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A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models

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A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Noah 1/17/16 4:46 PM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Chris Marti 1/15/16 11:05 AM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models . Jake . 1/15/16 12:23 PM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Noah 1/15/16 2:17 PM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Chris Marti 1/15/16 4:54 PM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Noah 1/16/16 12:27 AM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Chris Marti 1/16/16 11:24 AM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Eva Nie 1/16/16 7:36 PM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Chris Marti 1/17/16 11:57 AM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Noah 1/17/16 4:51 PM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Eva Nie 1/17/16 11:23 PM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Laurel Carrington 1/18/16 12:15 AM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models . Jake . 1/19/16 12:42 PM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Chris Marti 1/20/16 8:22 AM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Daniel M. Ingram 1/21/16 4:04 AM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Stirling Campbell 4/4/16 2:06 PM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Noah 4/4/16 6:12 PM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Eva Nie 4/6/16 7:43 PM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Noah 1/15/16 2:15 PM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Chad Atlas 1/15/16 1:25 PM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Noah 1/15/16 2:07 PM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Chad Atlas 1/15/16 3:16 PM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Noah 1/15/16 3:09 PM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Dada Kind 1/16/16 4:21 AM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Banned For waht? 1/17/16 7:55 AM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Stuie Law 1/17/16 8:04 PM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Noah 1/17/16 11:05 PM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models josh april 4/3/16 8:30 AM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Banned For waht? 4/3/16 9:14 AM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models shargrol 4/4/16 5:11 AM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Dream Walker 4/3/16 7:10 PM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Ernest Michael Olmos 4/5/16 10:42 AM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Noah 4/5/16 11:51 AM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models streamsurfer 4/9/16 11:52 AM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Noah 4/9/16 1:59 PM
RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models Banned For waht? 4/10/16 6:59 AM
Mushroom-factory, Buddhist culture has caused a consensus view that enlightenment is a reliable predictor of psycho-emotional health and right conduct in the world.  This is wrong.  Pragmatic dharma culture has caused a consensus view that enlightenment is a completely unreliable predictor of psycho-emotional health, and right conduct in the world.  This is also wrong.  Many discussions on the message boards illustrate how morality training is seen to be completely isolated from wisdom training.  Very few discussions acknowledge the sophisticated and complex way that the outcomes of wisdom training (specifically path attainments) do benefit morality training.  

In my opinion, vertical-transcendent progress along the axis of insight can not be completely isolated from the benefits to psycho-emotional health.  This, in turn, can not be completely isolated from changes to average patterns of interpersonal behavior.  ‘Average’ is the key word here.  It does not mean that an enlightened yogi will not continue to become furious when triggered by specific, problematic cues.  It also does not mean that lots of zen masters, and teachers from other traditions, will not become sexually abusive when put on an unrealistic pedestal by doting students (I am not intending to imply victim-blame with my wording here).              

The point is that lots of areas WILL improve, even as certain others do not.  Just because enlightenment does not fix everything or eliminate all negative thought/emotion, we should not abandon or stigmatize discussion about the partial way it does fix lots of relative things.  In my opinion, this stigmatization has occurred within pragmatic dharma, and anyone attempting to deny this is fooling themselves.  I believe that this may be a result of scar tissue left over from the “Actual Freedom scare,” aka “the first great schism of the DhO.”     

Path attainments DO might improve mental health.  They DO might improve conduct.  They just are not a complete guarantee of the perfection of these things.  I think it’s about time we start regularly acknowledging the subtle yet optimistic nuance of all of this.  There is more to enlightenment than the ‘wisdom’ of ‘seeing how “I” tick.’  It actually does improve 'how "I" tick.' It has been helpful to me to remain openly optimistic to the possibility that the insight process will help me improve my self and my life.  It has also been helpful to follow conventional methods of improvement as much as possible.  I hope that others can feel empowered by this sense of hope in a realistic and balanced way.  They may not always find this type of inspiration in some of the ways insight is talked about on the DhO.  That is my main point.

It is important for people (particularly newbies) to know that they can might gain psycho-emotional healing and other types of life benefits with enough progression along the path.  It is important might be helpful for some people to have this type of hope.  It is also important for people to simultaneously have realistic models about how much rigorous meditation training is required, as well as to be willing to commit to therapy, medications, and other conventional means.  

