You're not liberated if you only practice insight on the sensate level

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dat Buddha-field, modified 7 Years ago.

You're not liberated if you only practice insight on the sensate level

Posts: 43 Join Date: 4/1/14 Recent Posts
It seems like one aspect of the MCTB philosophy is that we can practice insight on the 3Cs, using physical sensations or their changing nature as the only object of our contemplations.  It also is argued that being an "enlightened" being does not necessarily make one a good person.  I want to argue that these two aspects of the MCTB philosophy are intimately related, and that failing to practice inisght on feelings and mental contents (aka "our stuff") is why MCTB practitioners do not develop in a balanced way that integrates ethical maturity with phenomenal understanding.    

A huge domain of human experience and confliction is wrapped up in our psychology.  The confliction we experience on this level (the kleshas) is a huge source of suffering, and a huge drain of energy.  On the level of body we experience this kind of internal conflict as bodily fabrication, and psychologically we experience it as conflicting emotions.  When one is liberated, the energy that normally goes towards feeding the kleshas is transmuted into the energy of wakefulness itself.    

Thus the idea that we can practice meditation and compartmentalize insight from our basic psychology is a fundamental ignorance that fails to recognize the ways in which we fabricate our experience, our suffering, and eventually our liberation.  It's a denial of how complicit we are in this process, and is a denial of our ability to transmute negative karma into liberation.  The Buddha taught four frames of reference for contemplating the nature of phenomena: body, feelings, mental contents, and mind.  Call me a "sutta head" if you'd like, but it seems clear that ignoring three out of these four frames of reference misses most of the pie.  

If you are stuck in the Dark Night and the whole world seems shitty, your perceptions are frightening, and you are hating life there are different approaches you can take.  With the MCTB approach, you are told to suck it up and just keep noting sensate phenomena.  Another approach is to understand that the suffering you are currently experiencing is being created by you in the mind.  I'm making the humble proposal that it can be helpful to take a break from sensate phenomena, stop denying your basic psychological state, and take a look at what's going on in your mind.  

If you're an 'Arhat' and still a dick, what is it that causes you to act that way?  Surely you can see the process as it arises, you're capable of reflecting on the impact your words have, and you're capable of forming the intention to be better next time around.  So why don't you?  
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Droll Dedekind, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: You're not liberated if you only practice insight on the sensate level

Posts: 634 Join Date: 11/15/13 Recent Posts
It was my understanding that Daniel intended the focus to be on physical phenomena only initially as physical phenomena are less seductive. The section on Impermanence mentions thoughts, the section on Equanimity mentions thoughts, etc.

Do you mind defining 'good person' and 'ethical maturity'?

And, Daniel does concede that some psychological work can help one with insight practice
All that said, there is some debate about what factors or progress allows some people to just notice the Three Characteristics of the sensations that make up their world in the face of their stuff as opposed to those who just flounder in their stuff. Some would argue that you have to have done enough psychological work and deal with enough of your issues to get to the place were you can move on to the next stage. I must reluctantly admit that there is probably some truth to this. However, I didn’t consider myself particularly psychologically advanced when I started insight practices, as I had all kinds of stuff to deal with and still do, and yet somehow, perhaps through good instruction, perhaps through some other factors I have yet to identify, I was able to practice well despite it all and make the shift from being lost in content to noticing how things actually are.
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dat Buddha-field, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: You're not liberated if you only practice insight on the sensate level

Posts: 43 Join Date: 4/1/14 Recent Posts
Droll Dedekind:
It was my understanding that Daniel intended the focus to be on physical phenomena only initially as physical phenomena are less seductive. The section on Impermanence mentions thoughts, the section on Equanimity mentions thoughts, etc.

Do you mind defining 'good person' and 'ethical maturity'?

And, Daniel does concede that some psychological work can help one with insight practice
All that said, there is some debate about what factors or progress allows some people to just notice the Three Characteristics of the sensations that make up their world in the face of their stuff as opposed to those who just flounder in their stuff. Some would argue that you have to have done enough psychological work and deal with enough of your issues to get to the place were you can move on to the next stage. I must reluctantly admit that there is probably some truth to this. However, I didn’t consider myself particularly psychologically advanced when I started insight practices, as I had all kinds of stuff to deal with and still do, and yet somehow, perhaps through good instruction, perhaps through some other factors I have yet to identify, I was able to practice well despite it all and make the shift from being lost in content to noticing how things actually are.


