Message Boards Message Boards

Phenomenology

Phenomenology of "3rd path" - response to Daniel

[Edit: I put things like "3rd path" and "4th path" in quotes to hopefully make clear that I'm using them as conventions, not because I think what we call "3rd path" is equivalent to what the Buddha called an "Anagami". I understand people have strong feelings about this issue. I, for one, do not. But in case you are tempted to reason that I think I'm an Arahant - I do not think I'm an Arahant.]

Throwing this up here because I feel like I went through the territory Daniel calls "3rd path", but my experience of it was sufficiently different that it might be helpful for others to have another point of reference. Emphasis is mine:
Third path:

1) Waking, walking-around reality should be very, very different from how it was before, with specific changes realted to the following:

i) Things should mostly seem to be happening on their own: that includes thoughts, actions, perception, intentions, feelings, movements, everything. This should be the dominant waking experience, with portions of experience that are not naturally known as being that way being the minority. The natural causality and self-lessness of action should be clear most of the time and for most things. In short, third path is a set up to fourth path, like a getting close but not quite. As a waking experience, it is most of the way there.
First of all, I never noticed anything "very, very different" in my walking around experience until I got to what Daniel calls "4th path". I had a lot of peak spiritual experiences before that. Sometimes there would be an afterglow from a peak experience that would last for awhile, and it would feel as though something significant had permanently changed. Or sometimes I would be having so many peak experiences in a row that the "baseline" as it's called would be obscured. But I never encountered anything before "4th" that wasn't impermanent.

Now different people have different experiences traversing this path. Some people are changed forever just by experiencing fruition. I was not one of those people. I'm not putting this forward to refute anyone else's experience, just to offer my own as another data point.

As for mostly seeing things happening causally and having this being the dominant waking experience - no, I never had that happen. There were periods immediately following intensive meditation retreats where experience was indeed like that, but that would taper off and go away once back in daily life for a few days.

What did start to happen - and this was about a year and a half before I attained "4th path" - was that my access to "emptiness" when I wasn't meditating increased.

So what do I mean by "emptiness"? I mean the ability to see things in the centerless way which is really vivid when you're in the 3rd or 4th vipassana jhanas. The ability to kind of see everything in the same causal space or as belonging to the same field of cause and effect. I didn't have the ability to just jump into it at will, and it was by no means by baseline, but I found that if the conditions were right, and if I inclined the mind a certain way, I could bring myself right up to the edge of fruition.

So for example, if I were on a long carride, I could start to inquire into experience, and everything would gradually "even out" until the experience was pretty similar to what it's like when you're in high equanimity. A few times I was on long walks around town, and just by inquiring into experience, I could bring about the same state.

This was not a "baseline". This was not a dimension of reality that was there all the time that I just had to incline my mind toward. Rather, it was a state or a way or framing experience I could sometimes evoke and other times not very well at all.

I remember that in the wake of these experiences of emptiness, I would think, "That has got to be what being enlightened [4th path] is like." I really did think I was "getting close but not quite" as Daniel says. I think now that that way of looking at things is very misleading.

What happened to me was, I went for about a year and a half occasionally having these experiences of selflessness. I wasn't practicing at all in the "Buddhist" tradition anymore and didn't care about it. But suddenly there broke through this new awareness which I can only describe (using Crowley's phrase) as a "trance of sorrow". What I could clearly see was that anything whatsoever - anything that you could experience with the senses, call by a name, imagine, think up, care about or desire, etc. - was in a state of passing away. I had some obtuse philosophical terminology to describe this - unity of opposites, unity of birth and death, finitude, etc. - but the main feature was this universal decay or instability. And with this awareness came a burning desire to put a stop to it - and a recognition I had never encountered anything in my entire life, not even an idea, that would resolve it or put it to rest.

So if you've ever had real bad Desire for Deliverance while meditating, it was like this, but I wasn't meditating - at all. I wasn't on retreat. There was no way to stop it. It was unleashed. It was in everything.

I wasn't freaking out or anything as this was happening, but there was this glowing clarity - and really an intensity of anger - about the situation. I was scornful if anyone proposed a solution that seemed mealy-mouthed. I would just think, "This is just words for you. You have no way of comprehending the seriousness of this situation."

I was never suicidal, but I remember thinking that the notion was very funny, because death itself is probably just as unstable as anything else. I began to appreciate those stuffy Buddhist teachings about rebirth. I had no real interest in Buddhism, but I could respect the Buddha, because it's obvious he saw the seriousness of the problem and wanted a total solution to it. The Buddha seemed much more serious to me than some jackass telling me, "Well, you just have to live in the present moment, and everything will be fine." I thought, well, you have to be really poorly attuned to the "present moment" to say something like that.

Then finally it seemed like it was beginning to lighten up a bit. And then I had a conversation with someone, and there was a realization shortly thereafter, and about 36 hours later, I realized I had done it and attained "4th path".

