More on Claims to Attainments

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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 3209 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Forum: The Big Issues

There have been more issues raised about people claiming whatever, usually stream entry but occasionally higher paths or stages of enlightenment, and these issues are claimed by those who raise them to have caused themselves to spend less time here, and, given that these are some talented and knowledgeable practitioners, this a loss of some kind.

Some of the issues raised are:
1) That by keeping this place open and informal, people can claim whatever and be embraced regardless of the validity of their claim without much validation, questioning, skepticism, application of standard or non-standard criteria, and the like.
2) That some of the more recently attained may be too quick to jump to the decision that others have also.

There have been previously raised issues that raise contradictory points to these, such as some more seasoned members being to quick to judge claims as being false without investigating whether or not the person they were accusing of falsely claiming an attainment had, in fact, actually done it.

I personally am somewhat loose on the issue, though things that I think need clarification are sorting out common mimics, such as the A&P and stream entry, and the like. I am not so particularly interested in people claiming whatever so long as they are not too terribly fooling themselves and giving bad advice based on their misconceptions to others who come here looking for good guidance on progressing on whatever front.

I hope that people will join in this discussion to help flush these things out in an open and productive way.
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Probably the most helpful thing would be to make sure to qualify any 'judgment' with phrases like, I'm not sure, its hard to tell from a relatively short post, but, have you considered, it sounds like, my take is, etc along with solid encouragement that progress is being made and keep practicing. That and asking clarifying questions before giving an opinion.

Hope this is helpful.

Ed
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Adam_West

Yeah, the 'can do' approach, I find very appropriate and empowering, yet it can be very problematic given human psycho-dynamic needs for success, achievement and social validation, and the well documented tenancy towards fantasy and grandiosity in both children and adults. I estimate 90% of the claims documented on this site represent this kind of psychological phenomena in conjunction with theoretical misunderstanding due to lack of wide exposure to reading materials from different traditions and teachers and insufficient personal experience in practice, rather than actual real fruition of a significant nature. That is not to say we 'can't do', just that most evidence points to decades and not months or a few years. Furthermore, in an environment of balanced robust scrutiny - which is not present here, for the most part - it clearly would not hold up in the light of day. Which is fine, no harm done, for the most part, as we don't want to oppress or diminish the very spark we are trying to foster either. Clearly, we see yet again the Buddha's wisdom in a middle path of aspiration, 'can do' empowerment and robust reality testing and personal discrimination.

There are many things both good and bad with the traditional spiritual formats, one thing useful is the quality control necessary to respond to the inevitable forces of human psychology.

With time, the Overground seems to be finding a good middle path between support and stifling the 'can do' approach. And like any system, it will and is in a process of self-correction, so I don't think we need apply much agent intervention.

Seems to be coming along quite nicely! :-P

In kind regards,

Adam.

*Edited* for spelling.
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
a good question you raise, but one that probably should be spelled out further to be useful beyond speculation. whatcha got in mind? what are the indicators to you that 90% (or so) of claims made here are bunk?
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RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Adam_West

Hi Tarin!

I wouldn't go quite so far as to phrase the claims as bunk. Rather, perhaps a little too optimistic in interpretation. :-P

In kind regards,

Adam.
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RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 559 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Stating you have experienced a path invites all kinds of reactions from others. To a certain extent that should be expected.

I used to assume that path moments must be the same for everyone and it is only in the past couple of years that I realized (so to speak) that not every one experienced them the way I did :-( Imagine that. I don't at all feel qualified to judge someone else's attainment at this point (and most definitely not through a few posts on a forum).

The power of this site is in its ability to encourage and help people in their practice. I don't think this place would be where I would want to verify a path. We live at a time when there are many very good and accessible teachers - so I hope anyone who feels they have gone through stream entry or another path would have that verified by one of these teachers.

