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Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap

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Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Jason Snyder 1/24/15 11:32 AM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Kenneth Folk 1/24/15 5:11 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Paweł K 1/25/15 4:53 AM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap x x 1/25/15 6:14 AM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Dream Walker 1/25/15 11:20 AM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Kenneth Folk 1/25/15 4:27 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Andreas 1/25/15 5:23 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Kenneth Folk 1/26/15 2:12 AM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap matthew sexton 1/26/15 11:27 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Dada Kind 1/25/15 5:44 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Kenneth Folk 1/26/15 2:46 AM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Dada Kind 1/26/15 2:52 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Daniel - san 1/26/15 8:30 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Andreas 1/27/15 4:12 AM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap matthew sexton 1/27/15 8:33 AM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Dada Kind 1/27/15 6:56 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap John M. 1/25/15 8:41 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Kenneth Folk 1/26/15 2:24 AM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap x x 1/26/15 8:10 AM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap John M. 1/26/15 9:24 AM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Mark Peacock 1/26/15 9:22 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Megan Key 2/3/15 1:31 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Kenneth Folk 2/7/15 3:40 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap CJMacie 2/7/15 9:36 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Kenneth Folk 2/8/15 11:16 AM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Ben V. 9/16/15 4:29 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/16/15 8:21 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Ben V. 9/23/15 9:07 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Derek 1/24/15 5:47 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Kenneth Folk 1/24/15 6:44 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Bill F. 1/24/15 7:39 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Kenneth Folk 1/24/15 8:09 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Bill F. 1/24/15 8:30 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap AugustLeo 1/24/15 8:59 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Kenneth Folk 1/24/15 9:49 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap lama carrot top 1/24/15 8:34 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Jason Snyder 1/24/15 10:36 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Kenneth Folk 1/24/15 10:46 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap AugustLeo 1/25/15 3:03 AM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Kenneth Folk 1/26/15 1:53 AM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Jason Snyder 1/26/15 8:33 AM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Richard Zen 1/26/15 8:51 AM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Richard Zen 1/25/15 5:02 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Kenneth Folk 1/27/15 2:52 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Bill F. 1/27/15 5:56 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Daniel - san 1/27/15 6:13 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Bill F. 1/27/15 6:37 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap An Eternal Now 1/27/15 8:44 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Kenneth Folk 1/27/15 10:18 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Daniel - san 1/27/15 11:19 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Bill F. 1/28/15 12:06 AM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Daniel - san 1/31/15 2:46 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Bill F. 1/31/15 3:52 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Chris Marti 2/1/15 11:14 AM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap An Eternal Now 1/28/15 10:21 AM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap An Eternal Now 1/27/15 8:16 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Psi 1/27/15 6:58 PM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Paweł K 1/28/15 6:01 AM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Andreas 1/28/15 8:59 AM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Paweł K 1/28/15 10:19 AM
RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap Andreas 1/28/15 2:42 PM
Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/24/15 11:32 AM

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/24/15 5:11 PM as a reply to Jason Snyder.
Happy to answer questions or discuss.

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/24/15 5:47 PM as a reply to Jason Snyder.
Cool. I told Rick about two years ago he should talk to you. emoticon He finally got around to it! And now to watch ...

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/24/15 6:44 PM as a reply to Derek.
Thanks for the recco, Derek! I really enjoyed talking with Rick. He and I agree on so little, which makes for a lively discussion.

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/24/15 7:39 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Kenneth,

        Good to hear from you again. I have wondered occasionally where you got off to. 
        After listening to the interview, I am wondering in what ways your perspective has changed regarding meditaive development over the last few years, and what was the catalyst for this change? To be more specific, I was a frequent poster on your message board when you were modeling an 8/9 stage process of development. Given that you no longer reference this model, and to the best of my knowledge you never discussed at length the reasons behind the dismissal of this model, I am wondering if you have revised your opinion on it completely, and the reasoning behind that? 

Bill

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/24/15 8:09 PM as a reply to Bill F..
Hi Bill,

I'm not using the 9 stage model anymore. Several years ago, I was intrigued by the possibility that a quiet mind (little or no conscious experience of narrative thought and little or no subjective experience of feeling/emotion) was an indicator of a high degree of development, aka awakening or enlightenment. I no longer take that idea seriously.

Although some practitioners do report a quiet mind, it is not an end in itself nor an ideal state; it's just one of the things that can happen to some people sometimes. For some, it's a phase that lasts a long time; for others, it passes quickly. In either case, it's just another state, and shouldn't be considered an end state or a sign that one has arrived. If anything, the danger is that the practitioner will fetishize the state, become attached to it, and try to cultivate it to the exclusion of other experiences. Down this road lies dukkha.

Without the assumption that a quiet mind is an ideal mind, the 9 stage model doesn't make sense, so I dropped it.

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/24/15 8:30 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
That makes sense. Thank you.

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/24/15 8:34 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
I’ve only had time to sample this, but, yeah, definitely two guys from different neighborhoods.

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/24/15 8:59 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Kenneth Folk:
I'm not using the 9 stage model anymore. Several years ago, I was intrigued by the possibility that a quiet mind (little or no conscious experience of narrative thought and little or no subjective experience of feeling/emotion) was an indicator of a high degree of development, aka awakening or enlightenment. I no longer take that idea seriously.

Although some practitioners do report a quiet mind, it is not an end in itself nor an ideal state; it's just one of the things that can happen to some people sometimes. For some, it's a phase that lasts a long time; for others, it passes quickly. In either case, it's just another state, and shouldn't be considered an end state or a sign that one has arrived. If anything, the danger is that the practitioner will fetishize the state, become attached to it, and try to cultivate it to the exclusion of other experiences. Down this road lies dukkha.

Without the assumption that a quiet mind is an ideal mind, the 9 stage model doesn't make sense, so I dropped it.
Hi Kenneth. 

Anne-Marie and I really enjoyed your BATGAP interview.  It was interesting to hear you describe your current perspective, and contrast it with your perspective from the past.  I hope you continue to give interviews and dharma talks of this type, and perhaps write about your current perspective in more depth.

Since you're no longer using the 9-stage model anymore, has it perhaps been superceded by another model?  Also, is your current teaching accurately captured in your online book?
 
Best wishes, as always.

Michael

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/24/15 9:49 PM as a reply to AugustLeo.
Hi Michael,

Great to hear from you. Hi to Anne-Marie.

With regard to models, I'm pretty much back to the basic four-stage model Bill Hamilton taught me in 1990. After the fourth stage, development doesn't stop, though, so the idea of "full enlightenment" at Fourth Path is misleading. Development/adaptation continues forever, without any pre-ordained endpoint, very much like evolution. So, Fourth Path practitioners can look very different from one another, and at a certain point, the question of who is more enlightened than whom is meaningless in the same we that we can't say whether Michael Jordan was a better athlete than Serena Williams. They are both excellent, and they cannot be compared, apples to apples.

My online book draft (apologies because it's temporarily unavailable while transferring the domain from one registrar to another) is fairly up-to-date vis-a-vis my ever-evolving understanding. But there is much that isn't yet in it, which is why I'm grateful to Rick Archer for this latest interview; I was able to cover many of the issues that are up for me lately, and the fact that Rick comes from such a different place allowed me to flesh out a lot of the ideas. (For those who don't know, the draft of my book is parked at contemplativefitnessbook.com and should be back online soon. It's unfinished, but there's a lot there, and you're welcome to read it; I only ask that you keep in mind that it's a work in progress.)

Thanks for the kind words and the encouragement to write more, Michael.

All best,

Kenneth

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/24/15 10:36 PM as a reply to Jason Snyder.
Hi Kenneth, I also enjoyed the interview. I don't think you guys were disagreed that much - the main things seemed to be related to the ontological status of peak experiences and the question of the spiritual teleology - but he seemed to be open to your discussion of mindfullness vs. concentration, objectifying sensations, and making the subject object. 

I have a question for you. In addition to the 4 path model, do you still think in terms of "3 speed transmission"? In particular, are you still interested in self-inquiry approaches to bringing subtle subjective stances to light?

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/24/15 10:46 PM as a reply to Jason Snyder.
Jason Snyder:
Hi Kenneth, I also enjoyed the interview. I don't think you guys were disagreed that much - the main things seemed to be related to the ontological status of peak experiences and the question of the spiritual teleology - but he seemed to be open to your discussion of mindfullness vs. concentration, objectifying sensations, and making the subject object. 

I have a question for you. In addition to the 4 path model, do you still think in terms of "3 speed transmission"? In particular, are you still interested in self-inquiry approaches to bringing subtle subjective stances to light?
Hi Jason, thanks for posting the link to the video to start the discussion.

Re "the ontological status of peak experiences and the question of the spiritual teleology"...

Yes! I believe you have accurately distilled the salient nugget of the discussion! Rick believes in what I am happy to dismiss as the "great consciousness in the sky." And he believes there is a right way to be enlightened, which for me implies a telos I am not eager to posit. But enough with impenetrable jargon which probably isn't interesting to most people. I'd love to talk with you about it one-on-one sometime. Meanwhile...

Yes, the Three Speed Transmission continues to be the backbone of my teaching. By lighting up the present experience from every possible angle, I think we come up with a very robust kind of awakening. And the three gears are a powerful framework for understanding how to do that.  

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/25/15 3:03 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Kenneth Folk - from his online book Contemplative Fitness:
The Pragmatic Model of Arahatship
These people know they are done; they have come to the end of seeking. Although they may continue to meditate with great enthusiasm, and continue to deepen and refine important aspects of their understanding throughout their lives, they do not feel there is anything they need to do vis a vis their own awakening. This is in marked contrast to the pre-arahat meditator, who tends to be obsessed with meditation and progress. Equally important, the Pragmatic Model arahat is able to see experience as process. There is no enduring sense of self at the center of experience. The Buddhist ideal of insight into not-self has been completely realized and integrated.


