MCTB vs Traditional Path Models

T DC, modified 3 Years ago.

MCTB vs Traditional Path Models

Posts: 389 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
To start, I know this is probably a tired, old topic, but I had a thought about it that might be interesting to discuss on here...

Generally speaking, when people on these forums (here and r/streamentry) discuss path attainments, there seems to be a divide between a 'traditional' vs 'MCTB / technical' approach.  Much of the split between 'technical and traditional' models seems to stem from questions on how to map the fetter model, and it seems as though MCTB is looked at as wholly a western spinnoff of traditional teachings.  However,...

I thought back this morning to Daniel's discussion, on here or in MCTB, of attaining stream entry and having it confirmed in a traditional Asian Theravadan retreat, presumably by traditional Theravadan monks - and then of having his taxi driver shout "come back for second".  I am not clear on the story, but the general idea seemed to be that what Daniel transmtted in MCTB, as far as stream entry is concerned, is far from a liberal interpretation, and comes straight from the horse's mouth.  

As for beyond stream entry, I cannot comment on whether the latter MCTB paths were approved in a traditional context, but it seems that at least MCTB stream entry is itself 'traditional'.  
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Ben V., modified 3 Years ago.

RE: MCTB vs Traditional Path Models

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The story I believe you mention is actually when Kenneth Folk left Burma after getting second path (confirmed by Sayadaw U Kundala) when his driver told him "you got 2, come back for 3." 

As for the paths comparisons, I can only speak from reading massively, not from experience. I've read a lot of Mahasi Sayadaw stuff, including his own writtings and translated discourses of his, including listening to Dhamma talks from Mahasi monks in past retreats. All this to say that stream-entry is defined exactly the same by Burmese masters (even in lineages other than Mahasi such as Mogok and Sunlun) and in MCTB and pragmatic dharma as a whole. It is only the later paths, it seems, that things get more complicated.So yes, stream-entry stays quite traditional here in definition. 

Here's an old thread on this topic: http://awakenetwork.org/forum/kfd-archive-wetpaint/12843-stream-entry-is-stream-entry
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 3 Years ago.

RE: MCTB vs Traditional Path Models

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Dear Ben V: a true and useful reply.

Yes, it is in later paths that things diverge, sort of, except that it is more complicated than that in practice.

Real six-sense-door awakening as just being those, a la Bahiya of the Bark Cloth sutta in the Udana, is still what it is. We debate the universality of the fetter models as equated with emotional models as they apply or don’t to those who get directly, clearly and at baseline what is meant by that sutta, but the awakening is still direcctly and straightforwardly what it is and still a darn good idea. It is true that certain Dzogchen teachings have less conflict with emperical evidence in this regard, though some of their models also seem to contain hyperbole for some practitioners.

It is a messy business on the one hand, and also an extremely rewarding, clear, amazing business on the other. As businesses to be in go, I would recommend it to five out of five dentists who chew gum, a joke you might have to be at least my age to fully appreciate.
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Ben V., modified 3 Years ago.

RE: MCTB vs Traditional Path Models

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Thanks for the response Daniel! I appreciate you mention the Bhahiya sutta since it's one of my favourite. Guess I'm headed in the right direction emoticon There is actually another sutta in the Samyutta Nikaya called 'Malunkyaputta sutta' that has the exact same Bhahiya passage followed by a commentary by a monk as to how to apply it (approved by the Buddha at the end of the sutta). The the monk's commentary makes Nibbana sound like something quite accessible to those who practice its straightforward instructions. I've been meaning to share it in this site actually but not sure which section. If there would be a sutta section perhaps. I'm fond of collecting sutta passages that have very pragmatic  and straightforward stuff on insight and liberation.

You're right I don't understand the 'dentists' reference so I'll look it up emoticon

Much regards,

Benoit
T DC, modified 3 Years ago.