-Chuck
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RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 5 Join Date: 9/3/09 Recent Posts
As one of the recent claimers, I believe being very open about feelings regarding attainment could be very beneficial for the community. More accurate self-assessments for future practitioners may be possible with more data points available not only of the experiences in question, but also the various feelings and thoughts regarding those experiences. Especially as those same practitioners are encouraged to share openly as they continue to learn. I believe my own practice would have benefitted if I had been less shy about describing my experiences and related thoughts and feelings 6 months ago. Perhaps any illusion of attainment would have been dispelled then instead of now. I know very well I will be engaged in the fool's journey for some time. Perhaps the mishaps of the fools of today will benefit the fools of tomorrow.

I've come to enjoy entertaining fantasies of a time in the not-too-distant future when enlightenment won't require any more from one seeking it than what is required to earn an associate's degree. I believe that this community could help bring that fantasy closer to reality. The wider perspective of the old hands will be necessary for this community to realize its potential. It saddens me to learn that my own precociousness may have caused the loss of some of that wisdom.

Keith
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RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
hi adam,

you know, my original phrasing was 'for lack of better word, bunk' but then i decided to simplify. turns out you had another word in mind, 'optimistic', which does carry a different meaning, but for the purpose of my inquiry they are both suitable. given that, lemme rephrase: what are the indicators to you that 90% (or so) of claims made here are optimistic? is it the descriptions that don't line up with what you regard as being the paths? is it the writing (both content and writing style) and online behaviour of claimants that make you dubious? or is it simply the sheer numbers that leaves you sceptical?

it could be argued that claims, particularly accurate ones, need no affirmation but i disagree. peer review is important. i remember when i first got stream-entry, i _knew_ it, without a shadow of a doubt*, and yet i wanted to know if my teacher thought so too. after a while, he did, but somehow i still wasn't satisfied. eventually though, after about a week of almost non-stop compulsive scrutiny, i was (got too pointless to argue with the constant stage shifts and cessation-resets). i learnt a lot from that week or so of observation and conversation, as well as what continued unfolded during the next few weeks: easy access to samatha states (inc the formless strata), the next a&p, the next path-completion, all clear as friggin day. what i learnt then for myself then and what i got out of talking to my teacher and some other folks, is most of what informs me about how to assess others' descriptions here, which means that what i am able to call may be limited in scope but is probably also accurate as hell.

*there was a whole lot of doubt but it didnt cast a shadow, which was unnerving

(cont.)
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
i've called a couple people's attainments here, both path-wise and jhanic, based solely on their descriptions. not that my calling them changes whether they were what they were or not, but i call things for other people when they look clearly spot-on to me (like maya81's did, for example). the others i pass over in silence, because i have nothing noteworthy to contribute (but hopefully somebody else will, if there is anything at all to say). now, of all the claims presented on this board, i have had something to say about 10% or less of them. the other 90% (or so) of claims have been mostly 'i dont know's, with a couple 'man that seems unlikely's. but here you are, saying 90% seems optimistic, which is a far huger number than what i've been used to thinking to myself, and i want to know how you arrived to that. capisci? emoticon

tarin
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RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
chuck,

im with you here.. i think.

now that you realise this, that other people who experience things differently from you might be experiencing the same thing (in a manner of speaking), you can't say to them, 'no that's not it' ... but are you not still able to say to those who experienced things very similarly to you, 'yes, that is it'? or would you go as far as to think that just because someone experiences something soooo similarly to you, it is still not grounds to determine that they experienced the same thing you did (such as, say, a path moment)?
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 211 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
I think the big question that comes up for me is: is this the right place to make and have claims of attainment assessed? My feeling is No, it isn't. That said, I think there are plenty of great people on these boards, who if they knew enough about a persons experience (not just several posts to a threaded discussion) probably could come up with some helpful assessments offline. Also, as Chuck says there are many, many skilled teachers out there who deal with this stuff all the time. I have found those teachers to be extraordinarily helpful in figuring out how to work with where I'm at currently (whether or not they've been willing to tell me explicitly where they think that is).

