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Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipassan

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Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipassan Francis M. Crawford 1/2/18 9:31 PM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa matthew sexton 1/4/18 11:53 PM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa neko 1/3/18 4:07 AM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa This very moment 1/3/18 7:11 AM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa Ward Law 1/3/18 8:25 AM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa Change A. 1/3/18 8:06 PM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa streamsurfer 1/4/18 1:45 AM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa Noah D 1/4/18 3:51 AM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa Chris Marti 1/4/18 3:06 PM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa Tashi Tharpa 5/29/18 5:42 AM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa Daniel M. Ingram 5/29/18 8:24 AM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa shargrol 5/29/18 4:02 PM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa curious 5/29/18 5:59 PM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa Andrew McLaren Lewis 5/30/18 9:24 AM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa seth tapper 5/30/18 10:05 AM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa curious 5/30/18 2:29 PM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa Andrew McLaren Lewis 5/31/18 9:40 AM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa curious 5/31/18 4:01 PM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa Andrew McLaren Lewis 6/1/18 8:20 AM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa curious 6/1/18 5:04 PM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa Andrew McLaren Lewis 6/6/18 10:16 AM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa Tashi Tharpa 6/2/18 5:26 AM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa Chris Marti 6/2/18 10:17 AM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa Tashi Tharpa 6/3/18 6:20 AM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa Scott 1/4/18 6:25 PM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa Jinxed P 1/4/18 7:59 PM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa Scott 1/4/18 9:19 PM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa Che 5/29/18 5:12 AM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa Billy 6/3/18 11:12 AM
RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa Prabhakar Krishnamurthy 10/26/18 1:37 PM
 In a “Waking Up” podcast from a few days ago Sam Harris had Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on and at the very end of the show all three of them were laughing about how they had spent months upon months if not years in Asia trying Burmese style Vipassana practice and had gotten nowhere and it was only with Dzogchen where they felt like they really had a level of awakening. 

This was kind of a bummer for me to hear because if these guys couldn’t gain any insight using Burmese-style vipassana doing months upon months of retreats in India or wherever then what chance do I have with my 45 minutes a day and the occasional 7 to 10 day retreat?

 It also plays into a theme that I keep sensing where prominent meditators and public figures in the meditation scene talk about years upon years of practice with gradual or little or no attainment, whereas people on the Internet talk about gaining stream entry and second path etc. very quickly and seemingly easily. I still cannot understand this disconnect. 

RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa
Answer
1/4/18 11:53 PM as a reply to Francis M. Crawford.
Francis M. Crawford:
 In a “Waking Up” podcast from a few days ago Sam Harris had Dan Goleman...
Having listened (with interest and respect) to those two guys talking, I've always felt that each of them have a great deal of intellectual and philosophical inertia to overcome, perhaps way more than most people.

I'm sure this is not an original thought: the more thinking/knowing, the less feeling. The less feeling, the less discovery, the less insight.

I have had no formal direct pointing training, but the informal advise I've gotten from people who got to know me has been invaluable.

Don't give up! Practice well and talk to people. emoticon

Edit: strike through to acknowledge that I had the wrong 'G man'.

RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa
Answer
1/3/18 4:07 AM as a reply to Francis M. Crawford.
Sam seems to be unduly generalising from his own experience: Because something did not work for him, then it is not that good for anyone.

This was kind of a bummer for me to hear because if these guys couldn’t gain any insight using Burmese-style vipassana doing months upon months of retreats in India or wherever then what chance do I have with my 45 minutes a day and the occasional 7 to 10 day retreat?
I believe that the reasonable implication for you should not be that Burmese vipassana will not work for you, but that it might not work for you. So how is it working for you? Have you tried different stuff?

My takeaway is that there are multiple practices and what works for one person won't work for all. The guys joke about craving being a big
obstacle.  it doesn't matter how many retreats does or how many hours on the cushion if the person is not practicing correctly.  Something about the Dzogchen teachings created an opening for Sam.  What exactly, I'm not sure, but he seems much better for it.  I don't want to throw out the Burmese with the bathwater...

RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa
Answer
1/3/18 8:25 AM as a reply to Francis M. Crawford.
As I recall, Sam made a comment implying that his teachers were at fault. Something to the effect that no one ever mentioned that the experience of no-self was already available in each moment.

RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa
Answer
1/3/18 8:06 PM as a reply to Francis M. Crawford.
FWIW, Theravadan style meditation helped me in the beginning but then I gradually moved towards Mahayana, then Vajrayana and then Hinduism. I think that Hindu practices go the farthest, farther than Vajrayana (of which Dzogchen is a part). 

I would say that it's better if one tries different practices and stick with ones that work for the time being and then try some other ones. 

RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa
Answer
1/4/18 1:45 AM as a reply to Francis M. Crawford.
I haven't listened to the podcast but it might be that their burmese practice was a good ground work so to say.
This practice will inevitably sooner or later bring your focus on the dualistic split, but "you" don't really want to know that.
The disappointment in practice can be part of this process. So when they were confronting this dilemma, dzogchen could have helped them to let go of their cravings, their ideas or whatsoever. But you can do that with noting practice as well.
Practice should lead you to a certain point, but it is just a tool. Noting style is very effective, but in the end maybe it's more about how good your practice is. "Right effort" will bring results.

RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa
Answer
1/4/18 3:51 AM as a reply to Francis M. Crawford.
A few points:
  • "I guess I'm agnostic about the differences between mature meditators in these various traditions." - Sam Harris, 1hr 23m
  • I am confused about what part of Dzogchen is being discussed here as well.  I feel as if the discussion participants are a bit imprecise in their usage of the term "Dzogchen" & that their earlier usage of the more general term "nondual frameworks" is more appropriate.  Specifically, Sam Harris recieved pointing out instructions from Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche (detailed in his book).  These instructions would have covered the first part of Dzogchen, Trekcho.  The second part of Dzogchen, Thogal, is hyper-esoteric & never gets discussed in podcasts.  It is typically only practiced by the most advanced long-term retreatants.  So when I hear Dzogchen, I think "are they referring to Trekcho & Thogal?  And if they are referring to Trekcho, then the practices being referenced are likely not unique to Dzogchen, so why not just call it "nonduality in general" or "awareness- based practices"?"
  • Also, my current understanding is that in traditional frameworks, people who go on to get Dzogchen Trekcho transmission, first practice vipassana in the form of either tantric visualization or special insight emptiness practices.  These would preceed Trekcho.  You can't "cut through" to awareness until you have gotten to awareness, which is what vipassana does. 
It seems silly that Sam Harris keeps emphasizing how awesome Dzogchen is.  He did the same in the podcast with Joseph Goldstein.  We know Dzogchen is awesome.  But it doesn't apply until one has completed 2 or more cycles of the progress of insight & has begun to stabilize the experience of emptiness off the cushion.  This is nothing new.

What's to say any of those people are actually worth listening to in regard to how to meditate? Just askin'...

RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa
Answer
1/4/18 6:25 PM as a reply to Francis M. Crawford.
This has been a Dzogchen-heavy year for me, oddly sparked by a previous mention by Sam Harris in another podcast interview. Psychologists and neuroscientists tend to find the Dzogchen approach to be very amenable, since we've been thinking about the nature of the mind for most of our lives, albeit in a conventional way. Sometimes, we have to search around to find the approach that works for us.

That said, when I heard that they'd spent months and months doing Burmese vipassana wihout getting anywhere, it made me think that maybe they hadn't done much samatha, and so didn't have the necessary concentration to stabilize their insights, had other obscurations that weren't dealt with, or just didn't follow the instructions.

Sam's mentioned before that he got to the stage of equanimity doing Mahasi noting, but even after a year of total retreat time he never popped.

He then went to Tulku Urgyen who gave him the pointing out instructions and Sam realized no-self. However, would he have done so without having that year of Vipassana behind him? Also, the not-self that Sam realized didn't stick, it's not permanent, it has to be pointed out over and over again. 

Yes, I think the year of vipassana helped a lot. I tend to agree with Daniel that people can attain insights fairly rapidly once they find a working dose and a method that works for them, but there are also people who do these heroic, multiyear retreats and never quite seem to get all the way. When that happens, it's often either a lack of stabilization, some "stuff", or just an incompatible method.


Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche was fairly famous for being able to get people to realize rigpa through direct pointing out. Once someone has had that realization, he would say that they could recognize it immediately just by relaxing into the natural state. That relaxation and realization is stabilized by doing plain old samatha and vipassana techniques and by having done the training in them as a foundation. Did Harris do enough of them? I don't know. 

RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa
Answer
5/29/18 5:12 AM as a reply to Francis M. Crawford.
I am reminded of the man who went to a Diner, and being ravenous, ordered 6 pancakes. Still quite hungry he ordered some cream cheese pastry. Before he had taken a couple of bites he felt completely full. From then on whenever someone asked him he would only recommend the cream cheese pastry, and would let everyone know that the pancakes were a waste of money.

Vipassana is a very effective tradition whose efficacy has stood the test of time. My own experience with Vipassana was quite opposite, within my second day of the retreat I was experiencing jhanas, powers, insights, traveling to other planes of existence etc. One's progress depends upon how far away one is from the realisation, karmically speaking. One's practice in past lives matters. Anyone who blames the Guru for not waking sooner still has much to learn.

Vipassana could have very well been the karma cleanse he required to then benefit from Dzogchen. He might possibly conclude differently in ten or twenty years, when he's reflected some more.

RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa
Answer
5/29/18 5:42 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
What's to say any of those people are actually worth listening to in regard to how to meditate? Just askin'...

Bingo. 

Krishnamurti used to talk somewhat disparagingly about 'the clever ones.' Being articulate and having a sophisticated intellectual understanding of meditation is not the same thing as being an actual meditation master. The story goes that Dipa Ma's niece, who had severe cognitive impairments, simply followed Mahasi's instructions and attained stream entry.

RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa
Answer
5/29/18 8:24 AM as a reply to Tashi Tharpa.
I again offer this post, seen on a previous thread here.

Vipassana clearly can get a shadow side of blasting, cutting, destroying, disembodying, depersonalizing in some unskillful way. This is a feature becoming a bug, really. It can become indifference, become aversion, become life-denying, become too future-oriented. It was never meant to do that, but often people take it that way anyway and practice that way.

If one reads something like the Greater Discourse on Mindfulness, one will see that it is very broadly accepting, straightforwardly accepting. One recognizes what is going on as it occurs. One recognizes skillful and unskillful mind states as they are. One walks. One breathes. One sees what is there. One is mindful of it. This, done properly, has a very different feel than poorly done Vipassana.

As to Dzogchen and not-self vs Vipassana and not-self, both emphasize not-self. Both point directly to not-self. One cannot practice Vipassana properly without some skillful view of not-self, as it is one of the Three Characteristics, and perceiving the Three Characteristics of whatever sensations arise is the essence of Vipassana. Dzogchen often emphasizes a wider field of attention than some Vipassana practitioners take. Adopting a wider field of attention is part of the normal progression of attention as we rise up the stages of insight, but some practitioners have this notion they should stay very narrow despite the higher stages of attentional development naturally becoming wider and more inclusive, so instead they force these stages to be something they are not naturally, and thus miss opportunities for insight. Some Vipassana practitioners will stay investigating objects outwardly away from their sense of self, not investing the sensations that seem to be them, but this is an error also. Some Vipassana practitioners will stay very effortful and future-oriented, thus missing the key insight instructions to be mindful of this moment and what arises naturally in this moment, and in this way they may fail to make progress.

For these practitioners who have somehow unfortunately misinterpreted the instructions of Vipassana, or taken very early instructions to be the more advanced instructions, or failed to understand what Mindfulness and Investigation are about, or failed to develop adequate Tranquility and Equanimity, then they may do better when they encounter the Dzogchen teachings, which may counter their misinterpretations and errors. However, often they will fail to realize that the errors were theirs, and attribute their new success with Dzogchen to Dzogchen itself over Vipassana, not recognizing that Vipassana, done properly, ends up looking like Dzogchen, in that it is wide, all-embracing, complete, settled into the moment, clear about not-self.

Thus, it is true that Dzogchen teachings have helped a lot of poorly-instructed or confused Vipassana practitioners. It is also true that Dzogchen has confused a lot of people.

The downsides of Dzogchen are basically the opposite set of shadow sides to those commonly found in poorly done Vipassana, but they can be just as problematic. By taking a wide view, precision is lost, and without precision, many sensations arise and vanish without being clearly perceived or investigated. By settling for this moment being however it is, many will greatly lower their own standards, becoming accepting of a dull, vague, spaced-out mind that lacks the delusion-cutting power and sharp clarity of Vipassana. By taking on the Dzogchen teachings prematurely, before meeting the standard minimum requisites often advocated in the original tradition for rectiving those instructions, many practitioners will simply attempt to leap too high, beyond their abilities, into wide territory that they can't simultaneously be very clear about, and then either get frustrated or begin to rationalize that weak, premature, spacy practice is actually great practice. Basically, they develop too much Tranquility and Equanimity without enough Mindfulness, Energy, and Investigation, and also perhaps without enough Concentration.

