4th Path

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Avi Craimer, modified 7 Years ago.

4th Path

Posts: 114 Join Date: 10/29/13 Recent Posts
I'm pretty sure I got 4th path a few days ago, or at least something that in many respects resembles what Daniel describes as 4th Path. It feels like I lost the piece of myself responsible for resisting sensations. Everything is in flow all the time. I can't detect any aversion/attraction except for a short while after coming out of Nirodha Samapatti. For example, I can clench up my muscles in my whole body as tight as I can without noticeable feelings of aversion and on the relaxation there are no noticeable feelings of attraction. Nothing sticks, at least not in the ordinary physical, mental, or emotional universe.

Yet, at the same time, it feels like I'm beginning to access a new world of phenomena behind my third eye and above my crown. These are the only areas that have any kind of solidity to them when I focus on them, I can detect some slight clinging but not really able to investigate it yet.

In addition, a lot of buried emotions are surfacing but much easier to deal with. Old trauma stuff coming up suddenly for healing, but it's easier to cope with. There is a strong sense that emotional healing and intellectual house-ordering is now the number one priority for further development. Meditation is starting to seem more like any other activity, just as I would tie my shoelace to put my shoes on, I might enter jhana to focus on a positive mental quality or use fast mindfulness to diffuse some tension, but it is all without the urgency and drama of before. Meditation has become part of the daily life-world, not some special exception to it; it is immanent rather than transcendent.

The exception to this seems to be Nirodha Samapatti which still feels like it taps me into something beyond what my mind has presently encompassed and permeated, it's like a whole world beyond my individual self that is still waiting to be uncovered. There is a sense that if any part of the "I" remains, it remains at this level or higher.

There is some sense of loss of direction, yet without really changing how I feel about my daily life practices. It's like, even to change what I'm doing in daily life there would need to be somebody to make that change, so it just continues. There isn't indifference or apathy on the level of my personality. On that level I'm just as excited about my projects as before, but there is no longer a subjective identification with this level. I'm making it sound starker than it is. There are moments where the subjective identification with the psyche feels present in a ghostly, wispy form, and then moments when it's completely gone. I suppose this is still the transitional period.

I've been feeling some grief for the old sense of I, it's like losing a familiar constant companion. Tonight, I had a good cathartic cry over it, which led me to the insight that the "I" which was lost is not really lost, but has just become a part of everything I experience. That old "I" now exists in a fully immanent way in my body, my psyche, my perceptual world. It is not longer subject or object, but it's not gone either, it's just everywhere, in everything. This insight made me feel better about the whole thing, and helped a bit with the feeling of directionlessness. This body and psyche have their path through the world, which still needs to unfold. That unfoldment still needs to happen, and any "I" that is left in the higher realms has as it's job to help this body and this psyche on this path. I don't feel much desire at this point to liberate the residual cosmic 'I'. I've never considered myself a Buddhist, never considered myself committed to the project of uprooting the Self. Somehow, I found myself walking further and further down this Buddhist path of insight, but here might be the place where I stop, or it might not be. I don't know yet.

I have decided to embrace the idea of not knowing. Not knowing what this new state really is, not knowing what comes next, not knowing what might be possible. I've realized that Daniel's maps helpful only to get one to a certain point, and then they become so much baggage. They aren't maps of ultimate reality any more than anything else. We only cling to them because certainty is so comforting. Nobody has a map of all of reality. In principle, all maps show only those pieces of reality that the map-maker has so far explored and been able to articulate. Even within those territories its contours reflect the conceptual schema of the map-maker.

I like to believe that reality is endlessly intricate and inexhaustible, but of course, I have no way to know if that's true.

After all the work it took to get here, 4th path seems more like a stepping stone to something much vaster than I can at present conceive. It's a bit of let down in some ways, but only because I built it up in my mind to be bigger than it was. It does feel like an important change, but in a way it's more incremental and less radical a change than was stream entry. It certainly doesn't feel like an endpoint, although it is the end of a certain phase of the work.

My advice to anybody in the middle paths is to balance insight work with working to better yourself on a personal level, heal your psyche, develop positive mental qualities, discover a meaningful purpose for your body and psyche in this incarnation, build a good life in the ordinary sense. If you rush to 4th Path, leaving your emotional self bruised and battered along the way, you might get here only to discover a very unhappy psyche that is no longer you, but is still very intimately experienced. You might also not know what to do with your new found enlightenment. I can only imagine that it would harder find a strong sense of life purpose after 4th path than before, I feel blessed to have developed a lot of faith in my life purpose before this point. Enlightenment isn't suicide, it doesn't make the problems of your body and psyche magically go away (although it might make them easier to deal with in some ways).

Thanks to everybody on the board for all the online support and fellowship, thanks to Daniel for his amazing book and his courage in taking all this stuff out of closet, thanks to my teacher Vincent for his support and guidance.

All the best,
Avi
T DC, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 389 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
Ok, I just have to say, the clear sign of 4th path is that concepts are now seen to be empty. This is the benchmark. Increased flow, seemingly leading to bigger things... hard to say. It should be a major event, not sort of things are better.. I would mainly expect a definite, 'point source' event at which time space opened up to your perception and concepts were seen in a radically different light.

There seemingly is no consensus on this for some reason, but I find this ridiculous. 4th path is the first true glimpse of emptiness. It is a HUGE Step!! It is breaking beyond the mind of closed conceptual reasoning for the first time! Do not take it lightly. There should be a significant adjustment period, because experience is greatly relieved, but as well intensified, and this comes as a new and interesting source of both pain and pleasure.

There is pain that comes with loosing a solid fixed view of concepts. 4th path is a major shift in wisdom, and this truly is not a comfortable shift, it is intense. You cannot hold concepts anymore, try as you might. You cannot truly identify with them. Every concept that arises is let go of automatically, identification is broken. Concept is seen to be empty of reality. This really caused me quite a headache..
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Nikolai ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 1650 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
T DC:
Ok, I just have to say, the clear sign of 4th path is that concepts are now seen to be empty. This is the benchmark. Increased flow, seemingly leading to bigger things... hard to say. It should be a major event, not sort of things are better.. I would mainly expect a definite, 'point source' event at which time space opened up to your perception and concepts were seen in a radically different light.

There seemingly is no consensus on this for some reason, but I find this ridiculous. 4th path is the first true glimpse of emptiness. It is a HUGE Step!! It is breaking beyond the mind of closed conceptual reasoning for the first time! Do not take it lightly. There should be a significant adjustment period, because experience is greatly relieved, but as well intensified, and this comes as a new and interesting source of both pain and pleasure.

There is pain that comes with loosing a solid fixed view of concepts. 4th path is a major shift in wisdom, and this truly is not a comfortable shift, it is intense. You cannot hold concepts anymore, try as you might. You cannot truly identify with them. Every concept that arises is let of of automatically, identification is broken. Concept is seen to be empty of reality. This really caused me quite a headache..



Daniel's defintion of 4th.


1) Utter centerlessness: no watcher, no sense of a watcher, no subtle watcher, no possibility of a watcher. This is immediately obvious just as color is to a man with good eyesight as the old saying goes. Thus, anything and everything simply and obviously manifest just where they are. No phenomena observe any others and never did or could.

2) Utter agencylessness: meaning no agency, no sense of doing, no sense of doer, no sense that there could be any agent or doer, no way to find anything that seems to be in control at all. Whatever effort or intent or anything like that that arises does so naturally, causally, inevitably, as it always actually did. This is immediately obvious, though not always the forefront of attention.

3) No cycles change or stages or states or anything else like that do anything to this direct comprehension of simple truths at all.

4) There is no deepening in it to do. The understanding stands on its own and holds up over cycles, moods, years, etc and doesn't change at all. I have nothing to add to my initial assessment of it from 9 years ago.

5) There is nothing subtle about it: anything and everything that arises exhibits these same qualities directly, clearly. When I was third path, particularly late in it, those things that didn't exhibit these qualities were exceedingly subtle, and trying to find the gaps in the thing was exceedingly difficult and took years and many cycles. I had periods from weeks to months where it felt done and then some subtle exception would show up and I would realize I was wrong yet again, so this is natural and understandable, and if someone claims 4th as I define it here and later says they got it wrong, have sympathy for them, as this territory is not easy and can easily fool people, as it did me many, many times over about 5 years or so. However, 4th, as I term it, ended that and 9 years later that same thing holds, which is a very long time in this business.

There are other aspects that may be of value to discuss at some other time, but those are a great place to start for those who wish to claim this. If you truly have those, then perhaps we can talk about a few other points that are less central and essential.
taken from here.

This is a good benchmark for how 4 th path is best defined at the dho (being daniel's site and all) . But if you wish to put your own definition on whatever experience, so be it. Oh, for me the emptiness of concepts sounds more like 3rd path in my own experience.

My advice....give it a few months. Let any honeymoon period settle. Then see.

Nick
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Nikolai:


This is a good benchmark for how 4 th path is best defined at the dho (being daniel's site and all) . But if you wish to put your own definition on whatever experience, so be it. Oh, for me the emptiness of concepts sounds more like 3rd path in my own experience.

My advice....give it a few months. Let any honeymoon period settle. Then see.

Nick


Is this a benchmark for 1) DhO-style 4th path or 2) a benchmark for "being like Daniel"? Daniel has own unique mind and practice history, and his own unique take on things and way of describing them (with perhaps a tendency towards hyperbole!). My question really is how many other people really identify with this description? Does anyone really fully identify for it? What about you? For example, Tom does, in part but not fully, and relates his experience to Folk's analysis:
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/3373753

And by raising the question, I am implying that it might not be a good benchmark for 1), and I was interested to consider what would be a good benchmark and how one would come to decide upon that (an old debate, I know).
Tom Tom, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 466 Join Date: 9/19/09 Recent Posts
sawfoot _:


Is this a benchmark for 1) DhO-style 4th path or 2) a benchmark for "being like Daniel"? Daniel has own unique mind and practice history, and his own unique take on things and way of describing them (with perhaps a tendency towards hyperbole!). My question really is how many other people really identify with this description? Does anyone really fully identify for it? What about you? For example, Tom does, in part but not fully, and relates his experience to Folk's analysis:
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/3373753

And by raising the question, I am implying that it might not be a good benchmark for 1), and I was interested to consider what would be a good benchmark and how one would come to decide upon that (an old debate, I know).



Hi,

I am the Tom that he is referring to in the above post.

This is more an issue of realizing inherent truths about reality rather than a debatable difference between two different subjective forms of enlightenment. That things happen causally, without inner and outer, without agent, without center and subject is definitely an important attribute of awakening and fundamental reality. My point in my post was that there are some exceedingly subtle remaining exceptions to this that arise from time to time that need attention. I wasn't saying that this fundamental aspect of reality is false, as this is just not the case. I am also not implying that you were saying this, but rather am writing this post to clear up a lot of the endless debates I keep seeing on this forum.

Kenneth's model adds a lot of additional very important developments that are deemed by many on this forum to be either impossible or somehow tangential to the process of awakening. Perhaps there should be more effort to combine the two models as they are not incompatible with each other. Here are Kenneth's stages 5-8 (Kenneth's version of 4th path is stage 5).



Stage 5: The tipping point. Practitioner has a profound sense of completion, as though “done is what needs to be done.” (One interpretation of the 4th Path of Enlightenment. And here is my 2010 commentary on interpretation of the 4-Path model.) The longing to be enlightened seems to have melted away. With further ripening at this stage, it will be seen that there is more to be done; the practitioner still experiences many of the old neurotic patterns, but has some distance from them. “It’s still happening, but it doesn’t seem to be happening to me,” is a common report. How common is this stage? As a rough estimate, I’ve guided 20-25 or so folks to this stage over the last 5 years. I occasionally meet someone who has come to this through some other system. At this stage, the practitioner is identified with emotional feelings rather than a conceptual self. So he or she will resist and argue with more advanced practitioners about what comes next...

Stage 6: Emotional transformation. Marked attenuation of feelings. (See Damasio’s Looking for Spinoza for the distinction between emotions and feelings. Feelings are the subjective component of emotions. Emotions can and do carry on without the corresponding feelings, as emotions and feelings happen in different parts of the brain.) Practitioner may still display full range of emotions as observed by others while reporting only contentment, well-being, acceptance, etc. This new emotional stability sets the stage for...

Stage 7: Proprioceptive selfing is seen clearly. From the platform of the emotionally stable mind, it becomes possible to see that certain sensations, especially around the face, eyes, and forehead, are sporadically signaling “this is I, me, mine.” See Metzinger’s comments about Ronald Melzac’s neuromatrix and “a kind of proprioception that is so subtle, it’s almost unconscious” (paraphrased from memory, but here is the video). When the moments of operation of this proprioceptive selfing are juxtaposed, moment by moment, with non-selfing moments, the selfing is seen as painful and the mind conditions itself to stop doing it. This proprioceptive selfing seems to operates at several layers, however, because it comes back at a subtler level, as do feelings of fear, irritation, and aversion. Here is a Youtube video in which I sketch out the first 7 stages. (At the time, I did not know there were more stages available.)

Stage 8: A deepening of the insights from stages 6 and 7, plus a crushing blow to the ownership and agency aspects of selfing. (See Metzinger, The Ego Tunnel, for more on ownership and agency as components of selfing.) Practitioner feels very “enlightened” at this point, even somewhat alien as compared to “normal” people. Lots of disorientation. At times some sense of “divine retardation,” in which practitioner feels him or herself losing interest in some things that mattered previously, while simultaneously feeling profoundly OK with these changes. Life gets simpler as unnecessary ideas and attachments slough off. Friends can drift apart if some neurotic need no longer needs to be fulfilled. Conventions and concepts soften in favor of “this is happening now.” Disorientation becomes the norm and one adapts to it. Some motivations, e.g., need for social status, need to be right, need to please others, which began to lose steam at KF5, fade further. How common is this stage? I personally know at least seven people, five of whom are my students or former students. As of this writing (April, 2012), I also consider myself to be at this stage.)


