Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Just to preface this, as I don't know Kenneth, and I am just giving a simplified and biased version of my initial interpretation on reading his "story" in his new book draft. 

http://contemplativefitnessbook.com/book-one-story/
 
Kenneth spent 22 years devoting to himself to spiritual practice. It all started with taking 4 tabs of acid. In his journey, he became very highly skilled at technical meditation, in accessing all kinds of jhanas, and reaching third path. He spent a cumulative 3 years on retreat. Yet he was still desperately, chronically unhappy.
 
And then one day, he decided he had reached 4th path - the practical consequences of which he decided he had finished searching, that he was "done", and he decided he needed another project. Soon after, he met his future wife, and got his life back together, got a job, stopped doing long retreats, settled down, went back to school to do a bachelors and masters degree, got married and was a lot happier than before.
 
So, this is…interesting…Clearly something shifted. But what changed? He went from desperately trying to fix himself by being obsessed with enlightenment and meditation, to getting on with his life. He was still a bit of obsessed with meditation and enlightenment, no doubt, but in a constructive sense of using that in making a living as a meditation teacher and likely having a greater sense of self-worth of performing a function in society and helping others. Although about that helping others bit..one can perhaps see the irony in teaching others to use meditation to fix their problems and make them themselves happy…
 
So the secret of a happy life? Going to school, getting a job, getting married, not trying to get enlightened any more.
 
Probably also best to stay away from the acid.
 
Moral of the story again: mastery is good. Mastery can help make you happy. But does the world need more meditation teachers? How about mastering the core teachings of carpentry, or dentistry, instead?
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 3199 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
While I can certainly see how you come to that conclusion, and it is not that there isn't some logic and wisdom in what you say, I know Kenneth well and have since I was about 19 years-old and was one of his best friends through the process. I have similarly gone through something like what he went through, albeit with some differences as well. The basic point is that it is not so simple as you make it out to be.

Points that you make that have some validity:

There is something to be said for being in a healthy relationship, having productive and meaningful work to do, and having your financial trip together that can definitely help some people feel better, though certainly not everyone. There are people who are happier as monastics, for example, and they have a different setup, obviously.

There is something to not seeing the goal as something far off in the future and instead settling into this moment, this place, this body, this time, this life instead.

There are risks of doing acid, definitely. I know a few people who did real damage to their brains by taking it, as well as one person who spend 25 years in jail for murdering someone while on it, though plenty who took it and just tripped for 12 hours and no obvious damage ensued. It is obviously illegal, so don't imagine that I am recommending anyone take acid.

Points that need augmentation to help round them out:

While in theory simply getting your life together, getting married, having a job, making money and the like should all be so straightforward, in practice it sometimes isn't. While simply not being depressed by giving up your spiritual quest sounds so nice, when you are in the middle of the thing, this option sometimes doesn't seem obviously possible.

Drawing on Bill Hamilton's "stuff waiting at each path" concept, he speculated that people had various psychological issues that each stage of realization would address when they got there. When I was in the Dark Night before Stream Entry, the thought of going back to graduate school seemed revolting and the sense that going on a long meditaiton retreat to get stream entry seemed the most appealing thing in the world.

Luckily for me, I got stream entry relatively rapidly, and suddenly I wanted to get my life back together, started re-applying to graduate school, worked jobs that made money, and the like. I was married at the time also.

Kenneth wasn't so lucky, in that his stuff seemed to be largely stored up at a later path, and once he got that, life and function suddenly got a lot better.

You speculate that had he not taken the acid, just gotten a job, had a relationship and the like, things would have been good. I can't be certain I perfectly understand the causality of Kenneth's life, but I totally disagree.

Crossing the A&P saved him from some serious problems he had before that. After he crossed the A&P and got out of his unhealthy situation in LA, he moved to North Carolina and had a good, fun jobs playing bass in two great bands, had relationships, and yet he was not happy. I was there for all of this, as he was my housemate and bandmate for good parts of that period. I had a good life, was in relationships, was going to a good university, had a fun job running sound for bands, played guitar in a band or two, had fun friends, and yet it wasn't enough, didn't complete the picture, didn't scratch some itch that nothing else was going to scratch but meditation.

Meditation created real lasting changes in Kenneth and myself. I doubt either of us would trade them for basically anything else.

It is not that meditation is the whole picture, obviously, but it contributed remarkable understandings and changes that are of great value.

My ideal would be: both keep your life together when possible and make it great one, and also get some serious meditation abilities and understandings.

I currently have both, and I do not envy my colleagues who just have good relationships and a job like I do, as they don't have what I have, meaning the profound transformations of perception and mental processes that meditation created.

Further, sometimes when you are stuck in the deep throws of this stuff, you have to go out to go in, meaning that if you don't drop out and go do some serious meditation for a while and really get what that teaches, going back to your life and putting it all together may be really difficult. I have seen this again and again, and, if people can embrace that oscillation and really go with it, great things can occur.
Daniel M. Ingram:

Further, sometimes when you are stuck in the deep throws of this stuff, you have to go out to go in, meaning that if you don't drop out and go do some serious meditation for a while and really get what that teaches, going back to your life and putting it all together may be really difficult. I have seen this again and again, and, if people can embrace that oscillation and really go with it, great things can occur.

For some reason I am having trouble interpreting this...

If you are in the deep throws of this meditation stuff, it is best to do some serious meditation for a while and really get what it teaches. If you do not, putting your life together may be really difficult.

Is this correct? You recommend focusing solely on meditation for an extended period and putting the rest of your "life" on "hold"?

Because this thought has been showing up frequently these days for me...

Thank you.
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

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

Further, sometimes when you are stuck in the deep throws of this stuff, you have to go out to go in, meaning that if you don't drop out and go do some serious meditation for a while and really get what that teaches, going back to your life and putting it all together may be really difficult. I have seen this again and again, and, if people can embrace that oscillation and really go with it, great things can occur.

For some reason I am having trouble interpreting this...

If you are in the deep throws of this meditation stuff, it is best to do some serious meditation for a while and really get what it teaches. If you do not, putting your life together may be really difficult.

Is this correct? You recommend focusing solely on meditation for an extended period and putting the rest of your "life" on "hold"?

Because this thought has been showing up frequently these days for me...
Daniel may answer this, but the advice is pretty clear in MCTB - I can't recall the exact quote, but its something like its worth 6 years flipping burgers in order to 6 months for a mediation retreat.

Now this might be good advice for some people. But my question in the thread is if this is actually pretty terrible advice for most people.

It breaks my heart a little when I see posters on the forum who say something like "I am bit depressed with my life...I don't really like socialising that much any more...life is a bit tough....so I want to quit college and go on retreat (and escape from real life and my problems...)"
sawfoot _:

It breaks my heart a little when I see posters on the forum who say something like "I am bit depressed with my life...I don't really like socialising that much any more...life is a bit tough....so I want to quit college and go on retreat (and escape from real life and my problems...)"

This is exactly how I feel sometimes. You make it seem like going on retreat means giving up on "life" or escaping "life". Life is much more than college and socializing, even though those are some great aspects of it. Life is anything and everything. Going to Malaysia to meditate with monks for a year is still life, just different than what most would consider normal. Life takes twists and turns and everyone walks a different path. Two years ago I had no idea what meditation was or that I would be doing it multiple times per day, but that's what happened. I live a strange and different life now than what I was used to. There is this itch that I need to scratch and meditating seems to take care of that. It lingers though so it makes sense to meditate more. And what better and more effecient way than to go on a long retreat?
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Jake WM:
sawfoot _:

It breaks my heart a little when I see posters on the forum who say something like "I am bit depressed with my life...I don't really like socialising that much any more...life is a bit tough....so I want to quit college and go on retreat (and escape from real life and my problems...)"

This is exactly how I feel sometimes. You make it seem like going on retreat means giving up on "life" or escaping "life". Life is much more than college and socializing, even though those are some great aspects of it. Life is anything and everything. Going to Malaysia to meditate with monks for a year is still life, just different than what most would consider normal. Life takes twists and turns and everyone walks a different path. Two years ago I had no idea what meditation was or that I would be doing it multiple times per day, but that's what happened. I live a strange and different life now than what I was used to. There is this itch that I need to scratch and meditating seems to take care of that. It lingers though so it makes sense to meditate more. And what better and more effecient way than to go on a long retreat?
I can see the logic...so appealing! But you say that meditation helps with the scratch, but then it lingers so you want to meditate more...You know scratching an itch can make it more itchy, right?

Another way to look at it - so lets say you have bad posture, you get a bad back, your doctor gives you some anti-pain medication. They help with the problem, so you take some more, and before you know it you have become a drug addict...The point is becoming obsessed with a fix for the problem, or rather, using spirituality as the ultimate in life procrastination. I do take your point, that it is all just life, and for some people, spirituality isn't procrastination and is just a life pursuit. Which is why we have monks. And meditation teachers. But these might not be the best people to take life advice from or follow.
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Thanks for fleshing out a few things (I did admit to simplification!)

Of course, depression can lead to a vicious cycle, so if you are depressed its very hard to do the things you need to do to stop yourself being depressed - stuff like going out there and getting a job. So its never that simple.

The point about acid (and the title) was whether it might be better not ever to get into the deep throws of thing, so that it doesn't take 22 years to get out of it - though I suppose that number of years depends on how messed you to start with - the acid doesn't normally causes the messed upness (though such drugs do account for a lot of psychriatric admissions!), just flips the switch to start up the path. But yes, you don't always get to choose to get on or off the path, or have decide to have an itch to scratch.

You say that there is something special about the path, and you don't envy those who don't have what you have. And yet I feel this diminishes the lives of others - all those people in human history who haven't become enlightened. I feel a lot of people do have some pretty good insights on what life is about without getting "enlightened".

Just to hone a contenious point:

The point is that this isn't anything special about enlightenment, in terms of end results. Sure, it is a bit more involved than your average hobby. But go on amazon, and read reviews of self help books. You tend to find reviews which say that reading that one book turned their lives around, and they bought 20 copies for all their friends. For you and Kenneth and Bill, that metaphorical self-help book was Mahasi style buddhism. For another it might be becoming born again, crystal healing, psychotherapy, national service, having a baby, starting the denistry degree, becoming the apprentice carpenter...
sawfoot _:

You say that there is something special about the path, and you don't envy those who don't have what you have. And yet I feel this diminishes the lives of others - all those people in human history who haven't become enlightened. I feel a lot of people do have some pretty good insights on what life is about without getting "enlightened".

Just to hone a contenious point:

The point is that this isn't anything special about enlightenment, in terms of end results. Sure, it is a bit more involved than your average hobby. But go on amazon, and read reviews of self help books. You tend to find reviews which say that reading that one book turned their lives around, and they bought 20 copies for all their friends. For you and Kenneth and Bill, that metaphorical self-help book was Mahasi style buddhism. For another it might be becoming born again, crystal healing, psychotherapy, national service, having a baby, starting the denistry degree, becoming the apprentice carpenter...

There's an MCTB quote that says something to the effect that you should assume there will be no "end results" from enlightenment. It seems to me that focusing on end results is missing the point. End results fall into sila, the first training. One thing I love about MCTB that I haven't found expressed so clearly elsewhere is the careful separation of the three trainings and the emphasis on how enlightenment doesn't necessarily solve your real-world problems, cure your depression, or make you kind or generous. The way I read Daniel's and Kenneth's stories, the search for enlightenment wasn't about solving their real-world problems, but about fixing something completely separate that needed to be fixed.

I strongly relate to this feeling, but it sounds like you're saying you don't, is that right? I've always had this sense that there's something strange about existence and subject/object, that there's something about the perception of self that's causing problems, that I somehow need to do something or discover something to take care of it. I've always been drawn to anything about nonduality and MCTB blew my mind when I read it because it was what I'd been looking for for a long time.
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

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J C:

There's an MCTB quote that says something to the effect that you should assume there will be no "end results" from enlightenment. It seems to me that focusing on end results is missing the point. End results fall into sila, the first training. One thing I love about MCTB that I haven't found expressed so clearly elsewhere is the careful separation of the three trainings and the emphasis on how enlightenment doesn't necessarily solve your real-world problems, cure your depression, or make you kind or generous. The way I read Daniel's and Kenneth's stories, the search for enlightenment wasn't about solving their real-world problems, but about fixing something completely separate that needed to be fixed.

I strongly relate to this feeling, but it sounds like you're saying you don't, is that right? I've always had this sense that there's something strange about existence and subject/object, that there's something about the perception of self that's causing problems, that I somehow need to do something or discover something to take care of it. I've always been drawn to anything about nonduality and MCTB blew my mind when I read it because it was what I'd been looking for for a long time.

Kenneth's end result from enlightenment was realise he didn't need to seek enlightenment any more.

MCTB does separate the three trainings, but is really just about one of them. It might not fix your problems, but, wow, it sure is the best thing ever and I would prefer to live 1 life being enlightened than a 100 lives being unenlightened....

Yes, of course, I can relate to the feeling! But the/a point is that enlightenment hunting is perhaps the best way to fix the problem. It can fix the problem, but then mastery of anything might also fix it.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 3199 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
The mastering anything concept doesn't hold up to reality testing.

Over the years I have mastered all sorts of things to various degrees, but none of them did for me what my biggest insights did. Suffice to say, I have managed to get really good at lots of things over the years, and so what. I could go on in my typical boastful style, but it won't help the basic point I wish to make.

When duality collapsed for the first time in stream entry, I was struck with the overwhelming impression that this was the thing my mind had most wanted to do for my whole life.

When dualistic perception was finally seen through, I was again struck by the fact that finally perception had been untangled and righted and that this was the thing I had been looking for. By that time I had an MD, an MSPH, a happy marriage, acceptance into a great residency in emergency medicine, the near assurance barring unusual adverse circumstances of a very lucrative and enjoyable career, my physical and mental health, massive jhanic abilities, and a few more months of traveling around the world enjoying myself to look forward to before residency began, but none of that, nothing I had done before (or since), compared to how important that single thing was.

Dualistic illusion is fundamental, coloring all other aspects of one's life, and its elimination, while certainly not solving all problems, is of truly amazing value with global implications. It is a true curse that there is no easy way to A/B it for people, such that they could just see what it is like to be that way for just a few seconds.
Daniel M. Ingram:

It is a true curse that there is no easy way to A/B it for people, such that they could just see what it is like to be that way for just a few seconds.


Sure there is. Acid. That's one of the great things about psychedelics: they can show you what it's like for a short time (and that's why so many of us got into this after trying them out).
Trial And Error, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 116 Join Date: 2/27/13 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
Dualistic illusion is fundamental, coloring all other aspects of one's life, and its elimination, while certainly not solving all problems, is of truly amazing value with global implications. It is a true curse that there is no easy way to A/B it for people, such that they could just see what it is like to be that way for just a few seconds.


Is deep absortption on an object or sensation, the oneness with it that is experienced in jhanas similar to or same as the elimination of dualistic illusion as used in this context?
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
The mastering anything concept doesn't hold up to reality testing.

Over the years I have mastered all sorts of things to various degrees, but none of them did for me what my biggest insights did. Suffice to say, I have managed to get really good at lots of things over the years, and so what. I could go on in my typical boastful style, but it won't help the basic point I wish to make.

When duality collapsed for the first time in stream entry, I was struck with the overwhelming impression that this was the thing my mind had most wanted to do for my whole life.

When dualistic perception was finally seen through, I was again struck by the fact that finally perception had been untangled and righted and that this was the thing I had been looking for. By that time I had an MD, an MSPH, a happy marriage, acceptance into a great residency in emergency medicine, the near assurance barring unusual adverse circumstances of a very lucrative and enjoyable career, my physical and mental health, massive jhanic abilities, and a few more months of traveling around the world enjoying myself to look forward to before residency began, but none of that, nothing I had done before (or since), compared to how important that single thing was.

Dualistic illusion is fundamental, coloring all other aspects of one's life, and its elimination, while certainly not solving all problems, is of truly amazing value with global implications. It is a true curse that there is no easy way to A/B it for people, such that they could just see what it is like to be that way for just a few seconds.


So to simplify the claim, re: mastery:
 
Mastery leads to increased self-worth
Increased self-worth leads to happiness
 
The self-worth aspect is the causal factor.
 
Now, based on my reading of Kenneth, I am arguing that seeing through dualistic perception did not help Kenneth. It didn't have amazing value for him. He still had to take a bunch of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication, and was not right with this world.
 
Everyone has their own version of "the problem to be fixed" and consequently their own versions of the solutions.
 
I am somewhat biased in how to interpret "the problem" based on my own version of it, but I can empathise with Kenneth's version a lot more than with Daniel, and my rough impression is that Kenneth's "problem" has more in common with the average DhO poster.
 
So I see Daniel as atypical in this regard  - most people don't have a problem with being too arrogant - the most common problem I see with those in the developed world is a variation of lack of self-worth/self-respect/self-love (though in my experience, arrogance often is ultimately tied up to these problems, just much more buried than usual).
 
And so Daniel's carrot might be what people think they want and need (e.g. see response from Trial and Error), but I am suggesting that Daniel's solution to Daniel's problem is not for everyone. 

Simon E

I wrote that above in response to Daniel, but hopefully it addresses your post in part as well.

I have two cats too. And soon will be getting a dog. Hopefully two. And some kids soon after that. Hopefully two.

But in terms of life situation - adding to the above, I think what I am reacting to (and partly motivating this thread) is regarding the advice you give to people depending on their life situation they are in. To be fair to Daniel, he does warn that you should be starting off from a baseline of happiness (or relative unhappiness). But yet, it seems like a significant proportion of DhOers are dealing with mental health problems, some minor, some more severe, and look for enlightenment as a fix for their problems. Kenneth Folk was one of them. And if you look at his advertisting, his marketing basically says "I cured myself of severe depression and anxiety, you can too...". And how did he cure himself? 22 years of obsessive meditation practice and 3 years on retreat? Discovering the pure-land jhanas? What was it exactly that fixed him?

I am not saying meditation is bad, or not useful - I am just trying to explore how Kenneth's story might (ironically) be used in service of the claim that the promise and pursuit of enlightenment does more harm than good.
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Florian Weps, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

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sawfoot _:
If you look at [Kenneth's] advertisting, his marketing basically says "I cured myself of severe depression and anxiety, you can too...". And how did he cure himself? 22 years of obsessive meditation practice and 3 years on retreat? Discovering the pure-land jhanas? What was it exactly that fixed him?


It's pointless (and rude) to discuss Kenneth's experience here, when you could just, you know, ask Kenneth in person.

I think it's due to mattresses, btw. All the ills you have been diagnosing here. Thing is, we are all sleeping on mattresses, the overwhelming majority of us, and that's what makes us post the things we post here. Obvious, isn't it? You should stop sleeping on a mattress, or you will become just like us.

Cheers,
Florian
Eva M Nie, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

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It would be a lot easier if there was a clearer path, a thing or few things one could do that are likely to fix one's issues, make one feel better, etc.  Humans have been looking for those easy answers for a long time.  I don't think such a clear path has yet been found.  I also think you can't easily separate life issues and meditation issues.  They are both influences on you and are both aspects of you.  Meditation will affect how your mind works and how you make your decisions in life.  There will be constant interplay.  I do think meditation will over time help people see themselves more clearly and understand over time what kind of life would work better for them.  But I also think no one has yet found a way to bypass their issues or fix them easily.  You will still need to dig into those issues and burrow into them until you can understand them more clearly and see the way out.  I have never seen a way for anyone to fix issues with any kind of easy bypass.  You have to go in there and do the dirty work, confront your greatest fears, etc.  Otherwise they will just keep surfacing until you do.  And I think the process of enlightenment helps that by gradually forcing many of those issues to the front, shoving them in your face and making them more obvious to you.  The more and deeper issues you have, the harder that will be but in the long run, but the rewards also greater. 

I also don't think you can separate what you choose to daily in 'regular' life from what you do daily in meditation.  These are not two separate boxes in your mind.  The two constantly interact with eachother.  Over time, I suspect Kenneth worked through a lot of his issues and things that were holding him back.  At some point, he was ready to move forward with both life and meditation and so he did.  But I have met a whole ton of people who have great jobs, nice houses, a beautiful nice marriage partner, etc and are very unhappy people.  I have also known of people who became enlightened and chose to not marry and just travel the world with almost no money and they were happy.  Trappings of home and life or travel do not make you happy or content, most people I know have all those things and are not happy.  But when you are ready to be happy or content, then you start to see a good path for you personally, which is a personal thing, and you do it, whatever that is and it won't always be the same thing for everyone.  And not everyone will become a meditation teacher either, it's just that those are the ones that tend to be better known in these kinds of circles. 

And although I don't know Kenneth personally and can't say this for sure, and this is my personal opinion on how it works, but it would be my bet that FIRST Kenneth learned contentment and understanding of himself and THEN his choices and life fell into line with that new way of his being.  Your attitude affects your every behavior and choice and the responses of people and the world around you.  If all your behaviors and choices come from a more balanced state, then all the things you do from there will reflect that.  Change what is in your head first and your circumstances will follow, it's just sometimes that change is a long and rocky road before you find more inner balance, especially if you have a lot of issues to work through.  The mistake is thinking that circumstances will all change for you even though you are still exactly the same or that circumstances can eventually make you happy even though you are still exactly the same or that something else can easily take away your psychological problems without any serious work by you.  Your circumstances are a reflection of what's in your head, a reflection of a million big and little choices you made up until now, so if you want to fix something, you need to look in your head for what is going on.  Circumstances can't make you happy because they are only a reflection, not the source.  THe trick is to try to follow it all back to its source.     
Eva M Nie:
And although I don't know Kenneth personally and can't say this for sure, and this is my personal opinion on how it works, but it would be my bet that FIRST Kenneth learned contentment and understanding of himself and THEN his choices and life fell into line with that new way of his being.  Your attitude affects your every behavior and choice and the responses of people and the world around you.  If all your behaviors and choices come from a more balanced state, then all the things you do from there will reflect that.  Change what is in your head first and your circumstances will follow, it's just sometimes that change is a long and rocky road before you find more inner balance, especially if you have a lot of issues to work through.  The mistake is thinking that circumstances will all change for you even though you are still exactly the same or that circumstances can eventually make you happy even though you are still exactly the same or that something else can easily take away your psychological problems without any serious work by you.  Your circumstances are a reflection of what's in your head, a reflection of a million big and little choices you made up until now, so if you want to fix something, you need to look in your head for what is going on.  Circumstances can't make you happy because they are only a reflection, not the source.  THe trick is to try to follow it all back to its source.     

Beautifully said, something that I have been thinking about recently but could not articulate.

Not a direct question to anyone but...

Would you rather be unhappy and unbalanced pursuing a career, girlfriend/boyfriend, social life, etc. from a place of mental turmoil in order to set yourself up for a long retreat or meditation practice?