Yes, thanks for pointing out that those need clarification.  Let's define a 'good person' as one who mindfully intends to cultivate the six transcendent virtues (paramitas) of generosity, discipline, patience, exertion, meditation, and prajna, as well as the four sublime abidings (brhamaviharas).  A person of 'ethical maturity' is one who has realized these things to various degrees.   

To me, it's sad that Daniel is only reluctant to admit that the ability to be mindful of mind, feelings, and mental contents is helpful to the practice.
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Jeff Grove, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: You're not liberated if you only practice insight on the sensate level

Posts: 310 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
dat Buddha-field:
Droll Dedekind:
It was my understanding that Daniel intended the focus to be on physical phenomena only initially as physical phenomena are less seductive. The section on Impermanence mentions thoughts, the section on Equanimity mentions thoughts, etc.

Do you mind defining 'good person' and 'ethical maturity'?

And, Daniel does concede that some psychological work can help one with insight practice
All that said, there is some debate about what factors or progress allows some people to just notice the Three Characteristics of the sensations that make up their world in the face of their stuff as opposed to those who just flounder in their stuff. Some would argue that you have to have done enough psychological work and deal with enough of your issues to get to the place were you can move on to the next stage. I must reluctantly admit that there is probably some truth to this. However, I didn’t consider myself particularly psychologically advanced when I started insight practices, as I had all kinds of stuff to deal with and still do, and yet somehow, perhaps through good instruction, perhaps through some other factors I have yet to identify, I was able to practice well despite it all and make the shift from being lost in content to noticing how things actually are.


Yes, thanks for pointing out that those need clarification.  Let's define a 'good person' as one who mindfully intends to cultivate the six transcendent virtues (paramitas) of generosity, discipline, patience, exertion, meditation, and prajna, as well as the four sublime abidings (brhamaviharas).  A person of 'ethical maturity' is one who has realized these things to various degrees.   

To me, it's sad that Daniel is only reluctant to admit that the ability to be mindful of mind, feelings, and mental contents is necessary to the practice.
this reminds me of "if you not a christian you will go to hell"
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dat Buddha-field, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: You're not liberated if you only practice insight on the sensate level

Posts: 43 Join Date: 4/1/14 Recent Posts
this reminds me of "if you not a christian you will go to hell"

You recall that the Buddha taught the path to liberation as consisting of Sila, Samadhi, and Prajna right?  Most of the people here claim to practice something they call the "core teachings of the Buddha".   

 If I say 'not cultivating prajna means you will continue to exist in samsara' is that too dogmatic for you?  Or how about if I say 'you won't become an arhat if you don't learn samadhi'?  But if I say you won't become liberated if you don't become an ethical person, that makes me sound like a Christian fundamentalist?  

So you're probably down with Samadhi and Prajna, but too cool for Sila or something like that.  That attitude does not lead to liberation which is all I'm here to say, despite how unpopular that is.  

Well wishes.  
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Jeff Grove, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: You're not liberated if you only practice insight on the sensate level

Posts: 310 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
dat Buddha-field:
this reminds me of "if you not a christian you will go to hell"

You recall that the Buddha taught the path to liberation as consisting of Sila, Samadhi, and Prajna right?  Most of the people here claim to practice something they call the "core teachings of the Buddha".   

 If I say 'not cultivating prajna means you will continue to exist in samsara' is that too dogmatic for you?  Or how about if I say 'you won't become an arhat if you don't learn samadhi'?  But if I say you won't become liberated if you don't become an ethical person, that makes me sound like a Christian fundamentalist?  

So you're probably down with Samadhi and Prajna, but too cool for Sila or something like that.  That attitude does not lead to liberation which is all I'm here to say, despite how unpopular that is.  

Well wishes.  

Hi,

I have no issue with what you have wrote although my interest in this has nothing to do with being cool. I mentioned it reminded me of other statements I had heard because of below

 "Let's define a 'good person' as one who mindfully intends to cultivate the six transcendent virtues (paramitas) of generosity, discipline, patience, exertion, meditation, and prajna, as well as the four sublime abidings (brhamaviharas).  A person of 'ethical maturity' is one who has realized these things to various degrees.To me, it's sad that Daniel is only reluctant to admit that the ability to be mindful of mind, feelings, and mental contents is helpful to the practice."