You can see that Kenneth's version of 4th path is not the same as Daniel's version. However, by stage 8 they have become one and the same with several additional factors which are very important. Particularly, the emotional transformation is completely absent in Daniel's model. I am claiming a very pronounced emotional transformation which is absent in most of the discussions on this forum (and often debated as not possible), but mysteriously seems to appear in Kenneth's model and is not even the final stage of his model. Kenneth's model does contain the "utter centerlessness and agencylessness," but places it at the very end of his list whereas Daniel would have it placed way back at stage 5. There doesn't seem to be any discrepancies in the realizations attained, but rather in their ordering. To be clearer I will add some factors of awakening that seem to occur across populations of different people but rarely seem to occur simultaneously within a single person.

1. Utter Agencylessness (meaning no exceptions, no matter how exceedingly subtle they may be)
2. Utter Centerlessness
3. Utter Timelessness (Always and forever now)
4. Marked Emotional Transformation There are different degrees of this. Emotions (edit: to be terminologically accurate replace emotions here with Kenneths term "feelings" as above) arise rarely and when they do arise they arise very briefly (this is my current experience). Emotions may or may not carry on externally though in my experience I think some of them (or perhaps even many) do. There are others who have reached a point where emotions do not arise at all. This realization does not negate realization 1, 2, or 3 though it is hotly debated ad nausea around this forum whether this is possible or occurs at all.
I think the possibility here is that this may or may not occur and does not seem necessary to the realization of 1, 2, and 3.

The above are the major ones. Here are a few more:

A. Feeling like you are "no longer on the ride."
B. Vastly decreased (or possibly completely eliminated) neurotic thoughts/obsessions/tape loops
C. Ceaseless peace/contentment that is not necessarily really phenomenal itself (as contrasted with the brahma viharas), but occurs due to all the above factors as all of the above listed numbers are "absences" rather than presences. Notice abence of agent, absence of time, absence of center, absence of emotion (edit: technically "feeling" as above), etc. One tiny difference being numbers 1, 2, and 3 are actually always already absent but mistakenly thought to be present.
D. Absence of the need for approval, absence of the need to impress, etc. see similarity to B.
E. Absence of Proprioceptive selfing as stated above. Definitely an absence of those sensations in the facial area. This is more important than it sounds and I would also extend this definition to the chest area as that is where many of the previous emotions (edit: "feelings") came from.

The realization of these items seems to happen in various degrees (on a spectrum) and in varying orders and some may never occur for some people.

So what do we mean by 4th path? Daniel defines it as the full and complete realization of 1 and 2. This is not surprising, since MCTB is "rigorously technical" and these two are the most technical of all the attributes on the list.

As you can see the emphasis on Utter Centerlessness/Agencylessness is lacking in Kenneth's model and the emphasis on emotional transformation (and most of the lettered points, most of which are simply consequences of 1, 2, 3 and 4) are lacking in Daniel's model.
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
I have limited personal investment in this (as I am "pre-path") but it feels like as a community, there could be some kind of attempt to clarify a lot of these issues.

So one way to do this would be for someone to collate a bunch of attributes/and attainments which characterize more advanced spiritual development, and create some resource on the wiki.

To me, the idea of 4th path seems like a problematic concept, but there does seem to be a vaguely linear process of spiritual development, marked by non-linearity/discontinuities/shifts/attainments/paths, some of which are are lasting and some of which fade over time, and with some tending to occur before others.

If it were me, as a psychologist type, I would be wanting to create a questionnaire to ask a bunch of people who identify as 4th path or beyond, where I create a worded a bunch of attainments, and looked for agreement:

For example:
A. Feeling like you are "no longer on the ride."
strongly agree
agree
disagree
strongly disagree

or :
a Utter agencylessness
b Marked reduction in sense of agencylessness
c Reduction in sense of agency
d Strong sense of agency

And then would look to see when those events occurred, how they patterned together, to what extent they were lasting, and the consistency across respondents.
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Avi Craimer, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

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

Thanks for presenting Kenneth's stages model. I feel like my current experience matches closely to his description of Stage 5, and I'm already starting to touch on the emotional transformation of Stage 6. Interestingly, I was already starting on the emotional transformation before this most recent shift. Perhaps it's all just as matter of what you meditate on. I've been meditating on emotions as objects for a long while, so it's not surprising to me that my attachments in this area are already reduced despite only recently having gotten that other thing that people get in Stage 5.

Kenneth and Daniel each take their own path of development as "the model" for how everybody should expect to develop. This just seems a bit silly, especially when everybody is using a different mix of practices and comes to those practices with different temperaments and belief systems. Based on all that you and others have presented, I'm kind of thinking that there is no hard and fast order in which any of these different markers need to occur. There is a cluster of things that can happen to people in late 3rd path and beyond, and some never seem to happen to some practitioners no matter how much they practice. For example, Daniel still reports minimal emotional transformation well after centerlessness and agentlessness, whereas I got a lot of emotional transformation before this point, and it only seems to be accelerating. I already clearly see how having gotten Kenneth's 4th Path (Stage 5) makes the emotional transformation work radically easier. But, I have a hunch that getting to Daniel's 4th Path (centerlessness) before emotional transformation might inhibit the emotional transformation work. After the perception of centerlessness, it sounds like there is too much detachment from ordinary human realities and not enough motivation to do emotional transformation work. In my mind this recommends a process which incorporates ongoing deep emotional work into practice after stream entry. But of course, that's just me doing the same thing as Kenneth and Daniel by building a model around how it worked for me. The hardest thing to accept is that every body ultimately needs to build their own unique model of practice.

It would be good to start a thread on all the different desiderata of practice. i.e., what are all the different things that could be the ultimate goal of contemplative practice. Then we could ask, how do they tend to cluster together. To what degree is there conscious choice about which to develop and in which order? What are positive and negative effects on daily life of the different shifts that are possible?

One thing, I'd like to know is whether Kenneth's Stage 5 is a kind of branching point. It seems to me that it is almost like returning to the very beginning of practice again. Perhaps from this point, one has the option to stop vipassana altogether. For the first time since stream entry, I've been able to be a in a state with no discernible insight cycles for the last several days. It feels like remembering something warm and good from early childhood. A simple existing in life that makes everything easier. The drama of the constant cycling already feels distant. In meditating, I feel a little tug in the direction of dissolving things, but I can simply choose not to go there. I can be with strong physical and emotional experiences without feeling the need to see their impermanence. I've been able to stay with some pretty extreme experiences without feeling the need to investigate the 3Cs of those experiences. It's hard to explain. Maybe it's only a matter of time before another cycle begins, but I have a strange feeling that if I really resolve to move in another direction, I might be able to put vipassana behind me forever. It almost feels like I'm breaking out of an addiction to or craving for vipassana itself. For now, I want to try to just live in the solid world again in this new stage, rather than continuing to dissolve things into impermanence. The Mahayana teaching that "one should neither crave nibbana nor be averse to samsara," is really ringing true these days.
T DC, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 389 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
Nikolai .:


This is a good benchmark for how 4 th path is best defined at the dho (being daniel's site and all) . But if you wish to put your own definition on whatever experience, so be it. Oh, for me the emptiness of concepts sounds more like 3rd path in my own experience.


Nick


Frankly I could be wrong, but I don't think Daniel founded this site so that everyone could just take his opinion and be done. It was probably founded more in the spirit of discussion and sharing of experience.

And that said, I seem to have a bit of a different take on 4th path than Daniel, and I am here expressing it. If I can have a different opinion than Daniel, likely other people can as well. So perhaps they would benefit from such a divergent expression!

If 4th path was Daniel's trademark expression than I could see the validity of your concern. However, 4th path is just Daniels attempt at describing phenomena related to attainment. For the sake of coherence, as well as faith that Daniel and I are describing the same basic pattern of attainment, I have chosen to use '4th path' to refer to the first true experience of emptiness; a major attainment on the path and the completion of the Hinayana.

If you wish to debate this, OK, but I stand firmly by my position.
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William Golden Finch, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 558 Join Date: 11/17/13 Recent Posts
TDC: Divergent opinions are good, but if you are going to use shared terminology like "4th path", it seems best to have some general agreement in terms of what this means phenomenologically in order to give people a more clear understanding of the path and not unintentionally confuse or mislead. I agree with you that there is not going to be a full agreement on the stages as we bring to our practice our own unique preconceptions and ways of interpreting non-conceptual information, but I have yet to find anyone who seems to have made the journey through the paths describe it the way you do. It also does not line up well with my own experience. Could you cite one person besides you who would describe 4th path as the first true experience of emptiness, or something that can be described in a similar way? When you suggested this before and said Daniel's writing suggested the same thing, I provided you with textual evidence to the contrary from Daniel's Simple Path model, to which you did not respond.
T DC, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 389 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
(This reply to William also is addressed to Avi's post above in which he discusses multiple trajectories of development!)

Well, the main source I would cite is the Heart Sutra and Tibetan Buddhist teachings that take the Heart Sutra as an implicit guide to attainment, such as 'The world of Tibetan Buddhism' by HH the Dali Lama.

To explain myself further as to why I belief in a universal attainment model... When practicing meditation, initially I followed Daniel's MCTB, and after this I followed a variety of Tibetan Buddhist teachings. I was a beginner when I came across MCTB, thus naturally the progression was to stream entry and subsequently to the higher paths. No one here seems to have a problem with the universal attainment model ala MCTB. (What I mean by 'universal attainment' is that everyone experiences the same attainments, regardless of what practices they employ.)

After 4th path, I was confused as I still felt suffering, but as well lacked definite teachings as to the next progressive step. It was then that I read 'Cutting through spiritual materialism' by Chogyam Trungpa, which herein clearly described the stage I was at, labeling it as the 'end of the Hinayana'/ 'beginning of the Mahayana'. Trungpa, as well as HH the DL describes this stage as the first Heart Sutra attainment, as well as the subsequent 3 attainments that comprise the Mahayana path. After reading this book and continuing to practice, I did work through these attainments reaching 'the Vajrayana'.

Then, having reached the Vajrayana, I followed the appropriate practices for my level, and experienced the subsequent attainments, as they were laid out in the teachings. My point through all this is that I am not touting a revolutionary idea. The idea of a system of attainments through which all practitioners progress exists in Buddhist teachings, and has existed for quite some time. The teachings of today are to some extent based on text from practitioners hundreds of years ago describing these same phenomena. Does this not seem to constitute a body of evidence?
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 3179 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Well, these debates go on and on and on.

A few simple points:

I still very much recommend my criteria as helpfully posted above. They have merit and value, and achieving those really shifts reality to something much better, having myself tried the before and after, I can tell you that from my point of view there is nothing more important that I achieved and attained than the total elimination of all sense of doer, watcher, controller, center point, observer, etc. True and total elimination of duality was a massive step up from the near total elimination of it: no comparison at all. It is hard to imagine that anyone else wouldn't value it the same way I do, but then tastes differ.

There are many axes of development: insight, concentration (and it has many axes within it), morality (an endless festival of axes to develop, including emotional and psychological health). Insight stands alone in that it is all basically towards one goal, and that goal does transform the relationship to all of the rest of it in ways that provide global improvement at the core sensate and paradigmatic levels of intrinsic processing. The rest are all also important, but nothing does what that does.

I really appreciate the chapter in Chögyam Trungpa's Journey Without Goal about the Five Buddha Families. This is a video of that chapter by the crazy old dead perverted but helpful genius himself: The Five Buddha Families

His embracing of the wide range of experience in all its human glory is so valuable, and that helped empower me to really take on everything that was going on in my experience. I still must warn against the limited emotional range models and what they can do to practice: beware becoming like those who follow those: so many complexities occur.

Is my emotional life transformed by my insights? Vastly transformed, no question.

Do I still manifest all the standard emotions: definitely, and some even more strongly than I did before.

Is there vastly less suffering in them as a result of their happening totally on their own just like qualities of space? Absolutely.

Is this anything like the disconnect feared by a poster above? Not in the least: there is no disconnection, because there is no longer any imagined thing to be disconnected.

The field lights up itself totally, without division, without restraint, without any barrier or gap, so disconnection is impossible. Does really honestly feeling what is going on help with emotional transformation more than models that imply that we shouldn't feel what we are feeling? I definitely think so.

Would I trade this for anything? Maybe world peace, but I would have to think about it. Until then, this totally rocks, and missing out on it would be barking crazy from my point of view.

Best wishes, and practice well,

Daniel
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 3179 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Speaking of which:

I friggin' love this book Clarifying the Natural State by Dagpo Tashi Namgal! It was a birthday present from Jared Lindahl this year and it is simply amazing! So clear. So straightforward. So down to earth. So cutting to the point. Brilliant! That's a lot of exclamation points and they are totally deserved.

Highly recommended.

Enjoy,

D
Tom Tom, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 466 Join Date: 9/19/09 Recent Posts
I still must warn against the limited emotional range models and what they can do to practice: beware becoming like those who follow those: so many complexities occur.


Can you be more specific? What is so horrible about becoming like those who follow them? That they might be human and actually manifest emotions from time to time? That they aren't truly conscious that they're still having some emotions and thus aren't yet really totally enlightened?

Is it so horrible when someone makes a claim and that claim doesn't quite live up to the extreme of what that claim is supposed to represent? Does a retracted claim somehow completely erase everything that claim represents? If someone claims they are completely free of "feelings" (external emotions aside) and later retracts that claim does that somehow say that they are actually still experiencing the entire full gamut and range of feelings or does it rather say that they still do experience some limited level of feeling.

For example, you (Daniel) state in the article on actual freedom that Tarin and some of the others all retracted their claims of an "actual freedom." Does this somehow mean that they are experiencing all emotions and were kidding themselves the entire time?

I find it interesting that there is an entire article written on this called "The isolation of blowing it" where the entire title presupposes the notion that making a claim that isn't 100% true is a complete screw up in some way yet contains the complete contradictory statement within its text:

It should be realized that this sort of thing is not only going to happen, it is actually very normal in this open-disclosure world of states, stages, names of levels, and achievement-oriented culture.


I see this warning against those who follow the "limited emotional range models" as no different than the often stated warnings that actively "seeking enlightenment" is a hindrance to becoming enlightened. We definitely should be wary of those who subscribe to the "goal-oriented models" such as Dr. Ingram does! Yes, these things could potentially be a hindrance to progress and yet many people here still seem to follow this model and do quite fine.