Or

Would you rather be unhappy and unbalanced but focus on meditation, retreats, in an attempt to balance yourself in order to pursue life quests such as a career and relationships from a place of balance and calmness?

Perhaps that was strangely worded but hopefully it gets the point across. Also, I suppose the above example assumes that meditation is the only cure for unhappiness or imbalances etc. While it definitely isnt the one and only answer, it is a huge part, along with nutrition, exercise, sleep, friends, family, and so on.

But going off of what Eva said, it seems wiser to work on your mental trip first before getting your "life" together the way you want, instead of forcefully getting your "life" together when you just dont feel good about the thing itself.
Eva M Nie, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

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"But going off of what Eva said, it seems wiser to work on your mental trip first before getting your "life" together the way you want, instead of forcefully getting your "life" together when you just dont feel good about the thing itself."

Well I think more I was saying I don't think the two can exist isolated from eachother or thought of separately.  But I've known plenty of very unhappy rich people who may have had financial stability but their lives were chaotic and miserable in other ways instead.  Like if there is chaos in your mind, it will show in your life in one way or another and focusing on finances will not fix unhappiness.  And I've known poor people who were comparatively fairly happy and peaceful.  Finances can be straightened out later, the only thing that can't really be fixed or forgotten eventually is how you treat other people around you. 
Derek Cameron, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

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Eva M Nie:
Humans have been looking for those easy answers for a long time.      



There's no doubt in my mind that stream-entry is the ultimate form of psychotherapy, and that a clearer and more productive approach to life's tasks is a natural consequence of stream-entry.
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

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A few people have mentioned stream entry as a form of psychotherapy. This is the way I see a spiritual path. 

But describing it as the "ultimate" form of psychotherapy. There we go again….

So I am going to recap the/some argument(s) I am trying to make, which has been reinforced from some of the responses to this thread.  I am going against the "stream" here, so don't expect to find much agreement, and I know some of you just think, there goes bloody sawfoot again with incessant harping,  but I think it is worth putting it out there, you know,  for the record. 

- "For the record", the quest for enlightenment (the journey) can be incredibly useful and rewarding and enriching and life changing. It is a rollercoaster ride (with no destination), with some thrills and also some scares and dangers (but let's leave those aside for now).

- Humans are incredibly self-deceptive, subject to a host of cognitive illusions and distortions, and have poor insight into their motivations and behaviour. There are many ways this manifests, for example, they don't often understand what makes them happy or made them happy and are poor at predicting what makes them happy. Another tricky one is counter-factual reasoning about how their lives might have turned out otherwise. 

- Enlightenment is a poor choice of word to describe the state associated with it, because it doesn't fix the self-deception problem or make one less prone to cognitive distortions. In fact, it can make it worse, as often spiritual practices can increase certainty and remove the doubt which can be useful in understanding self-deception.

- What I wanted to do in this thread was to more closely consider those factors which make the "enlightened" state a good one for those that achieve it. One factor is the disruption to mechanisms of doubt and self-doubt (see above).e.g., Kenneth's confidence that he achieved "4th path", which allowed him to get his life back together. I have suggested that problems with self-worth are perhaps the fundamental factor responsible for psychological misery in the western, developed world, and increased certainty can help a lot with that. For example, realising that you have a life mission to help all beings become enlightened, or to become enlightened yourself. 

- Enlightened ones (particularly in pragmatic dharma) see themselves as "special" (witness Kenneth's talk of the "pepper tree"), and their enlightenment becomes an intrinsic part of their self-image. As James Yen points out, this can lead to issues with superiority, and resistance to criticism, for examples, see Florian's responses. Or, for example, Daniel doesn't feel jealously or envy towards other people who aren't enlightened like him. There are significant positive benefits to this specialness. Going to back to self-worth, having achieved and "mastered" something unique and "special" can give one confidence and increased feelings of self-worth. 

- Those attracted to pragmatic dharma often really really want to believe in enlightenment (see where attention gets directed by multiple posters on this thread). It is a lot like believing in God - a perfect being. Which is why we hear the words like ultimate, supreme, perfect, total etc.. used when describing states associated with "enlightenment".  One consequence of this is a lack of scepticism on the claims of enlightenment (not guilty), and propensity to misunderstand what the enlightened state consists of (guilty).

- When people write books about their experiences and advise people to follow their example (broadly speaking), they put themselves in the public realm to be held up to intense scrutiny. And at times, even ridicule. Because it is a serious business. We should examine what they say very seriously and critically. People who read them make life changing decisions like quitting college and going off to Thailand to meditate, or use their advice to treat mental health problems. The "enlightened ones" have a lot of experience on spiritual paths have a lot to offer, yet, I am trying to question the extent to whether these people actually are the best people to take advice from. Often it is those people that aren't in the business (metaphorically or literally speaking) of offering their advice are the best people to get advice from.

The thread was not meant to be about meditation - sure, friends can let friends meditate, why not. Perhaps a better title might be "enlightened people shouldn't let others become enlightened". And why not? I think an interesting answer is to consider what "enlightened" people gain from getting other to become enlightened, just like them, or why they try. 


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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 3199 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
I personally wouldn't call enlightenment the ultimate form of psychotherapy, though it can help aspects of that process, but is really is in many ways a different axis of development, not that lots of pschological insights can't come out of that process, which they can.

The argument about conterfactual reasoning is an interesting one, but remember, those of us who have done these things have done the A/B experiment, in that at time A we were one way and, poof, moments later at time B, were another way. There is not one of those big shifts that I would flip back to the other way. Again, if you are into things like science and logic and empericism, do the experiment and tell me truly if you would go back.

The capacity for self-deception argument is also definitely true, however, I again call to the stand the week I spent flipping back and forth between two totally different ways of reality being experienced, and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind which was preferable to me and which one was obvously the more clear and coherent way: that being B.

The feeling of specialness you mention is definitely true in some ways, thought in plenty of others I feel very ordinarily mammalian, mortal, etc. as reality demonstrates all the time with adverse circumstances, physical pain, and the ordinary drama of human experience. Still, I am ok with the bit of specialness I feel and definitely prefer it to the other way I was before. To each their own, I guess.

Regarding skepticism about awakening, consider it from various other points of view, such as that of, oh, I don't know, maybe SCIENCE:

Physics: is there some separate part of the physical universe that is uniquely special, separate, permanent, isolated from the laws of interdependent cause-and-effect, not subject to the staggering number of impinging forces from all other interactive particles and waves and in control? If you think this, you clearly have no understanding of even the basics of physics.

Chemistry: is there some chemical process that is unbounded by the standard laws of electrical, steric, and resonance effects, some part that somehow is uniquely conscsious, some part that somehow really represents a will or self? Get real!

Biology: consider that no part of the body lasts, that cells turn over all the time, and yet we perceive ourselves as being permanent despite the endless changes this body and mind undergo every second. How can we imagine we are a continuous self when no cell left in us is even the same one that was there 7 years ago? All gone, yet we still imagine this is some stable us. Craziness. Ignorance. Illusion.

Time: clearly time is a mentally created entity from any scientific point of view, and yet most people actually believe there is a past and a future as truly existing things, not being aware of something so friggin' basic as that those thoughts occur now. It is preposterous and a clear and obvious perceptual delusion.

Physiology: the physiological model of the brain is that everything that we experience in this field of experience is actually taking place in the various space-modeling centers of a brain somewhere. Ok, here's the kicker: tell me the spacial relationship between that theorized brain and this field of experience. Anyone? The unenlightened imagine that it is this head that is the real one, a head that is really experiencing that stuff out there, which is a total contradiction to the fundamental working scientific model of what is actually going on. It is barking crazy from any scientific point of view and yet this is actually unenlightened people's functional, walking-around mental delusion. Can you believe it? How can they live with themselves?

In short, if you imagine you have free will, if you imagine there is some special, permanent, split-off, observing, controlling, continuous, thing that is actually your brain existing in time that actually involves a real past and a real future, then from any scientific point of view you should basically check yourself into a mental instution, as you are clearly exceedingly deluded, and yet, people who imagine they are skeptics and so scientific actually walk around tolerating and accepting something that is clearly bat-shit whacko and have the nerve to tell those of us who through thousands of hours of extremely careful mind training saw through these illusions that are actually so staggeringly obvious not only perceptually but also pointed to by every relevant branch of science that we somehow are the hucksters and charlatans and they the ones that make rational sense. It is a travesty of obvious mind-boggling stupidity, misperception and scientific ignorance.

In short, this way of perceiving reality makes sense from every rational point of view I can think of, and yet you claim to be the one that makes sense. How can you possibly justify that?
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
I personally wouldn't call enlightenment the ultimate form of psychotherapy, though it can help aspects of that process, but is really is in many ways a different axis of development, not that lots of pschological insights can't come out of that process, which they can.



The argument about conterfactual reasoning is an interesting one, but remember, those of us who have done these things have done the A/B experiment, in that at time A we were one way and, poof, moments later at time B, were another way. There is not one of those big shifts that I would flip back to the other way. Again, if you are into things like science and logic and empericism, do the experiment and tell me truly if you would go back.

The capacity for self-deception argument is also definitely true, however, I again call to the stand the week I spent flipping back and forth between two totally different ways of reality being experienced, and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind which was preferable to me and which one was obvously the more clear and coherent way: that being B.

The feeling of specialness you mention is definitely true in some ways, thought in plenty of others I feel very ordinarily mammalian, mortal, etc. as reality demonstrates all the time with adverse circumstances, physical pain, and the ordinary drama of human experience. Still, I am ok with the bit of specialness I feel and definitely prefer it to the other way I was before. To each their own, I guess.

Regarding skepticism about awakening, consider it from various other points of view, such as that of, oh, I don't know, maybe SCIENCE:

Physics: is there some separate part of the physical universe that is uniquely special, separate, permanent, isolated from the laws of interdependent cause-and-effect, not subject to the staggering number of impinging forces from all other interactive particles and waves and in control? If you think this, you clearly have no understanding of even the basics of physics.

Chemistry: is there some chemical process that is unbounded by the standard laws of electrical, steric, and resonance effects, some part that somehow is uniquely conscsious, some part that somehow really represents a will or self? Get real!

Biology: consider that no part of the body lasts, that cells turn over all the time, and yet we perceive ourselves as being permanent despite the endless changes this body and mind undergo every second. How can we imagine we are a continuous self when no cell left in us is even the same one that was there 7 years ago? All gone, yet we still imagine this is some stable us. Craziness. Ignorance. Illusion.

Time: clearly time is a mentally created entity from any scientific point of view, and yet most people actually believe there is a past and a future as truly existing things, not being aware of something so friggin' basic as that those thoughts occur now. It is preposterous and a clear and obvious perceptual delusion.

Physiology: the physiological model of the brain is that everything that we experience in this field of experience is actually taking place in the various space-modeling centers of a brain somewhere. Ok, here's the kicker: tell me the spacial relationship between that theorized brain and this field of experience. Anyone? The unenlightened imagine that it is this head that is the real one, a head that is really experiencing that stuff out there, which is a total contradiction to the fundamental working scientific model of what is actually going on. It is barking crazy from any scientific point of view and yet this is actually unenlightened people's functional, walking-around mental delusion. Can you believe it? How can they live with themselves?

In short, if you imagine you have free will, if you imagine there is some special, permanent, split-off, observing, controlling, continuous, thing that is actually your brain existing in time that actually involves a real past and a real future, then from any scientific point of view you should basically check yourself into a mental instution, as you are clearly exceedingly deluded, and yet, people who imagine they are skeptics and so scientific actually walk around tolerating and accepting something that is clearly bat-shit whacko and have the nerve to tell those of us who through thousands of hours of extremely careful mind training saw through these illusions that are actually so staggeringly obvious not only perceptually but also pointed to by every relevant branch of science that we somehow are the hucksters and charlatans and they the ones that make rational sense. It is a travesty of obvious mind-boggling stupidity, misperception and scientific ignorance.

In short, this way of perceiving reality makes sense from every rational point of view I can think of, and yet you claim to be the one that makes sense. How can you possibly justify that?


Ok, so you have raised something towards the end there, but it doesn't seem to be addressing the points I have been trying to make on the thread, and instead is asking a separate question.

I have been more trying to address Kenenth's version of 4th path and "enlightenment", which from my understanding, is primarily characterized about the end of the path, feeling "done". I was sort of suggesting, for example, if you never start the path you never need to feel done. And I was interested to look at what factors might underlie the "happiness beyond conditions" that you get from "enlightenment", and to what extent those that are "enlightened" might not fully appreciate those factors.

Just to be clear about "seeking gain", and answering my own question, what I was trying to get at was the idea that when one's self worth or psychological well-being is tied up into a belief of being an enlightened being, in some sense your well being is linked to the validation of the construct through the lives of others. Kenneth found his salvation through enlightenment, and it is understandable he might want others to find their salvation in a similar way, but their salvation is a validation of his salvation.

So back to your point - You seem to be talking about enlightenment in terms of perception of non-duality, and two great things about it:
1. perception of non-duality is pretty awesome, significantly reduces suffering, and can make you happy etc...
2. perception of non-duality allows you to see things as they really are...

So I give you point 1 (and we can argue about the casual factors).

But point 2 is an interesting one. So I know (based on a previous thread) you made it a mission to try to realise at a conscious level what the quantum or scientific perspective offers - something like timelessness, no free will or causality, sense of self or agency. And I do wonder whether that it is a coherent goal. So subjectively you get an experience which you can try and interpret in those terms, but how deep can it really go? It is just all a surface experience - isn't everything in our consciousness a delusion? So I have an experience of a 3 dimensional stable colourful world, yet, it is all just a construct of my brain which would be radically different if I were a bat.

I don't real understand the perspective that our everyday, non-dual existence is wrong, crazy, or delusional. It seems to reinforce the "specialness" that enlightenment is right and true and that which isn't is wrong and false. Though as I have been arguing, if you have spent thousands of hours trying to see the world a different way, it makes sense that you want to privilege and validate that effort - but back to point 1, if that state can help you make you happy and has functional benefits, then that is a separate issue.
Derek Cameron, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 326 Join Date: 7/21/10 Recent Posts
sawfoot _:

I don't real understand the perspective that our everyday, non-dual existence is wrong, crazy, or delusional.


I once wrote an essay where I tried to explain this in ordinary, psychological language. Would you like me to send you a link to where you can read it online?
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Derek Cameron:
sawfoot _:

I don't real understand the perspective that our everyday, non-dual existence is wrong, crazy, or delusional.


I once wrote an essay where I tried to explain this in ordinary, psychological language. Would you like me to send you a link to where you can read it online?

Sure, be my guest!

Just to say, I think I do understand why people can have this perspective - my phrasing is just another way of saying that it is wrong.

So is it just me or is everyne else crazy?

Cue Daniel to come in here and say "if the kinds of minds that bring the world to the brink of nuclear destruction and systematically destroy our natural environment aren't crazy, I don't know what is..."
Derek Cameron, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 326 Join Date: 7/21/10 Recent Posts
sawfoot _:
Derek Cameron:
sawfoot _:

I don't real understand the perspective that our everyday, non-dual existence is wrong, crazy, or delusional.


I once wrote an essay where I tried to explain this in ordinary, psychological language. Would you like me to send you a link to where you can read it online?


Sure, be my guest!


PM sent.
sawfoot _:
I don't real understand the perspective that our everyday, non-dual existence is wrong, crazy, or delusional.

self is like phantom limb clenching sensation inside your head. If its feeling better then its less painful and is allowing more reality to go in which you consider happiness and something that self is giving you. Wrong, crazy and delusional is belief that it is necessary to feel happiness when its exactly what deprive you of it. Without world appear pure and delightful as it ever was. Always when some part of self is gone and selfing is not obstructing clear view there is change for the better.

Matthew 18:9:
And if thine eye causeth thee to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is good for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into the hell of fire.


sawfoot _:
It seems to reinforce the "specialness" that enlightenment is right and true and that which isn't is wrong and false.

actually yes, you are right. We know so much about relief from non-dual perception as we actualize it. If enlightened person A actualize different axis of non-duality than person B then they will argue about what true ultimate enlightenment is. In reality they both are just stupid ignorant fools and have half assed enlightenment. Its still better to realize not-all non-duality than realize none of it...

sawfoot _:
Though as I have been arguing, if you have spent thousands of hours trying to see the world a different way, it makes sense that you want to privilege and validate that effort - but back to point 1, if that state can help you make you happy and has functional benefits, then that is a separate issue.

imho this need for validation comes from non actualizing whole non-dual thing as deeply and completely as one claim.

my favourite sutta quote sums it all nicely, and its very very Zen too. It might seem unrelated at first but it is related and not only to paths and practice but to everything.
The Diamond of Perfect Wisdom Sutra:
“Subhuti, what do you think? Does a srotapanna have the thought: ‘I have attained the realization of the srota-apanna’?” Subhuti said, “No, World Honored One. Why not? Because ‘srotapanna’ means ‘stream-enterer,’ and there is in fact nothing to enter; one who does not enter into form, sound, smell, taste, touch, or dharmas is called a srota-apanna.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? Does a sakridagamin have the thought, ‘I have attained the realization of the sakridagamin’?” Subhuti said: “No, World Honored One. Why not? Although ‘sakridagamin’ means to go and come one more time, there is, in reality, no going and no coming. Therefore he is called a sakridagamin.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? Does an anagamin have the thought, ‘I have attained the realization of the anagamin’?” Subhuti said, “No, World Honored One. Why not? ‘Anagamin’ means non-returning [to the human world], but there is, in fact, no such thing as non-returning. Therefore he is called an anagamin.”

“Subhuti, what do you think? Does an arhat have the thought, ‘I have attained the realization of the arhat’?” Subhuti said, “No, World Honored One. Why not? There is, in reality, no such a thing called ‘arhat.’ World Honored One, if an arhat should give rise to the thought, ‘I have attained the realization of the arhat’, this means that he is attached to the notions of a self, a person, a sentient being, or a life span.

“World Honored One, you have said that of all people I am the foremost in attaining the samadhi of non-contention, and the foremost arhat in being free from desires. But I do not have the thought that I am an arhat who is free from desires. World Honored One, if I were to give rise to the thought that I have attained arhatship, then you would not have said that Subhuti practices aranya—abiding peacefully in non-contention. In reality, Subhuti abides in nothing at all, therefore Subhuti is called one who abides peacefully in non-contention.”


BTW. the fact that you think your state is not that bad do not mean that self is not that bad but that your perception is not reaching fully 'dual' one. Actually it is partially non-dual already and most people already have some non-duality too. So try to see non-dual part of experience, compare it to duality self create and that will put your practice in right direction.
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Thanks Pawel - if Pawel K have facebook page profile I would "like" page.

so is there any ever any "actualising the the whole non-dual thing"? Is there any full-assed enlighenment? Other than with mythic buddha figures. So it seems to me why it gets a bit non-sensical to talk about paths and enlightenment as the ideal of actualization is absurd - a zen or dzogchen perspective might say you can have awakened states, but you can't "be enlightened" - though i think Kenneth does argue for this in a way with his talk of 3rd gear
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Florian Weps, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
sawfoot _:
- Enlightened ones (particularly in pragmatic dharma) see themselves as "special" (witness Kenneth's talk of the "pepper tree"), and their enlightenment becomes an intrinsic part of their self-image. As James Yen points out, this can lead to issues with superiority, and resistance to criticism, for examples, see Florian's responses. Or, for example, Daniel doesn't feel jealously or envy towards other people who aren't enlightened like him. There are significant positive benefits to this specialness. Going to back to self-worth, having achieved and "mastered" something unique and "special" can give one confidence and increased feelings of self-worth. 


Indeed. So how about actually addressing my responses, resistance to criticism and all? Or are you just seeking attention?

Cheers,
Florian
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Florian Weps:
sawfoot _:
- Enlightened ones (particularly in pragmatic dharma) see themselves as "special" (witness Kenneth's talk of the "pepper tree"), and their enlightenment becomes an intrinsic part of their self-image. As James Yen points out, this can lead to issues with superiority, and resistance to criticism, for examples, see Florian's responses. Or, for example, Daniel doesn't feel jealously or envy towards other people who aren't enlightened like him. There are significant positive benefits to this specialness. Going to back to self-worth, having achieved and "mastered" something unique and "special" can give one confidence and increased feelings of self-worth. 


Indeed. So how about actually addressing my responses, resistance to criticism and all? Or are you just seeking attention?

Cheers,
Florian
Well, yes, aren't we all seeking attention, to some degree.

I wasn't quite what sure what to say. There was some parable-like talk of blacksmiths and mattresses In your initial post you picked up on something that was poorly worded and tangential to the any of the substantive points I was trying to make, made fun of it, and appeared to try and take the upper hand. It didn't feel like a criticism per se. I may have misinterpreted you or missed your point. I appreciate you have been around the block a few times and have seen it all before.

The only real criticism that I could see was about it being rude to talk about Kenneth's experiences and I should email him with any questions. I dealt with that in my response above. But I can address it again. I didn't have any specific questions I wanted to ask Kenneth, though I am sure it would be interesting chatting to him. Instead I wanted to discuss his experiences on an internet forum to raise a few issues that I found worth exploring. Given he has written about experiences I think it is fair game to discuss them, and I explained some of the reasons why it I think it is fair game - even when at times it might stray into the rudeness end of the spectrum.
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Florian Weps, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
sawfoot _:
Florian Weps:
So how about actually addressing my responses, resistance to criticism and all? Or are you just seeking attention?


Well, yes, aren't we all seeking attention, to some degree.


Sure. That's why I put the word "just" in there, to distinguish it from the general case of all-round attention seeking.

So with that out of the way:

I wasn't quite what sure what to say. There was some parable-like talk of blacksmiths and mattresses In your initial post you picked up on something that was poorly worded and tangential to the any of the substantive points I was trying to make, made fun of it, and appeared to try and take the upper hand. It didn't feel like a criticism per se. I may have misinterpreted you or missed your point. I appreciate you have been around the block a few times and have seen it all before.


My point was that your posts here are all about voicing your criticism of what this place is about. While criticism of all that is wrong with spiritual practice has its place here, the main focus is on actually doing the spiritual practices, in order to be able to discuss them (and also their bad, dangerous, shadowy aspects) from a perspective of personal experience rather than by constructing and then tearing down straw men. It was this tenedency in your posts which I was making fun of with my "mattresses" remark, i.e. the confusion between correlation and causation which somehow tends to happen more often to people who don't actually have personal experience of the things they are discussing. This is not even specific to Dharma and meditation stuff.

The only real criticism that I could see was about it being rude to talk about Kenneth's experiences and I should email him with any questions. I dealt with that in my response above. But I can address it again. I didn't have any specific questions I wanted to ask Kenneth, though I am sure it would be interesting chatting to him. Instead I wanted to discuss his experiences on an internet forum to raise a few issues that I found worth exploring.


This is still not clear to me. If you want to explore issues you have with Kenneth's explanation of his experiences, who better to discuss these with than Kenneth?