As soon as you define a good person and an ethical mature person by these standards you automatically create another imaginary division of bad or unethical and immature people which I think is the wrong view. I appreciate the exchange and the concerns you have raised although I have disagreed with your summation of the practices that occur here. From what I have read here there is a healthy balance of different practices and as you have stated: 

"sila, samadhi, and prajna are at the end of the day not separable",

 this is all part of progress of insight although some practices might not be aimed at one specific component there will be progress in all with the progress in insight
cheers
Jeff
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Noting Monkey, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: You're not liberated if you only practice insight on the sensate level

Posts: 48 Join Date: 7/24/11 Recent Posts
To me, it's sad that Daniel is only reluctant to admit that the ability to be mindful of mind, feelings, and mental contents is helpful to the practice.
???
I think you should read the book more carefully...
it is quiet clearly written that all arising phenomena is worth to investigate.



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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: You're not liberated if you only practice insight on the sensate level

Posts: 3199 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
I am so sorry that somehow you got the wrong impression. I am reworking MCTB and will try to see how that occurred. Were there specific passages that caused you to ignore the other places where I recommend that people be moral and do psychological work and reflect on feelings? Please point those out so that I can try to make it better.

You have to understand that the book has evolved in a specific cultural context and reacting to very specific cultural factors, those being specifically the profound focus on psychology rather than careful sensate investigation you find advocated by plenty of Western insight teachers, particularly at places like IMS, as well as what happens when plenty of hyper-psychologized Westerners try to make sense of techniques taught in Asia and related places.

Thus, it makes its case as a counterbalancing force to a culture whose focus purely on psychological development is so pervasive that plenty of people in it literally can't hear anything that it says about bare sensate investigation and the Three Characteristics. Just a month ago, I had a conversation with a neuroscientist who had practiced for years and who teaches meditation at a major center for training people in mindfulness techniques, and he literaly couldn't hear or understand one word I said about rapid sensate investigation, as the whole of his practice was about noticing areas of psychological clinging and trying not to do that. It is not that such work can't be useful, as it obviously can, but he had a cognitive deficit against hearing about the world of sensate investigation and the methods and results of all of that which was so strong that I might as well have been speaking in Swahili.

When training in Morality, which I highly advocate, I think that psychological work and reflection on psychological, feeling and emotional aspects is a great idea, as I state many places. I also spend most of my waking day dealing with these things at a relative level, as is standard practice.

However, when doing insight practices and trying to really understand the core of what things like the Abhidhamma are talking about, it really pays to be able to shut that down to the degree that allows one to drop to the level of the rapid back and forth oscilliation of mental and physical processes that creates the illusion of a self, observer, controller, etc. and to be able to see things like very little flicker of intention arise causally before each little flicker of action, and to see each little flicker of mental impression arise causally interspersed with other sensate impressions.

It should be noted that, if you go on an insight retreat, nearly everyone in the small group meetings or the interviews with their teachers is dealing nearly 100% with psychological issues and things like back and knee pain and nearly nobody is doing the rapid, careful, steady, concentrated, clear, precise investigation that finally cuts through the core of ignorance. It is against this staggeringly unfortunate trend that MCTB  fights.

I truly recommend incorporating feelings, mind states, and all the rest into practice, both relative (Morality, meaning skillful reflection and contemplation of feelings and their consequences as such), and also ultimate, meaning the raw sense data in all forms, be those mental or physical, as failure to do either is obviously a serious problem, as you point out.

Is that helpful?

Daniel
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dat Buddha-field, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: You're not liberated if you only practice insight on the sensate level

Posts: 43 Join Date: 4/1/14 Recent Posts
Hi Daniel, 

Thank you for clarifying.  I certainly agree with you about how overly psychologized a lot of pop-Buddhism is.  I have come across many of the types of practitioners you are talking about who just don't get it.  I can thus appreciatie your message and feel that your voice has been an important one in that regard.  