Kenneth - would you please expand upon what you mean by seeing "experience as process", as well as your perspective on not-self?  Thanks.emoticon



Edited to add the question re not-self

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/25/15 4:53 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hi Kenneth

I have but two very simple questions for you:

1. Did you before, at 4th path or some time after it found something that seem completely static, something that seems to be there all the time and is different than sensations and have nothing to do with them except that everything that arise seems to arise from it and go back to it?

2. Did you before, at 4th path or some time after it found something that seem completely random, something that seems to be there all the time and is different than sensations and have nothing to do with them except that everything that arise seems to arise from it and go back to it?

I would love to hear your answer to them.

Best wishes,
Paweł K.

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/25/15 6:14 AM as a reply to Paweł K.
Heya Kenneth - a past student here, incognito.

I've been thinking that Buddha's use of the word nibbana isn't anything like a-noun-like-thing-named-nibbana, and that's probably why there is so much confusion in the buddhist world and time needed to fundamentally awaken. It doesn't take too long to see that form is emptiness when we start practice, sensations and thoughts obviously arise and disappear totally, nothing perminant and solid sticks around... It makes sense, then, to think of nibbana as the place that everything disappears into, something other than this life in samsara, where there is unending emptiness and peace.

But it can take a long time to see emptiness IS form, that the emptiness is one and the same as the form, that without knowing form there wouldn't be knowing emptiness. It's right under our nose, but we really want it to be something non-mundane, something that is "attained", something that we can point to and proud that we have found. Seeing it is the ultimate of being humbled, now nothing is special. Everything is what it is, so nothing is lost, but nothing is particularly special.

Of course the good news is once all the quest for specialness drops away, there is still plenty of life to be lived and work to be done.

Fourth path seems to be the insight into how samsara is always nibbana-ing. The self feeling comes and goes, non-self comes and goes, awareness of objects come and go, cessasions come and go. There is no reason to hold onto something, because it is already gone as soon as it has been experienced. I think that this is what you mean as seeing life as process.

Ending is almost a better word for nibbana.

I think buddha was basically saying, as soon as something is experience it is already on it's way toward ending (nibbana). With sensations and thoughts it ends basically as soon as it arises. Maybe with an material object the ending is longer and consists of lots of smaller endings, but there is still the tendency toward entropy. Seeing this through and through is fourth path. The spiritual life has been lived. But life goes on and goes on, ending and ending, until we completely end at death (parinibanna).


It's funny how the whole spiritual path is what it takes to reconcile to the basic facts of life, but there it is. It really is a noble pursuit, however, which becomes clear when we look at all the ways people try to defy these basic facts of mortaility and seek fame, fortune, power, to assuage their basic mortality fears -- and all the wreckage that leaves. If we were okay with the idea of our own death and our own limited time on earth, I suspect things would be a little more sane.


Just where my thoughts are now, subject to change in future, as always.

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/25/15 11:20 AM as a reply to x x.
x x:

Fourth path seems to be the insight into how samsara is always nibbana-ing. The self feeling comes and goes, non-self comes and goes, awareness of objects come and go, cessasions come and go. There is no reason to hold onto something, because it is already gone as soon as it has been experienced. I think that this is what you mean as seeing life as process.

Ending is almost a better word for nibbana.


Reminds me of Shinzen Youngs illustrations page 40-45 - WhatIsMindfulness.pdf
~D

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/25/15 4:27 PM as a reply to Paweł K.
Paweł K:

1. Did you before, at 4th path or some time after it found something that seem completely static, something that seems to be there all the time and is different than sensations and have nothing to do with them except that everything that arise seems to arise from it and go back to it?

2. Did you before, at 4th path or some time after it found something that seem completely random, something that seems to be there all the time and is different than sensations and have nothing to do with them except that everything that arise seems to arise from it and go back to it?
Hi Pawel, here are brief answers to your questions:

1. Yes, on at least two occasions, for periods lasting several years at a time, I thought I'd found something static, constant, or perhaps abiding, within experience. The first was what seemed to be a kind of witnessing consciousness that could be found within any moment of experience irrespective of whatever else was going on. I was able to cultivate this into a recogizable and reproducible state that I thought of as the witness. I also believed that this witnessing consciousness was there in the background even when there was no conscious recognition of it. The witness, when cultivated as a state, was compelling because it felt like an upgrade from my default identity as Kenneth; from the point of view of the witness, there wasn't any concern for whether Kenneth lived or died. There was very little sense of time; it felt like riding the razor's edge of now, without reference to past or future.

The second candidate for an abiding phenomenon was a subtle, exquisite, diffuse presence that seemed to underlie and pervade or contain all experience but had no location or individual identity. From this point of view, which I thought of as primordial awareness, "I" seemed to disappear and merge within the totality of experience. This was, subjectively speaking, the best of all; it felt wonderful to meld into the universal consciousness and cease to exist as a separate entity.

In both cases, as I continued to cultivate, explore, and investigate the experiences, the orientation toward them changed. It became apparent that as wonderful and valuable as these experiences were, they were still experiences. For "experience," I'm using a simple, common-sense definition: if it can be remembered, it was an experience. If there was consciousness during it, it was an experience. Notice that this definition of experience doesn't posit an "I" to have the experience; that's a separate question.

As the experiences of the witness and primordial awareness were integrated through the years, it became increasingly difficult to think of them as special, or to believe that they were more real, more valid, or more ontologically significant than an itch, a sound, or a thought. This was simultaneously devastating and liberating. I could no longer privilege even the loftiest of phenomena as the "right" way to be or the "truth." The common habit of spiritual teachers to speak of Reality as though it had a capital "R" no longer made sense to me.

Here is my current working model: all experience has exactly the same ontological status as any other. In other words, there is no reason to believe that any experience, however subtle, exquisite, or profound, gives one special knowledge or insight into the ultimate nature of the universe. As humbling and discouraging as this may sound, it turns out to be a great relief, once integrated. It's terrible when Santa Claus dies, but at least you don't have to drag him around anymore. Now, having grieved extensively the death of my sacred states, I am much more likely to be delighted than discouraged upon noticing that there is nothing in this or any other world that we can be sure of.

From this point of view, experiences of the "witness" or "merger with the cosmos" can still be valued as beautiful and enriching, and one can enjoy them for their own sake.

2. I'm hoping this is covered in my answer of question #1, but happy to clarify if you want to ask a followup question.

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/25/15 5:02 PM as a reply to Jason Snyder.
I liked the understanding in the interview of privleging one experience over another and the dangers of dukkha with doing that. Then Rick tries to point out that Kenneth privileges some experiences over others. Rick totally missed the comment on pari-nirvana and dealing with life while you're alive. Then later on Kenneth points out that there is no perfect awakening just like there's no perfect athlete. Ken can get a sore neck from time to time. Then Rick goes into a "permanent field" description of the ultimate. LOL! Lots of fun.
The Buddha told the Wise Protector, "The consciousness moves and turns, transmigrates and expires, and comes and goes like the wind...The wind has no hands, no feet, no face, no eyes, no shape; it is not black, white, yellow, or red. Wise Protector, the same is true of consciousness. Consciousness is without color, shape, or light, and cannot be manifested. It shows its various functions only when proper causes and conditions are met.

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/26/15 1:53 AM as a reply to AugustLeo.
AugustLeo wrote:

"Kenneth - would you please expand upon what you mean by seeing "experience as process", as well as your perspective on not-self?"


Experience as process

By "the ability to see experience as process" I mean seeing in real time that everything within experience is moving, incuding the oft-arising sense that "this is happening to me." Seen this way, there doesn't seem to be any abiding nugget of consciousness that could be considered "I". There also doesn't appear to be any abiding field of consciousness within which all of this is happening. Every aspect of experience has exactly the same status as any other; it's just what is happening. The perception of an apparent field of awareness is also just what is happening. The absolute, self-validating conviction that this apparent field of awareness is the Truth of the Universe is itself just something that is happening. There is no place to hang your hat.

I like to think of a dust devel in an open field. It spins around, kicks up dust, lasts as long as it lasts, and then peters out. It arises according to conditions in the environment, and passes away when the conditions that created it no longer exist. Each of us is a dust devil. We spin around, interact with other dust devils, make some noise, and then stop spinning, either suddenly or gradually. In the same way that we don't assume there is anyone inside a dust devil making it go, we don't have to assume there is anyone "in here," inside of our own whirling experience. The sense that "this is happening to me" is just another gust of wind. The disappointment that may arise on noticing that "I" am much less substantial (and therefore much less important) than I had hoped, is itself a gust of wind.

Not-self

One way to think of not-self would be as doctrine. For example, one might believe that "the Buddha said there is no self," and therefore we should also believe that there is no self. Or, from an Advaita point of view, one might believe that we should "eradicate the self!" and that the goal of spiritual practice is to find a way to live in which there is no sense of "I".

I don't find either of those perspectives useful. For me, it starts as a question; Is there a self? Many questions arise from there:

What is the self?
Who am I?
Where am I in this picture (and why do I think so)?

