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Shinzen Young: 4 ways enlightenment can arise

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This is Shinzen Young's answer to a question posted by a fellow meditator. What's seems to be implied (or so think I) is that enlightenment means achieving all four of the possibilities mentioned below.


Dear Meng,

Thanks for the report. Clearly you are making significant progress (but you don't need me to know that emoticon ).

In terms of the way I like to formulate things, the insights that you're having are related to the interplay of inner activity (See In, Hear In, Feel In) and outer activity (See Out, Hear Out, Feel Out).

Attention is in some ways like a pendulum. Sometimes it gets tugged towards inner activity. Sometimes it gets tugged towards outer activity. However the physical pendulum metaphor is incomplete and misleading because for the attention pendulum there are two other possibilities. For one thing, it can be pulled in both directions at once (outer activates and at the same time inner also activates -- usually in reaction to outer). A fourth possibility is that both inner and outer activity contract to Rest/Gone simultaneously.

When outer expands but inner contracts, one has that delicious experience that you described. When inner expands and outer contracts, people typically are lost in the default mode network--memory, plan, fantasy, judgment, problem solving, confusion, etc. However, it is possible for outer activity to contract and inner activity to expand without necessarily being caught in our thoughts and emotions. The Focus In technique is designed to allow that to happen. This is one instance of the "divide and conquer" paradigm for enlightenment.

So one way that enlightenment can occur is when outer completely expands and inner collapses to zero, and we notice it. You're starting to taste that. Another way that enlightenment can arise is that inner expands, outer contracts, but there's huge concentration, clarity, and equanimity with regards to the arising of inner. Another way that enlightenment can occur is that outer and inner both simultaneously expand into activity but they're both in a flow state, so they become a single wave of emptiness. Another way that enlightenment can arise is that both outer and inner both simultaneously contract. There's no self and there's no world. One abides in the Unborn. Zen Master Línjì (Rinzai臨濟義玄) describes this in his Four-Fold Summary (四料简). (See addendum below.)

In your report, you describe how, when inner activity contracted, outer activity became more salient. But you also described how "giving yourself" to outer activity can cause inner activity to contract. And yes, you're right on both accounts, these are two sides of the same process. 

Couched in my language, your experience of “seeing without seeing”, came about through expansion of conscious See Out and contraction of subconscious See In. By subconscious See In I mean the subliminal spread of visual associations. Hence the phrase "see without seeing" is logically correct. There are analogous experiences of hearing without hearing and feeling without feeling. (Or more generically “outing” without “ining.”)

Also, you got an important insight into the complimentary nature of samatha and vipassana. Actually, one of my pet peeves is that many people inappropriately separate these two aspects of practice. There are circumstances where the distinction between samatha and vipassana can be helpful but there are also circumstances where it makes no sense and can actually be misleading. My personal approach to this issue was called samathavipassana yuganaddha by Ananda (see Yuganaddha sutta) and Zhǐguān Shuāngyùn (止观双运) by the Tiāntái masters.

Another one of my pet peeves is the use of the phrase "direct experiencing." (Sorry about that emoticon ).  A more accurate phrase would be "experiencing outer activations without inner reactions." The reason why I object to the phrase direct experiencing is that it seems to imply that "experiencing outer activations without inner activations" in and of itself is the ultimate goal of the practice. As I see it, the ultimate goal of the practice is to dramatically elevate the base levels of concentration, clarity, and equanimity. A consequence of achieving that is the ability to experience outer activations without inner activations. But another consequence of that is the ability to totally allow inner activations to occur but without any identification or coagulation or unconsciousness around them and experiencing inner activity in such a state also deserves to be called direct experiencing. To eulogize Out and demonize In could cause an imbalance in a person's practice.

Having said that, I also must acknowledge another fact: by consistently experiencing outer activity without inner reactions, one can, with time, develop the generic skills needed to do exactly the opposite. And that's precisely the breakthrough that you're reporting. So good work and thanks.

...



http://www.mengstupiditis.com/2013/06/shinzen-young-on-in-and-out-of.html

RE: Shinzen Young: 4 ways enlightenment can arise
Answer
8/22/14 8:59 AM as a reply to PP.
I should check out Master Linji.

Thanks!

Richard

RE: Shinzen Young: 4 ways enlightenment can arise
Answer
8/22/14 9:08 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Whoa just checking Wikipedia...what a crazy guy:

Followers of the Way [of Chán], if you want to get the kind of understanding that accords with the Dharma, never be misled by others. Whether you're facing inward or facing outward, whatever you meet up with, just kill it! If you meet a buddha, kill the buddha. If you meet a patriarch, kill the patriarch. If you meet an arhat, kill the arhat. If you meet your parents, kill your parents. If you meet your kinfolk, kill your kinfolk. Then for the first time you will gain emancipation, will not be entangled with things, will pass freely anywhere you wish to go.

Those who have fulfilled the ten stages of bodhisattva practice are no better than hired field hands; those who have attained the enlightenment of the fifty-first and fifty-second stages are prisoners shackled and bound; arhats and pratyekabuddhas are so much filth in the latrine; bodhi and nirvana are hitching posts for donkeys.

  1. The First Gate is the "mystery in the essence",the use of Buddhist philosophy, such as Yogacara to explain the interpenetration of all phenomena.
  2. The Second Gate is the "mystery in the word", using the Hua Tou for "the process of gradually disentangling the students from the conceptual workings of the mind".
  3. The Third Gate is the "mystery in the mystery", "involving completely nonconceptual expressions such as striking or shouting, which are intended to remove all of the defects implicit in conceptual understanding".