But here's the thing: The stuff I experienced in the year and a half leading up to "4th" - what we might call "3rd path" - wasn't really a "leading up to". I didn't experience it that way. When I look back on what things were like, say, two months before getting 4th, it's not like I was 3/4 of the way there.

The reason I say that is because 4th was less about locking in an awareness of emptiness and more like an understanding that whether I was aware of emptiness or not, it was all pretty much the same. It wasn't about putting my consciousness isn't some state and keeping it there. Consciousness is impermanent like anything else, after all.

To say the same thing a little differently, consider the following three sorts of experiences:

(1) Acute sense of self, like when you feel ashamed.
(2) Vague sense of self, like when you're on a long drive and lost in thought.
(3) Acute sense of not-self, like when you're in 4th vipassana jhana.

I used to think it was all about (3). "4th path" is all about being in (3) all the time, without exception. "3rd path" is being in (3) most of the time. "2nd path" is being in (3) some of the time. "1st path" means getting a taste of (3). It's all about (3).

And even after I stopped meditating, I would have these experiences of (3) that would leave me thinking, "That must be what '4th' is like. You walk around in that all the time. Why can't I do that all the time? I'm so unenlightened."

But then what happened was - and this happened almost instantaneously, like being hit by a car - I realized that there is no fundamental difference between the three of them. Different causes give rise to them, and different effects follow from them, but they're all conditioned phenomena.

[Edit: Before 4th path, there were experiences where the self felt vague but present, like if I were engaged in a thoughtful conversation with someone. And then I would have acute experiences of self, like when there was a deliberate act of reflection upon experience. After 4th path, this situation was reversed. The self feels like a perfectly normal phenomenon to me when I'm engaged in a thoughtful dialog with someone. If I try to turn it into a discrete object of inquiry by means of reflection, though, it completely disappears. This is a useful trick. It should be obvious why you shouldn't do this if you're trying to sort things out with a loved one, though.]

Another thing I realized - and this will seem completely orthogonal to what I just said, but it's not - is that there is no way to step outside of experience. Seeing things in terms of the three characteristics - having these profound experiences of emptiness - gives the impression of having some kind of fundamental insight into absolute reality. But in fact it's just a frame amongst others. There's nothing privileged about seeing things as impermanent and selfless - and in fact, from a certain perspective, there's no difference at all whether I see them that way or another. That was the insight that put a complete and irrevocable stop to the spiritual path I had been on up until that point. Yes, all things in the universe are limited and therefore in a state of passing away or dying - but so is the view that they are doing that.

This is unBuddhist. So let me be clear that I'm not advocating Buddhism, and I'm not trying to pass a non-Buddhist philosophy off as a Buddhist one. Nor am I trying to claim the same status the Buddha claimed. The idea that the three characteristics is merely one limited frame amongst other limited frames for understanding reality is not what the Buddha thought or taught. (As far as I understand him.) However, understanding this - coming to this realization - FOR ME, put a permanent stop to some stuff that was, in my opinion, delusional and a cause of discomfort and pain. And since that moment, it is clear, should it naturally and casually reveal itself, that there is no self "in here". Or to say the same thing another way, experiencing is not happening to an entity lying outside experience. To whom or to what is that revealing itself? I have no idea. This nervous system, I guess.

That's the only thing I ever experienced that felt like a baseline shift - in the sense that, barring a head injury or senility, there is no way I will ever unsee that. And I don't feel like there was anything that ever happened along the way that was an approximation to it or that intimated it. I'm pretty sure my previous work set up the conditions for this "flip" to take place, but at the same time, this realization was so completely discontinuous with anything that came before, that I really have no way of relating to the "getting close but not quite" part of Daniel's "3rd path" description.
ii) One's waking experience of awareness should be very different. There are lots of ways to say this, but I tend towards the following descriptions: the basic light/luminosity/awareness/manifestation in phenomena should mostly be known directly as being where the objects are. Said another way, manifest objects and sensations should be largely known to contain their own awareness in them, with them, as them, being the same thing. In short, the sense that this side is perceiving that side should be markedly diminished, and the sense that that side and substantial parts of this side are just stuff that knows itself where it is should predominate, with these exceptions becoming more and more subtle as insight deepens, until exceptions are very hard to find. In short, third path is a set up to fourth, like getting close but not quite. It is most of the way there and should point to what is left to be done and how to do it.
I get this. I get where this is coming from. I prefer not to use these particular metaphors, but I can see their appeal.

I was struck so hard by this particular dimension of "4th path" that I actually went a little bit crazy for two weeks after it happened. Not rubbing myself in feces and howling at the moon crazy, but more like, "How do I get my intellect around this? How will I ever communicate this to people?"

When this turn happens, what you figure out, in a real and immediate way, is that there's no way at all to talk about mind of consciousness apart from exactly what is happening "in" it, and as soon as you try to, you find yourself caught up in a web of lies or half-truths.