So, my feeling is that this really isn't the best place to make assessments of other people's practice, though I'm not saying that at times (especially leading up to 1st path) assessments can't be useful for some people. But as chuck says, there is such a huge variance in terms of how people describe (and perhaps even experience) the stages of the path, that for everyone to be throwing in their interpretation of someone's "attainments" is in some ways demeaning to the point of attainments. And, I think as Adam says people are becoming overly optimistic about their claims (as our some of us in our assessments). Again, this could be due to inexperience on our part in assessing, but in either case I think the onus falls directly on those of using making the assessments, and being looked up to as knowing what we're talking about, to be responsible in how we address people's descriptions of their experience.

Cause in the end, someone believing that they are a stream-winner or that they're in equanimity or whatever (when it's more likely they crossed the A&P or are in the 3 characteristics / A&P) ends up leading both to a misunderstanding of the maps and the territory.
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
As to the possibility that many people are too optimistic in placing themselves on the maps, while I won't try to evaluate the site itself or its members, there is good evidence that people in general predictably do evaluate themselves as being in the upper percentile of whatever. Whether it is in evaluating their driving skill, intelligence, future grades, the superiority of their kids, whatever. I am would be guilty of that last if it weren't for the fact that my kids truly are superior. ;-) Why would enlightenment be any different.

In the end that is probably a good thing. It keeps us going and is mostly self correcting.

Ed
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RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 4 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
This community isn't about assessing your realization or stage in practice, though bringing more clarity to early stages and therefore employing stage-specific effort can be product of conversations that take place here. However, a lot of self-deception, as well as mutual deception, can take place as well, embedded in this already virtual, avatar-populated realm. Offline, in-person, actual relationship with skilled, seasoned teacher(s) and other practitioners isn't optional, even for post-awakening stages, especially when it comes to "claims" and "attainments".
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 559 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hi Tarin,
So far, I haven't been confronted with that situation. So I am going to have to delve into some speculation: Yes, for me it is still not grounds for making a determination. Why do I need to make such a determination? Now, I am not opposed to speaking about these experiences and discussing them – I think that is quite valuable and an important role of this site. And I may think to myself 'Great, sounds like they did it', but I don't think I have the experience to make some sort of public determination.
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Here are a couple of snippets from the Home page.

"discussions about how to determine what experience was what,"

"a lack of taboos surrounding talking about attainments"

With that in mind,

"Hi! I am Somebodyorother. Last week on retreat thus and so happened and I think I got Stream entry. What do you think?"

How is it possible to reply to that without implicitly or explicitly assessing the original posters realization or stage in practice?

Of course, if somebody here says, "Yeah, I think you nailed it!" you shouldn't go put "Written by Somebodyorother, Stream Enterer as certified on DhO" on the cover of your new book, "Stream Entry for Silly People" Nor should you take it too much to heart if someone says, "Nope, better luck next retreat."

As Hokai says, DhO really can't replace a qualified teacher/s and a mature sangha and as Vince says, that this really isn't the best place to make assessments of other people's practice.

But can DhO prevent these sorts of discussions without creating the taboos that Daniel says he wants to avoid on this site?

Ed
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 55 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
I also feel alluded to...

Since this place is pretty much defined by open exchange about a dharma practice free of attainment-related taboos, I see nothing wrong with people making claims. Or else, what? Talk about progress, encourage each other, etc. etc., and suddenly become awkwardly silent when Something happens?

I would qualify this by saying that any such claims should ideally not be naked assertions. That wouldn't be useful since then all you learn is "someone thinks (s)he did X", and not "someone thinks (s)he did X, it presented in this particular way, is pretty sure because of Y and Z, but is still checking out the new territory to see if it's really X". The latter is more useful since it explicitly gives openings to conversation about what happened, and conveys a better sense of how grounded the person making the claim is. Also it gives more information about the diversity of ways in which these things can show up.

Incidentally, I didn't really stick to this standard when I claimed stream entry recently... I hope to rectify that. I did talk to Kenneth and have been having quite a bit of back-and-forth with Jackson by email, so maybe that cured my need to talk about it a lot. But I've been saying to them both that I'll write something more detailed about it and I still plan to. [insert sound of crickets here]

-Antonio
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RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 55 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
Right emoticon I hadn't read this when I posted above, but that's part of the point I'm making, and I agree completely. As I said, I didn't quite stick to the standard (in part because I waited until I was really sure to say anything in DhO).
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RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 362 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
I don't find my life experience, which has been predominantly solitary and meditative, map-able or conducive to categorizations, but then I am not one to seek affirmations from others. I've followed the 'make yourself an island' doctrine since before I knew it existed.