When I ask these questions, I do not find a self. Whenever I investigate experience directly, it seems that "I" cannot be what I am looking at; if there is an "I", it must be the one who is looking. And since everything within experience can be looked at (objectified, or made an object), an "I" is never found. Nonetheless, the sense that I am the one who is looking continues to arise, many times a day. This seems normal and fine. The sense that "this is happening to me" is just another experience, like an itch or a sound. It does not need to be "eradicated." This is a source of much misunderstanding among spiritual practitioners; we often trip over ourselves to convince ourselves and everyone else that we "have no sense of self." But it is unnecessary. If we don't posit a self in the first place, we don't have to get rid of it. And when the momentarily arising impression that "this is happening to me" is seen as just another experience, there is no reason to feel ashamed of it or to pretend that it doesn't happen. I would go so far as to say that this perceived need to be rid of the sense of self is one of the misunderstandings most likely to prevent further development for intermediate and advanced yogis.

To summarize, the idea of not-self as a prescription is less than useful. And the hope of cultivating "not-self" as a persistant experience is counterproductive and based on a misunderstanding. But the exploration of experience, with the aim of finding out whether there is a self, leads to liberation.

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/25/15 5:23 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Given your descriptions of states, nothing higher or lower etc, experience as process etc are a philosophical point of view such as existential, moral, metaphysical nihilism (the actual non buddhist kind) helpful or a hindrance in making progress along the path. Or should one abandon all philosophical ideas along the path.
Personally im a nihilistic antinatalist, though not always willingly, its just logical hehe.

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/25/15 5:44 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Do you still actively read dharma or spiritual books for hints about further territory or levels of 'enlightenment'?

And, pssst check your reddit messages

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/25/15 8:41 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hi Kenneth, great interview. Very challenging stuff alongside some fundamentals that I was glad to be reminded of. Rick has a habit of trying to corral people into his world view, but your presentation was very clear all the same. The conversation also touched on something that's been on my mind for awhile now:

Your definition of mindfulness seems to stress the importance of "recursive self-awareness" (hope I've quoted you correctly) as the thing that makes the actual difference in objectifying experience and producing insight. Would you say that this same objectification is reliably produced in a practice that focuses on the three characteristics? Or is the apprehension of the 3Cs more of a by-product of recursive self-awareness? I've noticed in my own practice that occassionally the 3Cs will become apparent in a way that's so totally effortless and transparent that it makes my usual attempts to deliberately notice them seem entirely ham-fisted and ineffectual. It's like a switch is flipped and I go from looking to seeing... only I have no idea what that switch is, where it is, or how to consistently reach it. Any thoughts?

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/26/15 2:12 AM as a reply to Andreas.
Hi Andreas. I don't think you need to abandon philosophy or ideas. And, as a thinking person, you are bound to have a favorite philosophical lens. This is normal and fine. Nihilism is perhaps as good a lens as any, as long as it supports you in your life and doesn't result in unecessary harm to others. In any case, these favored lenses are likely to change through the years, none being inherently better or worse than any other.

Perhaps the most empowering understanding about the practice that leads to awakening is that it doesn't matter what is happening as long as you know it's happening as it's happening. So much freedom flows from there. Even if what is happening is absolutely dreadful, it can be objectified, noticed, lit up by consciousness, named, and noted. And that's all you have to do. About the time you see it clearly, it's gone, replaced by something else. Which can also be noted.

In '93, I was living and meditating in a monastery in Rangoon, Burma. One day, at interview, one of the yogis asked the monk teacher whether we should be doing "letting go" practice. The monk said, "You don't have to let go of anything. Just see it clearly. It will go away by itself."

Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes.

If you pay careful attention to your experience, your nihilism will not be a hindrance. In fact, there are no hindrances in the realm of vipassana properly understood; the moment you objectify the supposed hindrance, it becomes fuel for your awakening.

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/26/15 2:24 AM as a reply to John M..
John M.:

Your definition of mindfulness seems to stress the importance of "recursive self-awareness" (hope I've quoted you correctly) as the thing that makes the actual difference in objectifying experience and producing insight. Would you say that this same objectification is reliably produced in a practice that focuses on the three characteristics? Or is the apprehension of the 3Cs more of a by-product of recursive self-awareness? I've noticed in my own practice that occassionally the 3Cs will become apparent in a way that's so totally effortless and transparent that it makes my usual attempts to deliberately notice them seem entirely ham-fisted and ineffectual. It's like a switch is flipped and I go from looking to seeing... only I have no idea what that switch is, where it is, or how to consistently reach it. Any thoughts?
Hi John,

Think of the 3Cs as a description, after-the-fact, that may or may not fit your experience. Your job is to find out whether dukkha, anicca, and anatta accurately reflect your experience. The 3Cs should not be seen as a prescription; don't let anyone tell you what is real in your own experience. If anything, it's fun to challenge these sacred cows. Maybe the Buddha was wrong. Find out.

With this orientation, all becomes clear. You can float the question of whether any given experience is impermanent, unsatisfactory, and lacking a persistent self. But then forget about all that and just pay careful attention to your experience. Your experience is as it is, regardless of what the pundits say. Your description of spontaneously noticing the 3Cs at times, but sometimes feeling ineffectual when forcing it, rings true for me. Keep up the investigation, consider the possibility that the Buddha was wrong, and see what you see.

And report back, so the rest of us can be inspired by what you find, one way or the other!

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/26/15 2:46 AM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Droll Dedekind:
Do you still actively read dharma or spiritual books for hints about further territory or levels of 'enlightenment'?

And, pssst check your reddit messages

Hi Droll,

I don't read many spiritual books lately. I do read a lot. It's pretty eclectic. In the last several months, I've read (or am reading)

The Life you Can Save by Peter Singer
L'ile au Tresor (a French translation of RL Steveson's Treasure Island)
The Precariat by Guy Standing
The Internet is Not the Answer by Andrew Keen
This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein
some short stories in Russian by Anton Chekhov (I don't read Russian very well yet, but I'm learning)
Bad Samaritans by Ha-Joon Chang
Nonduality by Michael Taft
Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom
Zero to One by Peter Thiel
What If? by Randall Munroe
In Our Hands by Charles Murray
The Golden Transcendence by John C Wright
Our Final Invention by James Barret
Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson
Les Chevaliers de l'Artefact by William Hunter

And thanks for the tip about Korzybski! He's been on my reading list for a long time. Might be time to move him to the front of the queue.

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/26/15 8:10 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
This was such a great interview...

I was rewatching it and a co-worker walked by and said I was beaming happiness. So subjectively and objectively, I really enjoyed it. The interviewer didn't give you a great stage for really articulating your thoughts, but they came through anyway. Frankly, it was kind of masterful.

Thanks again for doing this!

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/26/15 8:33 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Kenneth Folk:

To summarize, the idea of not-self as a prescription is less than useful. And the hope of cultivating "not-self" as a persistant experience is counterproductive and based on a misunderstanding. But the exploration of experience, with the aim of finding out whether there is a self, leads to liberation.

Hi Kenneth. Have you read Rob Burbea's new book: Seeing that Frees: Meditations on Emptiness and Dependent Arising? In it he recommends cultivating different ways of intentionally looking, including the 3C's as provisional tools to recognize the inherent emptiness of selves' and phenomenon. In other words, to use wisdom as a tool, as a lens, and not just wait for it as a result. He argues that the advice to always just be with things as they are is not good, because "as things are" involves all kinds of assumptions and reification of "things" that are in fact empty. This seems to be counter to what you are recommending here, i.e, not using the 3C's as prescription. Is it? Here is a quote from Burbea:

"To some, this second mode of insight practice, where liberating ways of looking are intentionally cultivated and sustained, may initially sound unattractive... may involve a belief that 'being' and 'doing' are really different...'just being' is regarded as preferable or somehow more authentic...it turns out, though, that whenever there is any experience at all, there is always some fabricating, which is a kind of 'doing'...in states of 'just being' which we might image are devoid of self, a subtle self is actually being constructed anyway...What seems like 'just being with things as they appear' will undoubtedly involve all kinds of views and assumptions, mostly unrecognized, about what is perceived. Thus it is actually a way of looking; or, more likely, it will subsume, at different times, relatively diverse ways of looking...My experience in my own practice, in teaching, and in talking and listening to others, is that meditations using only the first mode of insight - that is, relying mostly on insight as a 'result' - will very probably not be enough on their own to overcome the force of deeply engrained habitual delusion that perceives and intuitively feels things to have inherent existence. As we have said, some element or aspect of a phenomenon will remain reified if it is not consciously and profoundly seen into. The overwhelming tendency is to unconsciously impute inherent existence to things, not to see emptiness. We need, therefore, to practice views that actually dissolve or remove this illusion of inherent existence."

Thoughts?

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/26/15 8:51 AM as a reply to Jason Snyder.
Jason Snyder:
Kenneth Folk:

To summarize, the idea of not-self as a prescription is less than useful. And the hope of cultivating "not-self" as a persistant experience is counterproductive and based on a misunderstanding. But the exploration of experience, with the aim of finding out whether there is a self, leads to liberation.

Hi Kenneth. Have you read Rob Burbea's new book: Seeing that Frees: Meditations on Emptiness and Dependent Arising? In it he recommends cultivating different ways of intentionally looking, including the 3C's as provisional tools to recognize the inherent emptiness of selves' and phenomenon. In other words, to use wisdom as a tool, as a lens, and not just wait for it as a result. He argues that the advice to always just be with things as they are is not good, because "as things are" involves all kinds of assumptions and reification of "things" that are in fact empty. This seems to be counter to what you are recommending here, i.e, not using the 3C's as prescription. Is it? Here is a quote from Burbea:

"To some, this second mode of insight practice, where liberating ways of looking are intentionally cultivated and sustained, may initially sound unattractive... may involve a belief that 'being' and 'doing' are really different...'just being' is regarded as preferable or somehow more authentic...it turns out, though, that whenever there is any experience at all, there is always some fabricating, which is a kind of 'doing'...in states of 'just being' which we might image are devoid of self, a subtle self is actually being constructed anyway...What seems like 'just being with things as they appear' will undoubtedly involve all kinds of views and assumptions, mostly unrecognized, about what is perceived. Thus it is actually a way of looking; or, more likely, it will subsume, at different times, relatively diverse ways of looking...My experience in my own practice, in teaching, and in talking and listening to others, is that meditations using only the first mode of insight - that is, relying mostly on insight as a 'result' - will very probably not be enough on their own to overcome the force of deeply engrained habitual delusion that perceives and intuitively feels things to have inherent existence. As we have said, some element or aspect of a phenomenon will remain reified if it is not consciously and profoundly seen into. The overwhelming tendency is to unconsciously impute inherent existence to things, not to see emptiness. We need, therefore, to practice views that actually dissolve or remove this illusion of inherent existence."