Part of the problem as I see it, however, is that you are talking to practitioners on multiple different levels.  You are talking to people who can't even discern the difference between thoughts and sensations, and then you are also talking to practitioners who really do have the faculties, aspirations, and potential necessary for true liberation.  You do it all in about 350 pages and something gets lost in the middle.  

I'm referring to passages like your chapter on the dark night in which you advocate compartmentalizing the dark night on the sensate level from your 'stuff'.  I can see why you would advocate this for people who have not yet looked at their psychology deeply, as I acknowledge there are plenty of cases to indicate just how badly this can go.  However, maybe this is part of why Samadhi and purification of mindstream are traditionally taught before the insight stages.  Maybe it isn't responsible to be encouraging weak practitioners into insight territory before they've purified their minds.  Perhaps the patience of many meditation teachers in dealing with people who only practice on the psychological levels is a wisdom that reflects this.   

My issue with how you speak about the dark night is the notion that the sensate level can be compartmentalized from our stuff, and yet still reflect something about reality.  Yet when you go on to your discussion of formations it seems like you do understand that these things are not separate.  After all, all stages are knowledges into certain types of formations.  Thus, any thoughts that arise must be recognized as part of/in relation to the formation.  

Even merely laying out the teachings on the five aggregates and co-dependent arising before launching into the stages of insight would help with this.  That's how the teachings are layed out in the Vissudhimagga, and for good reason.  I don't really understand how one can practice insight without this knowledge.  Even if one hasn't purified their mindstream, an intellectual understanding of the 5-aggs or even just an inclination towards the hope for one, could potentially give someone the tools to better wrangle with their psychology when they find themselves in weird territory.

The result of all this is the idea in western Buddhism that practice doesn't necessarily make you a better person because people have failed to integrate their psychology into their practice.  Sila, samadhi, and prajna are seen as separate spheres from which we can pick and choose and still somehow come out enlightened.  To my mind, an important realization is that sila, samadhi, and prajna are at the end of the day not separable.  Many will recognize that samadhi is important for the development of prajna.  Sila is sometimes translated at 'discipline' which is of course necessary for the development of samadhi.  And the basic tennet of the Mahayana, from which we can all learn is that wisdom in action is compassion.   

Thanks,

Zach
Eva M Nie, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: You're not liberated if you only practice insight on the sensate level

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
I am so sorry that somehow you got the wrong impression. I am reworking MCTB and will try to see how that occurred.
Daniel

I also got the impression that the book was sort dismissing the psychological aspects.  I can see how it came about if you think that sensate was lost in the shuffle, then I can see why you would concentrate on sensate.  But I don't recall in the book you ever said you though both were important but sensate gets neglected.  I do remember the emphasis on sensate, but not where you indicated psych was important.  Instead I remember the parts where you sort of rail against the psychological aspects make it sound kind of as if you though they are a waste of time.  Plus I do well remember that quote that Dat Bhudda brought up as giving a similar impression.  If you indeed feel more that psychological stuff is important but sensate is ALSO important, you could say it more directly for starters, instead it sounded more like  you reluctantly felt psych issues might be of use to do a tad of that at first but most of it was just a waste of time. Oh and I also kind of got the impression that you were indicating the psych stuff was more for the more messed up people!  Obviously, that might step on a few toes and give an elitist kind of a feel to things even if it was only sort of implied!  ;-)  

Keep in mind, I have no ponies in this race.  When I read the book, I felt many aspects were EXTREMELY valuable to have out there and I had not heard much prior about the sensate investigations so I was and am very interested in those explorations.  But I also see some of the issues that others have pointed out with the book.  I am not a type that follows groups or leaders so I don't feel much need to join a group or leader and defend that group.  I think that is the source of a lot of arguments. People from other groups tend to come here and want to show how this group is wrong and their group is right, and this group wants to show how this group is right and the other groups are wrong.  It's an amazingly strong human tendency and tends to color interaction between groups very strongly.   I don't follow any of the groups so I have no emotional stake in the matter of what this group thinks or what other groups think.  Every group seems to  have their dogma, including this one, but here does seem to be less rigid about than many places, maybe because it is not based off any one religion.   
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Jeff Grove, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: You're not liberated if you only practice insight on the sensate level

Posts: 310 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
dat Buddha-field:
It seems like one aspect of the MCTB philosophy is that we can practice insight on the 3Cs, using physical sensations or their changing nature as the only object of our contemplations.  It also is argued that being an "enlightened" being does not necessarily make one a good person.  I want to argue that these two aspects of the MCTB philosophy are intimately related, and that failing to practice inisght on feelings and mental contents (aka "our stuff") is why MCTB practitioners do not develop in a balanced way that integrates ethical maturity with phenomenal understanding.    