See:
http://ww.morpheusrising.com/bullshit.shtml
Adam . ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
Tom Tom
Does a retracted claim somehow completely erase everything that claim represents? If someone claims they are completely free of "feelings" (external emotions aside) and later retracts that claim does that somehow say that they are actually still experiencing the entire full gamut and range of feelings or does it rather say that they still do experience some limited level of feeling.


I think this is worth addressing, as I have seen what amounts to a completely inaccurate presentation of DhO practitioners who have had practices inspired by Actualism from Daniel.

Daniel:
Tarin, Jill and Stef all renounced their claims to have eliminated all emotional and affective qualities on the Dharma Overground forum, and all said in one context or another that they didn't think the people they were around who also had claimed to have eliminated all feelings had actually done it totally either.


Tarin specifically states that he is not saying what Daniel reports he said.

http://dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/2733454#_19_message_2733454

this is not to say that i am renouncing my claim of being free of malice and sorrow (which is what all this has been about for me anyway); i am not. what i am indicating is that i no longer have sufficient confidence that what i mean by this claim and what i find it to entail and imply is similar enough to what richard means and what that entails and implies to state any kind of equivalence.


Jill suggests that she has a significantly lesser amount of affect, and she is still aiming for less and less.
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/1917355

Stef says
I am not so interested in the abolition of feeling, which is why I don’t talk about it much.

Having said that, I also don’t experience much feeling myself; but that doesn’t mean that when other people do, there is something wrong with this.

http://iamatpeace.com/2013/08/19/and-the-pursuit-of-happiness/#comments

Daniel seems to imply in his essay that others more or less came to the same conclusion as him, but it is pretty clear that this isn't the case. Each person comes to their own conclusions. Each person uses the practices available in their own way, for their own ends, achieving their own results. I appreciate Daniels reports of practice investigations, but not his misrepresentations of other people's stories or maneuvers like these:

I still must warn against the limited emotional range models and what they can do to practice: beware becoming like those who follow those: so many complexities occur.


Then were all the weird reports and rumors of other strange things happening in the inner circles of the Australian Actual Freedom Trust contingent, and large amounts of other complex politics related to all of that that raised the question of self-delusion and shadow-sides to all of this, though the veracity of these reports and rumors are unknown to me, and they actually matter little, except to point out that all of this is a very human endeavor. Regardless, the relevance of these rumors to me and my practice was actually quite minimal, as I haven't met any of them.


why do you help spread nasty rumors that you don't know the truth of and which "matter very little?"

Ok Daniel, so a practice didn't produce the results you were originally aiming for, and you decided those results were not what you really wanted. Is it really a good response to that event to trash the stated aims of that practice, its founders, and misrepresent data about what happened to people who used it? Is that pragmatism over dogmatism?
Tom Tom, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 466 Join Date: 9/19/09 Recent Posts
So how could it really *work* for Daniel who is already enlightened and hence above AF level?


Tarin, Trent and Nikolai were all 4th path (as Daniel defines it) before starting an actualist (or actualist inspired) practice.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 3179 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Dear Adam,

What inaccurate presentations regarding claims have you seen?

I see what you mean about what Tarin wrote, but I know him as a person and a friend and I know that he has definitely renounced his claim to freedom from emotions.

Jill has had very little affect for years, and this from before Actualism practice. I have had her out at my house and talked with her about this and still come to the same conclusions: see post above.

It definitely is the case that all 4 renounced their claims of having no emotions. I have additional data not presented here. Remember, we know each other as people beyond forum posts.

I actually went out of my way to spread none of the complex specific rumors that swirl around Acutalism, but to not in some way mention that, which was actually a huge part of the whole thing and significantly colored the whole set of interactions and the way I (and many others here that were going along on the journey with me) viewed the ride, would be to be really dishonest. I think that that single paragraph shows a huge degree of restraint and decorum, and it also mentions nothing specific at all, meaning it spreads no rumors. As it is basically impossible to cruise around the internet and look up Actualism without running into a ton of this stuff, giving people a head's up about that is totally reasonable, I find. My attempts to sort out what was going with Actualism involved the Yahoo forum on that, and Richard and I actually had a brief exchange there about sleep and dreams and AF, but that forum is also like something beyond the wildest soap opera you have ever heard of, so if you want to get a taste of that, check it out, assuming it is still online: I haven't look at it for about 2 years so don't know. It was part of the journey, I mentioned it and minimized it, and if there is anything wrong with the article, it is the degree to which I downplayed that aspect, not that I mentioned it very briefly.

I haven't misrepresented the data on people that used Actualism in any way that I know of. I know them as people. I have heard their personal reports. I have talked with them as friends. I know more about them than you will find here on the DhO. I am sorry if I didn't make that clear in the article, but I though I mentioned that we all knew each other and they were personal friends. I don't know Stef as well as the other three, having only talked with her briefly, but while she did report a change in her emotions, she did renounce her claim to having eliminated them all.

It is not strange that doing emotionally-focued work will bring clarity and benefit to the emotional life. It is actually totally normal and expected. What we bring the clarity of our minds to we can transform in positive ways: that is the basis of the path. My emotions have been transformed in various ways as well, though not in any way that clearly fits with any of the standard models or any model that I have been able to come up with. Thus, I still warn against them as I did before.

Find me the confirmed example of someone who can be known in person who has achieved what the limited emotional models purport and actually holds up to the scrutiny that long exposure as close and honest friends across years and in adverse circumstances can provide. Until then, this is pragmatic and reasonable, I feel.

So far, I have been lucky enough to have spent time running in some pretty amazing circles of practitioners for about 20 years and have failed to fine one person who meets the ideals that the Theravadan models in this regard, and yet I do know a few who appear to know non-duality to the end: none are emotion-free in practice.

Explain how those who believe otherwise explain this.

The standard explanation is that there are none living beyond second path, or perhaps a few who have made it to third path. This explanation is very problematic. It either means that the practices and tradition are ineffective or that the goal is so far out of reach as to be inaccessible to people in this time, even if it was somehow accessible in some perhaps mythical past. It is a load of trash, in my view.

I have had this debate in various ways and in various settings over the years and I guess we can have it again here if people wish. Takers? I actually have some time on Wednesday and Thursday: anyone up for doing this live? Let me know, and we can meet on the DhO Google Group or Skype or something and talk about it, as I am tired of typing about it.
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:


The standard explanation is that there are none living beyond second path, or perhaps a few who have made it to third path. This explanation is very problematic. It either means that the practices and tradition are ineffective or that the goal is so far out of reach as to be inaccessible to people in this time, even if it was somehow accessible in some perhaps mythical past. It is a load of trash, in my view.

.


According to tradition, access to jhanas allows the ability to walk on water. Was this somehow accessible in the mythical past?

Or perhaps the tradition is mythic, and the goal is mythic, and never was accessible in that mythical past.

After attainment of Nibbana, the five aggregates (physical forms, feelings/sensations, perception, mental formations and consciousness) will continue to function, sustained by physical bodily vitality. This attainment is termed the nibbana element with a residue remaining. But once the Arahant pass-away and with the disintegration of the physical body, the five aggregates will cease to function, hence ending all traces of existence in the phenomenal world and thus total release from the misery of samsara. It would then be termed the nibbana element without residue remaining.[28] Parinibbana occurs at the death of an Arahant.


(Rhetorical question) Why are there 4 paths? Is it something intrinsic about the nature of mind and the practices applied to that mind? Or is it because Buddhism was originally an oral tradition, that likes lists, and likes counting in 4's?

So no-one responded to my suggestion posted earlier about collating different "attainments", but the point is you can argue forever about matches or mismatches to mythic traditions, or you can look to what is real in the here and now.

p.s.

Round and round it goes:

The Meaning of Technical/MCTB 4th Path
http://dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/3940082

What is really DhO 4th path?
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/1870391
Tom Tom, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 466 Join Date: 9/19/09 Recent Posts
The standard explanation is that there are none living beyond second path, or perhaps a few who have made it to third path. This explanation is very problematic. It either means that the practices and tradition are ineffective or that the goal is so far out of reach as to be inaccessible to people in this time, even if it was somehow accessible in some perhaps mythical past. It is a load of trash, in my view.


To say that no one is free from the arahat fetters isn't quite true though. I would think most people who have completed the paths would have no desire for formed or formless existence and little restlessness (though perhaps this one is a little problematic). The only problematic fetters seem to be "sensual desire" and maybe "ill will," but even these get reduced in some way even if the expressed sensual emotions still arise to the full extent that they did before. Also if sense desire is instead translated as "sensual lust" then perhaps you could say you are completely free of its grosser component captured by the stronger word "lust" depending on the translation.

Sawfoot:
So no-one responded to my suggestion posted earlier about collating different "attainments", but the point is you can argue forever about matches or mismatches to mythic traditions, or you can look to what is real in the here and now.]


Make a post and take a survey.
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Tom Tom:

In many ways during the earlier paths, though I made progress, I suffered greatly for all the striving. I went completely mad on several occasions trying to "get paths" or "through the dark nights." Though I don't regret my decision as it did work out in the end, i suffered massive shadow sides through my goal-oriented disposition. During first path I would often do very forceful "brute-force" meditations that nearly got me killed on several occasions. I'm not bitter about this since it worked, and I would prefer that to meditating every day for the rest of my life and making zero progress whatsoever.


That is a very pragmatic dharma way of looking at it! There has to be middle way between killing yourself and making "zero progress" whatsoever - but sometimes I get the impression in pragmatic dharma circles (such as in MCTB to some extent) that if you aren't hardcore, that you will make zero progress. I find that even without meditation every day, I make progress. Sometimes up, sometimes down. Certainly it is the case that more "stuff" will happen with the hardcore route.

Things often have a way of working out in the end though...

edit: just saw Daniel's comment about updating MCTB. Jolly good show!

Sawfoot:
So no-one responded to my suggestion posted earlier about collating different "attainments", but the point is you can argue forever about matches or mismatches to mythic traditions, or you can look to what is real in the here and now.]


Make a post and take a survey.

So I am just a mildly interested observer, poking its nose in where it probably doesn't belong. And I am not well placed, partly because I don't know that territory, and also motivation wise I am trying to condition myself out of a goal orientated practice (especially with all that talk about nearly killing yourself!). You might be well placed though! A few of those posts of yours felt like a good start. And a survey might be a stretch, but one alternative for a starting to look for consensus would be a thread where as many advanced practitioners as possible try to put in their own words (in a semi-structured format) what characterized their major shifts (which they might identify with paths) in their spiritual development. Or something productive might arise over the phone.
Adam . ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
What inaccurate presentations regarding claims have you seen?


I was going by what you said when you mentioned that those reversals of claims were made on the DhO and I was responding to that.

edit: but this is my own error, ok... new information from your non-dho interactions.

I actually went out of my way to spread none of the complex specific rumors that swirl around Acutalism, but to not in some way mention that, which was actually a huge part of the whole thing and significantly colored the whole set of interactions and the way I (and many others here that were going along on the journey with me) viewed the ride, would be to be really dishonest. I think that that single paragraph shows a huge degree of restraint and decorum, and it also mentions nothing specific at all, meaning it spreads no rumors. As it is basically impossible to cruise around the internet and look up Actualism without running into a ton of this stuff, giving people a head's up about that is totally reasonable, I find. My attempts to sort out what was going with Actualism involved the Yahoo forum on that, and Richard and I actually had a brief exchange there about sleep and dreams and AF, but that forum is also like something beyond the wildest soap opera you have ever heard of, so if you want to get a taste of that, check it out, assuming it is still online: I haven't look at it for about 2 years so don't know. It was part of the journey, I mentioned it and minimized it, and if there is anything wrong with the article, it is the degree to which I downplayed that aspect, not that I mentioned it very briefly.


It is true that you did not specifically explain what the rumors are, it is also true that you kept your discussion of that part of this story brief. I personally would have not mentioned nasty rumors which I don't know the truth of, though this is probably because I am still practicing under the model that those people set forth.

Find me the confirmed example of someone who can be known in person who has achieved what the limited emotional models purport and actually holds up to the scrutiny that long exposure as close and honest friends across years and in adverse circumstances can provide.

UG krishnamurti, Richard, Byron Katie

Maybe you would freely toss out BK and Richard, but UG is pretty much controversy free. I think that the more people claim, the more they threaten, the more controversy builds around them. You claimed to be an arahant and that you could teach anyone how to get there and plenty controversy built around you. BK and Richard claim to be totally free, and that they have an easy method anyone can use, lots of controversy around them. UG claims to be free, but offers 0 in terms of methods, not very threatening. Also - Ajahn Maha Boowa.

I would like to say that "this doesn't matter" but it does matter to me.

Explain how those who believe otherwise explain this.

The actualists, BK, UG would say they practiced wrongly. Personally, I am not sure.

I am still going to keep going for the end of self and emotion and will post about what happens here. I am interested in an imperturbable state, which is desireless and effortless, alot to ask for maybe but I have yet to hit an obstacle I didn't eventually overcome. What I would be interested in hearing from you and others is this: what were those obstacles for you?
Adam . ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
From me, earlier in this thread:
It is true that you did not specifically explain what the rumors are, it is also true that you kept your discussion of that part of this story brief. I personally would have not mentioned nasty rumors which I don't know the truth of, though this is probably because I am still practicing under the model that those people set forth.


I was looking through some yahoo posts (wow!) and I realized that I have been a bit under-informed about the nature of all the controversy. I just wanted to withdraw my flat dismissal towards the rumors, as having done more research I guess it is pretty damn complex, yikes. Also I'd specifically apologize to a certain eye-witness who I have lots of respect for.

I guess I should probably learn to live life beyond beliefs and faith in individuals, and not be stuck as a snail going in circles forever as per nik's post. I do sometimes wonder how to do that, as simply resolving to stop caring about these things has failed often!
Adam . ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
AF is intended to provide somewhat similar result as enlightenment without horrors of getting there (DN?) so Richard didn't intend AF to anyone near Daniel level but rather to unenlightened folks...

