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Some Questions About "Answers"
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6/17/15 10:15 AM
Hello all,
I’m a longtime reader of this wonderful website, and I have read and reread Daniel’s MCTB many times. I found his honest and upfront descriptions of practice and awakening not only totally refreshing, but an absolute godsend to my own practice (life). Without it, I would have probably struggled for many more years, because like others, I previously envisioned awakening to be some mystical, nearly unattainable pursuit.

For context, here’s a little about me…I have been an avid practitioner/follower of Buddhism for nearly 15 years, and within the past four, I have studied weekly with an ordained teacher of Zen. Without going into a whole lot of details and without trying to brag, my teacher has confirmed that I have experienced a fairly deep awakening, which was a huge relief to me because when it first happened, I not only thought my death was imminent, but that I was undergoing some type of hyper-manic episode and might need medical help!

Of course, I understand that even a deep awakening is not the end—only the beginning of our practice, so I understand that there is still quite a bit of my conditioning that needs to be stripped away. However, in the spirit of Daniel’s honesty and openness concerning awakening, I’ve come up with some basic conclusions about my experience. Obviously, I know that our thinking minds can never truly grasp reality, so I realize that absolutely nothing I’m saying here is true from an absolute standpoint.

That said, I’m wondering why if any of the below propositions are in line with others’ experiences with awakening, we don’t clearly and plainly point these things out from the beginning, instead of merely hinting at them with lots vague and often confusing notions that merely suggest such ideas. Is it because such bold truths would scare people away from practice? Or is it that each person must come to realize these things on their own for them to have any clear understanding of what these statements are pointing to? Or maybe, I just haven’t come across the right sources yet, and there are many people saying these things in such clear language. (Apologies if I missed this stuff in your book, Daniel. You have explained things way more simply and directly than nearly all others out there).

I bring this issue up because my teacher seems to suggest that if I shared these ideas with others—including both fellow practitioners and non-practitioners—I might somehow mess up their own spiritual evolution. Yet this seems to me more of the same thing Daniel suggests about treating students like mushrooms (i.e. feed them shit and keep them in the dark for the best possibility of growth). But I totally respect and trust my teacher and know he has undergone a thorough awakening. So I don't really know how to proceed.

Below are a few of the key points I’d like to address. They may be completely inaccurate, but based on years of reading and hearing hundreds of dharma/nondual discussions coupled with my own direct experience, there seems to be some basic agreement about these issues. Forgive me for using personal pronouns here—I know that the self is just an illusion, so I only do it for ease of communication:

1. We have absolutely no control over lives—it’s all merely an illusion—and our constant belief that we can exert some form of control over our lives is one of the main causes of our suffering (If there were such a thing as a self, then this could be called a lack of “freewill”). 

2. Even awakening will not provide you with any control over your life; rather, it’s merely a way to deeply accept what is, so you no longer struggle to makes things different than they are.

3. Given the lack of control, there is truly no such thing as a “mistake,” and everything is unfolding exactly in the way it should (whatever that means). We just need to surrender to what is and stop worrying about things being right or wrong, good or bad.

4. Due to our limited ability to grasp true reality, insights are pretty much the same as thoughts; we only “believe” they are somehow more true or special than regular thoughts.
 
I’d appreciate and welcome any feedback and/or critique of what I’m asserting here…

RE: Some Questions About "Answers"
Answer
6/17/15 1:43 PM as a reply to Chris.
Chris:
Hello all,
I’m a longtime reader of this wonderful website, and I have read and reread Daniel’s MCTB many times. I found his honest and upfront descriptions of practice and awakening not only totally refreshing, but an absolute godsend to my own practice (life). Without it, I would have probably struggled for many more years, because like others, I previously envisioned awakening to be some mystical, nearly unattainable pursuit.

