Relativistic effects of practice

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Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago.

Relativistic effects of practice

Posts: 1335 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
John Wilde:
Dream Walker:
We are allegories trapped in analogies.emoticon

Using the controlling aspect of the mind to delete the the controlling aspect of the mind....hmmm That is a sticky wicket.
I guess we could try to see these controlling aspects as clearly as possible.
I think about the Binding problem
and wonder to myself if the stress center of the brain has been made
into the switchboard that regulates what information reaches
consciousness. The information seems to get a wrapping of stress by this
unnecessary fight or flight system being in charge. Looking at the 3
characteristics of reality in real time seems to have some ability to
rewire this system layer by layer.
So we are using the controlling
system to choose a narrow subset of information that implies the
controlling itself. Then we let go of even that.
Just some thoughts,
~D

Good
thoughts. But you can't really know whether you're filtering
information until you're no longer doing it... and any device we use to
alter or undermine the default filtering process (eg. bare awareness +
3Cs, or all-is-Consciousness) is itself a filter. I don't see any way to
step outside the relativistic effects of practice that Dan talked about
in his interview with Rick Archer. What you end up seeing is inevitably
partly determined by where and how you choose to look... which leads to
all sorts of dilemmas and controversies, not just about efficacy but
about truth vs soteriology, etc.
What do you see as the
dilemmas and controversies?  Are there categories you would like to chat
about...I'm interested in this. What relativistic effects of practice
do you see?
Probably deserves it's own thread. Gonna start one.
~D
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Relativistic effects of practice

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
It'd be nice if there was a single absolute reality that constituted ultimate truth, happiness and satisfaction, and it'd be nice if there was a wide variety of teachings and practices which all skillfully pointed the way there. We could each choose a teaching that suits our taste and temperament and follow it with full confidence that we'd ultimately arrive in the same place: the right place, the best place.

But that's not how it works, as far as I can tell. There's a bewildering variety of paths to take in life, and depending on which aims, qualities and values define our quest, there are unlimited ways to go wrong or miss the mark. And no matter which path we take, from someone else's perspective it's going to be the wrong path: a path of error, confusion, delusion, a path characterised by lack of this excellent quality and/or presence of this lousy one. And from what vantage point do we assess this? Our own? That way we're constrained by what we don't know and/or can't see and maybe never will. Someone else's? That way we're constrained by what they don't know and/or can't see. Adopt the consensus of the wise? There really isn't one. And if there were, there'd be no guarantee that it has more fidelity to the ultimate truth or ultimate value than something you might discover by going another way altogether.

So the starting point is ignorance amidst a bewildering array of possibilities, and the end point is ignorance amidst a bewildering array of lost opportunities. And what are the chances of arriving at the single best, truest, most fundamentally real, most excellent place that was ever humanly possible? And how are you going to know?

Considering that many of these paths diverge not just at the branches but at the roots (eg. renunciation vs full embrace of worldly life; or full feeling-based reality vs sensate / apperceptive flesh and blood body only), there's the very real dilemma of what to practice... or even, for some people, whether to practice. (Aside: For that reason, I don't find Sawfoot's posts annoying... I just see him as someone who feels this dilemma acutely and doesn't know how to resolve it. And although it might not come across as very skillful, I understand the urge to poke and prod a little... because sometimes it does turn out that the person you're dealing with is a little fragile or messed up, and their belief system is maybe a rationalisation or a buffer against something painful... and, especially in meditative circles, you're sometimes going to find stunted, lonely adolescent hearts wrapped in know-it-all's minds... and you're not going to find this out by buying into their spiritual narrative. (And neither are they, for that matter). It's very complicated.

For me personally, there's no ultimately valid answer... but I choose to trust a combination of two things: (1) Experiences, or modes of experience, in which a previous confusion and/or misunderstanding and/or contraction or limitation is gone, leaving what feels like a clearer, more spacious view of self and world -- which usually also brings with it an unforced benevolence, and a very satisfying sense of barely known or completely unknown possibilities... which is a very satisfying kind of ignorance! (2) Feedback from other people where it really counts, in shared experience.