Given he has written about experiences I think it is fair game to discuss them, and I explained some of the reasons why it I think it is fair game - even when at times it might stray into the rudeness end of the spectrum.


So I'm having an issue with something you wrote here. Should I therefore go to a different forum and start a discussion there about you, given that it's fair game since you wrote about it?

Or should I discuss you here on the DhO, but over your head and with other people as if you were not here?

So how about not straying into rudeness at all?

Cheers,
Florian
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Sawfoot:
 
The only real criticism that I could see was about it being rude to talk about Kenneth's experiences and I should email him with any questions. I dealt with that in my response above. But I can address it again. I didn't have any specific questions I wanted to ask Kenneth, though I am sure it would be interesting chatting to him. Instead I wanted to discuss his experiences on an internet forum to raise a few issues that I found worth exploring.
 
Florian
This is still not clear to me. If you want to explore issues you have with Kenneth's explanation of his experiences, who better to discuss these with than Kenneth?
 
That would be a conversation with Kenneth. This is a discussion with an internet forum. If you want to email him with questions, you can. I chose to use the opportunities provided by an internet forum to discuss some issues that came to mind in reading parts of his book. I am sorry if this not clear to you why I did this. If it helps, consider the existence of book reviews - sometimes people write about their views and reflections on books they have read. Sometimes this involves criticism, which can sometimes upset the authors of those books. You seem to be saying that you shouldn't publically discuss the contents of books, but instead, any thoughts or comments or questions should be directed to the authors. Anyhow, it is in the past now. In a parrallel universe time-line, where I am you, and you are me, you can send Kenneth an email instead of starting a thread.
 
Sawfoot
Given he has written about experiences I think it is fair game to discuss them, and I explained some of the reasons why it I think it is fair game - even when at times it might stray into the rudeness end of the spectrum.
 
Florian
So I'm having an issue with something you wrote here. Should I therefore go to a different forum and start a discussion there about you, given that it's fair game since you wrote about it?
 
Or should I discuss you here on the DhO, but over your head and with other people as if you were not here?
 
You can do whatever you want Florian. Whatever you think is worthwhile and morally acceptable to you (laws permitting).
 
Just to note, I do not claim to be an "enlightened being". I am not a spiritual teacher with the answers to how to find unconditional happiness, which involve quite radical life and brain changes. I don't give talks on radio and conferences about it, I don't have a spiritual community of followers and train other spiritual teachers, I don't charge 140 dollars an hour (less, with a coupon!) for my advice, I don't claim to be able to cure serious depression and anxiety disorders with my methods, and I haven't written a book about my experiences. I am just an unenlightened schmuck who confuses causation with correlation.
 
Florian
So how about not straying into rudeness at all?
 
Well, you could always try the same? I mean, you realise that my response to you was due to my perception of your rudeness. This is how these things start, though was it my fault with being rude posting about Kenneth, or your judgement that it was rude? It just becomes tricky with all these accusations of being rude, you know, because once you start judging people as being rude and voicing those opinions and trying to control their behaviour to suit your preferences better, then it is pretty hard to end being rude yourself. Hence my point about superiority - once you get into that position of judging, you fall into that superiority trap. Tricky one to avoid.
 
Florian
 
My point was that your posts here are all about voicing your criticism of what this place is about. While criticism of all that is wrong with spiritual practice has its place here, the main focus is on actually doing the spiritual practices, in order to be able to discuss them (and also their bad, dangerous, shadowy aspects) from a perspective of personal experience rather than by constructing and then tearing down straw men.
 
It was this tenedency in your posts which I was making fun of with my "mattresses" remark, i.e. the confusion between correlation and causation which somehow tends to happen more often to people who don't actually have personal experience of the things they are discussing. This is not even specific to Dharma and meditation stuff.
 
Tendency might be reasonable, "all" seems strange. I have a fair few posts here. Some of these are about my spiritual practices, some of them are advice to others on their spiritual practice, some are speculations about theoretical stuff, some offer a skeptical or scientific perspective, some of them offer praise for what this place is about, and some of them offer a critique about what this place is about. It seems that I get remembered only for the latter. It feels like it you want to pigeonhole me into a category, to make me an out group, in order to demonise me, and to justify this strong negative reaction that you appear to be displaying. You are not the first, but I do find it interesting.
 
I am not Kenneth. I am not Daniel. We have separate minds. I don't have any personal experiences of their experiences.  And yet, I feel sometimes it worthwhile discussing them and their experiences without a perspective of personal experience of their experiences. I do have these things called "personal experiences" though. I have them all the time. And shocking as it seems, they do inform my opinions about things. I have heard the "you aren't allow to discuss enlightenment if you aren't enlightened" argument before. I think it is a poor one, and seems to serve a particular purpose for you.
 
You had a couple of choices in response to this thread. One was to ignore it. One was to engage in the debate. And another would be to engage in ad hominen attacks, and use the old "personal experience" bomb to try and shut it down and dismiss me. So why the latter? Defending Kenneth's honour?  If you ignore me for a moment, what is the problem? Did you feel threatened? Did you get angry? Do you seek to assign blame? Did  it help reify yourself and shore up a positive self-image? Or does it reify a negative self-image? Did you suffer? Do you see my suffering? As a stream enterer, arhat, even, I note your ability to notice suffering is much increased, and, of course, with the emotional fetters being blasted away, did you feel great compassion? How does it feel, right now, reading this? Do you still feel the compassion? Obviously, you are under no obligation to respond, or show signs of weakness. But ultimately, isn't it all quite …interesting?

 
 
 
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Florian Weps, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
sawfoot _:
Tendency might be reasonable, "all" seems strange. I have a fair few posts here. Some of these are about my spiritual practices, some of them are advice to others on their spiritual practice, some are speculations about theoretical stuff, some offer a skeptical or scientific perspective, some of them offer praise for what this place is about, and some of them offer a critique about what this place is about. It seems that I get remembered only for the latter. It feels like it you want to pigeonhole me into a category, to make me an out group, in order to demonise me, and to justify this strong negative reaction that you appear to be displaying. You are not the first, but I do find it interesting.


Please remember what this place is about. There are lots of spiritual forums on the internet. The DhO has a very specific focus, which is really very hard to find on other forums. Many here, me included, get a defensive and nervous when we see what looks to us like an attempt at making it like all the other forums out there. This is probably why you are getting the kinds of reactions you are getting to topics like this one.

For a refresher, please read the Dharma Overground Home Page
 
I am not Kenneth. I am not Daniel. We have separate minds. I don't have any personal experiences of their experiences.  And yet, I feel sometimes it worthwhile discussing them and their experiences without a perspective of personal experience of their experiences. I do have these things called "personal experiences" though. I have them all the time. And shocking as it seems, they do inform my opinions about things. I have heard the "you aren't allow to discuss enlightenment if you aren't enlightened" argument before. I think it is a poor one, and seems to serve a particular purpose for you.


You did not discuss enlightenment with me at all. You made a few points, but you did not go into most replies, and reacted only when I started to get annoyed with your behavior. That is not "you are not allowed to discuss enlightenment if you aren't enlightenened", but rather "please engage in a discussion at all". Which also means to engage with the points people are making instead of reiterating the original point over and over.
 
You had a couple of choices in response to this thread. One was to ignore it. One was to engage in the debate. And another would be to engage in ad hominen attacks, and use the old "personal experience" bomb to try and shut it down and dismiss me. So why the latter?


Why do you perceive it as a bomb to try and shut you down, rather than as an invitation to see the issue in another light?

Let's say I go to a martial arts forum, and start questioning some high-graded master's qualifications, saying, one day he just decided to put on that special belt or those fancy trousers, and now he doesn't train as hard any more, and has taken up calligraphy as a hobby, and that's obviously due to him not being obsessessed with that belt any more, and why didn't he just do calligraphy in the first place? Then several yellow belts and the resident masters and some green belts will respond and say, hey, mastery is hard, and it progresses in this way or that, this is how it is or was for me, why don't you try it and write about your progress instead of speculating about how it might be? The discussion would be so much more intresting. Would my reply of "oh you are all trying to shut me down, only grand masters are allowed to write about mastery" go down well?

Defending Kenneth's honour?  If you ignore me for a moment, what is the problem? Did you feel threatened? Did you get angry? Do you seek to assign blame? Did  it help reify yourself and shore up a positive self-image? Or does it reify a negative self-image? Did you suffer? Do you see my suffering? As a stream enterer, arhat, even, I note your ability to notice suffering is much increased, and, of course, with the emotional fetters being blasted away, did you feel great compassion? How does it feel, right now, reading this? Do you still feel the compassion? Obviously, you are under no obligation to respond. Showing weakness is hard. But ultimately, isn't it all quite …interesting?


Defending a place I value quite highly against what I perceive as unproductive discussion. I often stay out of such discussions, but since you are a regular here, I decided to butt in this time.

Yes, I get angry. Yes, I notice suffering, and compassion. Yes, I feel this thread is not going smoothly, not like I want it to, and I feel a bit of resistance reading new replies to it, what I might find, which new unpleasant directions it might have taken. Weakness? I don't think this is about me being perceived as strong or wise or propping up whatever ideal, but about speaking up for what is important to me in this corner of the internet. Yeah, this can be hard for me. I'm not usually the confrontational type, but some of my buttons got pushed in this thread.

Your turn, same questions?

Cheers,
Florian
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Florian Weps:
sawfoot _:
Tendency might be reasonable, "all" seems strange. I have a fair few posts here. Some of these are about my spiritual practices, some of them are advice to others on their spiritual practice, some are speculations about theoretical stuff, some offer a skeptical or scientific perspective, some of them offer praise for what this place is about, and some of them offer a critique about what this place is about. It seems that I get remembered only for the latter. It feels like it you want to pigeonhole me into a category, to make me an out group, in order to demonise me, and to justify this strong negative reaction that you appear to be displaying. You are not the first, but I do find it interesting.


Please remember what this place is about. There are lots of spiritual forums on the internet. The DhO has a very specific focus, which is really very hard to find on other forums. Many here, me included, get a defensive and nervous when we see what looks to us like an attempt at making it like all the other forums out there. This is probably why you are getting the kinds of reactions you are getting to topics like this one.

For a refresher, please read the Dharma Overground Home Page
 
I am not Kenneth. I am not Daniel. We have separate minds. I don't have any personal experiences of their experiences.  And yet, I feel sometimes it worthwhile discussing them and their experiences without a perspective of personal experience of their experiences. I do have these things called "personal experiences" though. I have them all the time. And shocking as it seems, they do inform my opinions about things. I have heard the "you aren't allow to discuss enlightenment if you aren't enlightened" argument before. I think it is a poor one, and seems to serve a particular purpose for you.


You did not discuss enlightenment with me at all. You made a few points, but you did not go into most replies, and reacted only when I started to get annoyed with your behavior. That is not "you are not allowed to discuss enlightenment if you aren't enlightenened", but rather "please engage in a discussion at all". Which also means to engage with the points people are making instead of reiterating the original point over and over.
 
You had a couple of choices in response to this thread. One was to ignore it. One was to engage in the debate. And another would be to engage in ad hominen attacks, and use the old "personal experience" bomb to try and shut it down and dismiss me. So why the latter?


Why do you perceive it as a bomb to try and shut you down, rather than as an invitation to see the issue in another light?

Let's say I go to a martial arts forum, and start questioning some high-graded master's qualifications, saying, one day he just decided to put on that special belt or those fancy trousers, and now he doesn't train as hard any more, and has taken up calligraphy as a hobby, and that's obviously due to him not being obsessessed with that belt any more, and why didn't he just do calligraphy in the first place? Then several yellow belts and the resident masters and some green belts will respond and say, hey, mastery is hard, and it progresses in this way or that, this is how it is or was for me, why don't you try it and write about your progress instead of speculating about how it might be? The discussion would be so much more intresting. Would my reply of "oh you are all trying to shut me down, only grand masters are allowed to write about mastery" go down well?

Defending Kenneth's honour?  If you ignore me for a moment, what is the problem? Did you feel threatened? Did you get angry? Do you seek to assign blame? Did  it help reify yourself and shore up a positive self-image? Or does it reify a negative self-image? Did you suffer? Do you see my suffering? As a stream enterer, arhat, even, I note your ability to notice suffering is much increased, and, of course, with the emotional fetters being blasted away, did you feel great compassion? How does it feel, right now, reading this? Do you still feel the compassion? Obviously, you are under no obligation to respond. Showing weakness is hard. But ultimately, isn't it all quite …interesting?


Defending a place I value quite highly against what I perceive as unproductive discussion. I often stay out of such discussions, but since you are a regular here, I decided to butt in this time.

Yes, I get angry. Yes, I notice suffering, and compassion. Yes, I feel this thread is not going smoothly, not like I want it to, and I feel a bit of resistance reading new replies to it, what I might find, which new unpleasant directions it might have taken. Weakness? I don't think this is about me being perceived as strong or wise or propping up whatever ideal, but about speaking up for what is important to me in this corner of the internet. Yeah, this can be hard for me. I'm not usually the confrontational type, but some of my buttons got pushed in this thread.

Your turn, same questions?

Cheers,
Florian
So I post on the forum because I think have something to value to offer, say, in giving advice sometimes. And posts like this I think I have something that might be interesting or worthwhile to say, that I can make a contribution. And I have a skeptical and scientific perspective that isn't always well represented here. And as a human being, I want to be valued and appreciated, and liked, even though I might (paradoxically) act in ways that counteract those goals. And so when I get dismissed and mocked, it upsets me. It harms my sense of self-worth - there is an emotional reaction, tapping into fundamental issues like "not feeling good enough".  Even when I believe that I have value to offer, those feelings arise. And so I tried to ignore your first response, as I couldn't think of a good way to handle it without inflaming the situation. And I didn't respond, so you had another go, and I responded in turn. And here we are now, engaged in a costly social interaction.
 
The point relevant to the discussion (I am not what was the same point repeated over and over is, maybe it is this) is that my behaviour is tied up into my self-identity and self-worth, and I wanted to raise how that operates with enlightenment self-image, and how that conditions behaviour. So in your case, it appears you believe you have something of value to offer, you like to give advice, you want to respected for your accomplishments, you see yourself as an authority figure, stewarding the good ship DhO, you don't want to be mocked or ignored, and you seek to validate that self-image through your interactions on this forum, and have an emotional reaction when your self-concept is threatened. You are a human being.  Enlightened beings are human beings too, just like me!
 
EDIT:

Just to add, there are about a million other things I could say in response to that post, Florian, but it is very hard to respond without falling into the same traps that I would ultimately be accusing you of. I did write a response, but deleted it as I am trying to learn that lesson that if you suspect that your communication might be governed by anger, its best to wait 24 hours, come back to it, and see if you might regret posting it. The thread has made a turn for the worse, what can we do to salvage that? So I don't know want to say. How about the end line from my original response: Can you see what blocks compassion and the harm it does?
 
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Florian Weps, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
sawfoot _:
So I post on the forum because I think have something to value to offer, say, in giving advice sometimes. And posts like this I think I have something that might be interesting or worthwhile to say, that I can make a contribution. And I have a skeptical and scientific perspective that isn't always well represented here. And as a human being, I want to be valued and appreciated, and liked, even though I might (paradoxically) act in ways that counteract those goals. And so when I get dismissed and mocked, it upsets me. It harms my sense of self-worth - there is an emotional reaction, tapping into fundamental issues like "not feeling good enough".  Even when I believe that I have value to offer, those feelings arise. And so I tried to ignore your first response, as I couldn't think of a good way to handle it without inflaming the situation. And I didn't respond, so you had another go, and I responded in turn. And here we are now, engaged in a costly social interaction.
 
The point relevant to the discussion (I am not what was the same point repeated over and over is, maybe it is this) is that my behaviour is tied up into my self-identity and self-worth, and I wanted to raise how that operates with enlightenment self-image, and how that conditions behaviour. So in your case, it appears you believe you have something of value to offer, you like to give advice, you want to respected for your accomplishments, you see yourself as an authority figure, stewarding the good ship DhO, you don't want to be mocked or ignored, and you seek to validate that self-image through your interactions on this forum, and have an emotional reaction when your self-concept is threatened. You are a human being.  Enlightened beings are human beings too, just like me!


Nice! That's a solid-gold insight right there. I'm dead serious. Keep going!

See the difference in outcome between personal experience - meaning, things become personal, discussion subject matter becomes personal, practice becomes personal, personal stuff is at stakes, at risk of being examined closely - and abstract, safe theorizing about what other people's experience might be like?

This is why I love this place. DhO at its best. Thanks for participating!

Cheers,
Florian
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Florian Weps:


Nice! That's a solid-gold insight right there. I'm dead serious. Keep going!

See the difference in outcome between personal experience - meaning, things become personal, discussion subject matter becomes personal, practice becomes personal, personal stuff is at stakes, at risk of being examined closely - and abstract, safe theorizing about what other people's experience might be like?

This is why I love this place. DhO at its best. Thanks for participating!

Cheers,
Florian

I don't know whether you saw my "edit" above. And again I don't how to respond. Should I I just let it lie, and be grateful for having the olive branch and so we can leave here with a warm fuzzy feeling? But what I will say is this: can you see how your response serves to separate us?
Derek Cameron, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 326 Join Date: 7/21/10 Recent Posts
sawfoot _:
can you see how your response serves to separate us?


This is the problem with using social media to discuss serious subjects. Social convention demands that we congregate around the lowest common denominator. But when our agenda is distinguishing truth from consensus reality, the herd mentality works against us. "I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword" (Matthew 10:34).
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Derek Cameron:
sawfoot _:
can you see how your response serves to separate us?


This is the problem with using social media to discuss serious subjects. Social convention demands that we congregate around the lowest common denominator. But when our agenda is distinguishing truth from consensus reality, the herd mentality works against us. "I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword" (Matthew 10:34).
I don't entirelyfollow. I don't get the quote.  It is worth pointingout the internet leads to dehumanisation and permits certain behaviours,interpretation and stances to emerge. Who is the holder ofconsensus reality, and who is the herd? I see the herd as the "DhO",and myself going against the grain in acceptance of the assumptions (theconsensus reality of the DhO) which underlie it, whereas others might see me arepresentative of the herd, and they as holders of the truth.

Thanks for your essay, btw, I enjoyed reading it.
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Florian Weps, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
sawfoot _:
Florian Weps:


Nice! That's a solid-gold insight right there. I'm dead serious. Keep going!

See the difference in outcome between personal experience - meaning, things become personal, discussion subject matter becomes personal, practice becomes personal, personal stuff is at stakes, at risk of being examined closely - and abstract, safe theorizing about what other people's experience might be like?

This is why I love this place. DhO at its best. Thanks for participating!

Cheers,
Florian

I don't know whether you saw my "edit" above. And again I don't how to respond. Should I I just let it lie, and be grateful for having the olive branch and so we can leave here with a warm fuzzy feeling? But what I will say is this: can you see how your response serves to separate us?


I can see that my response was patronizing.

I can see that it was engrossing, assimilating you into the DhO way of seeing things, of making a practice of even discussions like this.

I can see your discomfort with it.

Like Derek remarked, forum communication is incredibly hard. I have this half-remembered bit of folklore in my mind that about 90% of the human communication bandwidth gets filtered out in written communication - 10% verbal, 30% intonation, 60% body language, numbers will vary.

Like Laurel mentioned, the sense of separation, the reactions to being patronized and drawn into group-think and so on - all grist for the mill. And yes, this recommendation is, in its very nature, patronizing, if it is not what you are looking for. If you are willing to engage with this kind of activity, i.e. finding out about the causes and conditions of various states of mind and heart (such as the sense of being patronized), it is powerful advice. Engagement with this activity is what the DhO is about.

So it is up to you. Always was, always will be.

Cheers,
Florian
Eva M Nie, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
Interesting how people tend to process the words of others through their own filters.  When I read about that part of Kenneth's story, I interpreted it to mean that as some point along the line after much self investigation, he realized it was his choice in the end to be happy or not happy.  IMO, at that point, I figured he realized it from a very indepth kind of understanding, like groking it instead of just reading about it and so at that point he was able to implement it because at that point, he really got it deep inside.  Not that the outside trappings made him happy but that he knew inside that he could choose happiness inside himself.  Once he knew deeply that he could, then he could.  He just had to really understand.  But that's just my opinion and it could be totally wrong!

For this whole debate thing about protecting the board, I do notice that every forum has the usual characters, one or a few leaders, usually only one main leader, a lot of people loyal to that person, some just generally curious people, some people who try to keep the peace, and some few people who just can't seem to help but notice every tiny little weak spot or perceived weak spot and stick their finger in there and wiggle it around and stir up crap.   And of course, they manage to irk a lot of people when they do that!  IMO, the difference between the various boards is not that any of them don't have the finger poker types, those guys are everywhere, just as the other types are, but there is variation in the quality of those types and also how the board handles those types is IMO the difference between boards.  On some of the boards, the finger pokers are banned quickly and silenced and sweetness and light are vigorously enforced, and on some, the loyal ones engage in heated battle with the finger pokers and those boards have a lot of fighting over tiny stuff often, tiny nuances of tiny points are argued often. 

My favorite kind of board is when interesting discussion is generated by the finger pokers.  That kind of board or situation is exceedingly rare.  I may not always agree with the finger poking types or what they have to say, but I do think they can, if looked on from a certain perspective, be very useful.  If utilized correctly the naysayers are like the traffic cops of a situation, they have laser vision for any tiny inconsistancy or error or potential dark side, and yes sometimes they go overboard or their arrows are shot astray, but they can be good to have around especially if some are able to see their value.   Sometimes they are called devil's advocate.  In native American lore, they had a position that was like half clown/goofball and half wise shaman.  (there is a special name used for that type of character in native lore but i forget it off hand)  But the role of pransker and clown was often combined with the role of wisdom which is very interesting.  In the jokster position, this person could say the most sacriligious things even about the top leaders in a group and somehow get away with it.  Those types by their nature were always always pushing the tolerance of social structure to the farthest limits.  Those types also say a  lot of things than many others thought but felt too constrained by social structure to say out loud.  That's probably part of what made them be able to be so funny.  They also say out loud things that people have inside them but don't want to admit even to themselves that they thought it.  They let off some of the pressure but speaking for the quiet side and/or the dark side of people.  Those types often also step on our most inner weak spots and can also illicit a lot of anger, especially the self rightious kind. They push our buttons, in fact they often have what seems like a laser guided missile ability to do so.  Their very existence I think is very important for balance of a group even as I think they too need the group to keep their own balance.  IMO, those people are like that canary in the coal mine.  If these people are not able to find a bit of balance within a group and the group stay balanced with them, IMO, it is the first sign of an unbalanced environment.  Oh and to be clear, I am not saying any one person in here exactly matches any of these types, only that many types of people tend to be similar to some of these archetypes, but not that they will be an exact match.  Anyway, that's my personal take on it..
-Eva   
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 3199 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
The finger pokers I would most appreciate in the skillful and helpful role you suggest would be doing it from a place of accomplished practice, not from some armchair skeptic with no obvious practice interest, given the focus and intent of the forum.