RE: MCTB vs Traditional Path Models

Posts: 389 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
Thanks for the replies!  I suppose the interesting point to examine here is how traditional (southeast asian) Therevadan cultures view the path system.  

That Daniel's ( MCTB ) stream entry was confirmed in a traditional context is an interesting point (assuming this is correct?).  As well, the 'come back for 3rd' comment seems to indicate a more widespread cultural acceptance of the possibily and reasonablity of gaining higher paths.

This is interesting to me because when I see people expressing 'traditional therevadan' ideas on the forums, generally MCTB stream entry is looked at as far below 'traditional' stream entry; as with the other paths the 'traditional' standard I have been exposed to seems much higher. 

This is to say that the anecdotes presented above seem out of place with my perception of a 'traditional' view.  Of course this is a large and complex topic!
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Ben V., modified 3 Years ago.

RE: MCTB vs Traditional Path Models

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When you mention "traditional Theravadan" views I think it could be interesting, even important, to see if there are discrepancies between sutta and commentarial views. For example, from the commentarial view, a sotapanna is incapable of breaking the five precepts. The Burmese masters will usually adhere to this view. And if one strictly followed the five precepts before SE it is plausible that after SE they may interpret the fact that they adhere well to the precpts is because of SE, while in fact a part of this may be due to their habit to adhere to them for a long time even before SE. Or even believing the commentaries so strongly that a self-fullfiling prophesy happens. I could be wrong this is just speculation. 

Now if we look at the suttas, nowhere is it to be found that a sotapanna is incapable of breaking the five precepts (though this is said of the Arahant in the suttas). There is a sutta (don't remember how it's called, a king of protection/paritta sutta) where it is mentioned that when a sotapanna misbehaves in body, speech or mind, they are incapable of moving on without confessing it*. So the main point here is there is a hint that from the sutta point of view, a sotapanna can misbehave. 

So even in the traditional context there seems to be divergences. The commentarial version may be more strict as to standards and so teachers adhering strongly to commentaries will only confirm SE when these standards are met. Some traditionalists will even not, it seems, accept one reached SE if it was not preceded by hard samatha/visuddhimagga style jhanas. While others (like Mahasi monks) will not adhere to such standards. 
So the main point is that there might be not one traditional Theravadan standard but a few. 

All this is very much an intellectual rant for me as I have no way to confirm any of this by my own experience yet. So please take it at that level.

* The "confessing" part I have come to interpret this (again speculating here) that it may refer to the fact that sotapannas can't fool themselves anymore about the nature of what arises in their minds and behaviors. They see it more clearly for what they are. 
Yilun Ong, modified 3 Years ago.

RE: MCTB vs Traditional Path Models

Posts: 623 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
T DC:
To start, I know this is probably a tired, old topic, but I had a thought about it that might be interesting to discuss on here...

As for beyond stream entry, I cannot comment on whether the latter MCTB paths were approved in a traditional context, but it seems that at least MCTB stream entry is itself 'traditional'.  

All the time I've spent digging has led to no conclusive answers. There are as many cases where the description in sutta's clearly describes 'technical' approach and even declares it done to the tune of "the holy life has been accomplished", "what was to be done is done" etc.

Then there are those that declares fetters should/would/is gone...

Is it my bad English/understanding or the sutta's simply do not agree?

And SE: View of a permanent self - that is so problematic!! Who is to say someone who talked himself to such a disbelief overnight without any meditation has entered the stream or not?!

I have long decided to divorce attachment/clinging to all of these. Such is the most unnecessary, craziest self-inflicted suffering possible...
T DC, modified 3 Years ago.

RE: MCTB vs Traditional Path Models

Posts: 389 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
Bigbird:
I think i read the awakened network thread that Ben V has referenced, it appeared to me that those with attaintments weren't very open to this often asked question. On DHO Pal spent time questioning this subject and given his youthfull exuberence was able to pursue the subject, with a reasonable level of participation from those with attainments. There have been multiple other enquiries also. I had always hoped that those with attainments might be able come up with something new. But no, this disscussion never goes anyware. Daniel, Kenneth and those with attainments are clearly able to put forward an arguement to verify their position, as done. Ive come to accept their view, however when i leave the confines of the pragmatic dharma world and interact with different therevada monks i'm confused at how different they see things and how clearly they are able to put forward an arguement to verify their position. 