Even that metaphor I used right now - "happening 'in' it" - is exactly the opposite of what I meant to say about it. The mind is not a container. It's a little bit like space, in the sense that it just seems to take the shape of whatever manifests in relation to it. But unlike space, it doesn't really have any structure on its own. You can describe space on its own mathematically. You really can't do that for "awareness". If "awareness" is anything at all, it's just the manifestness of whatever is manifesting. It belongs with the object, not with the supposed subject. Or to say it a little differently, subject and object are both manifest.

Now here's where people run into the problem with the light/luminosity/awareness/manifestation metaphor. The opposite of light is shadow. The opposite of luminosity is darkness. The opposite of awareness is ignorance, disregard, unconscious. The opposite of manifestation is concealment. And yet "awareness" - or whatever word you choose for the realization of things - has to encompass these opposites, too.

To say it a little more concretely,. if I'm having some sort of tight, emotionally-charged experience in which my sense of self is painful and strong, I don't for that reason doubt that I've attained "4th path". Insofar as I think about it at all, I just think, "This too shall pass." And that does have a calming effect, but there's no reason that realization absolutely has to occur every time I'm in a bad mood or something.

Here's the thing: any framework you try to use to get at "the non-dual" (even using the phrase "non-dual") is going to pick out certain aspects of reality and conceal others.

And there's nothing inherently "wrong" with that. I'm not saying people shouldn't try to describe this. They should try to describe this, because those can become useful pointers for people trying to do the same thing. You can say, "Well, it's like __________," and even if that's not entirely true, it's a noble lie if it gets a person to eventually see for themselves.

The problems arise when you take one particular metaphor and have it stand in for everything. That's how you generate a spiritual shadow. "This view has no limits. It applies to everything without exception." Then you have to repress the cases where it doesn't.

Like in the case of the kind of energetic, progress-oriented practice we do - manipulating experience for results - the shadow side emerges as an unwillingness to acknowledge indeterminacy, vagueness, things that can't be mapped. When progress seems to go away, and the nebulous parts of reality start showing themselves, people flip out.

You can actually get cases where people suffer, not from an inability to see emptiness, but an over-ability to see it. I remember walking around in those empty states thinking, "What am I missing? What am I not seeing through?"

The truth is that I was "seeing through" pretty much anything and everything there was to see through - except for the phenomenon of "seeing through"! What was I missing? Nothing other than the fact that obscurity and lack of clarity are just as much parts of reality as figuring things out.

Which on the face of it isn't that big a deal. So what if you figure out that clarity and lack of clarity are part o the same reality? Well... spirituality is kind of silly.

Anyway, this is a different view on advanced attainment. "Advanced" compared to what? I don't know. Hearsay? Being a dark night yogi? Feeling "stuck"?

I don't think it's Buddhism. I don't consider myself a Buddhist. Some Mahayana stuff resonates with me, but I don't care enough about it to research it. I'm not a Buddhist teacher. This isn't a "dharma talk". I don't teach at all. I actually don't believe in the notion of "spiritual teachings". This is what I believe based on my experience. If people want to believe other things based on their own experiences, that's fine. I assume we're all works-in-progress.

It's weird, because even though I think "4th path" is a discrete phenomenon - in other words all-or-nothing - and therefore cannot be deepened in and of itself, my understanding of it continually evolves. By which I mean the way I go about describing it and understanding its implications for my life or anyone's life. I see a lot of ambiguity in it - maybe because the "it" I'm talking about is just existence or thusness, and so not an "it" at all. So while I have deep respect and appreciation for Daniel's words - because they helped get me here! - I hold them lightly. They're a way of understanding things. They're really pointers. I recommend following those pointers, at the same time being aware that they're going to break down at some point. You're going to encounter some dimension of reality where they don't seem to apply. You're going to want to repress that aspect of reality from awareness. And you're going to succumb to that temptation, and it's going to cause you pain. If you're really good, the pain will get so strong that you'll finally have no choice but to look at what's causing it. And if you're wise, you won't completely discard that way of looking at things, but instead see it as one mode amongst an infinity of others for dealing with the world.

RE: Phenomenology of "3rd path" - response to Daniel
Answer
6/18/15 9:32 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Thank you, Fitter.  I think this is very relevant to where I am at right now.  Noting seems useless since it seems like it is a method whose ideal result is to see emptiness.  But I feel like my baseline is seeing emptiness, therefore, there is no point in noting in the first place.  As you say, the next step would be to integrate both times when I see emptiness and times when I don't.  I am working with the idea that it is all, already fine, and that all I have to do is just "fall off the cliff."