The extent to which a practice facilitates this is the extent to which I consider it a good practice. But that's my choice; other people have different criteria.

Enough for now... will go into more detail later. Might even answer your question! ;-)
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Relativistic effects of practice

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
To point out some of the relativistic effects of practice, we could start with some common practice frameworks, consider what they emphasise and what they screen out, and what kind of outcomes they're likely to produce.

As an entry point: there was a guy here advertising a book a few weeks back (http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5537010). His message was pretty consistent with what's been written before by Greg Goode, Rupert Spira, Francis Lucille, Jean Klein, etc. You start with a kind of radical empiricism in which only direct experience is allowed, and you end up with -- guess what? -- a world that consists of nothing but experience. There is only consciousness. There aren't any objects. Consciousness is not 'of' anything. There's nothing behind it, nothing causing it, nothing other than it. The very notions of entities, time, space, cause and effect, the notion of anything existing independently of consciousness, are never directly experienced, only inferred. And so they don't exist... except as inferences... which are nothing but other arisings in consciousness. And any means by which you might demonstrate the existence of anything other than consciousness is negated, and so only consciousness is found.

Neat trick. Some nice psychological benefits too. All the weight and seriousness is taken out of the world; there's nothing of any substance or ultimate consequence; the body is just an appearance; life and death are appearances in Consciousness; there's nothing to fear because there's really nothing there. There's not even a 'there' there.

Now, a teaching like that can surely dissolve the sense of a separate self very effectively; it can surely be a rapid route to a pure nondual mode of experience; and it can surely relieve a lot of suffering. But whether it approaches anything like the truth of our situation... you be the judge. For my money, nowhere near it. (But then there is the legitimate question of truth vs soteriology...).

Or take a different type of practice orientation like Gurdjieff's Work / Fourth Way. You learn to see that you and all the people around you are hardly ever properly awake... not for more than a moment or two anyway. You're all basically machines, operating according to mechanical laws. Just about everything you are, everything you do, everyone you associate with, everything you aspire to, is worthless rubbish... mechanical, ultimately meaningless and valueless. And sometimes -- if you Work well enough -- you get to actually see this really clearly. For a moment you see the shocking truth of it.... and then you're gone again. But you've confirmed the truth of it, and so if this much is true, perhaps the rest is too. So essentially you're training yourself to see yourself as mechanical, and thus you find... mechanisms. And occasionally the part of you that's doing this becomes shockingly aware of itself... and it's a glimpse of what it's like to be awake. You're tasting something real, something that isn't mechanical... something that you can realise by... continuing the Work.

Or take Burmese vipassana. When everything is perceived in purely sensate terms (including thought, feeling and narrative), you end up with a world of only sensations, a phenomenal field in which no sensation can perceive another... therefore there's no perceiver; no sensation can do another, therefore no doer, no agent; no sensation can feel another, therefore no feeler. But everyone recognises the value of such an approach when it comes to hacking through dense thickets of narrative, concepts, personal selfhood, interpersonal relationships, and 'stuff' in general.

Or take a path like Jungian individuation.... in which you you embrace psychic reality on its own terms... which means embracing narrative, myth-making, dreaming, symbolic thought -- stuff that would be written off as 'content' or 'makyo' in other traditions .... and you have a world that's humming with meaningful coincidences, syncronicities, nods and winks from the universe. Knowing yourself and knowing the unvierse isn't about experiencing it as bare sensations; it's more about the patterning of experience, coming to know the psychic (and beyond-psychic) structures that cause nature and experience to be patterned in certain ways... of which sensation is just the tip of the iceberg.

There are just so many ways to see reality, so many stances to take toward self and world and other, and every approach seems to entail filtering some things and magnifying others. And you can escape from or alter any particular perspective (as long as it's conscious and explicit enough), but you can't escape from perspectiveness itself.
J C, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Relativistic effects of practice

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And yet, some of those perspectives seem to be completely delusional when viewed from outside that perspective. I'm looking for ones that aren't, like vipassana. There's a difference between clear seeing and deluding yourself into thinking the world is a certain way -- this explains the AFers, for instance, most of whom seem to have come out of it feeling like they were deluding themselves.