I remember going through a process with attainment systems where if i use this system i can be this or that system i would be that. At first it seemed useful but very soon i found that although i could fill the critera for an attainment, because i had travelled that territority without the details that explained it as such and did not recognise it as such without those details my understanding of what i needed to do for enlightment was all that mattered. So i missed out! Im hoping that the day will come where i get to see if i am correct. 

From time to time practishoners who completed MCTB 4 will briefly return for a post or two. Many mention what i regard as the same ongoing process. I think its pretty clear that after MCTB 4 theres an ongoing path. Is it the Fetters? Thats the way i see it. Why do some see the ongoing path while others don't?

Although the traditional-technical topic may not get alot of response, it would be great to hear more about this ongoing process. Sure its hard to give it the maps and stages treatment. I remember Ajhan Brahm said he's not perfect but he thinks maybe 80% done. So 4 decades as a monk for 80% done. That time frame makes sense to me. I'm pretty sure AB is considered an Arahant so does the Fetters Path continue after Arahant, maybe there's more to it.
I use the term Technical Arahant not to downgrade it, just to deal with the problem of having more than one possible type. Certainly MCTB 4 can potentally be dealt with in some cases, a couple of years. The ongoing path seems to resemble the Ajhan Brahm time frame. So isn't that the Fetters? I feel that if a meditator was not mapped and instructed as being done, they may complete MCTB 4 and still see a path to be done. Even when mapped as done, meditators are finding this path. Isnt this the Fetters? 

Has anyone managed to achieve both the Insight Paths and Complete Purification of the Energetic System? Are the Fetters gone? They must be, or the other possibility is that you then must purify the chakras above the head? Or? Anyone know? Ive seen these Chakras clear as day, i avoid reading about them as the subject is a subjective mess. Still its good to know their there.

Would be great to hear some feedback from Arahants about their Energetics. If its Purified is it dissolving inwards? Chakras all opened?  How do you find that experience? OR if there's still stuff coming up in the mind (defilements, fetters) where's it coming from if not the Energetics. Does anyone not cycle anymore, have fruitions, or reboot?  Not trying to hijack your thread TDC, but having Arahants identify an ongoing process after MCTB 4 may be interesting, and open up other ways of explaining the Traditional-Technical variation, though i think that those that i'm reaching out to have long since moved on.

Good post Bigbird, I can speak to this since I am claiming to be wholly and finally done with the path.

As far as MCTB is concerned, I have no idea how it might map to a more traditional path system, but it seems to work well for the purposes of gaining attainment in our western context.  As people above said, stream entry may map, but the other paths are more complicated - I find that this is also true in the context of pragmatic dharma; stream entry as an attainment seems well agreed upon, but not so with the other paths.

Beyond 4th path - I found it not to be another path, a fetters based path, but rather a continuation of the same; progressive attainment resulting the gradual overcoming of mental neurosis.  The path of attainment that began for me at stream entry ended far beyond 4th path with a final eradication of ignorance, and thus of suffering.

The fetters - I do not see the fetter model as having a literal application to experience; such a model was in no way demonstrated in my own experience.  Rather I see the fetter model as an example of a Buddhist explanation for phenomena which may be helpful conceptually, but does not bear out litterally in practice, similar to the 12 Niddanas. 

For one, a four path model does little to account for the complex and varied terain on the whole of the path, on which one ecounters many more than four path shifts.  Two, that certain well defined characteristics of experience fall away together at certain specific times based on attainment does not correlate well at all with my experience of a path in which the dominant experience was the gradual overcoming of ignorance via progressive attainment. 

