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Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground

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Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground curious 4/18/18 12:52 AM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Nick O 4/18/18 9:10 PM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Rednaxela 4/18/18 8:45 AM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground curious 4/18/18 3:46 PM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Rednaxela 4/19/18 7:42 AM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Andromeda 4/19/18 11:08 AM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Stirling Campbell 4/19/18 1:43 PM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground curious 4/19/18 2:58 PM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Andromeda 4/20/18 7:03 AM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Nick O 4/20/18 8:16 AM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Stirling Campbell 4/20/18 10:53 AM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground seth tapper 4/20/18 12:51 PM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Rednaxela 5/2/18 6:48 AM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Yilun Ong 5/1/18 11:23 PM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Rednaxela 5/4/18 8:00 AM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Janusz Welin 5/5/18 2:00 PM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground neko 5/5/18 2:06 PM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Janusz Welin 5/5/18 8:57 PM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Noah D 5/6/18 1:54 AM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Rednaxela 5/7/18 2:28 PM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground curious 4/20/18 3:35 PM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Daniel M. Ingram 4/20/18 4:07 PM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground curious 4/20/18 8:57 PM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Daniel M. Ingram 4/21/18 9:01 AM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Chris Marti 4/21/18 11:12 AM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground curious 4/21/18 4:09 PM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground seth tapper 4/21/18 4:33 PM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Chris Marti 4/22/18 10:25 AM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground curious 4/21/18 9:44 PM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Chris Marti 4/22/18 11:17 AM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground curious 4/22/18 12:26 AM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground seth tapper 4/22/18 10:55 AM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground curious 4/22/18 6:44 PM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Chris Marti 4/23/18 4:56 PM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground curious 4/23/18 2:31 PM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Nikolai . 4/23/18 7:42 PM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Chris Marti 4/23/18 8:53 PM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Tashi Tharpa 4/26/18 4:09 PM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Stickman2 4/25/18 5:59 AM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Daniel M. Ingram 4/25/18 8:16 AM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Stickman2 4/26/18 10:57 AM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground dave m 4/26/18 9:22 PM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Tashi Tharpa 4/27/18 5:54 AM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Andromeda 4/27/18 8:30 AM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Tashi Tharpa 4/27/18 9:24 AM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Stickman2 4/28/18 5:25 AM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Stickman2 4/28/18 5:27 AM
RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground Lars 4/28/18 6:47 PM
Bhikkus!  In the spirit of Martin Luther, I nail these seven theses to the door of the Dharma Overground.

1. Most advanced practitioners have mostly abandoned the Dharma Overground, without telling us, to go somewhere else. This reflects self absorption. This is not the Dharma. This is not the action of compassionate enlightened beings.

2. The Dharma Overground has forgotten that morality is the first teaching, and that morality is the last teaching. It has instead become consumed by technical details of meditation and attainments. This is not the Dharma. This is not the action of compassionate enlightened beings.

3. The Dharma involves following the eightfold path, not the one-and-a-half-fold path (momentary concentration and insight). The western take on Mahasi-style noting is not the Dharma. The promotion of a one-and-half-fold path is not the action of compassionate enlightened beings.

4. The four Theravadan paths have been empirically disconfirmed by the writings of many advanced western practitioners. Yet they continue to be used as a framework for evaluation and control of postulants. This is not the Dharma. This is not the action of compassionate enlightened beings.

5. Many advanced practitioners on this forum cultivate a strong identity view around their skilful practice, and then assert that skilful identity view in discussions with others. This is not the Dharma. This is not the action of compassionate enlightened beings.

6. The desire for an open Western-style graduate school style of Dharma education will be very difficult to realise. The key to a Western graduate school is that teachers are constantly pushed by the students, and are forced to adjust their ideas and co-create new knowledge together with their students. However, many advanced practitioners on the Dharma Overground do not believe they have anything to learn from students (unlike the Buddha, for example, who had to be pushed twice to allow Bhikkunis). This is not the Dharma. This is not the action of compassionate enlightened beings.

7. Everything else is fine. Daniel Ingram seems to be a brilliant scholar and meditator, and has made an enormous contribution to so many people. I highly recommend MCTB for initial insights and broad understanding of the meditation and insight. I’m sure MCTB 2 will be even better. Many advanced and intermediate practitioners on the forum have helped me and others enormously. My heartfelt gratitude for their advice and kindness. There are too many to thank individually, but my special thanks to Daniel and those still active here.

Also, I freely acknowledge that these seven theses demonstrate my own (i) residual identity view, (ii) pride, (iii) tendency to evaluation, and (iv) psychological defence mechanisms.  

But hey, obviously I'm not the only one! :-) 


Now I really don't want to discourage anyone.  All this is easily fixed.  If you are a junior meditator, just try to follow the eightfold path as well as following the meditation instructions.  And if you are a senior meditator - don't just aspire to be an arhat, behave like one!


... ok, back to trying to be in the moment, tasting the flow of existence.

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
Answer
4/18/18 9:10 PM as a reply to curious.
Hello curious! I'd like to humbly reflect on the following bulletpoint:

2. The Dharma Overground has forgotten that morality is the first teaching, and that morality is the last teaching. It has instead become consumed by technical details of meditation and attainments. This is not the Dharma. This is not the action of compassionate enlightened beings.
Most first time or beginner posts here seem to be asking for help with the technical details of meditation. These subjects therefore, appear often on this forum. In my experience, the techniques of meditation practice have greatly helped me expose the inner workings of morality. Insight has unveiled the magnetism of compassion. Not to say that I was in the dark before, but newly found wisdom has opened the heart to the mechanics of morality and how it is interconnected with the other two trainings, noble eightfold path, etc. In the cultural climate of the west, people seem to approach Buddhism through meditation first. I know I did and I'm sure a good number of people here did too. In our scatterbrained society, If you don't have at least some basic tools in your concentration and wisdom buckets, it's hard to see the truth of compassion and the moral beauty of the Dharma. Otherwise, you'd be looking at blind faith. And we all know there's enough of that going around. 

And to take it further, I'll ask you, what should people be discussing? Morality I feel is a slippery topic, more difficult to discuss and really should arise in discussion like inspiration for a song or piece of art. There's no forcing these things.

People are people and need to find their way through their own practice whether or not it is "the Dharma".  

Just my humble newbie two cents. All the love! 


RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
Answer
4/18/18 8:45 AM as a reply to curious.
Thanks for this curious.  i hope you don't mind if i respond.

1. There have definitely been some well-known and recognised posters on this site in the past.  But, as well as a few trolls, there are still a number of great posters.  I wouldn't give up just yet.  On the other hand, this weekend I joined a few subreddits like streamentry, buddhism, etc. and thinking they might be valuable tools.  

2. Thanks for the important reminder on morality.

3. What is the Western take on Mahasi noting?  What is this site doing wrong?

4. The four Therravadan paths = stream entry, etc?  Yes, i don't think many question that model.

5,  Yes that is surely an issue.

6. Proably true.

7.  Agreed.

Sorry i'm at work so i must look over my shoulder

with Metta

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
Answer
4/18/18 3:46 PM as a reply to Rednaxela.
Thanks Rednaxela. In my country we call your kind of answer playing a straight bat.  Lovely, and much appreciated.  It was good to get that off my chest. 

To answer your question about the western take on Mahasi-style noting.  I regard it as one-and-a-half path because it focusses purely on a skinny version of right concentration (momentary concentration) and right wisdom or insight.  I do understand that the theory is that achieving path moments will address the rest of what is needed, by cutting off various cravings etc, so the whole thing should work anyway.

However, the upper paths seem confused or uncertain in the prescriptions for achieving them, and this allows practitioners to drift through a wide space, without firm anchors in the dharma.  Why is this a problem?  Well, aside from anything else, navigating those upper practices seems to encourage skilful pride.  Without cultivating compassion to counteract that pride, there is a tendency for dualism to creep back in.  This is better than that.  I know more than him.  My experience of existence is different than his.  This forgets we are all a single field of consciousness (or if you like, our environment and other people are the sixth aggregate of our identity, storing up our karma and reflecting it back to us).  Suddenly there is evaluation and craving, and this leads to becoming and the whole mess of suffering leaks back in.

Rightly or wrongly, I see this again and again in advanced western practitioners of Mahasi-style noting - they are trapped in a cycle of becoming that was supposed to have been extinguished.  They may have access to a blissful non-dual existence, or even just the bare sense of being/not-being in that existence.  But they haven't crossed the river.  They haven't extinguised becoming.  They continue to suffer.