So how could it really *work* for Daniel who is already enlightened and hence above AF level?


Is this a sincere question? Or are you not aware that AF is described by Richard to be something beyond enlightenment and that it results in a total absence of emotion + total freedom? That is what Daniel didn't achieve.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 3179 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Re: Richard and his claims of the Altered State of the Full Enlightenment that he says he achieved and me trying to pin down exactly what he meant by that in terms of phenomenology that makes any sense to me, from my conversations with Tarin, who went and hung out with him for about 3 weeks on their boats down under and was familiar with both my models and criteria and also got to ask Richard a lot about this: both he and I came to the conclusion that:

1) he was describing something different from what I was describing, and

2) figuring out exactly what he was describing in the sort of technical depth and specific criteria we play around with here was not possible, as, despite his meticulous linguistic skills they still didn't arrive at something we could hang our hats on and be satisfied with

Anyone else have good first-hand reports to clarify exactly what Richard described as his Altered State of Enlightenment? All are welcome here to help sort this out.

Re: Byron Katie: I actually had a long talk with a guy named Steven Sachen who taught with BK for a while in LA at their school and other places and was the only person to teach on some sort of equal footing with her that I know of. He was a fascinating fellow to talk with and I hope to spend more time with him when I go to BG 14 this year, as he is out that way. Apparently he has a hot tub: I like hot tubs. BK and Steven had some sort of falling out, as he was into things like Vipassana and believed it had value, whereas she thought there were other methods that were better. He actually came to believe that she had some sort of a stroke and that what she had done to her brain was unique to her, as he found no other people who followed her method that described having attained to a similar experience.

Re: UGK: I don't know anyone who knew him personally, but his recommendations about a "Natural State" and this being simply discontinuous raw sense data is spot on, except for the part that there is nothing you can do to realize it. That wanting something other than this is a problem is perennially mentioned, and the whole point of practice is to shift one's future fixation to meditation on the here and now happening naturally on its own in a discontinuous way, so, while I agree with many of his conclusions, like so many who had no idea how they got something (there are plenty of them, BTW), he concludes that there is no clearly defined way to get there. However, as countless practitioners have noticed over thousands of years, noticing that things happen naturally now and are discontinuous and allowing them to be the thing itself flips things over to them being the thing itself, as they always were. See "Clarifying the Natural State" mentioned above: truly a remarkably spot-on book.

As a number of AF claimants later said to me: Richard may not be as emotion-free as he reports, if their experiences in various forms with him are any guide, and hopefully it would be.

I realize there is always the argument made by Gary Weber et al. that one may externally look for all the world to have emotions and yet internally have none, but there is something about this argument that seems, well, how do I put it: The high ideals that most people put out there would have a perfect parity, a one-to-one correspondence with internal experience and external manifestation: if you are willing to throw that out the window and allow all sorts of what seems to be emotive behavior with yet no internal experience of emotion at all, they you will have eliminated a major personal stumbling block to buying the party line. I myself haven't managed to make that leap yet: perhaps this is my own failing.

Re the claim that I claimed I could teach anyone how to get arahatship: nothing could be further from the truth. Just like I don't think I could teach everyone how to pass a medical board exam, or how to use Logic Pro Studio, or how to do plenty of things that I have done that people who have talent and work hard figure out how to do, just so I never imagined that I could teach everyone to perceive reality like this. It was hard and took lots of work, but it can be done, and it wasn't harder than, say, getting through my emergency medicine residency, which plenty of hard-working talented people do. Let's not be overly exaggerative about my claims to try to tear them down. I said this can be done and here is how to do it. I never said it was easy, though for a few very rare people it is, apparently, relatively easy as things go.
Adam . ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
his recommendations about a "Natural State" and this being simply discontinuous raw sense data is spot on, except for the part that there is nothing you can do to realize it.


he also talks about a complete absence of emotion, a constant and imperturbable total enjoyment, which he refers to as the greatest gift in the universe (BK for a while in the 90s i think went on about how he was the only one who shared her state)... maybe that stroke thing is legit, as his awakening process was similar to hers. They both talk about being "free of thought's influence," which in their terminology means free of feelings, (though not an absence of thought) and they both talk about spontaneous events leading (though in both cases preceded by an intense and enduring desire for escape from their condition) to that absolute and total freedom. if you have any interest you should check out UGs youtube videos as they are often hilariously entertaining and to me are demonstrations of someone experiencing total freedom. seriously though, at least the entertaining part.

the claim that I claimed I could teach anyone how to get arahatship: nothing could be further from the truth.


ok, that was exaggeration on my part... I just meant to show how when people claim things then controversy builds around them in proportion to how much they claim.

a side note:

In moments like the one I am having right now as I write this, these concerns seem far away and even ludicrous. When I am genuinely and consciously enjoying this moment to the max for no other reason than that it is obviously sensible to participate in this moment with such enjoyment and appreciation, then I need nothing in terms of arguments or beliefs to feel good... so I guess I should probably quit it with these arguments and beliefs to the extent that they are motivated by the desire to feel good, which is how my participation on this thread started. Yet it is moments like these that motivate the self who is remembering these moments to seek the end of malice and sorrow, something seems genuinely sane and intelligent in this motivation (however difficult or long or bizarre the path may be).

edit: another guy who is 100% about emotional transformation is Ajahn Sona. In this video he talks about "choosing which emotions to wear."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpqLC4E5yqY

edit: another guy who says he is 100% feeling free, became so in 1952, has a simple method to achieve it (which he says will take a few months if you are sincere in your desire for freedom): lester levenson of the sedona method
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgoSlzl8AvA
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 3179 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Dear Pawel,

I sense something about your conception of the 10 Fetter Model that may not be entirely clear to me.

Give me a sense of exactly how it would work in your mind, both in terms of internal experience and external manifestation and what might be possible at various points and what would not be possible and how this works in your view.
Adam . ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
the point is that I do not buy into this 'better than enlightenment' stuff. It is just ridiculous


To me that depends on what enlightenment is.

emotions are clearly an aggregate and with affective ones there is part of them that is this itchy sensation that is actually driving towards having neec to satisfy this emotion. Like with 'self' point is to deconstruct and debunk this sensation and see it is not what it seems. Without IT emotion should be as harmless as 'self' that is deprived of IT

Externally it would look pretty normally with exception that there would be rational reasoning + mindfulness so unskillful action like the one that comes from need to satisfy desires wouldn't be taken.


Could you explain what you are referring to when you say "affective ones" with reference to emotions? What are emotions that aren't affective?

With that there would be no need to do AF. If felicitousness is better and more skillful than any emotion then mind would naturally go toward it... which is kinda how it is.


I agree that that is how it is. It is just that normally in the minds inclination towards happiness it is assumed that for happiness to arise, the "what" of experiencing is what must be changed as opposed to the "how." To me this is the essence of the thing, taking the natural basic desire for happiness and redirect it from changing the "what" of experience to changing the "how" of experience.
Adam . ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
Complete enlightenment already cover affective emotions. It should happen at 3rd path of ten fetter model which I am strongly supporting as only viable way to measure own progress.


Ye I wasn't necessarily trying to argue these points I was pointing out that Daniel did not go "beyond AF" as you first said.

Not because it cannot work, (it can work I assure you!) but because it is just mind filter put on mind that will make it blind and is something that is unskillful as hell when done without understanding its internal mechanics. On the other hand being like uber-mindful and seeing all mind states at the same time choosing not to act on unskillful ones is not only much more skillful but also in accordance with what Buddha taught. AF is unskillful more because just hypnotizing own mind and relying on it to do dirty work is bound to produce unskillful perception and unskillful actions which are not even seen cause of ongoing programmed perception filter and produce paradoxes and reasons for mind to put even more filters hiding even more stuff...


It is not really like putting a filter on the mind at all, because one can eliminate emotions at their source[1] and thus one doesn't need to filter the mind with lots of illusions.

I think that the bizarreness of your idea of what AF is should maybe tip you off that it isn't what you think.

[1] because "I" am "my" feelings and "my" feelings are "me" so "I" can choose how "I" feel at any given moment and thus "I" can commit to feeling felicitous and innocuous feelings more and more until it becomes clear that no feelings are necessary, as even the most felicitous and innocuous feeling is less felicitous and innocuous than no feelings.
Ivo B, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 42 Join Date: 2/11/13 Recent Posts

Adam . .:

Is this a sincere question? Or are you not aware that AF is described by Richard to be something beyond enlightenment and that it results in a total absence of emotion + total freedom? That is what Daniel didn't achieve.


How can you function normally without any emotions? Interaction with other people looks like ...? Weird stuff.
Adam . ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
Interaction with other people looks like ...?


Ok here are some points of how PCE interactions (in which there is no emotion) differ from non-PCE interactions... these are some random notes I've noticed in my practice, which now and then leaves me with little to no emotion for brief periods of time.

-no discontentment with how things are going

-no sense of control or decision-making

-no sense of uneasiness or nervousness

-no sense of power struggle with the people you are with

-a caring for them

-a sense of really seeing them, really hearing them no matter what they are saying (even if it is something one might normally find inane or boring)

-a willingness to laugh or to change subjects whenever

-an easefulness when no one says anything

-unabashedly asking for something when you want it rather than being sneaky

Perhaps one negative thing is that I occasionally surprise people with too much directness in such states. (fear of this often keeps me out of such states)

Here are some selections from Richard's journal on "living together" http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/richard/selectedwriting/sw-livingtogether.htm
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Nikolai ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 1650 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
and around she goes again...........................


Edit: the snail does not represent any individual. Just the arguments that go round and round on these very topics.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 3179 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Dear Tom Tom,

I think that you may have misunderstood what I meant by those statements.

What I meant was that I know a very large number of people who have run into trouble chasing limited emotional range model dreams, of which a few of them are here, but plenty are up at IMS or were sitting there, were in various places I have practiced over the last 20 years, etc.

The amount of shadow sides, guilt, repression, and the like that can result from that is simply massive, both in teachers and students, as countless reports over the decades show all too well.

As to Jill, Tarin, Trent and Stef, I also know things about them from speaking to them as people beyond what they have posted here. I will allow them to say more if they wish to and leave my commentary to the words of the essay. I sent that essay on my experiments in Actualism to Tarin and Trent for approval before I published it online, and they didn't have problems with it as written. They have requested a degree of privacy about further details, so I will respect that.

Interpretations about what they were experiencing seem to be an ongoing source of debate, even for some of them. I will leave that to them also if they wish, as my last attempt to clarify this lead to indefinite conclusions from some.

Manifesting emotions from time to time is normal, and I never ever meant to imply that I would consider that horrible. I consider it normal, which is why I warn against imagining that it is likely to not happen, as that can create all sorts of problems. Thus, there is no contradiction at all between my stating that it is normal to revoke claims and that there is danger in following high and life-denying ideals about human emotions.

Jill herself specifically told me that due to her following a model about eliminating emotions she was actually ignoring more of what was happening than being clear about what was happening, so she went back to vipassana to undo some of that conditioning.

I will leave the others to tell their own stories if they have any interest in doing that.

Even Gary Weber clearly manifests what appear to be emotions even if he is totally unaware of them. On deeper questioning, he actually will admit to certain things that are emotion-like. I talked with him at Buddhist Geeks briefly about this topic and heard him discuss it with some other people also. How much of this reframing is related to models and denial is a frequent source of debate here and elsewhere not likely resolved soon.

I totally disagree that being skeptical of limited emotional range models is anything like the models that say doing nothing is better and that seeking to develop oneself spiritually through training, scholarship, practice, and the like. How do you come up with that comparison? I may have missed something or presumed something about what your argument might be.

In short, I still totally believe that the models that say that progress involves eliminating emotions causes problems and that paying attention to what is going on honestly and fully helps more than that. It is not that conscious restraint and redirection of clearly acknowledged emotional impulses isn't skillful, as it clearly is, but the denial and guilt and confusion that comes from unconscious repression is perennially destructive, as is endlessly demonstrated in spiritual communities.

Does that make any more sense regarding my position?

Daniel
Tom Tom, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 466 Join Date: 9/19/09 Recent Posts
Dear Daniel,

I totally disagree that being skeptical of limited emotional range models is anything like the models that say doing nothing is better and that seeking to develop oneself spiritually through training, scholarship, practice, and the like. How do you come up with that comparison? I may have missed something or presumed something about what your argument might be.


I totally disagree and feel the comparison is completely apt. In many ways during the earlier paths, though I made progress, I suffered greatly for all the striving. I went completely mad on several occasions trying to "get paths" or "through the dark nights." Though I don't regret my decision as it did work out in the end, i suffered massive shadow sides through my goal-oriented disposition. During first path I would often do very forceful "brute-force" meditations that nearly got me killed on several occasions. I'm not bitter about this since it worked, and I would prefer that to meditating every day for the rest of my life and making zero progress whatsoever.

Similarly, one could say the same as the above about models that say that you can "eliminate emotions" (though I think the word "eliminate" needs to be eliminated). I think the word attenuate might be a better fit, but even that word is bound to produce shadow sides for people not fully conscious of their emotions and perhaps even for people who are. I think there is some validity to the approach of bringing down the scale of emotions, even though it has the potential to be dangerous and destructive.

The point I was trying to make is that there exists this thing called the middle-path and I am not naive enough to believe I can eliminate all of my emotions forever ("actual freedom") (though I was naive enough to think that I can get "enlightened" and look how that turned out), though I do believe it's possible to only have emotions manifest occasionally or for short periods and to experience a smaller subset of emotions.. On the other hand, in some ways, this has been a natural disposition of mine to some extent from time to time similar to what you report about Jill, though it has been deepened and strengthened through various practices. Paradoxically, I've gone through phases of great, extraordinarily strong and very destructively powerful emotions so perhaps you can understand where I'm coming from with this.

I don't consider myself to be an "actualist" nor have I ever, really (though I do practice a few of the methods). However, I know even Richard talks about how it does little good to pretend like you're not having any emotions when you really are. Even Richard would say that paying attention honestly to what is going on or "appreciating this moment of being alive" is better than focusing on the end goal of "eliminating affect." This has many parallels to the process of enlightenment where paying attention to what is going on is infinitely better than focusing on the next path or the final goal of being enlightened ("goal-oriented" models). An attenuation of feelings, like enlightenment is a side-effect of doing something else rather than the thing that you're actually doing.