Thoughts?

I would be careful with this one because some Theravadins do create a dualism between nirvana and other experiences that might make cessation too exclusive and desired so that stress still appears.  A mahayana view might want to point out a lack of preference between samsara or nirvana just to make sure that no "unconditioned" is reified and no escape from life is created. From looking at Kenneth's and Daniel's views they allow for multiple traditions and modern insights. As long as people understand that what happens is gone in the same instant and that the present moment doesn't exist inherently but is short-term memory they should be able to let go of a need to be in cessation constantly. Kenneth's interview shows that having too many preferences (even in meditation) is more stress.

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/26/15 9:24 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Awesome, thanks for these pointers. Looking forward to being able to read your book in its entirety!

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/26/15 2:52 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
I've seen a few people try to combine meditation with general semantics, but afaik no one in the pragmatic dharma movement has gotten into it. To try to pique your interest (and the interest of anyone reading this) I made an image of a table from Science and Sanity that summarizes general semantics by comparing it to the usual aristotelian orientation. It might make it clear how you're already thinking similarly

Table here

Your orientation toward process is addressed by 3. Noself and emptiness are addressed by 7, 22, etc. 'Karma' is addressed by 34. Noting practice can be thought of as training what Korzybski called the "natural order of evaluation", 29 or as the general "consciousness of abstracting", 28. Your idea of revising our maps to fit new information in 6, 8, 9, 37, etc. Your 'quiet mind', 30. Impermanence by 3, 14. Etc.

In the video you mentioned "brain training" at one point and when Rick brought up that neuroscience and the chakra models aren't mutually exclusive you paused and didn't really respond. I think this relates to the tendency for people to think neuroscience = brain science = mind study. Neuroscience = nervous system science. Following Korzybski, when you know that we can only separate the brain from the rest of the nervous system linguistically, it's apparent that meditation is nervous system training, not brain training. This shift in perspective allows for natural consideration of the affective, body-based, 'energetic' aspects of meditation and their relation to the 'mind' aspect. It seems plausible to me that the 'chakra models' are referring to awareness of very real aspects of the nervous system, probably the ganglia. As you're an expositor of meditation for geeky tech people, I hope you adopt this subtle but significant shift

You mentioned an interesting thought experiment -- what if you were smarter and more talented in meditation? Would you reach a further awakening and have a different understanding of awakening?

I thought of a similar thought experiment. What if you practiced meditation techniques that are unlike any of the techniques you've trained in so far? Would you reach a further awakening and have a different understanding of awakening?

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/26/15 8:30 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Droll Dedekind:
I thought of a similar thought experiment. What if you practiced meditation techniques that are unlike any of the techniques you've trained in so far? Would you reach a further awakening and have a different understanding of awakening?

I think there is something to this idea myself (I'd love to hear Kenneth's response). For instance those that do yoga/AYP type practices are infused with bliss and veer toward God consciousness. I feel like there is a strong make you own reality component to this spiritual business

I also think a lot of the philosophy (in my mind anyway) is actually still interpretation and involves a felt sense of what is true or not, such as an itch being equivalent to everything else. Or the view that Nibbana and the death of an arahat is really a final oblivion of being - these are clearly (to me) imputations. How can we know these things, especially if there is no such thing as bare awareness, or more specifically, objectivity?

I feel like the ideas expressed (and this makes sense, not judging) are just as much products of our time as those made by the Buddha. We are all using Buddhist teachings are verbiage like Arahat and Nibbana, but throw out the Buddha's own definition of what an Arahat is (by way of the ten fetters). Seems like we should use a different word entirely. Same with Nibbana. Goenka refers to it as the bliss of Nibbana, but where is the bliss? Can we all really say that pain and pleasure don't matter? Rebirth and karma are also central teachings of the Buddha, but everyone wants to pick and choose and make a new teaching. The Buddha never said (as far as I know) that the answer is extinction, or oblivion - I was under the impression that he was mostly silent when asked about this topic

One paradox that I see (I see many) is that the path of development (for instance) from an all-is-one consciousness realization toward an all-that-exists-is-now-and-it's-utterly-equal-only-sensations-signifying-nothing realization are inferred to be evolution, or development. A value scale. An Eternal Now via Thusness expound about these subjects in a way that's way deeper than I can go too. Then it is said that all things are equal. Paradox! I feel that the philosophy of equality and extinction-as-the-goal is heavily weighted toward the 3rd gear/no-self-whatsoever view and lacks more of the 2nd gear/True Self perspective. There is developement afterall when looked at in another way. Having awareness is at the very least insinuated to be a better way than an unconscious coke addict (I doubt Kenneth was ever anything close to unconscious). My view is that the non-duality side is a perspective among others - but I am clearly not as highly realized

Everyone that is experienced (in the Jimi Hendrix sense) says something at least a bit different though, is anyone right about this stuff, or maybe more right? Does the goal post just keep moving? Should I just go sit quietly in the dark?

Enjoyed the interview very much still, excited for the book!

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/26/15 9:22 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Dear Kenneth, great to read your forum Q & A's again. Love it!  ~kacchapa

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/26/15 11:27 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Kenneth Folk:
Here is my current working model: all experience has exactly the same ontological status as any other. In other words, there is no reason to believe that any experience, however subtle, exquisite, or profound, gives one special knowledge or insight into the ultimate nature of the universe. As humbling and discouraging as this may sound, it turns out to be a great relief, once integrated. It's terrible when Santa Claus dies, but at least you don't have to drag him around anymore. Now, having grieved extensively the death of my sacred states, I am much more likely to be delighted than discouraged upon noticing that there is nothing in this or any other world that we can be sure of.

From this point of view, experiences of the "witness" or "merger with the cosmos" can still be valued as beautiful and enriching, and one can enjoy them for their own sake.
Hi Kenneth,

Thanks for taking the time for the interview and carrying on the conversation here.

Thanks for the 'current model' you outline above, hearing it helps me to get a quick read on where you're coming from.  I have a question about the last paragraph: I assume you're leaving out part of the story, the part of the story that says, there are many contemplative experiences that are worth pursuing, not because they are an attainment themselves, but rather that they signify that our method of pursuit is carrying us along a path that changes our ongoing experience of life in helpful ways.

Of course, my question is driven by my own belief, that our practice does change our experience of life in ways that are immutable and valuable.  I'm trying to figure out if you're in the category of 'everything is already great, just believe it and live it', or that you do indeed believe in working hard to get somewhere better than 'here' (and that our experiences along the way are valuable signposts).

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/27/15 4:12 AM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Droll Dedekind:
In the video you mentioned "brain training" at one point and when Rick brought up that neuroscience and the chakra models aren't mutually exclusive you paused and didn't really respond. I think this relates to the tendency for people to think neuroscience = brain science = mind study. Neuroscience = nervous system science. Following Korzybski, when you know that we can only separate the brain from the rest of the nervous system linguistically, it's apparent that meditation is nervous system training, not brain training. This shift in perspective allows for natural consideration of the affective, body-based, 'energetic' aspects of meditation and their relation to the 'mind' aspect. It seems plausible to me that the 'chakra models' are referring to awareness of very real aspects of the nervous system, probably the ganglia. As you're an expositor of meditation for geeky tech people, I hope you adopt this subtle but significant shift
The chakra system alines more with our lymphatic system. Though we have alot more areas with lymph nodes than chakra areas. We also have a neural network around our intestines, basically a "brain". Its a complex world.
There is also the thing that thinking about actually doing a task improves on us doing this task. Thinking/visualising lifting weights trains our muscles. Its not much but still. This brings to mind the idea of visualization that the tibetans are so fond of. Which is brings me to this part of your post Droll.
You mentioned an interesting thought experiment -- what if you were smarter and more talented in meditation? Would you reach a further awakening and have a different understanding of awakening? 

I thought of a similar thought experiment. What if you practiced meditation techniques that are unlike any of the techniques you've trained in so far? Would you reach a further awakening and have a different understanding of awakening?
Given the numerous prayers, visualisations, conscioussness manipulations this really sounds like a given. There is a ton of different methods. Think Ive read some about conscioussness sharing and what not. Weird stuff but one could always try it out. Like training to enter state of flow regardless of task, flow by Csikszentmihalyi definition. Would be interesting to see how samadhi etc relates to the state of flow.

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/27/15 8:33 AM as a reply to Andreas.
Andreas:
.... Like training to enter state of flow regardless of task, flow by Csikszentmihalyi definition. Would be interesting to see how samadhi etc relates to the state of flow.
I sort of did that experiment but backwards to your example.  Here is a new thread on that subject:

link: http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5661451

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/27/15 2:52 PM as a reply to Jason Snyder.
Here is something I wrote today. Cut and pasted from another online discussion. Thought it would go nicely here as well.


No, I'm saying something completely different. I'm questioning your assertion that "at every moment, experience has two components -- (1) appearances (thoughts, perceptions, sensations) which come and go; and (2) awareness, which does not come and go." This, I maintain, is a misunderstanding.