Thanks for asking!

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
Answer
4/19/18 7:42 AM as a reply to curious.
Yes, being at work and using the work mind, and knowing that i shouldn't be doing what i am, necessitates the staight bat you refer to.

I understand your points which i take as an enhanced #5.  Is this not why the Mahayan practitioners saw this as the lesser path?  Just a thought.

Anyway, there is lots of room for more compassion in the practice.  Can i relate a story on picking up a lunch hour coffee yesterday?  Anyway, i work in the financial core of Toronto and was walking through the undergrround to pick up a coffee.  I detected a feeling of uneasiness/tension in the body and realized i should be sending more compassion to the strangers walking here and there.  So i did that--and the result was instant relaxation and just a bit of joy.

with Metta  

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
Answer
4/19/18 11:08 AM as a reply to curious.
For why do you address only "Bikkhus" and leave Bikkhunis out? ;)

1. I think it is unfair to assume self-absorption of any advanced practitioners who have left or no longer post frequently. There may be many other reasons, such as a need to honor other commitments or care for others or simply attend to their own needs. Without self-compassion, it is impossible to care for others in a sustainable way. And there are still many wise, compassionate beings who do post regularly here, as well as those who are developing into wise, compassionate beings who have a lot of valuable things to say.

2. It is always good to come back to morality lest we overindulge in spiritual materialism. Insight does little good if we don't use it to continually refine our ethics. Do you have any suggestions for encouraging productive discussions about morality? In my experience, this is very challenging to do in an internet forum setting.

3. You are right that it is heavy on Mahasi since that is what a lot of the people here are into and it definitely has its uses, but there is still quite a bit of diversity here. In my opinion, that is one of the best things about the DhO--on any given day, I might read posts by people into everything from Thelema to Islam to mystic Christianity. There may be many paths up many mountains, but we all take a similar journey and it is so fascinating to peek at what others are doing along the way. 

4. The maps do have their uses but they also have their shadow sides, that's for sure. Personally, I have found it best to completely ignore the maps the majority of the time and just check in every so often. Frank Heile's model is my most recent favorite and I spent about 48 hours geeking out on it a few months ago before going back to forgetting models exist. In general I find it more helpful to regularly ask myself, "Am I getting saner and more skillfully compassionate?" If the answer is yes, then all is well and I keep practicing. If no, then it's time to troubleshoot. And of course development isn't strictly linear, but you should be able to notice a trend and in my opinion this is a more fruitful line of self-assessment (and one that is useful no matter where one is according to the traditional maps). 

(I assume you are being tongue-in-cheek about "control of postulants.")

5. I'm confused by this statement.

6. You are so right that the dream of graduate style dharma education will be difficult to realize, but isn't it a worthwhile thing to try for? Over the years here, I have definitely seen more advanced practitioners learning from those with less experience and agree it is a very good and important thing that should happen more often. What ideas do you have for encouraging more of this?

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
Answer
4/19/18 1:43 PM as a reply to curious.
I have noticed a change too over the last year or so.

When I first came here there was definitly a higher density of stream-enterer+ population posting regularly to lean on, and, having been pointed in this direction for that very reason, I am VERY THANKFUL that there was this venue where I could read and talk about my initial confusion and trepidation about entering the path (and suddenly having my world drop out from underneath me in a positive way) and some of the other craziness around that perspective shift. I am indebted to "what is", as the Advaitans would style it, masquerading as Daniel Ingram for this bounty.

In order to answer your points 1. and 5., I am going to endeavor, and fail miserably, to address what I feel you are seeing here as it relates to my own progress and increased seeing of things in Absolute terms vs. Relative terms. By this, I am referring to the "Two Truths Doctrine":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_truths_doctrine

Imagine for a moment that, instead of understanding that you lived in a universe full of separate things, people, time and space, you had an unshakeable seeing momentarily (and then, eventually, permanently) that in fact all things lacked any separateness at all, including the "self" you thought you were that was moving in this illusory separateness. What if you saw that what you are was ALL of this that seems separate, not a person. This is seeing the Absolute.

How might this effect your seeing of the illusory separateness of the Relative? What kind of repercussions would it have on how you thought of your "self" or volitional activities?

There would eventually be understanding that the "you" you were so sure was in control of it's life with it's likes, dislikes and "free will" had never existed. There isn't and has never been a real need to go out and "seek", or "do" anything - you never were in the first place. (Sounds like nihilism, I know, but that's a whole other conversation - just understand that it is as far from that as you can get.)

Again, assuming this true: Who is there to actively "do". Who is there out there to teach? What "you" are is already everything, and always has been.

You might notice eventually, as I have, that there is less and less literature that covers anything much beyond awakening/stream entry. Tons of stuff about practices and dogma, sweet FA about what day to day Arhatship is like. It makes sense - those who are qualified realize that it's pointless to bother, from the Absolute perspective.

So: onto my point. My suspicion is that, just as there was a roster of people bandied around who had left when I started here, so there will be names that will become less seen as you stick around, only to theoretically be replaced by others. What someone who has stable non-separateness (Arhat) does with their time still seems to be teaching in my experience, (based on two teachers I am fortunate to know and consult at this level) but they tend to let the requests for help come to them, and they are just as likely to be helping the supermarket check out guy as they are an earnest dharma student. They are more likely to answer questions that come up amongst students in person rather than seeking them online, just as the old Ch'an masters went to live on a hilltop and helped those that had the determination to climb the mountain (literally and metaphorically) and understand.

There is no "one" to blame here, of course. Nothing wrong happening. In fact, no "thing" happening, whatsoever. 

Happily a few of the long time posters and hang around. If you pay attention you can tell who they are by their answers. If you have a really difficult question, post it here, but maybe also send a direct message. There is link for doing this on each user page.

The other points are answered indirectly by the paragraphs above.

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
Answer
4/19/18 2:58 PM as a reply to curious.
Andromeda - there is definitely self-absorption at work.  But perhaps it is just my own!  emoticon  And fair cop on Bhikkunis.  Sorry!

To address your question and Nick O's point, I suppose I would like to see compassion, the paramittas and the eightfold path more to the fore. I appreciate that people come here for meditation advice.  However, I believe that those items I mention are part and parcel of the meditative approach. Just as we must learn to concentrate, we must learn, at the very least, generosity, proper conduct and compassion.  To me, these are also technical foundations of insight meditation. They are needed to calm the mind and weaken the grapsing and flailing reactions that prevent progress. I suspect stream entry is not possible without progress in these areas, and so they should be taught or at least discussed as part of meditation advice.

As a related point, there is no doubt the western take on Mahasi-style noting produces excellent results for some.  But we don't have a long history of studying its effects, or anything like the results of a randomised controlled trial.  If it were a drug, would it gain FDA approval?  Or would side effects and dangers see it rejected?  I don't know, but I think that it is wise to place more emphasis on generosity, proper conduct and compassion, as these should support and protect the practitioners as well as helping them to make better progress.  In the past, practitioners were supported by refuge in the Buddha, faith and prayer. Without these, they are quite exposed to the shadow side of no-self.  Perhaps those who make progress are those who are already accomplished in generosity, proper conduct and compassion, while those who run into trouble are weaker in those areas?

Stirling, thank you for your interesting point.  My first thought, was yes, you have a very good point.  But then I thought that this withdrawal into the moment reflects that form is emptiness.  Surely advanced practitioners would also see that emptiness is form, and this would encourage them to return to the village and reengage with the world?  And is this not further evidence that Mahasi-style noting does not lead to the end of the path?  But then I thought that even the Buddha contemplated not teaching, until he decided to help those that had only a little dust in their eyes, so perhaps it is reasonable to see advanced practitioners choosing to be pratyeka buddhas.  But then I thought, hang on, they were already engaged when highly enlightened and then decided to disengage - that seems weird, why would they do that?  Or maybe they have moved on to their own forum?  So my mindstream flutters on around this question.

Rednaxela - yes, perhaps this is showing that my own inclinations are moving back to Mahayana approach.  I am starting to question whether MCTB fourth path is worth it, as it seems more and more to me like it is probably a jhanic state that comes and goes, rather than true liberation from becoming and suffering.  However, I don't question the value of the earlier paths which clearly have marvellous effects (if some dangers of their own).

So yes ... maybe that's it.  Could my concerns arise because the predominant approaches on this forum only address the lower five fetters, and after that they deviate into achieving advanced jhanic states, which are mistaken for true liberation? That would explain a lot of the contradictions and uncertainties I have been struggling with.