For context, here’s a little about me…I have been an avid practitioner/follower of Buddhism for nearly 15 years, and within the past four, I have studied weekly with an ordained teacher of Zen. Without going into a whole lot of details and without trying to brag, my teacher has confirmed that I have experienced a fairly deep awakening, which was a huge relief to me because when it first happened, I not only thought my death was imminent, but that I was undergoing some type of hyper-manic episode and might need medical help!

Of course, I understand that even a deep awakening is not the end—only the beginning of our practice, so I understand that there is Or is it that each person must come to realize these things on their own for them to have any clear understanding of what these statements are pointing to?
I am not fourth path but I'll venture some comments, I guess someone might here and think they understand but not really understand deeply.  Then again, if that person has that tendency, not sure if it can be stopped that easily by just trying to hide exposure to ideas. 

Or maybe, I just haven’t come across the right sources yet, and there are many people saying these things in such clear language.
I haven't seen a lot of sources that say things clearly in easy to understand English besides here but this location: http://www.heartofnow.com/files/emptiness.html#http://www.heartofnow.com has a bit.


I bring this issue up because my teacher seems to suggest that if I shared these ideas with others—including both fellow practitioners and non-practitioners—I might somehow mess up their own spiritual evolution.
Then again, if no one is in control of anything, by that logic, how can you mess up someones evolution?  Would be interesting to hear your teacher's response.  ;-P 

Yet this seems to me more of the same thing Daniel suggests about treating students like mushrooms (i.e. feed them shit and keep them in the dark for the best possibility of growth). But I totally respect and trust my teacher and know he has undergone a thorough awakening. So I don't really know how to proceed.
I really don't know myself, I figure I'll just do what seems right for me at any given time.  Some people will read what I wrote and some won't, theoretically it will work out as it should hopefully. 

Below are a few of the key points I’d like to address. They may be completely inaccurate, but based on years of reading and hearing hundreds of dharma/nondual discussions coupled with my own direct experience, there seems to be some basic agreement about these issues. Forgive me for using personal pronouns here—I know that the self is just an illusion, so I only do it for ease of communication:
They sound like basic Buddhist book learning tenants (not saying they are wrong though, just perhaps influenced by things read)
1. We have absolutely no control over lives—it’s all merely an illusion—and our constant belief that we can exert some form of control over our lives is one of the main causes of our suffering (If there were such a thing as a self, then this could be called a lack of “freewill”). 
I haven't seen that at a deep level as of yet, not saying it is wrong though.  From this perspective, I see my actions have effects and my thoughts have power.  From a different perspective, I would not be surprised if my thoughts were not exactly my own free will though, as they seem to just show up on their own, but then the questions becomes where do they come from? 
2. Even awakening will not provide you with any control over your life; rather, it’s merely a way to deeply accept what is, so you no longer struggle to makes things different than they are.
I think that depends on your definition of 'you.'  I think that although you accept the game as being as it should be, but you are still a player in the game and influence the game.  In fact, I think the more awakened, the more influence you can have if you choose.  But then again, where do your decisions come from?  If it's somewhere else in the game, then that negates the previous statement.  I think a lot of this depends on what perspective you are looking out from.  It can be false from one perspective but true from another.  It's like if you see an ant carrying a seed, does the ant carry the seed or does the gravity hold down the seed and the ant or do molecules hold up the ant or does God create the ant or is the ant an illusion? 

3. Given the lack of control, there is truly no such thing as a “mistake,” and everything is unfolding exactly in the way it should (whatever that means). We just need to surrender to what is and stop worrying about things being right or wrong, good or bad.
Generally I agree. 

