Message Boards Message Boards

Motivation and Results

buddha on the couch

Toggle
buddha on the couch
Answer
2/9/08 8:51 PM
Forum: The Big Issues

today's edition of Tricycle's Daily Dharma on "Beginningness":

"Most people think of enlightenment as a kind of magical attainment, a state of being close to perfection. At this level, one can perform amazing feats, see past and future lives of others, and tune in to the inner workings of the universe. This may be possible for a number of special beings, but for most of us enlightenment is much more in line with what Suzuki Roshi describes. It means having a quality of "beginningness," a fresh, simple, unsophisticated view of things. To have "beginner's mind" in how we approach things is a major teaching. In many ways, the process of enlightenment is clearing away the thoughts, beliefs, and ideas that cloud our ability to see things as they really are in their pristine form. - David A. Cooper, Silence, Simplicity and Solitude
from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book"

If enlightenment is just "clearing your junk" -- ala some quality couch time with a therapist -- what's all the fuss about? Even apart from the siddhis, that doesn't sound like any sort of inexpressible truth or mystery to me. Discuss.

RE: buddha on the couch
Answer
2/10/08 9:46 AM as a reply to Mike L.
The models that imply that this is about psychological development, getting rid of our stuff, or some such thing are very pervasive in Western dharma, so it is no surprise that many may read statements like Mr. Cooper's and interpret them through that filter. I didn't read it that way. Psychotherapy has a dismal record on the enlightenment front, just as those who spent most of their cushion time working on their stuff have a very poor chance of getting enlightened. In fact, junk being an inevitable part of life, it is much more about seeing the junk just as junk, seeing thoughts just as thoughts, emotions just as emotions, causal, arising and vanishing on their own, aware where they are, centerless, part of this great unfolding and dissolving of sensations, and perceiving that directly, in real time, as the default way of processing reality, is certainly an attainment worthy of effort, and, while it may not perform quite as we would fantasize it might, still, being all that there is, it is profound in its immediate and unarguable completeness.

I also believe that there is little point in trying to sell enlightenment or try to convince people to do it if they are not there, not already into it, not already caught in the process, as it doesn't tend to do much but cause confusion and conflict. Thus, if you don't feel called, compelled, or impelled by some inner sense that you should go in that direction, just live your life as best you can until, perhaps some time later, you begin to feel that more default clarity and fundamental perceptual truth would be helpful, and hope that, when you get there, you have the time and resources necessary to pursue that to the degree that makes the difference. Traditions, structure and technique can really help.

From the more immediate point of view, embody noticing that this is it, truth is here, and really feel what it is like right now, discarding ideals that conflict with actual experiential reality.

RE: buddha on the couch
Answer
4/29/09 3:19 PM as a reply to Mike L.
Author: stephenmberns

It is with some trepedation that I write this...but I go on. The only reason I can see to pursue enlightment is if one is confident that they are not enlightened. This leads to a non-enlightment/enlightment duality which I find abstract and confusing. How can one get in a stream if one is already there? Why not relax and swim around?

RE: buddha on the couch
Answer
4/29/09 3:35 PM as a reply to Mike L.
Hi stephenmberns,

Daniel addresses this issue quite well in a rather comical essay at his website. The essay is entitled "Why The Notion That You Cannot Become What You Already Are is Such Bullshit." I think he does a good job clearing up this common misconception.

Read it here --> http://bit.ly/SU0gn

Practice well,
Jackson

Edit: I think a poem by the late Kalu Rinpoche helps to illustrated how this enlightened/un-enlightened duality works itself out...

We live in illusion and the appearance of things
There is a reality.
We are that reality.
When we understand this, we see that we are nothing.
And being nothing, we are everything.
That is all.

Even though the non-dual is our true nature, we do not truly know this from our own experience until until the process of awakening has been completed. In other words, if we are to understand our true nature (as opposed to just believing in what others have to say about it), there's work to be done.

RE: buddha on the couch
Answer
4/29/09 7:41 PM as a reply to Mike L.
Author: SoManyThoughts

I think of therapy less as 'clearing your junk' and more of replacing your junk with some nice comfy furniture. To me, therapy and insight meditation are fundamentally different ways of working with your inner experiences. Therapy is working at the macro level, while insight is deconstructing it and breaking it down to the micro level.

By the way I really enjoy David Cooper's book that's quoted there. He doesn't take a particularly psychological approach to spirituality. That book gives a good overview of many different practices, including insight.