Love to all.

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
Answer
4/20/18 7:03 AM as a reply to curious.
And how exactly would you like to define "proper conduct"? And whose idea of skillful compassion should we go by? And generosity of what, and to whom? Who should be the ultimate arbiter of these things? I'm playing Devil's advocate here, but you get the point. The Greek philosopher and religious critic Xenophanes said that if horses and lions and cattle had hands and could create works of art like men do, they would paint pictures of gods that look like themselves. The DhO is a collection of culturally diverse people from around the world with a broad spectrum of values. Not everyone will agree on these things and that's ok.

I totally agree with you that a greater emphasis on morality would be a good thing. But I think it's a really tricky thing to do well, especially on a public internet forum. People often react in a negative way if you try to bring it up, especially if they are just looking for meditation advice. When people do ask specific questions about these things, it leads to productive discussion. But people need to be ready to go there, it seems.

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
Answer
4/20/18 8:16 AM as a reply to curious.
To address your question and Nick O's point, I suppose I would like to see compassion, the paramittas and the eightfold path more to the fore. I appreciate that people come here for meditation advice.  However, I believe that those items I mention are part and parcel of the meditative approach. Just as we must learn to concentrate, we must learn, at the very least, generosity, proper conduct and compassion.  To me, these are also technical foundations of insight meditation. They are needed to calm the mind and weaken the grapsing and flailing reactions that prevent progress. I suspect stream entry is not possible without progress in these areas, and so they should be taught or at least discussed as part of meditation advice.

As a related point, there is no doubt the western take on Mahasi-style noting produces excellent results for some.  But we don't have a long history of studying its effects, or anything like the results of a randomised controlled trial.  If it were a drug, would it gain FDA approval?  Or would side effects and dangers see it rejected?  I don't know, but I think that it is wise to place more emphasis on generosity, proper conduct and compassion, as these should support and protect the practitioners as well as helping them to make better progress.  In the past, practitioners were supported by refuge in the Buddha, faith and prayer. Without these, they are quite exposed to the shadow side of no-self.  Perhaps those who make progress are those who are already accomplished in generosity, proper conduct and compassion, while those who run into trouble are weaker in those areas?

Love to all.

Andromeda put things nicely. I'll add that the amount of generosity and compassion I have seen on this forum has been enough to make a great impact on life and practice for myself and it appears to be the same for others. Often people are expessing deep gratitude for having found such a place to nurture their practice. A place to not be afraid to ask questions. A place to find people facing similar obstacles. We may take it for granted, but in the trolling cesspool that is the internet, this little oasis is a huge achievement. In this way it proves the power and efficacy of the Dharma. It seems trite to say, but It's very easy to criticize and project how things "should be" in a community. It is much harder to be the change we wish to see.  

And while not knowing what people are up to in their private lives, I haven't seen a single person here conducting themselves in a way that would make them morally unworthy of stream entry (IMHO). And not to state the obvious, but we must remember that there have been some very technically realized gurus in the past that have displayed less than proper conduct. Not to make any excuses!

I appreciate your concern, Curious and will be looking closer at my own conduct and moral practice. Much love! 

 

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
Answer
4/20/18 10:53 AM as a reply to curious.
curious:

Stirling, thank you for your interesting point.  My first thought, was yes, you have a very good point.  But then I thought that this withdrawal into the moment reflects that form is emptiness.  Surely advanced practitioners would also see that emptiness is form, and this would encourage them to return to the village and reengage with the world?  And is this not further evidence that Mahasi-style noting does not lead to the end of the path?  But then I thought that even the Buddha contemplated not teaching, until he decided to help those that had only a little dust in their eyes, so perhaps it is reasonable to see advanced practitioners choosing to be pratyeka buddhas.  But then I thought, hang on, they were already engaged when highly enlightened and then decided to disengage - that seems weird, why would they do that?  Or maybe they have moved on to their own forum?  So my mindstream flutters on around this question.

"Emptiness is form" does not mean that there are separate people or objects again, only that there is continuing to be surrounded by the illusion of separateness, and the illusory interaction with it seeming to "happen", but in reality there is nothing happening. The world of illusory separateness doesn't go away with the insight.

There is no-one to return to the village or reenagage, but also no leaving the village or not engaging. Agency and doership are seen through as illusory - it is seen that there was never choosing. So, there is understanding that it is unnecessary to teach "individuals" dharma, and yet there is the illusory activity of teaching illusory "individuals" dharma and great joy while the moment of illusion persists. Go figure. emoticon

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
Answer
4/20/18 12:51 PM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
I think that self identification is mostly a subconscious activity and that one can see through leprechauns controlling meat machines with the conscious mind, but still have lots of subconsious conditioning that causes behaviors and instances of self identification long after that insight is realized. 

In my own experience, it is all tied to nervous tension.   The more relaxed the nervous system is, the happier and more blissful the mind will be when not in a Jhanic state.  This is true no matter what level of insight into emptiness one has.  That said, really accepting emptiness makes it alot easier to relax! 

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
Answer
4/20/18 3:35 PM as a reply to curious.
Andromeda, Nick O

Thanks for raising those points.  Much for me to think about.  To have small, inadequate attempt at responding to your excellent points, let me say the following.  I guess proper conduct is mainly about not harming your own mind, however that is constructed.  Some of those things might be more absolute, in that they are about 'biological' features of our mind.  Others might be more relative, in that they are about the cultural and social context in which our mind has developed.

I would put sympathetic joy in the first category - for all of us it is important to take pleasure in others successes, to avoid feeling envy that leads to our own grapsing.  This seems fundamental to the structure of the mind and to the weakening of dependent arising. But I would put right sexual conduct in the second category, as it varies with cultural norms and is mainly about not doing things that you think are sneaky and harmful. Or maybe right sexual conduct is a mix of both, as some things that involve pain and abuse will always create suffering and will always be improper conduct, even if accepted by society. But others, such as truly consensual polyamory, polygamy and polyandry, only create suffering if you feel sneaky and wrong about it, or if they involve harming of others.

To continue ... maybe ill will would be in the first category (it is just basically harmful to ourselves), and generosity in the second (our concepts of valuable things are socially determined).

I also think Aristotle's theory of the virtues has something to offer here, in the theory of the golden mean, which is not unlike the middle way.  This says the virtue is a balance between two extremes, but not neccessarily the exact mid point. So courage is a balance between cowardice and recklessness, but it is closer to recklessness than cowardice. I guess I have engaged in harsh speech, but I suspect there is a balance to be struck between abusiveness and disengagement, and the mean of critical enquiry is somewhere in between. Not saying that I have hit the golden mean!

To come to Stirling and Seth's points - well, yes, great words.  On Stirling's points I guess I am still struggling with them, not from a point of view of intellectual understanding, but from a point of view of acceptance.  From my current perspective it seems to miss something or to be somewhat nihilistic.

- I could try to respond by saying that once the illusion of separateness is seen through, then 'others' became a part of 'ourselves'. So we should take care of them just as we take care of our form, feeling, perception, mind and consciousness.  And if we do not do this, it implies that a duality has crept back in to our thinking, and that we are not really liberated. But I realise the response will be that after liberation there is no need to take care of anything.

- I could try to respond by saying that while self, other, community are illusions, they are magical or even miraculous illusions, and to deconstruct them completely is to lose something that was worth having.  And the response will be that all those concepts from self to miracle to worth are empty.

- I could try to respond that we also need the ancient greek idea of eudaimonia, which we could roughly translate as saying happiness comes from flourishing according to our unique characteristics and skills. This could be characterised as an extension of the Buddhist idea of skilfulness.  Thanks to Buddhist concepts non-self and non-duality we could extend eudaimonia to other collections of aggregates, such as the community, or the environment we live in, saying that we should take care to help these flourish too accordingly to their unique properties.  I know that if identity is empty, then flourishing is also empty. I know that happiness from flourishing is redundant as liberation offers happiness independent of conditions.  Yet there still seems to be something inexplicably important about flourishing, as there is with love and compassion. And the response will that all this too is empty.

- Or I could give the Minbari response (Babylon 5 anyone?) and say that we are the universe's way of looking back at itself, and that we should try to do a good job of it.  And the response will be that although the writing is excellent, the costumes and makeup were too cheesy to be taken seriously. emoticon

The whole thing feels like an argument with a skeptic who is the master of the infinite regress.  It is a seductive argument, and hard to rebut, but it still feels like it is missing something.  And maybe that is why morality is recommend as the last training, to counteract the tendency to nihilism that can follow the argument from emptiness.