Edit (1/17): at bolded and struck-through sections, for clarity, in relation to Chris's comments.

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
1/15/16 11:05 AM as a reply to Noah.
Path attainments DO improve mental health.  They DO improve conduct.  They just are not a complete guarantee of the perfection of these things.  I think it’s about time we start regularly acknowledging the subtle yet optimistic nuance of all of this.  There is more to enlightenment than the ‘wisdom’ of ‘seeing how “I” tick.’  It actually does improve 'how "I" tick.'

You need to provide some evidence of this, Noah, and it can't just be anecdotal or based solely on your practice and opinion. Otherwise what you are sayingis just more of the same. In fact, I'd argue we should all stop making grandiouse claims about any of these things that spiritual practice does or doesn not do because it just gest us in trouble. It's not validated or verifiable in a meaningful way.

There seems to me to be a naive assumption being made by most western buddhists that meditation is somehow always a positive influence in people's lives. It probaly is in many cases but I don't see any reason for that to be true in all cases or even in the majority of cases, and it might be misleading or even false.

JMHO

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
1/15/16 12:23 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Well, what's the appropriate standard we're going to use here? In my opinion the science on contemplative practices and their results is pretty much in its infancy. I am not sure it's a good standard.

Seems to me Noah's post is more a commentary on the culture of these baords. He lays it out pretty well in his OP. Prag Dharma was a cultural response to mushroom culture. The pendulum swung. Interestingly, a big part of Prag dharma's critique of mushroom culture was:

"Talk about your experiences and how your experiencing has transformed as a result of practice."

Noah seems to be saying that there is a bit of a taboo about making claims that developing wisdom has been connected in one's own experience to growth in ethical ways of being. I think this is true, there is a bit of that taboo in the culture of Prag dharma. I appreciate the call to reform our culture and become more open about our experiences when they confirm some kind of synergy between the three trainings rather than some kind of firewall between them.

In short-- all we've really got, I'd argue, at this point in the game, is our own personal experiences and the discourse we generate in sharing and reflecting on these experiences. It's more of an art than a science. And it always will be. When the science really starts to come on line and get solid in the next several decades, it'll still be the science of the art of contemplative practice ;)

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
1/15/16 1:25 PM as a reply to Noah.
Noah, 

Would you mind sharing the enlightenment model that you currently find most helpful?  

I've been playing with a metaphor -- that I'm sure I am stealing from somewhere -- that might possibly reflect my current thinking on the thing.  (I'm being as vague as possible, given how easy it is to be wrong about things that I am not seeing clearly at the moment.)  

First Path -- You find an object in a dark room.  You know it's special.  You're not sure why.
Second Path -- You realize that the object is a key of some sort.  But you don't really know what it opens, so you start searching around.
Third Path -- Holy shit.  You finally used the key to open a door.  You get it.  But you see that there are a bunch of other doors you now have to test.
"Technical" Fourth Path --  You've opened enough doors that you don't really feel the need to open anymore.  Maybe you do, but you feel done with the whole door opening thing. 
Traditional Fourth Path -- You've opened every single door there is to open.  There is no stone left unturned.  Complete and unsurpassed wisdom achieved.  

I think the problem of how much "suffering" one experiences after "Fourth Path" -- however you define it -- unfortunately is unique to the individual.  You might get it completely, but it might not feel great if you have a heavy load of conditioning/particular psychological characteristics that are still causing you suffering.  For that person, you might feel "done" opening more doors in the sense that you don't need to open anymore doors to "get it."  But because opening each door reduces suffering, and the suffering is still so acute for the individual, there's an incredible impulse to continue opening doors.  So, there's sort of a disconnect then between the wisdom being developed and the extent to which that wisdom -- as a practical matter -- has been applied to reduce suffering for that individual.  