RE: Shinzen Young: 4 ways enlightenment can arise
Answer
8/22/14 12:52 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen:
Whoa just checking Wikipedia...what a crazy guy:

Followers of the Way [of Chán], if you want to get the kind of understanding that accords with the Dharma, never be misled by others. Whether you're facing inward or facing outward, whatever you meet up with, just kill it! If you meet a buddha, kill the buddha. If you meet a patriarch, kill the patriarch. If you meet an arhat, kill the arhat. If you meet your parents, kill your parents. If you meet your kinfolk, kill your kinfolk. Then for the first time you will gain emancipation, will not be entangled with things, will pass freely anywhere you wish to go.

Those who have fulfilled the ten stages of bodhisattva practice are no better than hired field hands; those who have attained the enlightenment of the fifty-first and fifty-second stages are prisoners shackled and bound; arhats and pratyekabuddhas are so much filth in the latrine; bodhi and nirvana are hitching posts for donkeys.

  1. The First Gate is the "mystery in the essence",the use of Buddhist philosophy, such as Yogacara to explain the interpenetration of all phenomena.
  2. The Second Gate is the "mystery in the word", using the Hua Tou for "the process of gradually disentangling the students from the conceptual workings of the mind".
  3. The Third Gate is the "mystery in the mystery", "involving completely nonconceptual expressions such as striking or shouting, which are intended to remove all of the defects implicit in conceptual understanding".

Yeap, what a character! Kind of an extremist method. First, feeding the minds of the students with a lot of theory to then, Second, show them the limits of intelectual comprehension through meaningless koans and then, Third, force them to deal with non-conceptual situations & mind-reactions to their own-reactions. Something like forcing them to climb up a mountain, and beat them at the top until they jump off the cliff, killing theirs "selves". I would rather say that noting vanishings is a much much gentler method emoticon


Later I'll add some comments on SY's letter.

RE: Shinzen Young: 4 ways enlightenment can arise
Answer
8/22/14 1:40 PM as a reply to PP.
Thanks Pablo,
Nice find. I've been contemplating the switchboard in the mind that seems to prioritize certain sensations over others; such as selfing processes or sensation routines where internal stuff gets a higher ratio of importance. I'm thinking that the fight or flight/dhukka/stress center in the brain is the switchboard that we are hacking. By modifing this switchboard in different ways it seems that sensations get rerouted around this center and can cleanly and clearly get to the awareness center of the brain without the extra layers adding stress and obscuring it. I have not thought about the four ways in which such hacking could be accomplished. This reminds me of AEN's Stage 2: The Experience of “I AM Everything” vs the Buddhist take of everything isn't me. Different internal vs external modifications of the priorities rule set in the switchboard? Interesting to think about. It tends to line up with Daniels advice for fourth path - to put all sensations in the same space with equanimity including the putting itself.
Gotta think about this a bit more, it might explain a whole bunch of the differences between types of enlightenment.
~D

RE: Shinzen Young: 4 ways enlightenment can arise
Answer
8/24/14 12:18 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
Thanks Pablo,
Nice find. I've been contemplating the switchboard in the mind that seems to prioritize certain sensations over others; such as selfing processes or sensation routines where internal stuff gets a higher ratio of importance. I'm thinking that the fight or flight/dhukka/stress center in the brain is the switchboard that we are hacking. By modifing this switchboard in different ways it seems that sensations get rerouted around this center and can cleanly and clearly get to the awareness center of the brain without the extra layers adding stress and obscuring it. I have not thought about the four ways in which such hacking could be accomplished. This reminds me of AEN's Stage 2: The Experience of “I AM Everything” vs the Buddhist take of everything isn't me. Different internal vs external modifications of the priorities rule set in the switchboard? Interesting to think about. It tends to line up with Daniels advice for fourth path - to put all sensations in the same space with equanimity including the putting itself.
Gotta think about this a bit more, it might explain a whole bunch of the differences between types of enlightenment.
~D

Yes D, I believe that dealing with the fight/flight response is the key, at least it's what shows up in my sits and daily mindfullness.

As much as I like SY's 4 combos of inner/outer activity, I believe there's a missing part in the model. It's the boundary/edge between outer and inner what's missing. And I mean it literally, ha! Call me crazy, but these practices we're doing  (eg. letting go) are meant to shrink the electric resistance in the fascia grid (meridians, etc) and spine (energetic centers and the like), so that any excess internal mind processing finds a way out of the brain (and thus preventing from triggering new stimuli to other parts of the brain), plus building a Faraday Cage  that filters/blocks outer noxious electromagnetic input and facilites inocous/healthy ones.  So, this boundary/edge kills two birds with the same arrow. This is my working hypothesis, may be in the future I would be able to develop it.

Best,
Pablo 

RE: Shinzen Young: 4 ways enlightenment can arise
Answer
8/24/14 12:40 AM as a reply to PP.
Pablo . P:
As much as I like SY's 4 combos of inner/outer activity, I believe there's a missing part in the model. It's the boundary/edge between outer and inner what's missing.

Funny you should mention that. It's one of the things I've been playing with on the cushion. As I just wrote in another thread - I have gotten some use out of the meditative tinnitus as I use it to compare internal sound with external sounds and use both to find the transition point between the arbitrary perceived internal/external duality. The transition point gets all vague but I figure I might be able to see it more clearly and add the 3'c to it and vipassanize it till it pops. This is what I did with the perceived center point, outside diameter and personal bubble spaces. I am happy with the results of that.
I am also trying to catch the chooser/choice making...not as much luck seeing that clearly enough to do anything with it yet.
Thanks,
~D