Maybe I can offer a challenge back.  If all these concepts are empty, and there is no need to do anything, why did the Buddha choose to teach?  

Yes, there is my challenge.  Can the account of liberation explain why the Buddha chose to teach?  And if it cannot, is it really the same liberation as the one achieved by Siddharta?

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
Answer
4/20/18 4:07 PM as a reply to curious.
Definitely some nice responses above.

Just curious what is going on in your own practice that occasioned this nailing on the door of the DhO? Was just reading a fascinating article on Martin Luther in The Nation.

1) I note that there is still a great and unusual collection of very accomplished practitioners here, but at this fleeting moment it is mostly a group that is content to offer skillful advice without much drama, to display great wisdom without labeling themselves as having some particular attainment, and to avoid drawing much attention to themselves. May this wonderful trend continue! It is essential to remember this is a volunary site. I would hate to see an "Awakened Beings Most Post on the DhO Model" of awakening: see point #4 below.

2) Much morality is on display here even if it is not explicitly called that. We help each other here, give to each other here, share with each other, and display compassion by doing so. This site is about morality, and part of that morality is generous giving of advice and support to those practicing various paths. Curiously, I see the vast majority of posts as displays of dana, compassion, and sangha. What additional specific moral aspects would help you? What is going on with you right now that is asking for more discussion of morality?

3) There are numerous discussions from across a wide range of aspects of the Noble Eightfold Path here, as well as other paths. Curiously, I often miss more focus on the two aspects that you say dominate this place, but to each their own. ;)

4) Debates about the maps are very old in Buddhism. Evidence for their being distorted so as to drum up business, one-up other traditions, enforce control, win favor with the court of the ruler, and the like are there in the original Suttas and not likely to go away anytime soon. The maps and the ideals have split Buddhism into numerous small factions and this began during the time of the Buddha and rapidly expanded afterwards. I see no way to make the DhO free of this, but hopefully people will learn and grow by watching the debates and by practicing to see for themselves what holds up on its own.

5) The phenomena of cultivating both relative and ultimate identities around spiritual accomplishments is much older than Buddhism and continues to this day. Like point #4 above, I have no idea how to keep the DhO free from this. As the last of the armies of Mara is related to these issues, I believe it is a standard part of the path. I feel we should allow space for people being tempted by these armies so that they can at least do so in a supportive environment, as there is a maturation process and learning curve that accompanies spiritual attainments, as we all get to see and learn from here.

6) I can definitely report that all of us learn from interacting with this community if we are here long enough regardless of whether we directly report that or not. The lessons we learn are not always the ones we wanted to learn, but learning definitely occurs. To me, this is a vast repository of data points of experience and perspective that has greatly enhanced my appreciation of the range of what is out there and a continuous stream of challenges regarding figuring out how best to taylor responses to people that are useful for something.

7) Thanks! Still a work in progress...

Again, what is driving this conversation today on your side? Recent insights? Specific needs? Whazzup?

Daniel

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
Answer
4/20/18 8:57 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Definitely some nice responses above.

Just curious what is going on in your own practice that occasioned this nailing on the door of the DhO? Was just reading a fascinating article on Martin Luther in The Nation.

...

Again, what is driving this conversation today on your side? Recent insights? Specific needs? Whazzup?

Daniel

Hey Daniel, thanks for your reply.  :-)  No, that article wasn't the cause.  I'll try to diagnose.

First, the things going on in my practice in the last month ... a new hard absorption, readily accessible at any time, clear and bright up through the forehead.  Seems both full and empty at the same time, equanimious but not equanimious - more just existing in the moment, intensely, but without being too intense.  An occasion of coming down the jhanas (or my perception of them) and having a sense of zooming in and out, then constantly receding, then a totally mind blowing rapture around 3rd/2nd for a full five minutes (my insight timer went off at the start, so I know it was 300 seconds start to finish).  Being woken up three or four times one night by what I thought was the dawn light, but turned out to be a diffuse inner light.  Moving off the cushion to practice mindfulness in life, with much feeling of fluxing body energy, and also a fair amount of joy and rapture. One occasion of this leading to my lying on my bed for an hour, just feeling my body twinkling. Cycling up and down without fruitions, obvious fear but this immediately welcomed without any concern or reaction.  Less obvious disgust and desire for deliverance, taking a few hours to spot and much harder to deal with.  Obviously a lot of that in my post.

Second, the coming to the end of my current dharma. I have made much progress with reading following by examination of the mind, to supplement concentration and jhana practice. I think there are hints of this approach in talk of scholar monks vs meditation monks, or delivery by mind vs delivery by wisdom, but I can't find any specific guidance.  Yet I think that is similar in form to noting, in that it creates momentary concentration, which can be followed by insight moments into the nature of the mind or reality.  However, fruitions (if that is what they are) have recently receeded in frequency, strength and relevance, and I feel that they no longer offer anything new.

Third, the intuition that most early dharmas probably come to an end at about the same point, and evolve into other kinds of practices that probably have more in common than the different early practices.  But feeling that these later practices are behind a curtain, just hidden from view.  Intuiting that this is because they tend to be linked to the tradition that they follow, rather than being seen as part of a universal dharma.  So, much frustration that I am trying to get at the universal underlying dharma to guide further practice, but I can't seem to get this separated from the prepartory practices specific to particular traditions.

Fourth, proximate cause was reading JF talking about the secret reformation of the DhU a few years ago, which seemed kind of ... furtive.

So, then I opened up my intution to attack the problem, and to deal with the dissonance I was feeling, and that was what came out.  Can't really say why. 

[Lightly edited for clarity after accidentially clicking Publish instead of Save as Draft]

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
Answer
4/21/18 9:01 AM as a reply to curious.
Alright, just to summarize through my mappy lens and reframe a bit, you report that you had lots of powerful concentration, tingling, rapture, bright lights during sleep, and what you thought might be Fruitions but not sure, then all that faded, now you are searching around exploring trying to find something and feeling that part of the problem is the community, teachings, your sangha, and the way the dharma has been transmitted is inadequate and that is where the problem resides. You feel that there are secrets hidden from you behind a curtain. You feel abandoned by teachers and awakened ones. You feel cut off. You feel isolated. You are experiencing much frustration. You feel dissonance and are now attacking what you believe to be the problem. You believe that somehow what you call the preparatory practices as you understand them are inadequate to the task. You feel called to some universal dharma that you yet feel is elusive, so you then start writing long posts about how the problem is with the DhO and those on it in some moderately grandiose way, in the style of Martin Luther, who was also moderately grandiose. I reflect those things but not in any mean way, just describing what is going on. Plenty of us have been in similar modes and reacted similar ways.

Said another way reflecting my quick internal summary of the process, which, done over the internet and by forum posting is not always perfectly accurate, but still: yet another ernest meditator crossed the A&P and into the Dark Night, is now trying to figure out Equanimity, looking outward critically rather than inward inquisitively, as is common. They have inadequate concentration and likely not sufficient practice environment such as a retreat, inadequate contact with sufficiently wise companions on the path or inability to believe that simple techniques could yield profound results, not yet quite to the point of just facing the insights into suffering revealed by insight practice in their own heart-body-mind-space, and are still projecting this outwards rather than just seeing moment to moment the clear and unpleasant sensate experiences of frustration, wanting, paranoia, searching, looking, discontent, restlessness, irritability, blame, projection, and the rest, all of which are normal Dark Night phenomena that nearly all of us who have crossed the A&P are very familiar with and had to learn to deal with in our owh heart-body-mind-spaces.

In short, I might suggest looking to the sensations that make up the core processes you are struggling with, those listed above, and add to the list of sensations to investigate things like anger, sadness, fear, bitterness, criticism, wanting, noticing when attention moves in or out, noticing the sensations that make up the urges to blame others for the sensations in one's body, noticing urges to blame the dharma for the sensations in one's body, noticing the motion of attraction and aversion to deep feelings in one's body, and just proceeding with those deep, profound, subtle investigations, turing the process inward to make those clear, all while also maintaining some sense that there is space around phenomena.

Sometimes proceeding eyes open yet with attention turned into the sensations in the stomach, chest, neck and middle of the head can be helpful, as going into the dark stuff with eyes closed makes some people lose perspective at times, though others do well with it, and you have to figure out which is best for you at each moment. It is hard in the Dark Night to turn the awareness back on ourselves, and easy to react outwardly on jobs, partners, teachers, friends, communities, teachings, society, and a whole host of other entities we somehow become convinced are the real problem, and we can easily miss that this might simply be a normal stage of meditative development and an opportunity to bring the simple, clear light of awareness to aspects of our own experience. 

