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Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment

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Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Wet Paint 10/23/08 8:05 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment tarin greco 10/24/08 8:26 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Wet Paint 10/24/08 9:16 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Vincent Horn 10/24/08 9:56 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Wet Paint 10/24/08 10:25 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Wet Paint 10/24/08 10:37 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Wet Paint 10/24/08 11:11 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Vincent Horn 10/24/08 11:26 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Hokai Sobol 10/24/08 11:29 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Vincent Horn 10/24/08 11:33 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Vincent Horn 10/24/08 11:48 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Wet Paint 10/24/08 12:57 PM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment David Charles Greeson 10/24/08 4:54 PM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Wet Paint 10/24/08 5:29 PM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Wet Paint 10/24/08 5:31 PM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment tarin greco 10/24/08 5:34 PM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Wet Paint 10/24/08 6:46 PM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Wet Paint 10/24/08 6:52 PM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Vincent Horn 10/25/08 5:02 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Vincent Horn 10/25/08 5:10 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Vincent Horn 10/25/08 5:25 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Wet Paint 10/25/08 6:22 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Hokai Sobol 10/25/08 7:20 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Vincent Horn 10/25/08 8:36 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment David Charles Greeson 10/25/08 8:54 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Vincent Horn 10/25/08 10:19 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Vincent Horn 10/25/08 10:27 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Nathan I S 10/25/08 11:25 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Nathan I S 10/25/08 11:38 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment David Charles Greeson 10/25/08 11:44 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Vincent Horn 10/25/08 2:16 PM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment David Charles Greeson 10/26/08 5:41 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment David Charles Greeson 10/26/08 5:41 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Vincent Horn 10/26/08 7:27 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment David Charles Greeson 10/26/08 9:48 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment David Charles Greeson 10/27/08 5:57 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Wet Paint 10/28/08 5:08 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Wet Paint 10/28/08 5:09 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Wet Paint 10/28/08 5:13 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment David Charles Greeson 10/28/08 7:10 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Hokai Sobol 10/28/08 9:05 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Mike L 10/28/08 7:22 PM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Wet Paint 10/28/08 11:53 PM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Wet Paint 10/28/08 11:54 PM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment David Charles Greeson 10/29/08 3:23 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Chris Marti 10/29/08 4:09 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Wet Paint 10/29/08 5:11 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment David Charles Greeson 10/29/08 3:40 PM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment David Charles Greeson 10/29/08 4:19 PM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment David Charles Greeson 10/29/08 4:57 PM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment David Charles Greeson 10/29/08 5:15 PM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Lee G Moore 10/30/08 1:53 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment David Charles Greeson 10/30/08 5:38 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Lee G Moore 10/30/08 10:07 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Wet Paint 10/30/08 11:38 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Mike L 10/30/08 7:20 PM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Hokai Sobol 10/31/08 10:02 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment David Charles Greeson 10/31/08 2:43 PM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment David Charles Greeson 11/1/08 3:00 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Lee G Moore 11/1/08 3:47 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment David Charles Greeson 11/1/08 4:39 AM
RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment Chris Marti 11/1/08 7:00 AM
Author: buffduff
Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

In his Philosophical Investigations, the 20th century German philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein argued that "things which may be thought to be connected by one essential common feature may in fact be connected by a series of overlapping similarities, where no one feature is common to all" (from the wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_resemblance). His argument is anti-essentialist, in opposition to the idea that there are logical categories with exact boundaries, and criteria for things to be included in those categories, and that these criteria can be discovered. Instead, the anti-essentialist stance is that categories are "fuzzy" mental constructions connected by a series of overlapping similarities, with perhaps no essential criteria at all.

I think this anti-essentialist view may be helpful in determining the answer to the question "what is enlightenment?", and may also stave off a holy war as an additional benefit. emoticon If you seek the one true model, you are looking for the criteria that if-and-only-if one meets, then one is enlightened. But enlightenment seems to me to be more fuzzy than that. Some enlightened folks seem to truly have a limited emotional range, having "uprooted" anger, ill will, etc. Others seem to have truly realized the non-dual nature of everything in every moment, and that there really isn't any solid sense of self. Others are healthy and radiant.

The quest for the one true model of enlightenment--no matter the model you choose--could itself be seen as problematic from the perspective of family resemblances.

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
10/24/08 8:26 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
which enlightened folks do you know who have uprooted anger, ill will, etc?

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
10/24/08 9:16 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: buffduff

Not 100%, but I know a small number of therapist trainers and religious leaders who have done a damn fine job of uprooting these things.

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
10/24/08 9:56 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Yeah, this seems a bit sketchy to me. There is a vast difference, in my mind, between working on your psychological well-being and coming into a healthier relationship with difficult emotions then uprooting these emotions. The model that supports uprooting emotions, has at it's core a fundamental assumption that this biologically possible (which based on the current evidence appears not to be) and that it is something worth doing. The whole point of calling out these "limited emotional-range models" is to show that there is no benefit for us, as human beings, to limit the possible range of what we're capable of emotionally. Far from be freedom, that's a form of limitation. Imagine if you had uprooted anger, but then were in a situation where anger was the most appropriate response. In that case you wouldn't then be capable of responding appropriately. That isn't freedom, that's just stupid.

Now, I'm not saying that it isn't worthwhile to become more psychologically and emotionally mature, I'm just saying that this isn't the outcome of insight practice. If "enlightenment" is the fruit of the process of doing insight practices then some models are simply better than others at describing what that fruit is. The limited emotional range and limited action models are terrible, though in some complex way they are an attempt at integrating the spheres of ethical and insight training. That integration should be attempted, but I will continue to argue that there are things to integrate here, that there are distinct spheres of experience and different models for describing them. That is how the evidence lines up, that is how my experience has played out, and I think to ignore that or to relativize that with an obscure dimension of Wittgenstein's philosophy probably won't end up supporting awakening.

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
10/24/08 10:25 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: buffduff

I'm not defending any particular model of enlightenment in this thread. My point is that defending ANY "one true model" may have major philosophical and practical problems.

I don't find family resemblances an obscure dimension of Wittgenstein's philosophy. Family resemblance, multiple-valued logic, and other aspects of modern philosophy are key elements that have profound influence on modern scientific understanding, which also does not aim for the "one true model" of understanding the universe ever since the 1930's or so with the discovery of quantum mechanics, relativity, and the like.