So, it is largely a question of identifying imbalances, misinterpretations, and poor practice and then correcting these. Pragmatically, if one goes into another tradition and this accomplishes those goals, all is well. If, on the other hand, one attributes to the new tradition a salvation and efficacy not found in the other tradition, this is really missing something about that tradition and style, as both traditions, performed properly and by the right practitioner at the right phase of practice, can be extremely profound and very liberating.

RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa
Answer
5/29/18 4:02 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Such a good post Daniel!

Hear hear, great post.  

This puts me in mind of the Sona Sutta, in which the Buddha advises a bikkhu who had been a musician to follow the same principles in meditation - to make sure he didn't have his strings too tight or too loose - or in meditation, to make sure he wasn't too intense or too diffident.

Maybe those who were unsuccessful in Vipassana had their strings too tight, whereas those who jump straight in to Dzogchen run the risk of  having their strings too loose?  Then the right path depends on whether the strings need to be tightened or loosened.

{Edit: which I guess is exactly what Daniel is saying}


RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa
Answer
5/30/18 9:24 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I don't know much about Dzogchen but I know what Ken Wilber has written about it. He is a great fan of Dzogchen and other nondual approaches. He wrote that when you have done nondualism for a while you can experience the Witness. The Witness is your awareness that supposedly lies behind your thoughts and feelings.

When you have experienced the Witness then it can disappear. What replaces it is an awareness that you are everything you see. If you see a mountain you think it is part of you. If you look at another person you think that you and he are one. He calls this One Taste.

Do you think this is an accurate description of what happens with Dzogchen or any other nondual path? Ken seems to be saying that the Witness is the self, and you would only experience nonself with One Taste. This is in contrast to what Sam Harris has written, that anyone can experience nonself at any stage on the path.

RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa
Answer
5/30/18 10:05 AM as a reply to Andrew McLaren Lewis.
In my experience, self is a fabricated construct of the mind that it uses to comprehend and process narrative.   We all experience states in which the mind does not fabricate much if any self construct all the time - say when you are absorbed in an amazing IMAX movie or in the midst of a laugh.  We also experience states in which the mind does construct selves and we feel like those states are real and who we truly are, but that is just a simple and understandable error.  Any method of practice which reduces the processing and belief in narrative will open up more and more states of mind in which a self is not required and so not fabricated by the mind.

 

RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa
Answer
5/30/18 2:29 PM as a reply to Andrew McLaren Lewis.
Andrew McLaren Lewis:
... What replaces it is an awareness that you are everything you see. If you see a mountain you think it is part of you. If you look at another person you think that you and he are one. He calls this One Taste ...

In my limited experience there are two stages of this. The first, of which I have a little bit of experience, is that the mountain is just part of your mind. The second, of which I only have an intuition or intellectual understanding, is that your mind is, in part, just the mountain.

This looks like a play on words, but it is not. If you think of the five aggregates, even if you separate out the body, the mind is still made up of sensation, perception, formations and cognition. I think the first stage of non-duality groks that perceptions just arise in the mind, whereas the second stage groks that perceptions are the mind - there is no witness. (For accuracy, this view of perceptions would include the mind sense.)

So, saying 'you and he are one' is not quite right.  It's more that you are neither one nor separate (sounds like the Suttas!).  It is recognsing that the idea of oneness or separateness is just a category mistake.  Actually, all there is for us are the five aggregrates, and these aggregates make up the world including the mind and the 'self'.  You and he are both just formations in the five aggregates, and you can label some of these 'you' and 'he' but that is a stressful process that is good to drop. (Yes there is likely be an external world too, but all we see of it are our sensations.) 

As for the witness; I don't know for sure, but I looks like a provisional identification of self with formations and cognition, leaving sensations and perceptions 'out there'. Maybe it is useful as an intermediate step.  But as Seth says, non-self experiences can occur at any stage of the path. So it may be helpful but I wouldn't identify it as the only way to progress.

I hope this is not a completely useless comment. emoticon

curious:
Andrew McLaren Lewis:
... What replaces it is an awareness that you are everything you see. If you see a mountain you think it is part of you. If you look at another person you think that you and he are one. He calls this One Taste ...