Truly, I know of no higher or more profound teaching than the Six Sense Doors and the Three Characteristics. I have been behind many curtains for "secret teachings", and none are more profound than this one. This was that simple framework that I found most powerful for insight practices. It just requires honesty, subtlety, bravery, and perseverence. Mara's Armies await. When they attack, avoid lashing out at others. Instead, investigate within your fathom-long body. This is the teaching of the Buddha. This is the way of the Dharma. This is what has been practiced well by the Sangha.

Might check out this video. Might also do a lot of metta practice and the other three Brahma-viharas, starting with really feeling each of those in your own body carefully before moving outward. Don't underestimate these "preparatory practices". As plenty of my Tibetan Buddhist friends have said, if people really did the "preliminaries" properly and as they were designed to be done, they wouldn't need any of the more "advanced practices". The same is true of these practices here.

Best wishes in your practice,

Daniel

PS For those unfamilar with arcane units of measure, a fathom is equivalent to two yards, and thus is about the length of a person, in general terms.

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
Answer
4/21/18 11:12 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel suggested --

Truly, I know of no higher or more profound teaching than the Six Sense Doors and the Three Characteristics. I have been behind many curtains for "secret teachings", and none are more profound than this one. This was that simple framework that I found most powerful for insight practices. It just requires honesty, subtlety, bravery, and perseverence. Mara's Armies await. When they attack, avoid lashing out at others. Instead, investigate within your fathom-long body. This is the teaching of the Buddha. This is the way of the Dharma. This is what has been practiced well by the Sangha.

Thumbs up to this suggestion - big time. As I have said here on DhO many times, this is the practice that made most sense to me, the one I followed religiously and the one that brought the deepest insights. We can argue all day long about which map and view is the "best" or the most "accurate" but the results of the practice Daniel suggests are undeniable, and by many a long time practitioner here on DhO and elsewhere.

I would also like to mention, with the intention of being helpful, that nothing that can cause realization and insight along this path, large or small, can come from outward looking practices. The practice being suggested requires us to examine the very nature of perception - and thus existence.

I wish you the very best, curious.


RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
Answer
4/21/18 4:09 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Cool, thanks guys.  Just a couple of additional bits of info about stuff prior to the current month.

I have had big raptures before (although much shorter) and various energetic perceptions, but do not consider these to be fruitions.  I have had occasional profound insights in daily life, that feel like being struck like a gong, followed by a changed state (probably samatha). But I do not perceive these to be fruitions.

What I perceive as fruitions principally arise from concentration, followed by the close study of mind or body phenomena, followed by a shuddering build up of energy, followed by looking at the three characteristics, and on consideration of the third characteristic the mind kind of folds into itself in a discontinuity. I think the key is introducing the third characteristic, as this blows away the subject-object distinction and thus throws a spanner in the gears of the mind.  But I'm not sure. This is followed by a change of state which could be semi-catatonic, or open or spacious, or ferociously concentrated, or bliss waves, or some combination of those, depending on the size of the event. For the biggest of these events, it takes the mind 30 to 120 minutes to exit the post-event concentration phase.

The biggest of these events have been associated with profound-seeming insights into no-self (at the very moment I finished reading Daniel Dennett Consciousness Explained), no-self again (courtesy of reading Maharishi and following the instructions, and followed by a feeling of total depersonalistion or the complete death of the old personality), and then emptiness (courtesy of close following of the breath while doing TMI meditation, and seeing through to a very basic level of sense quanta).  But also all guided by MCTB descriptions and with supporting concentration practice. 

Also, my first experience of this kind of event was followed by some random super powerful bliss waves in the following weeks, the ability to resummon that discontinuity for a while, a 90%+ permanent reduction in angst (clearly the current month is an exception), and huge reductions in clinging to objects and people.  The lesser versions of these events are followed by bliss waves, but the lesser events and bliss waves have reduced in frequency and intesity. 

My uncertainty on fruitions is the lack of a perceived time gap. There doesn't seem to be a break in time, although there does seem to be a momentary discontinuity, or singularity, in the mind.

So my current angst is an unusual phenomena for me, and seems to follow the very large rapture. Also, it's not that I think something is being actively hidden, rather my frustration is being unable to find the way to work it out properly.  I can't seem to match up my experiences with the traditional approaches.  Also, I have the intuition that having more of these events will not lead to more substantive progress, so something else is needed now, perhaps working on fluxing non-duality in daily life.  My attempts to do this are increasing perception and creating some bliss and joy, but seem to be pushing me into the dukkha nanas.  Most of the rest of the diagnosis seems pretty accurate.

Anyway, this probably makes no difference to the recommendations. It probably doesn't matter where I am, but only what I do and I really appreciate the suggestions.

Nonetheless, I would be grateful for any comments on this additional information, to help me to orient myself.

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
Answer
4/21/18 4:33 PM as a reply to curious.
I will lay some straight dope on you.  What you feel as "angst" is just subconscious muscle tension.  Our bodies are giant coils of intense pain that we cause ourselves and then shove into the subconscious.  Each deeper layer feels more important and amazing and terrible.  When you have a rapture you release nervous tension in big waves.  It is the same as an orgasm.  After rapture the mind inhabits a new body with new more important, amazing and terrible feeling feelings and reads these feelings as angst.  Go get a 2 hour massage and you will feel alot better.  Go do something intense and physical for as long as you can stand and you will feel better.  The job now is to get the mind to be comfortable in this new body.   All the thoughts and feelings racing around in your brain are just a debris field from the raptures, ignore them.   You are not a little spirit at the control panel of a meat machine.  This is just happening and you are free to enjoy it. 

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
Answer
4/22/18 10:25 AM as a reply to curious.
Curious, if you're game, can you further describe, in as much detail as you can (meaning what did you see, hear, feel, etc.) the following experiences that you mentioned in your last post:

- profound insights (what kind, into what?)
- looking at the three characteristics (what is it that you actually experience at these times)
mind kind of folds into itself in a discontinuity
profound-seeming insights into no-self (another of the 3 characteristics, right?)
emptiness (how does thius appear to you?)
- random super powerful bliss waves
very large rapture

I'd prefer to leave the diagnoses to Daniel because he's way better at it than me but what you seem to be experiencing are repeated, powerful A&P events. This would explain the Dark Night-like symptoms you find yourself having, as Daniel described in his last comment.

Obviously, this is a voluntary. exercise I'm just trying to understand what's happening.

Thanks!

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
Answer
4/21/18 9:44 PM as a reply to curious.
Seth - awesome advice, thank you.

Chris - hell yes, I'm game.  I'll try to be precise but not too lengthy.   First some extra details and brief history.

1. Early adolescence: wrote an essay denying Cogito Ergo Sum, saying instead that all that could be claimed is that there are thoughts; had some interest in buddhism and the occult; had a vision of a giant head looking back at me from the end of my bed.

2. Young man: occasional sense of luminosity of the visual field, with profound feelings of peace and oneness. 

3. Next thirty years: trying to overcome dukkha through achievement. Plenty of achievement, but still plenty of dukkha. Working in a field that required high concentration and detailed analysis.  Also worked on concentration, broad awareness and a calm mind as part of martial arts.  Learnt to operate on a totally intuitive sphere to increase productivity.  Occasionally experienced spaciousness with visualisation of energetic phenomena.

4. Then back to buddhism and serious meditation in late 2015.  MCTB was an absolute watershed, but not the only resource I used. I learned to uncork piti, sat for 30 minutes at a time, visualised myself in the jhanas, strengthened some jhanas, read lots of dharma. The three big events I took describe took place over a year, in September 2016, July 2017, and August 2017.  After the July event I picked up TMI and increased sits to 60 minutes.  Sits are irregular, but reading is regular and mindfulness in life is increasing substantially at the moment.

5. Dukkha nanas have occasionally been present since the first event, but until this month only on a handful of occasions.  Life is utterly changed from the previous thirty years.  Even right now dukkha is fairly transient, even if sometimes obnoxious to others (sorry).  

Examples of Profound insights

a. The realisation that non-duality extends throughout boundless space, to the ends of the universe.  This occured before any big events, and tipped me into a hard spacious samatha (although I didn't know that at the time).

b. Here is one that I wrote up in September 2017. 
 