In addition, I find that focusing solely on the non-dual goal misses the entire point of waking up, which is to bring realization into the relative world and transform it with consciousness. By cutting off the goal of non-dual awakening from the other goals of developing moral virtues, individuating, working in the world, etc., we create a dualism that can lead to distorted practice.

Rob Breece's excellent book The Wisdom of Imperfection: The Challenge of Individuation in Buddhist Life covers this topic in great detail, especially how Buddhist practitioners often are motivated to practice by individual past wounding and how this distorts their practice, common problems practitioners have in engaging with the world (e.g. puer aeternus), etc. in direct contrast to the idea proposed by Daniel and others that one should "get enlightened first" and then "work on their stuff."

I find that no one model of enlightenment can cleanly cover all ways in which people walk the path, neither philosophically nor practically.

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
10/24/08 10:37 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: marinr

Ok, but there is a logical difference between uprooting something and destroying it. If we cut something at the root, that doesn't mean it will immediately be destroyed. I tend to like the model of 'uprooting stuff' mixed with a non-dual model and Parinirvana.

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
10/24/08 11:11 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: buffduff

I refuse to argue about this irrelevant topic in this thread.

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
10/24/08 11:26 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Duff, I agree that IF the point of Daniel's model were to come up with one true-model then that would create practical problems. Honestly though, that's far from what he's doing. If anything he's at the beginnings of a robust and extremely practical meta-model for how enlightenment works, and the ways we understand it. That's why I was attracted to his work, as I'm far from interested in "one true model" thinking. All the same, it's a good point, I just don't think it's very relevant w/r/t Daniel's models.

Also, to respond to your point below, which I think is a very good one. If we create a distinction between enlightenment and awakening, though it's perhaps more useful to say enlightenment and Buddhahood, or enlightenment and the full expression of the human spirit or some such thing, then indeed non-dual realization and other forms of development, support, and contribution to the world-at-large are important. Indeed, this is the whole point of the ethical training, and is exactly why Daniel refers to it as "the first and last training". It's the first training because we need some basis in it to practice insight, and it's the last training because even after arhantship we continue to live in the world and how we do so is of utmost importance. No one is arguing with that.

Indeed, what I'm getting at, is that one must differentiate insight and ethics FIRST, before an intelligent conversation can happen with respect to what you're talking about. That almost no one in the spiritual communities have made these distinctions (a few folks who have in the insight tradition come to mind, particularly Jack Kornfield) cripples them from doing either. Instead they get stuck in some weird sort of trip where they think that enlightenment-proper is impossible because they're confusing it with their undifferentiated ideals of Buddhahood.

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
10/24/08 11:29 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
OK, let's put things another way: one may have a limited emotional range because of not being one of "enlightened folks", which is the exact opposite. Now, what if awakening is about an unlimited emotional AND cognitive AND conative range? Plus, what if defending any one model is not at odds with acknowledging different models for different circumstances and/or levels of interpretation?

(In fact, we have solutions for all this within the Buddhist tradition itself, and I don't think the author of the Tractatus would even take those in consideration.)

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
10/24/08 11:33 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
It might turn out that these ideals are not fully achievable (including the one's related to completely uprooting or ending particular emotional states) but instead are something (within the realm of ethics) that we should try and approach in whatever ways we can. And it's a conversation that should happen here, all of which relates to the topic of Integration. How does one live a skillful life, in addition to making real progress on the insight front, and how does one then make sense of these two areas of praxis. I still think it's far more elegant, and accurate, to differentiate the benefits from each method of practice, thus stripping the unhelpful projections and ideals that can come along with ethics and making it clear that the areas of insight and concentration are trainings that can in fact be mastered. Ethics on the other hand includes so much that I think we both would agree you can master it per-say. You can master certain things perhaps, but there are definite limits as to what we can work on and attain to when it comes to "the good life".

That being said, I think a major thrust of this community is to discuss the practical dimensions of concentration and insight training, a little more so than ethics. Primarily because ethics is so broad, and there are so many approaches to it. Recently I've been kind of half-joking that the things I've learned with respect to productivity have been far more helpful then some of the basic Buddhist ethical trainings when it comes to living well in the world. They have enabled me to create several very helpful projects, that no amount of "non-killing" would have helped bring about. So, in that sense I think too much focus on ethics could dilute the real potential of this group (and of Daniel's work) which is to support mastery in concentration and insight. That being said, it's still a part of the puzzle of Buddhhood, and a major one at that.

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
10/24/08 11:48 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
This is an important point, again. And again, the distinction between ethics and insight is paramount, I think, to understanding the difference between working on one's content and making progress on the insight front. The example from Rob Breece's book is a perfect example of people being motivated to do insight practices for the wrong reasons. Insight practices won't solve their "past wounding" and so they're using the wrong tool to approach their problem. If instead, they are fed up with the fundamental duality of experience (which probably means they've crossed the A&P) then insight is the proper approach to solving their "problem". Of course, it's usually not so tidy and both kinds of suffering can often be present. Then, more then ever, we need to distinguish between what methods and practices will help with our content and what methods and practices will help with the fundamental suffering of duality. There may be a small overlap, but just as with most other kinds of disciplines it seems that certain practices tend to be more helpful for one or the other. If we don't make that distinction then we end up like the people that Rob is mentioning. If instead, we differentiate the two, and work on both dimensions in whatever way makes sense (it's certainly not a problem to have an approach where one focuses on insight more first and then shift gears to content, as some people here are more drawn to do). Nor is it a problem to go the other way around or to do some combination. But there is a problem when one thinks that psychological practices will bring about non-dual enlightenment, or that non-duality is the same as psychological health. I can attest that it's not. ;)

I'm not sure Daniel's approach is to get enlightened first and then work on their stuff (though, he should probably respond on this one). Rather, I think it's more to recognize the difference between

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
10/24/08 12:57 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: buffduff

Yes, integration can be discussed valuably on this forum. What I'm saying is that I am not a proponent of the "limited emotional range model" but somehow got roped into defending it in this thread, when my point was about meta-models, not models. I was not advocating for or against any model in my original post. Instead, I was suggesting the possibility of a meta-model that can integrate differing models by seeing them as overlapping, but none as essential. I kinda think this might be a useful solution to the problem of competing models of enlightenment. Of course, each model would have to be stripped of it's silliness (like "limited possible emotional range" vs. "more likely to feel love and less hate for others than previously"), but I'm still not sure that any particular model is essential.

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
10/24/08 4:54 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
I heartily concur with this statement!

