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Sam Harris Podcast: Joseph Goldstein (January 31, 2017)

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This is the third appearance of Joseph on Sam's podcast. This time, they go much further in their discussion of the nature of awakening.
In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris and Joseph Goldstein answer questions about the practice of mindfulness. They discuss negative emotions, the importance of ethics, the concept of enlightenment, and other topics.
https://www.samharris.org/podcast/item/why-meditate

Previous exchange between Sam and Joseph:
https://www.samharris.org/podcast/item/the-path-and-the-goal
https://www.samharris.org/podcast/item/questions-along-the-way-further-reflections-on-the-practice-of-meditation-w

RE: Sam Harris Podcast: Joseph Goldstein (January 31, 2017)
Answer
2/6/17 8:32 PM as a reply to Simon T..
They answered my questions about the dark night and Willoughby's research, though I was pretty underwhelming. It felt like they were mushrooming us. Sam made it to equanimity on retreat with U Pandita, so I would really love for him to speak about the dukkha nanas properly. 

RE: Sam Harris Podcast: Joseph Goldstein (January 31, 2017)
Answer
2/7/17 9:22 PM as a reply to Simon T..
Joseph is so uncomfortable answering questions about his attainment!  It actually made me a little uncomfortable lol.  C'mon Joe, just give a percentage... do it. (Skip to about 3/4 through to see what I mean)

RE: Sam Harris Podcast: Joseph Goldstein (January 31, 2017)
Answer
2/7/17 9:42 PM as a reply to Noah D.
Do you have an idea of what his attainment is? I've been wondering.

RE: Sam Harris Podcast: Joseph Goldstein (January 31, 2017)
Answer
2/7/17 10:16 PM as a reply to Ward Law.
Wardlaw:
Do you have an idea of what his attainment is? I've been wondering.
According to Dan Harris his answer is "somewhere between 1 and 3."  When Vince Horn pressed Jack Kornfield about attainments in their Buddhist Geeks interview, Jack said an arahant might "just be an ideal." This makes me think the IMS founders use a 10 fetter model, not a perceptual one.  In effect, we know that Joseph Goldstein considers himself to possibly be a 10 fetter anagami, at least as a sakadagami.

Bill Hamilton worked at IMS and knew these people.  When he was asked where all the arahants are, his answer was "hiding in plain sight."  Based on reading his book, working with a teacher in his "lineage" (of sorts) and reading Kenneth & Daniel, I conclude that Bill Hamilton used a perceptual model, not a 10 fetter one.  Perhaps he meant that Joseph may have been one of these hiding, perhaps not.

That is all the data I have.

P.s. - In Sharon Salzberg's interview with Dan Harris, she acknowledges the difference between the Burmese and Thai models of enlightenment.  I suspect that this is actually the difference between the perceptual and 10 fetter measuring systems.  

Edit/P.s. 2 - Based on Joseph's hesitancy to declare the pervasive or all-encompassing nature of his perceptual field in the OP interview, I would say he does not line up with this bar, set by one of Daniel's descriptions of 4th path (so perhaps he is somewhere in 3rd):
5) There is nothing subtle about it: anything and everything that arises exhibits these same qualities directly, clearly. When I was third path, particularly late in it, those things that didn't exhibit these qualities were exceedingly subtle, and trying to find the gaps in the thing was exceedingly difficult and took years and many cycles. I had periods from weeks to months where it felt done and then some subtle exception would show up and I would realize I was wrong yet again, so this is natural and understandable, and if someone claims 4th as I define it here and later says they got it wrong, have sympathy for them, as this territory is not easy and can easily fool people, as it did me many, many times over about 5 years or so. However, 4th, as I term it, ended that and 9 years later that same thing holds, which is a very long time in this business.

RE: Sam Harris Podcast: Joseph Goldstein (January 31, 2017)
Answer
2/8/17 11:08 AM as a reply to Noah D.
While dangerous business, here goes:

A few years ago (so already out of date and things may have changed), I saw Joey G (I think he does well with a rapper name) discussing emotions and models with an accomplished Vajrayana practitioner/neuroscience researcher during a conference at BCBS on maps and neuroscience. It was about an hour-long discussion and went into depth, the sort of depth that is helpful for sorting out questions like this, though by no means definitive.

The Vajyrayana practitioner kept sitting there calmly and knowingly describing and explaining the luminosity of empty emotional energies of a wide range. He appeared comfortable in his realization, embodied in it, patient, and steady. I assessed that he was at least third path in my way of viewing the paths based on that, albeit limited, data. Clearly, there would be more I would have asked him if I wanted a clearer read, but that was the conclusion I came to at that time.

Joey G, by comparison, asked numerous doctrinal questions about the 10 fetters, if they might actually apply to daily life, with a look of genuine confusion and frustration on his face, like he was hoping someone would finally tell him. (It was the same look of confusion and pain that I saw on his face when he said during a dharma talk some years ago, "Hey, if there are any arahats in the room, you can have this place!" referring to IMS, with a look that I interpreted to mean he was weary of something in being up there running it.)

During the discussion at BCBS, the Vajrayana guy next to him was explicitly telling him the answers to Joey G's questions, smiling as he told him, and Joey G, for whatever reason, clearly couldn't hear it. I must say, the feeling of watching that was painful for me, like I kept hoping suddenly the ears and eyes would switch on, the insight would kick in, but it didn't happen at that time that I could tell.

Curiously, that was the same look of confusion I saw when I asked Joey G a series of questions about those same models and maps during an hour-long interview he was kind enough to grant me in 1998 at his house next to IMS, and he referred me elsewhere for further guidance. I concluded then that he had maybe second path. I concluded the same during that discussion Joey G had with the Vajrayana practitioner a few years ago.