On the other hand, I understand that it is easy to kid yourself in many ways. Especially if you do not have the requisite insight levels and even if you do.

It is not that conscious restraint and redirection of clearly acknowledged emotional impulses isn't skillful, as it clearly is, but the denial and guilt and confusion that comes from unconscious repression is perennially destructive, as is endlessly demonstrated in spiritual communities.


I agree with this.

-Tom
Tom Tom, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 466 Join Date: 9/19/09 Recent Posts
I actually have some time on Wednesday and Thursday: anyone up for doing this live? Let me know, and we can meet on the DhO Google Group or Skype or something and talk about it, as I am tired of typing about it.


What time are you free on those days? I might be able to chat.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 3179 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
@Tom Tom: Ah, I see what you mean: that they both can, if taken in the wrong way, produce substantial problems in practice and shadow sides: that is definitely clear and frequently demonstrated. As an aside: I am substantially beefing up the sides of MCTB that help to counterbalance the exhortations to strong practice with something to help modulate that to avoid what you ran into.

As to free time: I am on Central Time and have nothing planned past Wednesday afternoon until late Thursday night, so let me know when would be a good time for you and perhaps some consensus will emerge and we can chat.

@Sawfoot: it does go round and round and round, doesn't it?
Adam . ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
In short, I still totally believe that the models that say that progress involves eliminating emotions causes problems and that paying attention to what is going on honestly and fully helps more than that. It is not that conscious restraint and redirection of clearly acknowledged emotional impulses isn't skillful, as it clearly is, but the denial and guilt and confusion that comes from unconscious repression is perennially destructive, as is endlessly demonstrated in spiritual communities.


I agree that unconscious repression is destructive. I have seen the destructive effects of it on myself and on my relationships from time to time. This doesn't dissuade me from the entire pursuit though, just makes me want to practice smarter so that those destructive effects are eliminated.

Another important point is this: what of the destructive effects of emotion itself? The destructive effects of unconscious repression pale in comparison to the destructive effects of emotion in general (those effects being rape, war, torture, suicide, murder etc.). Not to mention what more immediately motivates me... like a feeling of ennui when I wake up on Sunday morning or a grumpiness that makes me a bit touchy around people who I want nothing but the best for when i stop to think about it... I'd prefer to enjoy each moment for my own sake and for the sake of those around me. So maybe it is necessary to avoid both repression and simply living emotionally? (which is what actualism is about)
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Eric M W, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 288 Join Date: 3/19/14 Recent Posts
Tibetan practices have always fascinated me. I'm reading Awakening the Luminous Mind by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche right now, but my absolute favorite is The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep by the same author.

Unfortunately any discussion of this kind tends to open various cans of worms, so to speak. The primordial awareness vs. fruition debate is one, and the idea of further progress post-4th path is another. Perhaps this is not the place to talk about this, but I think it may be relevant...

Right, so, primordial awareness. We find it all over the place-- Dzogchen and Mahamudra, Eckhart Tolle's excellent but somewhat watered-down stuff, Zen, contemplative Christianity, various schools of Hinduism, A Course in Miracles, and primordial beings even pop up in some ancient shamanic cosmologies. Where we don't find it is Theravada, which can cause a lot of confusion for serious meditators who want to keep their proverbial ducks in a row.

Kenneth Folk has addressed this in his three-speed transmission, but for me personally, I still scratch my head about the whole mess. Theravadin monks bust their butts on the cushion, move up the nanas, get all kinds of insight about the nature of reality, and finally enter into Nibbana/fruition. Meanwhile, according to the third gear folks, anyone at any time can simply surrender to the moment and abide in third gear. This is a beautiful thought, but I can't help but wonder what purpose this attainment serves. After all the nanas, jhanas, powers, and various other crazy things that happen on the progress of insight, it seems trite to say that simply surrendering to the moment is a "higher" attainment. Being at peace in the present is obviously very positive, but does it permanently alter the mind of the meditator a la path moments?

But then we have folks such as the Tibetans who emphasize rigpa and seem to give it higher value than "hinayana" practices. Where do they fit in?

The descriptions of rigpa-- union with bliss, boundless space, etc are pretty much identical to the descriptions of the formless realms. My tentative hypothesis: third gear practices such as dozgchen and mahamudra use formless realms as the basis of insight practice, with an emphasis on the no-self characteristic (as opposed to impermanence emphasized by certain vipassana techniques).

Relevant to this topic is this old essay by Daniel

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2009/09/rigpa-and-aggregates.html

Assume something really simple about sensations and awareness: they are exactly the same. In fact, make it more simple: there are sensations, and this includes all sensations that make up space, thought, image, body, anything you can imagine being mind, and all qualities that are experienced, meaning the sum total of the world.

In this very simple framework, rigpa is all sensations, but there can be this subtle attachment and lack of investigation when high terms are used that we want there to be this super-rigpa, this awareness that is other...

...Thus, be wary of anything that wants to be a super-awareness, a rigpa that is larger than everything else, as it can't be, by definition.


So, here's what I'm getting at. Saying that arahatship isn't really the end of the road, that primordial awareness is an additional axis of development, is pretty much saying "Arahatship is nice, but can you get to the formless realms and and tune into no-self?" Most arahats can already do that, I'd wager.

Next time you're hanging around primordial awareness mode, ask yourself, how many times per second do I experience primordial awareness? If it can be investigated by vipassana, it ain't ultimate reality, no matter how primordial or nice it is.

Very relevant to the discussion: the Theravada teaching of the three ultimate realities.

At any rate, if I'm mistaken about the whole primordial awareness thing, then I'm open to correction, as I am not always correct in my understanding.
T DC, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 389 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
In my view Eric, I do think you are wrong to equate rigpa with the formless realms, let me explain..

Eric M W:

Right, so, primordial awareness. We find it all over the place-- Dzogchen and Mahamudra, Eckhart Tolle's excellent but somewhat watered-down stuff, Zen, contemplative Christianity, various schools of Hinduism, A Course in Miracles, and primordial beings even pop up in some ancient shamanic cosmologies. Where we don't find it is Theravada, which can cause a lot of confusion for serious meditators who want to keep their proverbial ducks in a row.


It seems here you are equating rigpa with primordial awareness. Fair enough, for clarification here is a definition from Rigpa Wiki: the knowledge that ensues from recognizing one's nature. What does one realize upon the recognition of one's true nature? Chiefly that all things are one and exist without separation. This 'oneness', or 'one great truth', is indeed found all over the place. So to clarify, as in recognizing one's true nature, one gains the knowledge that all is one, and thus Rigpa can be equated to that which all is. Rigpa refers to the universal substance of which all is composed, 'ultimate reality', what one realizes upon final enlightenment.

Eric M W:
Kenneth Folk has addressed this in his three-speed transmission, but for me personally, I still scratch my head about the whole mess. Theravadin monks bust their butts on the cushion, move up the nanas, get all kinds of insight about the nature of reality, and finally enter into Nibbana/fruition. Meanwhile, according to the third gear folks, anyone at any time can simply surrender to the moment and abide in third gear. This is a beautiful thought, but I can't help but wonder what purpose this attainment serves. After all the nanas, jhanas, powers, and various other crazy things that happen on the progress of insight, it seems trite to say that simply surrendering to the moment is a "higher" attainment. Being at peace in the present is obviously very positive, but does it permanently alter the mind of the meditator a la path moments?


The 'third gear' model seems to categorize the final state of enlightenment, not as a final state, but as an impermanent state/attainment one can experience as one wishes. So, while the rest of the time one is just living one's life, sometimes one can choose to abide in the state of enlightenment. I have seem to have read descriptions of the Buddha in which he would 'enter nirvana' in meditation, perhaps this serves as somewhat of a basis for 'third gear'.

However, I do not agree with this at all. Such that enlightenment is a final state, and the complete realization of non-separateness; all things are innately the enlightened state, and in recognizing this one dwells thereafter in that realization, without change, and without experience of greater or lesser states (hence ULTIMATE reality). Thus, the third gear theory does not seem to be based on the recognition of the fully awakened state, rigpa, but of a lesser stage.

Eric M W:


Relevant to this topic is this old essay by Daniel...

So, here's what I'm getting at. Saying that arahatship isn't really the end of the road, that primordial awareness is an additional axis of development, is pretty much saying "Arahatship is nice, but can you get to the formless realms and and tune into no-self?" Most arahats can already do that, I'd wager.


I'm not sure what to make of Daniel's essay in this context, perhaps I need to read the whole thing.

The problem with what you are saying is that idea that rigpa is the formless realms. To follow this point to it's ultimate implication, this implies there is no ultimate reality, just temporary meditative state. What is the good of that? Aren't there numerous Buddhist teachings dismissing temporary meditative state as distractions and pointing at lasting attainment/ insight as the goal? At any rate, I'm saying that arahat's indeed have more work to do, and ultimate reality is far beyond them.

I am also much confused as to why Theravada seemingly does not mention this, but I am probably too uneducated on what Theravada does and does not truly hold that for all I know it may have something to say about this. I won't disagree about Theravada's ability to produce insight, after all it gave us MCTB.. However, there does come a point, far beyond MCTB, where you can literally not go any further, and thus I hold strong to Tibetan Buddhism which contains explicit teachings up until this state.

Eric M W:

But then we have folks such as the Tibetans who emphasize rigpa and seem to give it higher value than "hinayana" practices. Where do they fit in?

The descriptions of rigpa-- union with bliss, boundless space, etc are pretty much identical to the descriptions of the formless realms. My tentative hypothesis: third gear practices such as dozgchen and mahamudra use formless realms as the basis of insight practice, with an emphasis on the no-self characteristic (as opposed to impermanence emphasized by certain vipassana techniques).


As I said above, Rigpa is the final ultimate state. I am not equating Theravada with Hinayana because frankly I am not entirely sure where it fits in. I am however equating the MCTB arhat with the final Hinayana attainment. Thus Rigpa, recognized at the conclusion of the Vajrayana is two full yanas above an arhat.

While I would agree these descriptions are similar, as someone what has experienced both I can tell you rigpa is far superior as: it is the ultimate nature of reality, and recognizing it means that one literally is whole once more. The formless reals are just high Jhana states, and which concentration is blissfull, it answers no questions, such as who am I? Rigpa on the other hand delivers. Who am I? I am rigpa, by-god, I am that that is all that is!

To further answer to your theory, Dzogchen and Mahamudra are systems of practice based on attainments in the Vajrayana, and thus are one yana away from the attainment of MCTB arhat. Even if an arhat has formless realm capabilities, which as you said they no doubt do, their attainment (read: understanding of the nature of reality) is not yet advanced enough to form a sufficient basis for the practice systems of Mahamudra and Dzagchen, and should they practice these systems, VERY likely they would fail to gain the attainments that these practices are geared towards.

Eric M W:

Next time you're hanging around primordial awareness mode, ask yourself, how many times per second do I experience primordial awareness? If it can be investigated by vipassana, it ain't ultimate reality, no matter how primordial or nice it is.

Very relevant to the discussion: the Theravada teaching of the three ultimate realities.

At any rate, if I'm mistaken about the whole primordial awareness thing, then I'm open to correction, as I am not always correct in my understanding.


Did you mean 3 aspects of reality? Suffering, impermanence, and no-self are relative ways of describing conditioned phenomena, conditioned in the sense they are arise based on misapprehension of ultimate reality.

As for investigating the nature of my experience, as wild as it may sound, I literally cannot do this. My state of being is beyond meditative development. Such is the nature of the ultimate (hint hint ha) state.

Cheers,
Tim
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 3179 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Holy Mother of Christ, are we back to Rigpa again!*%$#*S! ;)

Wow, does that bring back memories...

It is worth mentioning that I have no idea what essay by myself about Rigpa the person above is referencing, but I can tell you one little thing that is worth mentioning: Kenneth Folk and I are very old and dear friends but also have a very complex history, and much gets swirled up into our little games with each other, and one of those back in the day was the politics and power struggles that happened to, for a brief period here, swirl around the term "Rigpa", so take anything in that back and forth between us from that time with a grain of salt and an eye for underlying interpersonal struggles that have nothing to do with the term.
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Eric M W, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 288 Join Date: 3/19/14 Recent Posts
Sorry to bring up the whole Rigpa debate again, I hope we can all still be friends...

I realize my post regading Primordial Awareness has been addressed in detail but unfortunately I am pressed for time. Let me be concise...

My clearest understanding of Rigpa comes from The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep, where Rigpa is defined as the clear light beyond dreams. The diligent yogi, after due training with dream and sleep yoga (plus a little bit of sleep deprivation), will come to see this clear light beyond the forms and sounds of the dream world and attain liberation thereby.

With Theravada, we have the Three Ultimate Realities-- physical sensations, mental sensations, and Nibbana. Any kind of experience is composed of sensations. Thus, any "experience" of ultimate reality/rigpa ain't ultimate at all, because sensate experience was present.

I hope this makes sense.

I realize a lot of traditions (Hinduism, Christianity, many Mahayana schools...) are really into the Super Awareness thing, but Theravada rejects this. Or does it? MCTB and A Path With Heart have excellent chapters on No Self vs True Self that are worth considering.

Another point of interest: the Tibetans describe the union with Rigpa after death like a child running to his mother's arms. Next time you are moving up the nanas, pay attention to the moments before one of the three doors, specifically the Emptiness door. What does it look like? emoticon

Daniel M. Ingram:

It is worth mentioning that I have no idea what essay by myself about Rigpa the person above is referencing...


Here is the essay in its entirety for everyone's viewing pleasure:

Dear Mark,

Thanks for your descriptions and analysis. They are interesting and relevant.

I think of it this way, from a very high but still vipassana point of view, as you are framing this question in a vipassana context:

First, the breath is nice, but at that level of manifesting sensations, some other points of view are helpful:

Assume something really simple about sensations and awareness: they are exactly the same. In fact, make it more simple: there are sensations, and this includes all sensations that make up space, thought, image, body, anything you can imagine being mind, and all qualities that are experienced, meaning the sum total of the world.