Personally, I've been wanting to respond to this thread, but have been short on time, but (with the caveat that Wittgenstein is one of the few Western philosophers I don't have much familiarity with) I find this idea very appealing! I also think it's a mistake to regard it as either a criticism of Daniel's work, or necessarily creating a blurring between insight and ethics, or any of the stuff that vjhorn seems to be concerned about (not that they aren't valid concerns).

To be fair, (and this is not intended as a criticism) Daniel as far as I can recollect does NOT offer a meta-model for Enlightenment - (he offers different models for the stages of insight as well in the book, but seems to side most closely with a traditional Theravada model) - he does discuss the shortcomings of a lot of models, and seems to like the non-duality model best. He doesn't say, however, that there absolutely no kernel of truth in any other model.

The family resemblance concept seems to acknowledge both shortcomings, and kernels of truth, and attempts to integrate the strengths of different perspectives.

By the way, all models are Empty.

(One of the strengths of the "family resemblance" concept is that it acknowledges this in a sense.)
D

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
10/24/08 5:29 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: buffduff

This is my sense as well. I guess Daniel could speak for himself, but what I get from The Core Teachings of the Buddha is a great deconstruction of all models of enlightenment leaving only the non-dual model as complete enough and practical enough to be useful. On the other hand, the deconstruction leaves a lot of good stuff out of a complete picture of the path, which is why I wanted to propose a potential integration using Wittgenstein's idea of family resemblance. Hokai hinted that there are already other solutions from within the Buddhist tradition itself--I am not nearly the scholar that he is, so I cannot comment on those.

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
10/24/08 5:31 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: buffduff

This is what I was trying to say. I wish I had said it this clearly!

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
10/24/08 5:34 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
saying the non-dual model isn't essential for 'enlightenment' seems like it would require a re-definition of 'enlightenment', which makes it a matter of semantics. we might as well go on to say that 'non-dual' doesn't have any essential definition either. and then what?

(on another note - i completely disagree that it's biologically impossible to uproot emotion. i know of one person who is completely emotionless and actually he seems to be doing quite well. now, whether it's the kind of life you personally want is another matter... anyway, this as just an aside, and not to hijack the thread.)

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
10/24/08 6:46 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: buffduff

The argument about which model of enlightenment is correct (or perhaps correct in what context) is in fact an argument about semantics, about the meaning of the word "enlightenment." If you have an essentialist semantics, you operate under the assumption that there "is" a meaning of the word, and that there is basically just one meaning, and that you can discover that meaning, usually by logical proof or rational argument. If you have a non-essentialist semantics, you have no such assumption, for words are maps or models, and the very process of mapping or modeling involves deletion, distortion, and generalization.

Wittgenstein's argument is that EVERY category lacks essential criteria, due to the limits of language and indeed thought itself to capture reality like we might want.

This doesn't imply that we can't talk about things, just that our categories have much more fuzzy boundaries than we thought. Similar ideas are coming out of cognitive linguistics these days from George Lakoff and Marc Johnson--the idea that metaphor is primary to language and thought. This conclusion is unlike the opening line of the Tao Te Ching: "the tao that can be spoken is not the true Tao," or as haquan put it, "all models are Empty."

The implication of this non-essentialist semantics for models of enlightenment is not that all models are equal--far from it, in fact, the exact opposite. It's that no model is essentially correct, nor could we ever discover such a model.

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
10/24/08 6:52 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: buffduff

"Not truth, nor certainty. These I foreswore
In my novitiate, as young men called
To holy orders must abjure the world.
'If..., then...,' this only I assert;
And my successes are but pretty chains
Linking twin doubts, for it is vain to ask
If what I postulate be justified,
Or what I prove possess the stamp of fact.

Yet bridges stand, and men no longer crawl
In two dimensions. And such triumphs stem
In no small measure from the power this game,
Played with the thrice-attenuated shades
Of things, has over their originals.
How frail the wand, but how profound the spell!"

~Clarence R. Wylie, Jr., mathematician
from The Imperfections of Science in Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, vol 104, No 5, October 1960
as quoted in Six Blind Elephants: understanding ourselves and each other by Steve Andreas

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
10/25/08 5:02 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
I think your point was that we could see none of the models as essential, and what I've been trying to point out is that simply by acknowledging the fact that different models exist, one has done already done that. Furthermore, I think the step of pointing out that some models are simply more accurate than others, and more helpful than others, is a meta-approach. By doing so, you have shown that there are various models (theories) and shown that there is a meta-relationship amongst those theories (though at this point it's still crude). That is a meta-model. Just because the integration doesn't involve saying that every model is right (in this case, because it's more useful to point out where bad models lead to bad practice) doesn't mean it isn't meta. It may mean that it has some room to grow (and I totally agree and have told Daniel so myself). If you've talked to Daniel extensively, you'll get that he is a meta-thinker. No question about it. You'll also get that he tends toward deconstruction as a conscious choice, and has even recently told me that he sees his approach as an antithesis to the common approach and forsees there being a synthesis in the future. He chooses antithesis though, because it's more helpful more of the time. People can't just skip to the synthesis if they haven't done the work of deconstruction. Also, we are in a precarious position of trying to create a meta-model when we haven't completed the injunction of insight to it's proposed completion. This is like undergraduate students in physics trying to create a unified field theory. They simply don't have the chops to do that yet. That being said, perhaps that is something that will emerge out of this community...

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
10/25/08 5:10 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
I think the key phrase here is, "in a sense." Wittgenstein's theory is pointing to a different type of emptiness (seeing the fluid nature of mental conceptions) than the realization of emptiness that comes from insight practice (which has to do with seeing the non-essential nature of phenomenal experience). To equate them is make a fundamental category error (which you may or may not have been doing, but by using the word "empty" it appears so), which is my main concern with this entire conversation. Before we can really understand emptiness, all the way through, we're going to mistake enlightenment with our conceptions (or meta-conceptions). Even a beautiful meta-theory which acknowledges the non-essential nature of mental models, if it's applied incorrectly to enlightenment, will yield bad results.

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
10/25/08 5:25 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
I agree with you here Duff, and I think the point is well made. But would you agree even if we acknowledge that no model is essentially correct, we still have to do the tough work of exploring which models are more helpful than others? Because at the core most everyone has models about what insight practice leads to. So stepping outside of the realm of the purely philosophical, how does seeing the non-essential nature of mental models help? Does it allow one to then try on various models? Does it allow one to find models that fit for certain portions of the path? Does it give one the flexibility to make relative distinctions w/r/t models? Does this help us do the practices more correctly, and to assess our practices with a more expansive perspective?