A huge domain of human experience and confliction is wrapped up in our psychology.  The confliction we experience on this level (the kleshas) is a huge source of suffering, and a huge drain of energy.  On the level of body we experience this kind of internal conflict as bodily fabrication, and psychologically we experience it as conflicting emotions.  When one is liberated, the energy that normally goes towards feeding the kleshas is transmuted into the energy of wakefulness itself.    

Thus the idea that we can practice meditation and compartmentalize insight from our basic psychology is a fundamental ignorance that fails to recognize the ways in which we fabricate our experience, our suffering, and eventually our liberation.  It's a denial of how complicit we are in this process, and is a denial of our ability to transmute negative karma into liberation.  The Buddha taught four frames of reference for contemplating the nature of phenomena: body, feelings, mental contents, and mind.  Call me a "sutta head" if you'd like, but it seems clear that ignoring three out of these four frames of reference misses most of the pie.  

If you are stuck in the Dark Night and the whole world seems shitty, your perceptions are frightening, and you are hating life there are different approaches you can take.  With the MCTB approach, you are told to suck it up and just keep noting sensate phenomena.  Another approach is to understand that the suffering you are currently experiencing is being created by you in the mind.  I'm making the humble proposal that it can be helpful to take a break from sensate phenomena, stop denying your basic psychological state, and take a look at what's going on in your mind.  

If you're an 'Arhat' and still a dick, what is it that causes you to act that way?  Surely you can see the process as it arises, you're capable of reflecting on the impact your words have, and you're capable of forming the intention to be better next time around.  So why don't you?  
I havent read the MCTB for a few years but I'm sure Dan advocates in the book to investigate everything - form, feeling, perception, formation, counsciousness looking for the 3Cs. Anyways the first nana's should give insight into this
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Jason Snyder, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: You're not liberated if you only practice insight on the sensate level

Posts: 186 Join Date: 10/25/13 Recent Posts
I think you have misread the book. I clearly get the impression that Daniel advocates investigating everything: thoughts, feelings, sensations, etc. He just emphasises that everything can be broken down into smaller and smaller parts. Is that were you are getting caught up? 
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Psi Phi, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: You're not liberated if you only practice insight on the sensate level

Posts: 1095 Join Date: 11/22/13 Recent Posts
dat Buddha-field:
It seems like one aspect of the MCTB philosophy is that we can practice insight on the 3Cs, using physical sensations or their changing nature as the only object of our contemplations.  It also is argued that being an "enlightened" being does not necessarily make one a good person.  I want to argue that these two aspects of the MCTB philosophy are intimately related, and that failing to practice inisght on feelings and mental contents (aka "our stuff") is why MCTB practitioners do not develop in a balanced way that integrates ethical maturity with phenomenal understanding.    

A huge domain of human experience and confliction is wrapped up in our psychology.  The confliction we experience on this level (the kleshas) is a huge source of suffering, and a huge drain of energy.  On the level of body we experience this kind of internal conflict as bodily fabrication, and psychologically we experience it as conflicting emotions.  When one is liberated, the energy that normally goes towards feeding the kleshas is transmuted into the energy of wakefulness itself.    

Thus the idea that we can practice meditation and compartmentalize insight from our basic psychology is a fundamental ignorance that fails to recognize the ways in which we fabricate our experience, our suffering, and eventually our liberation.  It's a denial of how complicit we are in this process, and is a denial of our ability to transmute negative karma into liberation.  The Buddha taught four frames of reference for contemplating the nature of phenomena: body, feelings, mental contents, and mind.  Call me a "sutta head" if you'd like, but it seems clear that ignoring three out of these four frames of reference misses most of the pie.  

