Message Boards Message Boards

Non-specific/Broad/Generic

Q & A With Kenneth Folk

Q & A With Kenneth Folk
Answer
1/30/15 1:58 PM
I’ve asked Kenneth Folk if he would be interested in a “Q & A With Kenneth Folk” thread here on the Dharma Overground, and he responded “sounds like a great idea. I'm looking forward to being more available there.”

My initial thought is that it might work best to have one central thread for general Q & A, and perhaps specific topics could branch out into separate threads. I’m certainly open to other schemes. My only motivation is to make it easier for Kenneth to find and respond to questions, so that this community can benefit from his involvement here on the forum.

Metta.

RE: Q & A With Kenneth Folk
Answer
1/30/15 1:59 PM as a reply to AugustLeo.
Kenneth,

In your Q & A exchange with Elizabeth on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBXz8UVs2Pk&google_comment_id=z134fxhpaxvkyhejc04cff1gstjcf1s5a04, you define experience thus: “I'm using a very simple, common-sense definition of experience. If you can describe it, or remember it, it's experience. If there is any knowing of it, with or without an "I" or "me" to know about it, it is experience.”

You then wrote that “that there is no experience of awareness. Awareness is always inferred.” And “If you carefully examine your experience in this moment, you will not find awareness. You will find seeing, hearing, tasting, touching/feeling, smelling, tasting, and mental phenomena. There is nothing in experience except experience, irrespective of whether it seems to be happening to an "I" or not.”

What are your thoughts on the seeming phenomenon of being aware of experience, and then becoming conscious that you are aware of experience?

Thanks!

Michael

RE: Q & A With Kenneth Folk
Answer
1/30/15 3:30 PM as a reply to AugustLeo.
Be interested to see what comes up. Thank you.

RE: Q & A With Kenneth Folk
Answer
1/30/15 3:57 PM as a reply to AugustLeo.
Kenneth I know I would greatly benefit from your involvement on this forum, thanks for any time you can give to us neophites!

I asked this question on another thread, but didn't get an answer. Figured might as well try it here (sorry if this is just being annoying):

You Wrote on Another Thread:
"To summarize, the idea of not-self as a prescription is less than useful. And the hope of cultivating "not-self" as a persistant experience is counterproductive and based on a misunderstanding. But the exploration of experience, with the aim of finding out whether there is a self, leads to liberation."


My Question: Have you read Rob Burbea's new book: Seeing that Frees: Meditations on Emptiness and Dependent Arising? In it he recommends cultivating different ways of intentionally looking, including the 3C's as provisional tools to recognize the inherent emptiness of selves' and phenomenon. In other words, to use wisdom as a tool, as a lens, and not just wait for it as a result. He argues that the advice to always just be with things as they are is not good, because "as things are" involves all kinds of assumptions and reification of "things" that are in fact empty. This seems to be counter to what you are recommending here, i.e, not using the 3C's as prescription. Is it? Here is a quote from Burbea:

"To some, this second mode of insight practice, where liberating ways of looking are intentionally cultivated and sustained, may initially sound unattractive... may involve a belief that 'being' and 'doing' are really different...'just being' is regarded as preferable or somehow more authentic...it turns out, though, that whenever there is any experience at all, there is always some fabricating, which is a kind of 'doing'...in states of 'just being' which we might image are devoid of self, a subtle self is actually being constructed anyway...What seems like 'just being with things as they appear' will undoubtedly involve all kinds of views and assumptions, mostly unrecognized, about what is perceived. Thus it is actually a way of looking; or, more likely, it will subsume, at different times, relatively diverse ways of looking...My experience in my own practice, in teaching, and in talking and listening to others, is that meditations using only the first mode of insight - that is, relying mostly on insight as a 'result' - will very probably not be enough on their own to overcome the force of deeply engrained habitual delusion that perceives and intuitively feels things to have inherent existence. As we have said, some element or aspect of a phenomenon will remain reified if it is not consciously and profoundly seen into. The overwhelming tendency is to unconsciously impute inherent existence to things, not to see emptiness. We need, therefore, to practice views that actually dissolve or remove this illusion of inherent existence."

Thoughts?

RE: Q & A With Kenneth Folk
Answer
1/31/15 9:41 PM as a reply to Bill F..
Michael, I just spent three hours composing an anwer to this question and lost it when I hit the "publish" button. I'm going to weep now and crawl under the bed.

Thank you for the great question and for starting this thread. I'll try again as soon as I recover.

RE: Q & A With Kenneth Folk
Answer
1/31/15 9:59 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hi Kenneth,

Thanks for the long interview and following up here.  The link on your website http://contemplativefitnessbook.com/ does not work. 