Further, for that individual, the whole kit and kaboodle of morality training/teachings comes much more sharply into play.  How do you open up all of these other doors?  The techniques from these traditional teachings all become relevant.  It might be that for some personalities to really stamp out all the suffering they want to stamp out that they have to go "all the way" -- or at least much closer to traditional Fourth Path.  That means an extremely developed mind, well beyond what another Fourth Path person who "gets it" but is otherwise relatively contented due to their own personal situation might be inclined to develop the mind.  "Yes, the powers sound awesome, and it would be great to glimpse emptiness while staring into the eyes of an angry god in the Asura Realm, but I also might prefer to just play with my kid for a bit." 

I could be way off base with all of this, but it represents my current thinking about the thing.  Within my own personal development, there's no question that I've become more open and compassionate alongside the development of wisdom, but it's really hard to untangle what part of that is caused by any particular technique, morality, concentration, insight, or otherwise.  It's definitely worth exploring this issue further. 

Apologies for the rambling rant.  Hopefully there's something responsive to your original post in here!

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
1/15/16 2:07 PM as a reply to Chad Atlas.
@Chad:

Damn that model is amazing actually.  I thought I was going to disagree with it, but you accomodated for the 'traditional' 4th path as well.  I would add in that there seem to be major milestones between 'technical' 4th path and 'traditional' 4th path, but I think you did this by introducing the idea of opening more doors.  I would imagine that these doors are different for everyone.  However, the Mahamudra tradition does seem to have a map for these doors.  But it is looked at through the lens of samatha practice, and described via the ever-more subtle dualities that are seen through.  I don't know much about it at all.

I have been coming up on this idea echoed through others a lot lately: that getting to 'technical' 4th path does different things for different people.  Some people simply have not yet reduced enough suffering to call it quits, even if they do see the same things as the others who have reached this point.  

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
1/15/16 2:15 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
@Chris:

I think Jake responded better than I could have hoped to.  It will always be more art than science (until it isn't).  Anecdotal evidence is all we have.  I also think that there is a relative scale of 'grandiosity' to claims.  For instance, claiming to eliminate all emotions or all self-referential thinking might be ludicrous.  However, claiming to have greatly reduced the average instance of these phenomena in ordinary life scenarios (i.e. not dramatic fights with loved ones or other extremely stressful situations) might not be.

I actually like the idea of percentages, even though it is admittedly naive or overly simplistic: "I reduced this type of suffering by 5%.  Once again, this is not to suggest that there ever was, or will be, a being who has reduced ALL types of suffering by 100%, but rather that it is remarkable that such things are possible at all. 

Another interesting topic of discussion how awakening might be able to make things worse.  For instance, I have heard one highly awakened individual share that they have become less prone to dramatically negative emotions, but more prone to quick irritability.  Just throwing that in there.  

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
1/15/16 2:17 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
@Jake

Thanks, Jake.  You expanded on my point excellently.  I couldn't have said it better myself.  I like the word 'synergy' when describing the relationship between the three trainings.

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
1/15/16 3:16 PM as a reply to Noah.
Awesome.  I'm glad it resonated.  I do think it's a useful model for thinking about the development, at least.  

It's something that I've been wrestling with a bit.  It can be discouraging to see lots of teachers and practitioners disagreeing about what is required to "get it done."  From the perspective of one who has not "gotten it done," but can now see what is required to get it done, I am constantly trying to reconcile all of these competing views.  I imagine that's a fairly common challenge that we all face.  

The model helps me to understand how one teacher might have lower standards than another for getting it done.  (Hopefully I won't have to be able to have a week-long fruition from eight jhanas, while riding an elephant naked through dense foliage to get it done.  I just don't see my wife ever getting on board with me practicing enough to be able to do that.)  Ultimately, I suppose it's on the individual to decide how much is enough.   

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
1/15/16 3:09 PM as a reply to Chad Atlas.
Chad:

 (Hopefully I won't have to be able to have a week-long fruition from eight jhanas, while riding an elephant naked through dense foliage to get it done.  I just don't see my wife ever getting on board with me practicing enough to be able to do that.)


lmao.

Ultimately, I suppose it's on the individual to decide how much is enough.   


Exactly.  And I think each person is capable of being honest with themselves and saying "this... is enough," with a deep breath.

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
1/15/16 4:54 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
Noah made the the claim that practice can fix mental illness. I'm unable to agree with that. It strikes me as being a risky claim, and it is not provable as far as I know. I also think it might be a dangerous claim to make by way of leading people who really should seek medical/psychological help to avoid those choices and pursue the dharma instead. We've seen a number of cases of that here on DhO and on Awakenetwork. 