Or, does this line of thinking help one prop up their hidden personal agenda using complex philosophical reasoning? Does it lead to accepting the models one prefers over the one's that challenge their experience? Does it lead to ambivalence to practice versus a clear sense of purpose and path? Does it lead to over-confidence and arrogance over healthy skepticism and humility?

I think these questions, for those of us who are capable of thinking in these terms and who are also sincere practitioners, are really important.

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
10/25/08 6:22 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: buffduff

I'm going to take a break from this conversation and this community, indefinitely, due to conflict it is creating between friends.

I'm thinking perhaps attainments aren't discussed for good reason.

Best of luck all in your practice.

Yours,
~Duff

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
10/25/08 7:20 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
This is intriguing, indeed. Vince, would you comment?

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
10/25/08 8:36 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Yes, I do want to apologize to Duff and to the rest of the folks here. Part of my arguments have definitely been filtered through frustration, which has it's roots in my relationship with Duff outside this forum. I apologize for letting that leak into this forum, and for the way that it has shaped my points. I think they were overly harsh and less open then they should be.

That being said, I stand by the usefulness of creating a community that speaks openly about attainments, and I think those who have practiced well, realized this stuff for themselves, have remained skeptical and open, who have challenged their understanding with qualified teachers and peers, who have tried to adopt healthy models of what the path of enlightenment is about, and who want to openly share what they've learned, and continue to learn from others, is beyond priceless. I wouldn't for a moment consider abandoning this approach, when it's benefits far outweigh the possible interpersonal problems that can emerge, which I'm not convinced have to do with talking about attainments in any case. I respect Duff's choice not to participate in this community, and I respect those who don't wish to discuss attainments, but I still personally feel that this approach is worth pursuing and refining.

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
10/25/08 8:54 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Well, first of all, mental conceptions are part of phenomenal experience.

This is a key point.

"A different kind of emptiness?" Hmnnn. Vince, I think I need to get your reaction to my first sentence before I go further, but I think we might both find pursuing this avenue of inquiry instructive.

Vince says, "Before we can really understand emptiness, all the way through, we're going to mistake enlightenment with our conceptions (or meta-conceptions). Even a beautiful meta-theory which acknowledges the non-essential nature of mental models, if it's applied incorrectly to enlightenment, will yield bad results."

More so than an essentialist meta-theory?

Vince asks: "how does seeing the non-essential nature of mental models help? Does it allow one to then try on various models? Does it allow one to find models that fit for certain portions of the path? Does it give one the flexibility to make relative distinctions w/r/t models? Does this help us do the practices more correctly, and to assess our practices with a more expansive perspective?"

Based on my experience with Chaos Magick - yes. It works that way with practical sorcery.

Vince asks: "Or, does this line of thinking help one prop up their hidden personal agenda using complex philosophical reasoning? Does it lead to accepting the models one prefers over the one's that challenge their experience? Does it lead to ambivalence to practice versus a clear sense of purpose and path? Does it lead to over-confidence and arrogance over healthy skepticism and humility?"

Not necessarily - it could imply the opposite of these questions. Much depends on the character of the practitioner, but I believe all these concerns remain in place with the standard models. Hopefully a meta-model would acknowledge some models as more useful. The idea is that more accurate models work better.

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
10/25/08 10:19 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Hi Haquan,

To your first point, thoughts are part of phenomenal experience yes, but the structures of mind that shape how those thoughts emerge are not phenomena. Ken Wilber made this point in our recent discussion with him. One can introspectively see the structures or organizing principles that give rise to certain kinds of thoughts, beliefs, theories, etc. This is the entire premise of post-structuralist philosophy, especially as it's seen in today's discipline of Developmental psychology. So, from that view, one can see the fluidity of certain kind of mental conceptions (say beliefs) because their meaning making structures are evolving. What was once hidden to them (because they were subjectively identified with it) becomes objective obvious as they grow out of it. One can do this, without having even the slightest inkling as to what the Buddhist notion of emptiness is actually pointing to and vice versa. There are plenty of dogmatic thinking monks in the Asian traditions who know emptiness inside-out and yet wouldn't have a clue as to what we're pointing to with the fluidity of mental experience--I've sat with several of them. The problem is, because these two kinds of emptiness sound similar, they are confused as being the same thing. I think this is a problem with moving to meta-theories in general, is that you start to see common patterns in various disciplines or fields of knowledge, and before sorting out what is what, one begins to simply conflate them. Obviously the full move to meta-theory helps, but even the best meta-theorist, if they don't understand emptiness proper, won't be able to integrate it acceptably into their theory. Does that make sense?

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
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10/25/08 10:27 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Yes, this is a big part of the point I was trying to make. Meta-models, far from simply relativizing things, actually help us assess which models work better. In other words, they help us model the models. This is why I think Daniel's models are useful, because he's doing exactly that, pointing out the different models, their core assumptions, and then showing that certain models work better because they are more accurate. He isn't saying they work better because they are "true" but because as a working hypothesis they are more helpful in walking the path. Of course, even his models have to be held as a working hypothesis, and I hold them as just that. Fortunately though, they have ended up being extremely helpful, primarily in pointing out the areas where I haven't been willing to examine phenomena more carefully (ex. at some subtle level I've held the view that enlightenment = clarity. This model, or view, has at times, kept me from exploring the mental states of clarity and seeing that they too are impermanent, selfless, and ultimately conditional and hence unsatisfactory.) By doing so, I continued to deepen in insight, and I realized that model was less accurate and less helpful. The non-duality model has continued to be helpful and accurate, and so I continue to hold it as useful, though I will do my best to not allow any model to keep me from practicing well. And that's the whole point, yeah?

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
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10/25/08 11:25 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
I see the following uses for the "models" of enlightenment, and the maps in general:

First, to provide faith that the practice does in fact have an ends. Particularly, an ends beyond the "stress relief" model and the "feel good about myself" or "healing" models. This clarifies technique.

Second, to help dispel illusions about that ends of the practice: awakening never made anybody morally perfect. E.g., I think the Kung Fu model of enlightenment is awesome, and somewhere is a secret hope of mine, but also a woeful fantasy. This also clarifies technique, and lets us adopt a more mature understanding of how a technique impels us towards moral evaluation. As a tangential benefit to this particular use of the models, we can see the way in which morality influences practice and vice versa in a clearer light, and likewise can mature in our own ethical conduct: being an adult rather than a romantic, idealistic adolescent.

Likewise, some of the models, like psychological healing models, are full of so many assumptions and prejudices at their heart that they actually change the practice injunction. That is a form of degeneration and does disservice to those who aspire beyond the circumscribed realm of psychobabble and stress-relief.