Matt

RE: Q & A With Kenneth Folk
Answer
2/1/15 9:01 AM as a reply to AugustLeo.
Thank you so much for doing this, AugustLeo. I have not so much a question as a remark, which is that ever since watching that BATGAP interview I have felt kind of depressed. Not sure why. Maybe I was subconsciously hoping to get God back? And maybe I hate to think of the goal, Nirvana, as the same thing as death? In which case, why bother? If the answer is, stop suffering, I have more or less done that, or drastically reduced it. So when I say I'm depressed, it's just a subtle feeling tone, not a deep quagmire. But still . . .

RE: Q & A With Kenneth Folk
Answer
2/1/15 10:40 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Jane Laurel Carrington:
Thank you so much for doing this, AugustLeo. I have not so much a question as a remark, which is that ever since watching that BATGAP interview I have felt kind of depressed. Not sure why. Maybe I was subconsciously hoping to get God back? And maybe I hate to think of the goal, Nirvana, as the same thing as death? In which case, why bother? If the answer is, stop suffering, I have more or less done that, or drastically reduced it. So when I say I'm depressed, it's just a subtle feeling tone, not a deep quagmire. But still . . .
I think this alienation is a peice of the path that moves students and teachers from the phase of those roles to a further saturating autonomy of understanding of conditions, anatta, anicca-- reliable peace of mind.

The thing about teacher-student community is that a) there is social nesting, which is lovely and I chose socializing often by my own measure; b) teacher-student vectors can prolong dependence in a halted investigation of anicca, anatta and dukkha. 

Perhaps consider hiking clubs who deliberately thwart leader-follower tropes so the first person rotates to the back of the group and the last person eventually are the first. This way everyone experiences the hike from a variety of angles and one cannot become the willfully structured pretense of leader or follower. Each person along the way is both and in the middle along the way. There is no glaringly "quiet leader" pretending to cede to a pool of followers magnanimously. 

So I see there may be, for a number of practitioners, a sense of loss or void or alienation when their practice can no longer be satisfied by having teachers or by having students. The roles become a mental distraction and a clinging-point preventing further investigation into anicca and anatta and conditions, dukkha. The idea of God, not speaking here of any actuality of which and which is for one to investigate for themselves, is perhaps a signal for this phase, which phase has a sort of loneliness/too much openness to it and indicates for some renewed peeling of the onion by just sitting, witnessing own mind. If I say that sitting right in this phase is signless creativity/suffusive anatta*, then I risk offering advertisements of bliss and blissful now that may serve the arc of teacher-student vectors and speaking beyond my scope.

____
edit: even in zen traditions, just saying chopping wood, hauling water-- this nod to just this, just that, can become foriegn special objects (e.g., "chopping wood, hauling water"), special insistences which feed alienation/loss/unrequitable desire. Even the so-called master and teacher who made "Open mouth already a mistake" a lesson also kept himself fluent in feeding his sense desire well beyond ethical norms. So the path is ironically personal and also can be transparent and shared and released on all accounts. 

RE: Q & A With Kenneth Folk
Answer
2/1/15 10:24 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Jane Laurel Carrington:
Thank you so much for doing this, AugustLeo. I have not so much a question as a remark, which is that ever since watching that BATGAP interview I have felt kind of depressed. Not sure why. Maybe I was subconsciously hoping to get God back? And maybe I hate to think of the goal, Nirvana, as the same thing as death? In which case, why bother? If the answer is, stop suffering, I have more or less done that, or drastically reduced it. So when I say I'm depressed, it's just a subtle feeling tone, not a deep quagmire. But still . . .

You're welcome, Jane.  emoticon 

As I said to Kenneth, his writing and speaking style and his clarity of thought help me to examine and express my own understanding.  And I really miss reading his viewpoint and the Q & A exchange about dharma and practice on his old Wetpaint site and forum. Kenneth is still my favorite teacher!

RE: Q & A With Kenneth Folk
Answer
2/1/15 11:22 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
@Jane Laurel Carrington
Not sure why. Maybe I was subconsciously hoping to get God back?

God is the one experiencing *you*, it went nowhere, no need to look for him in any special 'God sensations' because every single sensations you feel are sensations of a God. Ofcourse I am not suggesting some thinking God throwing thunders, just your ordinary Great Brahma God we are all part of.

And maybe I hate to think of the goal, Nirvana, as the same thing as death? In which case, why bother?

There is also possibility that Kenneth with all his attainments, experiences, mind states, etc is yet not sammasambuddha and not yet possess omniscience regarding supermundane reality and those opinions which he expresses come from his atheistic bias and outlook on life and are not representing how it will actually be like after death.

