Birthing MCTB2

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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 6 Years ago.

Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 3166 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Well, I have been working on MCTB2 for a while, and I am actually pretty close to being done, I think. There are a few hard decisions to make, a few organizational things, and the like, but it seems that it is time to have people start reading the most recent draft of the thing, or at least parts of it, so as to give feedback, catch typos, and help me with a few final points.

I have been debating where to put it. Could create a community here where people could see it, could start putting it in the wiki, could put it on my website: www.interactivebuddha.com, could put it on www.mctb.org, which is something I created and never really used.

Thoughts?
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 3166 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Oh, yes, the cover...

Sometimes I think about doing something really, really simple, as the first cover, well, how to put it, really did annoy some people. I personally really liked it, as I designed it, but then there is no accounting for tastes, is there?

Here's a cover idea: 
Andreas Thef, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 152 Join Date: 2/11/13 Recent Posts
As a former graphic designer I must say that your cover is better than 98 % of what is out there. But I would love to see something more unique. I mean your book and writings are such a gem and wouldn't it be nice to hold it in your hands/open it up on your computer and be welcomed by a unique and beautiful cover? I'd definitely go for simple, clear and light-hearted, as you did with your cover. Maybe something in black and white (you probably know these sumi-e paintings, don't you?). Maybe just something at the periphery. Something that corresponds with the title that says: this book will give you everything you need - nothing more, nothing less. Or some simple photography like these ones.

http://imgur.com/PuKFNQy
http://imgur.com/Vo0ccy0

I also love the pictures of Goh Shigetomi (just google him). Would make a nice background or ornament at the periphery, but is pretty zen-like. Don't know if that fits your style.

Just some ideas...
Andreas Thef, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 152 Join Date: 2/11/13 Recent Posts
I also love the playing around with typography, like can be seen for example on Sam Harris' 'Lying' cover or some of these logo examples. E.g. the 'Core' in your title would work well for that. Maybe replace the O with a photo of a simple seed or something like that.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

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Actually, in my dream world, it would be bound in leather, with ivory pages, with a really old-school typeface, such as some antiquied Caslon font, done to look like it was hand typeset on an old press, with all that cool irregularity of that printing technology, with the cover embossed with gold type, and a black or dark purple bookmarking ribbon.

The problem is that each book would cost about $75 at least, and the price is already too high.
Andreas Thef, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 152 Join Date: 2/11/13 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
Actually, in my dream world, it would be bound in leather, with ivory pages, with a really old-school typeface, such as some antiquied Caslon font, done to look like it was hand typeset on an old press, with all that cool irregularity of that printing technology, with the cover embossed with gold type, and a black or dark purple bookmarking ribbon.

The problem is that each book would cost about $75 at least, and the price is already too high.

LOL, yeah, I believe that. But maybe there's someone in the community who would design it for free (sorry have been out of business for too long. But if you need help/have questions about the process, please let me know). Plus high-quality stock photography is also available for free or just a few bucks. And if it's b/w it wouldn't even add to the printing costs.

Whatever the cover looks like, in the end it's the content that counts. And I'm sure it will find its readers. : )
cmm, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 7 Join Date: 5/28/14 Recent Posts
> Oh, yes, the cover...


My favorite Dharma book cover is the one created for 'The Progress of Insight'. 

http://www.wisdom-books.com/CoversLarge/1396.jpg

It's simple, but it gives me an other-worldly vibe, like I've meditated myself into another plane of existence, watching the sands of time ebb and flow.  It's totally like "woah man".
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Simon T., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 381 Join Date: 9/13/11 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
Oh, yes, the cover...

Sometimes I think about doing something really, really simple, as the first cover, well, how to put it, really did annoy some people. I personally really liked it, as I designed it, but then there is no accounting for tastes, is there?

Here's a cover idea: 

The font you used has a weird transylvanian vibe to it. It would be more fit if it was signed "By the vampire Daniel M. Ingram". You can achieve a classical "Dharma" look by using a different font, saphran color and a basic generic graphic design related to Buddhism. 

http://www.asanghaofbooks.com/images/the-pali-dhammapada.jpg

http://ennapadambhagavati.blogspot.ca/2011/09/hinduism-way-to-ethical-and-noble.html

http://www.dharmanation.org/media/Dharma-Manifesto-Front-COVER-194x300.jpg

http://www.dechen.org/files/2012/12/roc_cover_001.jpg


But I like how MCTB 1 cover was standing out, despite its new-age-ish vibe from the eighties. 


For the pre-publication, a plateform that allows for feedback without too much hassles would be the best. Only being able to add a comment at the each page would be enough. I also appreciate that MCTB 1 is available as a wiki for most part as I rely on Google sometimes to search in it and bookmarks parts that I refer too frequently.
John Wilde, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
Simon T.:
The font you used has a weird transylvanian vibe to it. It would be more fit if it was signed "By the vampire Daniel M. Ingram".

Hee hee... honouring the lineage of The Vampire Mahasi Sayadaw: 
http://www.yogideb.com/images/MahasiSayadaw.jpg
Tee P Kay, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 25 Join Date: 7/28/14 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
Oh, yes, the cover...

Sometimes I think about doing something really, really simple, as the first cover, well, how to put it, really did annoy some people. I personally really liked it, as I designed it, but then there is no accounting for tastes, is there?

Here's a cover idea: 
I see you're still going with the "Arahat" claim. Are you open to further discussion about that, or is the horse well and truly dead? :-)

tpk
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Simon T., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 381 Join Date: 9/13/11 Recent Posts
Tee P Kay:
Daniel M. Ingram:
Oh, yes, the cover...

Sometimes I think about doing something really, really simple, as the first cover, well, how to put it, really did annoy some people. I personally really liked it, as I designed it, but then there is no accounting for tastes, is there?

Here's a cover idea: 
I see you're still going with the "Arahat" claim. Are you open to further discussion about that, or is the horse well and truly dead? :-)

tpk


And Daniel dropped the "interdependant universe" title. I suggest "By the lump of organic matter generally identified as Daniel Ingram". 
Tee P Kay, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 25 Join Date: 7/28/14 Recent Posts
The reason I ask is that I find MCTB to be the book I most often refer people to who are interested in "serious" Buddhist practice. I consider it, in that respect, to be one of the most important such books out there. But I think the arahat claim is *possibly* a hinderance to the uptake of the book. In my own experience, I often have to qualify my recommendation by saying "Don't let the 'arahat' claim put you off", and it would just make my life easier if it weren't there!

That said, I've seen discussions involving Daniel where he explains why its inclusion might be a good thing. So I don't want to, as I said, flog a dead horse. But if there's still time/reason to discuss it, I'd be interested. It is, as I say, a very important book and it would be a shame if people who could be helped by it never even opened it based solely on that claim. 

tpk
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 3166 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
The arahat thing is a point that has been made many times, both for and against.

Being a pragmatist, I hope to achieve certain ends, and must balance causes and effects.

Regarding putting "The Arahat" on the cover...

Pros: 

Some find it intriguing
Some find it impressive
Some find it compelling
Some find it inspiring
Some find it reassuring
Some find it the straightforward statement it is
Some find it humerous
A very few will appreciate the reference (Vimuttimagga, my second favorite dharma book), which is by The Arahat Upatissa

Cons:
Some find it grandiose
Some find it preposterous
Some find it offputting
Some find it offensive
Some have no idea what the word means and so find it confusing
Some find it just bizzare
Some find it heresy
Some will not read the book because of that word on the cover

The question is: which side weighs out more strongly, which must be considered in the light of what is in the rest of the book (such as the exact same claim) and who I think will actually apply the information presented there to good effect, which is what I care about most.

I am open to opinions and suggestions on this.

Daniel
Jinxed P, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 346 Join Date: 8/29/11 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
(Vimuttimagga, my second favorite dharma book), which is by The Arahat Upatissa
What is your first favorite dharma book?
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 3166 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Practical Insight Meditation, by Mahasi Sayadaw, of course. Are there other dharma books? emoticon
Tee P Kay, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 25 Join Date: 7/28/14 Recent Posts
> I am open to opinions and suggestions on this.

OK, cool. And again, bear in mind that I offer these opinions purely because I think the book is so valuable that it's worth maximizing its effect. Also, I'll note that I myself have seen some of the other discussions on this, and personally have waivered back and forth as I heard them. (Also, I've now read the book three times.) I don't care from a personal point of view whether the claim is there or not, but I think it matters despite that. And so now, I'm no longer waivering; I think the claim is a distinctly bad idea.

That said, an introductory point to make is that I imagine there could be several possible aims associated with the book, so I have to make some assumptions there. I've considered two possibles and my non-waivering "Don't do it Daniel!" is based on the first.

