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About MCTB

About MCTB
3/11/14 5:24 PM
I've been meditating for about 2-3 years and I am getting more and more seriously into it in time. That is how I found this site. Having an analytical mind, I'm trying to learn the most about different meditation practices and find a technique that is suitable for me. Recently I ran into a review of Ingram's book MCTB. I wanted to get people's opinion about it. I hope it is not a topic that is covered many times before and I hope it is not in bad taste to post it here. I'm particularly interested in the paragraph below:

"The outcome of the practice recommended in the book is not the outcome of practicing the Buddha's teaching, which is nibbana ("unbinding"), the end of dukkha (usually translated as "suffering" or "stress"). The product of Ingram's practice as recommended in this book is a state of endless cycling through something which Ingram, borrowing from St John of the Cross, calls the Dark Night, some of whose stages are Fear, Misery, Disgust and Desire for Deliverance (as well as nicer sounding states like Equanimity). There is no end to be reached, just a state of endless repetition of these stages at four succeedingly higher levels which are called by the same names as the Buddha's four stages of awakening, although they are clearly not the same thing at all. Rather than being the end of dukkha which the Buddha taught, this is more "being OK with dukkha".........

I'm curious about what people think about it. And maybe putting this particular passage aside, is what is reached by the teachings in MCTB different from what Buddha's teachings describes as nibbana? Is the end point different depending on which practice you do?

Here is the rest of the review. But I'm mainly interested in the above part.

My intention is never to be inflammatory. I apologize in advance if it is not in good taste to post it here. I'm just trying to navigate my way through what seems to be dark territory where finding "correct" information is difficult. I know there is good discussion on this forum, and learning from good discussion is what I'm looking for. I also know I have some reading to do, mainly the experiences of people here so I can compare what people experience when different techniques are used. Thanks in advance.

RE: About MCTB
3/11/14 4:38 AM as a reply to K. O..
Dear MC,

I have read that review also. It is interesting to see how people read things and interpret them, with that obviously being a really negative way to look at it all. What conditioning on their side prompted that, I have no idea, so it is hard to second-guess them or psychoanalyze them, but I can tell you about this end, which looks very different from how they think it does.

It is true that I cycle, but the cycles are really, really different now from how they were, and the transformation is really, really better than how things were before.

It is definitely not just accepting that my life is worse due to my practice and becoming ok with that. My life and mind and clarity are vastly improved, vastly better.

Let's look at the Three Trainings discussed in the book.

Morality really helps. Kindness really helps. Compassion really helps. Sympathetic Joy really helps. Lessening anger, cultivating balance: these basic things help a lot. They change the way the whole body feels, the way the mind feels, the way reactions go, and all sorts of other good stuff. They make a difference, as those who have trained hard in them will tell you.

Concentration: Deep jhana is wonderful. Even light jhana is nice. They are profound states of consciousness, healing, restful, amazing, and quite profound. Learning them does not increase suffering, it reduces it. Being able to access them writes great things on the mind and opens lots of doors to more interesting things.

Wisdom: Eliminating false dualistic perception through clear seeing of the basic nature of bare sensate experience is a fundamental game-changer. It is the sanest thing I ever did or imagine I ever could do. It rights something that was wrong at the core. Dualistic misperception, the sense of an "I", of a doer, of a controller, of some split-off Subject: this illusion creates needless pain and all sorts of strange reactions to try to get that pain to go away, but no amount of tinkering with anything else solves it like just seeing through it by clear bare perception of the truth of one's own experience. This markedly reduces suffering rather than increasing it.

Whoever wrote that review clearly has no idea what they are talking about. These things I advocate are ancient, time-tested, worthy of implementing, skillful and obviously so, based on excellent premises, perform well in reality, are straightforward, and are not the dark and wrong path the reviewer makes them out to be.

If for some reason you don't like the presentation style in MCTB: find them elsewhere. I like Thich Nhat Hahn and Pema Chodron for training in Morality, Bhante Gunaratana and The Visuddhimagga for training in Concentration, and Mahasi Sayadaw and U Pandita for training in Wisdom, but there are lots of other good sources available from many skillful traditions.

MCTB is available for free on this website and numerous other places, so you can read it and decide for yourself what you think of it. You could also try the practices and see what they lead to and decide for yourself. You can also check the references and see where those practices come from and go back to the original source material and get it there.

Best wishes and practice well,


RE: About MCTB
3/11/14 4:01 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Thanks for taking the time and having the openness. And thanks for creating a place where these things can be discussed.

RE: About MCTB
3/11/14 4:03 AM as a reply to K. O..
M. C.:
Thanks for taking the time and having the openness. And thanks for creating a place where these things can be discussed.

Yeah, a thousand times over.

RE: About MCTB
3/11/14 6:43 AM as a reply to K. O..
i consider myself pretty damned analytical as well and feel very at home here. i also feel often dwarfed by people here who are very analytical so have no hesitation on recommending this forum to you on those grounds alone.

tradition hopping is a common ailment of modern practitioners. with the availability of so much information these days it is almost inevitable. analytical types tend to find the weaknesses in a particular tradition much more quickly than was the case in the past, which i consider a very positive thing. in my case for instance, the Tibetan tradition was a starting point for me but there was so much cultural and traditional "baggage" there that I found it suboptimal for me.

the dark side of this wide availability of choice is that one will become addicted to the search and will sacrifice depth of practice for breadth. IMO depth is far more preferable as breadth is simply more intellectual collecting: so wisdom over broad knowlege is the goal.

the critique of MCTB you proffered is really skewed and misses the point entirely. i suggest you read MCTB yourself and let the persuasive logic contained therein to guide you. maybe it will be a good fit, maybe not. my bet is that it will.



RE: About MCTB
3/12/14 7:18 AM as a reply to K. O..
Look here: