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What is the goal, really? [Luke P] [MIGRATE]

What is the goal, really? [Luke P]


Luke P - 2014-04-16 07:46:36 - What is the goal, really?

Hello DO.  Iíve debated a lot whether I should post here or not, but Iím at the point where I need some real information, and this is the only place Iíve found that seems to care about these things.  Iím posting in this forum because the opinions Iíve developed over the last few months are a bit hostile to the whole viewpoint presented by Daniel and the rest of this crew.  (Iíve come to call you all ìType A Buddhistsî hahaÖ  Many people wear that designation with pride, though, so please donít be too offended. emoticon)  I know this is a huge post, and I feel pretty conceited talking about myself so much, but Iím hoping you all can understand.  Iím giving all the gory details because I want solid opinions.  Iíve spent a lot of time over the past four months steeped in doubt and Iíd like to remove it once and for all.

Anyway, Iíll start with a the back-story.  Around July last year I started meditating.  I donít remember exactly what my thought process was at the time, but I can link it to an understanding I came to in the shower on July 4th after watching some fireworks.  Iíve found a few potential names that could apply to it in DO terminology, but the ìno-dogî state seems to work the best.  I called it ìfreedomî at the time.  I know thatís a bit corny, lol, but Iíve always dealt with a lot of anxiety in my life, and Iíve gone through lots of philosophies trying to figure out how to get rid of it.  I called myself a Taoist for a number of years, dabbled with psychology, etc.  Anyway, this was the first time I really felt like I had any control over how I felt.  I realized I was anxious, but it didnít seem to have any real bearing on my mental state.  It was like I was outside of it looking in, or the anxiety was perfectly fine as it was.  Truth is, I became pretty obsessed with it for a while.  It was VERY difficult to access (and still is, really), but I noticed that a kind of complete submission was required.  Obviously this sets up a dilemma: you have to accept the feeling to be free from it.  This actually links up with Taoist thought rather well, so it makes sense that thatís the first real ìinsightî I would have.

Months went by and I was still struggling, but I felt like I was on track to something real for once.  Meditation started out very difficult.  I could hardly sit still, I couldnít watch my breath at all, to be honest Iím not sure why I kept doing it, haha.  Things got easier over time though, and I found a method that I liked.  I wasnít sure it even counted as meditation, but it felt nice enough so I continued with it.  (Basic method was ñ and still is ñ pay attention to different body parts in succession.  Like feet, lower legs, upper legs, etc.  I linked it to the breath at some point, too.)  Eventually I started getting what I called ìdeepî meditation, where my body would go a bit numb and I could sit still without 100 little pains screaming at me.  My mind never went blank, but I noticed there was a foreground and a background of attention, and I could keep the thoughts in the background mostly.  Looking back, this might have been that torpor state that they warn about in Zen, or maybe some kind of Yoga Nidra.  Later in the year I had a few ìvisionsî.  They werenít anything in particular (I saw a jar with stickers in it, lol) and I didnít give them much credence, but it was probably something on the dreaming end of the spectrum.  They were very vivid and realistic, like Iíd opened my eyes for a moment.

Then on New years eve I had A Big Event.  (I know, the timing of these things are kinda fun. ^^)  I was sitting on my couch, again trying to deal with anxiety, and I was able to let go completely into some kind of full-body euphoria.  It lasted for, maybe, ten seconds and afterward I felt a kind of open spacious quality in my chest for the rest of the night.  It was an almost emotionless state.  I felt so relieved.  I just sat there for a few hours doing nothing at all.
 
I hadnít done much research on Buddhism, but I ran into the progress of insight and thought it might have been an A&P experience.  I ran into the DO around that time in my googling, and thatís where my ìepic journey of confusionî began lol.  Nothing in the progress of insight the way itís described in MCTB seemed to match up with my experiences aside from the A&P, and even that just didnít match much at all.  I didnít seem to have any special vision of things arising and passing, I couldnít relate to the three characteristics in any way, all the talk about vibrations seemed like nonsense.  You might say I hated the whole concept of ìvipassana meditationî and threw it out the window fairly early on.  (Sorry guys! :3)

I know the first question youíll all ask is, ìwhat about the dark night?î  Itís hard for me to say though.  Iíve always had a lot of anxiety, even since I was very young, so if anything changed in intensity or duration itís hard to know.  I kept the possibility of it in the back of my mind, though, hoping it would help me understand whether I was doing insight meditation or not.  I had a few experiences that could be related to that, but itís hard to say.

Anyway, I decided in the end that I must have had a jhana experience, and began thinking of my meditation as jhana ñ even though that didnít seem to line up fully either.  When Iíd sat down on the couch to deal with the anxiety, the event had happened very quickly ñ probably within 10 seconds ñ and I couldnít say I was concentrating on anything in particular at the time.  The following days, when I would sit down to meditate, I would focus on letting go, and I would go into the euphoric feelings almost right away.  I tried to force it at first and had problems with my eyes getting so crossed I would see purple black spots, but I quickly discovered it was much easier just to let go.  Sometimes I would hit a state of mind so emotionless that I would simply lay on the floor for hours thinking about how relieved I was.  I felt completely empty and free.  

My thoughts never stopped during meditation, and Iíve never made much real effort to concentrate.  ìJust let goî always was the core principal.  Iím fairly certain that Iíve developed the jhanas up to the 7th at least.  Iíve had a few hints of the 8th recently, maybe.  Itís hard for me to say, though.  Nothing ever seems to match up quite the way itís supposed to.

As you can see, I donít have much to go on with all this.  If I really did have an A&P experience, it wasnít really preceded by the other insight knowledgeís that I can relate to.  I still donít have a clue how a person is supposed to meditate on the three characteristics.  Iíve read about the noting technique, but it felt so clunky when I tried it.  In the first month or two after the big experience I was practicing mindfulness in a very deliberate way and found that, a few hours into the day, I could consistently hit a state where I could remain in an Eckhart Tolle style ìnowî for the nest of the day.  It would be gone when I woke up the next day, though, and it really impacted how much work I was doing (I work from home).  It was definitely a kind of concentration state.

  I had a few things that could have been the dark night, and I seem to have gotten past them.  There was one point where my anxiety had a new quality to it.  It felt a bit like I was going to be sick to my stomach.  I thought that could have been dark night related.  I would hit that state off and on, try to let go, be incapacitated for an hour, then it would flip over completely and Iíd spend the rest of the day in a rather calm and relieved mood.  I figured maybe that was equanimity?  I still didnít understand how any of it related to the three characteristics or the things I was supposed to understand with the insight knowledges.

At this point, thought, I was operating under the assumption that I was following the progress of insight ñ maybe just in a way that ignored some/most of the steps.  I was hitting a state of mind that seemed to line up with ìhigh equanimityî (though I thought this could just be the 4th jhana) and I was getting some interesting phenomena.  One night as I went to sleep I felt like I was inside my skull.  I was moving my jaw and it seemed like it was outside of ìmeî.  I had a feeling of being sucked down a vortex, but nothing seemed to happen with it.  It just kind of stopped at some point.  That had happened to me before while meditating (along with my eyes rapidly flickering back and forth), and I wondered if I was close to a fruition.  I also felt like I was probably deluding myself.

Thatís when another wrench was thrown into the works.  I started hitting a state during the day where it felt like I was living in a jhana.  It was a kind of warm contentment that would just sit in the center of my chest.  It was very different from any of the other things I had felt with meditation, and I linked it to a very specific way of looking at things.  The first time it happened I was sitting on my couch, looking at a plastic cup on the table, and trying to practice mindfulness.  The thought occurred to me that I was trying to see the cup as something special so it would capture my attention, but it really wasnít.  It was just ordinary.  That seemed to trigger something and I looked around at everything and realized how ordinary it all was.  This sounds pretty dumb typing it out, but it seemed like Iíd removed my judgment of things in such a way where Iíd finally found a balance.  This warm glow started, and you could almost call it the ìanti-boredomî and the ìanti-anxietyî.  Equanimity seemed cold and dead in comparison.  I felt like every breath I took wasÖwell, like eating chocolate, haha.  These descriptions are actually the best Iíve come up with.  All I can say is that it had this deeply rooted feeling of contentment attached to it that didnít seem related to anything in particular.  The state would come and go on its own, but it seemed to be linked to letting go, like everything else had.

This is where things really diverged for me.  Iíd been practicing jhana all the time these other things were happening (generally 20-30 minute sit every day), and while I wasnít too certain about the insight knowledges, I was fairly certain about this new state and the jhanas.  It almost seemed like, through mindfulness, the third jhana was becoming a baseline state of mind.  Around this time I started spending a lot of time reading through the sutta pitaka and trying to understand for myself what the Buddha was saying.  I really began to wonder if Theravada (and the DO by extension) was really just something quite different from the original teachings.  Iíve seen many places where Keneth Folk and Daniel talk about enlightenment as the realization of anatta or ìno-self,î but what about nibbana?  What about the ten fetters?  What about transcending all stress and suffering?  I understand how the four paths are supposed to relate to the fruitions, and how things are done in Burmese Buddhism a la the vissudimagga, but that doesnít line up with my readings of the sutta pitaka.  The Buddha seemed, mostly, like a jhana teacher who found a way to bring jhana out of meditation and into everyday living through mindfulness.  The morality teachings and the philosophy all seem to support this idea.  The meaning of Anatta in pali is actually ìnot-mineî and ìnot-Iî, so saying the buddha taught ìno-selfî doesnít make much sense in context as Iíve read it.  There are even a number of suttas where he specifically says those sorts of metaphysical views arenít helpful.

Anyway, I guess the question I have really been burning to ask is, whatís the point of it all in the end?  What will this ìType A Buddhismî ñ Pragmatic Dharma ñ Burmese Theravada bring me in the end if I continue trying to develop it?  I donít doubt that you all have a very real tradition youíre carrying out here, but I just donít understand how it relates to the promises made by the Buddha right in the original texts.  Those of you who are Arahants in this tradition, are you completely free from all stress?  Are you ever angry or sad?  Are you anxious?  If you do still have these problems with your life, why would you recommend anyone follow the same path you have?  Iím being very honest when I say I donít really care about truth or ultimate reality.  I spent a lot of time in my late teens and early twenties ìthinking about the universeî, and Iíve grown mostly disinterested in it.  The ultimate reality Iíve come to like most is the one that has the least explanation. 

So, I guess thatís the point of this post.  Whatís the point?  If Iím close to a fruition for stream entry, and that just means more cycles to go through with a final ending that is basically just a disconnection from my emotions, or that ìno-dogî state, it doesnít seem very worthwhile to me.  My path so far has been focused on the jhanas and mindfulness, and Iíve found a state of mind that really is extraordinary.  Itís not permanent, and it isnít nibbana, but I wonder if it will lead me there ñ or, at the very least, if it can bring me to the baseline of contentment Iíve been searching for.  If that means my destiny is to become a jhana junkie (as Iíve seen it called here), then thatís fine, because Iíve seen it actually work.  Thatís the spirit of pragmatic dharma, isnít it?  Do what works to reach the goal you want. 

I donít mean these questions as an attack, either.  I know you all put in a lot of hard work and have a great deal of conviction in what youíre doing.  If you believe I can reach my goal by following your path, please feel free to offer guidance.  Iím still completely unsure if Iím even lining up with your practices at all.  I really do feel like Iím at a crossroads, though, and Iím very open to whatever you all have to say.

If youíve taken the time to read all this, thank you for listening. :3

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katy steger - 2014-04-16 08:29:57 - RE: What is the goal, really?

I donít mean these questions as an attack, either. I know you all put in a lot of hard work and have a great deal of conviction in what youíre doing. If you believe I can reach my goal by following your path, please feel free to offer guidance. Iím still completely unsure if Iím even lining up with your practices at all. I really do feel like Iím at a crossroads, though, and Iím very open to whatever you all have to say.
I think it's fine to ask "as an attack" and...
Iíve debated a lot whether I should post here or not, but Iím at the point where I need some real information, and this is the only place Iíve found that seems to care about these things. Iím posting in this forum because the opinions Iíve developed over the last few months are a bit hostile to the whole viewpoint presented by Daniel and the rest of this crew. (Iíve come to call you all ìType A Buddhistsî hahaÖ Many people wear that designation with pride, though, so please donít be too offended.


To me, a lot of times "attack" voicing is looking for "How stable is their practice? What are they saying? What gratification/rewards are they getting from saying/writing that? Is this a community of nuts or are they doing something useful and should I try doing this as, by and for myself?" I mean, really, there's no actual attack here, just some debate and affective provocation. "Attack" voicing also lets me know where I/you stand emotionally, reflects on the user . When I exhibit it or someone else does, I at least know there's some sincere affective core there and that sincere core of digging can be applied to so-called good practice: sincere diligence.

So, I guess thatís the point of this post. Whatís the point? If Iím close to a fruition for stream entry, and that just means more cycles to go through with a final ending that is basically just a disconnection from my emotions, or that ìno-dogî state, it doesnít seem very worthwhile to me. My path so far has been focused on the jhanas and mindfulness, and Iíve found a state of mind that really is extraordinary. Itís not permanent, and it isnít nibbana, but I wonder if it will lead me there ñ or, at the very least, if it can bring me to the baseline of contentment Iíve been searching for. If that means my destiny is to become a jhana junkie (as Iíve seen it called here), then thatís fine, because Iíve seen it actually work. Thatís the spirit of pragmatic dharma, isnít it? Do what works to reach the goal you want.
Frankly, Luke, to me your post is so useful. I hope you keep doing what you're doing. 

Practical reply, based on my limited experience:
1. Someone leaving anxiety terrain and entering LOW equanimity (as in: "I was hitting a state of mind that seemed to line up with ìhigh equanimityî (though I thought this could just be the 4th jhana), ") and  where deep body comfort and interesting daily perception is increasingly showing up, as in how you felt "I felt like every breath I took wasÖwell, like eating chocolate, haha" and "Equanimity seemed cold and dead in comparison." (To me, "cold" EQ is low EQ, but it feels great after years of anxiety-dwelling, for example; and 4th jhana is amazingly warm, intimate almost, at its purest doesn't move preferentially, but can enter "formless" mental perception and can have a lot movement/proprioceptive sensations). I feel that it is perfectly natural that one follows this and both wants more jhana while cautioning themselves about becoming a spewing "jhana junkie"; and...

2. ...because nibbana is sort of an unknown treat hanging out on the horizon, the thought of which can diminish when a person's brain begins to hunger for more sensation related to unified, content/bliss mind (jhanic mental states and afterglows) it's also becomes totally natural to stop thinking of nibbana; obviously, now one is becoming happy with own-life after, say, years of own-anxiety. So "jhana junkie" is natural and enjoying life becomes more common, anxiety starts to lessen its impact. (This can take years). I think morality naturally arises, too, even in the new pleasures of living. It's like the brain got a perfect pizza (jhanas), is learning how to access that pizza again and again, and so it starts to forget about the famed 'banana split sundae' (nibbana exposure);

3. Yet when jhanas become known as conditioned states (pizza gets familiar, less exciting) with valuable but not reliable sorts of mental relief, one naturally begins to remember and take up sincere interest in the 'banana split sundae' chatter again ("What's nibbana? What are they all talking about in the ancient texts and these blow-hard posters?...") and goes naturally back to that pursuit, which as you already know and, in your words, 
ìJust let goî always was the core principal."

Welcome to the DhO.

_____EDIT____
If you believe I can reach my goal by following your path, please feel free to offer guidance. Iím still completely unsure if Iím even lining up with your practices at all. I really do feel like Iím at a crossroads, though, and Iím very open to whatever you all have to say.
No way. Read about it, ask about it, attend some retreat if you're piqued, but I hope you never give up your own compass and exploration. You're gonna die your death, not mine, so I hope you keep very curious and open and testing and investigating for yourself. With own sincere practice it's possible to find good friends and "a one great answering practice", if you will, of someone else's is not so relevant or seems a little funny as an outset position. But I like that this study is said to be "sanditthiko (here and now), akaliko (timeless, not suited to just an era), ehipassiko (put forth effort and see for oneself)  opanayiko (leading inwards, calm) paccattam veditabbo vinnuhi (can only be known through direct experience)",

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Florian Weps - 2014-04-16 12:00:55 - RE: What is the goal, really?

Hi Not Tao,

nice post!

My answer to what I understand your question to be:

Anyway, I guess the question I have really been burning to ask is, whatís the point of it all in the end? What will this ìType A Buddhismî ñ Pragmatic Dharma ñ Burmese Theravada bring me in the end if I continue trying to develop it? I donít doubt that you all have a very real tradition youíre carrying out here, but I just donít understand how it relates to the promises made by the Buddha right in the original texts.


Me, I'm not interested in carrying out a tradition. Rather, that which is expressed in the religious traditions, and which also has other expressions which are not religious or spiritual, is what I'm interested in - that which the Buddhists call "Dharma".

The Theravada expression of the Dharma is, to my present understanding, very much spot-on, in the areas which it covers. There are areas which it (i.e. Theravada) only lightly touches on, which is fine by me.

Am I coming across coherently? Blind men and the Elephant, handful of leaves, is what I'm trying to say.

As to "in the end" - I don't know, I'm not dead yet.

Those of you who are Arahants in this tradition, are you completely free from all stress? Are you ever angry or sad? Are you anxious? If you do still have these problems with your life, why would you recommend anyone follow the same path you have?


I'm not claiming arahatta. I have had profound shifts take place in my life, outlook, understanding, and overall experience, which may or may not line up with some of the traditional milestones.

I get angry and sad, I get stressed. It is painful when I hurt my body. I need food, shelter, medicine, clothing, love, consideration, attention and so on for my physical and emotional well-being.

One of the profound changes was when I saw/understood/experienced/whatever that these needs are universal, not my own, not me, not my defining characteristics.

That doesn't make these needs go away, or diminish them. The change concerned me, not these conditions.

I don't know about recommending my path. It didn't get me anything, though it changed me undeniably, and I recommend that change. Whatever it takes for you to get here, I'd highly recommend. Whatever floats your raft.

Iím being very honest when I say I donít really care about truth or ultimate reality. I spent a lot of time in my late teens and early twenties ìthinking about the universeî, and Iíve grown mostly disinterested in it. The ultimate reality Iíve come to like most is the one that has the least explanation.


Yeah. Reality does have this "in your face" quality.

Cheers,
Florian

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Not Tao - 2014-04-17 17:26:03 - RE: What is the goal, really?

Thank you both for taking the time to read all this, haha.  I think just typing it all out helped me quite a lot, but you guys have given me a lot to think about.

Katy, your post helped me realize that all my confusion was probably coming from trying to fit my meditation experiences into a box where they just wouldn't fit.  Pointing out to me my own method - "just let go" - helped me dislodge myself from the mud I've been stuck it (the same mud that probably caused me to write this novel in the first place).  I never considered that the warm/comfortable state could be high equanimity, but after chasing in for the last few days with poor results, simply letting go brought me back.  I think the main pit I keep falling into is clinging to peace that arrives through non-clinging.  I try to have a bit of compassion for my poor anxiety-soaked mind, but once in a while we need to crack the whips, right? Lol...  It helps me to remind myself that the peace is the letting go, not the result of letting go.  One doesn't follow the other, they're the same thing.

I think this old thread has also helped me a great deal.  I've run into Ajan Chah's stuff around the internet and always felt a connection to the methods he talked about:

http://jaytek.net/KFD/KFDForumOld/kennethfolkdharma.wetpaint.com/thread/4402183/Mahasi%2band%2bChah7fa4.html?offset=0&maxResults=20

I wonder if these differences could be related to which of the three characteristics a person understands best.  Noting is probably most conducive to understanding impermanence, and letting go is obviously oriented towards suffering.  Kenneth Folk talks about self-questioning as a method as well - "who/what am I" type questions - which would relate directly to anatta.

Am I coming across coherently? Blind men and the Elephant, handful of leaves, is what I'm trying to say.


From this I take it that you're most interested in understanding truth or reality?  The main thing I was asking about in reference to "in the end" was, what is enlightenment, not necessarily death.  If pragmatic dharma only leads to understanding and there is still suffering, I don't see it as very helpful for what I'm looking for - though I can understand the draw.  I've spent a lot of time looking for truth in the past.  Are you able to explain the profound shifts you've had in an experiential way related to how you feel?  What has it meant for you in daily life?  That's mostly what would help me right now, I think.

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katy steger - 2014-04-18 02:21:42 - RE: What is the goal, really?

my own method - "just let go" - helped me dislodge myself from the mud I've been stuck it (the same mud that probably caused me to write this novel in the first place). I never considered that the warm/comfortable state could be high equanimity, but after chasing in for the last few days with poor results, simply letting go brought me back. I think the main pit I keep falling into is clinging to peace that arrives through non-clinging. I try to have a bit of compassion for my poor anxiety-soaked mind, but once in a while we need to crack the whips, right? Lol... It helps me to remind myself that the peace is the letting go, not the result of letting go. One doesn't follow the other, they're the same thing.
Awesome. 

If a useful analogy or comparison can be made to a physical hobby, I think a lot of people can relate to the tension of "trying too hard" ~ when one adds a lot of extra action to an activity they were doing. So, like you said, there's letting go, but occasional "cracking the whip" if one is become too lax.

 
If pragmatic dharma only leads to understanding and there is still suffering, I don't see it as very helpful for what I'm looking for - though I can understand the draw. I've spent a lot of time looking for truth in the past. Are you able to explain the profound shifts you've had in an experiential way related to how you feel? What has it meant for you in daily life? That's mostly what would help me right now, I think.
No, good lord, no, this practice is not just about knowing "there is still suffering". There are a lot of translators who don't even like to use this word, "suffering". I just heard the scholar-meditative monk Analayo insist that dukkha does not mean "suffering". 
To me, "dukkha" means things are conditioned and therefore there is no reliable place in conditioned things. What is the condition? Constant cause and effect. Basically: all conditioned things change and they are changed by related causes. Aka: interbeing, contingent identities, dependent origination.

So if a person is born into  good life then they may really love changes as novelties, but even one born into a perfect life faces death, if not also old age and sickness of themselves or their loved ones. 

So to me, this practice is about coming to know the mind that seeks a reliable place for its dwelling. And as there is no place without ever-changing conditioning, as far as I can directly tell for myself, then this requires I look at that which wants a reliable condition in the first place: this mind, this self-reflective consciousness. 

There is nothing special about this. It is like if my new dog would ask himself, "I circle around a lot before I lay down, yet still the bedding is not perfect. Or what was perfect five minutes ago is now far from perfect!" And he goes off for three decades in search of canine bedding schools and gurus. One day, he's fed up paying bones and biscuits, and he says, "Dammit, I'm just gonna lay here in this unreliable bed until I know why my mind seeks a reliable bed in the first place."