4. Due to our limited ability to grasp true reality, insights are pretty much the same as thoughts; we only “believe” they are somehow more true or special than regular thoughts.
Somewhat agree.  I think there is a tendency to give fancy words to things, 'insight' etc, and that tends to let meditators feel their actions are more special and important.  But I think everyone is on the path, they may just not know the fancy words for what they are doing and what happens to them.  I do agree from my perpsective, the true nature of reality seems pretty freaky Friday and I am not sure if my Earth consciousness can really get a good grasp on it.  I suspect that is why there is cessation, that exposure to reality just does not compute with Earth consciousness so we get a blank spot for that moment because that info will not translate to Earth memory.  (that's my latest theory anyway)
-Eva
 
I’d appreciate and welcome any feedback and/or critique of what I’m asserting here…

RE: Some Questions About "Answers"
Answer
6/17/15 1:58 PM as a reply to Chris.
Thanks for you quick and detailed reply, Pawel!

Based on my practice and studies (including lots and lots of Mu work), I have examined deeply what you are saying here, and have found that indeed I seem to have no control over anything--and yes, I get the fact that "control" or any other conceptual term, is merely an interpretation of reality and is thus not an "accurate" depiction of Truth. But for the sake of practicality, I have used such words and concepts in order to engage in a basic sharing of experience, so I can actually communicate with others about this. That said, I ultimately realize that all words and language are no more than sounds we make and attach artificial labels to. Further, I realize that with this understanding comes great freedom and lack of stress, which I have experienced a taste of myself.

My point was NOT to ask whether or not we have control over our lives (perhaps I did not make that clear enough for which I apologize). I know from experience that there is no "I" to be in control of anything. The four statements I made (repeated below) were not questions—they were simply insights that I have directly experienced myself, and moreover, they all seem to basically jive with what Zen and other paths are saying.

MY QUESTION(S) WAS THIS:  Are these statements (below) in line with others’ experiences with awakening?  If so, then why don’t most   teachers clearly and plainly point these things out from the beginning, instead of merely hinting at them with lots vague and often confusing notions and exercises (Mu) that merely suggest such ideas to be true?

Additionally, would it screw up anyone else’s spiritual development to discuss such things directly with them regardless if they are on the path or not? Why/why not?

Does this make sense? Thanks again for your reply!

MY ORIGINAL STATEMENTS (INSIGHTS)

1. We have absolutely no control over our lives—it’s all merely an illusion—and our constant belief that we can exert some form of control over our lives is one of the main causes of our suffering (If there were such a thing as a self, then this could be called a lack of “freewill”).

2. Even awakening will not provide you with any control over your life; rather, it’s merely a way to deeply accept what is, so you no longer struggle to makes things different than they are. This is one reason people don’t want to “awaken,” because this seems like losing freedom, rather than gaining it.

3. Given the lack of control, there is truly no such thing as a “mistake,” and everything is unfolding exactly in the way it should (whatever that means). We just need to surrender to what is and stop worrying about things being right or wrong, good or bad.

4. Due to our limited ability to grasp true reality, insights are pretty much the same as thoughts; we only “believe” they are somehow more true or special than regular thoughts. (I realize this basically makes my “insights” nothing but faulty interpretations, but humor me here).
####

RE: Some Questions About "Answers"
Answer
6/17/15 2:01 PM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Thanks so much for your reply, Eva.

Your reply was of the type that I was looking for, and it is helpful!

RE: Some Questions About "Answers"
Answer
6/18/15 1:01 AM as a reply to Chris.
Hi Chris,

You might look into Shinzen Young's concept of Appreciate, Transcend, Improve. If I understood, you see your insights as relative truths so understanding the boundary conditions of when they are applicable seems to be missing. 

There may be some answers to your questions in the "gradual training" that the buddha encouraged.

I don't see so much risk for others in sharing your insights but there are some obvious risks for you.

RE: Some Questions About "Answers"
Answer
6/18/15 2:52 PM as a reply to Chris.
Well, according to the moderator, this issue has been "resolved." Unfortunately, my basic questions remain unanswered.

I was trying to be nice by checking a couple of the replies here as "answers," which they technically were, but I'm afraid that I probably shouldn't have done that if I wanted to get any more responses. Dang it...I need to learn how this forum works better before I post!