I myself wouldn't be now so hasty to dismiss rebirth even if in past I was thinking it was all but the bullshit and/or pointed only somewhere else. It is however good that Kenneth caused that you started considering this possibility too because right view is to see all possibilities and synthesize from that true knowledge.

@Kenneth Folk
Thanks for last answer. I also apologize for reducing you to someone without omniscience. I did so not because you are not but because before your message arrive to someone mind it gets distorted by their own minds. I hope you forgive me.

And BTW, I have question regarding your experience. I have developed synesthesia and perception changes regarding presentation of colors, shapes, textures, I can eg. feel everything I see like I was touching it with my hands or some other tenticle like things or if I go at it more intensely just like I was objects I see. Especially standing out are changes in presentation of colors, they can literally pop out as ridiculously saturated and pleasurable. It is all 'controlled' via chakras and other 'mind equalizer' means. I wasn't born with this and it is not one time stroke then permanent thing, I have to work on it, if I do not then all kinda fade to insignificance which compared to colorful and rich presentation synesthesia can provide is rather unbearably bleak and like not even living... at least for visual cortex not experiencing IT feels like being dead. I also can see flat images as having depth and spent ridiculous amount of time practicing my visualization to the point I can walk down the street and see insides of people houses, insides and backsides of objects and pretty much anything I see. I do not have idea where from brain takes all those details but certainly it does pretty good job.

As I understand Daniel Ingram have developed some forms of synesthesia too, cause his descriptions of 4th path state basically screams he did. I am not however sure extent of it, if it is only on cognition level as removal of cognition inhibition process (that constitute image of mind and its removal is 4th path) or if it have more inter senses and just visualized senses qualities to it too.

I am also interested in your experiences in this axis of developement. Ofcourse if you answered this question it would be not merely for me but for welfare of all sentient beings =)

ps. for me one visual color can be felt and actually seen in many ways depending on many conditions like any mentation process change it, especially when it is put on 'main screen' of consciousness, it then change 'palette' of everything. I do not see those things discussed anywhere which for me is quite ridiculous...

RE: Q & A With Kenneth Folk
Answer
2/1/15 11:04 AM as a reply to AugustLeo.
Probably should make this strictly Kenneth and asker interactions. If other people want to elaborate they can make new threads instead. It gets so bloated otherwise with thank you's and what not. So cleanup and then restart perhaps =).

RE: Q & A With Kenneth Folk
Answer
2/1/15 11:19 AM as a reply to AugustLeo.
I listened to the Buddha at the Gas Pump discussion twice. Kenneth, and anyone else, what are you thoughts on rebirth? Have you experienced anything that would lead you to believe that it happens or doesn't happen?

You touched on the topic briefly in your recent interview here, seeming to say that the Buddha's talk about rebirth was a result of his growing up in a culture that accepted certain facts about rebirth.

So there are two goals of Buddhist meditation practice - 1) don't get reborn, and 2) how can you best live in this life full of dukkha? If rebirth happens, then you have some work to do, to become an arhat and end the cycle. If rebirth doesn't happen and all you want to do is vanish, then that changes things quite a bit, there are easier ways to vanish.

I think I remember seeing a post by Daniel, here, where he listed the previous lives he has seen evidence of. I'm very interested in hearing any personal experiences on this topic. Thanks,

RE: Q & A With Kenneth Folk
Answer
2/8/15 9:55 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
And, to be clear, Jane I replied to you without having watched the 'batgap' interview, which inspired your comment. 



I started to watch it just now and saw an edit made to the interview at around 12:45 when the interviewee speaks on the terrain of trained physicists. A propos, I tend to prefer people would announce their edits else it can propose something like corporate branding-image management, sales-protection. When an interview is nearly two hours long I can't imagine that anything was too tangential as to merit 'cutting the tape'.
____________________________
edit: Kenneth noted he made a critical comment of a public figure and, among other points, the video was edited to spare him and intevierer the basis of a possible defamation suit against him.

RE: Q & A With Kenneth Folk
Answer
2/1/15 1:14 PM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Jane Laurel Carrington:
And maybe I hate to think of the goal, Nirvana, as the same thing as death? In which case, why bother? 

Hi Jane
This is Kenneth's teaching that Nibbana means death or oblivion, not the Buddha's. Are we all practicing 'awakening' and (in new-agey terms) raising our vibrations in order to enter oblivion? Buddha called Nibbana the Deathless, not Death
The Dalai Lama, and many other schools of Buddhism, have referred to Nibbana as a "state beyond sorrows" and a "state of freedom from cyclic existence" - the Buddha (as far as I know) negated that the goal was oblivion
IMO it's important that we decide on which teacher's dharma to have faith in until we know these answers for ourselves 100%, with only knowing and no belief - I personally choose Buddha's. There are too many subtle traps along the path. Be happy : )
Daniel

RE: Q & A With Kenneth Folk
Answer
2/1/15 1:47 PM as a reply to Daniel - san.
Thanks, Daniel. I have less knowledge of Buddhadharma from the source than I would like, but I had thought that what you say is in fact the case. However, Kenneth seems to think otherwise, and so my question to him would be, why? Does this have something to do with secular Buddhism? which, of course, is a label. 