Getting People To Read It
The first aim could be to ensure that the message inherent in the book gets to as many people in as useful a way as possible. Or, more plainly, you want people to read the thing! From that point of view I am in no doubt that you should take the opportunity presented by MCTB2 to not make the claim on the cover (and also you should stay away from the original cover art). Like it or not, the cover itself is language, language exists within a cultural context, and the cultural context within which the bulk of potential readers -- people whose lives could be significantly enhanced by your writing -- is one that gives the "arahat" claim something of the same effect as having "The fucking awesome destroyer of cunt-brained dick-segment dogmatic shits" on there. It's *taboo*, and it's taboo regardless of whether it should be taboo or not.

A second, albeit lesser "don't do it point" is that the claim is pointless. You cannot self-validate in this area, any more than you could as an MD. Your MD is a valid claim because a. we have a well established and *widely accepted* system for validation of medics, and b. you are validated by that. So you claiming to be arahat conveys very little about whether you're an arahat; in fact, all it really conveys is that you have the fucking, penis-balancing, hairy semen-filled taboo-screwing balls to make such a claim. In fact I personally *do* care if you are an arahat, or at least highly attained. It matter because the extent to which I believe that is the extent to which I can believe you not only talk the talk but also walk the walk. But I decide on the extent to which I believe you are an arahat based on the *content* of the book, your various interviews, your contribution to this form, etc, and not *at all* on the cover claim.

Finally -- on the aim of "getting people to read it" -- I think Willoughby Britton's response, as recorded on her Buddhist Geeks podcast, should be taken seriously. I think we can all agree Willoughby "gets it". Despite that, she initially dismissed MCTB, specifically because of the cover art and the arahat claim. Bearing in mind that she's a pretty tough-minded, evidence-driven scientist, and is as a result not so likely to care about old dogmas and the idea of heresy, the fact that she initially dismissed it is a very strong warning that the claim is unwise. There are loads of utter shite spiritual books out there, and while yours isn't one of them, Willoughby's reaction was utterly reasonable given the amount of dross in existence and suggests that your cover inadvertently makes your book *appear* to be among the nonsense.

Being a Gadfly
All that as it may be, I've considered one other possible aim you may have, and that is precisely to challenge the current language culture that makes the arahat claim taboo. In other words, maybe you want to be to the broader audience in their view of Buddhism what Will and Grace were concerning being gay. Maybe you specifically want to be a gadfly. If you do, then I can't comment too much. You clearly know way more about this stuff than I do, so maybe your approach is valid. The one thing I will say is that I think the gadly and "getting people to read it" aims would be at odds with each other. So you can maximize your readership, or maximize your "bad boy" image, but not both. And for me, the most important thing is what is *in* the book, so I think the gadfly aim should be discarded.

Qui Tacet Consentire Videtur
One final point. There could be a concern that not including the claim this time around could be seen as you tacitly rescinding the prior claim. I think that's a minor concern, because I don't think you need to change anything *in* the book (well, not in this context anyway). I'd even go as far to say that if someone was to ask you "So, are you an arahat then?", the case for you demurring on that is *much* weaker than is the case for not *offering* it as a book cover claim. (That said, I still don't think self-claiming to be an arahat carries much weight at all.)

tpk
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Andrew K, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 52 Join Date: 2/27/12 Recent Posts
The way I felt about it was, MCTB and Daniel were all about the "Gadfly" route. Along with KF and any other teachers or writers who are open about enlightenment, it seemed to me to be about contributing to the emerging cultural atmosphere in which it is acceptable to talk about enlightenment openly and about one's efforts to attain it. Openly claiming to be an Arahat plays a very important part of that.

IMO there are simply too many circumstances, conditions, and personal psychological perspectives to take into account in order to determine how people will react to this claim. The way in which you either try to qualify it to someone, or embezel it to someone, depends a huge amount on the person who you are giving it to and also on who you yourself are, and also on what shadows you yourself have and are projecting onto the recipient, and your own unique perception on who the recipient of the book is, etc.

So when presenting the book to someone, imo the best way would be to simply not qualify or disqualify anything about it, just say your honest opinion, rather than try to cajole / tweak / say something that you think will appeal to the other person. Even if they're not open to the ideas, well, nobody was at first, but thats the direction we are all ultimately headed, and so maybe this exchange would be a single drop that will still have an influence on them later on. But hiding it won't add any drops in that direction.

So, parallel to that, is that the book should represent itself honestly too I think. Like, good branding is branding that represents itself accurately. If you sell cheap crappy beer, well, package it as such, so people who want cheap crappy beer will know what they're getting and can enjoy it. But it sucks when cheap crappy beer tries to appear as if it were something else. Sort of like music bands. If the band really is just a bunch of guys who made some music but aren't really into putting on a show, then it makes sense to see them just dressed in their everyday clothes. But if they're into the more theatrical side of shows, and their music is all about certain themes, then its great when they dress and perform the part. Same with this book I think.

The charm of MCTB to me was that it really represented itself accurately and wasn't trying to be sneaky or to subtly imply anything. It is what it claims to be. The title is Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha and it is written by an Arahat and the subtitle is funny. The whole book follows this formula of being about how to master the the core teachings of the buddha, with many descriptions of the personal experiences of said Arahat, and it has some funny bits. The idea that Daniel considers himself to be enlightened didn't sneak up on you halfway through, giving you a "wait what?" moment where you might feel you've been mislead or something like that. You knew what you were getting and in reading the book you got to openly evaluate for yourself what you thought about the whole idea of mastering the core teachings of the Buddha, just as the title said. Maybe you'd never even thought of the concept of mastering the core teachings of the Buddha before seeing the title. Maybe you'd only ever considered Feeling Good About Some of the Teachings of Sharon Salzberg or Emulating the Mannerisms and Beliefs of Eckhart Tolle.

Having said all that, MCTB2 is a new book, so maybe its a good chance to try a new approach. For MCTB2 to continue to represent itself accurately, it would mean that the contents of the book are a sequel to the contents of the first book, and if its by the same author then keep the Arahat! MCTB2 sounds like something you're supposed to read after reading MCTB1. If the book has a different theme then maybe it could have a different title and maybe it would be a good chance to explore changing the Arahat bit, for example if you were writing a trojan-horse type book that was designed to expand your audience. But it seems to me that given that MCTB2 is a sequel to MCTB then it will likely have the same audience and so it would just be weird to drop the Arahat bit, as if you were backing away from the claim or something. 


Personally i loved the title and the cover and the arahat bit. It all fit together really well. Imo forget beautiful or stylish covers cos that's not what the book is about.
x x, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 122 Join Date: 8/18/13 Recent Posts
For what it is worth, I agree with Andrew K.
Martin Potter, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 86 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:

Some will not read the book because of that word on the cover


That's amazing isn't it? Why are people even practising a tradition where they think success is proposterous.
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(D Z) Dhru Val, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 346 Join Date: 9/18/11 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
The arahat thing is a point that has been made many times, both for and against.

Being a pragmatist, I hope to achieve certain ends, and must balance causes and effects.

Regarding putting "The Arahat" on the cover...

Pros: 

Some find it intriguing
Some find it impressive
Some find it compelling
Some find it inspiring
Some find it reassuring
Some find it the straightforward statement it is
Some find it humerous
A very few will appreciate the reference (Vimuttimagga, my second favorite dharma book), which is by The Arahat Upatissa

Cons:
Some find it grandiose
Some find it preposterous
Some find it offputting
Some find it offensive
Some have no idea what the word means and so find it confusing
Some find it just bizzare
Some find it heresy
Some will not read the book because of that word on the cover

The question is: which side weighs out more strongly, which must be considered in the light of what is in the rest of the book (such as the exact same claim) and who I think will actually apply the information presented there to good effect, which is what I care about most.

I am open to opinions and suggestions on this.

Daniel

If I was in charge fo marketing your book I would change it to:

"The Bodhisattva Daniel Ingram."

This will make it even more increduleus to traditionalists. But they aren't going to be reading your boook anyways. 

Then in the last chapter of the book you can explain that you consider a Boddhisattva as someone who fights the eleventh army of mara, and spreads the teaching. The MCTB is one such endeavour. You can explain here the reasoning behind a culture of openess you foster and address some of the criticism you recieved by calling yourself an Arahat.

By doing this you bring the idea of a Boddhisattva down to earth, and link it with the principles of the pragmatic dharma movement. 
Tee P Kay, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 25 Join Date: 7/28/14 Recent Posts
Sidney: Even if in a pragmatic effort you want to help as many people as possible I think the strongest way to market is still to market by your values (in this case the values guiding the writing of the book itself). If you want a book that is clear, straightforward, and honest then the cover should be too. 
...
Arahat Claim: If you think that telling people that you are an Arahat is skillful at other times then it seems unclear to me why you would not put the title on the cover of your book. 
Sticking to one's values is, I believe, a good if not essential component. The trouble is, it's not enough to simply *state* those values and be done with it. What's crucial is not what Daniel says, but what his readers understand.