I really think open discussion of meditative experiences is long overdue and vitally needed. On the other hand Interpreting this experience is increasingly problematic and this attainment stuff is sort of an extreme case of that. What is an arahat really? Well, schools of thought vary, considerably, let's leave it at that. Want to argue about it, go where someone wants to argue about it - a dozen places come to mind. Is that what the group here wants this place to be about? Why? Is yet another such environment vitally needed?

imho attempting to plot this stuff on a bell curve, as if beings can be put into that kind of a box, is particularly 'not enlightened'. What we desperately need is more people in the world who are willing to be REAL, with themselves and with others.

I've pondered this attainment stuff, on occasion throughout the years, as many others doubtlessly have. As I have eventually come to see it, the less this stuff matters to me the further ahead I actually am. At this point the only benchmark that really serves is how much of my 'self' (in any notable sense whatsoever) I have actually erased in any permanent way. Please don't ask me to elaborate on that, I don't have time for getting into it.

One can use whatever measures one likes to measure whatever one wishes. Does it make it so? Time will tell. Worldly freedom from the forces of concretizing institutions is especially fleeting, I suggest we'd best enjoy it as a conditional factor where and when we find it, while it lasts.
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RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
why? it's like trainspotting or bird-watching i suppose, or perhaps hide-and-seek, or peek-a-boo, but even better since someone stands to benefit from it either because they will feel affirmed in what they already knew or motivated to go back to the treasure hunt or both.
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
i really don't see why any of this is a big deal. like ed says, someone comes in and writes up a big long post about how they might've done it and here's why, and what, we're supposed to ignore it or reply with ambivalent or ambiguous statements by default? what, people gonna get fixated on stream-entry? i thought that was the whole point.

someone i know on this board read maya81's 'novice follows instructions' thread, thought 'how come other people can do it but i cant?' and got upset, and i thought 'good, get upset.' getting upset about this shit is part of what's inspired me to heights that have far exceeded what my pathetic limitations used to be (and i certainly intend to continue). is it not like this for other people? is it/has it not been like this for you? i have spoken with enough, here and elsewhere, to know that the knowledge that one and one's efforts have been inadequate thus far is prime motivation for serious training. so yes, go feel inadequate, feel doubtful, then get tired of being weak/lazy/whatever, get competitive, and get things done. deal with the moral consequences later, that's a different training.

(cont.)
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RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
i realise not all approaches are for all types, but it is precisely because i realise this that i think the dharma overground is probably not for people who can't take public evaluation.. especially if its evaluation of *other* people who are serious practitioners and who may have done something worth evaluating and scrutinising they cant take. we don't have to make it otherwise to benefit a wider demographic, as the amount of hand-holding that is maximally beneficial to the practitioner-at-large may not be so for the demographic that can flourish on hard-hitting, independent practice, which is basically people here, besides which all that hand-holding just ties up hands that could otherwise be working. like it says on the title page, this is 'a resource for the support of hardcore meditation practice' and the book that laid down the guidelines and started the whole thing is subtitled 'an unusually hardcore dharma book'. if people dont like it they can gtfo. like triplethink puts so well, the freedom of this kind of environment is fleeting, so i intend to make the most of it while it lasts and use it to do my best to help a few others here while i can.
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RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
To start, I disagree with the opinion that the DhO is merely a supplement to a physical sangha. For those of us who don't have, or can't have, a physical sangha, the DhO is our only dharma family. To assume that someone hasn't really reached a particular attainment just because it hasn't been verified by an in-person teacher is just plain false. If the techniques work, and one does them correctly, the results will follow. It's like learning any other skill.