If you are stuck in the Dark Night and the whole world seems shitty, your perceptions are frightening, and you are hating life there are different approaches you can take.  With the MCTB approach, you are told to suck it up and just keep noting sensate phenomena.  Another approach is to understand that the suffering you are currently experiencing is being created by you in the mind.  I'm making the humble proposal that it can be helpful to take a break from sensate phenomena, stop denying your basic psychological state, and take a look at what's going on in your mind.  

If you're an 'Arhat' and still a dick, what is it that causes you to act that way?  Surely you can see the process as it arises, you're capable of reflecting on the impact your words have, and you're capable of forming the intention to be better next time around.  So why don't you?  

Hello everyone, 

Practice points, Is  what I am about to propse related,? understood, ? and/or actually practiced?

 What I see is that each Factor of Enlightenment is a Practice Point with various Methods available to continually improve and eventually Master each point,  this is due to cause and effect.  Contrarily there seems to be the mis-understanding that if one practices Noting only, then one will "automatically" and magically get all 37 factors at the Path Moment (s) and be enlightened.  This view, while enticing, seems to be incorrect, which is why there is so much denial of the Standard Model for Enlightenment, and rationalization as to why it must be a myth, etc.  

Mainly, like it or not this would be due to ignoring the full development of each and every section of the Eightfold Path, which is why it is called ignorance.  I state this due to my own battle with ignorance, ( I say I and my, though can not find a core self nor can find a "creator" of any thoughts, they arise from within, and have cause and effect reasons for arising to be sure, but that is another story.

I would think it an error for anyone to say they were Fully Enlightened and have not mastered all 37 factors of Enlightenment.

I would also think it an error to say it were not possible to be able to master all 37 factors of Enlightnement just because one hasn't been able to do so.

I do also think there are varying levels of Enlightenment, and many lateral and angular trajectories from initial stages of enlightenment, which is why there is so much disagreement about the definition of enlightenment, which ironically means that they are all personal views and therefore are all wrong anyway.

Life is like a box of chocolates.

And that's all I got to say about that.

Psi Gump
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: You're not liberated if you only practice insight on the sensate level

Posts: 3199 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
The problem with my morality, concentration, and wisdom is what again, specifically? It is hard to state that in general this path produces people of poor moral virtue and also poor concentration without taking this personally, as I am obvoiusly one of those people. So, specifically, the deficits are what? What do you know of my morality, my actions, my life, as I live it daily, and so who are you to presume?

Being as it is nearly impossible for someone to do as you imagine, that being to just focus on sensations and not notice mindstates in the Dark Night, and to not notice psychological issues as well, you misunderstand that the meaning of the book is to take people from their profoundly psychological practice and to add an insight component and to try, against all odds, to push them in that direction against all their natural tendencies. Honestly looking at what is going on their experience is pointed to again and again and again. Wallowing in that without noticing the true nature of that experience, however, is a totally terrible idea, as countless people who have done the experiement can attest.

I also state explicitly in the Dark Night section that those with strong concentration skills may breeze through the Dark Night in realms of light and geometry or something similar and hardly notice anything but some subtle phase problems with attention. It is the larges carrot I can float out there for strong concentration abilities. Those few have that degree of concentration skills (which I introduce before insight practices and list specifically as a valuable support to insight practices) that are sufficient to actually stave off the psychological wallowing that nearly everyone else goes through for the vast majority of their Dark Nights, as attested to here by literally thousands of posts about this topic, hardly need much additional teaching, as they are doing just fine, and a few subtle pointers is all that is required. For the rest, I go on and on about developing strong concentration and also about how, once one has stabilized somewhat in practice, one may include mindstates and everything else, including space and the sense of awareness itself, as noted in numerous places.

You also somehow missed the whole section in the beginning that talked about desire, compassion and wisdom in the section on Suffering. Perhaps go back and read that. It is common for Mahayanists to have a filter that somehow Theravadans don't say or understand anything about compassion, a filter that then can make it nearly impossible for them to actually notice when they talk about it. It is an annoying and oddly habitual occurrence.

If you want references and quotes, I could go on and on and on. 
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dat Buddha-field, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: You're not liberated if you only practice insight on the sensate level

Posts: 43 Join Date: 4/1/14 Recent Posts
Hi Daniel, 

I don't presume to know much about you.  In fact, from what I can tell you seem like a very decent person.  I'm merely responding to statements by yourself and other pragmatic dharmees about how enlightenment doesn't necessarily make one a good person. 