I don't find it helpful to say things like, "Maybe if people just didn't practice and got jobs they would be happier," on a forum about hardcore practice. There are plenty of job bank forums, forums about corporate success, forums about how to get ahead in the business world, about how to excel in marketing or investing or whatever, in fact there are hundreds.

Imagine going on a forum about how to tweak high-performance racecar engines and saying, "Why don't you just ride the bus? It is a lot less expensive and you would be happier..." See how that totally misses the context, the vibe, the essence of the thing?

Someone coming here and saying, "Now, wait a second. How can you tell the PCE from some really strong burst of walking-around ñ11.j4.j6 or just the heavy unitive and remarkable bliss that some people get in the A&P?" That's the sort of stuff I find good finger pointers doing. That pushes things forward. That really gets to the heart of the good stuff, if you ask me. It encourges real inquiry, real examination of dogma, real practitioners to really look at those things and compare them and try to figure out how they may be the same or different and how they conceive of that and try to explain it. They not only are practitioners but they can really critique models from that sort of experience base.

See the difference? Why is this so hard to explain?

Five more examples just to drive the point home:

Someone comes here and posts about their intensive retreat experience and says thaty they wonder about the models as their experience followed them in some ways but really seemed to diverge from them in others, so they lay out a critique based on their interpretations of the models and their experience and people debate these things: helpful, makes sense, fits with the forum ethos.

Someone comes here and posts about how they feel that meditation is just a bunch of stuck-up religious folk pretending and making up stuff and living in a fantasy land: not as helpful. Would be better on a skeptic's forum, of which there are many. It might sound like the skillful finger-pointing and pot-stirring you find valuable, but it really isn't.

Someone comes here and wants to debate how their attainments fit with the various maps, comparing the paths, bhumis, ladder of love stages and ten ox-herding pictures to what has happened to theim as best they understand it and conceptualize it: totally the sort of stuff that works well here.

Someone comes here and wants to blast various teachers, practitioners, traditions just because they like blasting them. It has nothing to do with their practice, nothing to do with their attempt to master anything, nothing to do with their actual experiences, nothing to do with something they want to accomplish beyong their own rant: not as helpful, not as what this place is about. Might go to some guru watch site or something, as those are all about that.

Someone comes here and wants to learn to practice, how to meditate, now to focus the mind, how to investigate, now to inquire, and how various traditions might support this and what they lead to. They might have their own doubts and fears, preconceptions and misconceptions, reactions to the traditions and those traditions's quirks, their own personal issues to deal with, etc., but the overall frame of reference and point of focus is how to deal with those, resolve misunderstandings, and make progress in whatever tradition(s) they are intersted in exploring well, and get some real attainments. This is totally cool and normal and feels very different from just knee-jerk skepticism and seeminglessly inexhaustible doubts about even the most basic points.

Imagine going on a forum about advanced differential calculus being used by electrical engineers to design better circuits and just posting on and on and on regarding something like, "Ok, but do people really need to know much beyond how to balance their cheekbook? Wouldn't you all just be happier watching TV?" See how tiring that would be? That is what this feels like to me.

I will be happy to continue in this vein if further examples and explanations would help clarify a point that I perhaps considered so obvious that I failed to state it clearly before.

Daniel
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Jane Laurel Carrington, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 442 Join Date: 4/7/14 Recent Posts
I agree with Daniel. I took some time out to read over some older threads, and they followed a similar pattern to this one: a series of provocative arguments, appearing to engage with people but doing so without much tact or respect, escalation, and then whining about being treated as an outsider when someone else has had enough (or even when people are trying to be constructive). As Eva says above, he seems to know people's weak points and push on them. He certainly did this with me. I haven't paid close attention to the dynamics of this forum lately, so I didn't have a feel for sawfoot's participation until this experience. People happening on one of these discussions could be drawn in, thinking he makes some really intriguing arguments that are worth considering. Some of them may even be worth hashing out. But things get ugly very quickly. Even at their best these discussions just go around in circles. 

I still regret making disparaging comments on another forum, but I am perfectly willing to be honest on this one. 
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 1335 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Jane Laurel Carrington:
I took some time out to read over some older threads, and they followed a similar pattern to this one: a series of provocative arguments, appearing to engage with people but doing so without much tact or respect, escalation, and then whining about being treated as an outsider when someone else has had enough (or even when people are trying to be constructive).

For those who were not around or have little desire to read thru all of Sawtooth's post I would direct you back the last? time things came to a head. http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5289088?_19_threadView=flat
sawfoot _:
Dream Walker:

Why are you interested?
I find that I am disliking you enough to become a bit curious about you. I started reading your early posts to find out a little about where you were at in practice and realized I have no idea if you have ever done any meditation. This made me want to reread some more of your posts to find the answers but I don't have time so I figured I'd just ask you...can you point to a thread that tells a little about yourself or your practice? I'd like to take the conversation there to avoid hijacking this thread.
sawfoot _:

 It seems to me you ask just because this is your way of calling bullshit, which is merited. But if so, inherent in the assumption that works as a "calling bullshit strategy" is that experience is the trump card. The card that Ian played above. Which, I found ridiculous.

It could very well go this way but I'd rather not. Perhaps change your vocabulary a bit to reflect your contemplations and astute thinking verses experiences.
sawfoot _:
Which compelled me to troll.

Thanks for being honest. As long as you know when you are deliberately trolling and when you are not while you are doing it....that is mindfulness.
sawfoot _:
I am not going to go into details, as do you really care about the nitty gritty? Would you like me to recount my dreams? And some acid trips? (A&P would be the obvious one though).
I don't care about the nitty gritty unless it is part of your narrative of who you are now and what you are doing with it.
sawfoot _:

I have yet to encounter what I consider a decent explanation what all this is really about. And part of the reason I get on my high horse about woo woo like "psycho-physiological awakening" and the like is that I feel it impedes our understanding of the really interesting stuff that is going on. It is just a bit of a wasted opportunity.

I too am frustrated in the things I can not yet understand. I try to keep this frustration from lashing out to judge and impede conversations that do not directly involve my belief systems. I dearly wish you would do so too.
I hope I am not just feeding the trolling part of you.
Thanks,
~D


Dreamwalker, I don't seem to be able to stop being a dick on the internet, and I think it has a lot to do with being anonymous. Though I suppose there are lots of anonymous people on the internet who don't end up acting like dicks...Still, I probably am a lot more likeable when I am not being a dick. So I think I should retire Sawfoot_, and if I do end up on this forum again then I will try to do it in a less anonymous, more considerate manner. Thanks (along with other posters) for putting up with me and pointing out the obvious.


This was followed by him starting a practice thread - http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5302126
Best post ever -
sawfoot _:
- morning sit 0 minutes. Went on dharmaoverground and replied to several posts
- had insight that I should probably stop spending so much time on dharmaoverground

repeat after me:

GOING ON DHARMAOVERGROUND IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR PRACTICE
GOING ON DHARMAOVERGROUND IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR PRACTICE
GOING ON DHARMAOVERGROUND IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR PRACTICE
~D
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Daniel
Back to business: one of the forum posters noted that some here might be creating a space that was not as conducive to reports of deep practice. It is an ominous warning and a very good point. I totally agree. It is also a reasonable critique of my moderating style, which has been too lenient of things that would create any space that hardcore practitioners don't feel comfortable sharing in.


Spaces that are safe for disclosures of deep practice are rare and must be preserved. They are the reason for this place, its founding reason. For those who don't feel safe, let me know...
To Dreamwalker,

I appreciate you may have found that post (which you have copied and pasted from my practice log) humorous, but you understand the particular point I was making there? It was a reflection of my struggles with practice, how that ties in with procrastination, and the ways in which we fool ourselves. So why whoever is reading this is not meditating right now, or taking a walk in nature, instead - reading or posting on this forum? Ok, so admittedly it isn't talking about an aspect of my perceptual experience. But Jake seemed to appreciate it, at least. Here is another practice log.It was dark night so my concentration had gone to shit. Is this deep enough practice? Is there anythng you want to mock about it? 

# 2014-3-16 
- 30 minutes morning sit
- lacking sleep and hung over so didn't have too much expectations
- first settled into experience without too much willing, just trying to let things naturally settle down
- rather than breath counting I just tried to connect with pleasurable sensations of the breath passing nostrils. This went reasonably well, and at one point I had a bit of piti stirring but it dissipated as soon as I got attached to it. Eventually realised after a while that I was spinning wheels with cognitive thought trains and switched to aloud noting for rest of sit. Most commonly noted "sitting/touching", and at one point got into the flow with a degree of momentary concentration
- ended abruptly, making I think I should set timer for 40 minutes. Seems a good sign though, in that speed of sit passing vs. resistance and wanting it to end is a good marker of where I am practice wise. Equanimity round the corner? A good motivator for longer/more sits.

Do you appreciate the principle at stake here? 

If you ever want to chat, pls send me a PM.  

p.s. 
re: the description I used of trolling (which I think the wrong choice of word after I looked up its many meanings) and "deep practice", This what Katy Steger said to me:

I haven't thought of your comments here ever as "trolling". Sometimes I have seen them as "testy", but "testy" can be related to "testing", as in "how these people react to my provocations may tell me if their so-called practice is worth boo". 
Like Eva, she pretty much gets it. 
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 3199 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Except that how people react to internet posters is more a question of personality than meditative ability, and the chances that meditation will transform their internet replies into replies you like is low, particularly if you are on a forum about hardcore practice and don't post about that. Over 5 years of the DhO has clearly shown that this is not the case.

Adding to models of enlightenment that I didn't anticipate, and in the style of MCTB, "The Internet Post Reply Models of Enlightenment: those models in which the poster imagines that everyone who has real attainments will reply to their post the way they want them to and will always be ok with and be really nice about whatever they post on a forum." That is ths sort of bullshit that you generally seem to dislike and yet you persists on promoting that model.
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

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

Except that how people react to internet posters is more a question of personality than meditative ability, and the chances that meditation will transform their internet replies into replies you like is low, particularly if you are on a forum about hardcore practice and don't post about that. Over 5 years of the DhO has clearly shown that this is not the case.

Adding to models of enlightenment that I didn't anticipate, and in the style of MCTB, "The Internet Post Reply Models of Enlightenment: those models in which the poster imagines that everyone who has real attainments will reply to their post the way they want them to and will always be ok with and be really nice about whatever they post on a forum." That is ths sort of bullshit that you generally seem to dislike and yet you persists on promoting that model.
Ok, great, now we are getting somewhere! A point of actual disagreement.

Let's create a polarising dichotomy:

On the one hand, you have the hordes of armchair, non-practicing skeptics, the wildings at the wall, with their little beady eyes and large pointy noses, and poor meditative ability, who have have infested the DhO and seek to destroy it, who believe that practice should influence people's replies on the internet, or perhaps, in one sense constitute it. Otherwise, really, what is the point?

And then on the other hand, you have the noble, decent, brave, honest practioners of good meditative ability, a deep practice of which this is place is really about, who realise that practice has little to do with how you behave on an internet forum.

Perhaps this latter group, given their deep practice, and realization of not-self, having seen into the illusion of free will, and realised they have no choice in acting like a dick on an internet forum, because that is just an expression of their personality. My unenlightened self is still labouring under the impression I have a choice.

A lot of this comes down to confusion about the meaning of "practice" or "deep practice". I often get a bit confused. "hardcore practice" gets a bit closer. But it is really just about meditation isn't it? "Deep practice" is just "deep meditation practice". This place is a place for discussion of serious meditation. This thread isn't about serious meditation, so it has very little value.

But can you see why people like me get confused? Which is why you sometimes get the "wrong people" coming here? The book, and that title, which always confused me. Perhaps a change is needed. How about:

"Mastering the Core Teachings of Daniel M. Ingram?"

And the title of this place, for example. How about instead:

"The Meditation Overground"?

p.s. note, it has got to Godwin's law time. That's ok, though, because I know the law exists!
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 1335 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
sawfoot _:
Dreamwalker,
I appreciate you may have found that post (which you have copied and pasted from my practice log) humorous, but you understand the particular point I was making there? ... Is there anythng you want to mock about it?


I found it humorous and understand the point. Sorry you took it to be mocking but I really thought it was great. If we had those signature lines after our posts like some forums I would immediately change it to that.
That said, I still have a dislike for your presence here. I am noting it.
~D
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Ok, sorry, in the context you raised I thought it was serving a particular purpose and driven by particular reasons, so I must have the wrong end of the stick (feeling somewhat perscuted as I am).

Disliking me, or disliking the presence of me?

What is me, anyhow, but a cute little icon, a post count, and your presumptions? So its upsetting when you say you don't like me, because it feels like it is me, and that not that little icon. So like I said, PM if you want to chat.
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 1335 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Dream Walker:
That said, I still have a dislike for your presence here. I am noting it.
~D
sawfoot _:
Ok, sorry, in the context you raised I
thought it was serving a particular purpose and driven by particular
reasons, so I must have the wrong end of the stick (feeling somewhat
perscuted as I am).

Disliking me, or disliking the presence of me?

What
is me, anyhow, but a cute little icon, a post count, and your
presumptions? So its upsetting when you say you don't like me, because
it feels like it is me, and that not that little icon. So like I said,
PM if you want to chat.
sawfoot _:
Dreamwalker,
I don't seem to be able to stop being a dick on the internet, and I
think it has a lot to do with being anonymous. Though I suppose there
are lots of anonymous people on the internet who don't end up acting
like dicks...Still, I probably am a lot more likeable when I am not
being a dick. So I think I should retire Sawfoot_, and if I do end up on
this forum again then I will try to do it in a less anonymous, more
considerate manner. Thanks (along with other posters) for putting up
with me and pointing out the obvious.
I mean what I say, I still have a dislike for your presence here. I do not know you outside of the forum. I don't know who "you" are at all. If we met in real life I may like you but your presence here is disruptive and you know it. It seems that you can not stop being a dick as far as I can tell. You keep repeating it. It seems like you enjoy it. Do you still think it has a lot to do with being anonymous?
I think you should retire Sawfoot_, and if you do end up on this forum again then you should try to do it in a less anonymous, more considerate manner. If you can not, have you considered why that is?
~D
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Dream Walker:
Dream Walker:
That said, I still have a dislike for your presence here. I am noting it.
~D
sawfoot _:
Dreamwalker,
I don't seem to be able to stop being a dick on the internet, and I
think it has a lot to do with being anonymous. Though I suppose there
are lots of anonymous people on the internet who don't end up acting
like dicks...Still, I probably am a lot more likeable when I am not
being a dick. So I think I should retire Sawfoot_, and if I do end up on
this forum again then I will try to do it in a less anonymous, more
considerate manner. Thanks (along with other posters) for putting up
with me and pointing out the obvious.
I mean what I say, I still have a dislike for your presence here. I do not know you outside of the forum. I don't know who "you" are at all. If we met in real life I may like you but your presence here is disruptive and you know it. It seems that you can not stop being a dick as far as I can tell. You keep repeating it. It seems like you enjoy it. Do you still think it has a lot to do with being anonymous?
I think you should retire Sawfoot_, and if you do end up on this forum again then you should try to do it in a less anonymous, more considerate manner. If you can not, have you considered why that is?
~D
But you aren't just noting it are you?

By not just noting it, and in your responses to me here and in previous theads, you end up being disruptive and acting like a bit of a dick, in my opinion (no offence, takes one to know one etc...). So why is it? Do you enjoy it? Can't help yourself? Is it a lot to do with being anonymous? So I know when I am being a bit of a dick. Do you? Or do you not think you are being a dick?

When you say, disruptive, do you mean personally disruptive, to your practice? I made you click on a thread created by someone's presence you dislike and find disruptive, made you read it, and made you repeatedly respond. And hence got in the way of your practice, of closely examining how the fluxing sensations that make up your experience are suffering, impermanent, and not you? 

And/or disruptive to other people and the DhO? I am disrupting their practice? And by responding here, you are working in the service of the greater good, yes?

If you do end up responding to this comment, you should try to do it in a more considerate manner. If you can not, have you considered why that is?

(note I agree it is an excellent question to ask, and I learn a lot from asking it myself, and I am not looking for any answers personally, unless you want to PM me).
Eva M Nie, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
"Jane Laurel Carrington:
I agree with Daniel. I took some time out to read over some older threads, and they followed a similar pattern to this one: a series of provocative arguments, appearing to engage with people but doing so without much tact or respect, escalation, and then whining about being treated as an outsider when someone else has had enough (or even when people are trying to be constructive). As Eva says above, he seems to know people's weak points and push on them. He certainly did this with me. I haven't paid close attention to the dynamics of this forum lately, so I didn't have a feel for sawfoot's participation until this experience. People happening on one of these discussions could be drawn in, thinking he makes some really intriguing arguments that are worth considering. Some of them may even be worth hashing out. But things get ugly very quickly. Even at their best these discussions just go around in circles. 

I still regret making disparaging comments on another forum, but I am perfectly willing to be honest on this one. "

One thing about disparaging comments, sooner or later one will probably regret them no matter how justified they seem at the time.  For Sawfoot, I can't say exactly what goes on his head, but it does seem to be human nature to try to assume we know exactly the motivations of another person even though it's not really possible.  A lot of what we assume tends to get filtered through our own experiences, people we have known, our family structure, our own weaknesses and insecurities, pet peaves, etc.  We never really know the other person, we only know how we interpet them through our own filters.  We get one opinion of them but someone else with different filters and experiences forms a different opinion of the same peson, but neither can really know that person.   From the perspective of the guy in question, it may look a lot different.  

They do this a lot of cinema movie development.  Sometimes they will present you a basic character and his/her behavior, and you quickly develop opinions and judgements of that person, but then the movie script goes into backstory mode and you see all the history of that person and much dramatic story line about how he/she became what that person is in the present.  And by the time the backstory is over, you typically have a whole new set of judgements and opinions on this person and then when the storyline clicks back into the present, it's like a big 'aha' moment as you realize how much your opinions have shifted.  This kind of cinema technique can be very powerful.  But in real life, we don't often know the whole story behind a person and it's good to keep that in mind when possible.  It gives a different perspective. 

I can sympthasize with Sawtooth more easily because in the past and sometimes still now, I also tend to be a bit of a %$)*_# stirrer, sometimes but not always.  I don't know about others and I am not saying it is the same for everyone who has the tendency, but here is how it looks like from my perspective.  I see some inconsistancy or thing that just bugs me in something.  I think about it, roll it over in my head,  I have an urge to talk about it.  It's like a tooth fell out and there's a hole there and my tongue just won't stop poking the hole.  I wonder if others will be irritated if I bring it up but I think it's important at the time and/or I really want to know, so I figure the heck with convention, if they are adults they should be able to handle it, so I post it.  After I post it, sometimes I think "Uh oh, hope I didn't go to far with that one, maybe I could have said it better/done more research first/thought about it more first/etc.  The fact that it's a quirk of my nature that I am not much constrained by hierarchical structure or convention means those things that naturally constrain others just don't have much effect on me.  It also means that people who care more about those things can get more easily irked when I tend to stomp all over those societal constraints as if they didn't exist.  I have lots of theories about why it works that way for me sometimes, everything from good to bad to neutral character traits, social dynamics theory, etc but it's likely a lot of factors combined and would take a long time to hash out any further in written form, so I won't torture you any further with it.  ;-P 
-Eva
 
Eva M Nie, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
"Now, wait a second. How can you tell the PCE from some really strong burst of walking-around ñ11.j4.j6 or just the heavy unitive and remarkable bliss that some people get in the A&P?" That's the sort of stuff I find good finger pointers doing"

Well yeah, that would be a good question and most likely the kinds of questions you originally invisioned for this forum and you have had questions like that, but that kind of question is also a very conservative socially acceptable nonbutton pushing type of question within the established belief paradigm of this place.  Ie not very provocative and minimally challenging.  I bet every person who runs a board ever has probably wished they could get only the kinds of posts they want.  It's not the type of question that pushes the envelope or stirs up even a tiny bit of crap, thus is not the type of thing that I am talking about.  And let me make clear also, I am not saying that it is good for any forum to descend into abject %$%^ stirring, just more that any situation is what we make of it.  And IME, any truely bad troll will usually get quickly bored and wander off if they are not provided with the stimulus they seek, so not getting frazzled is a great way to deal with most anything.   

So some guy comes here and says 'How do you know that it isn't a whole lot of BS and there is no enlightenment really?"  (except he didn't really say it like that at all, he said something else that some people seem to be interpreting like that, but just for the sake of argument, let's just say he did say that for minute, even though I personally did not interpret it that way.)  Now that is the kind of question that pisses people off.  And to be clear, I don't personally think it's a bunch of BS or I would not waste my time coming here.   But I DO often think about what is and is not bs.  And I do often wonder why people believe what they believe when there is something along the lines of zero evidence for it for many people who are mostly running on faith.   So anyway, you hear some kind of question like that and you choose your response.  You can think it's rude, especially if you are big on hierarchy or if it's more aimed towards you and yours.  You could choose to get angry, laugh, feel self righteous indignation, fear for the safety of the board, fear a potential oncoming argument situation, fear the responses of others or think it's just really boring.  Or you could just answer with some great insights like so many people on this thread already have.  And you could get some great ideas out of it and the whole thing could be mostly just another question interpreted the way I did as coming from a confused person who read some stuff but just does not get it and decided to just hang it all out there.  But we all choose how we interpet each question, the assumptions we read into his motives, and how we will respond to those assumptions.  Then he will likely respond to your response filtered through his own assumptions about your motivations.  It's a wonder anyone understands anyone sometimes.  But personally, I do think he has tried and put a lot of effort into understanding others, even if some people are not satisfied with the outcome.  Likely, none of our interpretations of him and his motives are exactly right.  Heck, maybe or likely even he is confused with many cross steams of desires and motivations all swirling at once.  I certainly don't always fully understand all my own motivations and reasonings.  But IME, the more one tries to rigidly control a situation or person, the more the situation stubbornly and continually steers the other way.  Perhaps there is a lesson in that. 