I, for one, was nervous as hell to even suggest that I had gotten stream entry. I first consulted Kenneth via email, and then Vince, and then had a long phone conversation with Daniel before really allowing myself to fully come clean about it. Prior to this, I had a few experiences that I thought were stream entry, and was able to dispel these assumptions with the help of others here at the DhO.

This is similar to the process Antonio (postreptillian) went through. He had been talking with me via email for quite some time, learning how to move from the Dark Night in to Equanimity more quickly, and how to practice in Equanimity the right way in order to get Fruition (not that I'm any sort of great teacher). At the same time, he was working with Kenneth regarding the same material. Even after he had his first fruition, he stayed under the radar for a while to make sure he wasn't mistaken. This is the stuff we don't always see, because it doesn't take place in the forums.

(cont)
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RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
(cont from above)

What I've been frustrated with has little to do with people making attainment claims. Claims can always be respectfully questioned publicly if doing so helps the claimant and the group at large. But what seems to be happening is that some practitioners are turning up their noses when hearing of practitioners who made progress very quickly, as if the newbie meditators couldn't possibly have made progress more quickly than they. Some amount of ego deflation should probably occur on both sides of the debate, I suppose. Now, lets get back to talking shop.
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RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 3209 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Sing it, Brother Tarin!

For all its flaws and complexities, I hope this is a place where people can talk about what they think they have done, and others can chime in with their thoughts also, and criteria for diagnoses can be debated and flushed out, and people can actually talk about these things like they were anything else, and if that causes resentment or hurt feelings or other problems, so be it, as I think that is a very small price to pay for shining what light we all can on something so important, fun, interesting and valuable as attainments and our speculation about them, both internal and external.

Some of the worst conflicts I have had with my fellow dharma adventurers had occurred over these issues, and sometimes things have gotten profoundly ugly as we have attempted to hash these things out, but for those who have stuck through it, the rewards can be amazing, just like insight practice, which is often very hard, but what it leads to is worth more than gold. It is true that not everyone has the fortitude, faith, perseverance and tolerance for pain and conflict that is sometimes required to go toe to toe when there conflicts over this stuff, as had been evidenced here and elsewhere, but for those that do, there is much to be learned on many fronts.

For instance, Kenneth and I have battled about these sorts of things on and off for more than a decade between ourselves, and while often there was much pain and confusion, what has finally emerged is quite remarkable.

I say, let those who wish to be open, be open and realize that the price may be a diversity of public opinion regarding your claim and be ready for that, for better or worse. For those who don't want to engage in that sort of thing, simply don't! That's simple.
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RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 3209 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
I agree with AWouldBeHipster, the DhO is my dharma family, as I have none here in the wilds of rural Alabama, and so is my Sangha, not a substitute for one.

I also agree that it has been interesting to see some who were newcomers to all this just a few short years ago could become staunch, cynical, old-guard defenders of some strange "you newbies couldn't have done this" trip, though why I should be surprised at a basic human phenomena like that perhaps shows how naive I sometimes can be. I myself am a fan of applying high standards to diagnosing attainments and not mistaking things for stream entry, but that has a very different feel than the former, I hope.
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RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 11 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
Daniel and AWouldBeHipster raise an important issue that I hope everyone will keep in mind and that is, DhO is the only sangha some members of this community have access to. It would be a shame if it became a place where no one felt it was beneficial or safe to bring their attainments up for discussion.

The discussions around these claims have for me been instructive and valuable; some have been upheld, others shot down but in either case there has been a learning, and there's always value in that. Thankfully, these discussions so far have been handled skillfully without breaking down into flame wars with people becoming entrenched on one side or another of the various issues that are raised. I hope this will continue - open minds and open hearts, and the sure knowledge that "Truth will out", eventually in every case should keep us on the right track.
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 559 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hi Tarin, Jackson, Daniel:

Geez guys, you need to go out and play with the squirrels for a while. Looking over these last posts it seems to me that there is something that you guys are bringing up that just isn't in the previous posts made by any of us. Is this something from another thread?