Beyond these points, since the underlying injunction doesn't change, I have trouble seeing much use for the models, and little use for discussion save beyond the encouragement of "RIght View" to the extent it supports practice.

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
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10/25/08 11:38 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Also, I forgot to add, that the models can help us understand the best way to tell someone with a "you are already there"/"what's the point"/stoner model to shut up and stop spouting horseshit. It's one thing to have a nothing-to-do, nowhere-to-go or "doing nothing" model, it's another, to paraphrase Daniel's book, to tell someone they are already a metaphorical master of brain surgery, they just don't know it. I don't know, maybe that flies out on the West Coast, where death is optional

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10/25/08 11:44 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
A lot of that did make sense, yes.

Regarding the above quote, how does one "see" the structures? Is that a phenomenon?

David

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10/25/08 2:16 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Hi David,

In short, the developmentalists use methodologies that track changes in people's responses to particular questions over long periods of time. They then track general changes that appear stage-like (i.e. they progress in one direction and tend not to go backwards over time). It's still pretty fluid, but just points to the fact that these meaning-making structures tend to change over long periods of time (Robert Kegan's research estimates that it takes around 5 years for a developmental shift to occur in adults) and tend to do so with a common directionality. It also points out that on any given day you can't identify where you are, because it takes a longer-term, 3rd person-objective methodology to track these structures and how they change over time.

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
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10/26/08 5:41 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Hi Vince,

I'm not sure exactly what you are saying with the "meaning making structures evolving" and being "subjectively identified with it" perhaps because I'm less familiar with the particular line of thought that in what you are referring to as "Developmental Psychology" (which is, I assume, what I usually refer to as "Transpersonal Psychology" rather than say Vygotsky, Piaget, Bowlby and the like) than I perhaps should be.

With that in mind, I do think I'm finding this a bit instructive because it's pointing out that in a certain way, these organizing principles are a feature of the implicit relationships between our thoughts, (in a certain way a 'part' of emptiness - though that's an inaccurate way of saying it, and likely to get me in trouble). The point is, revealing and deconstructing these structures is a part of the progress of insight, and sheds light on what insight is for me - so thanks for that!

One interesting thing this reveals is that while insight is experienced as a phenomenon in the moment, it causes permanent changes in the implicit structure of our consciousness such that the particular comprehension we seek is available for recall.

One point is that while we usually do not directly experience such organizing principles, that doesn't mean that they can not be directly experienced. For instance we usually do not directly reference the law of identity when performing math operations, though it is an organizing principle, and is implicit in all we do mathematically. Nevertheless, it can be thought, and once understood, that insight is available for recall.

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
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10/26/08 5:41 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
I actually think that mental conceptions form an implicit part of how we experience sensate reality, or at least how we interpret it. This is one reason I favor a phenomenonological (presuppositionless) approach - because it helps to deconstruct these structures. (Deconstruction, as you know, is a poststructurualist philosophy - one reason I think it is the same emptiness). For instance, we think of space in a Euclidian sense - unbounded, infinite, and extending in all directions - yet this is not at all how we experience it, which is bounded and finite. Our experience of time is similar in some respects. This approach helps one to differentiate our conceptions from sensate experience, and points towards emptiness in the way I think you mean it. I'll probably post more detailed examples on the Phenomenonolgy thread in a bit.
David

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10/26/08 7:27 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Hi David,

Yeah, I would totally agree that there is some connection between the two types of emptiness here, but having studied some developmental psychology what tends to move one developmentally in those terms, are often quite different then what it takes to develop spiritually. For example, being formally educated is one of the biggest indicators of cognitive development (one type of developmental structure that can be measured), where with spiritual practice formal education isn't as much of an issue as doing contemplative practice. In other words, they're different kinds of developmental arenas, ones which I'm sure are connected, but where there just isn't a direct causative relationship.

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
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10/26/08 9:48 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Don't you think that's rather the same as someone understanding something on an intellectual level, but not having a deep intuitive understanding of the matter?
David

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10/27/08 5:57 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
By the way, I also wanted to mention that a. I do recognize that Daniel is a "meta-thinker". b. I've done some more work looking at Wittgenstein's idea of Family Resemblances, and feel that while it may be a useful concept in understanding different models of the same thing, it isn't sufficient in terms of practical value. For that one would have to provide an analysis of what comprises the "Family Resemblance." along with what parts of each models are therefore inessential. I actually see this as possibly more useful in looking at the stages of insight across traditions, as any model for what enlightenment is loses relevance once it is achieved. I can see some good use for it, however, in terms of integrating systems of practical magick. c. I just want to voice that I was a bit disturbed to see Duff leave the forum with this being the inciting discussion. Obviously, it's none of my business what kind of personal relationship Vince and he have, but would prefer to see that stuff more directly worked out rather than impacting an interesting debate. I feel a sense of loss given that this was an extremely interesting idea (even if flawed), bordering on brilliant, and feel like Duff may have been a valuable member here. I'm a bit of a newbie, so I can't say for sure, but feel it's a bit unfortunate. My general approach with new ideas is to try them on for size, see how well they fit, and then evaluate their deficiencies. For instance, I've found some of David Deida's ideas regarding sexuality and sexual relationships helpful, but also feel there are some problems with it, and possibly some subtle sexism on close analysis - no idea is perfect.
Anyway, I hope Duff can rejoin at some point and that you guys work things out.
David

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
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10/28/08 5:08 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: AlanChapman

Haquan: ‘By the way, all models are Empty.’

Erm, for whom? This isn’t true outside of direct personal experience of emptiness, and what you are actually talking about is something far beyond the simple matter of accepting an intellectual argument. So I disagree – for most people models are not empty at all.

Duff: ‘The argument about which model of enlightenment is correct (or perhaps correct in what context) is in fact an argument about semantics…’

(Sorry to see you go Duff!)

I think a few people in this debate are missing the point when it comes to a model or paradigm (check out Kuhn!). Some models are plain wrong. For instance, if I said ‘riding a bike for 5 minutes a day for one week will make you an arahat – that is, someone who no longer creates a sense of self out of sensations’, you can test it out and see if it’s true or not.

(cont.)

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
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10/28/08 5:09 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: AlanChapman

Therefore, some models of enlightenment are just wrong, incorrect or false. The limited emotion or behaviour model is wrong. That’s right – FALSE, UNTRUE, INCORRECT. It’s not a matter of debate or semantics, but personal corroboration of the injunction. Have you performed the experiment and corroborated it? If the answer is no, what value are we supposed to give to speculation about how best to define enlightenment?