Semiotics A-go-go (I added the "a-go-go")
There are at least four parts of the channel through which information flows to get from an author's brain to the reader's brain.
  • The author's internal representation of the idea (What he thinks/feels)
  • The author's external representation (What he says/writes/draws/does)
  • The reader's external representation (What she hears/reads/sees)
  • The reader's internal representation of the idea (Whe she thinks/feels)
From each stage to the next, some modification/translation happens, but almost always, by far the most important purpose of all writing and art is to get 4 to be as close to 1 as possible. Now it may be that an effective way to do that is to express (in 2) your values, but whether that works depends on how good you are at making 2 reflect 1, and then how the reader sees that (3) and then how that translates into their internal representations (4). It's not enough to simply make sure that your values appear in 2, and in fact sometimes that can be a mistake, because the real aim is to get your values to appear in 4.

"Eskimo" and Chines Bibles
For example, when preparing one Eskimo-Aleut version of the Christian bible, there was some debate over how to render the phrase "the lamb of God". Some wanted to translate it literally, but others noted that "lamb" doesn't carry for Inuit people the same meaning that was intended in the original Greek. So a case was made to translate it as "the seal pup of God" (a case which IIRC was rejected, but the point remains). In some Chinese bibles today, "In the beginning was the Word" is translated as "In the beginning was the Dao", which angers many (non-Chinese-speaking) Christians because they think it infects the bible with some weird eastern religion. In other words, they think "Dao" violates their values. But that's very debatable. The original Greek "logos" didn't mean to the people of that time simply what the English "word" means to us today. And in Chinese, the closest word to the original meaning -- perhaps far closer that our "word" is -- is "Dao".

Or French even
Also, suppose Daniel was French and as well as being keen on Buddhism was also keen on preserving the French language. Would it make sense to refuse to allow the book to be translated, instead insisting that one must read French in order to get the good stuff? Well, maybe, depending on his *values*, but even if it did, he'd have to recognize that his values, French versus Buddhist teaching, were at odds with each other.

OK but that's translation, whereas with the "arahat" thing we're only talking about inclusion (or not). But language is more than words. It's signs, movements, silences, icons, gestures, fonts, text sizes, paragraph lengths, and, yes, inclusions/omission; pretty much *everything*. And if we want to be effective communicators, we need to learn to speak the language *of the audience*. And *that* is what book pros -- the good ones -- do. They help translate author-ese into reader-ese.

So with MCTB, one person may see "The Arahat" and end up thinking "Cool, this guys is worth a look". Others may see it and think "Oh, oh, another one of the many deluded fools out there". And based on the prevailing culture, they'd be prefectly rational do conclude that. There are indeed many deluded fools out there. And in that case, people may not be ready for this particular kind of "marketing by value". I suggest the latter people -- backed, as they often are, by more traditional Buddhists -- will be in a significant majority.

Ceci n'est pas une pipe
Finally, *not claiming* something is not the same as denying it. Daniel isn't telling us how many teeth he has, nor how big his dick is. He's not giving us an "anger count", or a "fetters reciprocal". And I assume he doesn't have "I am an Arahat" tattooed to his forehead, or wear it on a T-Shirt, or put it on a badge when he attends the Buddhist Geeks Conference. But *not saying* any of that doesn't mean he's a toothless, dickless, screaming homocidal unenlightened menace.

Oh, did I say finally? So, I lied. Here's finally -- in praise of the good editor. The "arahat" thing I think is very important, but it's tiny and easily fixed. But in terms of overall upping MCTB2's game, skillful copyediting is worth a look (again, Jen FTW. Full disclosure: I've never met Jen and wouldn't know her from Eve). Here's a tiny example. One of the most widely read modern books in the "Religion" genre, is Thomas Merton's "The Seven Story Mountain". Here was his original draft opening:
When a man is conceived, when a human nature comes into being as an individual, concrete subsisting thing, a life, a person, then God's image is minted into the world.
Of that, and many more initial pages, his editor advised Merton that it "was an example of misplaced 'fine' writing." The published version reads like this:
On the last day of January 1915, under the sign of the Water Bearer, in a year of a great war, and down in the shadow of some French mountains on the borders of Spain, I came into the world.
Merton was and remains The Author, but that editor deserves a Pulitzer Prize for Editing. The Seven Storey Mountain wouldn't have been the same without him.

tpk
Trial And Error, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 116 Join Date: 2/27/13 Recent Posts
About the "arahat debate", 

Maybe a short and to the point definition of the intended meaning of the word "arahat" can be put right after the cover. Different people can and do understand different things from it.

I think defining it from the beginning would also further serve the purpose of advertising what is in the book.
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Noting Monkey, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 48 Join Date: 7/24/11 Recent Posts
I picked up the book becasue of seeing 'Arahat'. There are hundreds of dharma books and this made it easier to sort out.

       Tee P Kay:
But I think the arahat claim is *possibly* a hinderance to the uptake of the book. 

I also met people were upset by this but they red it anyway. When you start to read you will see quiet quickly if it resonate with you or not. If not you will put it down doesn't matter what is on the cover.

Some people will say "Oh I will never read this, bla, bla..." and they go home "lock the door" and keep going reading "under the pillow". After they keep going saying "Of course I am not reading this. This man claims that he is an Arhat. He is a liar etc" and they still keep going to read it and get the benefits as they start to reconsider their practice (even if they consciusly not aware of it!). And after they still will keep going "No, no I'have never red that book and nobody should.. bla, bla, bla..."

  Tee P Kay:
In my own experience, I often have to qualify my recommendation by saying "Don't let the 'arahat' claim put you off",
You don't need to qualify. I you want to recommend better to say: "This book is not easy to handle for everybody as it is focused on the hardcore practice. If you decide to reading it please start with the "warnings". So you can use it for your own risk!" 
Danger&risk grab people attention more emoticon 

NM
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Simon T., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 381 Join Date: 9/13/11 Recent Posts
Noting Monkey:
I picked up the book becasue of seeing 'Arahat'. There are hundreds of dharma books and this made it easier to sort out.



That's pretty much my case too. I gathered all the online books I could find and I would read a few pages. I wanted to know two things: Have you done it? How to do it. 

I could hardly find any books that would cover both. Those two elements are useless separated of each other. Eventually, I searched for "Arahant" on the internet and found Daniel's book. 

We need to consider that teachings coming from a layperson is a relatively new phenomena in the history of Buddhism. Buddhists traditions have informal ways to deal with achievements. In Thai Buddhism, monks arahants generally become famous, unless they choose a reclusive life. Their achievement isn't really questionned by the population and between monks they talk of those things more openly. 

As we will get more and more laypeople with high level of achievement from working with the Buddhist tradition, the issue of transparency will get more apparent. It's get even more problematic when people starts to make money from their teachings. Not that it is wrong, but we know how this can be misused. We don't want the word "Arahant" to be trivialised, the same way we have "Yoga Yogurt". There is also a huge cultural baggage attached to this word to do point that I wonder if it might not be wiser to leave that word to monks alone to use. Even monks seldomly use it when refering to themselves. 

An alternative title could be:
Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha
      or how I got this damn thing done

Then begin the book with a short paragraph about what as been done. Instead of using a pre-defined label (Arahant) that comes with all sort of pre-conception in people's mind, you present right away what you are talking about. You did it many times on this forum when asked about it. It would make the book much more stand-alone. It no longer rely on an external definition of Enlightenment but would put right at the begining your own subjective experience. So the book could begin with your own model of Enlightenment, that is, your own subjective experience. Not something vague like "You are everything" but your habitual detailled description. The various models of Enlightenement could follow right away (but maybe better keep them where there are). By the way, those multiple models are nice additions but without your own opinion of them they are a bit out of place. Adding a section to each model about how you relate to X or Y model might be a nice touch.

A relative of mine assisted to some weekend course titled "Consciousness Awakening" that borrowed a bunch of spiritual buzzworld. The word Enlightenment is already used well outside it's spiritual meaning. If 20 years down the road I see a Yoga class titled "Find your inner Arahant", I WILL KNOW WHO TO BLAME!!! emoticon
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Eric M W, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 288 Join Date: 3/19/14 Recent Posts
Tee P Kay:
The reason I ask is that I find MCTB to be the book I most often refer people to who are interested in "serious" Buddhist practice. I consider it, in that respect, to be one of the most important such books out there. But I think the arahat claim is *possibly* a hinderance to the uptake of the book. In my own experience, I often have to qualify my recommendation by saying "Don't let the 'arahat' claim put you off", and it would just make my life easier if it weren't there!

That said, I've seen discussions involving Daniel where he explains why its inclusion might be a good thing. So I don't want to, as I said, flog a dead horse. But if there's still time/reason to discuss it, I'd be interested. It is, as I say, a very important book and it would be a shame if people who could be helped by it never even opened it based solely on that claim. 

tpk
If some people don't pick up a book because "arahat" is on the cover, then they probably should stay away from hardcore meditation practice.
Eva M Nie, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

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Eric M W:
If some people don't pick up a book because "arahat" is on the cover, then they probably should stay away from hardcore meditation practice.
That's my feeling on it too.  Also, since you are going to talk about it a lot inside the book, maybe it is appropriate to go ahead and say it out front, truth in advertising as it where. 
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Dream Walker, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 1312 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Tee P Kay:
It is, as I say, a very important book and it would be a shame if people who could be helped by it never even opened it based solely on that claim.