What has it meant for you in daily life?
I'm looking forward to reading Florian's answer. For me, it means I know I'm alive, that I'm gonna die in any moment and so I am living. There's generally more enjoyment in this being alive. Also, due to meditation, the scope of "What is being alive/conscious/I?" is very broad and curious. Naturally, this changes also what "I want in life", how I experience life and others: again, interbeing, aka: contingent identity, cause and effect... what goes around comes back around... golden rule... And there's less fundamental "Holy shit, how (well) am I gonna survive!!" I'm not. Neither are you. No one. It's now, "How am 'I' actually living," being aware of its cause-and-effect and one's nature as something conditioned by causality, too. What is the restlessness when this is seen through? What is fear when its known as natural to a living being? It's just natural fear of death and misery in self and others. What is wisdom? Detecting cause and effect in anything and understanding how can this "I" ~ a derivative social species~ feel well or why it may not? What can one do with the hobby? There are certainly other hobbies to follow. I like this one, sitting and learning about mind via a simple activity: sitting, breathing.

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Florian Weps - 2014-04-18 17:20:27 - RE: What is the goal, really?

Not Tao:
From this I take it that you're most interested in understanding truth or reality?  The main thing I was asking about in reference to "in the end" was, what is enlightenment, not necessarily death.  If pragmatic dharma only leads to understanding and there is still suffering, I don't see it as very helpful for what I'm looking for - though I can understand the draw.  I've spent a lot of time looking for truth in the past.  Are you able to explain the profound shifts you've had in an experiential way related to how you feel?  What has it meant for you in daily life?  That's mostly what would help me right now, I think.


The reference to the blind men and the elephant, and the simile of the handful of leaves, was not about understanding but about expression. I see the Dharma expressed in the ducks swimming on the canal a few streets away just as much as it is expressed in MN 111 or in the presence of a good friend. To expect it to be expressed only in ancient texts or in certain practices or places is ultimately selective and limiting (though depending on the situation, probably as good a place to start as any), like picking up a handful of leaves off the forest floor, or groping at an elephant's ear and claiming it to be the whole of the elephant and nothing but the elephant. Or saying that Facebook is the internet. Or something like that.

My definition of enlightenment is "not fooling myself". I like it because it keeps me on my toes. It doesn't have to work for everybody.

Truth and reality are that which do not require me to fool myself. There is not much to understand about that. Death is a nice example: there's nothing much to understand about death, but there is a huge amount of delusion ("fooling myself") surrounding the truth and reality of death. So enlightenment and death are closely related. Many traditions reflect this in their mythologies, including Theravada and Pragmatic/Hardcore Dharma.

The two big shifts which I discern looking back were: first, when I could not find my core self and realized that it was not hiding, but just not there; and later, when my heart was released from tight constraints which had limited the emotions I would allow.

The first shift was a freeing of my mind: it had been bound to the assumption that it had a core or center, a little controller mini-Florian sitting at the controls and keeping an eye on the CCTV. In terms of feeling, the loss of this fantasy about a center was a lot like zooming out or falling backward, more panoramic, less limited and limiting. This is a description of how it feels, not how it looks, despite the visual metaphor.

The second shift was a freeing of my heart: it had been shut away out of shame and fear regarding certain emotions, and once let out of the little box I had hidden it away in, it started unfolding, un-cramping, and developing. It is a receptor for emotions, and it will pick up happiness and sadness, joy and anger and so on, pain and grief and gratitude and love and compassion.

Both shifts were confusing at first, especially the second one, which I had not anticipated at all. It is this second shift which I currently understand to be most closely related to the "training is morality" which is so important in the Theravada teachings, and in hardcore Dharma. I also find it accurately described in big portions of the "Perfection of Wisdom" Sutra (8000 verse version), and in other ancient texts, and in what many people I respect, religious or not, say and, more importantly, do. This ties into your question about daily life - figuring out how to live life with my family and friends, harmlessly and happily to borrow a phrase I find very apt, is just this training is morality.

Well, that was a bit preachy and more than a little poetic. I still hope I was coherent, and if not, please ask.

Cheers,
Fllorian

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Not Tao - 2014-04-20 11:45:14 - RE: What is the goal, really?

Thank you guys for your answers.  It's funny since I JUST posted this, but katy you were probably right about that mind state I was talking about being high equanimity.  I think I may have gotten SE.  I posted a thread about it:

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5440252

...In terms of feeling, the loss of this fantasy about a center was a lot like zooming out or falling backward, more panoramic, less limited and limiting. This is a description of how it feels, not how it looks, despite the visual metaphor.


This seems to be what it felt like after the event I posted in that other thread!  It's not my waking experience right now, though, so it didn't really last for me.  I suppose I can remember what it felt like, though.

The second shift was a freeing of my heart: it had been shut away out of shame and fear regarding certain emotions, and once let out of the little box I had hidden it away in, it started unfolding, un-cramping, and developing. It is a receptor for emotions, and it will pick up happiness and sadness, joy and anger and so on, pain and grief and gratitude and love and compassion.


This sounds very similar to what happened after that blissful experience that happened around new years for me.  It also didn't last, but I've worked on a lot of my "stuff" and it seems like it's very reduced now.  A warm, open heart feeling is what I was trying to describe as the new contented feeling that's normalizing for me in day-to-day life.

Do you think that your first shift was directly related to the second, or is it something that could have happened in a different order for you?  Where do you think it's all leading?  Maybe you can't know, since you were surprised by the second shift...

-------------------

Adam Dietrich Ringle - 2014-04-20 13:38:03 - RE: What is the goal, really?

If your a christian, the goal is resurrection with christ and ascend.

Buddhists want to become extinct. I am not sure if I am being smart or not.

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Psi Phi - 2014-04-20 13:56:20 - RE: What is the goal, really?

Adam Dietrich Ringle:
If your a christian, the goal is resurrection with christ and ascend.

Buddhists want to become extinct. I am not sure if I am being smart or not.


Greetings Adam,

From my view a true Christian seeks purity of heart and mind, follows the teachings of Jesus, which was to love everyone with a limitless and unconditional love, to be perfect even as the Father in heaven was perfect, and to stop sinning here and now, no excuses!

From my view, a true Buddhist does not want to become extinct, wanting anything is a form of craving, either wishing for something that is good, or wishing for something bad to go away.  Either form of wishful thinking is a delusion, for regardless of wishes reality will always be just as it is.  

So, from my view, resurrection and extinction are both wishes, and both delusions not supported by the facts of reality.  

Peace,

Psi Phi

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Florian Weps - 2014-04-20 20:13:01 - RE: What is the goal, really?

Not Tao:
This sounds very similar to what happened after that blissful experience that happened around new years for me.  It also didn't last, but I've worked on a lot of my "stuff" and it seems like it's very reduced now.  A warm, open heart feeling is what I was trying to describe as the new contented feeling that's normalizing for me in day-to-day life.


Nice! The contentment and warmth are great. There are a lot of emotions, not all of them feel nice, but all of them are real emotions, none of them last forever, and they are not a problem, though for me, it took a lot of development to get to where they are no problem.

Do you think that your first shift was directly related to the second, or is it something that could have happened in a different order for you?  Where do you think it's all leading?  Maybe you can't know, since you were surprised by the second shift...


Just guessing about the order - generally, it could happen either way, or even only one of them could occur, or none at all. And maybe I will be surprised again and again. emoticon

Where is this leading? Answering facetiously: nowhere, I'm here, it's now... emoticon Seriously, I don't know, but I'm looking forward to finding out. And while I feel certain things are done and over with, such as the core of being thing, there is a lot of work to be done all the time, and doing it makes me better at it.

Oh, and congratulations on whatever it was you achieved there. Sounds good, keep on moving!

Cheers,
Florian

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Florian Weps - 2014-04-20 20:27:26 - RE: What is the goal, really?

Adam Dietrich Ringle:
If your a christian, the goal is resurrection with christ and ascend.


Depending on the sect/school/church, that can also be found in Buddhism, e.g. the Pure Land school.

Then there is the Christian teaching on finding, seeing, or inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven, which is said to be within and at hand, but certainly not limited to one place.

Buddhists want to become extinct.


No, craving for extinction, while some Buddhists probably want that, was ruled out by the Buddha, who called it "vibhava tanha", and categorized it as just more of the same old craving, which is to be abandoned.