For the record, Dan’s model has so far stood up to reality testing, whereas the models he rejects have not. Now this doesn’t mean Dan’s model beats all others and always will period – I’m rather ambitiously trying to out do him by working on a model that I think accommodates the areas of morality and behaviour and the effect that enlightenment has on those areas without necessarily defining enlightenment within those terms – but there is currently no TRUER model that I’ve come across for enlightenment.

I think the real value of comparing models or thinking about them in a ‘fuzzy’ way can only be found by comparing models that have stood up to reality testing.

(cont.)

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
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10/28/08 5:13 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: AlanChapman

Duff: ‘I'm thinking perhaps attainments aren't discussed for good reason.’

No one’s talked about any - that’s the problem with this whole discussion!

Nathan: ‘Beyond these points, since the underlying injunction doesn't change, I have trouble seeing much use for the models, and little use for discussion save beyond the encouragement of "RIght View" to the extent it supports practice.’

This is a very good point indeed and exactly what I’m getting at – if the use of models is not rooted in practice, it must be rooted in pointless speculation.

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
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10/28/08 7:10 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Wait a minute! So for *some* people, models are empty, but for other people they are not? I just want to make sure I understand this. Is this sort of like how for some people there is no self, but for other people there is? Wait, no... that can't be right, because actually neither group of people have a self, right? It only seems that way to people who are ignorant... Help me out with this one!

The example you give of riding a bike for 5 minutes a day is not a model, but a method. A lousy method, sure, but a method. I've never said that some models aren't better than others, or more useful (which I think one should be careful not to confuse with truth - after all, the Ultimate Truth [in your view] has no utility, no practical value) - just that they are all Empty. This is different from asserting that they are false by the way.

Finally, I don't think your attitude that the "problem with this discussion is that no one has discussed any attainments" is valuable. I may be misreading it, but it sounds a lot like, "Look, if you're not as Enlightened as I am, then you don't have a voice, and your opinion doesn't matter - so shut up!" Hmnnn... not helpful. I would very much appreciate your instruction though if your insight is greater than mine into these matters. David

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10/28/08 9:05 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Alright, folks, this is The Moderator speaking: let's keep it real! Let's bring this whole thing into the field of the actual game, namely experience, practice, realization. It's great to see, and for the nth time, that we can indeed conceptualize our condition, and conceptualize the nature of our condition very neatly. But that faculty will only take us so far on this ground, i.e. Overground. So, a practical question would be - does this concept of the non-exclusive nature of valid models, plus some models being definitely better at producing their claims, have in it anything that applies to your awakening as it is, right now?

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10/28/08 7:22 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Please! Someone, anyone, step up and compare and contrast anything at all about actual models.

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
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10/28/08 11:53 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: AlanChapman

Haquan: ‘Wait a minute! So for *some* people, models are empty, but for other people they are not? I just want to make sure I understand this. Is this sort of like how for some people there is no self, but for other people there is? Wait, no... that can't be right, because actually neither group of people have a self, right? It only seems that way to people who are ignorant... Help me out with this one!’

What is true for the practitioner with experience of emptiness is not true for the average Joe. If you start saying everything is empty, as if imparting some kind of wisdom, even though you have no evidence of this yourself, you are encouraging ignorance and promoting conceptualisation over practical direct experience. Why bother practicing if you know everything is already empty, that we all have no self, and that everything is impermanent? Cue ‘you can’t become what you already are’ nonsense and the giving up of a daily practice. This approach to emptiness (in fact to Buddhism itself) is frankly useless and of no practical, real world value.

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
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10/28/08 11:54 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: AlanChapman

Haquan: ’The example you give of riding a bike for 5 minutes a day is not a model, but a method. A lousy method, sure, but a method.’

The model is the method. That’s what a paradigm is. Again, read Kuhn.

Haquan: ‘I don't think your attitude that the "problem with this discussion is that no one has discussed any attainments" is valuable. I may be misreading it, but it sounds a lot like, "Look, if you're not as Enlightened as I am, then you don't have a voice, and your opinion doesn't matter - so shut up!" Hmnnn... not helpful. I would very much appreciate your instruction though if your insight is greater than mine into these matters.

I believe discussion rooted in personal practice and experience is infinitely more helpful than speculation. I find anyone with more experience of this territory than me (of which there are a few on this forum) to be of the greatest value and I always shut up and listen when they speak because their opinion on the subject of 4th path has more value than mine, because when it comes to 4th path I literally do not know what I’m talking about.

There’s nothing wrong with a little humility in the face of experience.

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
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10/29/08 3:23 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Indeed.

Alan, your comment, " If you start saying everything is empty, as if imparting some kind of wisdom, even though you have no evidence of this yourself, you are encouraging ignorance and promoting conceptualization over practical direct experience," is presumptuous (as well as inaccurate). I do have direct experience of the emptiness of models (as you know), and some direct experience with the Void.

My further comments include that conceptual emptiness, while being a reflection of Emptiness with a capitital "E" has real world, practical consequences such as the notion of "zero" and "i" in mathematics. You ask,, "Why bother practicing if you know everything is already empty, that we all have no self, and that everything is impermanent? " Why did the Buddha preach these doctrines to people who did not have direct knowledge of them then? Intellectual understanding often precedes intuitive insight. Furthermore the models of enlightenment are offered as motivations to practice, so that people will have some idea of what they are striving for, as well as providing some criteria for seeing if one has achieved the same. A "you can't become what you already are" approach does NOT necessarily follow.

I think the above might address some of Hokai's concerns as well.

I promise to compare and contrast some actual models in my next post. David

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10/29/08 4:09 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
"Look, if you're not as Enlightened as I am, then you don't have a voice, and your opinion doesn't matter - so shut up!"

I didn't take the comment that way. To me the difference is like that between asking for tax advice from a biologist and asking for the same advice from an accountant. One has deep experience in the subject matter at hand and the other one doesn't. Experience is very, very valuable. Speculation or guessing is not.

So... if the purpose of a discussion is "how do I progress through the stages of enlightenment?" I'm all ears to hear what someone who's been there, done that, has to say. I do not, on the other hand, want to muddy that waters with other tangential "stuff."

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
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10/29/08 5:11 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: AlanChapman

Haquan: ‘Alan, your comment, " If you start saying everything is empty, as if imparting some kind of wisdom, even though you have no evidence of this yourself, you are encouraging ignorance and promoting conceptualization over practical direct experience," is presumptuous (as well as inaccurate). I do have direct experience of the emptiness of models (as you know), and some direct experience with the Void.’