In this very simple framework, rigpa is all sensations, but there can be this subtle attachment and lack of investigation when high terms are used that we want there to be this super-rigpa, this awareness that is other. You mention that you feel there is a larger awareness, an awareness that is not just there the limits of your senses. I would claim otherwise: that the whole sensate universe by definition can't arise without the quality of awareness by definition, and so some very subtle sensations are tricking you into thinking they are bigger than the rest of the sensate field and are actually the awareness that is aware of other sensations.

Awareness is simply manifestation. All sensations are simply present.

Thus, be wary of anything that wants to be a super-awareness, a rigpa that is larger than everything else, as it can't be, by definition. Investigate at the level of bare sensate experience just what arises and see that it can't possibly be different from awareness, as this is actually an extraneous concept and there are actually just sensations as the first and final basis of reality.

As you like the Tibetan stuff, and to quote Padmasambhava in the root text of the book The Light of Wisdom:

"The mind that observes is also devoid of an ego or self-entity.
It is neither seen as something different from the aggregates
Nor as identical with these five aggregates.
If the first were true, there would exist some other substance.

This is not the case, so were the second true,
That would contradict a permanent self, since the aggregates are impermanent.
Therefore, based on the five aggregates,
The self is a mere imputation based on the power of the ego-clinging.

As to that which imputes, the past thought has vanished and is nonexistent.
The future thought has not occurred, and the present thought does not withstand scrutiny."
I really found this little block of tight philosophy helpful. It is also very vipassana at its core, but it is no surprise the wisdom traditions converge.

Thus, if you want to crack the nut, notice that everything is 5 aggregates, including everything you think is super-awareness, and be less concerned with what every little type of consciousness is than with just perceiving them directly and noticing the gaps that section off this from that, such as rigpa from thought stream, or awareness from sensations, as these are golden chains.


Source
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(D Z) Dhru Val, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 346 Join Date: 9/18/11 Recent Posts
T DC:
In my view Eric, I do think you are wrong to equate rigpa with the formless realms, let me explain..

Eric M W:

Right, so, primordial awareness. We find it all over the place-- Dzogchen and Mahamudra, Eckhart Tolle's excellent but somewhat watered-down stuff, Zen, contemplative Christianity, various schools of Hinduism, A Course in Miracles, and primordial beings even pop up in some ancient shamanic cosmologies. Where we don't find it is Theravada, which can cause a lot of confusion for serious meditators who want to keep their proverbial ducks in a row.


It seems here you are equating rigpa with primordial awareness. Fair enough, for clarification here is a definition from Rigpa Wiki: the knowledge that ensues from recognizing one's nature. What does one realize upon the recognition of one's true nature? Chiefly that all things are one and exist without separation. This 'oneness', or 'one great truth', is indeed found all over the place. So to clarify, as in recognizing one's true nature, one gains the knowledge that all is one, and thus Rigpa can be equated to that which all is. Rigpa refers to the universal substance of which all is composed, 'ultimate reality', what one realizes upon final enlightenment.


Rigpa involves knowledge one's true nature . But 'true nature' in the context of Rigpa is not some sort of universal substance, nor oneness.

Why do you think that 'recognizing your true nature' involves seeing that 'all is one' ?
Where do you get the idea that Rigpa is a substance out of which everything is composed ?

If these viewpoints are coming from your own experience / attainment, then you have further progress to make down the path.

On a different note, Rigpa in no way contradicts insights from Vipassana regarding Annata.
T DC, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 389 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
Ha Daniel.. Ok, thanks for the disclaimer.

(D Z) Dhru Val:

Rigpa involves knowledge one's true nature . But 'true nature' in the context of Rigpa is not some sort of universal substance, nor oneness.

Why do you think that 'recognizing your true nature' involves seeing that 'all is one' ?
Where do you get the idea that Rigpa is a substance out of which everything is composed ?

If these viewpoints are coming from your own experience / attainment, then you have further progress to make down the path.

On a different note, Rigpa in no way contradicts insights from Vipassana regarding Annata.


Dhru Val, you dispute that Rigpa is a universal substance or oneness. What then may I ask is our true nature?

True nature in Buddhism is generally defined as 'Buddha nature'. To quote Maitreya;

'Because the perfect buddhas’s kaya is all-pervading,
Because reality is undifferentiated,
And because they possess the potential,
Beings always have the buddha nature.'

Thus; Lines 1 and 2: Buddha's kaya (i.e. body) pervades all of reality, which is undifferentiated. As such all things are 'filled' with an essence, and cannot ultimately be differentiated. Thus all things are 'one' great whole, which possesses an all pervading essence.

Basically, to draw on personal experience, what we are trying to do on the path is overcome the issue of dualistic separation. The natural conclusion thus is a state in which there is no perceived separation, in which all is one. What is this one-ness? It is ultimate, it is beyond relative conceptual description. However, for the sake of inclusivity, Tibetan Buddhism has given it a name, 'Rigpa'.

Perhaps you have a problem that Tibetans describe Rigpa as 'the knowledge that results from recognizing the natural state' vs. 'the natural state'. This is simply semantics. Given that what one is recognizing is that there is truly no dualistic separation, the knowledge that results from such a recognition is no different from what one has recognized; both are of the same nature.

Obviously discussing this relatively is confusing. To answer to your last statement, indeed rigpa does not contradict Vipassina insights. Things indeed are 'not self' even upon recognizing the great oneness that is rigpa. In recognizing rigpa one recognizes the basis of existence, that which lies beyond concepts that are 'not-self'.
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(D Z) Dhru Val, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 346 Join Date: 9/18/11 Recent Posts
Hi Tim,

Here is the part I have issues with...

T DC:

Basically, to draw on personal experience, what we are trying to do on the path is overcome the issue of dualistic separation. The natural conclusion thus is a state in which there is no perceived separation, in which all is one. What is this one-ness? It is ultimate, it is beyond relative conceptual description. However, for the sake of inclusivity, Tibetan Buddhism has given it a name, 'Rigpa'...



Overcoming the subject / object duality completely doesn't involve everything becoming one.

A sense of oneness in personal experience is a remnant of a dualistic viewpoint. Consider the following...

In a an average person's viewpoint, the illuminating quality of phenomenon is ascribed to a narrowly defined subject observing the world.

With practice a person can have insight into how phenomenon are awareness. Yet there is still a tendency to posit awareness as being more ultimate than phenomenon.

That although phenomenon are awareness. Awareness is somehow more than just phenomenon. Or vice versa.

When subject and object are inseparable, phenomenon are seen to be self-luminous or self-aware (self-aware sounds a bit weird, but i am referring to the luminous quality of phenomenon that is ordinarily ascribed to awareness).

Inseperability of subject and object means that luminosity or awareness has no existence outside of phenomenon.

The qualities of awareness are the qualities of phenomenon. And qualities of phenomenon are the qualities of awareness.

Because phenomenon are varied. So is awareness. Because it is not other than the phenomenon.

This is something like the vipassana realization of Annata. Except in vipassana the self-illuminating quality is not emphasized. I am emphasizing it here because it is relevant to discussions of Rigpa.

Rigpa takes Annata as a given. And does not contradict it.

Hence it is not oneness either.

T DC:

Obviously discussing this relatively is confusing. To answer to your last statement, indeed rigpa does not contradict Vipassina insights. Things indeed are 'not self' even upon recognizing the great oneness that is rigpa. In recognizing rigpa one recognizes the basis of existence, that which lies beyond concepts that are 'not-self'.


Rigpa is not a great oneness. It relates to that self-illumnating aspect of phenomenon that is realized in annata.

However this is obscured by various imputations. Even after the realization of Annata.

The way that ordinary mental computation works requires that we posit views regarding something as existent / non-existent. And then we take the result of our imputations are reality.

For eg. Normally we imagine a thought as taking place over a span of time. Wherein a thought starts, then abides, and then ends.
However in reality this is an imputation. Thoughts simultaneously arise, abide, and end. Nowhere and nowhen.

In the dzogchen practice this sort of empty knowing is recognized and used to help get rid of various obscurations.
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. Jake ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 698 Join Date: 5/22/10 Recent Posts
Eric M W:
The descriptions of rigpa-- union with bliss, boundless space, etc are pretty much identical to the descriptions of the formless realms. My tentative hypothesis: third gear practices such as dozgchen and mahamudra use formless realms as the basis of insight practice, with an emphasis on the no-self characteristic (as opposed to impermanence emphasized by certain vipassana techniques).


That's an interesting hypothesis. I think if you are talking about, how does a given tradition initially point folks in the direction of the path-- what's the basic style of how a tradition points the way towards the path-- there is definitely some truth in that. It seems pretty clear to me that alot of Therevada (at least the burmese influenced stuff) starts people out noticing impermanence, arising and passing, until this becomes a powerful and encompassing, impressive experience (A&P). And naturally from there insights into dukha and annata arise more or less in that order.

And indeed lots of Vajrayana stuff starts out by pointing at formless qualities of mind like space, consciousness, even nothingness as a sort of orientating move, along with a strong emphasis on annata. This is often done by pointing out the felt difference between a spacious formless and relatively still quality of mind with mental-emotional movements, the latter of which are pointed out to be obviously annatta since they come and go 'within' the more spacious still formless aspects of mind. But that in my experience is really a preliminary orientating pointing-out *in the direction* of things like the natural state, rigpa, etc.

The thing is, the Tibetan tradition and the teachers I know of in it who teach Dzogchen and Mahamudra and the texts that they translate in their books and the experiences they share of their early practice *definitely* are familiar, explicitly, with the whole spectrum of desire realm states (coarse emotions) and form and formless realm states (jhannas) and in no way is Rigpa equated with formless realms in this tradition. I just want to emphasise that you are picking up on a real stylistic difference between different traditions which it is good to know about, but that it would be innacurate to conclude that what Vajrayana calls 'rigpa' equates to a formless realm, as the tradition in general is very clear about the differences. I don't think you are saying that the two equate, as you say "uses formless realms as the basis for insight practice", and I think that is actually a super accurate impression, in general.
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Nowhere Man, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Post: 1 Join Date: 4/11/14 Recent Posts
In these last few posts, yet another discussion of “rigpa” (as Daniel implicitly lamented) has moved in some interesting directions.

I agree with TDC that rigpa should not be equated with the formless jhanas. While rigpa might described as having the quality of spaciousness shared with the higher jhanas, it also entails insight into emptiness, into absence of subject-object dualism, and consequently an orientation towards phenomenal appearances characterized by nongrasping. I disagree with TDC, however, that rigpa should be considered “the universal substance of which all is composed”. Such language, at least, strikes me as foreign to Tibetan Buddhist traditions, which take emptiness as the definitive (anti-)ontological statement.

Similarly, there are two ways to take TDC’s quote from Maitreya that ripga is “all-pervading” and “undifferentiated”. One is as an ontological statement about the way a “reality” that includes and exceeds oneself is, which seems to be TDC’s reading (hence: "substance" and "essence"); another is to read it is a statement about the world of experience: that subjective awareness is all-pervading and undifferentiated relative to the way in which we perceive that which appears to us. More difficult, or at least unclear to me, is how to move from this phenomenological statement to an ontological one.

And here I think we find Tibetan statements about the nature of mind more in accord with certain lines of thinking within the Pali Nikayas. I appreciate and concur with Jake’s commentary (and some other comments above) on the matter--that the insight dimensions of spaciousness concern attending to the way in which anicca and anatta phenomena arise and pass away within the spaciousness of the world of experience.

On the metaphor of “the world of experience” in the Pali Nikayas, see Sue Hamilton, Early Buddhism: A New Approach: The I of the Beholder (Routledge, 2000).
T DC, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 389 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
Nowhere Man:
I disagree with TDC, however, that rigpa should be considered “the universal substance of which all is composed”. Such language, at least, strikes me as foreign to Tibetan Buddhist traditions, which take emptiness as the definitive (anti-)ontological statement.


I apologize, I may be misinterpreting you. Are you saying emptiness is that which Tibetan Buddhism would point to as the ultimate nature of things, instead of rigpa? Or, are you saying that Tibetan Buddhism would not support the idea of a universal substance due its doctrine of emptiness?

If it is the first, perhaps for the purposes of clarification of advanced teachings Dzogchen schools found it helpful to explain 'emptiness' in somewhat of a different light. Alternatively, and addressing the second above, emptiness is not interpreted as void, or nothingness, but the absence of inherent existence such that it negates that validity of concepts. Emptiness does not deny that a phenomenal world exists. Indeed, teachings such as 'Form is none other than emptiness, emptiness is none other than form,' would seem to imply that in perception, the phenomenal world is 'composed' of emptiness, such that it is inseparable from it.

Am I in line with what you were saying?

Nowhere Man:
Similarly, there are two ways to take TDC’s quote from Maitreya that ripga is “all-pervading” and “undifferentiated”. One is as an ontological statement about the way a “reality” that includes and exceeds oneself is, which seems to be TDC’s reading (hence: "substance" and "essence"); another is to read it is a statement about the world of experience: that subjective awareness is all-pervading and undifferentiated relative to the way in which we perceive that which appears to us. More difficult, or at least unclear to me, is how to move from this phenomenological statement to an ontological one.


For the sake of clarity I will express my interpretation of what you have said. The two interpretations of this statement: Ontological: the all inclusive nature of reality is composed of a substance or essence, Phenomenological: our own awareness is universally inclusive of phenomena (such that all phenomena appear to be no different from our awareness) and this is always the same for all situations in which we perceive.

You seem to be framing this dilemma in an extremely subjective manner, thank you for such clarity! Personally, I would say that a way to theoretically move from the Phenomenological interpretation to the Ontological statement would be to suppose that we ourselves are the nature of the universe. Thus, such that our perception is ultimately correct, our phenomenological statement is itself an Ontological statement on the nature of reality. All things are no different from our awareness, we are the nature of the universe, thus awareness is the nature of the universe.