This reminds me of an intriguing sentence from MCTB, where Daniel says that each practice method has its shadow sides, which show up later down the road. I'm not clear on how they show up after arahat, though, or what the shadow sides of noting or vipassana are.
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Relativistic effects of practice

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
J C:
This reminds me of an intriguing sentence from MCTB, where Daniel says that each practice method has its shadow sides, which show up later down the road. I'm not clear on how they show up after arahat, though, or what the shadow sides of noting or vipassana are.

This here, attributed to Mahasi Sayadaw -- http://www.midamericadharma.org/gangessangha/arahat.html -- is not what I'd consider a good advertisement for dedicating yourself to a lifelong literal interpretation of all phenomena as impermanent, unsatisfactory and not self... without having some other perspective to compensate for its narrow focus and negativity. It not only doesn't strike me as the summum bonum of human possibility, it strikes me as frankly morbid.

An Arahat's Outlook On Life
The Arahat has no illusion about the nature of sense-objects. He
is aware of their unwholesomeness
and this means he realizes the truth
of dukkha because he is free from ignorance (avijja). So he has no craving
for anything. Inevitably, he has to fill the biological needs of his physical
body such as eating, sleeping, etc., but he regards them as conditioned
(sankhara) dukkha and finds nothing that is pleasant to him.
The question arises as to whether he should long for speedy death
to end such suffering
. But the desire for early death or dissolution of
the physical body too is a destructive desire and the Arahat is free from
it. So there is an Arahat's saying in the Theragatha that he has neither
the wish to die nor the wish to live.
The Arahat does not wish to live a long life for life means largely
the burden of suffering inherent in khandha
. Although the burden of khandha
needs constant care and attention, it is not in the least reliable. To
many middle-aged or old people, life offers little more than frustration,
disappointment and bitterness. Living conditions go from bad to worse,
physical health declines and there is nothing but complete disintegration
and death that await us. Yet, because of ignorance and attachment many
people take delight in existence. On the other hand, the Arahat is disillusioned
and he finds life dreary and monotonous. Hence, his distaste for life
.
But the Arahat does not prefer death either. For death-wish is an
aggressive instinct which he has also conquered. What he wants is to attain
Nibbana, a longing that is somewhat analogous to that of a worker who wishes
to get his daily or monthly wage.The worker does not like to face hardship and privations for he has
to work inevitably just to make his living but he does not want to lose
his job either. He wants only money and looks forward to pay-day. Likewise,
the Arahat waits for the moment when he should attain Nibbana without anything
left of his body-mind complex. So when they think of their life-span, the
Arahats wonder how long they will have to bear the burden of nama-rupa
khandha. Because of his disillusionment, the Arahat's life-stream is completely
cut off after Nibbana, hence it is called //anupadisesanibbana//.
 
Not Annihilation, But Extinction Of Suffering
Those who believe in ego or soul deprecate Nibbana as eternal death
of a living being. In reality, it is the total extinction of suffering
that results from the non-recurrence of psycho-physical phenomena together
with their causes viz., kamma and defilements. So the Buddha points out
the cessation of upadana arising from the complete cessation of craving,
the process of becoming (bhava) ceasing to arise due to cessation of upadana
and so on. With the non-arising of rebirth, there is the complete cessation
of old age, death and other kinds of suffering.
Here, the popular view is that birth, old age and death are evils
that afflict living beings but, in point of fact, these evils characterize
only the psycho-physical process and have nothing to do with a living entity.
Since there is no ego or soul, it makes no sense to speak of the annihilation
of a living being with the cessation of rebirth and suffering.
So those who regard Nibbana as annihilation are not free from the
illusion of ego-entity. To the intelligent Buddhist, Nibbana means only
cessation of suffering. This is evident in the story of bhikkhu Yamaka
in the time of the Buddha.
 