When I found MCTB you could not stop me from reading it without physically restraining me. That said, I have recommended it to many many people and so far noone has finished it. One person who almost finished it and I was getting very excited to talk about it....died. Even a librarian friend who will read anything could not finish it. I have come to the conclusion that there are very few actually ready to read it and the universe seems to take care of itself without my beating my head against the wall trying to make it happen. I still recommend it often (last sunday at a meditation group) and will probably read from it there but I have few expectations anyone will be interested. The Arahat in the title seems to have very little to do with it. I even warn people now that they are most likely not ready for it and will find it impossible to get through unless the universe wants them to.
What has been your experience so far? How many peeps have finished it based on your recommendation? Have any gotten excited and done anything because of it?
~D
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bernd the broter, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

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Dream Walker:
What has been your experience so far? How many peeps have finished it based on your recommendation? Have any gotten excited and done anything because of it?
~D

"Enlightenment? What's that? Why would anyone care about that? ROFL."
"Yeah, I started reading it, but now I've stopped because it's just got so much pages, I don't really understand what the opening part is about, and then there's this skeptical review on amazon."
"Hm. I heard that this book exists, but then there's a million other books of other people with fancy youtube channels, so why not read those instead?"
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Jen Pearly, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 566 Join Date: 7/28/13 Recent Posts
In the non-DhO reading group I was in, it was the angry tone of the "rants" that put them off, not really anything else that they mentioned, not the "Arahat" on the cover. And if you go look at negative reader reviews on Amazon, the mention tends to be about this, when it isn't about a stupid denial that the Dark Night is ever experienced by anyone on the way to awakening.

I think Daniel has to keep "Arahat." I mean, it is kind of one of the key points of the book, isn't it? And even if there were a good reason to remove it, doing so on a second, expanded edition would be widely interpreted as self-doubt . . . you get the picture. Then there would be a bunch of dumb speculation over why the title "Arahat" was removed. And those kinds of discussions will distract people from discussing the rest of the book.

I have actually found the Arahat thing to be a great conversation starter in my workplace meditation lunch group. The response of others is invariably, "Oh, people shouldn't claim their attainments." When I ask why not, they invariably say, "That is pride." And so then I start asking if the Buddha and his students were unenlightened braggarts when they did the same. And then we start talking about the harm that secrecy causes and the now  invalid reasons that lineages keep higher practice so secret.  So the "Arahat" is a good entry into all this productive conversation in my workaday world.

By the way, dharma teachers around here, where I live, often have "Arahat" after their names on their course descriptions, so wtf?
Eva M Nie, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
Jen Pearly:
In the non-DhO reading group I was in, it was the angry tone of the "rants" that put them off, not really anything else that they mentioned, not the "Arahat" on the cover. And if you go look at negative reader reviews on Amazon, the mention tends to be about this, when it isn't about a stupid denial that the Dark Night is ever experienced by anyone on the way to awakening.

Part of it is is what is the intended audience and goal?  If it's regular street people, then they won't care if you put arahat in or not, they won't know it's not supposed to be done in some circles.  If it's regular street people, then it also would make sense to use a word that is more well known and sounds more impressive.  Basically, regular people are likely to pay more attention if there is evidence this person might know what he/she is talking about.  If the audience is the general meditation community, then arahat might put some of them off.  Are there that many who are heavily trained it's taboo?  I don't know that answer.  From a secondary perspective, controversy is free advertising and many authors have found controversy to be a great way to sell books.  And just because everyone else chooses a certain terminology may not mean it is the best way to get readers.  If you follow the beaten path, you will not stick out as much as if you trail blaze.  Now if your intended audience is those who are may be further long in the map, and granted, that may be a rather smaller niche, but will they care that much about traditional rules?  I would guess not.  From another perspective, when you advertise something is 'hardcore' or only for the more experienced, you will likely automatically be tempting almost everyone.  Most people will want to quickly skip to the 'good part,' the 'secret teachings,' or whatever.  People are often impatient.  

Oh yeah, edited to add: And I agree about the rant part being best ditched, makes you sound like someone with a chip on his shoulder, just fairly unprofessional from an educational perspective.  
Tee P Kay, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 25 Join Date: 7/28/14 Recent Posts
Jen Pearly:

I think Daniel has to keep "Arahat." I mean, it is kind of one of the key points of the book, isn't it? And even if there were a good reason to remove it, doing so on a second, expanded edition would be widely interpreted as self-doubt . . 
To be honest, and despite my earlier list, if I had to choose between Daniel removing "arahat" and doing the rest of the book on his own, versus keeping the "arahat" but getting someone like Jen's help, I'd choose the latter. 

However (you knew there would be an however :-) ) :

I don't believe that Daniel being an arahat *is* one of the key points; him reporting on his *experiential results* of re-testing ancient methods is. I see MCTB and any successor like this. Imagine Newton's Principia but where after a few years no one else ever did any experiments to check and refine its results. Instead they all just trusted *his* experiments and analysis, and then quoted from him, century after century. They argued over nuances of Newton's words, or the best way of translating it into other languages, and basically made Principia into a holy book. Then one day, some upstart guy comes along and says, "Screw that -- I'm going to try to actually repeat Newton's experiments" and then, having successfully done that, writes a new book effectively saying "Look, Newton was right! I just did the stuff!" That's MCTB.

So what's important in all of this is not Daniel, and certainly not his *self*-asserted arahatship, but rather that Daniel Did The Stuff, and, most important of all, articulated it in a way that we can then follow and test for ourselves. Daniel himself is no more important than Mahasi Sayadaw, the Dalai Lama, Buddhaghosa or, dare I say it, Siddartha Gautama. I don't -- and I suggest no one should -- give a shit that Mahasi gets called "Sayadaw" or Gautama gets called "Buddha". *I* will decide what to call them, once *I* test their methods, and every other reader should take the same approach.

If MCTB has a key point, surely that's it? Don't just take the old guys with big hats word for it. Don't put too much stock in their lama-ness,  bikkhu-ness, rinpoche-tulka-osity, or arahat-ship. Don't worry too much about authority -- Just Do The Stuff.

On the self-doubt aspect, yes I think that's a likely criticism that would result. My gut reaction to that is, who cares? I don't see it as deterring readers, and I reckon it would attract even more new ones (or at least would reduce the tendency of  well-meaning traditionalists to advise newies to steer clear of it), so mission accomplished. But as I said in an earlier post, while I don't think putting it on the cover is at all wise, adding a section where Daniel more clearly discusses the title, the claim, and the surrounding controversy, would be very worthwhile. That, I think, would serve to more than compensate for any appearance of u-turning on MCTB1's claim.

Final point, Daniel, thanks for doing the books regardless of what you choose as a final form, cover, and so on. It's easy for me to sit on the sidelines and yell advice, but arahat or no, you are, indeed, The Man!
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Eric M W, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 288 Join Date: 3/19/14 Recent Posts
Jen Pearly:
By the way, dharma teachers around here, where I live, often have "Arahat" after their names on their course descriptions, so wtf?

Yeah, I don't get it either...  Imagine becoming ill thousands of years ago, but being unable to get help because all the local shamans hid their attainments. 

Oh, and I just dropped back in to say that I don't mean to come off as a jerk, I have a lot going on in my life and I've been bouncing around the DN for over two years, so don't mind me if I'm being grumpy. I don't mean it.

That being said, removing "Arahat" from the cover is still a stupid idea. 

If a doctor writes a book about overcoming insomnia, or eating healthier, or any number of related topics, is it wise to remove "M.D." from the cover because some people think MDs don't exist anymore? Or that the author in question is insecure about his high level of schooling? Wouldn't that be absolutely friggin' bizarre? 

Maybe the cover should be signed "Daniel Ingram, MD, Luminous Bodhisattva of the Anal Light"
Tee P Kay, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 25 Join Date: 7/28/14 Recent Posts
Eric M W:
If a doctor writes a book about overcoming insomnia, or eating healthier, or any number of related topics, is it wise to remove "M.D." from the cover because some people think MDs don't exist anymore? Or that the author in question is insecure about his high level of schooling? 
Sigh, I dont know how many other ways to get this point across. A medical doctor doesn't have to remove "MD" because they don't self-accredit as an MD. An (accredited) medical school gave the degree. So when someone asserts "MD" they're actually asserting: "Some smart people, backed by an extensive organization, with stringent controls and processes, and in which we as society are placing trust, have decided I am an MD" The same goes for PhD, LLD, DSc, PEng, and so on. We, as society, have developed these things because we've realized that in fields of high expertise, it is difficult for the non-expert to decide whether someone else claiming to be an expert actually is one. 

For better or worse, we do not currently have such a system to allow us to designate, on behalf of non-experts, that a meditation practicitioner is an arahat. We may one day, but right now we don't, certainly not in the US where Daniel is based. And note -- I'm not saying that arahats don't exist, nor that Daniel isn't one. I'm saying that we don't have the equivalent of the extensive social system called "medical education and certification" (for example).