I think the first stage of non-duality groks that perceptions just arise in the mind, whereas the second stage groks that perceptions are the mind - there is no witness.
This is a very interesting comment. Would you say that someone would have to do a lot of vipassana meditation to get to the second stage?

The reason I'm so interested is that decades ago I was involved in a cult. The guru said he was enlightened and that he had helped over 40 people to get to enlightenment. It was only a couple of years ago though that I read an account by someone in the cult of what enlightenment meant for them. I will quote below:-

"I was everywhere. I was the walls, the carpet, the furniture, the space between it all. There was one Being pervading everything, and I was that one Being. My body was just another physical object sitting in this one Being. Nothing limited me, nothing interrupted me, I was complete Being. I went downstairs to make a cup of tea, and I was not moving; instead my body was moving in the stillness that was me."

Some time after I read this I came across Suzanne Segal's book Collision with the Infinite. She wrote something so similar that at first I thought he had copied her account. Then I read what Ken Wilber said about One Taste and I realized that this is a form of enlightenment that many have experienced. It seems to be different though to Buddhist enlightenment. Maybe all of these people have got to stage 1 but they never got to stage 2.

RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa
Answer
5/31/18 4:01 PM as a reply to Andrew McLaren Lewis.
Andrew McLaren Lewis:
curious:
Andrew McLaren Lewis:
... What replaces it is an awareness that you are everything you see. If you see a mountain you think it is part of you. If you look at another person you think that you and he are one. He calls this One Taste ...

I think the first stage of non-duality groks that perceptions just arise in the mind, whereas the second stage groks that perceptions are the mind - there is no witness.
This is a very interesting comment. Would you say that someone would have to do a lot of vipassana meditation to get to the second stage?  <snip descriptions>... It seems to be different though to Buddhist enlightenment. Maybe all of these people have got to stage 1 but they never got to stage 2.

Andrew - I am not at the second stage, and only occasionally experience glimpses of the first stage, so take my replies with a grain of salt.

On your first question, I think practice changes a bit at the higher paths, moving towards awareness of the broad perceptual field and the nature of self within that field, and the reconstruction of the process of perception and identity. Daniel has really good descriptions and advice on this in various posts on DhO.  Most accounts seem to suggest that it takes years to progress, and so yes you could say lots of vipassana meditation is required. But also, in the Suttas, the Buddha says that you can achieve full enlightenment (or at least non-returner status) by going into jhana and then doing vipassana on each of the jhana factors in turn. The account of the final enlightenment of Sariputta has him doing this for all nine jhanas in succession. So that might be a faster process, although I haven't tried it.

As for your descriptions - I think these are simlar to the phenomenological descriptions that people give for the higher MCTB paths, but more like a glimpse than a permanent and deep seated change. Also they still have some identity view (the one being), so I would be tempted to describe them as a powerful stage 1 experience, but not the permanent change to stage 2 experience.  So, provided it is a permanent change, I think the stuff you quote is a high level of Buddhist enlightment. But maybe not the very highest level, where meditators can choose to have consciousness being independent of the idea of a being.

You may think the descriptions are a bit mundane, rather than some expected magical state.  But actually, this description of the phenomenology of consciousness is just one aspect of enlightenment. It is accompanied by many other things that are really sweet.  Also, the interesting thing about those descriptions is that they show the breaking down of dependent orgination. The Buddha clearly identifies this as the key - stop dependent origination to stop clinging to stop suffering.  

Sometimes we can freight enlightenment with so many expectations that we put it out of reach.  But the message of the Buddha is that it is a real thing that can be acheived by ordinary people with effort.  It's not magical, it's right there to be taken.  Even today.

Just my 2c worth.

So how far do you think people can get without vipassana? They could get all 8 of the rupa and arupa samatha jhanas, but not the 9th. They might be able to get to the Witness and then One Taste. One Taste seems a bit like a jhana that is beyond the 8th. Perhaps it is the same as what someone called an all-pervading Watcher. I'm just speculating here.

RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa
Answer
6/1/18 5:04 PM as a reply to Andrew McLaren Lewis.
Well, my opinion is that, as a general rule, you can't get anywhere without vipassana. If somebody has an insight or falls into a jhana, chances are there was concentration plus vipassana at work there, somehow, somewhere, even if it was not recognised as such.

... but there are lots of different types of vipassana.  If you mean Burmese noting, then there are many other methods you can use that don't have this approach, such as deity yoga.  But I don't think they are any easier, and in fact are probably harder.

RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa
Answer
6/2/18 5:26 AM as a reply to Andrew McLaren Lewis.
Andrew McLaren Lewis:
So how far do you think people can get without vipassana? They could get all 8 of the rupa and arupa samatha jhanas, but not the 9th. They might be able to get to the Witness and then One Taste. One Taste seems a bit like a jhana that is beyond the 8th. Perhaps it is the same as what someone called an all-pervading Watcher. I'm just speculating here.
The thing is, what happens when this vipassanaless samatha master gets up off the cushion and starts interacting with people and situations? The practicality of having had some insights into how the mind works as a process is indispensable, it seems to me. With insight practice, you can have a very low level of concentration and still be able to note 'ah, judging, judging' or 'anger, resistance' and thereby short-circuit the process of suffering/causing suffering.

RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa
Answer
6/2/18 10:17 AM as a reply to Tashi Tharpa.
The practicality of having had some insights into how the mind works as a process is indispensable, it seems to me.

Just to post some support for this hypothesis -- I've had many conversations about this with experienced meditator friends from other traditions and they're generally familiar with the way mind processes information. It's as if they've practiced some form of meditative investigation but didn't call it "vipassana."

RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa
Answer
6/3/18 6:20 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
The practicality of having had some insights into how the mind works as a process is indispensable, it seems to me.

Just to post some support for this hypothesis -- I've had many conversations about this with experienced meditator friends from other traditions and they're generally familiar with the way mind processes information. It's as if they've practiced some form of meditative investigation but didn't call it "vipassana."
I'm sure many meditators end up having insights naturally and without the vipassana label. However, I know from my own experiene that it's possible to completely neglect what's going on inside and to focus almost 100 percent of your attention on trying to merge with the visual field and dissolve yourself into the bliss of a unification experience.

The first time I did Four Foundations of Mindfulness practice at a Tibetan center I was utterly shocked just to feel the sensation of my leg on the cushion. I'm sure I had turned away from distractions a million times in meditation, but consciously at least, I don't think I had much understanding at all of the process of mind. I had never done any form of mindfulness of the body; it had always been about merging with the Self. 

My goal, prior to this, really had been to get as far away from the 'self with a small s' as possible. I had almost no insight into the process of how the mind works, even though I was regularly getting into very profound absorption states and had had a kundalini awakening in which my tongue was plastered to the roof of my mouth, the crown chakra opened, 'I' disappeared, etc. It could be that my experience represents a real rarity in terms of extreme spiritual bypassing, but for me vipassana was a revelation.

RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa
Answer
6/3/18 11:12 AM as a reply to Francis M. Crawford.
Francis M. Crawford:

I still cannot understand this disconnect. 

There seems to be some reinvention of the wheel going on here. As Santayana puts it, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

It's clear that in the suttas, meditation means samādhi, and samādhi means jhāna.

By the time of the commentaries, we find some meditators being described as samathayānika-s, while others are vipassanāyānika-s. Hence we see the emergence of the suddhavipassanāyānika or sukkhavipassaka, the "dry insight worker."

Finally, in the Kulayarāja Tantra (known in the Dzogchen tradition as the Kunjed Gyalpo), all such efforts are disparaged as obstructive:

"If you teach your disciples that they need to act, they will be afflicted by the disease of effort, they will not allow the self-arising wisdom to manifest and will fall into the defect of wanting to correct pure and total consciousness and to alter the fundamental condition."

Although all this development took place a long time ago, between roughly 500 B.C. and A.D. 1000, it seems that each generation must retrace its steps afresh.

My theory is that someone who learns a basic meditation technique with dedication and aptitude can experience the formless jhanas. The 5th jhana can be quite spectacular because they feel that they are in a vast void. They can go onto the 6th jhana and perhaps without going on to 7th and 8th experience the 'super-pervadiang Watcher'. This they think of as enlightenment. Other people call this 'One Taste'.

RE: Sam Harris, Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson on Dzogchen v. Burmese Vipa
Answer
10/26/18 1:37 PM as a reply to Francis M. Crawford.
Francis
I do not know about the podcast you are referring to, but Sam Harris has advocated for Vipassana.
In https://samharris.org/how-to-meditate/,  he says: "For beginners I always recommend a technique called vipassana..."
and Daniel Goleman has written about how he was an early advocate of Vipassana: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-i-helped-bring-mindfulness-western-world-daniel-goleman/

PK