Cheers,
Florian

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C C C - 2014-04-23 11:03:23 - RE: What is the goal, really?

The goal is to end suffering, but no one on this website has done that so as usual we have the blind leading the blind.  How typical of the dharma overground.    I think a lot of people are liars on this website.  In one breath, they lie about how much meditation has improved their lives.  In the next breath, "oh no meditation won't help anxiety or depression".  I hate liars - they make my blood boil.

I think what I'm beginning to realize about people in general is that they are bullshit artists.  People don't like the fact that life's a bitch, and they conjure up all these fairy tales about how things can be changed for the better.  Life is a goddamned mother fucking bitch, and there's not a goddamn thing that can be done about it.  Who has the guts to face the truth?  

No.... it's nicer to continue dreaming about the fairy tale that strangely, no one has actually realized.  Hmmm, strange isn't it?  What a sucker I was.

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Change A. - 2014-04-23 13:34:07 - RE: What is the goal, really?

Meditation has improved my life. Meditation has helped me with anxiety and depression.

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. Jake . - 2014-04-23 14:56:55 - RE: What is the goal, really?

Me too, no doubt.

The role of rumination in perpetuating negative mindstates is huge. Meditation and awakening have in my experience had a powerful impact on this tendency (basically a form of prapanca)  thus cutting way down on one of the key mind-functions that perpetuates negative mindstates and behaviors.  

Seeing more clearly how mind works in real-time (rather than having a theoretical understanding) has directly impacted my capacity to have a positive attitude, which is hugely signifcant for being functional and relaxed and succesful in life. 

Meditation and awakening have revealed a source of innate well-being which becomes easier and easier to access/appreciate in the flow of life's activities which translates to greater resilience and interpersonal autonomy (as the tendency to enter into codependant relationships of various kinds has reduced markedly). 

Life isn't perfect; life includes very challenging experiences without doubt. I've been through many difficult times and no doubt will again. And no matter how well I navigate my way through all thr beauty, sadness, joy, loss, success, failure etc of this life I know that all my loved ones and possessions and everything else will be taken away at the end, and I know that I don't know what is on the other side of that mysterious point, and depending on what it is or isn't, I may well never know. That's the same with or without the path; meditation and awakening don't alter our fundamental condition and existential circumstances, they give us deeper access to the process of experiencing them though.

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Florian Weps - 2014-04-23 14:57:08 - RE: What is the goal, really?

C C C:
I think what I'm beginning to realize about people in general is that they are bullshit artists.  People don't like the fact that life's a bitch, and they conjure up all these fairy tales about how things can be changed for the better.  Life is a goddamned mother fucking bitch, and there's not a goddamn thing that can be done about it.  Who has the guts to face the truth?  

No.... it's nicer to continue dreaming about the fairy tale that strangely, no one has actually realized.  Hmmm, strange isn't it?  What a sucker I was.


That's it? Why not use the energy of your anger to actually get to the bottom of this all? "What a sucker I was" is kind of a lame cop-out.

Cheers,
Florian

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Pawe? K - 2014-04-23 16:34:25 - RE: What is the goal, really?

if you really practiced you should know that meditation trigger something similar to bipolar syndrome wiki so people will sometimes say things like mediation is cure for depression and other times will doubt that mediation is all that great

normally without meditation over time manic episodes gets shorter over time and depression longer. With meditation it is usually reverse, bliss times lengthen and crap times get less and less.

isn't that like a very good deal?

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James Yen - 2014-04-23 18:21:03 - RE: What is the goal, really?

C C C:
The goal is to end suffering, but no one on this website has done that so as usual we have the blind leading the blind.  How typical of the dharma overground.    I think a lot of people are liars on this website.  In one breath, they lie about how much meditation has improved their lives.  In the next breath, "oh no meditation won't help anxiety or depression".  I hate liars - they make my blood boil.

I think what I'm beginning to realize about people in general is that they are bullshit artists.  People don't like the fact that life's a bitch, and they conjure up all these fairy tales about how things can be changed for the better.  Life is a goddamned mother fucking bitch, and there's not a goddamn thing that can be done about it.  Who has the guts to face the truth?  

No.... it's nicer to continue dreaming about the fairy tale that strangely, no one has actually realized.  Hmmm, strange isn't it?  What a sucker I was.


CCC,

The problem with the stance you have is that you have nowhere to go. Sure you want the truth, but if you don't know 
what the truth is how can you find it?

You want to shut everything down so that the only thing left is what is real. But you can never reach the truth 
through this method.

You have to try. You have to be sincere, sincerity is truth.

Not cynicism, cynicism is lying.

I think what I'm beginning to realize about people in general is that they are bullshit artists.  People don't like the fact that life is awesome, and they conjure up all these fairy tales about how things have changed for the worse..  Life is mother fucking awesome, and there's not a goddamn thing that can be done about it.  Who has the guts to face the truth?


You see my point?

They tell me Christians don't see, they are deluded, but has God not made foolish the wisdom of the world?

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Not Tao - 2014-04-23 23:18:42 - RE: What is the goal, really?

Hey guys, thank you for the input.  I do understand the benefits of meditation, especially the jhanas and mindfulness as I've seen how they have changed my life dramatically in a very short period of time.  I don't see what the point of the Mahasi/MCTB/Theravada path is, though.  It mostly seems focused on creating the mental frame, or mindset, of a non-centerd perspective and a lack of a cohesive whole, or a "self".  What does that have to do with Buddhism generally and stress, or suffering, specifically?  I'm not very interested in universal truths, so is simply becoming a "blissed out jhana junkie" a better goal for me to set?

I've seen some pretty vitriolic posts on this forum, especially concerning Jhanananda, and while I don't really think he's practicing Buddhism or jhana, really, I feel like the general consensus (both here and on the internet as a whole) is that jhana is a trap or a dead end, or, at best, a nice way to relax.  This always kind of disappointed me, because after all the success I've seen with my practices, it seems like no-one else seems to see the same value I have - even people who claim to have mastered the jhanas, like some of you here.  I'm willing to admit I could be mistaken in thinking the jhanas and mindfulness will take me all the way to my goal, but at this point it will take a great deal of convincing.  This is what I was hoping someone could do - explain the Mahasi/MCTB/Theravada practices in a way that's cohesive and leads to the end of stress and suffering.  Daniel's book didn't really do this.

The goal is to end suffering, but no one on this website has done that so as usual we have the blind leading the blind. How typical of the dharma overground. I think a lot of people are liars on this website. In one breath, they lie about how much meditation has improved their lives. In the next breath, "oh no meditation won't help anxiety or depression". I hate liars - they make my blood boil.

I think what I'm beginning to realize about people in general is that they are bullshit artists. People don't like the fact that life's a bitch, and they conjure up all these fairy tales about how things can be changed for the better. Life is a goddamned mother fucking bitch, and there's not a goddamn thing that can be done about it. Who has the guts to face the truth?

No.... it's nicer to continue dreaming about the fairy tale that strangely, no one has actually realized. Hmmm, strange isn't it? What a sucker I was.


This is essentially what I'm talking about, but I don't want to offend anyone so I spew a lot more words hoping enough of them are nice.  Jhana meditation and mindfulness centered on "letting go" and the development of equanimity really has greatly reduced my stress and anxiety in just four months.  I can conceive of a future - maybe not too far off - where they would be completely gone.  It feels like a direct path, to me.

-------------------

James Yen - 2014-04-23 23:42:27 - RE: What is the goal, really?

Not Tao,

I can independently verify that jhanas are the path to Awakening, and are Awakening if they are realized with wisdom.

The Buddha once said: "Samadhi is the path, no samadhi is the bad path."

And this is entirely true, his criticism of the Niganthas was that they (among a host of other things) did not practice jhana.

I wish you well on your path and hope that you come back with even better news in the future.