Here is another idea of modelling, based on what I read from Jackson Wilshire on the AN magazine function.
1) Pre-1st Path, one is unconsciously uncompetent, they have never seen emptiness
2) Post-1st Path, one is consciously uncompetent, meaning they have seen emptiness once and it is obvious how much of the time they do not see it
3) Post-2nd Path, one is consciously competent, having succeeded in seeing emptiness twice, they now have "a knack for it" and can repeat the effort
4) Post-3rd Path, one is unconsciously competent, one's baseline becomes the seeing of emptiness in real time, the sense that that no-self experience is never far from home, and the newness of the fact that they don't have to struggle to see it
5) Post 4th Path, one has conscious competence of unconscious competence, meaning, they have a fully integrated understanding of emptiness, regardless of whether it is there or not... and the fact that they don't have to struggle to see emptiness is not a new or special one, it is just another, equivalent way of being, like all other ways of being

The reason I like this model is that it leaves plenty of room for improvement past stage 5, while also acknowledging that stage 5 does represent a turning point.  

I am obviously pre-stage 5, since I am still favoring certain experiences over others, even in a subtle way.  I assume I just have to struggle for a certain amount of time before the switch will automatically be flipped, as per the advice of you and Nick.

RE: Phenomenology of "3rd path" - response to Daniel
Answer
6/18/15 10:56 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Caveat: I haven't experienced anything I've identified as '4th path' so I have no basis from which to understand.

Much of your post seems to me reminiscent of what Dan says about the Fundamental Perception Models.

I'm also not confidently versed on Buddhist dogma, but I believe your view has affinity with the Madhyamaka  school. Insofar as I'm correct about this and one considers Madhyamaka Real Buddhism®, your view can be considered Buddhist.
The works of Nāgārjuna and his philosophical heirs are best understood as constitutively opposed to this understanding of the two truths. The foundational idea of Madhyamaka is that the set of ultimately existent things is an empty set – a point that Mādhyamikas characteristically promote by insisting on the emptiness (śūnyatā) not only of wholes such as persons, but also of the analytic categories (dharmas) to which these are reduced in Abhidharma literature. The works of Nāgārjuna and his commentators, then, typically comprise arguments to the effect that none of the analytic categories (dharmas) and concepts used to explain anything can be coherently formulated. More precisely, the argument is that no such categories can intrinsically provide any explanatory purchase on the phenomena they purportedly explain.

Anyway, your experience prior to what you identify as 4th does seem anamolous. It seems you have an unusual willingness to try for clarity. Thanks for posting.

Do you believe you'll have further fundamental perceptual or paradigmatic shifts?

RE: Phenomenology of "3rd path" - response to Daniel
Answer
6/19/15 1:17 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
One of the best posts I've read here. Great motivation - thanks!

RE: Phenomenology of "3rd path" - response to Daniel
Answer
6/19/15 10:05 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
I must say, reading about Pragmatic Dharma models of enlightenment is one of the few things that really rile me up. 

Why is it now OK to consider yourself fully enlightened [1] even when your mind is still beset by delusory appearances, such as a sense of self? This is SUCH an insidious idea. Full enlightenment is the opposite of delusion. There is no way they can co-exist on any level in the same mind. 

I suggest people on this forum who have bought into this view of full enlightenment should try to experience rigpa, and put that state to the test. I've entered it in circumstances where I was experiencing gross aversion, such as when holding my breath for a minute or more. In those moments, there was complete emptiness, a complete letting go, without any suffering. Many Tibetan Buddhist masters down through the centuries have claimed to have stabilizing this and made it permanent. So we can briefly experience what full enlightenment is like, it's not some nebulous thing that we can only guess at, and we have the precedent of many who have attained it. There even exists "secret biographies" of people like Dudjom Lingpa, containing descriptions of their inner life and visions as they traversed the entire path.

I wish people would find it in themselves to forget about Pragmatic Dharma models and get back to the hard and thankless task of eradicating the sense of self. As someone who was getting Nirodha Samapatti only a couple of weeks after Stream Entry, and (I now believe) reached MCTB 4th path about 6 months after, there is still a long, long, long way to go, and you are absolutely shooting yourself in both feet by thinking you are done at that point. Don't fall for such limiting views and let yourself get complacent. 

[1] I don't mean to suggest that you are doing this, Fitter.

RE: Phenomenology of "3rd path" - response to Daniel
Answer
6/19/15 10:04 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Great post Fitter!

RE: Phenomenology of "3rd path" - response to Daniel
Answer
6/19/15 10:11 AM as a reply to B. B.
B. B:
I must say, reading about Pragmatic Dharma models of enlightenment is one of the few things that really rile me up. 

Why is it now OK to consider yourself fully enlightened [1] even when your mind is still beset by delusory appearances, such as a sense of self? This is SUCH an insidious idea. Full enlightenment is the opposite of delusion. There is no way they can co-exist on any level in the same mind. 

I suggest people on this forum who have bought into this view of full enlightenment should try to experience rigpa, and put that state to the test. I've entered it in circumstances where I was experiencing gross aversion, such as when holding my breath for a minute or more. In those moments, there was complete emptiness, a complete letting go, without any suffering. Many Tibetan Buddhist masters down through the centuries have claimed to have stabilizing this and made it permanent. So we can briefly experience what full enlightenment is like, it's not some nebulous thing that we can only guess at, and we have the precedent of many who have attained it. There even exists "secret biographies" of people like Dudjom Lingpa, containing descriptions of their inner life and visions as they traversed the entire path.