The one thing I have learned running internet groups is that the groups never ever develop the way originally planned, they always take unexpected paths.  It's like herding cats, the more force is used, the more likely it will descend into chaos.  We may consciously think we want one thing, but reality will barf up another thing.  Cats have a special ability to not do what you order them to do or want them to do, instead at least one of them finds the one thing you really don't want them to do most and does it ove rand over especially when you have your back turned.  If you have not gotten the place cat proofed, then you are in trouble!   And fairly often, what seems on the surface to be some horrible thing at first actually turns out to be a really great thing in the long run or the irritating thing that keeps happening over and over again will keep happening until I finally learn the lesson I need to learn from it (sometimes that is a long time too!).  But really, so some guy said some things that could be interpreted as a bit rude, so what?  Why is it a big deal?  It's a big deal because he pushed some people's buttons, buttons they are likely not even fully aware they had but now have been exposed.  Otherwise, why not just shrug, answer or not answer as you see fit, and go on with the good stuff?  He has no true power of the board or any of us other than what we grant him by way of exposed buttons.  If that guy pisses you off, why not spend a bunch of time thinking on why you gave him so much power over your emotions that he could do that so easily?  Once you figure that out, then in the future, you'll be free to not get irked at all and most every troll in the universe will think this is the most boring place ever and running screaming from here!   Not saying it is easy but if you try it, you might be amazed how much each person's attitude effects and changes everyone else around them's behaviors and attitude.  Ironically, if you try to control someone directly, it often backfires or they will fight back, but if you just change your own self and way of thinking and feeling, then the other people around you will be dramatically affected.  That's why I say you have the most power when you deal with your own crap.  If you don't want crap from other's you better get busy getting rid of all your own crap first because it's the only way that works.  I heard it once said off the cuff by Iyanla, "As long as you are pointing that finger you aren't dealing with your own crap," which I thought was a pretty cool saying. Every internet group will often have crap to deal with, the measure of the board is how that crap is dealt with.   
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Can I suggest that those who are feeling having strong emotional reactions to me and/or this thread (whether you realise it or not), wait a day or two for it to die down, and have a close read of Eva's two posts above (again if necessary)? There are quite a few paragraphs to get through, but it's really worth it.

Eva I sent you a little PM

edit: PM doesn't seem to be showing up your name so I can't send you one.

Anyway, thanks for your very thoughtful posts.

xx

Psi Psi
Does any of this make sense to you?

Some, some not...Needs a bit of thinking. Will try to get back to you later.
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Psi Phi, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 1095 Join Date: 11/22/13 Recent Posts
Hey Sawfoot, 

Now that I've had ayet another night's lack of sleep to ponder your questioning.  It seems that I have figured out your true underlying question inthis whole deal. To do this I have had to try to reverse engineer my mind into your perspective, which used to be my perspective, as minds really all work the same anyway, believe it or not.

So I have to make some assumptions:

First, you have a strong belief in scientific method and have an innate bulshit detector that sends out alarm signals when you sense frauds and charlatans.  You don't believe in fairy tales and really , really dislike people that lie and cheat, and dupe people over to further their own selfish means.  You like justice and Truth, and will not readily tolerate any nonsense that doesn't conform to the known laws of physics,  But on the other hand you have an open mind, enoough to give everything a fair shake.  You won't just believe anything, just because it was written in a book, or because so and so says so.

Now here is the analysis of the problem:

First, you don't believe much in enlightenment, or pure awareness, or that jhanas are much more than self-hypnosis, or some sort of trance....   BUT you do believe it is possible.

So, here is the problem, you want people to prove to you that such things exist, Kind of, "So you say your Enlightened, then show me, Mr. Enlightenedy Pants..."

Well, no-one can do that, but here is what is offered:

Techniques and Methods, step by step instructions, that you can use the scientific method upon your own mind, if you are so inclined, that will , if followed diligently and correctly, prove to yourself, beyond any shadow of a doubt that this is all real, beneficial, and helpful in living a complete and full human life, if done in a correct and balanced practice.  (Mostly, there doesn't have to be much more than some formal meditaiton and being mindful throughout the day, whcih means cutting out the wishing, wanting, dis-liking, and daydreaming) i.e. ( Or maybe one could write a book, "Daydream your way to Mastery) haha

Why does it all seem Not Real and fairy tale like?

I have an allegory (or metaphor) , i always get those confused..

Up until Fifth grade I had always thought I was sort of clumsy, got alot of headaches etc, never really knew why, was in little league baseball, I was the Strikeout King, If I hit the ball, it was by sheer luck, but I tried and tried, really putting in all my effort.  Well, come to find out, I needed glasses, and pretty bad actually.  When I first put on the glasses, I could actually see LEAVES on the trees!!! Wow!  And the stars were pinpoints in the night sky , it was amazing, but up until the glasses, I was clueless, had no idea about the stars and leaves.  People could have explained to me all day about the stars and leaves, and "Oh, just look at the Clouds"  I was like , "Uh, yeah , sure...real neato"   But AFTER the glasses, then I knew what seeing was like, I could KNOW what everyone was talking about, I had a reference point.

So, until you EXPERIENCE for yourself a calm, quiet , silent , peacefully aware mind, being able to choose between having thoughts arise or not, being able to not react with anger, then trying to imagine what it is like is , well just imagination.  In Buddhism it is told like trying to explain what a mango tastes like to one who has never eaten a mango, you have to taste it for yourself.

If my assumptions are wrong, and you have trained your mind to these points, then I sincerely apologize, and also apologize because I would not know then why you are asking the questions you ask.

Peace
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Psi Phi:
Hey Sawfoot, 

Hi Psi Psi

Now that I've had ayet another night's lack of sleep to ponder your questioning.  It seems that I have figured out your true underlying question inthis whole deal.

Probably not, but I appreciate the effort!

To do this I have had to try to reverse engineer my mind into your perspective, which used to be my perspective, as minds really all work the same anyway, believe it or not.

So I have to make some assumptions:

First, you have a strong belief in scientific method and have an innate bulshit detector that sends out alarm signals

True

when you sense frauds and charlatans.  

True, but there aren't many/any frauds and charltans in these parts

You don't believe in fairy tales and really , really dislike people that lie and cheat, and dupe people over to further their own selfish means.  

Yep, but then who does? Again, lying and cheating is not what you find in these parts. 

You like justice and Truth, and will not readily tolerate any nonsense that doesn't conform to the known laws of physics,  But on the other hand you have an open mind, enoough to give everything a fair shake.  You won't just believe anything, just because it was written in a book, or because so and so says so.

Yep, why not

Now here is the analysis of the problem:

First, you don't believe much in enlightenment,

Yes and no (partly because no-one can really say what is "enlightenment" - because everyone has a different version)

or pure awareness,

Pretty much no

or that jhanas are much more than self-hypnosis, or some sort of trance....  

Disagree - Jhanas are jhanas

BUT you do believe it is possible.

What is possible? But yes, probably.

So, here is the problem, you want people to prove to you that such things exist, Kind of, "So you say your Enlightened, then show me, Mr. Enlightenedy Pants..."

Yes, in a way - show me - but show me in your behaviour, not in what you say it brings you

Well, no-one can do that, but here is what is offered:

Techniques and Methods, step by step instructions, that you can use the scientific method upon your own mind, if you are so inclined, that will , if followed diligently and correctly, prove to yourself, beyond any shadow of a doubt that this is all real, beneficial, and helpful in living a complete and full human life, if done in a correct and balanced practice.  

Well, that becomes difficult to answer, depending on your definitions of all those terms, which have a lot of assumptions. So what is a correct practice, for example? Or a full human life? What is the meaning of life?!!! But, really no, I am not looking to prove that such techniques are real and beneficial, as I am reasonably convinced by that already. 

(Mostly, there doesn't have to be much more than some formal meditaiton and being mindful throughout the day, whcih means cutting out the wishing, wanting, dis-liking, and daydreaming) i.e. ( Or maybe one could write a book, "Daydream your way to Mastery) haha

Why does it all seem Not Real and fairy tale like?

So I am not doubting that it isn't "real" in the sense I think you mean

I have an allegory (or metaphor) , i always get those confused..

Up until Fifth grade I had always thought I was sort of clumsy, got alot of headaches etc, never really knew why, was in little league baseball, I was the Strikeout King, If I hit the ball, it was by sheer luck, but I tried and tried, really putting in all my effort.  Well, come to find out, I needed glasses, and pretty bad actually.  When I first put on the glasses, I could actually see LEAVES on the trees!!! Wow!  And the stars were pinpoints in the night sky , it was amazing, but up until the glasses, I was clueless, had no idea about the stars and leaves.  People could have explained to me all day about the stars and leaves, and "Oh, just look at the Clouds"  I was like , "Uh, yeah , sure...real neato"   But AFTER the glasses, then I knew what seeing was like, I could KNOW what everyone was talking about, I had a reference point.

So, until you EXPERIENCE for yourself a calm, quiet , silent , peacefully aware mind, being able to choose between having thoughts arise or not, being able to not react with anger, then trying to imagine what it is like is , well just imagination.  In Buddhism it is told like trying to explain what a mango tastes like to one who has never eaten a mango, you have to taste it for yourself.

So I believe I have enough experience to understand what these things are like first hand, but implicit in your statement are some assumptions there, which seem like Buddhist myths. For example, not being able to react with anger. Do you see evidence here (e.g. on this thread) that the advanced practices people have used have stopped people being able to react with anger? Or greater insight into how their anger (and self reification) manifests?


If my assumptions are wrong, and you have trained your mind to these points, then I sincerely apologize, and also apologize because I would not know then why you are asking the questions you ask.

Thanks for you sincerity, Psi Psi

Peace
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Psi Phi, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 1095 Join Date: 11/22/13 Recent Posts
Hi again sawfoot, 

Okay, from what I currently understand of your reply, is that:

A: You do seem to think that people here are practicing and not making up stories or feeding out lines of BS, and that these claims are not fraudulent.

B: You don't believe or know Enlightenment because everyone seems to have a different version.

C: Pure Awareness as a state of consciousness is a NO.

D: Jhanas are Jhanas

E:  You view the behavior of reponses and then see if that matches your view of Enlightenment, maybe your version?

F: You have an inkling this is real, but not real, real, kinda myth-like.


Well, of course !  You have beliefs about things you have not experienced, if you had experinced such things, or such things at a deeper level,  you would KNOW what Kenneth was talking about in the first place.

So, use this logic, Mr Sawfoot, please:

Say by meditating and contemplation you had reached a small sliver of  Peace and Contentment, which you seem to have done, yes?

Then by your powers of deduction you should be able to infer that , because before meditating and using wisdom, there was not that slice of Peace and Contentment, and that through practice, that sliver of peace can be expanded and expanded, and that one day the sliver of Peace will have been expanded into the whole being.

THAT is where your confidence can come from, reviewing what has been accomplished and constant cultivation of Wisdom as to the Core nature of reality.

So too, it is true, that by not practicing Wisdom, Peace and Contentment, one reacts naturally to the world, much as any animal may react by not wanting things the way they are and by wanting and clinging to the nice things, hoping they will stay that way forever, and thus be unaware of strenghtening the process of Attatchment and Aversion.  Even a worm squirms away from pain when the ants attack, and moves towards the warmth of the sun, or is attracted to the moisture of the earth.  Wisdom , cultivated brings choices on how and even if to react.

But, know too, that causes have effects, 

http://fraughtwithperil.com/ryuei/2012/04/01/the-buddhas-teaching-on-right-speech/

Now on that occasion a young tender infant was lying prone on Prince Abhaya’s lap. Then the Blessed One said to Prince Abhaya: “What do you think, prince? If, while you or your nurse were not attending to him, this child were to put a stick or pebble in his mouth, what would you do to him?”

“Venerable sir, I would take it out. If I could not take it out at once, I would take his head in my left hand, and crooking a finger of my right hand, I would take it out even if it meant drawing blood. Why is that? Because I have compassion for the child.”So to sum up, you should be able to answer your original questions of the thread on your own.   One can master their own mind, find peace and contenment, AND still master the core teachings of Dentistry, Carprentry, and raise a Family, why not?But for now I still have the inkling that you think a peaceful feeling is generated from outside of the mind and body. i.e.  (The world) The World can Trigger a peaceful feeling, but so can you, so why depend on the world for anything?Probably not going to write anymore, as any realizations do not usually happen overnight, and I definitley have my own mind to work on.GOING ON DHARMAOVERGROUND IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR PRACTICE  WOOT WOOT !!!Sci Fi

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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

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

Thanks again for taking the time to respond. Your summary is a good one.

But the second half of your reply is conditioned a lot by an assumption that "the goal" is peace and contentment, and peace and contentment is my goal. That is a very sutrayana way of looking it, so just one version of the many ways buddhism looks at it

So it comes down to that question of what is a "complete and full human life", and my perspective (currently at least) is that pursuing a life with the goal of peace and contentment can get in the way of a complete and full human life. But that is just my perspective and path, obviously, and a goal of peace and contentment might be right for you and your path.
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Psi Phi, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 1095 Join Date: 11/22/13 Recent Posts
sawfoot _:
hi Psi Psi,

Thanks again for taking the time to respond. Your summary is a good one.

But the second half of your reply is conditioned a lot by an assumption that "the goal" is peace and contentment, and peace and contentment is my goal. That is a very sutrayana way of looking it, so just one version of the many ways buddhism looks at it

So it comes down to that question of what is a "complete and full human life", and my perspective (currently at least) is that pursuing a life with the goal of peace and contentment can get in the way of a complete and full human life. But that is just my perspective and path, obviously, and a goal of peace and contentment might be right for you and your path.

Well, it seems that there is just a mis-understanding of Peace and Contentment.  

Peace would refer to the point of mental training that puts an end to the monkey-mind, the thoughts endlessly and mindlessly hopping from one branch of neurons to the next, due to links of associations, and sometimes random leaps to "who knows where".  So the stopping of meaningless thought patterns, thus enable the mind to direct itself into meaningful and directed, pro-active thougt patterns.  While the above description is by no means an end all description of Peace, one should be able to get the meaning of Peace and the benefits derived, and the detriments and non-benefits of a mind existing in non-Peace, or Monkey-Mind.

Contenment would refer to the establishing of Wisdom to the point of one being able to discern the difference between Needs and Wants, the constant chasing of Wants, and fulfilling wants, requires much energy , or as Henry Thoreau once wrote, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desparation."  Thus being Content, and not willy nilly chasing every wish the mind comes up with, allows one freedom to direct the mind and body towards more beneficial and producitve endeavors.

Peace and Contentment would not stand in the way of any beneficial life pursuits, nor be a bane upon living a full human life.  Any endeavor from, Marathon training and Bodybuilding, Painting and Sketching, Playing Guitar or Piano, Astronomy and Algebra, etc and etc, would be enhanced by a mind well trained in Peace and Contentment.

I can't fathom how a mind training itself in Agitation and Disssatisfaction (the opposites of  Peace and Contentment) would fare too well in comparison.
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katy steger, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 1741 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Can I suggest that those who are feeling having strong emotional reactions to me and/or this thread (whether you realise it or not), wait a day or two for it to die down,

hug : )  
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 3199 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Except that the problem with your thesis is that people already have a tendency to do nearly anything but really practice, for which they often substitute thinking about practice (such as what happens here at its best), and this may lead back to practice that is better, hopefully, or just as often, or perhaps moreso, leads to more thinking about practice rather than practicing. However, plenty of conversations are about anything other than practice even if they seem sort of related to it, and are actually likely to lead to less practice, and, as this place is about practice, specifically, explicitly, on the front door about it, my trying to advocate on my own forum for people to get back to talking about practice is not strange or bad or some unskillful thing I am dealing with or whatever else you think it is, but is instead just trying to keep the place on track.

If a herd of knitters came in and started taking over the forum, I would do my best to try to get things back on track by explaining what this place was about first. That is normal. Same thing with non-practicing habitual skeptics: plenty of forums for that, and reminding people to find them is totally normal forum management. This place was founded and maintained to be a refuge from all that crap, and, when it rears its ugly head here, it is only natural to advocate first politely, then firmly, then with the controls available to an administrator for it to stop.

Further, long series of meta-posts about posts that are not about practice are sort of like when NPR spent weeks talking about how at least they weren't obsessing about the OJ scandal, when, in point of fact, they covered very little real news during that period and just congratulated themselves for how they were covering everyone else's coverage of the OJ scandal, so you got the worst of all worlds, very little real news, very little actual facts about the OJ scandal, very much discussion that actually lead to nothing good. The same happens here all the time with _sawfoot's posts and the threads that follow. For those who might be new and have no idea what I am talking about, go back and read the months of previous _sawfoot threads and tell me truly if you think that the signal to noise ratio isn't as bad as I think it is or if they really are about people practicing and trying to learn to practice and somehow I just totally missed that.

This is a polite way of saying that, as polite tactics are failing, and more direct, explicit tactics are failing, more direct moderation of this stuff will follow shortly, something that very rarely happens here, as most people are not so staggeringly dense that it takes this long to get the hint, but _sawfoot seems to be a special case. If anything I have said about this is in anyway unclear, let me know.

Look at how long this thread is. What truly practical, useful, applicable things do you find there? Who posted them?

Remember, in the end this is my forum. My vision of the place is that it is about practice and practitioners. I am really loose with things like tradition but really into real exploration, real results, real engagement with techniques of whatever skillful kind. I created it to be a place for that. When it gets off track, most have considered my extremely light moderation style to be unfortunate, but occasionally I will step in and put my foot down. It happens about once or twice/year, if that, which is very unusual on a forum. This is one of those rare times. It need not cause undue concern.

If the armchair, non-practicing skeptics in the crowd are not into that, this bothers me not at all, as this place is not designed to meet their needs, and, given that is costs nothing to set up a forum for that sort of thing on, say, Google, I don't believe that this is causing any major inconvenience, and they and the practitioners may all be happier for it. This place has split many times, factions have gone off, and usually the result has been beneficial for keeping the place more about practice and less about drama.

Oh, BTW, an interview that mentions this place is about to appear on Buddha at the Gas Pump (BatGap), and so we will likely see a bump in traffic. If a bunch of armchair, non-practicing skeptics see more of the same here and think that this is what the place is about, this will just exacerbate the problem. This happened before last time there was Wired article that mentioned it, also when there was a Buddhist Geeks podcast about it, though in a few weeks to months most of the chaos died down and we got back to the business of the place.
- Enlightened ones (particularly in pragmatic dharma) see themselves as "special" (witness Kenneth's talk of the "pepper tree"), and their enlightenment becomes an intrinsic part of their self-image. As James Yen points out, this can lead to issues with superiority, and resistance to criticism, for examples, see Florian's responses. Or, for example, Daniel doesn't feel jealously or envy towards other people who aren't enlightened like him. There are significant positive benefits to this specialness. Going to back to self-worth, having achieved and "mastered" something unique and "special" can give one confidence and increased feelings of self-worth.

This not actually what I was saying.

I'm saying that the 'enlightened' being's feeling of superiority or 'categorical difference' (being categorically a different or better type of person than someone else) is based on a fallacy.

It's most easily illustrated with a metaphor:

I make velcro that's silent, silent velcro is amazing because it doesn't make noise! And yet it provides all the sicky benefits.

The fallacy is that the DhO-ers claim to have made silent velcro, that's not silent! They desire the label of 'silent velcro' without actually obtaining what makes 'silent velcro' awesome.

Awakening for example is awesome because it makes a human compassionate, calm and free from suffering, free from greed, hatred and delusion.

The DhO-ers desire this "Awakening stigma" the mystique and respect that surrounds it, WITHOUT having those things.

But the Awakening stigmas, COMES FROM, having those things.

Get it?

TL;DR the DhO-ers desire the respect and accord that comes with having made something awesome like 'silent velcro' without having actually made 'silent velcro'.
I actually believe that the Nirvana of MCTB fourth path is in fact the Nirvana of the Buddha. I just like to rant and be contrarian.

It is quite obvious that MCTB fourth path is a conditioned (sankhata) state reached via meditation, and is a permanent and genuine state of distinction. But it is not the 'deathless' itself, which may be where some other doctrinal confusion arises.

Generally speaking though the DhO-ers are for real.

Peace.
@sawfoot_
you seem to be someone who is afraid of non-duality and try to understand it with thoughts that your current mind can relate to. Its not possible I am afraid, dual oriented mind cannot get non-dual state, even if the same physical brain experienced it before... and without having non-dual experiences yourself thinking about those would be just as double impossible as colorblind person trying to get description of my color->taste synesthesia

you will have to experience it and then after few years of maturation you will know how pointless this topic is. Lets hope DhO will still be around for you to find this thread and laugh at yourself
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Paweł K:
@sawfoot_
you seem to be someone who is afraid of non-duality and try to understand it with thoughts that your current mind can relate to. Its not possible I am afraid, dual oriented mind cannot get non-dual state, even if the same physical brain experienced it before... and without having non-dual experiences yourself thinking about those would be just as double impossible as colorblind person trying to get description of my color->taste synesthesia

you will have to experience it and then after few years of maturation you will know how pointless this topic is. Lets hope DhO will still be around for you to find this thread and laugh at yourself
I think it is a fair to say I am afraid, both in an existential/non duality sense and in a pragmatic sense. Perhaps this might be a motivation for posting, and yes I might look back and laugh, though that isn't to say that some of the arguments are worth raising and discussing.
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Florian Weps, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
sawfoot _:
Just to hone a contenious point:

The point is that this isn't anything special about enlightenment, in terms of end results. Sure, it is a bit more involved than your average hobby. But go on amazon, and read reviews of self help books. You tend to find reviews which say that reading that one book turned their lives around, and they bought 20 copies for all their friends. For you and Kenneth and Bill, that metaphorical self-help book was Mahasi style buddhism. For another it might be becoming born again, crystal healing, psychotherapy, national service, having a baby, starting the denistry degree, becoming the apprentice carpenter...


Are you saying it was nothing special for your parents to have had a baby, in terms of end results? Jesus H. Bhagava... just how do you think you're able to hone your contentious point? Seriously... The gall some people have...

For someone so intent on special effects all the time, you're a bit too ready to blind out the causes and conditions. Go get that training in carpentry under your belt. See if you can blacken your thumbnail without getting hit.

(insert de-fusing smiley parade here, but do consider that training in carpentry)

Cheers,
Florian
Elijah Smith, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 71 Join Date: 4/14/13 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:

Further, sometimes when you are stuck in the deep throws of this stuff, you have to go out to go in, meaning that if you don't drop out and go do some serious meditation for a while and really get what that teaches, going back to your life and putting it all together may be really difficult. I have seen this again and again, and, if people can embrace that oscillation and really go with it, great things can occur.


This post was really helpful.

Also to the OP, from my point of view, it seems a lot more likely that for someone who has been chronically depressed for 20+ years, implementing a bunch of life changes doesn't seem like it is something that would come out of nowhere. It seems more likely to me that something fundamental changed, and that this change enabled the changes in lifestyle. It reminds me of the studies on exercise and depression. The direction of causality is not clear. Does exercise make people less depressed, or are less depressed people more capable of exercising? (obviously experimental settings don't have this issue, if the experiment is well designed). In this case, it seems the relief of depression probably made things like going back to school, getting married, etc. easier. Especially considering the timing and the fact that Kenneth himself attests to the fact that the depression lifted prior to him making life changes.
Elijah Smith:
Daniel M. Ingram:

Further, sometimes when you are stuck in the deep throws of this stuff, you have to go out to go in, meaning that if you don't drop out and go do some serious meditation for a while and really get what that teaches, going back to your life and putting it all together may be really difficult. I have seen this again and again, and, if people can embrace that oscillation and really go with it, great things can occur.


