Frequently Asked Questions
How do I navigate this place?
Most things can be accessed by going to the box up on the right and using those drop down menus where is says "Welcome". Home takes you to the home page. Much is found under "guest". My Places takes you to your communities and home page and other places. The control panel there allows you to control various things. The platform itself is LifeRay and those who are interested in learning more can access the documentation on-line at docs.liferay.com/portal/5.2/official/liferay-administration-guide.pdf
Your login is your email address. Your password is up to you, and may be changed in your control panel, again found in the black welcome box to the top right. As the automatic passwords Liferay provides are pretty hard to remember, consider changing it immediately to something you will remember.
If you need help with your login or something technical, email here: daniel_ingram [at] interactivebuddha [dot] com, written out in this fashion to avoid spam bots.
What traditions are welcome here?
Basically any that promote basic meditation and spiritual achievement. The goal is to have a place where talented practitioners and those aspiring to be so from various traditions can come together to promote spiritual growth and development on many axes. There are practitioners of various Buddhist paths here, as well as Christian contemplatives, magicians of the Western tradition, Taoists, etc... The vocabulary tends to be open, eclectic, and subject-specific, and there is a Dharma Wiki which contains all of the terms we often use. For example, if progress of insight in vipassana is discussed, the terminology will often be Theravada-based with some influences from other traditions, such as often calling the Dukkha Ñanas (knowledges of suffering) the Dark Night, after St. John of the Cross. Our philosophy is that the territory of meditative development is something inherent in humans, and the various traditions describe and support that. Thus, it is the territory that is of primary importance, and the descriptors and techniques are just tools to help attain and navigate it. We believe that by drawing on the theories and practices of some or many traditions, building on their strengths and compensating for their weaknesses, that something good can arise that is useful.
What is appropriate here?
This depends on the community and situation, and we hope that this place can accommodate a wide range of needs and interests, as well as discussion cultures, interests and paradigms. However, in general, try to adhere to the rules and guidelines for behavior laid out at the front door of whatever community you enter, as this will avoid having the moderators having to remind you. When in doubt, be respectful, honest, kind and keep a focus of "what is useful and true as best I know" in the front of your mind and behave as if the people you are writing to are real people, with hearts, feelings, and life experiences that you likely know very little of, as this is the case.
In general, and to quote the front page:
pragmatism over dogmatism, diligent practice over blind faith, openness regarding what the techniques may lead to, a lack of taboos surrounding talking about attainments, and the spirit of mutual, supportive adventurers on the path rather than rigid student-teacher relationships.
Good guidelines are: keep it simple, practice-related, technical when in doubt.
Further, given a choice of describing what you don't like (practice, teacher, tradition, center, etc.) and what you do like and find exciting, useful, interesting, helpful, empowering, try to emphasize the latter when possible, as more people are likely to get more out of it most of the time. This is not to say that what you perceive as useless, unhelpful, dangerous, damaging, problematic, etc. can't be discussed, but arguments that go on and on about how bad something is are much less fun than discussions about practitioners trying things out and achieving things.
What is inappropriate?
Seeking attention in a personal manner, speculating about half-understood concepts, guessing instead of finding out, and being dogmatic and closed-minded. Though uncommon, the moderators of the Dharma Overground will warn folks who aren't following the basic guidelines of this site to cease and desist. If there are repeated behaviors which undermine the health of the community you will be asked to leave. Though again this isn't common, we've found it necessary from time-to-time to ask someone to leave, in order to preserve a safe and rationally-grounded space for discussion.
Additionally: don't post personal information about people that they wouldn't want posted, and don't violate basic laws (e.g. posting private health data, committing libel, telling malicious lies or even needless malicious truths that don't further the goal of promoting skillful practice). Not only should you not do unto others as you wouldn't have them do unto you, but also don't do unto them as they wouldn't want done to themselves regardless of whether or not you care if it was done to you.
A weird thing happened during meditation, what does it mean?
There are probably an infinite number of weird things that can happen during meditation. Most of these will be one-time events, so the first thing to do is to keep practicing and see if the experience repeats itself. If it does, let the weird event be a weird event and really experience it. Try to learn from the content of it without indulging in the drama of it. Many times, these events are just curiosities that can throw us off-track, so simply "watching the event" is the right approach. More rarely, psychologically investigating the event is appropriate. Sometimes there are personal lessons, specific to only our own life, that we need to learn along the way. So try exploring it for yourself, because ultimately you will have the best insight into which approach makes sense and what "the content" of the event really means to you. That said, some types of events are common as meditation deepens and might cause trouble, so don't be afraid to ask. Folks here might be able to help with "the content" of meditation, but our advice is better suited to helping "the process" of meditation.
Who is Daniel Ingram?
Daniel Ingram is one of the primary founders of this site. See more about Daniel in this wiki entry. It should be noted, by way of frank and honest disclosure, that Daniel pays the bills for this platform, was the visionary behind it, started it, and thus, in the end, final decisions about what happens here are, for the moment, his. That said, this place couldn't happen without a wide range of talents and efforts from a wide range of people, and this place will only do well if there are people who feel that they are getting something out of it and able to contribute something to it, and so in reality, for most things, a mix of group consensus, individual action, and compromise drives the day to day governance of the thing, and thus, the reality what happens is generally an organic collective democracy tempered and augmented at times by frank dictatorship as a last resort.
Arising and Passing Away (A&P), Dark Night, Equanimity - What are these terms?
These are some points on the "map" of the progress of insight. Most of these names come from Theravada Buddhism, but the Dark Night, for example, is a term that's borrowed from the Christian tradition. This stage-terminology is used quite often here, as we maintain a fundamentally goal-oriented and map-based approach to the spiritual path. To become more familiar with the progress of insight you can start here with Daniel Ingram's description of this territory, or read Mahasi Sayadaw's short treatise entitled, The Progress of Insight. You can also find the original description of this progression in theVisuddhimagga in the insight section. Finally Jack Kornfield's book A Path With Heart (particularly chapter 10) offers another view of this territory. Becoming at least somewhat familiar with this terminology will greatly impact your ability to get value from this community of practitioners.
What are these maps you keep talking about?
The maps are descriptions of the typical landmark experiences which occur in a fairly predictable way to practitioners from any enlightenment tradition. Here's a page on the Theravada insight map. Here is a link to a Christian map. Other maps in the Buddhist tradition include the 5-Path Model and Bhumi Model in the Tibetan tradition, the 10 oxherding pictures and Tozan's 5 Ranks in the Zen tradition. Each of these maps describe the territory toward complete awakening, though they do so in sometimes wildly different manners.
What is up with people claiming attainments?
There is a cultural factor here that making claims to attainments is okay. They are your responsibility and you can present yourself as someone who has attained to whatever if you feel comfortable and motivated to do so. You may also respectfully present your opinions on other's claims. Obviously, not everyone will be correct in their assessment, some will try to deceive others by claiming something they don't think they have attained, not everyone will always react the way the claimant wishes, and everyone may not react to claimants they way they would wish. Frank battles over one person claiming something and others trying to prove they haven't can get rapidly painful for all, including those writing and those reading the posts, and so, if things get heated, consider contacting the person you are having the conflict with in person to discuss this over the phone, by Skype, in person in those rare instances where this is possible, etc. If you would debate their claims to attainments, which is a very close and personal subject, in an internet forum but wouldn't actually talk to them as a real person in real life, then something has gotten lost and it is likely to go badly most of the time and you should refrain from doing it unless you would be willing to talk to them in meat space.