Over lunch today I was reviewing my notes on TMI, when I looked at my hand and realised that it was just a fabrication in my mind the same as the kitchen I was sitting opposite to - that there was really no difference at all.  Huge sense of insight and review with mild joy. Glimpsed the cat out of the corner of my eye, and she seemed to be the stripey neighbours cat rather than our own moggie. Further insight that sense perceptions were overlaid with not just symbols but also also stored memory fragments from the mind sense. Then got rapid shuddering/strobing/vibrating vision for the first time. Briefly quite intense, disappearing when I tried to examine it directly, but coming back occsionally in the periphery in weaker form.  As I reviewed how my mind was equally the hand and the kitchen, I got another surge of insight, this time it was that inherent suffering arose from overlaying sense perceptions with the false symbolism of a separate body, thereby creating an inherently wrong and thus unsatisfactory world view. I didn't notice a cessation or fruition with any of these insights, but I did have a semi-catatonic review period.  This time I was more ready, and went with the review and was able to generate the extra insights.

Looking at the Three Characteristics

I haven't done this for a while, so I will do my best. I look at an object, usually a mind object, and first try to see the property of one of the characteristics, to get insight into that single characateristic.  This is usually either non-self or impermanence.  This gives a mundane insight into that characteristic.  Then I try to overlay the second characteristic, to show how the first characteristic leads to and arises from the second characteristic.  This gives more mundane insights, but somehow more energetic.  Then I try to overlay the third characteristic in the same way, but the mind's capacity seems limited to the dyadic mundane insight, and when it tries to generalise this into a tradic insight, it just kind of wigs out and crashes.

Profound Seeming Insights into No-Self

Yes, one of the three characteristics. But in this case it is a supermundane rather than mundane insight into no-self.  This leads on to immediate realisation of impermanence (can't be permanent if it doesn't exist) and suffering (chasing after an unattainable goal) that seem to flow naturally from the realisation, rather than having to be summoned up through active analysis as described above.  There are a few more subtleties there related to dependent arising and clinging, possibly worked through at a semi-conscious level, but that is the core of it. 

Emptiness

All phenomena are just mental fabrications.  There is some external unknowable world, that generates things that create contact etc.  Our sensory cortex processes these into proto-mental objects, and our symbolic mind matches these proto-mental objects to preconceived ideas to fabricate concepts. We then react to these mental fabrications, but really they have no basis except some unknowable external stimuli and our our preconceptions.  This is the intellectual understanding.  But this intellectual understanding only became firm after insight, when I had a moment of direct knowledge that most of the things I thought were the world were just concepts spun up by my mind out of some shreds of sense data. They had no inherent content.

Random Super Powerful Bliss Waves

Sitting in an airline seat, or in a car, or walking, and having a dominating wave of bliss wash over me unannounced for 30 to 60 seconds. This is bliss rather than physical rapture or piti.  Have only had a few super powerful ones, and a few more that were less powerful.  Plus some milder bliss here and there.

Very Large Rapture

I also described one of these as a giant pulsating cosmic bliss wave.  But it is actually very much physical, and isn't really bliss but something different. You could describe it as an orgasm, but it isn't quite - there is only about 80% overlap.  I guess it is piti or second jhana. The very large one went on at full strength, and I do mean full strength, for 300 seconds.  Previously, I had them for 5 to 15 seconds, or maybe up to a minute in the biggest prior case (when driving, which was fortunately on a lonely road).

Hope this provides useful additional data.

[Lightly edited for typos and clarity]
 

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
Answer
4/22/18 12:26 AM as a reply to curious.
Update:

Daniel, that video, plus your comments and Seth's comments, have helped me enormously.  As you and Chris suggest, I can now see how to move my practice on via the six sense doors and three characteristics. Two things stood out to help me.

1. Seth's help in understanding the knock on effects of the explosive rapture.

2. The guidance on high bandwidth analysis of the six sense doors, including confirmation that Mahasi noting is only a recommended and not an essential preparation for this. I am able to cultivate this high bandwidth analysis (20 to 40 hz) from my current state.

Chris, Daniel, I'd rather not have any more diagnoses please. That will just risk feeding the beast.  Must. Not. Mention. Theravadan. Paths. emoticon

Now that I can process the rapture, and now that I have the extra guidance on high bandwidth analysis and the three characteristics, I have what I need.  Funnily enough, this is exactly what I was looking for - the universal dharma that seemed hidden behind the preparatory practices, but could in principle be accessed from my own different journey.  But perhaps it is not skilful to mention that !  Better make that view an early subject of examination.  emoticon  

Much love and many thanks to all who have engaged with replies, guidance, metaphors and reflections. 

Malcolm

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
Answer
4/22/18 11:17 AM as a reply to curious.
Curious, upon reading all your stuff this morning something strikes me as relevant here and that I ran into recently with someone else. I believe it may apply here, too. The 3 characteristics are insights that occur to the practitioner while observing phenomena with precision and depth. They arise in that way. Other paths to them are likely to provide intellectual understanding of one or more of the characteristics but not the deeply felt, soaked in "grokking" of them that the actual experience of observing and thus having the core realizations will provide. It's possible to get the order reversed which may lead to the direct realizations but not as efficiently.

The raptures and bliss you describe remind of what I said yesterday, which is that topic of which you have requested we no longer speak  emoticon

Your emptiness/non-dual realizations appear genuine and remind me of my own.

Okay, curious - no more Theravada diagnosis stuff from me unless you ask directly.

emoticon

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
Answer
4/22/18 10:55 AM as a reply to curious.
Universal Dharma = reddit/aww 

in all seriousness. 

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
Answer
4/22/18 6:44 PM as a reply to curious.
Seth.  Aww!  Too right.  I get it, but I'm not there yet.

Chris,  I'm not quite sure what you mean about getting the order reversed.  Can you elaborate?  In case it's relevant, I include some notes below from my August 2017 event, which came before the stuff on emptiness I posted earlier.

Also, just to skirt around the rule I set slightly, when you are talking about your own knowledge of emptiness, are you talking specifically 3rd nana?  Just a yes or no will suffice. emoticon

On the four paths: I am trying to avoid much discussion as it seems to lead to aversion/attraction leading to grasping leading to becoming leading to suffering.  On broad diagnoses: as Daniel says, these are pretty tricky over the web. They can wind up being more about frame of reference, or they may be both true and not true, or true today and false tomorrow, or revealing one view but not another, or nonsensical if you adopt a frame of agencyless.  I guess I want to avoid too much overlaying archetypes and narratives on events with no inherent meaning, as this creates mental fabrications that lead to aversion and attraction for all concerned.

However, it is helpful to talk about nanas more specifically, at a micro level, as is also Daniel's theme.  So specific identification of this is that nana (as you imply above), or expect this kind of experience to follow next, or this exercise helps at that stage, would be very helpful.

My experience of the nanas has changed a lot in the last month.  It almost feels like my path has been insight and relief of suffering first, nanas second.  Or M&B, A&P, Dark Night Yogi, A&P, Insight, Equanimity, Insight, Dukka Nanas, Equanimity, Insight, A&P, DN, A&P, DN (etc), Reobservation. Reobservation creates some suffering, but it is not me.  Can't quite line up these experiences with the POI.  Maybe that is what you mean about getting the order reversed?

Much love 



Notes from August 2017

Next bit of the practice log. 


I thought I had progressed further on Culadasa's stages that I had - it turned out to be just a good sit. More subtle dullness returned on the next occasion, and although I seemed to have quietened the narrative mind, other memory distractions arose. So I resolved to have stronger intention to concentrate on the breath and brighter mindfulness. That led to another good sit this morning.

After successful initial meditation and then body scanning I went to whole body breathing, then a little bit of connecting and close following.  And then closer following to decompose the breath into sense percepts.  And then ... oh!  The breath is empty.  OH!  Everything is empty!  Everything is just transient sensations that have no inherent content, and pass away.  OH!  We construct illusory forms and cling to them by applying names and symbols to them.  OH!  The body is just an illusory form the mind has created and clings to. The illusion feels hard where I cling to it (for some reason the right side of the head and back are prominent), but that is not real and that is not me.  Wow.  The whole world is like this, and the body is just as real and permanent as the wind. To cling to this illusory form is strange and harmful, but it is deeply embedded in the mind and will take time to unwind.  I am happy.

Then intellectually - there may be some real thing, but that does not stop the impermance. The real thing is still impermanent. Our attention is impermanent. Our sensation is impermanent. The symbols that we apply to sensations are impermanent. Our mind is impermanent and ever changing. Clinging to impermanent things is hamful.