Sincerely,

James

Edit:

I'm not Awakened, just clarifying that because it sounded like I was saying that I was.

Rather I have touched jhana with my body, I know the heartwood. I am a sekha.

An especially pertinent quote for you:

Therefore, Ananda, you should live as islands unto yourselves, being your own refuge, with
no one else as your refuge, with the Dharma as an island, with the Dharma as your refuge, with no
other refuge. And how does a monk live as an island unto himselfÖ.with no other refuge?

    Here, Ananda, a monk abides contemplating a body in the body, earnestly, clearly aware,
mindful and having put away all covetousness and discontent for the world, and likewise with
regard to feelings, mind and dharmas. That, monks, is how a monk lives as an island unto
himselfÖwith no other refuge.

    And those who now in my time or afterwards live thus, they will become the highest, but they
must be anxious to learn.


http://dharmafarer.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/d22-Mahasatipatthana-S-tltr-piya_111203.pdf

But I agree with you that the tradition, represented as Theravada, especially the Burmese Vipassana.

Is more or less barren.

Peace,

James

-------------------

Florian Weps - 2014-04-24 14:58:18 - RE: What is the goal, really?

Not Tao:
(the point of the Mahasi/MCTB/Theravada path) mostly seems focused on creating the mental frame, or mindset, of a non-centerd perspective and a lack of a cohesive whole, or a "self".


No, creating some delusion and then entering it and living in it only makes people miserable (aka "makes people suffer").

What does that have to do with Buddhism generally and stress, or suffering, specifically?


Letting go of / leaving such delusions (abandoning the desire for these delusions to be true, "abandoning the second noble truth") is what it has to do with Buddhist doctrine.

I'm not very interested in universal truths...


Hmmm... but the central doctrine of Buddhism is formulated in the form of four universal truths.

... so is simply becoming a "blissed out jhana junkie" a better goal for me to set?

I've seen some pretty vitriolic posts on this forum, especially concerning Jhanananda, and while I don't really think he's practicing Buddhism or jhana, really, I feel like the general consensus (both here and on the internet as a whole) is that jhana is a trap or a dead end, or, at best, a nice way to relax.


Jeffrey/Jhanananda actually discussed jhana here on the DhO. I think he's quite the Jhana master. I also think he's not into DhO type mapping and measuring of stages. There were a few personality clashes between him and DhOers.

Jhana meditation and mindfulness centered on "letting go" and the development of equanimity really has greatly reduced my stress and anxiety in just four months.  I can conceive of a future - maybe not too far off - where they would be completely gone.  It feels like a direct path, to me.


In order to let go of stuff, you have to get to know it first / make some realization about it first. What if not insight do you think this "getting to know / realize it" is?

Cheers,
Florian

-------------------

Not Tao - 2014-04-24 17:42:08 - RE: What is the goal, really?

Jeffrey/Jhanananda actually discussed jhana here on the DhO. I think he's quite the Jhana master. I also think he's not into DhO type mapping and measuring of stages. There were a few personality clashes between him and DhOers.


That was actually the thread I was referring to.  He took quite a beating there, haha.

I've read some descriptions of what he talks about as jhana, and it doesn't seem to line up with the suttas or my own experiences.  For example, he talks about random involuntary movements, seeing visions of "beings of light", charismatic sounds like ringing ears and ocean waves, astral travel, ect.  This is all characteristic of lucid dreaming and OBEs.  I've done some experimenting with Wake Induced Lucid Dreaming and I've encountered these kinds of things while the body relaxes and goes out of focus.  I think there are two directions you can go in meditation, one is down toward the sleep end - yoga nidra and WILDs, and the other is upward toward mental unification and Jhana.  I've been interested in this idea for a while, so forgive me for the side track, haha.  It'd be interesting to hear Jhanananda's take on it.  Perhaps he practices both ends of the spectrum.

No, creating some delusion and then entering it and living in it only makes people miserable (aka "makes people suffer").


I try to avoid labeling things as delusional or not, because, end of the day, how can you know what is a delusion and what isn't?  I also wasn't implying that "no-self" is a delusion.  I'm saying that following the Burmese methods yield a specific state of mind that seems to stick around for people.  This state of mind is characterized by the distinct and confident feeling that there is "no one home".  I can't make the connection between this state of mind and the lack of suffering.  This is what I mean when I say I don't care about truth.  I can't see any way where I'd be satisfied that anything I found was "true" anyway, so I'm only interested in the distinct mental experience itself, how easy it is to maintain (should be effortless in the end), and how it relates to negative feelings and stress.

I've made some progress in my thoughts about these things, though.  The reason I've had trouble understanding these methodologies is because I've been practicing in a way that's very close to the actual freedom stuff.  Daniel pointed out in a thread that these concepts don't really go together with vipassana, and that's been suggested by other people as well.  It's interesting to me that the AF practitioners are saying that the ending state created by AF is also "no-self", but their descriptions seem to be referring to an ego of some kind disappearing into the present moment rather than a dissociative condition where stressful emotions are simply seen as having no agent.  This makes more sense from a practical perspective, because I've already experienced the truth of that sort of mind-state.  In any case, anything that changes in my reading of the reality of the "self" would be a side effect of achieving a lack of stress and suffering, rather than the goal.

Hmmm... but the central doctrine of Buddhism is formulated in the form of four universal truths.


All I can say is that they apply to my situation and have helped me understand how to deal with stress.  Their "truth" isn't very important.  I tend to stay at the sensory level these days.  I just want to get rid of stress and suffering - I really have no other goals with these practices.  I'm not a spiritual person or a philosopher.

In order to let go of stuff, you have to get to know it first / make some realization about it first. What if not insight do you think this "getting to know / realize it" is?


The main thing I do is search for clinging and attempt to let go of it.  Doing this shows me how negative feelings don't have a great deal of power unless you give it to them.  This doesn't take much thought or understanding, apart from seeing that there is something I'm attached to, and that attachment has caused stress.  By letting go of any desire to change the feeling or my situation, I can actively ignore it and it dissipates quickly on its own.  This also helps me take it less seriously the next time it arises.  This could be called insight, but not in the way vipassana seems to work.  I see the three characteristics as a philosophical construct to understand why clinging creates stress - not a description of all of reality.  Once you understand how it works, I don't think you need to actively describe your experience through that lense to be liberated from stress, you simply watch for clinging.  Noting may help remove clinging through dissociation, but that also seems to end up being the ultimate result.  A fourth pather doesn't cling, but they also haven't made any attempt to change the patterns that lead to the arising of negativity, so it still arises.  (This is speculation on my part, of course, based on what I've been reading while trying to understand what the goals of this practice really are.)

-------------------

Florian Weps - 2014-04-24 20:41:51 - RE: What is the goal, really?

Not Tao:
No, creating some delusion and then entering it and living in it only makes people miserable (aka "makes people suffer").


I try to avoid labeling things as delusional or not, because, end of the day, how can you know what is a delusion and what isn't?


If it requires that I fool myself, it's delusion.

I also wasn't implying that "no-self" is a delusion.  I'm saying that following the Burmese methods yield a specific state of mind that seems to stick around for people.  This state of mind is characterized by the distinct and confident feeling that there is "no one home".


Sounds like fooling oneself into believing that there is no one home, in other words.

That's why I said that creating such a delusion and then inhabiting it just makes whoever does that miserable.

I can't make the connection between this state of mind and the lack of suffering.


Good.

This is what I mean when I say I don't care about truth.  I can't see any way where I'd be satisfied that anything I found was "true" anyway, so I'm only interested in the distinct mental experience itself, how easy it is to maintain (should be effortless in the end), and how it relates to negative feelings and stress.


You've just described your interest in the four noble truths.

If the T-word bothers you, that's ok. It's just a word.