This post was really helpful.

Also to the OP, from my point of view, it seems a lot more likely that for someone who has been chronically depressed for 20+ years, implementing a bunch of life changes doesn't seem like it is something that would come out of nowhere. It seems more likely to me that something fundamental changed, and that this change enabled the changes in lifestyle. It reminds me of the studies on exercise and depression. The direction of causality is not clear. Does exercise make people less depressed, or are less depressed people more capable of exercising? (obviously experimental settings don't have this issue, if the experiment is well designed). In this case, it seems the relief of depression probably made things like going back to school, getting married, etc. easier. Especially considering the timing and the fact that Kenneth himself attests to the fact that the depression lifted prior to him making life changes.

Yes, this. I'm not really understanding the logic behind "Kenneth got 4th path and subsequently made a bunch of positive life changes, he credits 4th path with helping him, therefore 4th path was unnecessary and friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened."
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
Further, sometimes when you are stuck in the deep throws of this stuff [...]

Sorry, this is off-topic, but it is throes. Stuck in the deep throes of this stuff.

That is all.
Does he talk about his depression in it? I'd be interested in hearing him elaborate on why he thinks it left him at 4th path: I've just recently started investigating a bit of a complex I've developed from Theravada teachings where basically my fundamental reaction to life has become a subtly aversive one, seeing it as a problem that needs solving. It can start feeling wrong somehow to fully embrace positivity. This is undoubtedly a result of my buying into all those teachings on life being a meaningless grinding wheel of unsatisfactoriness, etc., and of the whole thing being perpetuated by ignorance. Without serious effort put into working through those issues, I'd say it could easily grow into a major subconscious burden and eventually lead to depression. I'm doing that now though: seeing that there's nothing inherently negative about samsara, or ignorance, or desire, or anything else that could easily be misconstrued as such. These are all conditioned views and it strikes me now as far healthier to take the view (if one must take any) that all is "Primordial original liberation, the profound illusory liberation from liberation itself, and the ultimate two-fold liberation.", as Omega Point puts it.
B B:
Does he talk about his depression in it? I'd be interested in hearing him elaborate on why he thinks it left him at 4th path: I've just recently started investigating a bit of a complex I've developed from Theravada teachings where basically my fundamental reaction to life has become a subtly aversive one, of seeing it as a problem that needs solving. It can start feeling wrong somehow to fully embrace positivity. This is undoubtedly a result of my buying into all those teachings on life being a meaningless grinding wheel of unsatisfactoriness, etc., and of the whole thing being perpetuated by ignorance. Without serious effort put into working through those issues, I'd say it could easily grow into a major subconscious burden and eventually lead to depression. I'm doing that now though: seeing that there's nothing inherently negative about samsara, or ignorance, or desire, or could anything else that could easily be misconstrued as such. These are all conditioned views and it strikes me now as far healthier to take the view (if one must take any) that all is "Primordial original liberation, the profound illusory liberation from liberation itself, and the ultimate two-fold liberation.", as Omega Point puts it.

Did your fundamental reaction to life change, or did you just become more aware of it? Was there ever a time where you felt like you could fully embrace positivity? That always seemed unsatisfying to me, though I didn't understand why until I read MCTB.

I mean, there is a problem there that needs solving. Pretending it's not there isn't going to help anything and all the other fixes will just put bandaids on it.

My own philosophy is not to force yourself to take the view that it's all good, but just use the negativity to motivate you to become an arahat, and once I'm there it'll become clear.
James Yen, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 225 Join Date: 3/31/14 Recent Posts
I actually agree sawfoot, the irony is that I'm actually a Christian. I find that when I delve into Buddhism I deep into a rabbit hole and mentally masturbating in this circle-jerk called the DhO (even though I was never actually a part of this 'group') and I start becoming afraid of hell, super paranoid and all that shit.

Fuck spirituality, it sucks.

"Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?"
James Yen, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 225 Join Date: 3/31/14 Recent Posts
I mean some reasons, I particularly dislike this community (besides the fact that they excluded me):

1) Elitism.

The group is filled with subtle elitism, sarcasm and stratification, we constantly measure and judge each other.

2) Insistence on the superiority of enlightened beings, while removing what makes them superior.

The group is based on the fallacy that arahatship makes one superhuman and worthy of veneration, however in order to make the attainment easier to attain, the group humanizes and lowers the bar of arahatship instantly to a cognitive trick.

3) Happiness is found by living life, not by not not living life.

Happiness is found in someone who lives his life, who tries to be happy (ordinarily and materialistically), who when he finds a problem, tries to fix it, not his 'perception' of it. A happy person attempts to, for example if he doesn't get laid, get laid. He doesn't try to "not want to get laid".

4) Trolling.

The use of the word trolling is misused here, and is applied in some esoteric way I don't understand. Mostly it is used to refer to posts that people or the ideals (the subtle construct of this community) don't agree with.

Moreover the members of the Dharma Overground seem particularly maladjusted in their day-to-day lives. Or at least emotionally, they demonstrate frequently episodes of psychoses and emotional immaturity as well as neuroses.

Edit:

Personally, myself as an example. I am a very, very happy person and socially well adjusted. It's just because I grew out of this dark, geeky phase of hating the world. It's really a phase. I feel that people here, after the phase is co-opted by joining a community like this, end up prolonging that phase or thinking it's good.

When it's not.

Initiative, getting off your ass, actually trying, is key.

Be naive enough to think that you CAN be happy, that you don't need all this crap.
There is something about the subject-object difereation that can leave us feeling incomplete. Sometimes that feeling of being incomplete is big enough to cause depression and spiritual questing, sometimes is a small goad that just drives us onward in life, better job, better home, better life. Either way has it's pluses and minuses. It's great to find spiritual fulfilment and it's good to find life fulfillment.


If there is one thing to get is that there doesn't have to be any conflict between life fulfillment and spiritual (for lack of a better term) fulfillment. With a modest, heartfelt practice, there can actually be both --- after a fashion. There is never perfection in conventional life and even an arahat keeps practicing. But we can live a fuller life by recognizing that there are dimensions of spiritual life that conventional life will never touch and, vice versa, there are dimensions of conventional life that spiritual life will never touch.

Honor both.
James Yen, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 225 Join Date: 3/31/14 Recent Posts
Oh don't get me wrong, spirituality is a part of life, and I've had many powerful spiritual experiences ('visions' etc)

But I'm not about to approach my life in such a way that I consider all problems inherently spiritual, because this is simply not the case. The proof is in the pudding, who here has ended suffering?

Not a single person, I can't think of a single Buddhist teacher who ever inspired faith in me, who ever really gave me the knowledge: this guy's for real.

Because none of them are for real, their conduct doesn't match up, they tell lies, whatever.

Other than the Buddha himself I find it very hard to find anyone worthy of veneration or respect who still upholds the Buddhist teachings, this is why I choose Christianity, Christianity works, it cured my chest pain and depression, furthermore every single Christian I know is a well adjusted and good person (with a few exceptions).

The Buddha was rad, don't get me wrong, but he's dead, and his dispensation is dead too, we're beating a dead horse, it's over. I find it really sad to say but I'm sure his Dharma died a while ago. And while we can witness the truth in some ways there is no safety in it.

The majority of Dharma teachers today are frauds, they lie, twist models, engage in inappropriate conduct sensually, and when they are not doing such things they are inwardly scummy. And that is the worst.

Peace out,

James
Can you elaborate on how Christianity cured your chest pain and depression?
James Yen, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

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Jake WM:
Can you elaborate on how Christianity cured your chest pain and depression?


Since I was about sixteen, after going through some 'clinical depression' I began to suffer from an intense, almost physical pain in my chest I called: 'the angst'. It was a piercing, persecutory agony and near physical angst. It was accompanied by deep remorse, self-persecution and the fear that I would go to hell. As a result of this I feared lying greatly, I read this forum and its sister forums intensely for two years, but did not practice meditation. I was a mutist and throughout these last two years of my high school career I literally talked to no one, not a single soul except for this one girl in my Physics class whom I still keep in touch with to this day.

Because I feared lying so greatly I did not talk at all, furthermore I wrote question marks after and before all answers on my homework to imply they were questions, this way I wasn't making a statement and wasn't lying.

After taking antidepressants again, the pain magically lifted and I began my college career, however, despite my mood, I was still plagued by regret and pain.

Eventually after doing some drugs, which the college found out about, I was suspended and asked to return home for a year, which I did.

It was here that I buckled down and began to practice spirituality, however I had no breakthroughs. A while later, while still in Hong Kong a friend of mine from High School came and taught me the Gospel, I stated I was taken by it and a Christian, however I really wasn't and it had no effect on me.

A few days later it hit me and I was relieved of the chest pain and guilt, it has stayed the same way ever since. Since that moment, any practice of Buddhism has been 10 times more fruitful, primarily because the lack of guilt allowed me to have genuine mystical experiences.

I have no idea how to interpret any of these experiences but I generally see Buddhism as being barren of any benefit whatsoever, I find it to be a painful dead-end. I prefer Christianity because there is life through the Spirit.

The part of the Gospel I was contemplating was the fact that "we", cannot do it on our own, and in fact: we are incorrigibly bad. (This is how I felt.) Furthermore: all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Yet at the same time my blood was bought at a price by Christ, Christ, through him, redeemed all of my sin and washed me white as snow.

In him I was reborn, dead to the Law (that persecuted me) and alive in him. And this is how my suffering ended.
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
x x:
There is something about the subject-object difereation that can leave us feeling incomplete. Sometimes that feeling of being incomplete is big enough to cause depression and spiritual questing, sometimes is a small goad that just drives us onward in life, better job, better home, better life. Either way has it's pluses and minuses. It's great to find spiritual fulfilment and it's good to find life fulfillment.


If there is one thing to get is that there doesn't have to be any conflict between life fulfillment and spiritual (for lack of a better term) fulfillment. With a modest, heartfelt practice, there can actually be both --- after a fashion. There is never perfection in conventional life and even an arahat keeps practicing. But we can live a fuller life by recognizing that there are dimensions of spiritual life that conventional life will never touch and, vice versa, there are dimensions of conventional life that spiritual life will never touch.

Honor both.
That is nicely put. And my point of Kenneth's story is of somebody who (seemingly) looked to find life fulfilment with spiritual fulfilment, and it didn't get him very far. One might counter though that he only found life fulfilment when he found spiritual fulfilment. And what was the spiritual fulfilment? He describes it as a choice he made. He gave himself permission to be "enlightened", to be be happy. He decided to stop looking for spiritual fulfilment.
sawfoot _:
x x:
There is something about the subject-object difereation that can leave us feeling incomplete. Sometimes that feeling of being incomplete is big enough to cause depression and spiritual questing, sometimes is a small goad that just drives us onward in life, better job, better home, better life. Either way has it's pluses and minuses. It's great to find spiritual fulfilment and it's good to find life fulfillment.


If there is one thing to get is that there doesn't have to be any conflict between life fulfillment and spiritual (for lack of a better term) fulfillment. With a modest, heartfelt practice, there can actually be both --- after a fashion. There is never perfection in conventional life and even an arahat keeps practicing. But we can live a fuller life by recognizing that there are dimensions of spiritual life that conventional life will never touch and, vice versa, there are dimensions of conventional life that spiritual life will never touch.

Honor both.
That is nicely put. And my point of Kenneth's story is of somebody who (seemingly) looked to find life fulfilment with spiritual fulfilment, and it didn't get him very far. One might counter though that he only found life fulfilment when he found spiritual fulfilment. And what was the spiritual fulfilment? He describes it as a choice he made. He gave himself permission to be "enlightened", to be be happy. He decided to stop looking for spiritual fulfilment.


So you don't think he actually got 4th path? You just think he gave up the search prematurely?
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
J C:
sawfoot _:
x x:
There is something about the subject-object difereation that can leave us feeling incomplete. Sometimes that feeling of being incomplete is big enough to cause depression and spiritual questing, sometimes is a small goad that just drives us onward in life, better job, better home, better life. Either way has it's pluses and minuses. It's great to find spiritual fulfilment and it's good to find life fulfillment.


If there is one thing to get is that there doesn't have to be any conflict between life fulfillment and spiritual (for lack of a better term) fulfillment. With a modest, heartfelt practice, there can actually be both --- after a fashion. There is never perfection in conventional life and even an arahat keeps practicing. But we can live a fuller life by recognizing that there are dimensions of spiritual life that conventional life will never touch and, vice versa, there are dimensions of conventional life that spiritual life will never touch.

Honor both.
That is nicely put. And my point of Kenneth's story is of somebody who (seemingly) looked to find life fulfilment with spiritual fulfilment, and it didn't get him very far. One might counter though that he only found life fulfilment when he found spiritual fulfilment. And what was the spiritual fulfilment? He describes it as a choice he made. He gave himself permission to be "enlightened", to be be happy. He decided to stop looking for spiritual fulfilment.


So you don't think he actually got 4th path? You just think he gave up the search prematurely?
You mean, did he eliminate the fetters that tie him to samsara, and will no longer suffer the endless cycle of rebirths? Based on his description, he didn't "get" 4th path. He made a choice. Obviously being in the position to make that choice was a product of causes and conditions. But 4th path for Kenneth is just whatever he decided it was after a long time of spiritual travelling, just as 4th path for Daniel is wherever "being like Daniel" ended up.
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Eric M W, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 288 Join Date: 3/19/14 Recent Posts
James .:
I actually agree sawfoot, the irony is that I'm actually a Christian. I find that when I delve into Buddhism I deep into a rabbit hole and mentally masturbating in this circle-jerk called the DhO (even though I was never actually a part of this 'group') and I start becoming afraid of hell, super paranoid and all that shit.

Fuck spirituality, it sucks.

"Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?"

What the fuck, James.  I think you need to turn off your computer and go outside for a little while.  Weren't a stream-enterer a little while ago?  You baffle me.
I'm whatever you want me to be.
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Eric M W, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 288 Join Date: 3/19/14 Recent Posts
James .:
I'm whatever you want me to be.
I want you to be a sincere practitioner of meditation instead of a troll who can't seem to stop pestering this message board despite a complete and utter lack of insight or meditative skill. Think you can do that?
Eric,

I am so sorry that you do not understand me. I am a sincere practitioner of meditation and not an utter troll, I attain all nine jhanas including the pure land jhanas, I abide in cessation for half and hour a day. Sometimes I note the taste of coffee when I'm drinking it, other times I shoot thoughts out of mid-air like they're geese!

Sometimes when I'm walking, I discern I'm walking, and I realize that that's mindfulness, so I'm happy about that, so I note 'happy, happy', and then I blackout for half a second and realize that I know everything now!

Sweet.
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 1335 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Time to stop feeding the trolls...
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Eric M W, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 288 Join Date: 3/19/14 Recent Posts
Dream Walker:
Time to stop feeding the trolls...
Eh, I was hoping to get through to him in some way. I figured it was only a matter of time before he wisened up, since he's been trolling on and off for literally years. Probably not worth the trouble...

Anyway, I think the general consensus is that this thread offers nothing of value, so I'm backing out... 
It seems to me that what threads like this always miss is that it's entirely possible to be unhappy, or feel that something is missing, or whatever else, even when you are in a loving relationship, with a job you like, and have children, and a good stable economy. "Getting a life" is put forth like some guaranteed path to happiness. But you know what? It isn't. And meditation isn't either. The issues are much more complex than that.

Simon
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Simon E:
It seems to me that what threads like this always miss is that it's entirely possible to be unhappy, or feel that something is missing, or whatever else, even when you are in a loving relationship, with a job you like, and have children, and a good stable economy. "Getting a life" is put forth like some guaranteed path to happiness. But you know what? It isn't. And meditation isn't either. The issues are much more complex than that.

Simon-

Sure, yes, it is complex. But I am trying to make more interesting point than "just get a life already".

So, another way to say it: by saying enlightenment isn't special, I am suggesting that in those cases where enlightenment IS a path to happiness it is by conventional means. And by determing that "conventional means" is, what I mean isthose underlying factors by which one can derive happiness from the wife and kids, those enabling factors which allow one to permit oneself to enjoy them - such as in Kenneth's case, his decision that he should be allowed to stop suffering. 

Obviously, some, like Daniel, would disagree with the claim. And, fair enough, it might not be true for everyone.
sawfoot _:
Simon E:
It seems to me that what threads like this always miss is that it's entirely possible to be unhappy, or feel that something is missing, or whatever else, even when you are in a loving relationship, with a job you like, and have children, and a good stable economy. "Getting a life" is put forth like some guaranteed path to happiness. But you know what? It isn't. And meditation isn't either. The issues are much more complex than that.

Simon-

Sure, yes, it is complex. But I am trying to make more interesting point than "just get a life already".

So, another way to say it: by saying enlightenment isn't special, I am suggesting that in those cases where enlightenment IS a path to happiness it is by conventional means. And by determing that "conventional means" is, what I mean isthose underlying factors by which one can derive happiness from the wife and kids, those enabling factors which allow one to permit oneself to enjoy them - such as in Kenneth's case, his decision that he should be allowed to stop suffering. 

Obviously, some, like Daniel, would disagree with the claim. And, fair enough, it might not be true for everyone.


So basically what you're saying is that mastery of meditation brings happiness in the same way as mastery of for example woodworking. Ie. in the - "cool, i'm really good at this and I enjoy doing it" sense?
Doesn't that seem a bit odd, as woodworking is aimed at letting you create stuff from wood, and meditation is aimed at reducing (certain types of) suffering (stress, whatever)? I would consider myself to have mastered certain disciplines (meditation not being one of them), and while being really good at something is great, it's something entirely different from the understandings meditation has provided about the workings of my mind and how they relate to my happiness.

You know what would be really interesting, getting an idea of what life situation people here are discussing from. I feel that this is a discussion where our current lives really color our points of view. We already know a lot about Daniels life. Here's some information about me. I'm 35, live in a rural setting with a wife, two kids with a third on the way, two dogs, two cats and a job I enjoy. I have an active meditation practice because it helps me with certain aspects of my life.

How about you?

Simon
Does the world need more meditation teachers?

It needs more people who are living for the benefit of others and not just themselves. A world where everyone is operating from a narrow, ego-centric, “it's all about me” outlook that's rooted in fundamental delusion regarding a separate self is going to contain vastly more suffering than one where everyone is awake to interdependence and striving to maximize the amount of happiness they can bring to others. That should go without saying, and yet it's still enormously difficult for people to outgrow this kind of obviously negative behaviour. It's not OK to just seek to carve out your own slice of conventional happiness; this is not morally acceptable.
there are two kind of people, majority that do not need enlightenment and minority that needs it. Most people won't be convinced or interested no matter how much you will praise meditation effects, at most they will call you weirdo and avoid you.

if someone wants to meditate why we shouldn't let them try to do it and taste enlightenment?
Derek Cameron, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 326 Join Date: 7/21/10 Recent Posts
Paweł K:
there are two kind of people, majority that do not need enlightenment and minority that needs it.


A thought once occurred to me. In the future, as these practices become better understood, it's possible that psychologists will perform a sort of "surgical removal of the ego" for those who need it.

Paweł K:
Most people won't be convinced or interested no matter how much you will praise meditation effects


That is my experience, too.
A few thousand years back they did have definite rules for when to do what . . . 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashrama_(stage)#The_Ashram_system

. . . . . . . and then . . . . Sidhartha Gautam broke the tradition . . . 

if only he had waited for 20/30 more years before he took off for the forest refuge . . . 

emoticon

Metta
Derek Cameron:
Paweł K:
there are two kind of people, majority that do not need enlightenment and minority that needs it.


A thought once occurred to me. In the future, as these practices become better understood, it's possible that psychologists will perform a sort of "surgical removal of the ego" for those who need it.

oh, but we already had something like that: lobotomy
the real matt, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 313 Join Date: 1/14/14 Recent Posts
sawfoot _:
Just to preface this, as I don't know Kenneth, and I am just giving a simplified and biased version of my initial interpretation on reading his "story" in his new book draft.

Something I didn't expect to learn from this thread: notice when a post leads with so much equiviacation, consider ignoring everything that follows. emoticon
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

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the real matt:
sawfoot _:
Just to preface this, as I don't know Kenneth, and I am just giving a simplified and biased version of my initial interpretation on reading his "story" in his new book draft.

Something I didn't expect to learn from this thread: notice when a post leads with so much equiviacation, consider ignoring everything that follows. emoticon

Yes, please consider it! It is partly a case of half baked ideas, thinking out loud, a bit of pot stirring, and trying to see if anything of value can come of it. But it all stems from reading Kenneth's story and (initially) seeing it wss absurd in a lot of ways. Doesn't anyone else think so?
the real matt, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 313 Join Date: 1/14/14 Recent Posts
sawfoot _:
the real matt:
sawfoot _:
Just to preface this, as I don't know Kenneth, and I am just giving a simplified and biased version of my initial interpretation on reading his "story" in his new book draft.

Something I didn't expect to learn from this thread: notice when a post leads with so much equiviacation, consider ignoring everything that follows. emoticon

Yes, please consider it! It is partly a case of half baked ideas, thinking out loud, a bit of pot stirring, and trying to see if anything of value can come of it. But it all stems from reading Kenneth's story and (initially) seeing it wss absurd in a lot of ways. Doesn't anyone else think so?
When it comes to what actually happens at the level of path crossings, I don't have any idea what it's like and I don't expect to till I get there.

I'm glad Kenneth shared his story.  I've read a lot of stuff about pre-path experience that I didn't understand, but now I do.

I figure the only confusion and doubt I need to work on is the doubt that keeps me from sitting down or making me want to stand up before the hour is up.

'half baked', 'pot stirring' strikes me as contrary to the mission here.  Please consider these items from the front page:

***
The Dharma Overground is a resource for the support of hardcore meditation practice.
...in general anything that has to do with actually practicing rather than what typically occurs in standard meditation circles
...all loosely bound by the same basic principles of empowering, helpful, engaged dharma

***
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Psi Phi, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 1095 Join Date: 11/22/13 Recent Posts
sawfoot _:
Just to preface this, as I don't know Kenneth, and I am just giving a simplified and biased version of my initial interpretation on reading his "story" in his new book draft. 

http://contemplativefitnessbook.com/book-one-story/
 
Kenneth spent 22 years devoting to himself to spiritual practice. It all started with taking 4 tabs of acid. In his journey, he became very highly skilled at technical meditation, in accessing all kinds of jhanas, and reaching third path. He spent a cumulative 3 years on retreat. Yet he was still desperately, chronically unhappy.
 
And then one day, he decided he had reached 4th path - the practical consequences of which he decided he had finished searching, that he was "done", and he decided he needed another project. Soon after, he met his future wife, and got his life back together, got a job, stopped doing long retreats, settled down, went back to school to do a bachelors and masters degree, got married and was a lot happier than before.
 