Otherwise, if the issue is reforming the DhO culture, I'm down for that  :-)

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
1/16/16 12:27 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Noah made the the claim that practice can fix mental illness. I'm unable to agree with that. It strikes me as being a risky claim, and it is not provable as far as I know. I also think it might be a dangerous claim to make by way of leading people who really should seek medical/psychological help to avoid those choices and pursue the dharma instead. We've seen a number of cases of that here on DhO and on Awakenetwork. 

Otherwise, if the issue is reforming the DhO culture, I'm down for that  :-)

I think the issue is certainty in either direction.  You can't prove that meditation can never cure mental illlness.  You also can't prove that meditation can always cure mental illness.  I would suggest more widespread attention to the greyscale.

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
1/16/16 4:21 AM as a reply to Noah.
Mathematical metaphors are interesting. In this thread I see several: 0, 1, continuum, variables, percentages, averages, axes, the numbers 1-4.

I'd suggest another -- statistics. It seems to me that there are statistical correlations between different practices, time practiced, etc and behavior, feelings, etc. One day perhaps we'll have enough data to define those correlations precisely for the quantifiable factors. For the non-quantifiable factors we still have the metaphor of statistics. E.g., I conjecture that time practiced meditating is correlated with faster return to baseline from negative acute emotional states.

On the other hand, statistics don't precisely resolve causality. Statistics don't provide a theoretical orientation. I believe it's still worth trying to  reason through the complex causality for how different practices may affect behavior, feelings, etc.

I believe I understand partially where Chris is coming from. The advertising problem for meditation is difficult. Giving a realistic yet empowering view is difficult. Even to address my idea: it's known that most people interpret statistics poorly.

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
1/16/16 11:24 AM as a reply to Noah.
I think the issue is certainty in either direction.  You can't prove that meditation can never cure mental illlness.  You also can't prove that meditation can always cure mental illness.  I would suggest more widespread attention to the greyscale.

I'm suggesting a different thing, Noah. Claiming that meditation cures mental illnesses is risky. Yes, we don't know with certainty either way, and it's very likely there are areas of infinite grayness around the actual story that will probably never be resolved. I grant that openly and freely. But... given that, I believe the best course of action is not to over-promise and under-deliver.

I believe I understand partially where Chris is coming from. The advertising problem for meditation is difficult. Giving a realistic yet empowering view is difficult. Even to address my idea: it's known that most people interpret statistics poorly.

Yes, Droll, that's good support for where I'm coming from.


RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
1/16/16 7:36 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
I think the issue is certainty in either direction.  You can't prove that meditation can never cure mental illlness.  You also can't prove that meditation can always cure mental illness.  I would suggest more widespread attention to the greyscale.

I'm suggesting a different thing, Noah. Claiming that meditation cures mental illnesses is risky. Yes, we don't know with certainty either way, and it's very likely there are areas of infinite grayness around the actual story that will probably never be resolved. I grant that openly and freely. But... given that, I believe the best course of action is not to over-promise and under-deliver.

Saying something 'might' happen is not a promise.  IMO, when in doubt, always go with truth.  No matter what course of action, there will be some that will take it in the wrong direction and choose to not read and interpret the English as actually written, you can't help that.  Trying to second guess that and then decide to say anything that is not your best approximation of truth is, IMO, a bad idea and just muddies the water even more.  However, it should also I think be considered that Noah used both conventional psychology AND unconventional psychology AND spiritual methods to make his progress.  As far as I can tell, he pretty much tried all likely methods in sight and milked them for what he could.  Personally, I think it was a good plan overall.  ;-P 
-Eva 


RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
1/17/16 7:55 AM as a reply to Noah.
a) People unconciously hum, talk and move a lot to channel their sufferings so they can be happy and healthy. With meditation that happens a lot less and that causes suffering to pile up within.
b)Meditation rises the sensitivity, also diseases come easier.
c) You can use meditation(wrongly) to channel your sufferings into physical, feelings or knowledge and claim it causes you feel better.
d) If something causes anger in you, its hard to hold it within, just a mere wrong thought can take it away considerably.

but: Suffering is caused by wrong thinking.