Three, that the fetters would be eradicated in that specific order is suspect, given that the ultimate object of the path is both the destruction of the sense of self and ignorance - self and ignorance are bound as one, in our ignorance of ultimate reality we conjure a solid sense of self, so that one abandonment comes first and one last is highly suspect, at least in my interpretation.

Four, the assumption that the 10 fetters themselves are set characteristics which are eradicated on the path bears examining, given that fetters six and seven are based in the traditional religious idea of incarnation, and our supposed desire for it as such.  I would also argue that ill-will, sense desire, conciet and restlessness, although ultimately eradicated on the path, are not neatly dismissed at varying stages, but rather more gradually as we progress in attainment, and fully only at the final end of the path.

So, as an explanation for generally what happens on the path, the fetter model can be applied with some interpretation, but I see no literal application.

To answer your last question, I do not cycle, have fruitions, or reboot (fruitions / nirodah sampatti).  My experience of the cycles was greatly diminished following 4th path, and gradually faded into oblivion - though I can call up the experience, they do not occur normally.  The same is true of fruitions, the jhanas, and nirodah sampatti - all these expereinces gain power in relation to a background experience of ignorance, suffering, and neurosis, which has been fully eradicated.  As a result these experiences do not effect a change in experience that is significant in any way, though as with the cycles they can be called up as practiced previously.
seth tapper, modified 3 Years ago.

RE: MCTB vs Traditional Path Models

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In my experience, this is all nonsense.  The goal is accepting that you dont really exist.  Once you do that, suffering is obviously just simple sensation so you are free from it.

 There is no seperate entity that can attain anything.  Getting wrapped up in maps and stuff is reinforcing a model where some one - you - is doing something and going somewhere.  I have a hard time believing that helps, does it? 
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Noah D, modified 3 Years ago.

RE: MCTB vs Traditional Path Models

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Bigbird:
I remember Ajhan Brahm said he's not perfect but he thinks maybe 80% done. So 4 decades as a monk for 80% done. That time frame makes sense to me. I'm pretty sure AB is considered an Arahant so does the Fetters Path continue after Arahant, maybe there's more to it.



Do you have a source for this?  Not trying to challenge - this is extremely relevant/fascinating to me.  Or just a general memory where you heard it so I can search for it myself.
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Chris Marti, modified 3 Years ago.

RE: MCTB vs Traditional Path Models

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It becomes clear at a certain point that beginnings and endings are constructs of mind - mind likes certainty and security, thus the illusion that things actually have boundaries, start and stop, are created and destroyed. One of these illusions is the construct that there is a beginning and and ending to our development. The time someone says something like, "I'm done. I have achieved the end of development," is a time to be skeptical.

It's also clear as one traverses the path that at every juncture mind creates the illusion of completeness - "I cannot see another step, another change, another insight. Ergo, I'm done. Forever." And then another step, another change, another insight arises. We live most of our lives in ignorance and we invent endings, endings to everything, and that causes pain and suffering. Are we sure that being "done" is permanent? That being "done" means no further change, understanding, development or insight is possible?

This not to say that maps aren't helpful or that they're worthless. They can help and they can have value but we should be careful not to use maps in ways that they may contribute to our ignorance.

YMMV
Yilun Ong, modified 3 Years ago.

RE: MCTB vs Traditional Path Models

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Chris Marti:
It becomes clear at a certain point that beginnings and endings are constructs of mind - mind likes certainty and security, thus the illusion that things actually have boundaries, start and stop, are created and destroyed. One of these illusions is the construct that there is a beginning and and ending to our development. The time someone says something like, "I'm done. I have achieved the end of development," is a time to be skeptical.

It's also clear as one traverses the path that at every juncture mind creates the illusion of completeness - "I cannot see another step, another change, another insight. Ergo, I'm done. Forever." And then another step, another change, another insight arises. We live most of our lives in ignorance and we invent endings, endings to everything, and that causes pain and suffering. Are we sure that being "done" is permanent? That being "done" means no further change, understanding, development or insight is possible?