I wish people would find it in themselves to forget about Pragmatic Dharma models and get back to the hard and thankless task of eradicating the sense of self. As someone who was getting Nirodha Samapatti only a couple of weeks after Stream Entry, and (I now believe) reached MCTB 4th path about 6 months after, there is still a long, long, long way to go, and you are absolutely shooting yourself in both feet by thinking you are done at that point. Don't fall for such limiting views and let yourself get complacent. 

[1] I don't mean to suggest that you are doing this, Fitter.

No one that I have talked to one-on-one who has completed the 4-Path territory would use the words "full enlightenment" to describe it.  I think you are misunderstanding the general consensus to be the idea that development ends after 4th Path.

RE: Phenomenology of "3rd path" - response to Daniel
Answer
6/19/15 11:29 AM as a reply to Noah.
I think you are misunderstanding the general consensus to be the idea that development ends after 4th Path.

Are we discussing "general concensus" as model? No, we are not.

Fitter Stoke subheaded this post as "Response to Daniel," and I gather from Fitter's post that he claims attainment of "MCTB 4th Path," for he speaks of "the same territory" as what Daniel finally came out of the closet to define by way of attainment criteria for 3rd. We are discussing what is or should be MCTB 3rd and implicitly 4th.

It is clear from Daniel's post, to which Fitter is clearly responding, that Daniel does not agree that there is more wisdom attainment after 4th path. He also speaks and writes in very "ultimate" and "always" terms when he describes the dramatic and, yes, permanent deconstruction of perception that is his definition of nondual awakening.

This last point is something I mean to come on here later and straighten out with Fitter before I then proceed with what will likely take days of discussion.

Stay tuned, all.

Jenny

RE: Phenomenology of "3rd path" - response to Daniel
Answer
6/19/15 12:31 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
@ Fitter: Very articulate, thanks. FWIW this description is relatable to me experientially, especially the bits about the spectrum of the sense of self, and the simultaneity of clarity and confusion, in that nothing on the content level needs to change to make reality simply what it is. Personally, in my own experience, I see this as being the fruit of following up on what was evident immediately after my first (conscious) fruition/path moment. It seems to be close to ten-fetters Stream Entry.

For me there was a process of gradually sloughing of 'the search' and 'the seeker' after that initial awakening. This period, for me, was marked by a gradual reduction in desperation and seeking and doubting until a moment when it was very vividly seen that confusion (i.e. mental-emotional content that is saying something like 'i don't get it!') is simultaneous with clarity (i.e., it's 'it', there's nothing outisde of 'it' or beyond 'it' which is just this, whatever's happening).  Within six months of that moment (which was not impressive in a mystical experience sort of way) my outer circumstances completely rearranged themselves in the most fascinating and tumultuous ways until suddenly my outer world was stabilized and sane in a way that reflected my 'inner' experience of life. It was like a sudden massive draining of drama from my life (not complete, but seriously massive).

There seems like there's a lot more to learn and deepen, speaking for myself. (Not saying you disagree, just really wondering how this lines up with Daniel's criteria).

RE: Phenomenology of "3rd path" - response to Daniel
Answer
6/19/15 2:38 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Actually, although the original post has problems galore--both philosophical-theoretical and experiential-practical--I lack the great amount of time and responsive energy it would take to enter into the kind of ongoing communion and exchange that would make this thread more fruitful than it currently is.

I'll say just this:

*All signifiers are empty, meaning they have no ontological anything with to do with what is supposedly signified. The only "ground" language has, in other words, is in its emptiness (metaphoricity). There is nothing unique to "being awake" about this. It is structuralism and post-structuralism 101. Nonetheless, "being awake" is acted upon as something different from not being awake, or else why these discussions, why our practices to awaken?

*In linguistics and literary theory, all signifiers are binary and hierarchical (ie, dual). This means that any signifier, say the word luminosity, derives meaning only in provisional, suspended relationship to a "background" or "opposite," such as shadow, which itself has meaning only provisionally, only in relation to some other empty signifier. There is nothing unique to "being awake" about this. It is structuralism and post-structuralism 101. Nonetheless, "being awake" is acted upon as something different from not being awake, or else why these discussions, why our practices to awaken?

*When people come onto this forum, which is not just a Buddhist or MCTB forum, if they want to claim 3rd path or 4th path, it will, I daresay, normally be assumed that said 3rd path and said 4th path are per the MCTB revised four-path model. If that is not the model under which the claimant is claiming the "3rd" or "4th path," then it would help communication immensely if the claimant would be explicit about which model is being invoked. After all, there is nothing transcendent or sacred about the terms 3rd path or 4th path. "Paths" are constructs, empty signifiers. They function semi-adequately for provisional expressive and transactional purposes only to the extent that there isn't massive confusion about the specific cultural history that is being invoked when the terms are thus used. So--if anyone is going to claim 3rd path or 4th path, please, for the love of God, Buddha, and humankind, be explicit about which model you are referencing. (Thank you!) If we have the criteria of the model you are referencing, then we all can compare those criteria to Daniel's and better understand as a community what you are actually claiming.