So Daniel claiming to be an arahat is w-o-r-t-h-l-e-s-s in terms of other people deciding if he is an arahat. The only *reliable* information it conveys is that Daniel is willing to claim he is an arahat, and that says nothing about his actual arahat status. In fact, worse, it could and does lead some knowledgeable and well-intended experts to suspect that whatever Daniel is, he's *not* an arahat and is therefore, in light of that claim, not to be trusted. And that's a shame, especially since it's fixable, but it's perfectly understandable. If I wrote a medical book and claimed "MD" in my title but it turned out I'd given it to myself, then reasonable people would be perfectly justified in doubting me overall.

Look, for example, at this answer, by Noah Yuttadhammo on another forum, concerning arahat claims. Yuttadhammo is, by any measure, a good guy. He's not some stuffy old monk ignoring modernity. He's a modernizer in terms of Internet-based teaching, teaches Mahasi style meditation and appears to expect and achieve serious progress in his students. I imagine if he and Daniel met, they'd get on like a house on fire. But Y. has a lineage, has a tradition, and that tradition says to look askance at people who go around self-proclaiming as arahats. And there are many like him. And there are many many people who are being trained by people like him -- i.e. by good, effective teachers. But Daniel, another good and effective teacher, makes it difficult, by virtue of the arahat claim, for those more traditionally trained people to work with him for the actually very understandable reason that you can't and shouldn't self-proclaim arahat-ship, for the very understandable reason that the people to whom that claim would be useful are not usually qualified to know if that claim is true.
Tom Tom, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 466 Join Date: 9/19/09 Recent Posts
by virtue of the arahat claim, for those more traditionally trained people to work with him for the actually very understandable reason that you can't and shouldn't self-proclaim arahat-ship


There is so much content in MCTB that would make a "traditionalist" blush.  The arahat on the cover is the least of the problem.  Just read the very first couple pages.  The book isn't at all meant for traditionalists.  It's meant for open-minded lay readers.

Just reading an old amazon.com review of mine for the book and I wrote "at first I thought him to be a foolish nut."  This wasn't because it said "Arahat" on the cover, I don't thnk I even knew what an arahat was at the time.  Personally, I tend to give people a chance and go off the content instead of some stupid vague first impression.  The content of MCTB blew me away and was exactly what I was looking for.  

However, MCTB literally reads like his "ego" is "flying off the page."  If Daniel wants to write a book appealing to "traditionalists" it really needs to be an entirely new book.  I'm not sure what the content of MCTB2 is going to be, but Daniel's reputation has already preceded him.  I'll bet most traditionalists already know who he is by now and any "traditionalist" students will feel compelled to ask their teacher about such a book before reading it anyways.  The book, at least the old version, is for lay mavericks and outsiders.

"Traditionalists" don't need Daniel's book anyways.  They already have very accomplished monks helping them every step of the way.  Perhaps it says something about the quality of MCTB that people feel it needs to be responsible for everyone's awakening, but it doesn't and it shouldn't.  It's just one book among thousands.  People will find the information they need even if they don't read MCTB.
Tee P Kay, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 25 Join Date: 7/28/14 Recent Posts
Tom Tom:

However, MCTB literally reads like his "ego" is "flying off the page."  If Daniel wants to write a book appealing to "traditionalists" it literally needs to be an entirely new book.  
Strangely, I didn't find that aspect a problem. I think it's partly because if you hear Daniel in other forums, a key characteristic that comes across is thoughtfulness and, I guess, politeness.

On the traditionalist thing, I don't think the book needs to appeal to them. But there are a lot of such traditionalists in teaching positions, so it's reasonable to expect that some potential readers will ask -- of the folk at their local city gompa or zen center etc -- "Hey, I've had this MCTB book recommended, What do you think?" The unfortunate repy -- I've heard it several times -- will often be, "Oh stay away from that INgram guy. He's the one that says he's an arahat!"

Anyway, I think that if this horse wasn't dead before, it well and truly is now. Hopefully the discussion has been useful, and I'm glad to see someone like Jen getting involved. Looking forward to seeing MCTB2, arahat and flashy LED (Light Emitting Dude) picture or no.

tpk out
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Jen Pearly, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 566 Join Date: 7/28/13 Recent Posts
Tom Tom: 
I'm not sure what the content of MCTB2 is going to be, but Daniel's reputation has already preceded him.  I'll bet most traditionalists already know who he is by now and any "traditionalist" students will feel compelled to ask their teacher about such a book before reading it anyways.  The book, at least the old version, is for lay mavericks and outsiders.

I'm not so sure about this. I was in an MCTB reading group a year ago with 15 other dharma practitioners, most of whom were very traditional and didn't know much about Daniel, if anything. The arahat title on the front was mentioned, but it was not what turned people off. What turned them off were the mad "rants" and perceived digressions. The amount of apparent anger in some of the rants made even me resistant to the rest of the book during my first read, and I'm usually on the far end of "open minded."

The "Arahat" is out of the bag for those who do know about the first edition. I don't see how Daniel can withdraw it from this revised, expanded edition without a sort of media circus ensuing around just that fact, distracting people from the earnest content within. I'm wondering whether instead of "The Arahat Daniel M. Ingram" it might help at least a bit to just change the form to the following:

Daniel M. Ingram

Arahat

It is a little more subdued at least.

As to those who say Daniel's definition of the arahat title is idiosyncractic and self-applied, isn't it true that lineage holder Sayadaw U Pandita the younger authorized him to teach? That's a pretty big deal, no?

What I don't think helps at all is to put "Arahat" on the cover and then go off on a rant right from the preface get-go. Some of the later rants are also digressions, which adds to their annoying-ness. For example, there is the little barb against nouveau Tibetan Buddists who feel superior to Sarriputa, and Daniel writes something to the effect that these people aren't fit to lick Sarriputa's sandals. This is not only harsh, but also completely off topic where it occurs. It's unnecessary at best, and offensive to Tibetan Buddhists and probably others at worst. 

So a lot of the sentence-level stuff can be tightened up (dropping, for example, the thousands of "very" adverbs), a few digressive rants can be dropped, and essential rants can be better unified, led deliberately into, placed strategically, and toned down subtly so that the "edge" remains without the outright vitriol. Daniel's voice should be preserved, but a little too much display of high-noon personality distracts from rather than conveys the message. Again, no one wants Daniel to sound like Kornfield, but there is a middle way.
 
I know that Daniel feels that he can't adequately convey some of his messages without also conveying his emotional honesty about them. Well, there is honest, and then there is HONEST emoticon! It is Daniel's honest reporting, not the overt chest-beating bitterness (he calls himself "bitter" at one point) that makes his points winning ones. I hate to say this out loud, but writing with credibility and convincingness is much less about honesty than it is about rhetorical skill, and rhetorical skill is about sensitivity to the plight of the unwon reader. I'm sure my boss at work wouldn't be particularly open to listening to my ideas for process improvements if I were to interrupt every meeting on other topics to flame her about current processes, right? Restraint is not selling out; it is being sensitive. Daniel says he wants this stuff to get across to more people, not just us, so let the letting go begin. . . . 

However, MCTB literally reads like his "ego" is "flying off the page."  If Daniel wants to write a book appealing to "traditionalists" it really needs to be an entirely new book.

It just needs to be a new edition ("Revised and Expanded Second Edition"), which can be as different as he wishes it to be from the first. So far, he's told me that he's added a bunch but not really cut anything. As Nick Cave sings, however, "There's nothing a pair of scissors can't fix!"
Matthew Horn, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 119 Join Date: 1/30/13 Recent Posts
Here are the problems with the claim itself and common defenses of the claim:
  • Again and again throughout the suttas, across a vast array of rhetorical patterns and situational contexts, the Buddha identifies arahatship as the total end of suffering, excepting the suffering inherent in fabrication (i.e. the suffering inherent in having fabricated sense experiences vs. having no experiences). The relinquishment of sense-desire and ill will is an earlier stage, anagamiship. Despite Daniel's efforts to redefine what the suttas are saying, they really do state that an arahat no longer has sense-desire, ill will, or mental restlessness.
  • Arahatship is defined as the final stage of contemplative development. MCTB 4th path isn't a final stage: many DhO participants, including Daniel, have reported that it's possible to reach higher baselines with corresponding reductions in suffering. So there's still suffering present at "MCTB 4th path", and as one continues to meditate, it's possible to continue the process of abandoning that suffering.
  • A number of reputable participants in online dharma discussions claim to have reached the sutta anagami stage or higher: Chuck Kasmire, a 30+ year Thai Forest practitioner, claims to be a sutta arahant. Omega Point claims to be a high-level bodhisattva (arahant-plus). Thusness (An Eternal Now / Soh Wei Yu's teacher) claims to no longer experience sense-desire or ill will. Others have made dubious claims to higher stages of awakening, but I find these three credible because of their deep knowledge of the practice, their willingness to speak about details of their own life experience and the verisimilitude of that description, their posting quality, and the excellence of their advice (probably the highest I've seen in online dharma forums). Defenders of the position that nonduality = arahatship regularly ignore these three examples. If I were honestly trying to discover whether sutta arahatship is impossible, I would ask these three about their experiences.
  • The relatively large numbers of Thai Forest ajahns who were known to have attained arahatship, and the fact that impressive contemplatives like Ven. Sujato and Thanissaro Bhikkhu believe sutta arahatship is possible.
  • It's sometimes argued that the relative paucity of sutta anagamis and arahats is evidence that these stages are unattainable. It's more likely we have so few anagami+ practitioners around because 1) many members of this community have bought into the rhetoric that arahatship is impossible, so they stop striving at "MCTB 4th path" and 2) those who are interested in further striving eventually leave the forum because the community doesn't have a critical mass of practitioners openly seeking the end of suffering.
Daniel's claim to arahatship might seem uncontroversial in the echo chamber of this forum, but it instantly turns off knowledgeable Buddhists who would otherwise benefit from the core message, which is the much less controversial statement that stream-entry is attainable in this lifetime with moderate, consistent work. I tried introducing MCTB to a Buddhist thread on another site; the readers mocked him endlessly (and deservedly) for claiming to be an arahat. As a result they never bothered reading the whole book or considering whether the instructions might lead to stream-entry. Those who did bother reading the book were confused by the content. After seeing how Daniel mangled the sutta definitions of attainment, they assumed he was also inventing the progress of insight and vipassana jhanas. Look at how MCTB was treated on e-sangha and Dhammawheel, where people who would've otherwise read the book ran away when they saw "arahat" on the cover.