RE: buddha on the couch
Answer
4/30/09 10:47 AM as a reply to Mike L.
Author: stephenmberns

Thank you for your response. I read the article...several times...but I am confused by the legitimacy of some of the analogies used to prop up the argument. In the article, meditation instruction is compared to heart surgery, among many other things. The closest analogy I can draw to meditation is sensory deprivation. I speculate, and this only speculation, dear friends, that staring at a wall and sitting on a meditiation cushion for long periods of time over several years could lead to neuronal atrophy. The only reason I can see to accept the dualism in the article of enlightment and non-enlightment is based on the received authority of Dr. Daniel Ingram, who although he is probably a talented physician, may have all of the spiritual legitimacy of David Korash. I hope that this is an open forum for discussion, and you will tolerate my opposing viewpoint. I eagerly await your response.

RE: buddha on the couch
Answer
4/30/09 11:34 AM as a reply to Mike L.
Try out the practices, see for yourself.

Edit:

If trying the practices isn't in the cards for you right now, and reading parts of MCTB is too much trouble, I'd recommend the latest Buddhist Geeks interview with Dan as a whirlwind tour of the (Theravada) path.

RE: buddha on the couch
Answer
4/30/09 12:45 PM as a reply to Mike L.
Opposing viewpoints are fine. But, can you tell us more about you in order to form a baseline? Have you attempted meditation at all, or a related practice? Can you also point us to figures that, in your view, have the spiritual legitimacy that you'd find reassuring in order to allow yourself to listen to them?

The characterization of the practice as being "like sensory deprivation" seems to be coming just from watching people meditate, and a lack of knowledge of what's going on in their heads as this happens. If you've read any materials on vipassana (a.k.a. "insight meditation") and then you read Daniel's book, it'll be obvious that he's talking about the same thing, except with unusual precision, an unusual lack of touchy-feely clutter, and an unusual level of candidness about how the process unfolds.

RE: buddha on the couch
Answer
4/30/09 4:57 PM as a reply to Mike L.
Whether or not you think Daniel's opinions are correct or plainly off target, comparing him in any way to David Koresh is pretty low. Vipassana is a time honored meditation practice that leads to verifiable results (e.g. enlightenment, awakening, pick-your-favorite-term). The fact that Daniel endorses this point of view in no way merits a comparison to a psychotic cult leader, even if it you were just trying to get your point across in a hyperbolic way.

I encourage you to stick around, give the practices a try, and let us know what you discover. This is a great place to get pointers on how to fine tune your practice in order to get the desired results (if that sort of thing appeals to you).

Practice well,
Jackson

RE: buddha on the couch
Answer
4/30/09 7:18 PM as a reply to Mike L.
Ah Jackson, Jackson, haven't you figured it out? Every time you have one of your precious "fruitions," you're being teleported to Daniel's secret forced labor gazebo in deep Alabama, to act as another docile zombie servant bound to the procurement of our master's holy desires.

RE: buddha on the couch
Answer
5/1/09 2:57 AM as a reply to Mike L.
Priceless.

RE: buddha on the couch
Answer
5/1/09 5:36 PM as a reply to Mike L.
And we are actually constructing more barracks in the compound as we speak... ;) This is actually true, and the first of the long-dreamed of huts for the rare meditator or two who would want to brave the wilds of Alabama and be subjected to my rants on the dharma is closer to becoming a reality.

Seriously, as pointed out, I do think it is important to differentiate between psychotherapeutic processes and the insight process, though there are connections at times, and it is worth trying out some basic, sane, reasonable practices if one wishes to see what they lead to if applied in sufficient dose.

Regarding wild cult comparisons, Bill Hamilton's book Saints and Psychopaths is fun and sane reading.

RE: buddha on the couch
Answer
5/1/09 8:11 PM as a reply to Mike L.
Author: yadidb

Does anyone know where I could get a hold of this book for a reasonable price?
(Cheapest I could find is about 100$ for a used copy.. so strange.)

RE: buddha on the couch
Answer
5/6/09 6:18 AM as a reply to Mike L.
I'd like to second this -- I'd like to find a copy as well, but used copies seem to be ca. $100. I can't afford that....

RE: buddha on the couch
Answer
5/6/09 9:21 AM as a reply to Mike L.
alabama: if the ogre doesn't get you the copperheads will.

yadidb and abingdon - i recommend getting signed up on both ebay and half.com as rare books do turn up there, sometimes for low prices. 'saints and psychopaths' was an entertaining read and if i had a copy i would scan it for you, but simply for the fun of it.. in my opinion, the dharma that is available on this forum and in MTCB is of higher quality and more clearly presented than what was written there.

RE: buddha on the couch
Answer
6/19/09 6:20 AM as a reply to Mike L.
Author: EnikhanJohorns

Enlightenment is not only "justly clearing your junk", but mastery of sciences (vidyas) also. See book review for "Dharma That Every Buddhist Must Follow" by, Amang Nopu Pamu coming soon.