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Relativistic effects of practice

Posts: 1335 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
J C:
And yet, some of those perspectives seem to be completely delusional when viewed from outside that perspective. I'm looking for ones that aren't, like vipassana. There's a difference between clear seeing and deluding yourself into thinking the world is a certain way -- this explains the AFers, for instance, most of whom seem to have come out of it feeling like they were deluding themselves.
My current thoughts regarding AF is that they are working wholesale on the stress center switchboard instead of rewiring sensations piecemeal. Lets say you rewire all perceived information to bypass the stress center, but might there be additional unperceived processes still wired to it? Since you can only tell by the after effect when the rewiring is done I can see some utility to this approach...of course given a lot of suppositions.
~D
J C, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Relativistic effects of practice

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John Wilde:
As an entry point: there was a guy here advertising a book a few weeks back (http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5537010). His message was pretty consistent with what's been written before by Greg Goode, Rupert Spira, Francis Lucille, Jean Klein, etc. You start with a kind of radical empiricism in which only direct experience is allowed, and you end up with -- guess what? -- a world that consists of nothing but experience. There is only consciousness. There aren't any objects. Consciousness is not 'of' anything. There's nothing behind it, nothing causing it, nothing other than it. The very notions of entities, time, space, cause and effect, the notion of anything existing independently of consciousness, are never directly experienced, only inferred. And so they don't exist... except as inferences... which are nothing but other arisings in consciousness. And any means by which you might demonstrate the existence of anything other than consciousness is negated, and so only consciousness is found.


Neat trick. Some nice psychological benefits too. All the weight and seriousness is taken out of the world; there's nothing of any substance or ultimate consequence; the body is just an appearance; life and death are appearances in Consciousness; there's nothing to fear because there's really nothing there. There's not even a 'there' there.

Now, a teaching like that can surely dissolve the sense of a separate self very effectively; it can surely be a rapid route to a pure nondual mode of experience; and it can surely relieve a lot of suffering. But whether it approaches anything like the truth of our situation... you be the judge. For my money, nowhere near it. (But then there is the legitimate question of truth vs soteriology...).


Those people are all Advaita / Direct Pointing people, right? What's the problem with that; isn't that what MCTB and Buddhist texts say in terms of "in the seeing just the seen," anatta, and so forth?

What is it missing in terms of the truth of our situation?




Or take a different type of practice orientation like Gurdjieff's Work / Fourth Way. You learn to see that you and all the people around you are hardly ever properly awake... not for more than a moment or two anyway. You're all basically machines, operating according to mechanical laws. Just about everything you are, everything you do, everyone you associate with, everything you aspire to, is worthless rubbish... mechanical, ultimately meaningless and valueless. And sometimes -- if you Work well enough -- you get to actually see this really clearly. For a moment you see the shocking truth of it.... and then you're gone again. But you've confirmed the truth of it, and so if this much is true, perhaps the rest is too. So essentially you're training yourself to see yourself as mechanical, and thus you find... mechanisms. And occasionally the part of you that's doing this becomes shockingly aware of itself... and it's a glimpse of what it's like to be awake. You're tasting something real, something that isn't mechanical... something that you can realise by... continuing the Work.



This is a really clear description, and I haven't really understood anything else I've read about Gurdjieff or Fourth Way. Could you elaborate on how you see mechanisms like that? Is there a link or a book you could recommend? I'm curious.



Or take Burmese vipassana. When everything is perceived in purely sensate terms (including thought, feeling and narrative), you end up with a world of only sensations, a phenomenal field in which no sensation can perceive another... therefore there's no perceiver; no sensation can do another, therefore no doer, no agent; no sensation can feel another, therefore no feeler. But everyone recognises the value of such an approach when it comes to hacking through dense thickets of narrative, concepts, personal selfhood, interpersonal relationships, and 'stuff' in general.
Just curious how this is different than the Advaita stuff you mentioned first up.
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Relativistic effects of practice

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
J C:
(...) I haven't really understood anything else I've read about Gurdjieff or Fourth Way. Could you elaborate on how you see mechanisms like that? Is there a link or a book you could recommend? I'm curious.