It's callous to say that potential readers who can't get past the cover don't deserve to benefit from the book. Why not hook people with evidence of the efficacy of the practice so they get results, then give them the freedom to decide what labels to apply to those results? That would be the truly skillful approach. 

MCTB should cover what Daniel knows for sure from his experience: that it's possible for regular people to transform their minds and get rid of a lot of suffering, that so far he's experienced 6 (not 4!) major stages of contemplative development, and it's possible he'll reach more in the future. His claim to arahatship is based on vague intuition and speculation at best, and outside those domains, all the evidence is against it being true. It has no place in MCTB.
Tom Tom, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 466 Join Date: 9/19/09 Recent Posts
It's callous to say that potential readers who can't get past the cover don't deserve to benefit from the book. Why not hook people with evidence of the efficacy of the practice so they get results, then give them the freedom to decide what labels to apply to those results? That would be the truly skillful approach.

MCTB should cover what Daniel knows for sure from his experience: that it's possible for regular people to transform their minds and get rid of a lot of suffering, that so far he's experienced 6 (not 4!) major stages of contemplative development, and it's possible he'll reach more in the future. His claim to arahatship is based on vague intuition and speculation at best, and outside those domains, all the evidence is against it being true. It has no place in MCTB.



Daniel is free to write his book as he wishes in accordance with his own beliefs and opinions, regardless of what you or I may think.  This is essentially an advocation of censorship.  This argument is similar to saying that the parts on the dark night should be cut out because it scares people from practicing and there are many people who would have started a practice had they not been scared off by Daniel's book.  It would be like saying all the technical jargon and masculine energy needs to be removed because more people would read the book if it sounded like something written by Jack Kornfield or Eckhart Tolle.  Have you ever noticed that 95% of the people on the DhO are male?  Is it callous to exclude all the potential females, who for whatever reason, aren't particularly drawn to Daniel's teaching style?  

Also, you have to admit that there are some inconsistencies in the 10 fetter model.  For example, can you explain why ignorance and the fetters of craving for material and immaterial existence are eliminated at "MCTB" 4th path? 
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Simon T., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

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Matthew Horn:
After seeing how Daniel mangled the sutta definitions of attainment, they assumed he was also inventing the progress of insight and vipassana jhanas. Look at how MCTB was treated on e-sangha and Dhammawheel, where people who would've otherwise read the book ran away when they saw "arahat" on the cover.

How many of those do you think have crossed the A&P vs simply looking into Buddhism for a yet another identity? From my experience, people who are really trying to find a way out are reading and interpreting material with a much more open mind instead of bringing their own pre-conceived opinion to everything. It's surprising how some people can be so knowledgeable of the Suttas or other classical material and still never had any breakthrough. You could fine-tune the texts all you want, it's not going to break their mind-loop they are caught in on the cuhsion. A point can be made that a section on the source material behind MCTB would be of value, though. 
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

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Regarding the source material, that involves the story, and the story will be published somewhere, it is just a question of where.

As to 6 vs 4 shifts, actually, depending on how you wish to slice it, I could go on and on and on about all the shifts and changes, of which there were many. So many insights, so many transformations, so many changes in how things were perceived and how things functioned. Shifts still occur. Growth is still occurring.

As to various people's claims: I have talked to Chuck in a while and I should look him up to see what he is up to and how things are. I haven't talked with the others in person, and with all of them, claims like those are hard to verify, as are mine, obviously. I still propose that to really see what is just extremely well hidden and perhaps repressed vs what is actually gone, the level of testing that would likely definitely prove this would be nearly undoable and involve drugs and situations you aren't likely to find these people willingly going into. The number of people who claimed to be free from greed, lust and hatred who actually weren't, or at least their actions would argue highly agains this, is so large that I belive extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and that evidence is hard to come by. So, maybe, maybe not, can't be sure, will look into it more.

As to whether or not this is what I say it is, I again advise that one should do the experiment: practice until the last thing flips over and stays flipped over, the last knot of perception is untied and stays untied, and then test that out in the real world for a while, in relationships, in hardship, in the face of pain and illness, love and temptation, hunger and exhaustion, adversity and injustice, various states of mind, and one's family and see what happens. Then go back and read the texts, particularly the lives of those practicing back then, their stories and what they had to deal with, and see if you can see where I am coming from.

Some assumption that things got a bit whitewashed in the old texts at times is perhaps reasonable, but even if you presume that things are reported as they were, there are so many hints that things were not all light and roses, as might have been expected. Start to look for it and I believe you will see what I am talking about.

I strongly urge caution in being so certain that it is easy to sort out what is delusion and what are those disturbances inherent in life and an unalterable consequence of being born. Still, I keep an open mind and am willing to entertain people claming to have done various things beyond what I have and to try to replicate the experiment as best I can, as people who know the history of this place and my practice know well.
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Eric M W, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 288 Join Date: 3/19/14 Recent Posts
Traditionalists are in a most unfortunate position. They look to old texts written by a bunch of dead dudes, rather than their own direct personal experience. Who knows how accurate the suttas are considering they were written after the Buddha died? For all we know they may be full of shit, though some of them are useful.

What people don't realize is that someone can throw every last sutta in a firey pit and it wouldn't matter, as long as one practices well and pays attention to the 3C's. Hey, sometimes I think setting aside the old texts may be a very good thing, because then perhaps we can work on building our own maps and models more familiar to our western culture. 

Anyone who has a problem with the arahat claim, or the maps and models contained inside MCTB, should do the experiment. If they aren't willing to experiment, they should go back to sipping tea and reading Eckhart Tolle or whatever. I challenge any traditionalist to discard their fluffy new-age dharma books and ridiculously dogmatic Dhamma Wheel shit and simply do what the Buddha recommended-- being mindful of the sensations of the breath, moment to moment.

I made it all the way up to the 11th nana without knowing what it was or what was happening, all by just doing vipassana. Imagine my shock when I picked up MCTB and found how all the craziness was mapped out thousands of years ago on the other side of the world. For this reason, I feel strongly that direct, personal experience through meditation is far more important than any text, book, teacher, sermon, or any other third party source of information regarding spiritual development.

Maybe I'm just a hopeless iconoclast.
Eva M Nie, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
This argument could go on forever because there are good arguments and evidence on both sides and a lot of people apparently are quite emotional over it.  Those are the two hallmarks of any Big Fat Hairy A## Controversy.  But in the end, it's just one word, "arahant" a word the definition of which or even the spelling of which is not agreed on across groups anyway.  If the definition if not agreed even by a majority, then it's impossible to say when it applies for sure. 

As for hiding something one believes is true, I think we've already covered that if Buddha could claim attainments then why has it become bad for anyone else to claim them?  From what I see, he believes it to be true and so in his mind he is speaking truthfully, can anyone else do any better than to speak the truth as they see it at that time? 

Interesting though, that happens in all religions.  Catholics and other religions all have many stories of miracles but if any member still alive tries to claim such an ability, he/she could get thrown out as a heretic or just ignored or carted off to the loony bin.  Something weird about religions that they want all the amazing stuff to be in the past ONLY.  No one know can ever be as amazing as someone in the past, apparently, not even close.  I guess it's not surprising that Buddhism is the same as the other religions in that tendency.  There's probably a lot of very interesting reasons why religions develop in that direction but I think part of it is a control issue.   In this case, even though Buddha himself did it, somehow it has become bad to make claims??!?? If you think about that, it's pretty weird. 