Sorry – I was being figurative, not talking about you per se. I was trying to highlight the problem with this kind of speech.

Haquan: ‘My further comments include that conceptual emptiness, while being a reflection of Emptiness with a capitital "E" has real world, practical consequences such as the notion of "zero" and "i" in mathematics.’

Emptiness is not any of those things. Emptiness occurs at the end of an insight cycle that is engaged through various insight practices. It has nothing to do with maths and the concept has no real world application (hell, even the experience itself is debatably void of any real world value). If you really think emptiness is empty or nothing or zero, perhaps switching to a model that doesn’t describe this phenomenon as empty might help (what about God or the Tao?).

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
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10/29/08 3:40 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
"We throw clay to shape a pot, but the utility of the clay pot is a function of the nothingness inside it... Thus, it might be something that provides the value, but it is nothing that provides the utility." Dao De Jing Chapter 11.

Alan, in one sense you are right - contemplating zero will not lead one to an experience of emptiness. I'm not on board that they "have nothing to do with" one another as you put it though clever plays on words are tempting at this point. I believe that the Cosmic Order has resonances across various orders of experience (like these examples, pi, and sacred geometry) but this does verge on the speculative, you either see it or you don't, and in any case it's peripheral to the discussion.

Again, the general idea is that models that recognize their own empty nature are inherently more accurate. Let's look at how Family Resemblances might play out with some actual models, and then those with greater experience can say whether this is a useful concept.

Let's compare Non-duality and the primary model from Daoism (at your suggestion) - on the surface, a ridiculous one, Immortality. I think most of us are familiar with the concept of Nonduality insofar as it collapses the normal subject object relationship and eliminates the process of identification with any particular element in the field of experience. This eliminates the sense of unsatisfactoriness or dukka that results from the non-unity or lack of Gestalt of the perceptual field.
Daniel's book "Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha" presents the Immortality model mainly in terms of Tibetan Buddhism where he cites some of these traditions as "selling" the idea of becoming "transcendent super-beings continually saving the world." The idea of causaility, and at the end, process is referenced in this section. The latter term, I believe is important. Continued...

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
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10/29/08 4:19 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Taoism, on close examination, has at the final end of it's system to be the achievement of "Immortality" through meditation, energy exercises, and Yogic procedures (inner alchemy). Upon close examination, there are three types of immortals (I've been searching my library for "The Jade Emperor's Mind Seal Classic" for the best description I've found of this process, but it looks like I'm going to have to wing it). Only one of them involves actual physical immortality and that particular one seems to involve the transmutation of one's body into some sort of "spiritual material." The Taoist Immortals become part of "Tien" - usually translated as "heaven" but on a closer reading, Tien is part of the natural order - sort of the implicit hierarchy of the biosphere. In a certain way, what's happening with immortality in Taoism is that through a process of integration (of Shen, Chi, and Jing - a bit like spirit, soul, and matter - Shen has definite overtones of emptiness) the process of birth, life, and death is transcended - and like Obi Wan Kenobi, they "become part of the Force" if you will.

How is this like Non-duality? What are the overlapping categories? Chinese culture believes in Reincarnation, as did the the Hindu culture of Gotama's time. I think that it's difficult for Westerners to understand the Axial age horror of endless cycles of Reincarnation. From where we sit, it seems better than the Western alternative of "Life sucks and then you die." But the Axial age cultures had no conception of human "Progress." Their version was "Life sucks and then you die, and then Life sucks again and then you die, and then life sucks again and then you die, ad nauseaum, ad infinitum" It seemed utterly pointless to them, and was a sort of eastern version of Nietzche's Eternal Return.

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
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10/29/08 4:57 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
"Dukka" according to some scholars is translated as "meaninglessness" or "awryness" (according to Karen Armstrong) and this forges a link between some Existentialist ideas and that of Buddhism. At any rate, this release from meaningless samsara or "keeping going" was at the heart of Gotama's quest, and samsara could be considered to be the greatest source of dukka. It should be noted that Nibbana was the release from samsara, and that not only that, but death conferred a state of "para-Nibbana" - which is NOT an end to the existence of an enlightened being - though it is said to only be able to be understood by someone who is enlightened and is their "final release." It is, in fact., a Buddhist heresy to consider an enlightened being to be "extinguished" at death as it were. So here we have some immortality at the heart of the Buddhist tradition...

The achievement of "Immortality" (through integration) confers release from suffering and meaninglessness, from dukka, by transcending the Cyclic nature of Experience. This integration of experience is reminiscent of Non-duality in which experience is always experienced as unified and integrated, non-separate.

It's interesting to note that other Systems speak of Immortality in terms of the Eternal - so clearly here what we are looking at is something about the nature of Time.

What does Non-duality do to Time? I can only speak from personal experience, and would love to have the input of someone more Enlightened than myself, but my personal experience of Time is one in which past and future are clearly experienced as illusions, merely aspects of the continually evolving process of experience that is happening right now. Past and future are always experienced in the present - did they happen, will they happen? Who knows, who cares? In terms of Now they did or might.

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10/29/08 5:15 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
In a certain respect, the question of Death or Immortality become irrelevant from this point of view - there's nothing really to die or become immortal - (one is) participating in this continually evolving process completely enraptured with it. Death and Immortality are abstractions that contribute to the flavor of the moment... (God I love fucking the shit out of the World!!)

There is something to be said for being integrated into the natural order of things, (not that one couldn't be), that this comparison points out, something about the processional nature of experience - something about the inherent dualism of viewing things either cyclically or in terms of linear time rather than an integrated present. I don't think that trying out Family Resemblances is a total wash here.

What do others think?
David

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
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10/30/08 1:53 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
I think this discussion is more about conceptual gymnastics and intellectual debate than substantive practice. I think the most useful purpose of contemplative maps is to help guide practice and facilitate realization. Granted, there can be value in looking more closely at the finer points to help refine the journey, but at some point this pursuit has moved from practice and results and towards an exercise to resolve the cognitive dissonance between various spiritual and philosophical maps.

There is room for this sort of inquiry and people like Ken Wilber have yielded interesting results doing so however that is clearly not the purpose of this community.

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10/30/08 5:38 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
You know I actually feel kind of bad reading this. I wouldn't have made those long posts comparing models if joriki hadn't begged for it. Alan and I are having simultaneous discussions on his website as well, which probably leaves everyone wondering what this is all about... I had thought the concept might be useful in terms of looking at the stages of insight across different traditions, and eventually have some practical implications...

I'm a little confused regarding purpose as noted above, because clearly this community is one in which substantive practice is valued most highly, "maps" and models are also considered to be important.