I've made some progress in my thoughts about these things, though.  The reason I've had trouble understanding these methodologies is because I've been practicing in a way that's very close to the actual freedom stuff.  Daniel pointed out in a thread that these concepts don't really go together with vipassana, and that's been suggested by other people as well.  It's interesting to me that the AF practitioners are saying that the ending state created by AF is also "no-self", but their descriptions seem to be referring to an ego of some kind disappearing into the present moment rather than a dissociative condition where stressful emotions are simply seen as having no agent.  This makes more sense from a practical perspective, because I've already experienced the truth of that sort of mind-state.  In any case, anything that changes in my reading of the reality of the "self" would be a side effect of achieving a lack of stress and suffering, rather than the goal.


Yes, well, goals are tricky beasts. MCTB has a great chapter on dealing with goals skillfully. 

All I can say is that they apply to my situation and have helped me understand how to deal with stress.  Their "truth" isn't very important.  I tend to stay at the sensory level these days.  I just want to get rid of stress and suffering - I really have no other goals with these practices.  I'm not a spiritual person or a philosopher.


That's ok. No need to strike any pose, if you don't want to.

Incidentally, the Buddha is quoted as saying he taught only suffering and the end of suffering.

In order to let go of stuff, you have to get to know it first / make some realization about it first. What if not insight do you think this "getting to know / realize it" is?


The main thing I do is search for clinging and attempt to let go of it.  Doing this shows me how negative feelings don't have a great deal of power unless you give it to them.  This doesn't take much thought or understanding, apart from seeing that there is something I'm attached to, and that attachment has caused stress.  By letting go of any desire to change the feeling or my situation, I can actively ignore it and it dissipates quickly on its own.  This also helps me take it less seriously the next time it arises.  This could be called insight, but not in the way vipassana seems to work.


Why not? Sounds like it, anyway.

That word, "actively ignore" - probably you mean something else by it than I do. Ignoring stuff is dangerous. What you describe sounds a lot like "Right Effort" in Buddhist terms, though.

I see the three characteristics as a philosophical construct to understand why clinging creates stress - not a description of all of reality.  Once you understand how it works, I don't think you need to actively describe your experience through that lense to be liberated from stress, you simply watch for clinging.  Noting may help remove clinging through dissociation, but that also seems to end up being the ultimate result.  A fourth pather doesn't cling, but they also haven't made any attempt to change the patterns that lead to the arising of negativity, so it still arises.  (This is speculation on my part, of course, based on what I've been reading while trying to understand what the goals of this practice really are.)


For one not interested in goals (other than sensing sensations), you sure are interested in goals! emoticon

There is a lot of talk in the old scriptures about uprooting and cutting off and completely extinguishing just these patterns. Also, if you talk to practitioners here on the DhO, they will usually talk about how much work this uprooting is. I know I have a lot of uprooting and weeding and cutting to do.

What gives you the impression that people here on the DhO - at whichever path they find themselves - are not engaged in that very important work?

Cheers,
Florian

-------------------

Not Tao - 2014-04-24 21:46:09 - RE: What is the goal, really?

Thank you for all the replies Florian, but I still don't think you quite understand my problem.  I'll try to be more specific.

I have read through most of MCTB, a lot of Kenneth Folk's stuff, various posts on this forum, and the main focus I've seen is on realizing anatta as no-self or some kind of non-duality.  I do have a very specific goal: I want to remove my anger, sadness, and anxiety and prevent it from resurfacing in the future.  Is this the end result of these practices, and if it is, how does it relate to non-duality?  From what I've seen in my internet wanderings, it doesn't seem to be the end result of vipassana meditation.  Pretty much every claim of 4th path I've seen seems to say, "Well, I've done it, but there's so much left to do."  And that after decades of practice.

-------------------

Jeff Grove - 2014-04-25 00:41:20 - RE: What is the goal, really?

CCC how do u know no one has ended suffering, I have there is only the perfection of this moment, everything goes in one ear and out the other, of course it helps being partially deaf

Peace
Jeff

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C C C - 2014-04-25 01:42:53 - RE: What is the goal, really?

Jeff Grove:
CCC how do u know no one has ended suffering, I have there is only the perfection of this moment, everything goes in one ear and out the other, of course it helps being partially deaf

Peace
Jeff


I've never read about anyone on here having ended the potential for suffering.  You're saying torture would not touch you?  While your body might struggle and cry, you would remain in eternal peace and bliss?

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Jeff Grove - 2014-04-25 13:46:19 - RE: What is the goal, really?

CCC your right suffering is the wrong word to use, dukkha is what I meant. This body certainly reacts to pain like any other. If you think enlightenment gives you superhuman powers, best sticking to marvel comics
Cheers
Jeff

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sawfoot _ - 2014-04-25 14:12:12 - RE: What is the goal, really?

CCC, I am sure there a few out there from this website who have ended suffering, but since they are now dead its hard to hard for them to post about their achievements. Otherwise, ending of suffering is a sucker goal.

Not Tao
I do have a very specific goal: I want to remove my anger, sadness, and anxiety and prevent it from resurfacing in the future


Are you insane? You want to lobotomize yourself? If your best-friend/partner/child/parent died, for example, you wouldn't want to feel sadness?

How about an alternative (non-marvel comics) goal. Something like: I want to reduce dysfunctional expression of anger, sadness and anxiety, and reduce the expression of those dysfunctional patterns in the future.

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Florian Weps - 2014-04-25 14:50:23 - RE: What is the goal, really?

Hi Not Tao

thanks for the clarification.

Not Tao:
I do have a very specific goal: I want to remove my anger, sadness, and anxiety and prevent it from resurfacing in the future.  Is this the end result of these practices, and if it is, how does it relate to non-duality?  From what I've seen in my internet wanderings, it doesn't seem to be the end result of vipassana meditation.  Pretty much every claim of 4th path I've seen seems to say, "Well, I've done it, but there's so much left to do."  And that after decades of practice.


I see your concern now. From the name of the thread, and the question you asked in your original post, I was somehow assuming that you were asking what people here have achieved. In fact you are saying, whatever it is they have achieved is not what you are looking for. So you are not asking a question but expressing your observation and disappointment, and my persistent attempts at answering a question I thought you were asking were at best annoying to you.

Thanks for bearing with me, and being a good sport about it.

If you were looking for inspiration and didn't find it here, that's a bit of a shame, since the sense of meeting other strong practitioners can be a real boost. I hope you got something out of it anyway. Don't get sidetracked into too many discussions like this one here with me. Keep on practicing well!

I still think the chapter titled "A Clear Goal" from MCTB contains very valuable advice, regardless of which goal you are pursuing, and merits many slow re-reads, pausing at the end of most sentences. YMMV, obviously.

Cheers,
Florian

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Not Tao - 2014-04-25 21:52:31 - RE: What is the goal, really?

sawfoot _:
Are you insane? You want to lobotomize yourself? If your best-friend/partner/child/parent died, for example, you wouldn't want to feel sadness?


Sadness doesn't add anything to the happy memories about a person, and there's no reason I can see to be sad that a person died besides some kind of longing for future happiness that's no longer possible.  If someone where able to find happiness without relying on the content of a situation, they wouldn't be saddened by death, because that person could be happy with or without the people they loved.  Love does not necessitate clinging.

Now, if someone I knew was in great pain or suffering some kind of mental anguish, I would like to feel compassion for them and help them.  What I've noticed from my own experience is that, the easier it is for me to be happy without relying on the content of the moment, the easier it is for me to be willing to help others, as there are no emotional blocks stopping me from doing so.  Before I started all this I didn't have much of a connection with other people.  I was extraordinarily selfish.  This seems to have changed quite a lot since I've begun to dispose of my perpetual discontent.

sawfoot _:
How about an alternative (non-marvel comics) goal. Something like: I want to reduce dysfunctional expression of anger, sadness and anxiety, and reduce the expression of those dysfunctional patterns in the future.