Since when is it bad to put knowledge on the table?  Suppose he is wrong and he is not an arahant and others might make such claims and also be wrong or lieing?  Well then people might be confused.  But what if we don't say who is an arahant?  Then people WILL be confused.   

As for  what will sell more books, with data on both sides, I don't think there is any way to tell for sure.  In the end, it's just a word, and it doesn't have any power all by itself other than the power we choose to assign to it.  It actually amazes me that people can get this upset just about one word as if the fate of Daniel, Buddhism and the entire universe might rest on it!  ;-P
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Jen Pearly, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 566 Join Date: 7/28/13 Recent Posts
Considering the length and fierceness of this discussion, there seems to be a lot of clinging on both sides to this mere label, Arahat. It is a word, lest we forget; anyone who has studied semiotics or post-structuralism, let alone dependent co-arising, and many other people besides, should know how slippery sign systems are, even beyond semantics, beyond the fragile exengencies of cultural construction, beyond historical/political struggles over the linguistic means of production. . . . 

When I first read MCTB, I was amused and intrigued by the audacity of Daniel's appropriating that label on the cover. I did not consider its use a possible heresy, for think what a strange word hersey is in a high dharma context! I cannot imagine why the mere presence of a label would stop someone not already hopelessly close-minded and dogmatic from reading the text as a thoughtful call to reconsidering much, including the definition of Arahat. As I read along, it became clear to me that Daniel had put it right "out there on the table" to get people's attention, precisely to argue for a specific definition and its cultural currency. Can such a fiat be rhetorically heavy-handed? You bet. But I think Daniel must have made decided to lay that card right there on the table first for a whole constellations of reasons that strike me as reasonable and worth consideration by those not already solidifying language in a way that the "nature" of language as empty construct simply doesn't permit.

Perhaps this whole issue could be taken up by Daniel in a Preface to the Second Edition. That way, he could acknowledge the controversy up front and treat it in the nuanced way he has in his response on this thread and elsewhere.  Emphatically, MCTB does reject the 10-fetter model, after, all, as we find out later in the book. Maybe some of the controversy can be precluded from the beginning just by explaining this rejection from the preface or introduction. Then, the only argument that might survive concerning Arahat would be that he didn't have the right to update the meaning of a fixed linguistic construct--although no linguistic constructs are fixed, as I've said, and there is no such thing as denotation and literal meaning anyway. In other words, he could more explicitly acknowledge from the beginning why he put the label on the cover. 

I do not think it at all "callous" to say that those who cannot get past that word on the cover are not ready for the rest of the book. They are not, not unless much of the rest of the book is gutted, which is a nonstarter.

Personally, I don't know whether it is possible to stop even the arising of all reactionary mind in any human. I do know that, to date, I've not met or witnessed any human who seemed remotely a candidate to be called an Arahat on that score. Reappropriating the label may be reacted to as revolutionary, unorthodox, heretical, but Daniel, by his sheer honesty in reporting his experiences, has at least not given anyone reason to doubt that he has experienced what he says he has. And this is the chief thing! He has not claimed superhuman powers, and, precisely for this reason, I think any Buddhist who is not already unhealthily entrenched in dogma has to at least grant what he says thoughtful consideration. Better yet--has to put the practices to the test of practice.
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Eric M W, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 288 Join Date: 3/19/14 Recent Posts
Perhaps this whole issue could be taken up by Daniel in a Preface to the Second Edition. 

This is the most reasonable way to handle the controversy, IMO. 

When I was first researching Buddhism, years ago, I somehow came under the impression that an arahat was one who had attained to the eighth jhana. That's what I got for using wikipedia, I suppose... 

Saint Eric, Sixth Buddha of Infinite Rigpa, Keeper of the Flame of Eternal Compassion, Consumer of Raw Cookie Dough
Tee P Kay, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 25 Join Date: 7/28/14 Recent Posts
Eric M W:
... Consumer of Raw Cookie Dough

Whoa! There are two of us?
Matthew Horn, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 119 Join Date: 1/30/13 Recent Posts
Jen Pearly:
I do not think it at all "callous" to say that those who cannot get past that word on the cover are not ready for the rest of the book. They are not, not unless much of the rest of the book is gutted, which is a nonstarter.

I agree with most of what you said. Here's the core of the argument I was trying to make. Let me know if you agree.

1. We should the maximum number of people to attain stream-entry.
2. MCTB is a tool for getting people to attain stream-entry. MCTB's other effects, like cultural reform, are secondary and dispensable. 
3. There is some subset of the human population, let's call them Group A, who are both dogmatic religious Buddhists and who would attain one of the following from following MCTB's advice:
  • Mind & Body (cula-sotapanna-ship): Guarantees the next birth will not be in a lower realm
  • A&P: They become dhamma-followers or faith-followers, guaranteeing stream-entry before death
  • Stream-entry 
3. If Daniel claims to be an arahat in MCTB, Group A will ignore the book's advice and they will not attain awakening as a result.
4. If Daniel doesn't claim to be an arahat in MCTB, and instead conceals his beliefs on the issue, religious Buddhists will accept the book's advice and they will attain stream-entry.
5. Because we want as many people to attain stream-entry as possible, and Daniel not talking about arahatship in MCTB is a prerequisite for achieving this, Daniel must not talk about arahatship in MCTB.

I propose instead that Daniel describe his moment-to-moment experience (clear seeing of three characteristics, centerlessness etc.) and include some form of what he said earlier in the thread:
"I strongly urge caution in being so certain that it is easy to sort out what is delusion and what are those disturbances inherent in life and an unalterable consequence of being born. Still, I keep an open mind and am willing to entertain people claming to have done various things beyond what I have and to try to replicate the experiment as best I can, as people who know the history of this place and my practice know well." 

Dharma cultural reform belongs in a separate treatise. I want to be able to give MCTB2 to a dogmatic religious Buddhist, tell that person nothing about Daniel's maps of attainment, and have them attain stream-entry.

Keep in mind there are two types of people on the path to stream-entry (post-A&P) in the suttas: wisdom followers and faith followers. I would guess that most of the post-A&P participants on this forum are wisdom followers, who know there's something off about reality and have an overwhelming drive to find the truth ("What is the Matrix?"). 

Faith followers may not have seen the three characteristics as clearly, but they're placed on the path to stream-entry by their faith in the Buddha, dharma, and sangha. What does that mean? No one knows the Buddha in person anymore, no one agrees precisely what makes up the dharma (although post-stream-entry you've internalized it), and the sangha is divided into sects with different collections of dogma. As a result, faith followers must have faith in their idea of the Buddha and the statements of religious authorities, what we would consider dogma, in order to make progress. So people who are totally devoted to Buddhism but don't seem to "get it" or are intolerant of heterodox statements deserve our compassion. Shifting them from thinking about awakening to doing it may take something like an inspiring book packaged in a form they can accept. 
Tom Tom, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 466 Join Date: 9/19/09 Recent Posts
3. If Daniel claims to be an arahat in MCTB, Group A will ignore the book's advice and they will not attain awakening as a result.


I'm confused as to why people so firmly believe that if someone does not read MCTB they will not achieve stream-entry.  This notion is strange.  It's sort of like MCTB, in this thread, is being worshipped like some kind of Bible/Quran/Veda of the Dharma where no other book or teacher could possibly get someone to stream-entry.  

MCTB is not some supreme guide on the progress of insight or enlightenment.  There is nothing new in it that cannot be found from other books or from other teachers.  If you wish to get a dogmatic Buddhist to stream entry then just give them a different book.... perhaps one written by a qualified monk like Mahasi Sayadaw.  Also, the entire progress of insight can be found here (and countless other places): http://www.vipassanadhura.com/sixteen.html

Not to mention that vipassana is just one among probably hundreds of ways of getting enlightened.

There is more than enough information out there for people to get to stream-entry (and far beyond) without reading MCTB.
Matthew Horn, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 119 Join Date: 1/30/13 Recent Posts
Tom Tom:

I'm confused as to why people so firmly believe that if someone does not read MCTB they will not achieve stream-entry.  This notion is strange.  It's sort of like MCTB, in this thread, is being worshipped like some kind of Bible/Quran/Veda of the Dharma where no other book or teacher could possibly get someone to stream-entry.  

MCTB is not some supreme guide on the progress of insight or enlightenment.  There is nothing new in it that cannot be found from other books or from other teachers.  If you wish to get a dogmatic Buddhist to stream entry then just give them a different book.... perhaps one written by a qualified monk like Mahasi Sayadaw.  Also, the entire progress of insight can be found here (and countless other places): http://www.vipassanadhura.com/sixteen.html

Not to mention that vipassana is just one among probably hundreds of ways of getting enlightened.

There is more than enough information out there for people to get to stream-entry (and far beyond) without reading MCTB.