Andreas: I hope Kenneth comes in and answers some of these questions, but I have trouble imagining us not doing some discussion on our own, without necessarily starting new threads (which to me would be cumbersome). And expressions of gratitude are never an encumbrance, with the possible exception of the Academy Awards. 

RE: Q & A With Kenneth Folk
Answer
2/1/15 2:30 PM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Jane Laurel Carrington:
ever since watching that BATGAP interview I have felt kind of depressed. Not sure why. Maybe I was subconsciously hoping to get God back? And maybe I hate to think of the goal, Nirvana, as the same thing as death? In which case, why bother? If the answer is, stop suffering, I have more or less done that, or drastically reduced it. So when I say I'm depressed, it's just a subtle feeling tone, not a deep quagmire. But still . . .

Well, depression is/can be normal when experiencing a loss.

RE: Q & A With Kenneth Folk
Answer
2/8/15 9:57 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
[removed by request]

RE: Q & A With Kenneth Folk
Answer
2/1/15 4:31 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:
Jane: I have less knowledge of Buddhadharma from the source

Oh, good heavens. Notions of there being "the source" cause of a lot of arrogance and divisions. Some Therevadans trend comments like, "Well, you can think of the Pali cannon as at the forefront..." and others outright say their lineage is the "authentic teaching". So arrogant. Silly, at best.


Hi Katy - repectfully you are also promulgating a 'view' that holds that the historical Buddha's teachings are not well encapsulated by what we have of the Pali Cannon as much as any other view, or that those historically most ancient Buddhist texts are not super important. Kenneth is also expounding a view that Nibbana or the goal of the path is oblivion. IMO there is a real danger of too much equivalency here. I think there is a fine line between discenment between teachings that are authentic (in my view pointing toward awareness and equanimity of reality as it unfolds) or, for example, the many spiritual teachings focused on attainment of a God realm, versus arrogance, when one feels like they have the thing. I think this all gets settled when one no longer clings to views and philosophies (the raft or the finger pointing toward the moon in those oft-used analogies) and instead focuses on liberation from the second arrow - what the Buddha (as we know him) concerned himself with
I think there is a danger of muddying the waters so to speak when one is totally unconcerned with 'authentic teachings'
Kenneth was expressing a view about oblivion as the goal, something that I pointed out was not a part of Buddha's teaching as I understand them. These points are very important if one hopes to achieve stream entry and beyond. If one already claims stream entry, these points of contention should not exist (according to Buddha) because the fetter of having doubt in the Buddhadharma has been generally overcome, so one wouldn't need to languish over whether or not teachings on rebirth or karma were true or not (for example) because these are the teachings of the Buddha, and he is now your teacher above all others. I understand that this rubs many secularists, materialists and existentialists the wrong way indeed
I say this as a very non-religious person. I think discernment is very good (and encouraged in Buddhism) but I also believe that there are major differences between some of the ideas that Kenneth puts forth and those of Buddhism. If these contradictions are unimportant to you that is fine - to me (and maybe others) these points of contention and disagreement between teachings and philosophies are quite important
My biggest criticism would be that terms like Nibbana and Stream Entry and Arahat mean specific things in Buddhist teachings and they cannot be re-defined away from what the Buddha taught them to be, as the 'pragmatic dharma movement' tends to do, because he invented those words and built a complete teaching around their specific meaning. I think there's a danger in levelling out the playing field so much that we lose touch with what the buddhadharma is. If we're not talking about the buddhadharma that is fine too - it could be any old dharma. This is The Dharma Overground anyway, and this could be my dharma or your dharma, Kenneth's dharma or the buddhadharma. I think it's critical that we know which one we are following
Happy Sunday : )
Daniel


RE: Q & A With Kenneth Folk
Answer
2/8/15 9:58 AM as a reply to Daniel - san.
[removed by request]

RE: Q & A With Kenneth Folk
Answer
2/1/15 7:17 PM as a reply to AugustLeo.
Just a friendly reminder that this thread is intended to be a Q & A thread with Kenneth Folk.

Everyone's voice is a valuable contribution to this community, so I'm respectfully requesting that those who want to reply to questions or comments posted for Kenneth in this thread, please consider splitting off to a separate thread. 

Thanks.

Michael emoticon