Oh, and the theravadan paths are impermanent and empty too. Who cares. We should not cling to them.

I will keep meditating. I know these feelings will fade. That's ok, everything is impermanent, and empty.  For now I am happy and mildly joyous.

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
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4/23/18 4:56 PM as a reply to curious.
... when you are talking about your own knowledge of emptiness, are you talking specifically 3rd nana?  Just a yes or no will suffice.

No.

Chris,  I'm not quite sure what you mean about getting the order reversed.  Can you elaborate?

Sure - using one method we do vipassana practice as prescribed in MCTB and examine very closely and in great detail the nature of the objects we're experiencing and how those objects are created and processed by the mind. When practiced often enough and properly this will reveal the very nature of those objects - that they are impermanent, not us, and lead to dissatisfaction (suffering). These 3 characteristics arise in this manner as insights as the objects are penetrated by the investigation process.

In the second method we can decide to look for the 3 characteristics before we sit to meditate, and while we meditate we can examine what's going on and attenmpt to diagnose what we see as one of the three, or as the characteristic we're looking for at the time.
 
Method one presumes nothing and the characteristics appear as a natural part of objects as they are created by the mind. In the second method we presume the 3 characteristics are true (without necessarily having had any experience of them) and proceed from there. Method two can lead to side tracks because we might not know what we're looking for.

Method #1 - we find the characteristics after starting investigation
Method #2 - we assume the charcteristics and then investigate

I used method #1 throughout my practice, and still do on occasion. Method # 2 may appear to some to be a shortcut but I don't think it is.

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
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4/23/18 2:31 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Thanks Chris. Very helpful.

I do seem to have somehow applied method 1 through extremely intense study of the mind, via scientific and philosophical analysis. Then (maybe) again through Mararishi's Who Am I, and then again through TMI deconstruction of the breath. My description of directly examining the 3 characterists seems more like method 2 - it does something, but not nearly as powerful or enduring, it didn't start until I had experienced a big event, and doesn't seem to bring fresh insights.

So I have gone back to cycle more strongly, and wound up reobservation. But reobservation has been fuelled by having arrived via a slightly different and not very reproducible route (which some may discount, and that's fine). This had left me a bit stranded in the dharma.

I understand now, and can move forward.  Thanks again.

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
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4/23/18 7:42 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
@Chris’s post in the two methods.


I like Thanissaro’s take which seems to be method two and I riffed off it here: 

http://thehamiltonproject.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/the-yogi-toolbox-discerning-three.html?m=1


So remember those three perceptions. And that's what the Buddha called them, "perceptions": the perception of inconstancy, the perception of stress, the perception of not-self. He never called them characteristics. He never talked about three characteristics. You do a search for the term, "three characteristics" in the Pali Canon, and you're not going to find it. The Buddha's talking about a way of perceiving that helps you see through your attachments, that helps you see through your delusions about where you can find happiness, so that the question that lies at the beginning of wisdom — What when I do it will lead to my true long-term welfare and happiness?" — finally gets its answer in the skills you've developed. And part of the strategy in mastering those skills is to master the tasks that are appropriate to the four noble truths. That's what we're doing: We're working on those tasks so that we can handle them skillfully. We want to skillfully comprehend stress and suffering, so we can understand why it is that we keep feeding on these things, even though they ultimately lead to disappointment. That helps us develop dispassion for the craving that keeps pushing us in that direction, so that we can let it go. At the same time, we're developing the path that puts the mind in a position where it can do this without feeling threatened, until it no longer needs that particular position, that particular center. Then you can take that apart as well. Thanissaro Bhikkhu


RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
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4/23/18 8:53 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Let a thousand flowers bloom! I'm just partial to the language and the description in MCTB:

"The big message here is: drop the stories, find a physical object like the breath or body or pain or pleasure or whatever, and look into the Three Characteristics precisely and consistently! Drop to the level of bare sensations! This is vipassana, insight meditation, or whatever you want to call it. It is the way of the Buddhas. All the “opening to it,” “just being with it,” “letting it go” and all of that are quite important, as we will see later, but insight meditators must, repeat, must, look into the following..."

emoticon

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
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4/25/18 5:59 AM as a reply to curious.
It's a bit of a boys club too.

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
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4/25/18 8:16 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
"It's a bit of a boys club too."

@Stickman2: Noticing sensations as they are in the body and mind is a bit of a boys club? I may have misssed your meaning. What are you trying to say?

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
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4/26/18 4:09 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Maybe this is a 'both/and' rather than 'either/or' deal.

Seems to me that there can be a problem, though, when the three characteristics or perceptions are merely adopted as a philosophy, which definitely happens. I've sat through many sitting group discussions in which people essentially argued over whether impermanence was a sad thing or a happy thing (because appreciation of anicca can make life and everything in it more precious). No discussion of sensations or noticing the three Cs in real time. 

At this point, I generally believe:
(1) The mind will synch up with the three Cs whether you wisely reflect on them or not, with cascading effects on your experience.
(2) It is valuable to actually pay attention to the three Cs in a phenomenological way, such as noticing sensations related to disappointment when an absorption state ends, or paying close attention to the fading and disappearance of a sound.
(3) Reflecting on the three Cs as a macro reality in this life does have value. "This is bad/good, but it won't last forever."   

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
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4/26/18 10:57 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
@Dan. Well, seems that most people here are male, which also seems to be par for the course with philosophers. I'm guessing technical discussions, debates, and more likely contests, attract men more than women. It's maybe more friendly wrestle than hug here. Could be wrong, there you go, you're the man with the site data.

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
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4/26/18 9:22 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
"It's a bit of a boys club too."

@Stickman2: Noticing sensations as they are in the body and mind is a bit of a boys club? I may have misssed your meaning. What are you trying to say?

A bit of a tangent, but I ran across this study that Willoughby Britton co-authored and found it interesting.  At least in modern mindfulness practices, gender may play a role in results.

Mindfulness class helped women, but not men, overcome 'negative affect' (medicalxpress.com)

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
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4/27/18 5:54 AM as a reply to dave m.
A bit of a tangent, but I ran across this study that Willoughby Britton co-authored and found it interesting.  At least in modern mindfulness practices, gender may play a role in results.

Mindfulness class helped women, but not men, overcome 'negative affect' (medicalxpress.com)

Some interesting stuff here:

"...For fellow mindfulness researchers, Britton said, the study emphasizes a benefit to accounting for gender. Had she not done so in this study, she would have reported a null effect on affect when in fact women benefitted significantly. At the same time, if the study population had been heavily skewed toward women rather than more balanced, she might have measured a stronger benefit that would have been improperly extrapolated to men."

(1.) Maybe bettter than accounting for gender would be an approach in which you figured out the styles (rumination vs. distraction) of the subjects. I'm male but my style runs toward rumination. There are definitely women who, upon finishing the glass, might head back to the dorm room to play "God of War" on the PS4, you know what I mean?

(2.) It's a single study and would need to be replicated before we could confidently assert that these gender-based outcomes are a real thing.

(3.) This is looking at about 41 hours of meditation on average per practitioner--not a very large 'dose.' That may be important to take into account. If males really do have more of an issue with distraction as opposed to rumination, it might take a bigger dose, so to speak, before they build enough concentration to start having some insights into how their minds work. The relief from the torture of rumination, by contrast, is starkly obvious and immediate.

In any case, the accusation that the scene here is hypermasculine is a fair enough point. As someone who is immersed in a more mainstream dharma culture as well--people in a sitting group who routinely play talks by, say, Tara Brach that are more about psychology and emotional regulation than sensate phenomena--I actually feel that the approach here brings some balance and clarity to what I'm up to. Stories can be very, very seductive; getting away from them, getting right to the sensate basis of things, if handled skillfully, is very helpful, it seems to me. 

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
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4/27/18 8:30 AM as a reply to Tashi Tharpa.
Really great point about gender. I'm a relatively masculine female, not prone to rumination,  who's spent thousands of hours distracting myself playing first person shooters, martial arts, playing other dude games/sports, etc. It frustrates me when studies ignore gender nonconformers like that. 

To be perfectly honest, the more typically feminine psychologized western dharma bores the crap out of me (though I've tried to ingest enough to keep things balanced). I like the DhO just as it is, hypermasculine, and was kind of disappointed when the camo went away a few years ago. 