What I'm saying is that if we take sila, samadhi, and prajna to be at the end of the day inseparable then how could this be true?  Or why would we choose to define enlightenment in such a way that it is?  Adopting such a definition seems counterproductive, to me.    

There are plenty of examples of Theravadins saying such things as well.  For example, in Ajahn Brahm's essay on the Jhanas he discusses how virtuous people more easily attain Jhana, have brighter nimittas, etc. due to the wholesomeness of their minds.  Thus, he advocates training in morality as central to the development of wisdom and liberation.     

I didn't miss your section on Morality.  You said the following which is great:
Thus, even if we have little interest in being moral because of the benefits it can bring, if we are interested in obtaining the results of the other two trainings, we should also engage in training in morality. 

Yet then I hear you in an interview say something like becoming a decent person is a different 'axis of development' from prajna.  The two statements are contradictory, and undermine the importance of those teachings on morality.  

And just for the record, even though I brought up the paramitas and find the idea of them very useful, I don't identify as a Mahayanist.  The vast majority of my retreat time has taken place in the tradition of Pa Auk Sayadaw.      
Eva M Nie, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: You're not liberated if you only practice insight on the sensate level

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
SOunds like you guys basically agree on the concepts, the only confusion seems to be if or not the book is as clear as it could be on those same points.  It's hard to predict how others will read and interpret things since different minds can operate so differently.  Things that seem obvious to some may not be at all obvious to others and you'll never make everyone happy.  I think you mostly just have to try to figure out where the most  people get confused the most and in areas that are more important, and work on those.  Not being in the center of the storm myself, I don't know what areas those are that you might get the most complaints from..
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Piers M, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: You're not liberated if you only practice insight on the sensate level

Posts: 116 Join Date: 12/7/10 Recent Posts
Well Done!! Well Said!!
Saddhu! Saddhu! Saddhu!
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Psi Phi, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: You're not liberated if you only practice insight on the sensate level

Posts: 1095 Join Date: 11/22/13 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
The problem with my morality, concentration, and wisdom is what again, specifically? It is hard to state that in general this path produces people of poor moral virtue and also poor concentration without taking this personally, as I am obvoiusly one of those people. So, specifically, the deficits are what? What do you know of my morality, my actions, my life, as I live it daily, and so who are you to presume?

Being as it is nearly impossible for someone to do as you imagine, that being to just focus on sensations and not notice mindstates in the Dark Night, and to not notice psychological issues as well, you misunderstand that the meaning of the book is to take people from their profoundly psychological practice and to add an insight component and to try, against all odds, to push them in that direction against all their natural tendencies. Honestly looking at what is going on their experience is pointed to again and again and again. Wallowing in that without noticing the true nature of that experience, however, is a totally terrible idea, as countless people who have done the experiement can attest.

I also state explicitly in the Dark Night section that those with strong concentration skills may breeze through the Dark Night in realms of light and geometry or something similar and hardly notice anything but some subtle phase problems with attention. It is the larges carrot I can float out there for strong concentration abilities. Those few have that degree of concentration skills (which I introduce before insight practices and list specifically as a valuable support to insight practices) that are sufficient to actually stave off the psychological wallowing that nearly everyone else goes through for the vast majority of their Dark Nights, as attested to here by literally thousands of posts about this topic, hardly need much additional teaching, as they are doing just fine, and a few subtle pointers is all that is required. For the rest, I go on and on about developing strong concentration and also about how, once one has stabilized somewhat in practice, one may include mindstates and everything else, including space and the sense of awareness itself, as noted in numerous places.

You also somehow missed the whole section in the beginning that talked about desire, compassion and wisdom in the section on Suffering. Perhaps go back and read that. It is common for Mahayanists to have a filter that somehow Theravadans don't say or understand anything about compassion, a filter that then can make it nearly impossible for them to actually notice when they talk about it. It is an annoying and oddly habitual occurrence.

If you want references and quotes, I could go on and on and on. 
Hello Daniel, 

My original post reply was to dat-Buddha field, and/or any general reader.