Perhaps another way to put this is that if, phenomenologically, all phenomena, including ourselves, is perceived as being inseparable from our awareness, then there can exist no separate reality. Any thought that might occur to us, such a question regarding an ultimate nature of the universe, is inseparable from our awareness. Thus, for such a question of 'what is reality composed of?,' the answer is naturally, 'awareness', as nothing is separable from our awareness.

This is the basic line of reasoning from which I made the statement that 'Rigpa' represents that which composes the universe, which as in the above example, could be more practically called awareness. Hopefully this is clear enough to interpret. Thoughts?
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 3179 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
To quote from The Light of Wisdom by Jamgon Kongtrul the Great: "if the first were true, there would exist some other substance: this is not the case"

Beware the trap of imagine a Void that is a thing, an Emptiness that is some separate thing, a SuperSpace that is some separate thing, a Hyper-Space (see post somewhere above) that is some thing, and everything in that general vein, as they are all trouble.
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Eric M W, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 288 Join Date: 3/19/14 Recent Posts
Paweł K:


as your 'Void' I would rather take background, something that pervades everything and is not space, rather before space, even before mind. Between sensations, between mind moments. It cannot be even experienced in normal sense but not experiencing it is dukkha and experiencing it is nibbana.

If you put your ear to the ground, and listen closely... you hear that little whirring sound? That's the sound of the old Theravadin scholars spinning in their graves.

Nibbana is not something that can be experienced.
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Eric M W, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 288 Join Date: 3/19/14 Recent Posts
Paweł K:
Eric M W:
Paweł K:


as your 'Void' I would rather take background, something that pervades everything and is not space, rather before space, even before mind. Between sensations, between mind moments. It cannot be even experienced in normal sense but not experiencing it is dukkha and experiencing it is nibbana.

If you put your ear to the ground, and listen closely... you hear that little whirring sound? That's the sound of the old Theravadin scholars spinning in their graves.

Nibbana is not something that can be experienced.

here 'nibbana' was used as something that is like really good good which is in opposition to dukkha that is obviously bad

there is no awareness for void/nibbana and because of that it cannot be directly experienced
but there is influence of void/nibbana on sensations that do arise and that is as close to nibbana as you can get

if you know what influence then you will agree when I say that there is nothing good in this life that doesn't come from that void/nibbana/God/etc. and if not then... well, haste to practice instead of trying to hear what dead Theravadin scholars have to say about what is possible and what is not =)

Well, if we're being technical, 4th path is also Nibbana. This relates back to the idea that the field of sensations itself is Rigpa, that it's not some Super Awareness.

Though it's worth pointing out, the Theravadins tend to favor a particle model of reality, whereas the Tibetans are more fond of the wave model. I think that this leads to a lot of differing interpretations when, really, we are all trying to talk about the same thing.

I agree that practice ought to trump dead scholars. emoticon
B B, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 69 Join Date: 9/14/12 Recent Posts
No aversion or attraction at all apart from after NS? That's impressive. There's plenty in my experience that I would describe as "slightly unpleasant", which I've been putting down to subtle underlying aversion as I can make it go away by shifting to a non-clinging, non-conceptualizing mind.

"Everything is in flow all the time."
I think I'm experiencing this, in that intention has been integrated and no longer seems to be coming from a self, but there's still a sense of "efforting", or at least "maintaining" linked to a sense of being and presence that isn't quite complete ease and spontaneous unfolding.

"a few days ago"
This makes me suspicious, as I've had several big fruitions that had me convinced that they were MCTB 4th path for a period of days only to eventually admit to myself that some aspect of perception was still slightly inadquate and unsatisfying. E.g. a sense of intention still coming from somewhere "other", a subtle feeling of "I am" not found in any particular body part, a subtle sense of presence/being, or a habitual conceptualizing. There have even been times where my perception has regressed after a day or two. Assuming you've had similar experiences, what makes you so sure this time?

"The exception to this seems to be Nirodha Samapatti which still feels like it taps me into something beyond what my mind has presently encompassed and permeated, it's like a whole world beyond my individual self that is still waiting to be uncovered."
Wow, that's a much deeper appreciation than I'm getting. What I've been taking to be NS is simply where I tune out of 8th jhana (not necessarily even a particularly hard one) and have a fruition that repositions the pressure in my head so that it goes from the back (for 8th) to the sides behind the ears (which I associate with 6th, though I'm not usually in a hard 6th at that point). There is a sharp increase in concentration that lasts for hours, bodily relaxation, and almost without fail it kicks off a new DN within a day. But on the whole I'm not finding it terribly interesting or impressive.

"That old "I" now exists in a fully immanent way in my body, my psyche, my perceptual world. It is not longer subject or object, but it's not gone either, it's just everywhere, in everything."
Could you elaborate on this? If it is no longer subject, why call it "I"? Try "asserting the external element" where you take the completely dispassionate/objective sense of seeing an inanimate object and apply it to the body/mind. Is there resistence to this, or a sense of encroaching on a subject? I've found it beneficial to continue beyond the point where it could be said there is only a subtle, diffuse feeling of "I am" (don't want to imply that I've made much progress in this).

"any "I" that is left in the higher realms"
I don't mean for this to start sounding antagonistic, but how is this not baseless speculation, or bordering on the kind of assumption-making the Buddha rejects in SN 12.35?
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Avi Craimer, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 114 Join Date: 10/29/13 Recent Posts
Thank you all for your comments. I'm replying to BB's questions, but in those replies I respond to some of the other points that have been raised.

B B:
No aversion or attraction at all apart from after NS? That's impressive. There's plenty in my experience that I would describe as "slightly unpleasant", which I've been putting down to subtle underlying aversion as I can make it go away by shifting to a non-clinging, non-conceptualizing mind.

Okay, I've been returning to some stressful situations in daily life and there is some aversion returning. However, there still seems to be something fundamentally different about the way I experience this aversion. Like I can completely watch it unfold with relative effortlessness. It doesn't seem to have the bite on me that it did in the past. I feel motivated to continue working with it using mindfulness, but I doesn't seem necessary in the same way. It's like the aversion no longer feels like a threat. Also, it's drastically diminished. In time this might show itself to be a change of degree rather than a change of kind, but so far it seems like a change of kind.

B B:

"a few days ago"
This makes me suspicious, as I've had several big fruitions that had me convinced that they were MCTB 4th path for a period of days only to eventually admit to myself that some aspect of perception was still slightly inadequate and unsatisfying. E.g. a sense of intention still coming from somewhere "other", a subtle feeling of "I am" not found in any particular body part, a subtle sense of presence/being, or a habitual conceptualizing. There have even been times where my perception has regressed after a day or two. Assuming you've had similar experiences, what makes you so sure this time?


I didn't say I was sure. In fact, I said quite explicitly that I was trying to be comfortable with not knowing. I agree that things will become clearer in time, and I may judge that I was too hasty in evaluating this state. However, I will say that the nature of the change was unlike anything I've experienced through dozens of third-path cycles. It's possible that it was just a particularly large new cycle fruition, but in general my experience has been that the impact of new fruitions gets less and less with each cycle. This shift felt almost as strong as stream entry. On a more meta-level, I'm starting to doubt that Daniel's description of 4th path as an endpoint is really accurate for everyone. I've spoken with enlightened teachers who have started out using Daniel's maps and eventually come to a point where they claim that Daniel's map stops making sense of their experience. They say that although they are pretty clear that they have experienced something like 4th path, it doesn't have all the characteristics that Daniel attributes to it. In particular, in their experience, it doesn't eliminate all duality. Therefore, my working definition of 4th Path is a bit different from Daniel's. My working definition is a thorough and permanent dis-embedding from that part of the mind that seeks to control personal experience. This leaves it open that one might still be embedded (identified with) other parts of the mind (those which are unattached to personal experience; more on this below).

B B:

"The exception to this seems to be Nirodha Samapatti which still feels like it taps me into something beyond what my mind has presently encompassed and permeated, it's like a whole world beyond my individual self that is still waiting to be uncovered."
Wow, that's a much deeper appreciation than I'm getting. What I've been taking to be NS is simply where I tune out of 8th jhana (not necessarily even a particularly hard one) and have a fruition that repositions the pressure in my head so that it goes from the back (for 8th) to the sides behind the ears (which I associate with 6th, though I'm not usually in a hard 6th at that point). There is a sharp increase in concentration that lasts for hours, bodily relaxation, and almost without fail it kicks off a new DN within a day. But on the whole I'm not finding it terribly interesting or impressive.


How is "never failing to kick off a new DN within a day" not interesting? To me, your observation underlines the importance of concentration states for making rapid progress in insight. Like I said, the sensations in my third eye, crown, and above my crown are the only ones the still seem attached (at least among the sensations I'm currently aware of). These attachments are only noticeable after jhana practice. When I wake up in the morning they are invisible and don't seem to affect the flow state. I'm sure that doing vipassana on these sensations would produce further progress of insight, which means cultivating NS in order to do this work seems like an good idea when I'm ready to continue progress of insight.

B B:

"That old "I" now exists in a fully immanent way in my body, my psyche, my perceptual world. It is not longer subject or object, but it's not gone either, it's just everywhere, in everything."
Could you elaborate on this? If it is no longer subject, why call it "I"? Try "asserting the external element" where you take the completely dispassionate/objective sense of seeing an inanimate object and apply it to the body/mind. Is there resistence to this, or a sense of encroaching on a subject? I've found it beneficial to continue beyond the point where it could be said there is only a subtle, diffuse feeling of "I am" (don't want to imply that I've made much progress in this).

I like that "external element" test. However, one interesting thing is that the further I go, the more compassionate and connected I feel by default to all external objects. Hence, I can feel the same towards my personal psyche as I do toward various external objects, yet, in neither case is this a state of dispassionate awareness. There is a sense of deep detachment from the contents of my psyche including emotions, but not indifference towards them. There is still a tender concern for them grounded in loving-kindness and compassion. I suppose I've always been more drawn to the Bodhisattva ideal of enlightenment than the arhat ideal, so perhaps that is why I'm developing in this way.

I have the sense that the "I" I was previously identified with was nothing more, and nothing less, than my body, psyche, thoughts, and external perceptual world. Now, I see these four aspects of reality as four distinct worlds that I can watch like a man looking through a telescope. I can zoom in on psyche and experience emotions and narrative in a lot of detail, or zoom in on body, or zoom in on world, or zoom in on conceptual thoughts, but in none of those cases do I get sucked into those experiences and identify with them. In certain respects, being zoomed in on a experience feels similar to being identified with it, but there is some piece missing that makes it so that I don't stick to the experience. It's more like watching an experience happen to somebody else, but as I said above, this should not be taken to imply that I feel indifferent toward them. There is a distinct feeling of interested compassion as I am aware of them, which is not noticeably different from my interested compassionate awareness of other people, animals, plants, and even inanimate objects. To me this is a strong illustration of the direct relevance of B.V. practices to the realization of insight.

B B:

"any "I" that is left in the higher realms"
I don't mean for this to start sounding antagonistic, but how is this not baseless speculation, or bordering on the kind of assumption-making the Buddha rejects in SN 12.35?


Well, as I think I mentioned, I'm not a Buddhist. I'm a non-traditional theist who got stream entry and was then called to keep going down the insight path as part of my larger path of divine service. I believe that there is a divine intelligence who in some way partakes of our own intelligence. In fact, as I've mentioned in other posts on this forum, it seems to me that the Mahayana/Vajrayana take on Pure Awareness is very close if not identical to the theistic notion of God in God's ineffable fully transcendent aspect. The key basis for contemplatively grounded theism is not speculation, but rather the appreciation of how new content, form, and meaning, emanate out from the ineffable experience of God/Awareness/nibbana. Vajrayana traditions clearly believe in this kind of emanation when they speak of new Buddha Deities emanating out of "pure light of Awareness". Therefore, I classify them as theistic. In contrast, Theravada and the early Buddhist teachings do not acknowledge this phenomenon or do not appreciate its significance. But, this is a longer discussion that's not entirely relevant to the matter at hand.

In terms of my thoughts on the higher sense of I, it's an identification with aspects of consciousness that are closer in the emanation hierarchy to this ineffable God/Awareness. The Kabbalistic tree of life provides a nice model of this. Tiferet is the highest sephira that is fully personal, the next four levels above that are various kinds of transpersonal consciousness, with the highest, Keter, corresponding to Pure Awareness. So in my model, 4th Path is defined as the elimination of all attachments to personal consciousness, i.e., the lower 5 sephira. This is compatible with attachments to transpersonal consciousness remaining. Now, of course, I recognize that this definition might be eccentric, and so be it, it's the one that makes sense to me. Having articulated it just now, I realize that this is a better model for the Bodhisattva ideal than for the arhat ideal. Well, the former is closer to my ideal, so that's what I'll continue to identify 4th Path with it for myself. Other people are free to identify 4th Path with whatever they consider a natural marker based on their own ideal :-) At the end of the day, 4th path is just a word. Maybe, I'm miss using it, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of clear agreement about what it actually amounts to. For everything beyond 3rd path, I think it's more important to know what areas/facets of your life are effortlessly joyful and harmonious, and what areas/facets of your life are not. Regardless of where one is in the insight territory, if one simply focuses on improving those aspects/facets of consciousness that are not yet effortlessly joyful and harmonious, one will end up doing pretty well.

Thanks for your thoughtful responses and questions.
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William Golden Finch, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 558 Join Date: 11/17/13 Recent Posts
Avi: I like your thoughts and your unique voice. Clearly this is stuff you have given some thought to, and it shows. What I would have called 4th path, and the experience I had that lines up most closely to Daniel's definition, involved the clear seeing of of there never being an observer, i.e "in the seen, just the seen". This was seen so deeply that afterwards it seemed there was just life in its vivid display, no inner or outer, no sense of agency, no sense of there being a landscape upon which to experience emotions. In what you are describing there is still the sense of an observer, albeit one who is not moved by what was previously seen as personal contents. But...I understand what you are saying on the lack of clarity, and I don't think things are black and white, basically ever. I myself was diagnosed as being at 4th path by two prominent teachers in the pragmatic dharma scene six or so months before I had the experience mentioned above in a way that really stuck and permeated, and it was quite a different experience than what had come before. I would also suggest that if one believes there is no consenus on what is fourth path (something I would not necessarily disagree with) it would be wiser to just call such things a "shift".
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Nikolai ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 1650 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
I think very few of us have any real idea of all the possible directions we can take our brains in. I know post 4th path (as defined by Daniel), I had further baseline shifts dependent on certain practices. But they haven't brought me exactly what I have been looking for ever since teenage-hood. Ultimately I'm not and really haven't been looking for some 'ultimate non-duality' nor "emptiness" seen in everything and anything. I am, at the heart of it, looking for nothing more than peace.That is it. And I know where to find it. I just lack the momentum to make it flip.