Well, the main reason I mentioned the Fourth Way here was to give an example of "what you see is partly determined by how you choose to look"... ie. if you train yourself to observe yourself as a machine, it's not surprising if you see yourself and other people in mechanical terms.

But having said that, there's a whole lot more to Gurdjieff than that. Although a lot of his teachings are pretty 'out there', I like him; the man himself is extremely interesting and so are a lot of his ideas. 

The books I liked best are by Maurice Nicoll: "Psychological Commentaries on the Teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky". There are several volumes... you can find them all easily enough on the web.
Volume 1 is here: http://www.gianfrancobertagni.it/materiali/gurdjieff/nicoll_commentari1.pdf

And to get an idea of what a strange and interesting character/ rogue/ teacher/ charlatan he was in real life, this is a fun read:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/178173314/Gurdjieff-A-Master-in-Life-Tcheslaw-Tchekhovitch
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Relativistic effects of practice

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Notwithstanding all that, people do tend to be wired up similarly, do tend to think and feel similarly, do tend to face similar problems, and are living in the same universe... and so when common problems are overcome -- by whatever means -- there's obviously going to be plenty of overlap in the experience. I'd never try to argue that the type of practice entirely determines the type of result... only that the mode of practice (the aims, the assumptions, the methods, the skills, the choice of what to filter and what to amplify) inevitably conditions the result -- and the way it's talked about.
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. Jake ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Relativistic effects of practice

Posts: 698 Join Date: 5/22/10 Recent Posts
John Wilde:
Notwithstanding all that, people do tend to be wired up similarly, do tend to think and feel similarly, do tend to face similar problems, and are living in the same universe... and so when common problems are overcome -- by whatever means -- there's obviously going to be plenty of overlap in the experience. I'd never try to argue that the type of practice entirely determines the type of result... only that the mode of practice (the aims, the assumptions, the methods, the skills, the choice of what to filter and what to amplify) inevitably conditions the result -- and the way it's talked about.

This is a great topic, thanks you guys for bringing it up.

I find eclecticism interesting in this regard. By gaining personal familiarity with several methods/views and the kinds of temporary and lasting changes they enact, it seems to me that I get a better sense of the commonality or deep structures of transformation that may underly the particular methods and their specific effects. Although I admit this view of mine also includes assumptions. When I was younger, and just had random (although perhaps frequent and intense, relatively speaking) glimpses of various kinds of deeper-seeming truths on the one hand or insights into layers of illusion on the other rather than having a committed practice which had led to significant lasting changes, I conceived an ambition to be a sort of contemplative anthropologist and to implement various diverse systems of method/view to experience and reflect on their different/similar path structures and results. I guess in some ways I have followed a path like that consisting of various paths. And yet there is an internal consistency in retrospect to that eclecticism perhaps due to my most basic motivations for pursuing contemplative development.

For me the emphasis is and has been on being grounded in everyday life and becoming more 'free' in everyday life rather than on cultivating altered states for their own sake. The proof is in the interpersonal and ordinary daily pudding of life ;) A lot of what is different for different cultivators and different paths seems to be the extraordinary content, the special states and stages that arise. If one's basic orientation is to reduce suffering, become free, wake up, or some other articulation of fruition that is explicitly beyond states that arise and pass one is possibly less likely to get caught up in the kinds of changes that result merely from the application of method while holding specific views (?). That seems to be my experience.

Back to the thread of thought in my first paragraph, the thing about the contemplative experiment which is so different from, say, a physics experiment is that in running the experiment (implementing a method, following instructions) you are transforming the laboratory (experience itself and how it functions). So even if a practitioner engages multiple methods in parralel or serially the 'experiment' is not reproducible (for that particular practitioner). Some schools, like the more conservative strains of Tibetan Buddhism, explicitly have students adopt a series of view/practice/lifestyle complexes serially with the assumption that the higher levels deconstruct the false assumptions that are built into the lower levels while building on the experiential realizations that emerge from them. An interesting take on it right? Other more radical schools of Tibetan Buddhism (which are actually older than the more conservative strains) emphasise the 'highest' views and methods from the beginning and then treat the other systems in an entirely pragmatic way on an individual basis as needed, or else implement simpler more nimble methods that are sort of streamlined versions of those 'lower' systems to target specific issues an individual practitioner may be having.