And now it's lavender... /sigh

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
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4/27/18 9:24 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
Really great point about gender. I'm a relatively masculine female, not prone to rumination,  who's spent thousands of hours distracting myself playing first person shooters, martial arts, playing other dude games/sports, etc. It frustrates me when studies ignore gender nonconformers like that. 

To be perfectly honest, the more typically feminine psychologized western dharma bores the crap out of me (though I've tried to ingest enough to keep things balanced). I like the DhO just as it is, hypermasculine, and was kind of disappointed when the camo went away a few years ago. 

And now it's lavender... /sigh
Yeah, exactly. Even generalizing about style would be challenging. What if you have people who are 50/50 distraction-to-rumination and others who are 90-10? And what other variables, like pain aversion or self-discipline, really should be in such an equation as well? My sympathies to anyone involved in meditation research--it ain't easy.

RE: lavender. That was hilarious! :-D

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
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4/28/18 5:25 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
Really great point about gender. I'm a relatively masculine female, not prone to rumination,  who's spent thousands of hours distracting myself playing first person shooters, martial arts, playing other dude games/sports, etc. It frustrates me when studies ignore gender nonconformers like that. 

To be perfectly honest, the more typically feminine psychologized western dharma bores the crap out of me (though I've tried to ingest enough to keep things balanced). I like the DhO just as it is, hypermasculine, and was kind of disappointed when the camo went away a few years ago. 

And now it's lavender... /sigh

Every day I learn more about my fellow humans.

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
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4/28/18 5:27 AM as a reply to Tashi Tharpa.
See I thought that it was talking that chilled women out (generalizing) ....

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
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4/28/18 6:47 PM as a reply to curious.
On the subject of advanced practitioners who have vanished, does anyone know what happened to Pawel K/Angra Mainyu? Some of his threads still exist, but the vast majority of his posts (even those in his own thread) have been wiped, his remaining posts are blank, and his account seems deleted so those threads are largely unreadable. His posts were unique and interesting, it's a shame to lose that perspective.

I don't mean to stir up any drama, but does anyone know the circumstances of his exit?

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
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5/2/18 6:48 AM as a reply to curious.
Rednaxela - yes, perhaps this is showing that my own inclinations are moving back to Mahayana approach.  I am starting to question whether MCTB fourth path is worth it, as it seems more and more to me like it is probably a jhanic state that comes and goes, rather than true liberation from becoming and suffering.  However, I don't question the value of the earlier paths which clearly have marvellous effects (if some dangers of their own).

So yes ... maybe that's it.  Could my concerns arise because the predominant approaches on this forum only address the lower five fetters, and after that they deviate into achieving advanced jhanic states, which are mistaken for true liberation? That would explain a lot of the contradictions and uncertainties I have been struggling with.

Sorry was away on Shinzen Young retreat and returned only the other day.  Shinzen is interesting as he is both a Shingon monk and knows the Mahasi system well, having worked with U Pandita.   Though he must believe in the virtues of the Mahasi Method, modellling his own nothing system on it, Shinzen advocates the "being of service" path of the Bodhisatva.

He said that all 62 of us on the retreat could expect to acheive stream entry with proper application.  He also suggested that we shouldn't strive much beyond that.  He described one monk who meditated 20-odd years in a cave and seemed to have acheived full arahatship.  They called him the rubberman because it seemed you could pull his arms right off and he wouldn't be upset.  He is said to have kept repeating to Shinzen and his LA sangha that everything is Nama and Rupa (?), meaning form and conciousness.  Shinzen said he met another man of similar attainment and even weirder disposition.

And most interestingly, Shinzen talked several times about neurostimulation work he is doing on himself with the University of New Mexico.  The work involves a stucture in the brain (basal ganglia) that controls motivation.  So far he reports that the results are greater equanimity.  He is of the opinion that this could be a revelotionary advance in the Science of Enlightenment.

Metta  

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
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5/1/18 11:23 PM as a reply to Rednaxela.
Thanks Rednaxela! It will be great if you can share what you found valuable in the retreat and perhaps elaborate about what he learned from the basal ganglia experiments. All the best to your practice!

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
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5/4/18 8:00 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Yilun Ong:
Thanks Rednaxela! It will be great if you can share what you found valuable in the retreat and perhaps elaborate about what he learned from the basal ganglia experiments. All the best to your practice!

As i somewhat mentioned above, what was valuable in the retreat was:
* Shinzen's repeated insistence that we could all acheive stream entry 
* Shinzen's cautioning about going too far down the path
* the usefulness of long sits. he did daily 4hr sits with U Pandita on retreat in Australia and they were tough but very rewarding.
* the importance of having a meditation strategy.  I've worked with an outline of his See, Hear, Feel noting techniques for a few years but see the value of adding flavours of Rest, Flow and Spaciousness into the sense gates.  
* the idea that after contacting Flow and Spaciouness we should be aiming to connect to the source in all three gates (See, Hear, Feel).

About basal ganglia, he is v. excited.  He mentioned that people with head injuries who have impaired function lack motivation to even eat but otherwise exhibit many characteristics of full enlightenment.  He's started stimulating his own BG and says he's feeling greater equanimity.  I asked if he needed volunteers for further experimentation and he just laughed it off, cautioning that i could fry my brain volunterring for wacky science experiments (my words).  In terms of timeline, he expects it could take decades to roll this out to the general population but, as mentioned, he is very optimistic.  

I can't say much more without using Shinzen materials which are all public.  I'm currently taking one of his courses but not completed.

Metta

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
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5/5/18 2:00 PM as a reply to Rednaxela.
[quote=]He said that all 62 of us on the retreat could expect to acheive stream entry with proper application.  He also suggested that we shouldn't strive much beyond that. Hi Rednaxela, 
Question for you: can you clarify this part of your statement? I was the TA at the recent Niagara retreat. Is that the one you are referring to? I have worked with Shinzen for a number of years. I've never heard Shinzen say something like this. I've heard the story about the "everything is Nama Rupa" monk, who's name escapes me, but I've never heard Shinzen say not to go past stream entry. In fact, quite the opposite. 

If anything, for many years he could have been accused for assuming that path depth was the skeleton key to all of life's ills. 

Are you certain he said this? What day was this? I can also ask him when we next speak.

It is possible he was saying that many people who consider themselves fully enlightened and still need work on their ethics...?

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
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5/5/18 2:06 PM as a reply to Janusz Welin.
Hey Janusz! emoticon

Janusz Welin:
If anything, for many years he could have been accused for assuming that path depth was the skeleton key to all of life's ills. 

Interesting! Thanks for sharing. Could you tell us more about this and how / what changed, at what point, in Shinzen's teaching? I always assumed he was integrating IRL applications fairly comprehensively from the outset.

neko

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
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5/5/18 8:57 PM as a reply to neko.
Well, what changed, from my understanding, is development of wisdom. You'll notice this with a lot of liberation driven teachers. At some point they see that different states of consciousness don't pay the taxes or resolve certain psychological difficulties. 

In Shinzen's case, one specific story he tells is that he had a serious dose of procrastination. He needed to see a specialist for some time to break through that. I personally really appreciate when awakening focused teachers include some reality indicators in thier story. This deflates some of their power, but increases their relatability. 

Here is an article where Shinzen goes into his model for behavior change in depth. One quote, "(Of the five) ...notice that only the first two are direct applications of mindfulness."  In this case, Shinzen using the word mindfulness to describe both deconstructive (insight) practice and reconstructive practices (Metta, ethics etc.)

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
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5/6/18 1:54 AM as a reply to Janusz Welin.
Janusz:
I've heard the story about the "everything is Nama Rupa" monk, who's name escapes me, but I've never heard Shinzen say not to go past stream entry. In fact, quite the opposite. 

Taungpulu Sayadaw.  "Haunted Hill Senior Monk"

RE: Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of the Dharma Overground
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5/7/18 2:28 PM as a reply to Janusz Welin.
Janusz Welin:
[quote=]He said that all 62 of us on the retreat could expect to acheive stream entry with proper application.  He also suggested that we shouldn't strive much beyond that. 
Hi Rednaxela, 
Question for you: can you clarify this part of your statement?

Ya it was in Niagara Falls with you as TA.  i heard him say that stream entry was a reasonable goal for us to set but certainly not that we could expect to acheive it.   I can't remember if you were around when he said that.  He said there were stream enterers among us and two people (meditation teachers) outed themselves.   

 I suppose i should defer to Janusz, Shinzen's TA, but that's about what i heard twice.

Shinzen said it's better to live one day liberated then a long life in bondage with all the best normal skills and talents.    

thanks to NoahD for supplying the name of the Sayadaw.