There are two ways. Thats what i have seen as not made evident enough, it can cause practicing wrongly and thinking you are doing it right because phenoma, insights and skills are saying so.

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
1/17/16 11:57 AM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Saying something 'might' happen is not a promise. 

What was posted by Noah:

Path attainments DO improve mental health.  They DO improve conduct. 

"Might" was not part of the original comment, Eva. I'd be much more comfortable with the word "might."


emoticon

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
1/17/16 4:51 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris, I agree with you.  I edited the OP.  My point is summarized in the largest bolded section.  This is something that has been personally helpful to me, and I would not have been able to make whatever progress I have made without a certain sense of open optimism given to me by several good coaches I have had along the path.  I would also not be able to be where I am, which is much more preferable to where I was, without plenty of medication, therapy, and plain-old, conventional life lessons.  I recognize that I am very young and there are many more life lessons to learn.  

My bottom line here is that people should have the opportunity to find skillful hope and inspiration, where possible.  Especially those who share commonalities with others who are further down the path.  

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
1/17/16 8:04 PM as a reply to Noah.
For we lesser realised beings....

I would like you to unpack "what are" the wisdom trainings that so specifically relate to path attainment

Just from your exterior veiw of the mushroom factory?

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
1/17/16 11:05 PM as a reply to Stuie Law.
Stuie Law:
For we lesser realised beings....

I would like you to unpack "what are" the wisdom trainings that so specifically relate to path attainment

Just from your exterior veiw of the mushroom factory?

My experience was just that continuous noting in daily life led to symptoms that matched the nanas.  Once this process started I continued it for a couple years in a row, daily, while working with a teacher.  As I completed full cycles of nanas, I began to suffer less.  I don't like to say more than that because I have no clue how it all works.  Does that suffice?  I did not intend to speak from a superior vantage point in typing this thread.  

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
1/17/16 11:23 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Saying something 'might' happen is not a promise. 

What was posted by Noah:

Path attainments DO improve mental health.  They DO improve conduct. 

"Might" was not part of the original comment, Eva. I'd be much more comfortable with the word "might."


emoticon

You said, "Claiming that meditation cures mental illnesses is risky. "  But Noah only said it woudl improve mental health, which is a MUCH lesser claim.  Improvement is not the same thing as a cure.  Improvement may or may not lead to a cure.   

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
1/18/16 12:15 AM as a reply to Eva Nie.
I'd say it depends on what mental illness we're talking about. Some categories (mild depression, maybe chronic anxiety) can definitely be eased. Less or no identification with self leads to less reactivity, or taking things personally. Maybe this kind of thing doesn't merit the label of mental illness; fair enough. Part of the mushroom culture's emphasis, other than not being attached to outcomes (such as path attainments), has been psychological. So people participating in meditation, on retreat and/or at home, are working towards improved functionality. Most pragmatic dharma people are hoping for that as well. What they end up getting if they persevere and go through the paths is beyond their imaginings starting out, but path attainments have psychological repercussions nonetheless. 

On the the other hand, certain other conditions require medical advice. Even with a thriving practice and no serious mental illness, a person can find some counseling to be a worthwhile accompaniment, and I've heard pragmatic dharma people (including me) advise combining practice with whatever combination of CBT, SSRIs, or other interventions might be helpful. 

In my own case, I exhibit far less reactivity than I did in the past, much less rumination, and on the whole I have a clearer, more realistic way of handling things. OTOH, though, I'm bogged down with some behaviors that frustrate me (internet addiction, anyone?), and I continue to procrastinate and have trouble forcing myself to do stuff I don't like (paperwork; bleh!). I find the goals I used to cherish mean nothing to me now. This creates problems with motivation, and I am perhaps more "dysfunctional" as a result. A person could very easily devolve into a couch potato and that would not be the greatest outcome. However, I don't expect I will because that's not what I want. 

So: no one can promise the moon with this practice. I am still happy in some mysterious way that I could not have thought possible. 

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
1/19/16 12:42 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
[...] I also think it might be a dangerous claim to make by way of leading people who really should seek medical/psychological help to avoid those choices and pursue the dharma instead. We've seen a number of cases of that here on DhO and on Awakenetwork. 