I don't know enough about his current practice to say anything now, as it has been a while since I got to see him in person discussing these topics, and anything can change. I have learned in this business, that, despite the mind being quick to categorize, it is not always easy or accurate when it does so, and it takes a lot of good data to do it well, a sharing of terminological meanings, clear and well-defined language, and often a reasonable amount of personal contact to make it more accurate.

In short, buyer beware of my impressions, as they are just impressions, based on limited data, and could be wildly inaccurate. Further, there is some history there, as I am clealry not a fan of Joey G's attempts to impose a culture that has very limited discussions of attainments, so again, read my interpretations as they flawed work that they are.

Still, I must admit great gratitude, as without Joey G's work, however flawed, I would not likely have anything like the understanding of the dharma that I do, as Bill came up at IMS, which Joey helped found, and my first reatreat was there as well, which started the whole thing rolling, and Kenneth got his start there also, and Vince likely wouldn't be as into this stuff it those things hadn't happened and we probably wouldn't know each other, and then the DhO wouldn't likely exist, as Vince helped me found it, so, again, gratitude to Joey G for the foundational work of the DhO, which is weird irony, when you think about it, but causality is some strange stuff.

Also, I wrote MCTB in a response to IMS's not-talk-about-it culture, so thanks to Joey G for inspiring MCTB as well!

RE: Sam Harris Podcast: Joseph Goldstein (January 31, 2017)
Answer
2/8/17 8:45 PM as a reply to Simon T..
Thanks for the openess and honesty around this Noah and Daniel, it's really appreciated. 

From my perspective, the culture of not taking about attainment has deeply impacted the secular mindfulness movement. I'm seeing psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers -- etc. etc. -- get into mindfulness, but having absolutely no idea about the progress of insight  or the dark night. Then, they start using it with their clients, some of whom I believe will be quite talented, possible moreso than the instructor, and may get into difficult territory. Of course, if you look at where the secular mindfulness movement started and who have been the big influencers... 

So, to me, it's also an ethical concern. There's the notions of informed consent, as well as 'do no harm'. I'm also uncomfortable with things being hidden in our modern, Western, democratic, egalitatrian and information-rich society. 

I'm deeply grateful for Bill, Daniel, Kenneth, Vince, Michaelson and everyone else who has moved against that way of thinking. 

All this is true regardless of various people's attainments.

--

However, it does seem like there's a lot of confusion due to some poeple using the fetters model and some people using a perceptual model. Joseph clearly emphasises the notion of 'uprooting' in his talk with Sam. But, this is beyond my paygrade.

RE: Sam Harris Podcast: Joseph Goldstein (January 31, 2017)
Answer
2/9/17 6:06 AM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
In a practical sense, I think that people can have very profound insights, but all that freed-up mind/energy can feed old habitual patterns. There can be a kind of regression even after deep insights. (It's good to have friends that can point out how reactive patterns can re-grow.)

The interesting thing is that all the machinery for dealing with those reactive patterns is also well established, so in a wierd way, practice seems like it is doing itself. Reactive patterns fester and then sprout, natural wisdom sees it and cuts it down and learns something more (in the morality sense) in the process. 

I think this is where the "decades of practice" idea comes in.


The perception model of the fetters is at least internally consistent, with the-not-self-of-perception-itself becoming more and more evident as the paths proceed. The behavioral fetters model is a bit strange, because one needs to maintain that there is an "impure self" somewhere in the core.
 

RE: Sam Harris Podcast: Joseph Goldstein (January 31, 2017)
Answer
2/9/17 10:41 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Thanks for the honest response Daniel. That's very insightful. 

RE: Sam Harris Podcast: Joseph Goldstein (January 31, 2017)
Answer
4/16/17 8:59 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
While dangerous business, here goes:

A few years ago (so already out of date and things may have changed), I saw Joey G (I think he does well with a rapper name) discussing emotions and models with an accomplished Vajrayana practitioner/neuroscience researcher during a conference at BCBS on maps and neuroscience. It was about an hour-long discussion and went into depth, the sort of depth that is helpful for sorting out questions like this, though by no means definitive.

The Vajyrayana practitioner kept sitting there calmly and knowingly describing and explaining the luminosity of empty emotional energies of a wide range. He appeared comfortable in his realization, embodied in it, patient, and steady. I assessed that he was at least third path in my way of viewing the paths based on that, albeit limited, data. Clearly, there would be more I would have asked him if I wanted a clearer read, but that was the conclusion I came to at that time.
Daniel,

Do you remember who this vajrayana practitioner with a neuroscience background was? Seems like an interesting guy who's work I would like to look more into. 

RE: Sam Harris Podcast: Joseph Goldstein (January 31, 2017)
Answer
4/20/17 6:02 AM as a reply to Jinxed P.
I can't remember names for squat most of the time, but Jud Brewer thinks it was Zoran Josipovic, Ph.D

RE: Sam Harris Podcast: Joseph Goldstein (January 31, 2017)
Answer
6/1/17 7:16 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
With regards to the 'don't talk about attainments culture'... there is a Thai monk in the LP Teean tradition who currently resides at a center in Vegas (but frequents two other centers in Redding, Connecticut and Wenham, Massachusetts)--- his name is Achan Da Nilpant (I think he is the current head monk of the LP Teean lineage)--- the bio on http://reddingmeditation.org/our-teachers/#achan-da-nilpant reads thus: "... he studied under Luangpor Teean's personal guidance for 3 years and practiced patiently and diligently, step by step through the stages of practice until he reached the end of suffering..."
I think they go by the ten fetter model, but I can't say for sure... Maybe someone in one of those areas could scope him out.

Here are some short, simple dhamma talks... sounds really chilled out, pretty good english. http://reddingmeditation.org/multimedia-archive/dhamma-talk-august-16/#play-audio