I'm suggesting that there is no experience of awareness. Awareness is always inferred. The experiences you are calling "awareness," however subtle, exquisite, profound, and self-validating, are just experiences, with no more or less claim to Ultimate Reality than an itch, or a thought, or gas pain. I'm suggesting that neither you, nor I, nor anyone else, past or present has ever perceived or apperceived, quasi-perceived, or otherwise-perceived awareness, either personally or impersonally. What people (understandably) mislabel "Awareness" is, in fact, a mental construct, a composite of physical and mental phenomena. I'm suggesting that the next step for you (and anyone who is talking about Awareness) is to grieve the death of your projection. With this understanding, this process of awakening takes a sharp turn into territory we never bargained for and couldn't have anticipated in advance. This is why it's hard, and rare. Most people will not take this step. They will park themselves in their mental constructs, surround themselves with people who believe the same thing, and fail to move beyond their current understanding.

-Kenneth

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/27/15 5:56 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
I am glad these things are being discussed. I think an important point would be that just because one is no longer priviledging non-dual experience as being an ultimate reality does not mean that one is prohibited from acting in a way towards living a good life. In my experience, when the idea of the spiritual and Awareness and Ultimate Reality fell away, I was devastated. It was as though what had given my life meaning for so many years had suddenly been taken away, and I had no way to account for all the hours I'd spent practicing, nor the way I had held certain states or practices or insights as being special. It really and truly broke my heart. I could not practice for a while, or even really think about it, as I had no way to configure this new understanding with the way I had constructed practice and life before. That was a bout a year. It was in some ways very dark, and yet I couldn't feel that bad about it somehow.
Gradually I returned to practice, but with a new sense of freedom. Without being tied to ideas of non-duality, self/no self, I was more or less free to pursue whatever I wanted. This might be the brahma viharas. It might be the jhanas. It might be therapy. Or relationships. I might choose to spend a couple hours a day walking outside and not practice at all. 
One question that comes up for me is this: Having had a similar experience, how can I be sure that I am not now just creating another model? In other words, the stage of reifying a Super Awareness or Non-duality or whatever it might be, is just the stage before the stage of seeing through all that, and in what ways am I currently cutting myself off from further development? Just some food for thought for myself.

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/27/15 6:13 PM as a reply to Bill F..
Bill F.:
One question that comes up for me is this: Having had a similar experience, how can I be sure that I am not now just creating another model? In other words, the stage of reifying a Super Awareness or Non-duality or whatever it might be, is just the stage before the stage of seeing through all that, and in what ways am I currently cutting myself off from further development? Just some food for thought for myself.

Hi Bill,
I have not experienced Awareness being a mental construct, all I can say is the thing we call awareness points to something - not an actual thing, maybe a verb. 
I think your question for Kenneth (yourself) is very important though, and it get's to my diatribe rambling about Kenneth's (and yours apparently) most recent realizations. There are only two possibilities that I can see:
1.) You have realized the basics of the depth of reality of life and you stand among an unbelievably tiny select few that have seen this same thing and would agree with you
2.) Your most recent realization is another view and does not encompass the total truth of awareness and life
I tend to thing the 2nd option more plausable
In the Batgap interview it seems Kenneth left the door open wide for option two as well
He also said that by definition there are large swaths of reality that we can never have access to as human beings, so how can we be objective about this truth of awareness being non-existent? It's kind of like arguing about dark matter - we can't see it or measure it, but we can see it's effects so we created a word for it and boom - everyone agrees
If you know what it is to not have awareness (once aware) it imputes it's own existence - even though it's clearly not a 'thing' - it's there. Isn't this just emptiness?
Maybe there are more realizations to go, and the non-existence of beings or the non-existence of awareness is simply just a perspective on the truth, but there's much more. Why be done now?

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/27/15 6:37 PM as a reply to Daniel - san.
Hi Daniel,

        Regarding awareness pointing to something, can you be more explicit about what you mean? What do you believe it's pointing towards. And how would you define awareness? Is it always there for you in your experience?
        I did not mean to imply that I was done. I don't think that's a word I used above, or have ever used. I actually have no idea what that would even look like, or how it would be possible to conceptualize done-ness. 
        I would agree that it is a view/perspective, and that holding to it tightly and asserting it's rightness would be silly. What does seem gone is the belief in Awareness beyond phenomena, standing apart in some way.
        Regarding the following: "If you know what it is to not have awareness (once aware) it imputes it's own existence - even though it's clearly not a 'thing' - it's there. Isn't this just emptiness?" Could you be more explicit about this as well? I'm not being facetious. I do not understand what you are saying. I don't know that I know what it is to have or not have awareness. How do these two differ for you? Thanks.

Bill

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/27/15 6:56 PM as a reply to Andreas.
I've never considered the chakra model in relation to the lymphatic system. Endocrine system and nervous system seem more plausible to me. See here.

Anyway, the tummo dudes have proven that it's possible to manipulate the body in remarkable ways. If we talk about this as "brain training" these types of 'energetic' phenomena will continue to mystify.

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/27/15 6:58 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Kenneth Folk:
Here is something I wrote today. Cut and pasted from another online discussion. Thought it would go nicely here as well.


No, I'm saying something completely different. I'm questioning your assertion that "at every moment, experience has two components -- (1) appearances (thoughts, perceptions, sensations) which come and go; and (2) awareness, which does not come and go." This, I maintain, is a misunderstanding.

I'm suggesting that there is no experience of awareness. Awareness is always inferred. The experiences you are calling "awareness," however subtle, exquisite, profound, and self-validating, are just experiences, with no more or less claim to Ultimate Reality than an itch, or a thought, or gas pain. I'm suggesting that neither you, nor I, nor anyone else, past or present has ever perceived or apperceived, quasi-perceived, or otherwise-perceived awareness, either personally or impersonally. What people (understandably) mislabel "Awareness" is, in fact, a mental construct, a composite of physical and mental phenomena. I'm suggesting that the next step for you (and anyone who is talking about Awareness) is to grieve the death of your projection. With this understanding, this process of awakening takes a sharp turn into territory we never bargained for and couldn't have anticipated in advance. This is why it's hard, and rare. Most people will not take this step. They will park themselves in their mental constructs, surround themselves with people who believe the same thing, and fail to move beyond their current understanding.

-Kenneth
So, sitting here, right now, breathing in, air contacts nostrils, there is sensation.  But, then if I go further and say I am aware, this is indeed added on to the experience and does indeed come later, albeit reather quickly.

Kind of doing this "outloud" , trying again, this time with the skin on the palms of my hands, air, skin, sensations.  And again, if I say I am aware or feel I am aware, that is a whole other level of adding to the experience, and it comes after.

Now, what is really mind boggling is that when the I am aware thought comes up, it comes up from as a thought phenomenon, thought contacts, thought sensation.

Kenneth, it seems your statement is indeed correct. 
I'm suggesting that there is no experience of awareness. Awareness is always inferred.
So, and correct me if I am wrong, this Awareness always comes after the fact, kind of too late to the party, and  indeed was never necessary for phenomenon to occur in the first place.  

And, more thinking out loud...

We do use Awareness as a concept to talk about phenomenon, but, in reality Awareness really is no more than another phenomenon?!

So, this is all kinda funny, if there is always awareness, who was aware of the original awareness?  Where does it go during deep sleep?  If awareness is not there during deep sleep, then there is not always awareness.

Further, if there is awareness of my left hand at one mind moment, where did the awareness go for my right hand at that same moment?  Surely my hands do not flip back and forth between paralysis states, only activated when the awareness lights upon them, so there must not be constant awareness, and awareness is indeed inferred, as you said.

Who watches the Watchmen?

Psi

P.s.i will have to contemplate on this, in case there is something I am unaware of.....  lol

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/27/15 8:44 PM as a reply to Daniel - san.
Daniel Leffler:


Hi Bill,
...
1.) You have realized the basics of the depth of reality of life and you stand among an unbelievably tiny select few that have seen this same thing and would agree with you


On the contrary, quite a number of people (and growing) have realized the same thing -- what I call realization of anatta -- as Bill and I and Kenneth. Daniel Ingram is also talking about the same thing (see http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2009/09/rigpa-and-aggregates.html) but he did not go through the Vedantic path leading to I AM and One Mind unlike Kenneth and I, so I'm not sure if he went through a phase where Awareness appears ontologically ultimate and changeless and independent.

Here's some articles:

Thusness/PasserBy's Seven Stages of Enlightenment
Buddha Nature is NOT "I Am"

-- by Thusness, maybe you already know him cos I'm always harping about him in this forum.


By Soto Zen Priest Alex Weith: A Zen Exploration of the Bahiya Sutta


By Joel Agee: Joel Agee: Appearances are Self-Illuminating


There are plenty more but I think these articles will surfice.

Here's an excerpt from Joel Agee:


"I will try to describe what it is that rings true for me in Thusness’s words. I don’t have a theoretical preference for the early Buddhist teachings over the later ones, including Dzogchen. In fact I know very little about the Pali Canon. My approach isn’t conceptual or theoretical at all. I look directly into the nature of my own consciousness in silent, objectless sitting meditation – shikantaza if you will. Whatever doesn’t meet the test of direct experience holds no lasting interest for me.

Until fairly recently, the metaphor of the mirror and its reflections seemed a fitting image of my contemplative experience: that there is an unchanging, ever-present, imperturbable awareness that is the absolute ground and the very substance of phenomena, and that while this motionless, contentless awareness-presence is inseparable from the ceaseless coming and going of appearances, it also transcends everything that shows up, remaining untouched, unstained, absolute and indestructible.