*Fitter, if you are in fact invoking Daniel's revised four-path model of nondual awakening, which on the face of your post you appear to be doing, then it sounds as if (correct me as need be) what you claim is that you went from 2nd path straight to 4th. If I have this wrong, and what you are saying is that you propose a different model for 3rd path, different from Daniel's model, then let's hear your proposed model for that nonetheless somehow same "territory," as you call it. 

Fitter Stoke:

The problems arise when you take one particular metaphor and have it stand in for everything. That's how you generate a spiritual shadow. 'This view has no limits. It applies to everything without exception.' Then you have to repress the cases where it doesn't.

*Luminosity is real. That is, it is as real and as dramatic a difference from unenlightened phenomenalism (ie, perception) as any signified is from its binary and hierarchical "opposite." This is to say, luminosity is a very, very unusual walking-around experience. I do not claim 4th path and specifically disclaim it. I have at least a good deal of what Daniel delineated as criteria for 3rd path the other day. Specifically, I have luminosity as the Tibetan traditions use and occasionally define the term. It is, so far, since January 29, as permanent and persistent a shift in the way the experiential world is experiencing itself as can be. It is emphatically not some temporary frame through which I choose which side of a binary sign I intend to experience. It has nothing to do with my intent or any philosophical take on what nonduality "ought" to allow. I cannot make it flip back to the old way of perceiving. To test the persistence of the change, I've tried to flip it back multiple times and always fail. I'm stating this claim plainly just to make clear where, experientially, I'm coming from, for whatever that may be worth to anyone following along at home.

*The original post doesn't clarify why 4th path is being claimed. It references philosophical ideas, but where is the phenomenological descriptions of how perception itself has permanently changed? It almost sounds as if the model being proposed is that "enlightenment is when you take the view that attainments aren't attainments," meaning they aren't permanent and different from nonawake. Luminosity is permanent and different from nonawake, despite attempts to frame it within some philosophical notion of chosen perspective.

My takeaway is this: If anyone here is not experiencing the criteria for 3rd path as Daniel laid them out for what is, after all, his published model, consider that (aha!) you probably do not have 3rd path according to his model. This is not to say you don't have some other profound development that has enhanced your life.

Blessings all,

Jenny

[EDITED to add quotation from OP]


RE: Phenomenology of "3rd path" - response to Daniel
Answer
6/19/15 8:56 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
@Mark, @Russell: My sentiments exactly.

@B.B: You've confused me, because I haven't heard the terminology "Full Enlightenment" used around here. It may be that we'd all be better off trying to excise self-belief, and experience rigpa; however, what Fitter seems to be saying in his narrative of his experience (which is not prescriptive in any way), is that ultimately, all experience is experience, period. Kenneth has to my recollection made similar kinds of comments, that even the most luminous, or the most exalted, or the most mundane experience boils down to sensation. It's a bit of a buzzkill for those of us who may be pursuing something better, but that's what the man (Kenneth) says, and I find it coming to mind as I read the OP's account. 

@Noah: I think you were doing fine until you used the words "general consensus," which will usually get you into trouble on these forums. Not that I needed to tell you that! emoticon

@Jenny: I do not appreciate your making allusions to all the awful take-downs you could utilize against the OP if you had the time or the energy. That kind of language is not legitimate engagement. I'm afraid by saying this I risk inciting a long, drawn-out refutation, which I heartily hope does not happen, because as I said before, Fitter is not being prescriptive. He simply has told his story in a thoughtful and precise manner, inspired by Daniel's description of 3rd path. He is not following a model as far as I can see, nor is he trying to create one. I would be intrigued if Daniel responded, and the two of them had a dialogue. I am not, however, eager to have you step in and straighten Fitter and all the rest of us out. This does not mean that I am not interested in what you think, or how it differs from what other people may think. It's apparent that your view is along the lines of what Daniel thinks. Fair enough. As OP as said, his experience suggests something else. Or not. 

@Fitter Stoke: Thank you. I'm glad to see you here again.  

RE: Phenomenology of "3rd path" - response to Daniel
Answer
6/19/15 4:21 PM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
however, what Fitter seems to be saying in his narrative of his experience (which is not prescriptive in any way), is that ultimately, all experience is experience, period.
Yes, the post is intended to be descriptive of part of my own journey. As I said at the beginning, I intend in no way to discount anyone else's experiences. It's been known for awhile now that different people have different responses to traveling the spiritual path.