[...]

OK, this is an important topic as well, thanks for clarifying where you are coming from (or politely reiterating, I'm not sure, I'm not going to reread the thread to find out ;) ).

I agree this is a significant issue and I think it's also an element of DhO culture which could use reforming. In this particular case, there seem to be two ways our culture doesn't always serve those suffering from mental illness.

1) misleading promises about curing these symptoms. <---- with this one, I guess it's caveat emptor. But making a community effort to clarify and refine such claims, as Noah has done by redacting his OP, is certainly useful. Thanks for pushing back and then clarifying your position.

2) folks who relentlessly shoe horn every experience into the progress of insight system. <---- much more insidious in my view as it seems to come from a more dogmatic metaphysical ideology about what is important in life (and, I think, often from an underlying resentment with relative conditions). There is an element of Prag Dharma-identified culture that is less than pragmatic in its absolutism and reductionism. Interpreting every event and feeling within the Nana framework is dangerous, especially so when those emotions/thoughts are at the level of mental illness.

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
1/20/16 8:22 AM as a reply to . Jake ..
I agree this is a significant issue and I think it's also an element of DhO culture which could use reforming. In this particular case, there seem to be two ways our culture doesn't always serve those suffering from mental illness. 

1) misleading promises about curing these symptoms. <---- with this one, I guess it's caveat emptor. But making a community effort to clarify and refine such claims, as Noah has done by redacting his OP, is certainly useful. Thanks for pushing back and then clarifying your position. 

2) folks who relentlessly shoe horn every experience into the progress of insight system. <---- much more insidious in my view as it seems to come from a more dogmatic metaphysical ideology about what is important in life (and, I think, often from an underlying resentment with relative conditions). There is an element of Prag Dharma-identified culture that is less than pragmatic in its absolutism and reductionism. Interpreting every event and feeling within the Nana framework is dangerous, especially so when those emotions/thoughts are at the level of mental illness.

This is very well put, Jake, and I agree.



RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
1/21/16 4:04 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
I agree, the maps aren't perfect, and there are plenty of experiences that occur that don't benefit from shoehorning into much of anything.

I agree that meds can pragmatically be useful for some mental issues, as can meditation practice for some mental issues, as can other techniques and tricks, such as CBT, etc, and that meditation can also make some mental issues much worse, and it depends and is complicated, so simplistic statements are often not helpful, and careful, nuanced statements with appropriate reasonable qualifiers are often better in this rich and poorly sussed-out territory.

As to Fourth Path: every door, key, opener and everything else that arises knows itself as it is, where it is, naturally.

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
4/3/16 8:30 AM as a reply to Noah.
Noah:

Path attainments DO might improve mental health.  They DO might improve conduct.  They just are not a complete guarantee of the perfection of these things.  I think it’s about time we start regularly acknowledging the subtle yet optimistic nuance of all of this.  There is more to enlightenment than the ‘wisdom’ of ‘seeing how “I” tick.’  It actually does improve 'how "I" tick.' It has been helpful to me to remain openly optimistic to the possibility that the insight process will help me improve my self and my life.  It has also been helpful to follow conventional methods of improvement as much as possible.  I hope that others can feel empowered by this sense of hope in a realistic and balanced way.  They may not always find this type of inspiration in some of the ways insight is talked about on the DhO.  That is my main point.

It is important for people (particularly newbies) to know that they can might gain psycho-emotional healing and other types of life benefits with enough progression along the path.  It is important might be helpful for some people to have this type of hope.  It is also important for people to simultaneously have realistic models about how much rigorous meditation training is required, as well as to be willing to commit to therapy, medications, and other conventional means.  

Edit (1/17): at bolded and struck-through sections, for clarity, in relation to Chris's comments.


no meditation attainment will improve you as a human being at all. it wont affect your biology and wont magically change the way your physical brain works, which has evolved in a certain direction over millions of years. Your cells wont transform. we act the way we do because of our biology, we are happy because we have dopamine, depressed because we dont, etc. We don't beat up our parents because it is in our genes to feel revulsion at that. Very unique and strange experiences happen in meditation, after trying for a while, but one absolutely cannot make bigger statements than that.  Afterall, you will have just as wild and 'deep' experiences after smoking dmt, so something being a real unusual experience doesn't count for much alone. Every few months out of the blue I ask myself about my meditation years and I have a real question and answer episode in my head. "Am I supposed to be an arahant or something?" "an arahant, yes it's funny that, I believe I am meant to be one, but as an unprovable thing with no practical uses it's not something that has any relevence at all in this world". That is nearly exactly the stream of thought I have every 5 months or so.