A couple of years ago I discovered Wei Yu’s blog, Awakening to Reality, and in it Wei Yu’s account of his exploration of the Bahiya Sutta and the Zen Priest Alex Weith’s report on his realization of Anatta through practical application of the Bahiya Sutta. I saw then that Anatta was not fully realized in my experience. The illusory nature of a separate unchanging personal self had been seen through, but an unconscious identification with “Awareness” or “rigpa” had taken its place.

Since then, an unstoppable deconstruction of that impersonal background identity has been happening in my contemplation and in my daily life. There is still a noticeable attachment to the memory of that subtle Home Base. It shows up as a tendency to "lean back" from the unpredictable brilliance and dynamism of the moment into a static, subtly blissful background presence. But there is no longer a belief in an Awareness that is anything other than, or greater than, or deeper than, THIS sound, THIS smile or stirring of emotion, THIS glance of light. There is no Mirror that is not the reflections.

So the shift in my experience and practice is not a preference for one teaching over another. It’s an ongoing realization that direct contact with the grain and texture of moment-by-moment experience is what Dogen meant by “being awakened by the ten thousand things.”"

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/27/15 8:16 PM as a reply to Daniel - san.
Daniel Leffler:

If you know what it is to not have awareness (once aware) it imputes it's own existence - even though it's clearly not a 'thing' - it's there. Isn't this just emptiness?
One should not mistaken luminous clarity with emptiness. Emptiness does not deny luminous clarity, but they are not to be seen as equivalent. Emptiness is the nature of clarity/appearance, and one can realize clarity but not its emptiness.

'Emptiness' in Buddhism has a different connotation. Dr. Greg Goode (who was into Advaita, had Vedantic nondual realization, then later dwelled into Buddhism and Madhyamika) wrote:

http://www.heartofnow.com/files/emptiness.html


For those who encounter emptiness teachings after they've ebcome familiar with awareness teachings, it's very tempting to misread the
emptiness teachings by substituting terms. That is, it's very easy to
misread the emptiness teachings by seeing "emptiness" on the page and
thinking to yourself, "awareness, consciousness, I know what they're
talking about."

Early in my own study I began with this substitution in mind. With
this misreading, I found a lot in the emptiness teachings to be quite INcomprehensible!
So I started again, laying aside the notion that "emptiness" and
"awareness" were equivalent. I tried to let the emptiness teachings
speak for themselves. I came to find that they have a subtle beauty and
power, a flavor quite different from the awareness teachings.
Emptiness teachings do not speak of emptiness as a true nature that
underlies or supports things. Rather, it speaks of selves and things as
essenceless and free.

...........

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2014/08/greg-goode-on-advaitamadhyamika.html

It
looks your Bahiya Sutta experience helped you see awareness in a
different way, more .... empty. You had a background in a view that saw
awareness as more inherent or essential or substantive?

I
had an experience like this too. I was reading a sloka in Nagarjuna's
treatise about the "prior entity," and I had been meditating on
"emptiness is form" intensely for a year. These two threads came
together in a big flash. In a flash, I grokked the emptiness of
awareness as per Madhyamika. This realization is quite different from
the Advaitic oneness-style realization. It carries one out to the
"ten-thousand things" in a wonderful, light and free and kaleidoscopic,
playful insubstantial clarity and immediacy. No veils, no holding back.
No substance or essence anywhere, but love and directness and intimacy

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/27/15 10:18 PM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
Thanks everyone. I'm really enjoying this thread. For even more context about the way I'm currently seeing this question of awareness, here is more from the discussion I excerpted from upthread, in which I discuss, with a woman named Elizabeth, her assertion that there is an experience of Awareness (and that this Awareness is to be privileged as more real than other experience).


Elizabeth wrote:

So now I'm wondering: what is "experience" in the absence of "awareness"? Unless you're using the terms synonymously, I can't imagine "having an experience" which doesn't include awareness.  Perhaps you could describe what this would be like?

Seems to me that the inference here is your assumption of "experience" as something existing independently from awareness. This is akin to inferring the existence of "objects" independent of our perception of them. It can only be deduced, never directly experienced. 

So for instance: the last 100 times I was in the kitchen, the sink was on the south side of the room. So, from my seat in the living room (from which I have no direct perception of the sink) I infer that it's still on the south side of the room.

But when has awareness not been "in the same room" with you? Is it not the very "room" within which all experiences arise and dissolve?

Kenneth wrote: 

No, you've misunderstood. I'm not  questioning your inference that there is awareness. It is an excellent inference and part of a good working model of the world. I'm asking you to see that it IS an inference. You have no direct experience of awareness. Awareness is always inferred.

Understanding my point depends on first making the distinction between your simple, direct experience, on the one hand, and what you think about your experience, on the other.

If you carefully examine your experience in this moment, you will not find awareness. You will find seeing, hearing, tasting, touching/feeling, smelling, tasting, and mental phenomena. There is nothing in experience except experience, irrespective of whether it seems to be happening to an "I" or not.

All of your conclusions about the nature of experience are thoughts. They may be accurate. They may not. We may never know in some cases. The important thing is to be able to see that they are thoughts. If you can meet me at this basic level of understanding the difference between 1) experience, and 2) thoughts about experience, you're halfway to understanding my main point, which is that there is no such thing on Earth as the experience of awareness. Whether there IS anything that could be reasonably called awareness is another question; we don't have to solve it here, and in fact it's a matter of hot debate among some philosophers.

Awakening doesn't depend on getting philosophy right. It's more about being ruthlessly honest with yourself about what is being experienced in the moment, and resisting the temptation to filter raw experience through our beliefs about what should be happening. If you think you already understand what is going on, it's very difficult to see clearly. For awakening, seeing clearly is everything.

Here is the link to the original discussion on the BatGap Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBXz8UVs2Pk&google_comment_id=z134fxhpaxvkyhejc04cff1gstjcf1s5a04

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/27/15 11:19 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
@ Bill
Regarding the following: "If you know what it is to not have awareness (once aware) it imputes it's own existence - even though it's clearly not a 'thing' - it's there. Isn't this just emptiness?" Could you be more explicit about this as well? I'm not being facetious. I do not understand what you are saying. I don't know that I know what it is to have or not have awareness. How do these two differ for you? Thanks.

Hi Bill
I relate it to dark matter. So far, there is no thing called dark matter that can be found anywhere, but we see it's effect
Similarly if awareness is placed in the body on uncomfortable sensations (as I watched Kenneth demonstrate in a meditation instruction video where he directed awareness to a blockage in his shoulder) we feel the effect of that blockage clearing. No directed awareness and the blockage remains, it's likened to shining the light of awareness. Not an actual physical thing of course
More simply, I'm seeing it as the difference between unconsciousness and consciousness. There is no awareness when in deep sleep, when awake there is. In deep sleep that is the thing missing. You're aware that you were not aware before now, you slept past your alarm and you're late for work!

@AEN:
A couple of years ago I discovered Wei Yu’s blog, Awakening to Reality, and in it Wei Yu’s account of his exploration of the Bahiya Sutta and the Zen Priest Alex Weith’s report on his realization of Anatta through practical application of the Bahiya Sutta. I saw then that Anatta was not fully realized in my experience. The illusory nature of a separate unchanging personal self had been seen through, but an unconscious identification with “Awareness” or “rigpa” had taken its place.

Thanks AEN for taking the time to write a clear response to my mabye not-so-sophisticated questions, I have enjoyed your contributions very much, your blog, and your presentations of Thusness' and Buddhist teachings. I'm not saying that awareness exists as a 'thing' at all, I suppose you could say it exists like love exists, it describes a process or an experience, more like a verb than a noun. Still, this example of Joel Agee, although he is not philosophically oriented and was not looking for a particular experience, started reading your blog and decided he needed to realize no self further. I'm not saying it's exactly scripting (I am not denying the experience) but that it is still an interpretation, no self that is. Yes there are only sensations and thoughts and reactions etc, but you don't experience everyone's, just yours. Also there is no awareness in deep sleep. There is a difference between the waking state and deep sleep, awareness (or lack thereof) - that's how I view the difference between the two anyway

One should not mistaken luminous clarity with emptiness. Emptiness does not deny luminous clarity, but they are not to be seen as equivalent. Emptiness is the nature of clarity/appearance, and one can realize clarity but not its emptiness.

Thank you for clearing up my misunderstandings AEN, I need to study more before I talk : )
Out of curiosity, do you also have the view, like Kenneth I believe, that Nibbana is equivalent to annihilation? I believe he used the word 'oblivion' in the Batgap interview. Did Buddha say that we continue to be reborn in samsara until we are fully liberated so as to not exist anymore? What is your personal experience/belief?
I have gathered that you are a true Buddhist (as opposed to many other mystics and practitioners here that wouldn't self identify that way or may not have loads of faith in the full teachings ascribed to Gautama) so that's why I ask. I know it's a tricky subject as to which teachings came from the historical Buddha and which did not, but I have a problem with 'Buddhists' that pick and choose the teachings, such as Rebirth and Kamma. I also think it's problematic to use the Buddha's homemade terms like Nibbana and Arahat and then to make new definitions. Any thoughts?
In your view, was oblivion (as Kenneth says) the teaching and the goal of the path? That could certainly be a bummer : )
I'd love (obviously to hear Kenneth's view as well, although I am not sure how important these subjects of historical Buddhism are to him

@Kenneth
If you carefully examine your experience in this moment, you will not find awareness. You will find seeing, hearing, tasting, touching/feeling, smelling, tasting, and mental phenomena. There is nothing in experience except experience, irrespective of whether it seems to be happening to an "I" or not.