Before I arrived at what I'm assuming was 4th path, I thought I would teach this stuff some day. Yet I found afterward that it became very difficult to say anything about it, since the "it" seemed to be nothing separate from things exactly as they're happening anyway. (As I quoted Daniel above, "manifest objects and sensations should be largely known to contain their own awareness in them, with them, as them, being the same thing" [emphasis mine]) If I wanted to say something separate from what's just occurring on its own in an ordinary sense, I found I had to use analogies or sometimes say things that, to me, seemed untrue. This has had the effect of getting me to hold all descriptions of it - either mine or others - more lightly than I did before. It's also had the effect of making me hesitate to talk about it on a forum like this - and not just because a prolific minority is routinely defensive or nasty.

As for "experience is experience", it's strictly speaking not true. You're never going to meet a person for whom it's a matter of complete indifference whether you give them a foot rub or hold them down while pouring acid in their face. Experiences can be quite different from one another in almost every relevant way. That being said, I got to a point in my own development where the phrase "experience is experience" became a very useful pointer.

But then it's like the ladder you toss away once you've climbed and stepped off it.
He is not following a model as far as I can see, nor is he trying to create one.
There are a few models I've used and have found valuable. My favorites are probably the Zen Ox Herding model, the Tree of Life from Hermetic Kabbalah, and the Simple Model in MCTB.

The only reason I felt compelled to reply to Daniel's account of 3rd path is that I find it's close enough to what I've experienced that a reply would be relevant and useful to other people who are trying to do the same thing.

Ironically - or not, depending on how you look at it - Daniel is the one who encouraged me to post more here. I said my way of describing things is unusual - "gnomic" may have been the word I used - and he said some people will probably respond positively to that, with the implication that it's good to describe things from a somewhat different perspective as some people respond better to some pointers rather than others.

Daniel, save me from your followers!

RE: Phenomenology of "3rd path" - response to Daniel
Answer
6/19/15 5:32 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:

As for "experience is experience", it's strictly speaking not true. You're never going to meet a person for whom it's a matter of complete indifference whether you give them a foot rub or hold them down while pouring acid in their face. Experiences can be quite different from one another in almost every relevant way.


Point well taken; I've argued the same myself. I guess I should say that certain "spiritual" experiences don't point to a reality beyond wherever it is that one is. Even a horrible experience, like panic, is not indicative of some other place, like Hell. Does this make sense?

RE: Phenomenology of "3rd path" - response to Daniel
Answer
6/19/15 5:56 PM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Laurel Carrington:
Fitter Stoke:

As for "experience is experience", it's strictly speaking not true. You're never going to meet a person for whom it's a matter of complete indifference whether you give them a foot rub or hold them down while pouring acid in their face. Experiences can be quite different from one another in almost every relevant way.


Point well taken; I've argued the same myself. I guess I should say that certain "spiritual" experiences don't point to a reality beyond wherever it is that one is. Even a horrible experience, like panic, is not indicative of some other place, like Hell. Does this make sense?


Indeed.

RE: Phenomenology of "3rd path" - response to Daniel
Answer
6/19/15 9:36 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
I'm glad you made this topic. Of all the topics this one is the most worth getting into a mess about because the broader fellowship of practitioners needs more data. My questions are:

We assume different people get different results. Based off your experience and what you know about others, how much variance between people with respect to the unfolding of insights do you think there is? And how much of a consequence might this be to using maps as, "At this stage x and y will happen, then z and w and then omicron and theta and so on?"

RE: Phenomenology of "3rd path" - response to Daniel
Answer
6/19/15 9:49 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
One more question, and this comes from 'the next generation of pragmatic Dharma practitioners, and it's a rather controversial one so here it goes!

From a somewhat newer practitioner exploring the pragmatic scene, I see some older practitioners 'achieving' MCTB 4th path, (Or at least, think they did) such as Alan Chapman, who now has a sort of further exploration of insight beyond MCTB 4th path. What do you make of this? If you are unfamiliar with Alan Chapman system currently that is fine, but I mean the possibility of further 'insight'?

RE: Phenomenology of "3rd path" - response to Daniel
Answer
6/19/15 10:07 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
Before I arrived at what I'm assuming was 4th path, I thought I would teach this stuff some day. Yet I found afterward that it became very difficult to say anything about it, since the "it" seemed to be nothing separate from things exactly as they're happening anyway. (As I quoted Daniel above, "manifest objects and sensations should be largely known to contain their own awareness in them, with them, as them, being the same thing" [emphasis mine]) If I wanted to say something separate from what's just occurring on its own in an ordinary sense, I found I had to use analogies or sometimes say things that, to me, seemed untrue. This has had the effect of getting me to hold all descriptions of it - either mine or others - more lightly than I did before. It's also had the effect of making me hesitate to talk about it on a forum like this - and not just because a prolific minority is routinely defensive or nasty.


All of this is very interesting and helpful - thanks Fitter. The part quoted above rings particularly true for my own experience of any levels of progress (which are, certainly at least in the MCTB model, much less than yours) - finger pointing at the moon is certainly not the moon and it depends a lot on whose finger it is.


Fitter Stoke:
Daniel, save me from your followers!
Afuckingmen.