Anyway, I'm truly sorry for my part in this discussion if it has wasted people's time, or not been in the spirit of the purpose of this community. I'm a bit tired of the discussion myself. Let's stop. The theory part is fun for me, but I'm going to have to reflect on whether commenting on anything other than practical matters will contribute. David

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10/30/08 10:07 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
As I reread my post, I can see it was a bit harsh and condescending. And I'm certainly not the final word on what this community is about. I'm sorry.

Lee

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
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10/30/08 11:38 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: marinr

David, I have a suggestion. What I think would be more useful to people is pointing out the way to stream-entry in other traditions. You know, like: 'this is A&P', 'this is dark night', 'this is equanimity' emoticon

For example, I remember a text from my qigong practice where a little Buddha starts to grow in your abdomen (A&P ?) and then in the end it goes out and is everywhere but is seperate (equanimity, formations ?).

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10/30/08 7:20 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
My comment was less begging than exasperation. I suppose because of my modest attainments I'm more interested in models of practice than models of enlightenment, and I'm just in the wrong thread. Fwiw, I'd say that a useful model (of whatever type) is an idea which results in "more optimal" practice and progress. Anyway, I think I'll go back to lurking.

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10/31/08 10:02 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Not to worry, Lee. I've made a request to everyone to rein in the conceptual brainstorm and, implicitly, especially not to flood the thread with one's overblown interpretative elaborations ungrounded in actual practical details.... Yes, this community is NOT about philosophical speculation (as to content), and it's especially NOT about chain posting (as to form). Beware everyone!:-)

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10/31/08 2:43 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
I'll try to keep that in mind.

I had previously asked for feedback about "chain posting" when the material required over 2000 words to respond, having seen Daniel do this very thing, and wondered what the convention actually was when I saw someone else apologize for a double post, but no one ever provided such feedback.

I'll try to refrain from my tendency to "flood" threads with "overblown interpretative elaborations ungrounded in actual practical detail" as well.

No apology was necessary, Lee.
D

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11/1/08 3:00 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Briefly, just to try to get the discussion back on track, if it ever was on track, rather than focusing on errors of protocol, I do think that I may have discovered something useful in exploring this idea, that I will relay below.

I can assure those interested that my comparison of Taoist Immortality and Enlightenment is founded, and would refer them to Stuart Olson's excellent translation and discussion of "The Jade Emperor's Mind Seal Classic." There you can find a better description of how Non-duality figures into conceptions of Immortality from a figure who intimately familiar with both the Buddhist and Taoist traditions.

What I have found is that Theravada is somewhat unique in it's separation of process and content, and that in many other traditions, they are somewhat mixed (in Zen, concentration states and insight states are somewhat mixed), and this is certainly true of Taoism. What I discovered with Taoism is that the "secret" of immortality is given in the following line "Keep to nonbeing, yet hold onto being, and perfection is yours in an instant." - this is certainly a non-dual realization. Furthermore the sage is instructed to cultivate "purity, tranquility, and emptiness" which could be said to be positive reformulations of the three attributes in Buddhism. Finally, and most useful, two complementary practices lead to the state of Immortality - 1. Yang hou (yang heat - energy exercises) 2. Yin fou (convergence of the Yin) - described by Olson as becoming "One with the Void." Olson goes on to say that Bodhidharma (the founder of Zen) left his versions of these processes in his works Yin Chin Chang, and Hsi Sui Ching respectively. My conclusion is that Taoism may be creating conditions with the energy exercises that promote the A&P and then lead inexorably to the experience of Emptiness (Yin Fou). Such a technique could possibly accelerate the insight cycle.

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
11/1/08 3:47 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
I think the real value in comparing/contrasting views of Zen, Christian Mysticism, Taoism, Theravada, etc. is in helping people determine which set of practices would be best for them to pursue as they aspire to deeper levels of realization. And part of that may be exploring what value there is in blending traditions and models to either accelerate progress or to find a practical mix that one can engage with more fully.

I find exploring a mix of practices and models both interesting and dangerous. There are proven methods to attain realization but I'm sure there is plenty of room for improvement. The question is, how much time is required going down dead ends to find new paths and who is willing to delay or even give up realization to do the necessary exploration. I think these questions are made substantially more interesting by new possibilities opened up in neuroscience, psychology and technology.

But, at the end of the day my personal aspirations are to find substantial realization within myself, then to bring that back into a life of service and compassion. So for me, sticking with a tried and true path like Theravada seems a straightforward choice.

Lee

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
11/1/08 4:39 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Lee,
You should definitely stick with what you are comfortable with, no one is asking you to be an explorer, and if your main concern is personal awakening, then that may be the safest bet. One the other hand, one can't go back and do the exploration once awakened, and at that point it seems to be important to a lot of folks to be able to help others achieve the same insights, so you might have missed an opportunity to either endorse, or not endorse this particular approach.

Personally, I am most comfortable with shifting "paradigms" and figuring out things for myself, rather than passively accepting instruction. The real danger is dilettantism, or never becoming steeped enough in one tradition to make any progress. I might point out though, that it doesn't have to be an either/or choice - one could consistently practice vipassana in the Theravada tradition while supplementing that with various practices. Duncan (of the Baptist's Head website) successfully employed practical magick techniques to accelerate the progress of his insight along with standard meditation techniques (though I should probably let him speak for himself here) and I can personally attest that practicing the Zhan Zhuang form of Qi Gong as described in "The Way of Energy" by Master Lam Kam-Chuen will rapidly lead to effects that are completely consistent with Daniel's description of the A&P. After crossing the A&P it might be better to look at supplementing with another tradition as I don't think Taoism deals with the Dark Night phase as well (perhaps Christian mysticism here?) - I think it sort of blends it with Equanamity and treats the whole thing as a "spiritual pregnancy." It's hard for me to see how a supplementation strategy could hurt one's practice or progress of insight, and might lead one to be more excited about one's primary method. D

RE: Family Resemblances and Models of Enlightenment
Answer
11/1/08 7:00 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
"Anyway, I'm truly sorry for my part in this discussion if it has wasted people's time, or not been in the spirit of the purpose of this community. I'm a bit tired of the discussion myself. Let's stop. The theory part is fun for me, but I'm going to have to reflect on whether commenting on anything other than practical matters will contribute. David"

This, I believe, is a wise realization and future course of action. I was getting concerned that philosophical musings were going to overwhelm the practical core practice oriented comments that I come to this site to get, from people who I believe to be much further along than me in their progress on the path.

Thank you, haquan, for recognizing this.