Hi Kenneth,
I guess I'm not saying awareness is a thing, but it's there, maybe as a description, like joy or compassion
Couldn't one further break down smelling and tasting and thoughts into sensations and keep breaking those down (perhaps through some serious concentration) to see fleeting phenomena that are gone as soon as they arise and say the same thing about everything, that nothing at all exists? I know some people take it that far and it does make sense to me. Being that the present moment is always a shadow of it itself and doesn't really 'exist' is this the same thing as awareness not existing, or different?
Would you say that these experiential views of awareness as being totally imputed could be one perspective among many, that it isn't necessarily closer to the truth than the I AM realization, but simply another way of seeing? Sort of like the No Self vs True Self view. Daniel writes about this some. Could reality shift to accommodate our expectations and spiritual/philosophical leanings? I don't want to muddle it all up, but there does seem to be something like a self-fulfilling prophecy going on here. Philosophically if we are too limited to see full truth (as I believe you said), how can the not self view really be perfected or objectively seen by anyone if that is the case? Sorry if this is too much, I really appreciate your patience and guidance in explaining the teachings and practice

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/28/15 12:06 AM as a reply to Daniel - san.
Daniel,

      I believed you were saying that awareness exists in an eternal, unchangeable way, but here you made the distinction between times of awareness and unawareness. To tease it out a little further, you stated above that you do not see awareness as a construct, yet you acknowledge its absence at times. It seems to me the two can not co-exist: If you are not suggesting that awareness exists as an impersonal, eternal, unchabeable aspect of reality and you are also saying it is not constructed, how can it also be process and absent at times in your experience?

Bill

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/28/15 6:01 AM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hi Kenneth

Not only awareness is inferred but free-will is inferred and on some deeper level every thing about perception.
On some deep lower levels there is processing of sensation going on (it have to happen) and much more is created in there than we normally experience. It seems this additional processing instead being kinda screened as sensations is viewed from completely wrong side and taken as proof for concepts like awareness. When you say awareness is not real, that it is inferred most people will understand there is something wrong with the process and try to stop it, hide it, change it, etc. and the only thing to do is to stop seeing it as projection but as projector and look for sensations it generate. It might so happen that doing it that way reality is much more awesome in look&feel than before and because nothing is left unconnected in mind there doesn't seem to be anything watching it all.

It is just a matter of using brain properly. We are so damn clever that we sacrifice our own perception to prove useless ideas. Same thing is with so called 'free will'. There is processing of what is happening and processes that imply this body&mind organism doing this or that for this or that reason and instead of seeing it as it is we try to make it somehow real time to prove to ourselves concepts we use.

I believe that if human being would be raised without other human being to put thoughts about free will and awareness in his head then that person would be enlightened have state similar to this we talk about. It is by interaction with other people we need concepts like awareness, free will, etc and we then project them on ourselves. Mindfulness is ofcourse best cure for this ailment, but the simple and hones one, not driven by ultimate states.

Another trap is that denying ultimate states it is putting people off and making them believe that it is how their crappy minds are are supposed to be, they clench their teeth and endure their screwed up perception some more.

I bet to encourage people to practice but without putting wrong ideas in their heads is much harder than getting enlightenment yourself...

BTW, great interview.
And thank for answer. I am experimenting with those static, random, full, empty, etc things lately. Nothing to them except that thinking about limits of realizations, of what is and isn't cognizable on both human brain level and cosmos level they tend to arise quite often. The witness yes, I know this too it is there, as both background and as kinda tree like thing probably representing sushuma nadi channel, but I actually thought about specific (vajra) samadhi born out of contemplating unrealness and illusionary nature of all experience as described in Diamond Sutta. It make this whole mindfulness thing much easier cause it cuts bullshit to the bone, it doesn't even infer being itself an ultimate state, even if it surely is best candidate for one. I usually follow few ideas at a time, try to synthesise something out of them and thought that maybe you will give me some inspiration which you did.

Extinction to all sentient beings,
Paweł K.

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/28/15 8:59 AM as a reply to Paweł K.
Awareness is never inferred. The whole notion of inferred awareness is illogical. Awareness is, period. Awareness is a priori. It is self-evident. Its not inferred, learnt, or anything of the sort. The concept of awareness however might be inferred but I think differentation about the "actual" subjectivity and the naming of that subjetivity is two completly different topics.
Could add that others awareness is indeed inferred, but awareness with regards to our selfes is not.

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/28/15 10:21 AM as a reply to Daniel - san.
Daniel Leffler:


Still, this example of Joel Agee, although he is not philosophically oriented and was not looking for a particular experience, started reading your blog and decided he needed to realize no self further. I'm not saying it's exactly scripting (I am not denying the experience) but that it is still an interpretation, no self that is. Yes there are only sensations and thoughts and reactions etc, but you don't experience everyone's, just yours. Also there is no awareness in deep sleep. There is a difference between the waking state and deep sleep, awareness (or lack thereof) - that's how I view the difference between the two anyway

One should not mistaken luminous clarity with emptiness. Emptiness does not deny luminous clarity, but they are not to be seen as equivalent. Emptiness is the nature of clarity/appearance, and one can realize clarity but not its emptiness.

Thank you for clearing up my misunderstandings AEN, I need to study more before I talk : )
Out of curiosity, do you also have the view, like Kenneth I believe, that Nibbana is equivalent to annihilation? I believe he used the word 'oblivion' in the Batgap interview. Did Buddha say that we continue to be reborn in samsara until we are fully liberated so as to not exist anymore? What is your personal experience/belief?
I have gathered that you are a true Buddhist (as opposed to many other mystics and practitioners here that wouldn't self identify that way or may not have loads of faith in the full teachings ascribed to Gautama) so that's why I ask. I know it's a tricky subject as to which teachings came from the historical Buddha and which did not, but I have a problem with 'Buddhists' that pick and choose the teachings, such as Rebirth and Kamma. I also think it's problematic to use the Buddha's homemade terms like Nibbana and Arahat and then to make new definitions. Any thoughts?
In your view, was oblivion (as Kenneth says) the teaching and the goal of the path? That could certainly be a bummer : )
I'd love (obviously to hear Kenneth's view as well, although I am not sure how important these subjects of historical Buddhism are to him



It is not an interpretation but a direct realization. The three characteristics are dharma seals that are always so, can be directly realized. Realizing anatta is a direct seeing through of a delusional view as having no basis in reality, and a realization that 'in the seen only the seen, no seer (or seeing/awareness/etc/besides that)' and same goes for hearing/sound, cognizing, etc.

The notion of awareness or a 'seeing' or a 'hearing' having its own existence besides that manifest sound, or scenery, is completely baseless, and seeing this, there is simply direct experience of that. Gapless, self-luminous, etc.

I'm not sure why you brought up not experiencing other people's sensations, but that makes complete sense if we understand anatta. I mean, if you somehow believe in some sort of 'Universal Consciousness' that we are all part of, then it makes sense to wonder why do we only experience our own sensations and not someone elses'. But when the ontological view of consciousness is seen through, then it is seen that so called 'consciousness' is always personal (not as in pertaining to an inherently existing 'self', but as always a specific, unique, manifestation), always only a momentary direct experience of a sound, sight, thought, etc. That sound is self-knowing, there is no 'knowing' besides that. Sound is hearing/heard where it is, and sensation is felt where it is. That's all. The question "why am I not aware of someone elses' experience" only comes up when you still feel like you are some experiencer behind everything that can 'look at' various people's experiences. But there is nothing universal, and there is no experiencer, and there is no consciousness besides a monetary, specific, unique, instance of manifestation/experience. And as Lopon Namdrol said, "Buddhism is all its forms is strictly nominalist, and rejects all universals (samanya-artha) as being unreal abstractions."



You ask "Out of curiosity, do you also have the
view, like Kenneth I believe, that Nibbana is equivalent to
annihilation? I believe he used the word 'oblivion' in the Batgap
interview."

There is a state of oblivion, but this is not special to Buddhism. It is experienced even in Advaita. Yes... most Advaita only talk about the I AM/Pure Presence. But in some Hindu scriptures, and in some Vedantic practitioners, like Nisargadatta and a number of others, they actually go one step further to experience a state of oblivion and treat that as absolute. In some forms of Vedanta, it is taught that in deep sleep is where you are in natural union with ultimate reality. This is however not Nirvana. This is like Thusness Stage 3 (see
http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/03/thusnesss-six-stages-of-experience.html) A state where consciousness is shut is not the same as liberation or nirvana.

It must also be understood that a state of oblivion like deep sleep too can become a landing ground, an escape into the cessation of
experience. A movement from experience into non-experience and therefore it is driven by the same cause. It is not extinguishing the cause. There are two types of cessation, one is the analytical cessation (Nirvana) and the other is non-analytical cessation (see: http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Cessation) Only the analytical cessation of nirvana is supramundane as it extinguishes the cause of suffering. The cessation of Nirvana is not to be understood as a shut down of senses and consciousness but disenchantment and dispassion that led to the ending of grasping. The mind no more chases anything and everything settles down, gone cool and is seen to be in a state of rest and peace.

There comes a time in practice where there is a struggle, where the Presence one treasures so dearly is put into question. There is much unwillingness to let go. What one needs is not to simply cease senses and consciousness.

So what are we ceasing? We are ceasing grasping, identification, ignorance, wrong view, craving by cutting it from its roots with wisdom. Nirvana is the cessation of grasping and reification. Where there is completely no landing, no holding, then one becomes like an arhat who has 'gone cool'.. that is true peace and calmness. Then there is a consciousness that does not land, not that there is no consciousness, but consciousness does not land on anything nor on itself, and that consciousness too is not in anyway ontological, not in anyway pertaining to a Self. It is simply consciousness 'released'. This release of clinging cannot happen without dispassion, and dispassion cannot happen without wisdom that sees the emptiness, impermanence, non-self and dissatisfactoriness of all phenomena.