RE: Phenomenology of "3rd path" - response to Daniel
Answer
6/20/15 4:30 AM as a reply to The Poster Formerly Known As RyanJ.
 I see some older practitioners 'achieving' MCTB 4th path, (Or at least, think they did) such as Alan Chapman, who now has a sort of further exploration of insight beyond MCTB 4th path.

Just as another reference point for 
'the next generation of pragmatic Dharma practitioners

What I am getting from face-to-face interactions, accessing of video and text, textual discussion on forums, and personal practice, is that 4th Path is basically the perfect platform of mindfulness to go in any direction, including the direction of "feeling done" and "being done", as well as the possibility for further development.

RE: Phenomenology of "3rd path" - response to Daniel
Answer
6/20/15 6:05 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Dear Fitter,

Thanks for your descriptions and being willing to be out there with your stuff. I think that is where some of the most interesting things can happen: we put our best out there, we get feedback, people relate to it or not, people like it or not, and somehow, as painful as it often is, something good can occur.

"Daniel, save me from your followers!"

Yeah, I hear you. Still, if you are going to be out there, you are going to have to learn to just take what the world throws at you, which can be a lot, as this forum shows every single time the topic comes out, even as much as this forum tries to be a mature, thoughtful, accepting place where high-level, experience-based discussions can occur. I think that more reference points, more perspectives, thoughtfully presented and compared, helps to make this place the rich place it sometimes is.

While I obviously like my models and experiences a lot, I don't think that they should be the final arbiter of what is ok here on the DhO or how people use various terms, just so long as everyone clearly explains how they use the various terms and why, which you have, so that helps. Were this "DanielIngramDharma.Com", then things might be different, but it isn't, and that is intentional, so let's keep this about our experience when possible.

I think that, if this is done well, which this thread is doing moderately well as these things go (as it can often be much more toxic and immature than this thread, unfortunately), then real growth for all involved can occur, which is what I care about much more than the hegemony of my models over all other opinions.

There is clearly variability in how things go and also in how people conceptualize and describe how things go. Some of the most interesting discussions have happened around these, often painful and deeply personal, debates about how we self-less beings describe ourselves. Let's own our opinions as our own and see what people have to offer from their own experiences.

Thanks,

Daniel

RE: Phenomenology of "3rd path" - response to Daniel
Answer
6/20/15 6:53 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Jenny:
*The original post doesn't clarify why 4th path is being claimed. It references philosophical ideas, but where is the phenomenological descriptions of how perception itself has permanently changed? It almost sounds as if the model being proposed is that "enlightenment is when you take the view that attainments aren't attainments," meaning they aren't permanent and different from nonawake. Luminosity is permanent and different from nonawake, despite attempts to frame it within some philosophical notion of chosen perspective.
this was also pretty much my experience of reading the OP.  

You (fitter) do hint at experiential changes, and perhaps i'm just not resonating with your writing style, but what I'm overall hearing from you is along the lines of "I had an experience of realising [such and such a conclusion]". In other words, you seem to be describing the conclusions and beliefs you've come to.  

Here's a couple of examples
What I could clearly see was that anything whatsoever - anything that you could experience with the senses, call by a name, imagine, think up, care about or desire, etc. - was in a state of passing away. I had some obtuse philosophical terminology to describe this - unity of opposites, unity of birth and death, finitude, etc. - but the main feature was this universal decay or instability. And with this awareness came a burning desire to put a stop to it - and a recognition I had never encountered anything in my entire life, not even an idea, that would resolve it or put it to rest.
But then what happened was - and this happened almost instantaneously, like being hit by a car - I realized thatthere is no fundamental difference between the three of them. Different causes give rise to them, and different effects follow from them, but they're all conditioned phenomena. 
Another thing I realized - and this will seem completely orthogonal to what I just said, but it's not - is that there is no way to step outside of experience. Seeing things in terms of the three characteristics - having these profound experiences of emptiness - gives the impression of having some kind of fundamental insight into absolute reality. But in fact it's just a frame amongst others. There's nothing privileged about seeing things as impermanent and selfless - and in fact, from a certain perspective, there's no difference at all whether I see them that way or another.That was the insight that put a complete and irrevocable stop to the spiritual path I had been on up until that point. Yes, all things in the universe are limited and therefore in a state of passing away or dying - but so is the view that they are doing that. 

I think of Ken Wilber's distinction between 'translation' and 'transformation'.  
What Jenny writes about luminosity sounds to me like a genuine transformation of experience.
But your OP sounds to me like a lot of translation; restructuring your belief system about reality to conceptualise it in a new way.  


You already mentioned your style of description, suggesting perhaps it will appeal to some and not others?  

I'm perfectly open to this just being down to your particular style of describing your insight, filtered as it is through your particular character and intellect, and my own particular filters or levels of insight not allowing me to see the value in what you write, but I'd love to hear your response to this and what Jenny wrote - I imagine you can quite adequately save yourself from dan's followers ;)