I did not state or not state that you had a problem with morality , concentration or wisdom.

I do not presume to know anyone's daily state of morality, actions , or their life.

I do not proclaim what is a Myabanana or a Thersagodda view.

My point is, again, that just observing sensations and not practicing any other trainings would be an error, I did not state that anyone has ever said that it would be otherwise.  As, indeed you yourself have pointed out.

I have, from experience, seen that what the Buddha teaches to be correct, I do not believe in blind faith, I believe in Investigation for one's self.

What I was trying to point the finger towards was that, "if anyone thought that they could obtain Full Enlightenment by only observing, just sensations, I think that this is in error.

I have come to see that as true just as the Buddha suggests: in DN 16 Mahaparrinibbana Sutta:
61. Thereupon the Blessed One entered the hall of audience, and taking the seat prepared for him, he exhorted the bhikkhus, saying: "Now, O bhikkhus, I say to you that these teachings of which I have direct knowledge and which I have made known to you — these you should thoroughly learn, cultivate, develop, and frequently practice, that the life of purity may be established and may long endure, for the welfare and happiness of the multitude, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, well being, and happiness of gods and men. 62. "And what, bhikkhus, are these teachings? They are the four foundations of mindfulness, the four right efforts, the four constituents of psychic power, the five faculties, the five powers, the seven factors of enlightenment, and the Noble Eightfold Path. These, bhikkhus, are the teachings of which I have direct knowledge, which I have made known to you, and which you should thoroughly learn, cultivate, develop, and frequently practice, that the life of purity may be established and may long endure, for the welfare and happiness of the multitude, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, well being, and happiness of gods and men."
Not wanting to quote , but to point to teachings that the 37 factors of enlightnement as suggested, should be thoroughly learned, cultivated, developed, and frquently practiced.  

And again, I did not state that anyone here has implied or taught in such a manner, it is only my intention that if practioners were seeking to exists in an enlightened state, then they must practice all 37 factors to a level of mastery.  By the very definition of a factor, everyone of them has to be part of the equation or Full Enlightenment does not occur, 

For example: all 37 factors added together = Full Enlightenment.

If they are not all present then there is not Full Enlightenment.

Same as factors in math.

1+1+1+1+33=37

and 1+1+1+33 =36

Factors are Factors.

So, for myself, as usual, I will have to contemplate and examine My own cause and effects of my own speech and action, even though they be of an impersonal nature, there is still a sense of responsiblity for speech and actions.

So, if I have harmed anyone or led anyone to a wrong path with anything I have written or implied, I sincerely apologize.  Such is the nature of Dukkha, even when I try to help I am hurting.  emoticon

Psi Phi
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: You're not liberated if you only practice insight on the sensate level

Posts: 1335 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Psi Phi:


I have come to see that as true just as the Buddha suggests: in DN 16 Mahaparrinibbana Sutta:
61.
Psi Phi

4 foundations of mindfulness
4 right efforts
4 constituents of psychic power
5 faculties
5 powers
7 factors of enlightenment
8 fold Path
= 37 Factors
This is pretty cool. It seems like there may be a way of looking at these factors and projecting them onto different axis of development. If we list each factor I find quite a bit of redundancy and overlay. If we chop out the redundancy what do we get? how many axis?
hmm...I have no time to do this right now but I think it would be an interesting exercise. Anyone up for it?
~D
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Eric M W, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: You're not liberated if you only practice insight on the sensate level

Posts: 288 Join Date: 3/19/14 Recent Posts
"The sensate level." What does that even mean? Everything is sensate, even sila and formless realms. 
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dat Buddha-field, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: You're not liberated if you only practice insight on the sensate level

Posts: 43 Join Date: 4/1/14 Recent Posts
Eric M W:
"The sensate level." What does that even mean? Everything is sensate, even sila and formless realms. 


From MCTB (pg 12):
The assumption that is rarely stated explicitly but often implied is
that we must be willing to stay on a sensate level, at the level of the
actual sensations that make up experiences, if we wish to gain the
insights that are promised by the mystics. The corollary of this
assumption is that we must be willing to set aside periods of time during
which we abandon the ordinary way of working in the world that is
called training in morality and even the unusual way of working with
altered states of consciousness that is called training in concentration.

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