So, this is…interesting…Clearly something shifted. But what changed? He went from desperately trying to fix himself by being obsessed with enlightenment and meditation, to getting on with his life. He was still a bit of obsessed with meditation and enlightenment, no doubt, but in a constructive sense of using that in making a living as a meditation teacher and likely having a greater sense of self-worth of performing a function in society and helping others. Although about that helping others bit..one can perhaps see the irony in teaching others to use meditation to fix their problems and make them themselves happy…
 
So the secret of a happy life? Going to school, getting a job, getting married, not trying to get enlightened any more.
 
Probably also best to stay away from the acid.
 
Moral of the story again: mastery is good. Mastery can help make you happy. But does the world need more meditation teachers? How about mastering the core teachings of carpentry, or dentistry, instead?

Just looks like you missed kenneth's main point, here: This was what happened, he found peace and contentment.  THEN he continued his life, he didn't get on wiith his life, AND Then find peace and contenment, he had already established peace and contenment.  When one has peace and contentment, one can't get more peace and contentment.  When the cup is full, adding more just makes it run over....  Anyway, here are kennth's words from his Full Circle chapter.
a deep, abiding sense of peace, and the feeling that there’s no longer anything missing from my life or the universe.  Contentment underlies all, much as the deep sea underlies the froth on the surface of the waves. Even the most violent storms do not disturb those depths.
If you want the real deal, Reality, here it is, you don't have to believe anything, in fact no one wants anyone to believe anything, Just Investigate, which you are doing, and for that I am joyful !  Keep asking questions ! Keep investigating! Keep Practicing !  (By the way, just meditating, IMHO is NOT practicing, that is just ONE type of practice).

Worldlings will continually seek to satisfy themselves by seeking pleasure from external stimuli, which can trigger the internal stimulus response that brings about peace, happiness and contenment.  However the sensations of  peace, happiness, and contentment are short-lived, impermanent, and are considered to be a product of external circumstances. Thus, a worlding is dependent upon external causes and conditions for triggering the sensation of peace, happiness, and contentment.

Through training, gradually and systematically, and through wisdom, cultivated and developed, one will eventually know and learn that seeking peace, happiness, and contentment, by chasing external triggers is a fool's folly.  For, eventually one will discover, for themselves, that peace , happiness , and contentment, can be not only triggered by one's own means,(internally), but also maintained by one's own means, (internally) and NOT dependent upon  external circumstances, due to the prior training one has methodically undertaken to re-work and improve the impersonal process and processes that most would call a self.  


Psi Phi
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Psi Phi:

Just looks like you missed kenneth's main point, here: This was what happened, he found peace and contentment.  THEN he continued his life, he didn't get on wiith his life, AND Then find peace and contenment, he had already established peace and contenment.  When one has peace and contentment, one can't get more peace and contentment.  When the cup is full, adding more just makes it run over....  Anyway, here are kennth's words from his Full Circle chapter.
a deep, abiding sense of peace, and the feeling that there’s no longer anything missing from my life or the universe.  Contentment underlies all, much as the deep sea underlies the froth on the surface of the waves. Even the most violent storms do not disturb those depths.
If you want the real deal, Reality, here it is, you don't have to believe anything, in fact no one wants anyone to believe anything, Just Investigate, which you are doing, and for that I am joyful !  Keep asking questions ! Keep investigating! Keep Practicing !  (By the way, just meditating, IMHO is NOT practicing, that is just ONE type of practice).

Worldlings will continually seek to satisfy themselves by seeking pleasure from external stimuli, which can trigger the internal stimulus response that brings about peace, happiness and contenment.  However the sensations of  peace, happiness, and contentment are short-lived, impermanent, and are considered to be a product of external circumstances. Thus, a worlding is dependent upon external causes and conditions for triggering the sensation of peace, happiness, and contentment.

Through training, gradually and systematically, and through wisdom, cultivated and developed, one will eventually know and learn that seeking peace, happiness, and contentment, by chasing external triggers is a fool's folly.  For, eventually one will discover, for themselves, that peace , happiness , and contentment, can be not only triggered by one's own means,(internally), but also maintained by one's own means, (internally) and NOT dependent upon  external circumstances, due to the prior training one has methodically undertaken to re-work and improve the impersonal process and processes that most would call a self.  


Psi Phi

 
So one question was Kenneth's 4th path a meditative attainment? Did he achieve happiness and contentment through a meditative path?
 
And I think the answer might be both yes and no. So yes, where he ended up was a result of his path. He ended up happy, after 22 years of being a "professional yogi", there was a casual chain. 
 
But 22 years of meditation and advanced meditative attainments didn't make him happy. Vipassana didn't make him happy. Pure land jhanas didn't make him happy. The path gave him a purpose, it gave his life some meaning, but he was still very depressed and anxious.
 
Being in a rock band didn't make him happy either, but perhaps a different career would have? Hard to know. He switched a career in a rock band that wasn't making him happy to a career as a yogi that also wasn't making him happy, because a one off acid trip:
 
"With the assumpltion that what I had glimpsed was somehow truer than my ordinary life, I wanted to be able to access it again, and ultimately find a way to feel like that all the time."
 
But ultimately where he ended up was an ordinary life, right? Getting married, going to school, getting a job. Did he eventually realise that looking for something truer than an ordinary life was a mistake? Is that the ultimate spiritual folly?
 
If he had found peace and contentment at that point, a happiness free of conditions, did it matter what he did next? Could he have continued to feel that peace and contentment as a professional yogi?
 
For me, the most important line was "On this day in New Mexico, reflecting on the question “have I suffered enough?” I gave myself permission to be done."
 
Which is why it doesn't seem to me that him finding happiness was a meditative accomplishment; In Kenneth's case, things like resignation and forgiveness, self-love, seem to be important. If was to try to explain what happened, I think I might find better answers in reading the sorts of things you read about it self-help manuals (many of which have the word "mastery" in the title) than in meditation tomes, though Kenneth's reification of the experience as "4th path" was clearly pivotal.
 
So back to that paradoxical question - Did he find happiness from achieving something in a spiritual path, or did he find happiness from stopping to try and achieve something from a spiritual path?
i,
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Jane Laurel Carrington, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 442 Join Date: 4/7/14 Recent Posts
At this point I feel moved to weigh in. 

It seems to me that what you, Sawfoot are saying, or asking, reflects Doubt, which according to the Buddha's teachings is a hindrance. It is an experience that many people have in common as they walk this path. What triggered it in your case was reading Kenneth's account of his history. He describes a long period of dukkha lasting many years, he practices intensively, and eventually he gives himself permission to get off the ride, to be done, after which he is able to claim a sense of contentment, and go on to do some perfectly ordinary things (marry, go to school) that people do every day. And you quite reasonably ask, couldn't he have arrived at such a mundane place without all the stuff in between, especially the long retreats, the practice? and the short answer to that is no, he could not, because he did what he did. If anything had been different, the outcome would have been different in one way or another. Where he is now, or more precisely, where he is at the time of committing his story to writing, reflects the chain of causes and conditions that brought him "there." He gave himself permission at some point to be done. It sounds silly and trivial. Why don't we just skip all the fancy stuff and do the same? 

But who is this "we" here? Can we ever talk in the abstract about some person who may or may not exist, doing this or that? Or is it rather always a certain chain of causes and conditions, that opens into a particular place, and then further into another place, and another? And I'm speaking metaphorically because that is the only speech available. And whatever you or I or Florian or Daniel or Kenneth may say, at any particular "now," is a reflection of the insight of that path at that moment. 

Your insight is that Kenneth's path seems strange. It is a perfectly valid insight because it reflects what causes and conditions have led you to that place. So work with it. Penetrate it. Throw it out there for the rest of us to discuss. That is what the forum is for. Get upset when you feel slighted, sidelined, or labeled. Then penetrate that response, feel it in the body. Go as deeply into it as you can and let it do its thing. You could even label it yourself. I have suggested the label of Doubt. You, in your exchange with Florian, have labeled some of the emotions that have been triggered. This also is insight. It is perfectly valid. Work with it, because this is what you have to work with. And may your path lead you to an opening into contentment, ease, and joy. 
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Jane Laurel Carrington:


At this point I feel moved to weigh in. 

It seems to me that what you, Sawfoot are saying, or asking, reflects Doubt, which according to the Buddha's teachings is a hindrance. It is an experience that many people have in common as they walk this path. What triggered it in your case was reading Kenneth's account of his history. He describes a long period of dukkha lasting many years, he practices intensively, and eventually he gives himself permission to get off the ride, to be done, after which he is able to claim a sense of contentment, and go on to do some perfectly ordinary things (marry, go to school) that people do every day. And you quite reasonably ask, couldn't he have arrived at such a mundane place without all the stuff in between, especially the long retreats, the practice? and the short answer to that is no, he could not, because he did what he did. If anything had been different, the outcome would have been different in one way or another. Where he is now, or more precisely, where he is at the time of committing his story to writing, reflects the chain of causes and conditions that brought him "there." He gave himself permission at some point to be done. It sounds silly and trivial. Why don't we just skip all the fancy stuff and do the same? 

But who is this "we" here? Can we ever talk in the abstract about some person who may or may not exist, doing this or that? Or is it rather always a certain chain of causes and conditions, that opens into a particular place, and then further into another place, and another? And I'm speaking metaphorically because that is the only speech available. And whatever you or I or Florian or Daniel or Kenneth may say, at any particular "now," is a reflection of the insight of that path at that moment. 

Your insight is that Kenneth's path seems strange. It is a perfectly valid insight because it reflects what causes and conditions have led you to that place. So work with it. Penetrate it. Throw it out there for the rest of us to discuss. That is what the forum is for. Get upset when you feel slighted, sidelined, or labeled. Then penetrate that response, feel it in the body. Go as deeply into it as you can and let it do its thing. You could even label it yourself. I have suggested the label of Doubt. You, in your exchange with Florian, have labeled some of the emotions that have been triggered. This also is insight. It is perfectly valid. Work with it, because this is what you have to work with. And may your path lead you to an opening into contentment, ease, and joy. 

Hi Jane,
 
Doubt is the enemy of faith. Religion needs faith, and with doubt, religious beliefs suffer. So doubt is bad…What is another word for doubt? Perhaps, "thinking"? Or "critical thinking"? I didn't trigger any doubt reading about Kenneth's experiences. Instead, I got a better insight into how his experiences and his interpretations have helped construct his worldview and self-image.
 
I am not saying Kenneth's path is strange. I understand your point about causes and conditions, and in part I paraphrase what you say above in a recent earlier response. I have had a few people say things on this thread like "what you appear to be misunderstanding is…", which baffles me because it makes feel like everyone must think I am rather stupid (another thing to get upset with, along with been under-appreciated, labelled, demonised and all the rest!).
 
But see you the stance you are taking here? Can you see how it could be construed as just as patronizing as Florian, though coming from different emotional place? You have made progress on a spiritual path, you have become wise, you understand the true nature of time, you have realised not-self (busted that illusion!), you can see things I can't see, you can offer advice, you can tell me that my insights are valid. And that comes from having something to offer, you have achieved something, that validates you, helps you construct a positive self-image, that gives you purpose, brings you to this forum, to post here, where it reached a point where you were needed.
 
And this isn't a bad thing. I mean, good for you! And you seem to coming from a place of compassion, which is a voice that is often needed around here (too many guys!)
 
But I guess what am I getting at: what is more important in determining your behaviour -  the elimination of the fetters of self-view that you have achieved through meditative attainments, or the new self you have created as someone who has eliminated the fetters of self-view?
 
And an aside, do you believe in being "done"? Do you strive for it?
 
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Jane Laurel Carrington, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 442 Join Date: 4/7/14 Recent Posts
"Doubt is the enemy of faith. Religion needs faith, and with doubt, religious beliefs suffer. So doubt is bad…What is another word for doubt? Perhaps, "thinking"? Or "critical thinking"? I didn't trigger any doubt reading about Kenneth's experiences. Instead, I got a better insight into how his experiences and his interpretations have helped construct his worldview and self-image."

I guess I've been responding to you as if you were undertaking the spiritual practices that most of us are here to help each other do. Your position sounded to me like a radical questioning of the usefulness and/or validity of such practices, and I perceived this as doubt. People experience it frequently, and in fact it does hinder any sincere effort at practice for as long as it is given play. But here you say no, there's no doubt, but a securely-held view that spiritual practice is beside the point. The real point is to find a means of validating oneself, or of feeling mastery, which is a basis for self-worth. 

Furthermore, you say here that doubt is nothing other than critical thinking, whereas faith, doubt's opposite, is the enemy of such thinking. My understanding of faith is that it is one of the five spiritual faculties (interesting how spiritual teachers love such lists). It isn't possible to make any progress in one's practice without taking a leap of faith, which is a willingness to accept the value of what is being offered before having experienced its benefits. As experience clarifies those benefits, faith deepens--faith and experience are mutually reinforcing. No one is being expected to park one's intellect at the door, and substitute faith for understanding. 

Okay, next you take issue with my comment that you think Kenneth's path is strange. I'll substitute the word you actually used--you said it was absurd. I admit that they are not the same. 

Finally, though the really important stuff, the essential thing: I am being patronizing because I see myself as having wisdom that you don't have. I think this is probably true. It's kind of funny, though, because I am pretty stupid on a day-to-day basis. I read trashy novels, I surf the internet, I procrastinate, I make the same mistakes over and over again. Anyone living with me (my husband and son, to be exact) would be hard pressed to see me as wise. As with Kenneth and his ongoing mess after years of practice, I am not exactly a walking advertisement for this enterprise. 

You say I have constructed a new self around the attainment of seeing through the illusion of self. This actually is an occupational hazard of the stage I have reached. I've been warned about it by teachers, books, what-have-you, and yet here I am doing it. I have to laugh about it, really; what else can I do? There are these awkward incongruities between new insights and old patterns, not to mention the incredible resourcefulness of the ego. 

I do have a hard time figuring out what it is you want from other people here. Are you looking for kindness?  I tried offering that and you saw through it. Do you want us to agree with you? Or convince you that you are wrong, or maybe just give you compelling reasons for practicing? I tried approaching you as someone wanting to make progress, as I said, but it doesn't seem to have struck the right note. 

What I do see you doing, though, is recasting other people's experiences and insights in the framework you yourself find convincing. So as far as you're concerned, the self-worth trip is really all there is to it. A bunch of people have labored hard to tell you no, that's not all there is to it. You find them insulting to your intelligence because they tell you that you can't know until you've been through a certain experience. But perhaps you are insulting others by claiming you know better than we do what we are really doing. 

In answer to your final question, I do think there can be shifts in practice, some profound. I don't know about being done to the point that there is absolutely no room for further growth. Do I strive for that? What I do is work with whatever I'm given, at any moment. I'm doing that now, in fact, participating on your thread. Thanks for your participation with me. 
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Jane Laurel Carrington:
"Doubt is the enemy of faith. Religion needs faith, and with doubt, religious beliefs suffer. So doubt is bad…What is another word for doubt? Perhaps, "thinking"? Or "critical thinking"? I didn't trigger any doubt reading about Kenneth's experiences. Instead, I got a better insight into how his experiences and his interpretations have helped construct his worldview and self-image."

I guess I've been responding to you as if you were undertaking the spiritual practices that most of us are here to help each other do. Your position sounded to me like a radical questioning of the usefulness and/or validity of such practices, and I perceived this as doubt. People experience it frequently, and in fact it does hinder any sincere effort at practice for as long as it is given play. But here you say no, there's no doubt, but a securely-held view that spiritual practice is beside the point. The real point is to find a means of validating oneself, or of feeling mastery, which is a basis for self-worth. 

Furthermore, you say here that doubt is nothing other than critical thinking, whereas faith, doubt's opposite, is the enemy of such thinking. My understanding of faith is that it is one of the five spiritual faculties (interesting how spiritual teachers love such lists). It isn't possible to make any progress in one's practice without taking a leap of faith, which is a willingness to accept the value of what is being offered before having experienced its benefits. As experience clarifies those benefits, faith deepens--faith and experience are mutually reinforcing. No one is being expected to park one's intellect at the door, and substitute faith for understanding. 

Okay, next you take issue with my comment that you think Kenneth's path is strange. I'll substitute the word you actually used--you said it was absurd. I admit that they are not the same. 

Finally, though the really important stuff, the essential thing: I am being patronizing because I see myself as having wisdom that you don't have. I think this is probably true. It's kind of funny, though, because I am pretty stupid on a day-to-day basis. I read trashy novels, I surf the internet, I procrastinate, I make the same mistakes over and over again. Anyone living with me (my husband and son, to be exact) would be hard pressed to see me as wise. As with Kenneth and his ongoing mess after years of practice, I am not exactly a walking advertisement for this enterprise. 

You say I have constructed a new self around the attainment of seeing through the illusion of self. This actually is an occupational hazard of the stage I have reached. I've been warned about it by teachers, books, what-have-you, and yet here I am doing it. I have to laugh about it, really; what else can I do? There are these awkward incongruities between new insights and old patterns, not to mention the incredible resourcefulness of the ego. 

I do have a hard time figuring out what it is you want from other people here. Are you looking for kindness?  I tried offering that and you saw through it. Do you want us to agree with you? Or convince you that you are wrong, or maybe just give you compelling reasons for practicing? I tried approaching you as someone wanting to make progress, as I said, but it doesn't seem to have struck the right note. 

What I do see you doing, though, is recasting other people's experiences and insights in the framework you yourself find convincing. So as far as you're concerned, the self-worth trip is really all there is to it. A bunch of people have labored hard to tell you no, that's not all there is to it. You find them insulting to your intelligence because they tell you that you can't know until you've been through a certain experience. But perhaps you are insulting others by claiming you know better than we do what we are really doing. 

In answer to your final question, I do think there can be shifts in practice, some profound. I don't know about being done to the point that there is absolutely no room for further growth. Do I strive for that? What I do is work with whatever I'm given, at any moment. I'm doing that now, in fact, participating on your thread. Thanks for your participation with me. 

Hi Jane, 

Thanks for removing the "cloak of kindness", I much prefer this version! You really get to hitting the nail on the head.
 And I think I probably, deep down, am looking for reasons to convince me I am wrong, and/or give me reasons to "practice", and I think your response here does that best. 

It is all just a battle against the "incredible resourcefulness of the ego". It is battle I think you can never win, but I can at least try/keep trying.
Martin Potter, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 86 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts

"But 22 years of meditation and advanced meditative attainments didn't make him happy. Vipassana didn't make him happy. Pure land jhanas didn't make him happy. The path gave him a purpose, it gave his life some meaning, but he was still very depressed and anxious.
 
But ultimately where he ended up was an ordinary life, right? Getting married, going to school, getting a job. Did he eventually realise that looking for something truer than an ordinary life was a mistake? Is that the ultimate spiritual folly? "



Hi Sawfoot,

You may want to listen to this brief answer from Leonard Cohen, I think it answers the heart of your question in this thread.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ds7rFWUxpvU#t=892

So yes, the practises can lead to the end of searching, but I think that spiritual practises may be necessary to end the searching which is there at the start, so you cannot simply ignore it as though it wasn't there. However, perhaps not worrying about it could be a practise that diminishes it in itself, in which case you could just get on with life as you suggest! Actualism is a bit like this in that you just aim to be happy as possible and the negative feelings and angst get less over time.

Something needs to be done though if you are one of the people who has an existential angst with the world and a feeling that something needs to be done, so it may not be for everyone but it's needed for some! 

As you suggest in a previous post, it may be better not to start (i.e. not cross into dark night), but people who are on this forum or interested in spiritual practises have already done so, so that is not the issue (I am not personally one of the ones who tries to encourage people to medidate... some even want to encourage children!). 

I suppose it's all summed up in the old buddhist cliche "better not to begin. If begin, better to finish".


- Martin

(p.s. sorry I can't figure out how to use the quote function correctly)
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Martin Potter:

Hi Sawfoot,

You may want to listen to this brief answer from Leonard Cohen, I think it answers the heart of your question in this thread.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ds7rFWUxpvU#t=892

So yes, the practises can lead to the end of searching, but I think that spiritual practises may be necessary to end the searching which is there at the start, so you cannot simply ignore it as though it wasn't there. However, perhaps not worrying about it could be a practise that diminishes it in itself, in which case you could just get on with life as you suggest! Actualism is a bit like this in that you just aim to be happy as possible and the negative feelings and angst get less over time.

Something needs to be done though if you are one of the people who has an existential angst with the world and a feeling that something needs to be done, so it may not be for everyone but it's needed for some! 

As you suggest in a previous post, it may be better not to start (i.e. not cross into dark night), but people who are on this forum or interested in spiritual practises have already done so, so that is not the issue (I am not personally one of the ones who tries to encourage people to medidate... some even want to encourage children!). 

I suppose it's all summed up in the old buddhist cliche "better not to begin. If begin, better to finish".

- Martin


I liked the interview, thanks. Not sure about answers. He says:

"A level of relaxation came over me when I no longer realised there was a religious secret...the background is more relaxed now".

Which is similar to what Kenneth describes.

What I wonder is the extent to which you feel that relaxation/contentment depends on how important that religious secret was to you - the more desperate the search, the greater the relief when you give it up (and the greater the "enlightenment").

But the paradox of "curing the illusion that something is wrong" - it is as the heart of zen, but it doesn't seem to inform Kenneth's approach to the extent you might think it would (but then again, he does have his "3rd gear")

So I have reached more a state of resigned acceptance now. I can't cure the problem of life and death. And worrying about it doesn't help, though keeping that awareness of the problem of life and death is worthwhile.

In one sense, completing or finishing a spiritual path, such as described by Kenneth, or perhaps TDC on this forum, is (IMHO) an impossibility, an absurd idea. Kenneth talks about circuits of energy and natural stages of human development and other fantastical thinking in order to try and explain it. And then you have Buddhist religious beliefs about arhats. But then again, people sometimes do describe a subjective experience of "finishing" a spiritual path, and so, the logical response is that it seems one can only finish a spiritual path if you decide that you have finished a spiritual path. And that’s the riddle - he can't be done, but he is done, so how can that be?
 
If you begin, better to finish? But you can't finish! Can you?
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Psi Phi, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 1095 Join Date: 11/22/13 Recent Posts
Your question:


So one question was Kenneth's 4th path a meditative attainment? Did he achieve happiness and contentment through a meditative path?

Answer: Yes, it looks as if that is what he was saying.  My vantage point is that it isn't all about the meditation, it is about practice in every daily moment i.e. at home, at work, with the kids, while meditating, etc.  Again, from my vantage point, what practices?  The Eightfold Path.  I could elaborate, but give a reason as to what you do not understand about the Eightfold Path first.

Your next question:


But ultimately where he ended up was an ordinary life, right? Getting married, going to school, getting a job. 

