shamanic world if they are open to it.

I learned from a book called Shamanism as a Spiritual Practice for Daily Life by Tom Cowan, which I highly recommend. The classic in modern Shamanism is The Way Of The Shaman by Michael Harner, but that one a little less clear sometimes. The traditional thing is to use a drum beat to help shift your consciousness, but with strong samadhi, I've found that the drum beat isn't necessary, although it does help. Another thing that really helps is letting your whole body shake physically (not trying to shake it but allowing spontaneous movement to shake it). A good book on shaking practices is Shaking Medicine by Bradford Keeney. Shaking also really helped me with dark night stages, it's like an emergency release value when things get too intense and it also leads to a state of profound calm and exceptionally clear imagery after long shaking sessions. I think the shaking is related to impermanence. It is caused allowing the vibratory flux one perceives in vipassana to actually animate the body's movements. Some other things that helped me gain a lot of perspective on the shamanic imagery was Junging depth psychology, Adam Mclean on alchemy, and of course, Jospeh Campbell.

One key factor is that unlike samadhi visualization, you don't create the images. You visualize an induction where you travel down or up through a tree or something similar, in order to enter the upper world of the lower world, but then in the shamanic world, you see what's there not what you choose to see. This isn't to say your mind can't interfere and start intentionally visualizing things if it wants to, but then you aren't seeing the spirit world any more. Of course, you do interact with the images, usually you see yourself in some kind of body, and you can move it around and talk and do stuff just like in the physical world (well not just like the physical world, the world is more like a dream or a fantasy adventure). You can also learn to shapeshift into animals or other things.

In order to be successful in working with spirits, you need to treat the spirits as if they are real entities. You may or may not actually believe in such things, but in order to work with them you need to think and act toward them like they are real intelligent beings (not physically real, but real on another plane of existence). Of course, that is real in a content-sense, the way tables and emotions and sonnets are real, not in the sensate sense, any more than than any other phenomenon (although there are real sensations that make up your perception of them!). My point is that just because you feel you body decompose into a million flickering vibrations during meditation, you don't stop believing that your body is real in the ordinary sense. So it's the same thing with spirits, and stuff in the spirit world. Even if you see their impermanence, it doesn't change the fact that they continue to exist in whatever way spirits exist. There are lots of Buddhist traditions that acknowledge the reality of spirits and work with them in various ways (I love the story about how the Buddha gave the monks the metta suttra to convert hostile forest spirits into friendly helpers). That said, the spirit world is quite a bit more slippery at the content level than the physical world. It's more shapeshifty, and much harder to pin down than physicality, but it's not unlike thoughts and emotions in this way.

So for example, it wouldn't be good form to just ignore a spirit and start meditating on it to try to see its impermanence, any more than it would be polite to do this with a human being who was trying to have a conversation with you. Likely the spirit would get annoyed, and either try to cause trouble or just disappear entirely. However, a trusted spirit friend (like your primary animal guide) would be happy to let you use them as a meditation object, if they were in alignment with the goals of your meditation practice. In my case, I was at a stage where I couldn't not see the impermanence in them, and the whole world was melting into impermanence and transitioning toward emptiness. I got the feeling that they understood that that's what I was going through so they didn't take offence.

According to the Taoist 8 energy body model, the spirit world is accessed through the 5th energy body (spirit body or psychic body). To give you an idea of the significance of that fact, the first four bodies are physical, chi (acupuncture meridians), emotional, and mental. So the spirit body contains and allows one to work with content in all those bodies. This is why I believe it is such a powerful space in which to do physical, emotional, and even intellectual healing. The spirit body can also be thought of as the Soul in the Jungian/hermetic/alchemical sense, as that which makes an individual human being unique and contains his or her unique gifts, mythic life narrative (Hero's Journey), and relationship to the archetypes. Hence, it is through the spirit body (soul) that one discovers the purpose of one's present incarnation (which is probably something other than just getting enlightened). Note, that Soul in this sense does not require a belief in anything lacking the 3 Characteristics. As I recently experienced for myself, the soul and spirit world can be seen to be just as impermanent and empty as everything else, but that doesn't change their importance for human life. An empty body is still a body, an empty spirit is still a spirit, (sorry to repeat myself, but I worry this point will be missed).

I'd be happy to answer any other questions you might have.

Avi
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