Say you had the most wild dreams every night of your life where you were a king in an alternate universe, a fantastical place more real feeling  than this one. But when you wake up and you are, you are an ugly moron nobody who nobody likes. You wouldn't go around telling everyone to respect you because you had experiences where you were a king, no matter how deep the experiences were. You know it would be pointless. I believe that as much as anyone can be an arahant, I am one, for what it's worth. But I bet even on this forum the reader of this post will be full of emotion. Skepticism, revulsion etc maybe one person feeling awe, I dont know, It doesn't affect me, I don't feel anything about it, I'm just impelled to write from time to time.


My perspective of enlightenment and attainments is that it's an investment for after you die, and has zero real effect on your current existence as a human being until death. This is in line with what i've read in the texts. This human life is the fruit of your past karma already taking place, you're fucked until it all plays out naturally, no matter what you do. Getting magic enlightenment superpowers in this life is absurd and breaks the rules laid out in the early texts. In my opinion it's rather easy to tell where the theories meet propaganda nonsense, like worshopping to buddha to bless your children so they get into university and shit like that, I believe special powers come into that.


I'm a professional with good prospects, but what will putting 'I am an arahant' on linkedin achieve? Or something like that? People would just think I was a social retard or weirdo or something.


Anyway, back to the original point. If you are meditating and part of your motivation is that full enlightenment as it is possible whilst still a living human is going to help the way your mind works, then I can tell you it doesn't help even an iota. Sorry I know it's a downer.  Getting your life in order, getting a good job, earning decent money, having property to call your own, that will help your mindstate more than enlightenment, if those are the benefits you are looking for. Hell, even stimulant pills are pretty good. Enlightenment isn't 1% as helpful as a stimulant.


For me there was no question of 'giving up' meditation when I was half way through. It only took me about a year of meditating 4 hours a day every day for a year straight after reaching the arising and passing away event, the kundalini or whatever you want to call it, or second jhana. I'm sure a lot of people will go "pfft, only a year from first path for fourth path..." but that's how it was for me. Hell, buddha's earliest followers went from nothing to arahant in a few months if you're into that stuff.

ciao

(ps. there's no 'might gain health benefits', swallow the truth, you wont gain any benefits. buddha still died of liver cancer or something)

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
4/3/16 9:14 AM as a reply to josh april.
You are a retard.

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
4/4/16 5:11 AM as a reply to Banned For waht?.
(Slightly edited...) 

Very strange. 

Josh, what's up? Disappointed in something?

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
4/3/16 7:10 PM as a reply to Banned For waht?.
Rist Ei:
You are a retard.

Rist Ei, Please do not engage in name calling. Consider yourself warned.
Thank you,
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RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
Answer
4/4/16 2:06 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Speaking solely for myself, I had anxiety my entire life until a psychiatrist figured it out about a year and a half ago and prescribed what many would think is an impressive medication for such things. I remember feeling like a super human after I had escaped it.

A few months later I had an experience of non-duality and what I believe was stream entry. After a few days I had forgotten to take my anxiety meds, and didn't realize it for a few days after that. I haven't had anxiety since. Instead I will occasionally get a feeling a bit like the old "someone walked over my grave" - a light shadow of the anxiety trigger that goes nowhere. It usually makes me laugh.

This is, of course, entirely anecdotal - but I will simply say that, after almost a year now since the non-dual experience, I still do not have anxiety. I consider it cured.

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
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4/4/16 6:12 PM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
@Stirling:

Awesome!  Haha I love evidence that backs up my views (as do we all).

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
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4/5/16 10:42 AM as a reply to Noah.
I don't think you could sell "mental health improvement" with meditation.
"Mental health" is very, very subjective and questionable.