Anyhow, for me, the pragmatic punchline of this line of reflection is that employing a variety of methods and views and tracking the ways they affect my life and ability to be clear, free, open, available, helpful, connected etc (i.e., whatever your goals for cultivation are...) has been a useful way of approaching things. That said, I see a huge difference between a way of applying such an approach that leaves central illusions of a solid seperate self intact vs. a way that shows up such illusions for what they are. And herein is, for me, a way out of the post-modern falacy that all experiences are wholly constructed, and thus infinitely variable. If it doesn't ground back into the interpersonally shared world of other sentient beings and physical, cultural and social realities, in a way the is increasingly obviously effective kind etc from the outside, then that should raise questions IMO.
Eva M Nie, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Relativistic effects of practice

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
"It'd be nice if there was a single absolute reality that constituted ultimate truth.."

I think that comes with an assumption that if there is one, that our waking Earth consciousness could understand it enough for it to make sense.  There has been a bit of an assumption that eventually we can be alive here but see without filters.  The trouble with filters is we typically don't notice they were there until after they are gone.  If it works that way, then how do we know when we have gotten rid of all the filters?  There could always be one or a dozen more filters around the corner but since we are perceiving through the filters, then we have trouble seeing how many are left. 

I would argue Earth waking life is a filter itself, one that makes it hard to see reality or the 'ultimate truth' or at least whatever is around the corner.  Sure, some people seem to be able to see the flicker of reality and get a clue that reality is not what our parents thought it was after all.  They start too see at least that they had it wrong before, but knowing something is wrong is not the same as knowing what is right and even knowing a lot about what is right.  A monk may train 20 years to do some astounding feat but then a little kid turns around and lifts a refrigerator off his Mother or a wife lifts a car off her husband, just with their normal flabby muscles, not with any special training, just a certain mind set was all that was needed.  Seems to me, that is an indication of the human potential, yet how many know how to do even that?  We don't even know what is going on in our bodies for the most part, diabetes, cancer, or even pregnancy, much of the time, we are clueless.  We don't know even what keeps the moon in orbit, gravity is not well understood.  What if our current mind set and training does not allow us to really grok the ultimate truth?  It has been my perception, perhaps wrongly, that a lot of enlightenment has to do with figuring out that a lot of previous assumptions about reality and the mind were incorrect, but the 'truth' that seems to come in replacement of it seems really a rather nebulous and vague thing indeed.  

Not that I plan to quit trying to understand better, but if the truth was a very different kind of knowledge than our brains usually work with, it would handily explain why each person that reaches unlightenment seems to experience it differently.  To me, the likely answer is that they are each giving their own version of it experienced through the humanity filters, such that the versions sound similar to eachother but not exactly, but you can kind of sense the commonalities there.  It's like the blind men describing an elephant, they are trying to explain something but they don't have enough data to give the whole picture, so although the stories sound different, they are all still basically true, just from different perspectives and you can also sense certain commonalities. 

But yeah, I do often wonder, do arahats when listening to other arahats' descriptions of things like nonduality recognize the commonalities of the descriptions or does the other guy's version still sound strange to them?

As for enlightenment, I have certainly heard more and less negative sounding versions of it.  I have heard some say it is about not clinging or enjoying anything especially but i've heard others saying it is like enjoying everything equally (and not dreary at all!).  It's interesting how a bit of spin can give a whole different flavor to a simialr explanation.  Plus your preexisting personality would surely strongly influence the schools you are attracted towards in the first place.  Maybe if you are a negative person already, the more depressing sounding method might actually work better for you!  ;-P