I've already done this, mostly, and it's given me great faith in the possibility that I could take it all the way.  That's the main reason I'm posting here.  I'm very serious about the "marvel comics" goal.

Florian Weps:
If you were looking for inspiration and didn't find it here, that's a bit of a shame, since the sense of meeting other strong practitioners can be a real boost. I hope you got something out of it anyway. Don't get sidetracked into too many discussions like this one here with me. Keep on practicing well!


I've been really inspired by a lot of the Actual Freedom stuff, because it seems like it's actually worked for people.  Over the last four months I've had tons of PCEs and I kept thinking that must be related to the goal somehow.  This is why I've been a bit disappointed by a lot of what I've read, because it all kept saying to dissociate from positive experiences as well.  Everyone seems to repeat "all states are conditioned" like a mantra.  It's kind of nice finally to find something that verified what I've been thinking.

I really have changed my views of this site since I started posting.  I realized there's actually a pretty large array of different practices people are doing, and the experimental nature of it all really lends to finding something personal that will work for you.  I wasn't frustrated by your replies or anything, haha, don't worry!  I think I've had my questions answered.

I'm mostly interested in the 10-fetter model, as people call it, and while I think the vipassana practice probably falls on it somewhere, I've had a lot more success with a kind of strong attentiveness or mindfulness practice.  It leads to a mind-state that feels like I opened a second pair of eyes.  I've know about this mind-state for a number of years, but I never thought it could be made permanent (or, even, long lasting).  Like you said, meeting other practitioners has really inspired me to try for it seriously.

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Psi Phi - 2014-04-26 05:36:25 - RE: What is the goal, really?

I'm very serious about the "marvel comics" goal.

Me Too! 

" Breathing in long, Hulk Smash Jhana, breathing out long, Hulk Smash Jhana" 



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Florian Weps - 2014-04-26 15:06:47 - RE: What is the goal, really?

Hi Not Tao

Please do not attribute quotes to me which I did not write.

The "not want to feel sadness" and "marvel" attributions in your reply to my post were not written by me.

Thank you very much.

Cheers,
Florian

Not Tao:
Are you insane? You want to lobotomize yourself? If your best-friend/partner/child/parent died, for example, you wouldn't want to feel sadness?


Sadness doesn't add anything to the happy memories about a person, and there's no reason I can see to be sad that a person died besides some kind of longing for future happiness that's no longer possible.  If someone where able to find happiness without relying on the content of a situation, they wouldn't be saddened by death, because that person could be happy with or without the people they loved.  Love does not necessitate clinging.

Now, if someone I knew was in great pain or suffering some kind of mental anguish, I would like to feel compassion for them and help them.  What I've noticed from my own experience is that, the easier it is for me to be happy without relying on the content of the moment, the easier it is for me to be willing to help others, as there are no emotional blocks stopping me from doing so.  Before I started all this I didn't have much of a connection with other people.  I was extraordinarily selfish.  This seems to have changed quite a lot since I've begun to dispose of my perpetual discontent.

How about an alternative (non-marvel comics) goal. Something like: I want to reduce dysfunctional expression of anger, sadness and anxiety, and reduce the expression of those dysfunctional patterns in the future.


I've already done this, mostly, and it's given me great faith in the possibility that I could take it all the way.  That's the main reason I'm posting here.  I'm very serious about the "marvel comics" goal.

If you were looking for inspiration and didn't find it here, that's a bit of a shame, since the sense of meeting other strong practitioners can be a real boost. I hope you got something out of it anyway. Don't get sidetracked into too many discussions like this one here with me. Keep on practicing well!


I've been really inspired by a lot of the Actual Freedom stuff, because it seems like it's actually worked for people.  Over the last four months I've had tons of PCEs and I kept thinking that must be related to the goal somehow.  This is why I've been a bit disappointed by a lot of what I've read, because it all kept saying to dissociate from positive experiences as well.  Everyone seems to repeat "all states are conditioned" like a mantra.  It's kind of nice finally to find something that verified what I've been thinking.

I really have changed my views of this site since I started posting.  I realized there's actually a pretty large array of different practices people are doing, and the experimental nature of it all really lends to finding something personal that will work for you.  I wasn't frustrated by your replies or anything, haha, don't worry!  I think I've had my questions answered.

I'm mostly interested in the 10-fetter model, as people call it, and while I think the vipassana practice probably falls on it somewhere, I've had a lot more success with a kind of strong attentiveness or mindfulness practice.  It leads to a mind-state that feels like I opened a second pair of eyes.  I've know about this mind-state for a number of years, but I never thought it could be made permanent (or, even, long lasting).  Like you said, meeting other practitioners has really inspired me to try for it seriously.


-------------------

sawfoot _ - 2014-04-26 15:58:26 - RE: What is the goal, really?

sawfoot:
Hi Not Tao

Please do not attribute quotes to me which I did not write.

The "not want to feel sadness" and "marvel" attributions in your reply to my post were not written by me.

Thank you very much.

Cheers,





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Florian Weps - 2014-04-26 18:40:01 - RE: What is the goal, really?

Hi sawfoot



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Not Tao - 2014-04-26 20:48:42 - RE: What is the goal, really?

Haha, I don't see how I attributed them to you.  I just copied the text into the quote boxes. emoticon

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Florian Weps - 2014-04-26 21:20:22 - RE: What is the goal, really?

Oh well, this is the Battleground after all. 'Splaining and all.

Look closely. You replied to my post, it says so right on your screen.

The quote boxes imply that you were quoting me.

Cheers,
Florian

Not Tao:
Haha, I don't see how I attributed them to you.  I just copied the text into the quote boxes. emoticon


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SK R - 2014-04-26 22:32:52 - RE: What is the goal, really?

What is the goal, really?

In Maha and Cula Saropama Sutta the Buddha says:

"Monks, this holy life doesn't have as its reward gain, offerings, & fame, doesn't have as its reward consummation of virtue, doesn't have as its reward consummation of concentration, doesn't have as its reward knowledge & vision, but the unprovoked awareness-release [akupp? cetovimutti]: That is the purpose of this holy life, that is its heartwood, that its final end."


According to this Sutta "knowledge & vision" is not the final goal. "The unprovoked awareness-release" is the final goal.

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Not Tao - 2014-04-27 00:22:29 - RE: What is the goal, really?

Florian Weps:
Oh well, this is the Battleground after all. 'Splaining and all.

Look closely. You replied to my post, it says so right on your screen.

The quote boxes imply that you were quoting me.

Cheers,
Florian


I edited the post for the sake of posterity. emoticon


SK R:
According to this Sutta "knowledge & vision" is not the final goal. "The unprovoked awareness-release" is the final goal.


This is my thinking too - thanks for the reference! emoticon  I suppose we'll all know eventually.  It's a little strange how much people keep repeating that "these goals are impossible!" though.  Why limit yourself?  If you're really shooting for something called "enlightenment", I doubt you're going to be scared away by seemingly impossible tasks.

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SK R - 2014-04-27 15:49:37 - RE: What is the goal, really?

Also, this conversation found in Brahmana Sutta is interesting:

"Master Ananda, what is the aim of this holy life lived under Gotama the contemplative?"

"Brahman, the holy life is lived under the Blessed One with the aim of abandoning desire."

"Is there a path, is there a practice, for the abandoning of that desire?"

"Yes, there is a path, there is a practice, for the abandoning of that desire."

"What is the path, the practice, for the abandoning of that desire?"

"Brahman, there is the case where a monk develops the base of power endowed with concentration founded on desire & the fabrications of exertion. He develops the base of power endowed with concentration founded on persistence... concentration founded on intent... concentration founded on discrimination & the fabrications of exertion. This, Brahman, is the path, this is the practice for the abandoning of that desire."

"If that's so, Master Ananda, then it's an endless path, and not one with an end, for it's impossible that one could abandon desire by means of desire."

"In that case, brahman, let me question you on this matter. ... ... ...