Tarin: “...i think the dharma overground is probably not for people who can't take public evaluation.. especially if its evaluation of *other* people who are serious practitioners and who may have done something worth evaluating and scrutinising they cant take”

Jackson: “ I disagree with the opinion that the DhO is merely a supplement to a physical sangha”

“To assume that someone hasn't really reached a particular attainment just because it hasn't been verified by an in-person teacher is just plain false”

“some practitioners are turning up their noses when hearing of practitioners who made progress very quickly, as if the newbie meditators couldn't possibly have made progress more quickly than they”

Daniel: “...it has been interesting to see some who were newcomers to all this just a few short years ago could become staunch, cynical, old-guard defenders of some strange "you newbies couldn't have done this" trip”

Either you guys are reading into previous posts much more than was intended (IMHO) or talking about something else entirely. I just don't see where these issues were brought up by anyone in this thread. Maybe I'm just too mellow out here in California but “can't we all just get along?” (- Rodney King).

-Chuck
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RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 4 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
@CheleK - There's obviously more to this than obvious, or the explicitly stated, and you're quite right to observe that. There will always be tension where rules of engagement are left undefined daily as vague but implicit prerogatives, no matter how much we may agree on open treatment of progress. This, just as governance, is a complex issue, though simply treated with clear principles and rules. Left unspoken, it does remain a terrain for creative innovation, but only to a certain point.
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RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
Hi Chuck,

No one directly came out and blatantly conveyed the opinions I oppose in my above comments, at least not in the exact phrasing that I used. It's something I've been noticing for a while now, but had yet to address until now. I hate to post comments that appear to be out of context, but I thought what I had to say would fit under the general topic of "Claims to Attainments".

Jackson
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RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
I agree that applying high standards is different than the attitude I wrote about. You've always challenged me to look for clear signs of progress, and you've never suggested I was off in my assessments based on the duration of my practice. In other words, I've never heard you "turn up your nose" to me or anyone else. This is more accepting and empowering attitude is something I'm attempting to adopt, because it was so helpful for me and my practice when you and others guided me from there.

Also, for the record (just in case anyone was wondering), no one ever "confirmed" any of my milestones, so I don't want anyone to think that you (Daniel), Kenneth, or Vince (or anyone else) in any way gave a sort of stamp of approval to any of my assumed attainments. I am proud to have the burden placed solely on myself alone, as I think this is how it should be.

Jackson
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RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 55 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
I agree with Chuck... My best guess was that there must be some heavy behind-the-scenes email action about all this because I also don't see that much friction lately (as in, during the last month) when it comes to claims. I've only seen some completely reasonable calls for skepticism and avoiding premature determinations from Vince and Ed, and who can object to that?

Additionally: I also don't have a non-virtual sangha or a teacher that I've met in person. I'm not opposed to having one, but I'm not going to wait until that's in place to practice seriously (and I don't think I could avoid practicing if I tried, these days)... and if serious practice leads to results, then for better or for worse I'll be wanting to share them here. So far I haven't felt any negative reception to anything I've posted... quite the contrary. The only sticking point is the lack of detail that I mentioned, so a lot of strong skepticism is probably going unvoiced.

[The write-up on my progress to apparent stream entry has now moved from nonexistent to outline form.]

-Antonio
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RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 3209 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
You have a talent for good guesses. Yes, there is unrest behind the scenes that hopefully will have little negative effect on this place except to spur further clarification of things that perhaps have been insufficiently clear before to some.
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RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Dan_K

I believe that the point that Tarin makes most passionately and brilliantly is that attitude affects practice and progress. Specifically, an attitude of intense volition and the extreme faith that you, the aspirant, must “get there or die trying,” coupled with the removal of obstacles or excuses, cannot be overrated. When I went on my first long retreat, I was under the impression that as a rule the progress of insight moved slowly i.e. 1 nana per day or less. I took Daniel’s general advice when he wrote that people looking to achieve stream-entry should go on a 2-4 month retreat as implying that anything less was probably not going to do it. I think my attitude led to me taking my eye off the prize on retreat. While I made effort, I was flustered and doubtful much of the time.