There has been a lot of emphasis on what is the best mose efficient path, but that answer may be different for everyone.  Also, could well be that even an apparently 'wrong' choice might also be an important part of the path for someone.  People tend to learn more from failure than from success.  There are many lessons that can only be learned from failure.  Maybe we are all on the right path all the time for ourselves, just that it takes a lot of lifetimes.  But if you think about it, who wants to play a video game that can be completely conquered in an hour?  Wouldn't you just think that was a stupid boring little kids game?  If all the answers were easy and obvious, would it really be worth it to even bother playing?   Maybe like any good game, making lots of mistakes, going the wrong direction down the corridor and getting ambushed, and learning what does not work is a big part of learning what does work.   Maybe in the corridor that seemed to be a dead end, there was also important clues you needed to successfully navigate other corridors in the future.  Maybe we are always taking the right route, just that we can't easily see that from our current perspective.   
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. Jake ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Relativistic effects of practice

Posts: 698 Join Date: 5/22/10 Recent Posts
Lots of nuggets of wisdom in that post, Eva, thanks! Especially the last two paragraphs I find thought provoking right now. It made me remember that one thing this issue connects to in some folks-- I am thinking perhaps of Sawfoot here-- is that a fear some folks have is that of getting a result from practice that FEELS like or SEEMS to be a profound, lasting and positive shift which actually isn't-- it's actually some form of brain damage, self-labotomy, or whatever. Folks also sometimes have that reaction to Actualism.

So perhaps in this connection it's worth considering the possibility of outcomes which seem positive and like an arrival point and success from the inside but which appear to be negative or lacking from the outside...
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Relativistic effects of practice

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
. Jake .:
It made me remember that one thing this issue connects to in some folks-- I am thinking perhaps of Sawfoot here-- is that a fear some folks have is that of getting a result from practice that FEELS like or SEEMS to be a profound, lasting and positive shift which actually isn't...

Yes... or seems to be an unconditioned insight into the fundamental nature of reality but isn't, because the manner of looking is unsuitable to discovering what might otherwise be found... and the model doesn't account for what is omitted.

Eg. If you start from a position of radical empiricism, radical phenomenalism, in which you attend only to phenomena, only sensations, you're not going to encounter anything non-phenomenal. An example of something non-phenomenal? That which filters and patterns phenomena. You're never going to encounter that as a phenomenon. And if that filter / patterning agent / distorting factor is what 'we' fundamentally are, it's going to stay comfortably out of the picture, while stuff in the picture declares it to not be there.

I really like radical empiricism / phenomenalism as a way to get intimate with experience with minimal assumptions (as far out of the thicket of views as one can get)... but I fear all kinds of unacknowledged or unrecognised soplisism... or its opposite.
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. Jake ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Relativistic effects of practice

Posts: 698 Join Date: 5/22/10 Recent Posts
Yes John, the distinction between phenomenalism and phenomenology is worth making. The former is a metaphysical assumption/conclusion that 'only experience is real' while the latter is a process of inquiry that sets out to discover things about the nature of phenomena, how they present not simply *what* presents.

The evolution of phenomenology as a discipline from, maybe, Kant through Husserl and into Heidegger illuminates lots of these issues if one is into that sort of thing. For me, Heidegger is an important figure in developing a critical onto-phenomenology as he rigerously avoids solipsism (phenomenalism) and naive realism. He keeps the inquiry steadied on everyday life in an important way that does not give up on the importance of:

the concreteness and mattery-ness of physical phenomena (a quality he sometimes refers to as earthiness, that irreducible there-ness of things)

the concreteness and relevance of being-with-others, the sociableness of human beings (and which being-with can easily be extended beyond Heidegger's anthropocentrism by anyone with a decent relationship with nature or domestic animals for instance)

and the irreducible ontological difference between beings for whom things and others *appear* (as phenomena) and "things" which are merely extant, are merely 'there'-- that a conscious living being is itself a t/here for things and others to appear IN.

Anyhow, that's a pretty off the cuff superficial exposition but the point is, lots of these questions have been delved into in the Western tradition in pretty significant ways that many folks aren't aware of and in ways that I think are particularly relevant to the project of developing modes of contemplative practice and articulations of their results that are meaningful in today's world