This not to say that maps aren't helpful or that they're worthless. They can help and they can have value but we should be careful not to use maps in ways that they may contribute to our ignorance.

YMMV
Wow... Beautifully written, Chris! *Deep bows*

A most dangerous statement, by the Buddha Himself, no less: "The holy life is lived. What's done is done."

I am pinning this eternal note to self of never uttering nor feeling that way. The feeling of completion itself blocks possibilities of further improvements. Perhaps it is understandable why an enlightened being would answer 80% till his deathbed - that is a great stance.
seth tapper, modified 3 Years ago.

RE: MCTB vs Traditional Path Models

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This is a very deep insight.  Thanks for laying out so clearly. 
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 3 Years ago.

RE: MCTB vs Traditional Path Models

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It might seem a paradox, but a bit of help resolving it:

It is true that one can investigate the sense doors so clearly and for long enough that eventually perception changes and all sensations are just perceived as they are. This has an endpoint and can become one's baseline. It is highly recommended. It has been verified today. One might reasonably say that one is "done" on that single axis if one has actually achieved this and had it hold up under life's challenges. It is a major, life-changing accomplishment, globally transformative in some way, and worth the effort.

However, that is only one axis of development. There are countless others. There are endless ways we can integrate that insight, to develop other skills and understanding, to grow in all the relative aspects of life. That vast multi-dimensional web of development has no obvious endpoint. Work on all of those fronts is highly recommended also. To say one is "done" on all of those essentially infinite axes of development would be absurd. Even the Buddha clearly continued to develop, learn and grow after his mighty awakening, as evidenced in countless stories of his life.

That help?

Daniel
Yilun Ong, modified 3 Years ago.

RE: MCTB vs Traditional Path Models

Posts: 623 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:

It is true that one can investigate the sense doors so clearly and for long enough that eventually perception changes and all sensations are just perceived as they are. This has an endpoint and can become one's baseline. It is highly recommended. It has been verified today. One might reasonably say that one is "done" on that single axis if one has actually achieved this and had it hold up under life's challenges. It is a major, life-changing accomplishment, globally transformative in some way, and worth the effort.


My very limited experience is that the above is factual. I have the unanswered question of whether working on the other axes together will be helpful or detrimental - it's a mixed bag. When working on stuff from other axes are bothering you, they will add on to your troubles thus slowing you down on technical path. Stuff from other axes, specifically those mentioned in fetters model - can help progress but going hardcore on them and banking on them to get you up the ladder will more likely cause slowing distress in many forms. I am pretty sure that the best way to go is work on them all sparingly, knowing one's limits. If suffering creeps beyond your threshold, use wisdom gained to tweak so that priority on gaining technical 4th path isn't affected. It is pretty clear that those stuff aren't going to magick away and that they are much easier dealt with as one climbs the ladder, with greater capacity to 'multi-task' smartly. This unanswered question has left my thought-sphere: the information available is rich but they deal with a species, not specced to individual. Efforts were made to unify that, the failure to do so comes from the source - individuality. Celebrate that information and use wisdom to tailor to the uniqueness in us all.

Sincerest Gratitude to your noblest efforts, Daniel. Looking forward to MCTB 2! emoticon
seth tapper, modified 3 Years ago.

RE: MCTB vs Traditional Path Models

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Maybe a knot is a better metaphor than a ladder.  When untying a hard knot, you have to pull a little here and a little there until the whole thing unravels.  It feels like we are desperately untying the knot to get to the truth in the middle, but there is nothing in the middle.  You get there and realize, damn I could have just been content the whole time. 
Yilun Ong, modified 3 Years ago.

RE: MCTB vs Traditional Path Models

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You're right Seth and thank you so much for waking me up to that! That knot will come off or not, but surely without me chaffing my hands. This insight is invaluable for those of us 'struggling' at it...

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