Since then, after reading about Tarin, Jackson, and Antonio’s claims to success, my attitude has changed. I now believe that I can rise to equanimity in ~5 hours rather than weeks. Naturally, I will have much higher expectations for myself at my upcoming retreat. To me, each of those practitioners we’re essentially saying “I am satisfied that I have achieved a particular mile-stone,” and that integrity matters more to me than any title. Of course, each of them displayed integrity through many other posts on the forum, displaying their senses of honesty and personal scrutiny and responsibility thread after thread. I thank each of them and the every other poster who shows that sort of integrity. Obviously, if any of them had just shown up and said “I did this” without the build-up the value would not have been as great. It was being able to witness them struggle and overcome that mattered the most. Though I understand that there are pitfalls in claiming attainment, I believe that anything which makes Path seem more attainable and less of a big honking deal has a positive effect on the practitioner who seriously strives toward that attainment.
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 559 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Dan K: Well put. I agree.

“To me, each of those practitioners we’re essentially saying “I am satisfied that I have achieved a particular mile-stone,” and that integrity matters more to me than any title.”

That is the sense that I get and I think they are misunderstanding those of us that suggest working with a teacher face to face and getting stages verified.

I went through the first two paths on my own without the benefit of a teacher. I went through the next two paths working with an experienced teacher. I am not speaking of any huge time commitment here – I met once or twice a year along with an annual retreat. The value of a face to face relationship with an experienced teacher is the pointers and guidance that they can provide. You don't get the same level of interaction on line or with email – this is simple stuff: direct interaction with someone is different – things like emotion, tone of voice, body language, etc, all come into play. When you sit across from a person and speak about this stuff one to one it is very different (and worth it).

I am simply offering advice based on my own experience. This isn't about titles. I don't care about titles. I have not met any teachers that cared about titles (I am confidant they are out there though). This is about keeping the process going, advancing skills, and making the best use of resources. I realize some people by virtue of their situation may not have access or opportunity to work directly with a teacher. And for those people this community (DhO) is really important to have. I think all of us are here to help bring these teachings out into the open and make them as accessible as possible.

-Chuck
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 3209 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Dear Dan_K,

My sincere apologies if I gave you that impression that it took at least 2-4 months of retreat to do it, though I am not quite sure where you are getting those numbers.

Issues of timing vary widely among practitioners, and when I got stream entry I had a total of less than 2 months total of retreat, and did it on day 6 of my 4th retreat, as I believe I mention in MCTB.

Again, sorry if I was not clear on that point. I am glad you found inspiration here as well as clarification.

Dear CheleK,

I agree, it would be really nice if everyone did a better job of getting along and finding common ground.
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Dan_K

Daniel,
No apology is necessary. Your writing has extemely benefitted my practice. The numbers were from the thread "Measuring Progress in the World" where you wrote:

"If you are one of the chronic Dark Nighters here: get stream entry. It really helps. Go on long retreats, meaning 2-4 months, if you can possibly find the time..."

Of course it was wholly my inference that this was a necessary or average amount of time to actually get it, and I only mentioned it previously because I realize now how those expectations create obstacles. I am about to do a 2 week retreat guided by Sayadaw U Pandita and I am seriously aiming at winning it. As Tarin says in his wonderful "Reformed Slacker's Guide..."

"If you work like this, with this kind of intensity, whether you land a path or not you will gain insight like nothing else..."

I'll tie this all back to topic by saying that the claims of attainment have really improved my attitude. Whereas on my first 3 week retreat I was panicked much of the time, and not seriously expecting to land a path, now I feel angry and entitled. We'll see if that helps emoticon

Dan
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: More on Claims to Attainments

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
yeah chuck, i see your point. and yet there was something that jackson (awouldbehipster), daniel and i picked up on rather simultaneously from the looks of it, and 2 out of 3 of us are not involved in any behind-the-scenes unrest (i personally know nothing about it). there was the sense that something problematic was looming and better get nipped in the bud fast. call it vibes if you will - movement in the psychic web that ties us together. regardless, thanks for the californian reminder. i will go outdoors and look for some squirrels.

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