There are acts of mind and body that result in peace, and there are acts of mind and body that result in no peace. I'm optimising the peace inducing ones till there any no need to remind myself to do so. Daniel's 4th path makes it very easy to do this, though other post-4th baseline shifts made it hard to maintain a 'drive' to do so. So in a sense , any "practice" to induce this peace is simply what happens when the conditions set up triggers to optimise that peace. And triggers happen from time to time, but are often absent when responsibilities in life take point.

Yes, I am not really 100% at peace. Having a baby soon, financial concerns arising, life stuff ballooning, responsibilities growing, has brought some things to the surface that weren't ever triggered before. I relate very much to what Gil talks about in the following talk. (Thanks Richard for posting it). Screw all the titles and 'paths' and what they are supposed to mean. It's peace is all i want. And after much ruminating, what I would like to pass on to my son if there is but one thing he inherits from me that is worthwhile. MCTB 4th did not end in this peace. The practices I did post 4th path, did not end in this peace. THey did all end up making this mind unbelievably pliant and malleable. When the thought and will /urge to do something about the lack of peace is there, it doesnt take long for the the mind to drop the formations that suck. But I don't always experience the urge nor trigger to do so. This ultimately is my current dilemma. It is like I am coasting along, and any progress to this peace may seem random and triggered by the unlikliest things. (unlike a burning desire to get "enlightened" like pre-all these shifts).

Perhaps then for me, the benchmark has shifted and should be whatever brings a peace that doesn't go away. Hmm, thanks for the current trigger. May it last longer than a day.


http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/74/talk/22715/


My current subject to change 2 cents.

Nick
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William Golden Finch, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

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

Do you know if there has ever been a thread devoted simply to "post 4th practices"? It seems people have gone off in wildly different ways after and it would be interesting to see the results of different practices since they do seem to favor different outcomes. I am also curious for you if there is a particular set of practices that have been most useful. I have found somatic practices to be most useful but that may be due to my own specific inclinations.

Bill
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Avi Craimer, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 114 Join Date: 10/29/13 Recent Posts
William Golden Finch:
What I would have called 4th path, and the experience I had that lines up most closely to Daniel's definition, involved the clear seeing of of there never being an observer, i.e "in the seen, just the seen". This was seen so deeply that afterwards it seemed there was just life in its vivid display, no inner or outer, no sense of agency, no sense of there being a landscape upon which to experience emotions.


That's interesting, because the senior pragmatic dharama teachers I've talked to have never achieved the state you describe even though they consider themselves to have achieved 4th Path. Perhaps, it's just a thing that some people experience and other people never experience regardless of how long they practice. Or perhaps its a matter of people interpreting the same experience in different ways through their different perspectives. It would be interesting to start a thread to solicit comments on this, and to see if we can isolate any differences in the practices of those who do and those who don't experience 4th Path as observerlessness.

I can say that I have no desire at present to experience what you describe as 4th Path. Before the Shift that occurred last week, I was totally fascinated with that idea of observerlessness, although I always had some mixed feelings about it (see below). Now it's very clear to me that experiencing observerlessness is not interesting or important for my spiritual development, certainly not the ideal. Perhaps it will become so at some point in the future, or perhaps not. If there was an action I could take today that would guarantee that I would never get the observerlessness experience you describe, like an infallible irrevocable Bodhisattva vow, I would take it right now without hesitation. I don't think there is any such guarantee, so who knows how I'll develop in the future, but right now, I'm certainly not after that. I always find it interesting how the ideal that one seeker wants more than anything is anathema for another seeker (at least at a given stage of development).

William Golden Finch:
I would also suggest that if one believes there is no consenus on what is fourth path (something I would not necessarily disagree with) it would be wiser to just call such things a "shift".

I can accept that term, but you've got to admit that this thread wouldn't have been half as interesting if I had titled my post "Shift".

Nikolai:
MCTB 4th did not end in this peace. The practices I did post 4th path, did not end in this peace. THey did all end up making this mind unbelievably pliant and malleable. When the thought and will /urge to do something about the lack of peace is there, it doesnt take long for the the mind to drop the formations that suck. But I don't always experience the urge nor trigger to do so. This ultimately is my current dilemma.


Nick, your post was very interesting and it triggers in me a recurring fear about 4th path. I've often been concerned that actually achieving complete centerless-ness would result in a loss of motivation, and what you are describing seems to confirm that fear. That's why I resonate a lot with the Mahayana idea of stopping short of full enlightenment for the sake of compassionate service. The Hindu mystic Ramakrishna reports that after achieving a non-dual state that lasted over a month, he was visited by the goddess Kali and told to return to a partially dual state in order to help others. I've always like this story. Maybe it will be another trigger for you. Maybe there is some unfinished business in the dual state that you need to return to in order to find the peace you're looking for. Just a thought.
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William Golden Finch, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 558 Join Date: 11/17/13 Recent Posts
Haha, yes, I agree. 4th path does tend to draw people's attention. You would think it wouldn't have the same resonance after Kenneth and Daniel who claimed 4th path and believed it to be the end, then went on after some time to do other practices that brought about further shifts. Having known some of the same teachers as you, and not throwing out too much of anyone's personal business, I think it is more likely a difference of interpretation rather than depth. I actually was not looking for an experience of observerlessness, and it can not be characterized as an experience. When shifts have occurred for me it has been because some aspect of mind was seen clearly, and in the seeing clearly, there was a relief, often preceded by some sense of anxiety.

For those who are curious, here is a link by a practitioner working his way through the 7th to the 8th stage of Kenneth's map, which I believe closely corresponds to MCTB 4th path, and Zen's "no mind experience" ...you get the point. Anyways, it deals with some of these observer/observerless ideals.

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2011/10/zen-exploration-of-bahiya-sutta.html
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Avi Craimer, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

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

William Golden Finch:
Haha, yes, I agree. 4th path does tend to draw people's attention. You would think it wouldn't have the same resonance after Kenneth and Daniel who claimed 4th path and believed it to be the end, then went on after some time to do other practices that brought about further shifts.


It is interesting how seductive the idea of an endpoint it. Especially given the emphasis in various traditions on the idea that part of enlightenment is about getting beyond all ideas of beginning and end (birth and death). It makes me a little suspicious of pragmatic dharma teachers who despite claiming enlightenment are still obsessed with ideas of "getting there" or of "having got there". My own bias is in favour of an endless transformation model. In a certain sense, I think the whole trick is just getting oneself to deeply stop looking for any endpoint to the natural processes of our existence. Stop looking for permanence, stop looking for that magic state, stop the bi-polar bouncing between wanting the peacefulness of death and then, upon achieving a measure of that peace, craving a return to the excitement of life. This is just want I think is meant in the yogic traditions by the idea of unifying shiva (death) and shakti (life). Theravada Buddhism on the whole seems pretty one-sidedly focused on Shiva, and I can't help but think this will produce unbalanced spiritual development. In fact, the whole Mahayana reformation was sort of about trying to correct this death-seeking tendency in early Buddhism. It disturbs me when I see people on this board who clearly seem depressed or traumatized using those death-seeking tendencies within the pragmatic dharma movement to avoid the emotional healing work they so desperately need.

Maybe the reason that the models only go so far is that the model makers eventually drop the need for model building since that need is itself a symptom of lack of peace and looking for an endpoint. If so, then all those models that seem "more advanced" because they posit further stages may actually be less advanced than modelless models of advanced practice. The former are still driven by craving for "progress" toward an endpoint. There is in that craving an implicit desire for the permanence of the final death. In contrast, once one drops the need for endpoints (and this might happen at any number of different points in the models) then one is free to allow one's life to simply unfold in accordance with it's inner nature. Taoist teachings provide a good perspective on this sort of thing.

William Golden Finch:
Having known some of the same teachers as you, and not throwing out too much of anyone's personal business, I think it is more likely a difference of interpretation rather than depth.


Can you say more about this? How might the experience be interpreted differently? What might be the factors in a person's belief system or pre-realization practice that make them interpret it one way rather than another?

I'd like to check out that practice log, but the link you posted take me to a page that says the page in question does not exist.
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William Golden Finch, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 558 Join Date: 11/17/13 Recent Posts
Hi Avi,

O.K. Unfortunately when Kenneth Folk Dharma archives burned to the ground in the ethernet a number of valuable practice journals detailing people's movements past what might be called 4th path were deleted forever. Here is the link. I tried to edit and change when I realized that the previous one was damaged, so let me know if this one doesn't work.
http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2011/10/zen-exploration-of-bahiya-sutta.html
Or, simply google "A Zen Exploration of the Bahiya Sutta" and go to the Awakening to Reality link.

I agree with what you said about the at times "life denying" nature of some practices or perspectives, but that's just my own perspective ha, and perhaps inadequate for being such. I tend to skew more towards vajrayana teachings or teachers at this point, but really it's even more basic than that and has to do with favoring direct experience. If you have some good links to more of the taoist perspective you are referencing, I would be curious. I'm an inquisitive man.

As for the second point, my belief for a number of years is that what we refer to as stages are landmarks, but we come to each of those insights with our life experiences, our own preconceptions about what that insight will entail (the sense of an observer is good/bad) and our unique personality and filter and way of describing things. So, even if the experience is non-conceptual and in that sense is experienced in a very similar way, we have to use the filter of own concepts to describe that thing for which no words accurately suffice. As for examples, there are an infinite number, just look at this thread. As for the personal experiences of teachers, I don't want to put anyone out there, or give information that is based upon my own remembering and concepts of conversations with those people.
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Avi Craimer, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 114 Join Date: 10/29/13 Recent Posts
William Golden Finch:
If you have some good links to more of the taoist perspective you are referencing, I would be curious. I'm an inquisitive man.


I meant the basic teaching in the Tao Te Ching about the Tao as naturalness and the wisdom of not knowning. The best modern author I've come across on Taoist meditation practices is Bruce Frantzis. I haven't worked extensively with his system, but some of it has definitely filtered through into my practice just from reading his works. He's an excellent clear writer and doesn't hold back on including pretty technical stuff.
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Nikolai ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 1650 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Avi Craimer:

Nick, your post was very interesting and it triggers in me a recurring fear about 4th path. I've often been concerned that actually achieving complete centerless-ness would result in a loss of motivation, and what you are describing seems to confirm that fear. That's why I resonate a lot with the Mahayana idea of stopping short of full enlightenment for the sake of compassionate service. The Hindu mystic Ramakrishna reports that after achieving a non-dual state that lasted over a month, he was visited by the goddess Kali and told to return to a partially dual state in order to help others. I've always like this story. Maybe it will be another trigger for you. Maybe there is some unfinished business in the dual state that you need to return to in order to find the peace you're looking for. Just a thought.


I did say post 4th practices resulted in a major dip in motivation. When there was no longer a centrepoint I got interested in a non-localised sense of 'being', having 'presence'. I pulled it apart with the following linked practice. Post baseline shift, there was a serious lack of internal motivation to strive for further progress. But the progress still gets triggered now and then.

I would say lifestyle is a big factor now in what is triggered. If I was surrounded by people talking about this all the time or some other obvious triger, it would be triggered more often. I am currently not surrounded by anyone talking about it nor other obvious triggers. The only triggers are the occasional random thought to pay attention in a certain way, or reading the DhO maybe. So perhaps best not to do this practice. At 4th path (as defined by Daniel), I still had lots of desire and motivation to progress. I just felt off the ride and centreless/agencyless. It was post-4th practices that shifted things further.

Nick
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Avi Craimer, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 114 Join Date: 10/29/13 Recent Posts
Nikolai .:
So perhaps best not to do this practice. At 4th path (as defined by Daniel), I still had lots of desire and motivation to progress. I just felt off the ride and centreless/agencyless. It was post-4th practices that shifted things further.


Thanks for the clarification. Somebody should really start tracking these kinds of observations. Otherwise it's like we're just going around cutting wires in our brains with outcomes we don't understand.
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
hi Avi,

I forgot to say, congratulations! Whatever it is that you have achieved, you have achieved something, and, in the culture of pragmatic dharma, it should be celebrated.
Rist Ei, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 500 Join Date: 7/14/13 Recent Posts
Paweł K:

BTW. imho 99% people who claim 4th path on DhO are really 2nd path so its nothing personal emoticon


I agree,
Latest map i saw has 144 levels available on earth. I think if one starting to reach there he sure has a brain what knows most of the details about the path to get there.

edit: im sure there are beings who know whole path but they don't share it, no idea why, mayby later levels we will know why..

edit: ok found an hint from:
http://www.ascendedmasteranswers.com/spiritual-path/free-will/104-why-does-god-allow-lower-spirits-to-exist-and-to-tempt-us-against-our-free-will

So for each of the 144 levels possible on earth, there are certain lower spirits that will give you exactly what seems to justify the illusions that represent that level of consciousness. How do you progress from one level to the next? By coming to see through the illusions that represent your current level.


to Avi good job
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 1330 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Rist Ei:
Latest map i saw has 144 levels available on earth. I think if one starting to reach there he sure has a brain what knows most of the details about the path to get there.
Link?
Rist Ei, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: 4th Path

Posts: 500 Join Date: 7/14/13 Recent Posts
Dream Walker:
Rist Ei:
Latest map i saw has 144 levels available on earth. I think if one starting to reach there he sure has a brain what knows most of the details about the path to get there.
Link?


try searching on google : "144 levels of consciousness"

all sorts off stuff pops out. I think i read it from http://www.transcendencetoolbox.com/en/spiritual-psychology/levels-of-consicousness