Answer: He stated that he ended up with:  

a deep, abiding sense of peace, and the feeling that there’s no longer anything missing from my life or the universe.  Contentment underlies all, much as the deep sea underlies the froth on the surface of the waves. Even the most violent storms do not disturb those depths.


Life is Life, Life is as it is, nothing more.  There is Life, and then there are stories.

So if one has deep contentment, would you think that one finds it from getting married?  If so, then wht isn't every one that is married deeply contented?

So if one has deep contentment, would you think that one finds it from going to schjool? If so, then why isn't everyone that is going to school deeply contented?

So if one has deep contentment, would you say that one finds it from getting a job?  If so, then why isn't everyone that has a job deeply contented?

Does anyone find a deep imperturbability  from ordinary life?  If so, then why isn't everyone deeply contented?

Your question:

Did he eventually realise that looking for something truer than an ordinary life was a mistake?

Answer:

Ordinary life is true and is a reality, many follow that path, if one finds an imperturbable state of mind, is that a mistake?  Can that be found in what you call ordinary life?

Your question:

Is that the ultimate spiritual folly?

Answer:

Is finding deep imperturbablity and wisdom a foolish act?

Your other questions are too hypothetical and to personal for me to answer at this point in time with my current understanding, and the limits of  my current practice.

Though, I might state, that at a point practice becomes practiced, a mind in training becomes fully trained, but:

How does judging, criticizing, and examining others help one to become liberated?  If you are looking for faith, faith stems from confidence, confidence stems from experiencing results, results stem from practicing.  In essence one has to rely upon themselves as the final guide and arbitrator.  The practice is a "Do-it_yourself" job, One is invited to come and see on one's own, nobody is going to hold anyone's hand.  One has to face their own mind,  has to deal with their own negative habits and tendencies, One has to get in the ring, slug it out, one is going to get hit and fall down.  But as the saying goes:

Fall down seven times, get up eight.

Only you can train your mind, 

Maybe you are seeking this out, testing the waters, is this real or fairy tale?

But like rubbing two sticks together to make a fire, one doesn't rub for a while, stop, rub a little later, stop.  No , one has to keep rubbing, continuously, Only then the fire will catch !

Sawfoot, 

Whoever you are, wherever you are, I really hope you find peace of mind, somehow, I know you will.  All I can say is, this shit is real!  Believing in stuff is non-sense, Knowing in stuff is reality.  The path is a gradual progression, there are positive results and insights around every corner, "ordinary" life will keep moving along with you, whether you like it or not, One can not remove pleasant and unpleasant sensations, that's part and parcel of being human. But, what one can change is the mind's reaction to pleasant and unpleasant sensations.


Does any of this make sense to you?

Psi Phi
Trial And Error, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 116 Join Date: 2/27/13 Recent Posts
Can I respectfully ask, what is it that you are seeking in buddhist meditation? What benefit does meditation offer to you? What is the mechanism by which you think it provides those benefits? And what convinces you that it can in fact provide those benefits?

I'm in no way trying to imply that you can't meditate or contribute here unless you have a certain belief about what is called enlightenment. I'm really just trying to understand your perspective a little better. It's an interesting discussion and you do make some interesting points.
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Trial And Error:
Can I respectfully ask, what is it that you are seeking in buddhist meditation? What benefit does meditation offer to you? What is the mechanism by which you think it provides those benefits? And what convinces you that it can in fact provide those benefits?

I'm in no way trying to imply that you can't meditate or contribute here unless you have a certain belief about what is called enlightenment. I'm really just trying to understand your perspective a little better. It's an interesting discussion and you do make some interesting points.

 There are lots of answers to the first question, but being honest, probably the one that underlies it all is a way of dealing with anxiety. And maybe, things like metta practice do help with that. Surely that is true, but then, I am not fully convinced that it can offer those benefits (e.g. 22 years of full time meditation and 3rd path and Kenneth had to take anti-anxiety medication, for example, though he got there in the end!).

 
Another answer might be something like "know thyself".  Or perhaps becoming a better person, becoming kinder, more compassionate.  I don't know, it’s a really hard question to answer!

The insight that I keep returning to, which meditation seems to influence in ways I don't always fathom, is a greater understanding of how our self-constructs leads to suffering in ourselves and in others. And I suppose that is a benefit, though in other ways, it is a curse.

 And why I sometimes am excessively focused on the "ills" here is an observation and fascination in the ways in which concepts of enlightenment can actually serve to block our understanding of how our self-constructs influence our behaviour.
Trial And Error, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 116 Join Date: 2/27/13 Recent Posts
sawfoot _:
Trial And Error:
Can I respectfully ask, what is it that you are seeking in buddhist meditation? 
....I don't know, it’s a really hard question to answer!

Given this fact, to what extent do you think what someone is seeking and how they should be seeking it can be known and discussed by others?

(I do think there is value in talking about ideas of enlightenment and how they might influence development)
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 3199 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
I can say as one of the people who was there from very close to the beginning of Kenneth's journey and who is still a good friend of his and was there all throughout the strange middle parts of his adventure that this discussion really doesn't seem to have much of anything to do with what really happened to Kenneth and much about the doubts and rhetorical tactics of _sawfoot, just so that is clear.

Perhaps the better title of the thread would be, "Friends shouldn't let friends try to become pot-stirring cynical misinterpreting hyper-simplistic armchair-quarterbacking speculative ignorantly-pontificating knee-jerk-negative reductionists who hang out on formus that have nearly nothing to do with their apparent interests and wouldn't seem to adequately address their core personal pathology: _sawfoot's story"
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
I can say as one of the people who was there from very close to the beginning of Kenneth's journey and who is still a good friend of his and was there all throughout the strange middle parts of his adventure that this discussion really doesn't seem to have much of anything to do with what really happened to Kenneth and much about the doubts and rhetorical tactics of _sawfoot, just so that is clear.

Perhaps the better title of the thread would be, "Friends shouldn't let friends try to become pot-stirring cynical misinterpreting hyper-simplistic armchair-quarterbacking speculative ignorantly-pontificating knee-jerk-negative reductionists who hang out on formus that have nearly nothing to do with their apparent interests and wouldn't seem to adequately address their core personal pathology: _sawfoot's story"
Ok, that is reasonably fair enough, up to the "reductionists" part, and LOL-worthy, and I am going to bow out of this thread now, but just to say in closing, Daniel, you may have your strong opinions on the matter, but you aren't the final arbitrator on what good or bad "practice" is. We all have our own paths and pathologies.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 3199 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
sawfoot _:
Daniel M. Ingram:
I can say as one of the people who was there from very close to the beginning of Kenneth's journey and who is still a good friend of his and was there all throughout the strange middle parts of his adventure that this discussion really doesn't seem to have much of anything to do with what really happened to Kenneth and much about the doubts and rhetorical tactics of _sawfoot, just so that is clear.

Perhaps the better title of the thread would be, "Friends shouldn't let friends try to become pot-stirring cynical misinterpreting hyper-simplistic armchair-quarterbacking speculative ignorantly-pontificating knee-jerk-negative reductionists who hang out on formus that have nearly nothing to do with their apparent interests and wouldn't seem to adequately address their core personal pathology: _sawfoot's story"
Ok, that is reasonably fair enough, up to the "reductionists" part, and LOL-worthy, and I am going to bow out of this thread now, but just to say in closing, Daniel, you may have your strong opinions on the matter, but you aren't the final arbitrator on what good or bad "practice" is. We all have our own paths and pathologies.
I actually think the reductionist part also fits quite well and each phrase and word, including that one, was carefully chosen. You again and again come up with ways to neatly reduce things through over-simplification and distortion to some overly simplistic yet really inaccurate view that neatly fits with your general trend to cynical and dismissive theories about what this stuff is all about and what it leads to. In this case, you read Kenneth's extremely simplistic summary of a 25+ year process and then take that and filter it through your own even more simple theories about meditation and its effects and then use all of that to try to come up with some neat dismissal of the whole path. This is reductionism. From Merriam Webster, one of the definitions of reductionism: "a procedure or theory that reduces complex data or phenomena to simple terms", in this case that Kenneth could have simply just decided not to practice and everything would have been ok. That is reductionism. The term fits very nicely.

I definitely don't consider myself the final arbiter of what good or bad practice is, but I do have other skill sets related to this particular question, specifically that I am probably one of the people who know the most about Kenneth's practice since the early days up until today, as his story and mine are extremely interwoven, and also that I have read hundreds of your posts and find the same trend again and again, and also have a vision of what the DhO is about at its best and a vision of what it can be.

That vision doesn't involve thread after thread, discussion after discussion, post after post all serving to address the endless petty critiques of the most basic and simple beginner-level points of the path for one single person, like endlessly trying to convince someone why it might be good to get an education and move our of their parent's basement, with the basement-dweller coming up with every single possible reason their clever brain can contrive to figure out why the person arguing for those things is wrong and generating some feeling of cleverness for how artfully they can keep the conversation going with little pleasantries and the joy of the arguement, while all the while sitting on that couch in the basement laughing at the endless attempts to discuss these things with them.

Beyond a certain point this is simply narcissistic, all about them, all about how much fun they have arguing, which could seem to be like arguing about the dharma or something relevant to practice, but ends up finally seeming to me like arguing for the joy of arguing, making points for the joy of making them and feeling clever, getting reactions because that somehow stokes some thrill in the brain, like a gambling addiction, which internet addiction closely resembles. Month after month, thread after thread, there are those who invite you to practice and to discuss practice, and month after month, thread after thread, there is endless discussion of why not to practice. Not into practice? Nothing could be simpler: don't practice. Really into getting internet forums all riled up about whatever? Consider finding another place to do that.

Imagine if I spent hundreds of hours creating hundreds of posts on a Catholic discussion site, particularly a contemplative Catholic discussion site, discussing how I thought that the Pope was just a guy in a funny hat and that prayer was just people doing something to feel good about some parental figure that will magically take care of them, and I did this again and again and again and again and again. At some point you have to wonder if this is really just them needing to have their seemingly inexhaustable questions resolved so that finally, when every possible question is answered, they will suddenly start deep Catholic mystical practice, or this is just that they like to stir things up and that is all it is and they get some narcissistic charge out of the pot-stirring but will give just enough positive feedback to keep everyone hooked on responding to them, just enough hope that they might one day learn to practice well by whatever method or path that they will become an accomplished practitioner and finally understand.

I am currently far to the side of believing that this is not headed finally in that direction, that of practice, but that you have a fixed view that you feel really good about, that veiw being that this stuff is mostly crap and fantasy, and you enjoy making fun of it to prop up your sense of yourself and for no further purpose. You dangle the carrot that you might be convinced for the evangels and rescuers among us, but I have come to believe this is all a game for you and that you aren't actually interested in anything but the argument.

@Pawel (sorry about the wrong "l"), I can see why you called my post harsh, but consider that I actually think everything I said was accurate and true, point by point, phrase by phrase, word by word, and if this honesty has a sting, it is only as I was simply extremely honest in my critique, and, as was pointed out, this is the Dharma Battleground, and I don't think that any of my points missed the mark, as I see it. If I am wrong, please let me know in exactly what way.
my comment was just about harshness, not accuracy
I too was cynical atheist myself in the past so I feel sawfoot_'s urges to have those discussions and I know its hard wall to break to get through to such people

on the other hand sawfoot_ looks to be much more cynical and atheist than I ever was so it might be harder task than getting Buddhahood and Actual Freedom at the same time =)

@sawfoot_
hope you have enough sense of humor to not be offended by this post
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Trial And Error:
sawfoot _:
Trial And Error:
Can I respectfully ask, what is it that you are seeking in buddhist meditation? 
....I don't know, it’s a really hard question to answer!

Given this fact, to what extent do you think what someone is seeking and how they should be seeking it can be known and discussed by others?

(I do think there is value in talking about ideas of enlightenment and how they might influence development)

 
I just came back to send you a personal message as I feel I should have responded to your question, but if I did so now it would have ruined my dramatic exit. But then Florian has responded, so I feel drawn back in, and I remember that people never check their messages here.
 
"Given this fact, to what extent do you think what someone is seeking and how they should be seeking it can be known and discussed by others?"
 
My initial response is that probably the extent should be "not very much", which is, for example, why my last comment to Daniel was implying that it isn't very "wise", but then I fall back to that position of my "fair game" argument that for those in positions of authority and influence it should be discussed. But it can end up with me saying "I am not claiming to be wise and enlightened", so I can get away with being a poor unenlightened schmuck, which feels like a cop-out, which is why I am exiting. I will PM you shortly Florian.
@sawfoot_
How far you get with this whole enlightenment thing depends on how much you are committed to it.
People can go for retreats, do years of sitting practice and still get nowhere in this business, and do you know why? they are not committed enough!
What it take is to get somewhere is to be ready to destroy oneself in the process!

Why do you think it take some people so long to realize what to do? If Kenneth was so unhappy then why it took him so much years to let go of his wretched self? In my humble opinion he was not unhappy enough and that was his final obstacle, otherwise he would do it sooner than later

the sooner you look closely yourself in the eye the sooner you will decide its time to say goodbye and after that practice itself will be your greatest delight. Hope I didn't scared you too much =)

pm sent

@Daniel
harsh...
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sawfoot _, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Dammit, so much for my dramatic exit.

Re: Pawel, suffering.

I was speaking with a "born again" Christian last night (and a Physicist to boot), and he was describing how he found God when he was suicidal depressed. And Derek, you had some interesting remarks about it in one of your essays. And so yes, it is a common pattern, in that suffering is pretty pivotal in the construction of faith. The more you suffer, the more you need to find something to alleviate suffering. And I have found, suffering can often eventually lead to joy.


Jane, I was actually motivated to come back here in response to your comment of "those who don't know what they're talking about and those who do", which I found pretty frustrating because it made me feel this was all for nothing. I am not a member there so I hope you don't mind me raising it here.

http://awakenetwork.org/forum/105-reading-listening-and-viewing-recommendations/9305-random-dharma?start=150

And I just noticed you had got there in first, with your insight that "such dualities bring suffering."

In the words of Florian, "Nice! Keep going!" (that is partly a joke, and partly dead serious).

I have been trying to say this in many ways in this thread. There has been a lot of side tracking and misunderstandings which might obscure that. The heart is about "occupational hazards", and "occupational benefits" - in particular constructions of achievements on a path, and how identification with being or having enlightenment/awakening can lead to those "occupational hazards" and "occupational benefits", and trying to explore that. So, for example, the dichotomies that get created have both costs and benefits - they can bring suffering, to others, and to yourself, but they can also bring benefits to the holders.

And here we are on the Dharma Battleground, where "high controversy and heated debate should happen with all the compassion, listening, clarification, passion for the truth and intelligence you can muster". The debate and controversy is all very interesting, but as always, what is really fascinating is how we engage (or don't engage) can tell us about ourselves and each other. As you say, it is all about how people work with what they have, how they respond at any given moment.
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Jane Laurel Carrington, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 442 Join Date: 4/7/14 Recent Posts
What you saw over on awakenetwork was me learning something between my first and my second posts. "Those who don't know and those who do" is a nice way for the latter camp to feel good about their mastery, but in fact feeling good about one's mastery, and looking down on those who don't have said mastery, does not lead to happiness; it leads to further suffering. Any comparison of oneself with another is dukkha-producing. People who have a different point of view might teach others a thing or two, as you have done here in my case. And anyone who is on a pedastal can experience the anguish of falling from that perch. So I corrected myself on the thread, and I'm glad I did. I apologize for the unhappiness my first post caused you. Snarky comments about other people is the opposite of Right Speech.

Snarky comments about others is a way of reinforcing one's self-image, which is why we do it. So there I am, creating and reinforcing an almost-awakened self. This defeats the whole awakening to non-self. I can actually, physically feel the constriction that it causes. The only thing to do is let that sensation be known, just as it is. And express gratitude to those who teach me!
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Zendo Calrissian, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 26 Join Date: 2/19/14 Recent Posts
Paweł K:
@sawfoot_
In my humble opinion he was not unhappy enough and that was his final obstacle, otherwise he would do it sooner than later


Are you saying that the only way to achieve SE is through profound unhappiness and suffering?
Are you saying that the only way to achieve SE is through profound unhappiness and suffering?

Did Buddha actualize his path by flying on unicorn and eating rainbows or by being in hell for years and fighting incarnation of Devil himself? Did he realize Noble Eightfold Path being happy or in suffering? How was it?

But do not make mistakes, suffering is not necessary by itself. It is only necessary for idiots like myself who otherwise would fall asleep. Suffering is strong in me, I made myself sensitive to it. Best thing I ever done. All those opened chakras, energy channels, energetic bodies, vipassana practices etc made me feel mind stuff in greater clarity and strength both pleasurable and not pleasurable like pain and suffering that is created by selfing, clinging and aversion.

Do you really think not feeling anything, by being numb one could methodically sacrifice own creation one is identified with: the 'self'?
If that was the case people would spontaneously get enlightened by tunneling effect or something. It do not happen because people do not feel enough suffering from their wretched creations: from 'self', from 'I', from 'mine', from clinging and from aversion
If people suffer hell on any occasion thought 'this is mine' appeared and were in bliss where their minds were clear then what do you think world would look like? How would they kept their mind, dirty or clean?

Meditation is not to make person happy but make him more sensitive so that he cannot ignore own suffering anymore and do something about it. That should be probably put in sticky thread next to warning about DN. I myself find it to be a good thing and that alone make me wanna practice more so that I can't ignore even subtler selfing anymore. Its better to deal with issues directly than hide them in numbness of ignorance. Even if ordinary human doesn't suffer all that much cause he is numbed down to the point he feel nothing at all, still such existence is crappy compared to walking path of liberation. Reason for that is lack of clarity and not being able to feel actually good sensations, that have but one condition to appear: lack of selfing.
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Travis Gene McKinstry, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 208 Join Date: 7/26/12 Recent Posts
I finally read this thread and think it has some interesting points. 

But I think I personally have lived the teaching (like some people on here claim) and have also 'mastered' a skill. In a couple of months I hit SE, and my perception and perspective on life changed dramatically, literally. Unlike the result that came to me when I mastered another skill not related to meditaiton.

Perhaps it takes a bit more integration, not just matering concentration and wisdom, but also morality, 'sila'. The Buddah did say these three need each other to be properlly developed and although I'm not claiming I have developed morality 'enough' or anyone else on here has not, I just get a feeling that this community rarely focuses on morality. Perhaps I'm looking in the wrong places.


Not that anyone asked me, but I think Daniel's point sums it up;
It's about getting comfortable into this moment, this body, this life.
Travis Gene McKinstry:
But I think I personally have lived the teaching (like some people on here claim) and have also 'mastered' a skill. In a couple of months I hit SE, and my perception and perspective on life changed dramatically, literally. Unlike the result that came to me when I mastered another skill not related to meditaiton.



Hi Travis,

When did this happened? I followed your practice log and it seem like it's been "cut of" just before you said you're going on a goenka retreat.
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Travis Gene McKinstry, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 208 Join Date: 7/26/12 Recent Posts
wtf:
Travis Gene McKinstry:
But I think I personally have lived the teaching (like some people on here claim) and have also 'mastered' a skill. In a couple of months I hit SE, and my perception and perspective on life changed dramatically, literally. Unlike the result that came to me when I mastered another skill not related to meditaiton.



Hi Travis,

When did this happened? I followed your practice log and it seem like it's been "cut of" just before you said you're going on a goenka retreat.


Yes that is when it happened at the Goenka retreat. I haven't put it down yet in the practice log.... emoticon
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
sawfoot _:

So, this is…interesting…Clearly something shifted. But what changed? He went from desperately trying to fix himself by being obsessed with enlightenment and meditation, to getting on with his life. He was still a bit of obsessed with meditation and enlightenment, no doubt, but in a constructive sense of using that in making a living as a meditation teacher and likely having a greater sense of self-worth of performing a function in society and helping others. Although about that helping others bit..one can perhaps see the irony in teaching others to use meditation to fix their problems and make them themselves happy…

I read Kenneth's story as another instance of someone discovering, by long and arduous effort, that there was really nothing standing in the way (of peace, freedom, sanity, clarity) after all... but they absolutely needed to make that effort (or effort of a similar kind) to find it out. I don't see mastery per se as the solution... but it's not entirely incidental either. It doesn't seem to directly resolve whatever basic existential conflict he had (we have); but it's more than coincidence that effort of this kind results in resolutions -- even if only indirectly.
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Eric M W, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 288 Join Date: 3/19/14 Recent Posts
I haven't actually read a lot of this thread, other than Daniel's interesting and insightful responses, but I would like to add the following: Kenneth had a cocaine addiction.  I've read in various places that cocaine interacts with the "pleasure center" of the brain in such a way that it is very, very hard to be happy without it after a while.  Recovering cocaine addicts are often prescribed anti-depressants in order to prevent a relapse.

Thus, it is quite possible that Kenneth's brain chemistry was simply fucked up.  The profound shift in perspective at the arahat level finally remedied this.  Perhaps the rest of us should become arahats before discussing this further to ensure a balanced and informed discussion on the issue.
Bill McCloskey, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 34 Join Date: 6/20/14 Recent Posts
Yikes. I'm new here and certainly have no understanding of all the players involved, but I just read as much of this thread as I could stand to read.

Is Kenneth actually causing physical harm to someone? If no, I really fail to see why his personal journey is anyone's business, regardless if he wrote a book about it.

Trying to protect someone from making bad decisions is a fools errand. There are plenty of false teachings, false teachers, and charlatans out there. People learn the easy way or the hard way. Worrying about someone who might quit school and go to Thialand to meditate is a strange thing to me. I quit school because a girl I liked wrote me she loved me in my freshman year so I hitchhiked from Boulder to north carolina to see her and missed my mid terms. Was that more or less foolish? Either way it was my foolish thing, not someone elses. And who is to say that I didn't make the right decision which ended up opening a world of experiences for me. Leaving school for a girl turned out to be the best thing I could have done. Who is someone else to judge?

If someone wants to charge $140 an hour to teach the dharma, that is their business, not mine. I'm certainly not going to pay it. If someone claims enlightenment, the Buddha says you tell false claims from real claims by not making snap decisions either way. Claims of enlightenment don't help me get there any faster so why would I give it any attention at all.

I came here to learn a few techniques to help me with my own meditation, not to challenge what others claim to be their own accomplishments. Why would I care what someone else claims, my focus is on my own salvation. Take what you need and leave the rest.

In my experience, those who are obsessed with showing me the light have agendas that have little connection with protecting me from harm.

I certainly hope other discussions here aren't as excrusiatingly boring as this one.
Trial And Error, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 116 Join Date: 2/27/13 Recent Posts
I'm tired of seeing this thread as well. If there were points to be made they have been made for those who are open to them. 
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Jane Laurel Carrington, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Friends shouldn't let friends try to become enlightened:Kenneth's story

Posts: 442 Join Date: 4/7/14 Recent Posts
Bill: don't worry; many of the threads on here are true gold. 

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