It's certainly true that other methods and forms of presentation can and do work, but consider:

1. How few religious Buddhists are actively pursuing awakening because they've been told it isn't possible for non-monks, non-Asians, or anyone (due to the degeneration of the dharma)

2. How few regular people who have encountered the mass media presentation of mindfulness are aware that awakening is possible or would be beneficial for them, since 1) for some reason authentic teachers are skittish when it comes to talking about awakening whereas charlatans (Deepak) make millions off comparatively useless consumer mysticism and self-help and 2) the Buddhist concept of awakening is hopelessly muddled by perennial philosophers like Kornfield, Zen non-doers like Brad Warner [Brad and his teacher Nishijima don't believe classical awakening is possible, not even stream-entry], cautious popularizers like Kabat-Zinn, and floaty neo-Advaitists (Tolle). In other words, accurate and to-the-point information for single-minded seekers is buried under torrents of less useful material. As an aside, Kornfield, Warner, Tolle, and Kabat-Zinn are dharma heroes for convincing huge masses of people to meditate, but after you get through their stuff there's no "advanced course" on offer; they have nothing comparable to MCTB. 

3. How many acclaimed lay meditation teachers withhold important information that would be available in a monastic context, or tolerate or enable their students not achieving results, whereas MCTB implies you should strive hard for the goal as Buddha intended.

Nowhere did I say awakening is impossible without MCTB, but for many people in our time and place, MCTB has been the thing that does it. I had been exposed to a fair number of vague meditation books and a class where the teacher told us 1) most of us wouldn't achieve the 1st jhana much less stream-entry in one lifetime and 2) awakening is a multi-life process, so I gave up on Buddhism. A few wasted years later I came across the MCTB NY Times column (http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/17/the-anxiety-of-the-long-distance-meditator/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0). If I hadn't I would be much, much worse off. 

So to restate my argument, there's a subset of traditional Buddhists who won't reach awakening without MCTB for the reasons I listed above, but who can't get into MCTB because they're attached to dogma that doesn't really need to be addressed in a book about meditation. Exploding dogmas and cultural reform belong in a separate book.
James Yen, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 225 Join Date: 3/31/14 Recent Posts
For what it's worth I believe I reached states of distinction because I encountered this community. What I mean to say is, without ever having absorbed the attitude present in this community (that awakening is possible) I would have never even tried, never even had a glimmer of hope (funny story: I often attempted to receive a definite prophecy for pacceka-buddhahood from arahats, thinking that they could bestow them, the training to become a pacceka-buddha in Buddhist mythology takes several aeons).

But specifically reading stories of awakening in this community, helped to normalize the experience of awakening, and making something is realistic and attainable. Moreover it removed the notion that I needed to be someone special to get it.

On the other hand my awakening was purely through the practice of Buddhism found in the Pali Canon (I mention this because I did not have a formal sitting practice, did not practice Vipassana, and did not practice the techniques found in the MCTB.), which is not so much a practice as it is a "way of living", specifically it was 1) association with noble individuals (this community) 2) hearing the true Dharma (studying suttas and correcting my view) 3) appropriate attention (such that wholesome states grew and unwholesome states fell away) and 4) practice in accordance with the Dharma (where I actually put in effort).

There are some notions that this community perpetuates that I don't entirely view as helpful, such as the notion that the dark night is a necessity of practice, which it isn't.

Or specifically the notion that practice is necessary, I do appreciate that effort and diligence are necessary, but practice, in terms of a technique, not necessarily.

You will read that the historical Buddha did not specifically teach techniques, with some exceptions, this is because, in my view, the Awakening process sort of just happens, unfolds, as one is living with noble friends, studying the Dharma, discussing the Dharma etc. As such, it just sort of happens, gradually if you will, the Buddha often spoke of the process as happening gradually.

My sort of off-topic rant for today.

Sutta discussing the four times:

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sawfoot _, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 507 Join Date: 3/11/13 Recent Posts
Matthew Horn:

  • A number of reputable participants in online dharma discussions claim to have reached the sutta anagami stage or higher: Chuck Kasmire, a 30+ year Thai Forest practitioner, claims to be a sutta arahant. Omega Point claims to be a high-level bodhisattva (arahant-plus). Thusness (An Eternal Now / Soh Wei Yu's teacher) claims to no longer experience sense-desire or ill will. Others have made dubious claims to higher stages of awakening, but I find these three credible because of their deep knowledge of the practice, their willingness to speak about details of their own life experience and the verisimilitude of that description, their posting quality, and the excellence of their advice (probably the highest I've seen in online dharma forums). Defenders of the position that nonduality = arahatship regularly ignore these three examples. If I were honestly trying to discover whether sutta arahatship is impossible, I would ask these three about their experiences.
Is your conception of an arhat consistent with someone who professes to enjoy the suffering of others? 

I wonder how much fun he had reading those threats of physical violence?  Instant Karma, in the face, right there, pow, bang bang!
Chuck Kasmire:


t**** t****:
I'm not the right person to be mollycoddling Iddhi-0ts.
I'm here to offer the straight up goods to the sincere and those who have the will to practice well.
The antagonistic will simply get what's naturally coming to them.

Looking back through Nathans recent posts - seems like that is exactly what he is doing - I'm enjoying it.

As you might recall, the opening statement on the home page reads
The Dharma Overground is a resource for the support of hardcore meditation practice.

What I find is that where anyone has an actual question related to that statement, he has given really good and helpful advice or a thoughtful opinion. Where he does otherwise - well look at what he is responding to. You give it - you get it. An Instant Karma moment.

Perhaps if a separate site was set-up for those who wish to make antagonistic/intellectual masturbation posts than that would clean things up a great deal. We could call it DharmaNeverGround perhaps.

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5054815



To add my 23 cents to the debate, I say go for putting arhat/arahat on the title, just make it clear that you have created your own definition of it - so something like Arahat-DMI or Arahat™ or Danarahat.
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Jen Pearly, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 566 Join Date: 7/28/13 Recent Posts
I can barely contain myself because I've seen what Daniel may decide to do about the front cover and other matters. But I am not not not going to give out spoilers! Shhhhhhh!!!!! emoticon

But I will say this, because I can't help it: MCTB2 is going to blow people's minds wide open (in a good way). I think this edition will be a top, timeless dharma classic where MCTB1, though a niche or "cult" classic, only approximated and hinted at such potential.emoticon

Now, I haven't grappled with the structure/sequencing or the fact that it is more than 500 pages, but we'll deal with that later, somehow. emoticon
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Jen Pearly, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 566 Join Date: 7/28/13 Recent Posts
Daniel,

Umm, two thoughts:

1. That cover looks like a wedding invitation, with all that hypercentered text, not the entrance to a book.
2. Apparently, one of the benefits of enlightenment ain't graphic design abilityemoticon

And maybe a couple of suggestions are in order:

1. Accept the services of a graphic designer with experience in book publishing.
2. If No. 1 can't be had, at least acquaint yourself with the Non-Designer's Design Book, which is a lot of fun and helpful: 

http://www.amazon.com/The-Non-Designers-Design-Book-Edition/dp/0321534042
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Richard Zen, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
I don't really care what the cover looks like though I do like the meditator image on the first cover.  I just really want to read it. emoticon

I would add "Revised 2nd edition" on it, especially if it's substantially updated.
Derek Cameron, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 326 Join Date: 7/21/10 Recent Posts
Is this old-school enough for you? Actually it looks more like a title page than a cover.

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Piers M, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 116 Join Date: 12/7/10 Recent Posts
Hi Daniel,

I'm gonna be really prosaic here. ( I haven't read all the comments yet so maybe someone else pointed this out already).

Just in relation to your book cover, seeing as you're giving it exactly the same title but putting Second Edition, it suggests to me that it's the same book as the first -  just a revised version, maybe with an additional chapter.

Woudn't it be better to write BOOK 2?

Piers

BTW how could anyone get annoyed by the design of the original cover? It's just a book cover. I don't have a copy of it on my shelf anymore (I gave it away) and can't even particularly remember it. There's more serious crap to get worked up in life about. But that's just me!
Tee P Kay, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 25 Join Date: 7/28/14 Recent Posts
Piers M:
BTW how could anyone get annoyed by the design of the original cover? It's just a book cover. ...There's more serious crap to get worked up in life about. But that's just me!
See: [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkinson's_law_of_triviality]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkinson's_law_of_triviality
Monsoon Frog, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Birthing MCTB2

Posts: 58 Join Date: 3/16/14 Recent Posts
Tee P Kay:
Piers M:
BTW how could anyone get annoyed by the design of the original cover? It's just a book cover. ...There's more serious crap to get worked up in life about. But that's just me!
See: [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkinson's_law_of_triviality]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkinson's_law_of_triviality

It's a branch of visual art.
 
You may have encountered in the millions of book covers in the bookstore? The language and messages inherent in the surfaces of things. The pervasive image environment that shapes and permeates our entire western culture. Unless you are blind, that is to say sightless, you are impacted and influenced buy this. How aware one might be of this is another matter and another topic. 
 
Some people have little conscious appreciation for design ... however, that doesn't necessarily mean that they are not shaped and influenced by the visual world and image environment of the culture as anybody else.