However, there are lots of studies on the effects of meditation on the body and the brain.

Some found massive reconfiguration of the brain in people that have meditated for a long time.
Also the considered happiest person in the word is a long time meditator.

There are tons of studies on meditation reducing stress and the "fight or flight" response.

Finally, there are lots of studies on meditation and telomeres of every cell of the body (a strong marker of longevity).

While living longer is not directly relates to mental health, less stress and being happier are strongly correlated to it.

The big problem with meditation is that there isn't much data, support, etc, in our society. It doesn't have clear instructions like a drug has.
It's results are difficult if not imposible to measure.

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
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4/5/16 11:51 AM as a reply to Ernest Michael Olmos.
@Ernest:

A small collection of stories/direct experiences (i.e. this thing worked for these five people that I know) has always been good enough for me.

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
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4/6/16 7:43 PM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
From the research I've seen, psych drugs actually change the neuron density and connectivity of the brain over time causing you to think differently.  It may be enough for some to get back on track and then carry it forward without drugs in the future.  It seems to me that although many people start to realize they have a problem, they often don't have experience with being any different than they have been for so long and don't know how to get to something they have never experienced.  They don't even know were to start on how to think in a new way and may also have trouble believing that such an option even exists.  Meditation, psychology, and drugs can all help with that if done well but effort will also be needed.  Change rrequires effort on many levels.     

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
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4/9/16 11:52 AM as a reply to Noah.
To my mind a lot of conflict in the discussion about mental health (referring to western scientific psychology) and meditation practises results from mixing up both working method with reality.
Whereas in psychology theoretical models are first imagined and then proved empirically in an evaluating way, meditation insight in itself is "empty" and non-evaluating, but can be phenomenologically described and interpreted by the meditator in a subjective context.
Therefore we can't describe our own mental health state from an external point of view knowing accurate about all psychological mechanisms since if you are the person you are trying to describe your experience is influenced by these mechanisms.

Concerning the origin question:
I don't doubt that the beneficial causes of meditation, like reduced reactivity or enhanced clarity about feelings and thought patterns,
can be very helpful in the frame of a guided professional psychotherapy.
On the other hand, according to self therapy, the directions are opened in both ways based on the individual situation.
Maybe people with anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder benefit from concentration and insight and get centered, maybe they freak out about their reinforced thoughts. Maybe people with schizoid personality disorder or narcisstic as a special form will use meditation to continue cuting off unaknowledged parts of their personality.

I feel there is a huge range for meditation to be put in context and as much possibilities as that to enfold aspects of mental health as good as neurotic behavior.

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
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4/9/16 1:59 PM as a reply to streamsurfer.
@Julian: I agree with you, but I would add an emphasis on the universally beneficial nature of actual path attainments.

RE: A Re-balanced View of Enlightenment Models
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4/10/16 6:59 AM as a reply to streamsurfer.
I have different method than a psyho therapist.

The method i use(example) is when there is warm in a room, i can open the window, that opening the window would be a solution. But my focus is on sensations and urges and i cultivate these so i postpone the opening the window. Room and the possibility to open the window are a setup.

What a therapist would suggest me is to open a window. Therefore i don't listen therapists and hospitals. If i go there i would use the same method to whatever there is to cultivate.

This is warming up practice or gaining momentum. There of course is other stages where you do something in order to get to next point, like dissolving, taking away, separating. This is when you have substance circulating in body what formerly where sensations, now you can setup a cause for a sensation innerly.

Anxiety is an effect what has a cause what you can remove and anxiety disappears. But first have to cultivate that anxiety sensation in order to reach the cause. So get it the diference between meditation and therapy also diferent meditation methods you can do 10 years but if you don't do it right you don't gain faith in dharma and that you can do whatever you want to do limited to your wisdom. Also years doesn't matter, you tell me how many changes/shifts(and what kind of changes) you make in a month or weekly etc, so why i need to bother with drugs or special treatment. If i would then i get my treatment but that would be outside of the meditation but would belong to ordinary daily living stuff.

* i have no idea what methods are therapeuts using. What i meaning is the ways of a sanatorium style, massage, away from daily rythm, Carl Jung style etc. They can resolve blocks but i don't need cracking up my mind, i get it already, im stage two.