But it can and will lead to the shut down of senses and consciousness like deep sleep which is a natural consequent. So do not chase after a state of oblivion but the gradual extinguishing of grasping into quiescence and cessation. This is no different from deep sleep. What is important is the cause that led a practitioner into that state.

Lastly I'll leave a collection of posts by Geoff (not Thanissaro): http://sgforums.com/forums/1728/topics/447451

Excerpt:


Firstly, nibbāna isn't a "state." Secondly, nibbāna is the
cessation of passion, aggression, and delusion. For a learner it is
the cessation of the fetters extinguished on each path. The waking
states where "suddenly all sensations and six senses stop
functioning" are (1) mundane perceptionless samādhis, and (2)
cessation of apperception and feeling. Neither of these are
supramundane and neither of these are synonymous with experiencing
nibbāna.


All the best,


Geoff....

This type of blackout
cessation is experienced by all sorts of yogis including those
practicing non-Buddhist systems. Thus, it has nothing to do with
the correct engagement of vipassanā. The cessation of
unsatisfactoriness (dukkhanirodha) is the cessation of craving
(taṇhā), not the cessation of phenomena. DN 22:

And what is the noble truth of the
cessation of stress? The remainderless fading & cessation,
renunciation, relinquishment, release, & letting go of that
very craving.


What craving? Craving
sensual pleasure (kāmataṇhā), craving existence (bhavataṇhā), and
craving non-existence (vibhavataṇhā). The cessation of
unsatisfactoriness is the cessation of very specific fetters
pertaining to each of the four noble paths. There is no canonical
support for your interpretation of nibbāna or saupādisesa
nibbānadhātu (nibbāna element with fuel remaining).
....


The suttas define and describe the goal in sufficient terms. The
difficulty in this discussion relates to whether one accepts what
the canon states about the fruition of the path, or alternatively,
accepts much later commentarial interpretations of the
"path-moment" and "fruition-moment" as re-interpreted by a few 20th
century Burmese monks. Without sufficient common ground for
discussion there isn't much possibility of meaningful
dialogue.



You ask: "Did Buddha say that we continue to be reborn in samsara until we are fully liberated so as to not exist anymore?"

Buddha did say that 'we' continue to be reborn in samsara until we are fully liberated, and he does say that arahants do not take birth anymore. However, it is not the same as annihilation. Annihilation is based on the belief that there is an actual self in the first place, that goes into non-existence some time later or at death. But such a self cannot be obtained or pinned down in the first place. This is the truth of anatta.

The Buddha said: "
(Misrepresentation of the Tathāgata)

37. “So saying, bhikkhus, so proclaiming, I have been baselessly,
vainly, falsely, and wrongly misrepresented by some recluses and
brahmins thus: ‘The recluse Gotama is one who leads astray; he teaches
the annihilation, the destruction, the extermination of an existing
being.’ As I am not, as I do not proclaim, so have I been baselessly,
vainly, falsely, and wrongly misrepresented by some recluses and
brahmins thus: ‘The recluse Gotama is one who leads astray; he teaches
the annihilation, the destruction, the extermination of an existing
being.’

    38. “Bhikkhus, both formerly and now what I teach is suffering and
the cessation of suffering. If others abuse, revile, scold, and harass
the Tathāgata for that, the Tathāgata on that account feels no
annoyance, bitterness, or dejection of the heart. And if others honour,
respect, revere, and venerate the Tathāgata for that, the Tathāgata on
that account feels no delight, joy, or elation of the heart. If others
honour, respect, revere, and venerate the Tathāgata for that, the
Tathāgata on that account thinks thus: ‘They perform such services as
these towards that which earlier was fully understood.’"

Also the Buddha said:

"
..."What do you think: Do you regard the Tathagata as form-feeling-perception-fabrications-consciousness?"

"No, lord."

"Do you regard the Tathagata as that which is without form, without
feeling, without perception, without fabrications, without
consciousness?"


"No, lord."

"And so, Anuradha — when you can't pin down the Tathagata as a truth
or reality even in the present life — is it proper for you to declare,
'Friends, the Tathagata — the supreme man, the superlative man,
attainer of the superlative attainment — being described, is described
otherwise than with these four positions: The Tathagata exists after
death, does not exist after death, both does & does not exist after
death, neither exists nor does not exist after death'?"


"No, lord."...
"



You said: "I have a problem with 'Buddhists' that pick and choose the teachings, such as Rebirth and Kamma. I also think it's problematic to use the Buddha's homemade terms like Nibbana and Arahat and then to make new definitions. Any thoughts?"


Yes, me too. I do not believe we should pick and choose the Buddha's teachings. I hold the same view as my teacher/mentor Thusness, who remembered a lot of his past lives in meditation:


"Life is like a passing cloud, when it comes to an end, a hundred years is like yesterday, like a snap of a finger. If it is only about one life, it really doesnt matter whether we are enlightened. The insight that the Blessed One has is not just about one life; countless lives we suffered, life after life, unending. Such is suffering.

It is not about logic or science and there is really no point arguing in this scientific age. Take steps in practice and experience the truth of Buddhas words. Of the 3 dharma seals, the truth of suffering to me is most difficult to experience in depth.

May all take Buddhas words seriously."

He said that in 2006. Also, he said "I m not into a one life sort of philosophy or now
philosophy. Didn't i tell u that...is there a need to talk about all these
if it is just one life?"

When asked whether he considers it possible for a stream enterer to not believe in rebirth, he also said that someone who does not believe in Buddha cannot really be considered a real stream enterer:

"how is one stream enterer when he doesn't believe what buddha said. isn't that stated clearly that stream enterer has full faith in Buddha."

I concur, again.

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/28/15 10:19 AM as a reply to Andreas.
I just hope that only because you say that awareness is you did not stop investigating it. I can assure you that I myself investigate it from time to time to deepen or even debunk my knowledge about it, just as an excercise. I stopped however treating awareness as known and holding my breath for awareness to step in and save the day. Something seems to experience this body/mind but it is impossible to say where brain inferring experience ends and where real awareness begins. After some time dwelling about it I realized it is the same thing, brain inferring awareness and awareness. Brain can do that and it will be experienced by universe because of how universe works. It doesn't however matter what brain does, there is no your soul, no your awareness, not even universal awareness, just the one inferred by your brain and when you die this inferred awareness will die with you.

So we are one being, the universe but our awareness are inferred and experienced in-place. Just think about your awareness from some time ago. Brain is good at fabricating awarnesses. You can even train yourself to experience two awarenesses at the same time!

What matter in meditative practice is another layer of sensations pointing to awareness to which process called your brain cling when it thinks about awareness. You can not touch real awareness, true witness, watcher, God, etc one that does not come from your brain but just experience what brain fabricate... so you cling and torture some innocent perception process and cling to it in very unhealthy and unskillful way instead of using it as it was intended or at least in way that is skillful and enlightened.

I accepted that 100% of experience is fabricated/visualized/illusion on all levels and I just think it is the skillful thing to do. That said I am not trying to force my philosophical dogma, just point to more skillful utilization of brain in more non-dual fashion.

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/28/15 2:42 PM as a reply to Paweł K.
You cannot investigate awareness "it self", it is impossible. Just like you cannot shine the light upon where you stand. You can investigate what you are aware of. But the awareness "it self" is not "known" to you, you cannot investigate, you can do jackshit about it.
You can also not have two awareness at the same time. Just writing it the logical impossibibility should be evident. You can be aware of two things. If you are aware of two awareness, that is still one awareness. You can have conflicting experiences, have conflict that says that this is not my thought, I did not do that etc. But awareness it self no.
If you are defining awareness as an emergent property of the brain structure and call that inferred awareness. Then I can agree that it is possible that awareness is inferred. If you are interested in conscioussnes etc as it relates to the brain the google the consciouss id. Quite intruiging ideas relating to brain structure and where conscioussness originates. How little brainstructure can you have and still be aware, consciouss etc. 

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/31/15 2:46 PM as a reply to Bill F..
Bill F.:
 I believed you were saying that awareness exists in an eternal, unchangeable way, but here you made the distinction between times of awareness and unawareness. To tease it out a little further, you stated above that you do not see awareness as a construct, yet you acknowledge its absence at times. It seems to me the two can not co-exist: If you are not suggesting that awareness exists as an impersonal, eternal, unchabeable aspect of reality and you are also saying it is not constructed, how can it also be process and absent at times in your experience?

Not to be cute Bill, but I guess I am saying that everything is potentially a construct, awareness included
Are flickering sensations real, is the Now real (intrinsic)?
I know these subjects get quite deep and philosophical and the abhidhamma has quite a bit to say as well, but if every concept points to some thing that is distinct from the conceptual model, I would include awareness in that. Not as a thing like a potato or even light, but a thing like love or compassion, not able to locate in the physical plane or anywhere here or there, but still descriptive of a process at least

@AEN, as usual you have left a treasure trove of gems in your reply that I would love to discuss with you further, if you're up for it
I will try to gear my questions and replies to you in terms of better understanding the buddhadharma and how the teachings that that you have incorporated into your view pertain to practice and comprehension of Buddha's message as a whole
It's sunny and nice out now though, so I'll put it on hold, but please look for my upcoming thread entitled 'Understanding the Core Teachings of the Buddha' 
I would love to discuss with you karma, rebirth, right view, and how those teachings relate to stream entry and practicing the buddhadharma in general.
Thanks again for your valuable knowledge and contributions!
Daniel

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
1/31/15 3:52 PM as a reply to Daniel - san.
Daniel,

       I don't know that there's much there I don't agree with. I do think you are projecting onto me ideas that are not being put forth. All I was stating was that the belief in awareness separate from phenomena, is itself an experience, not to be priviliged, and it is flimsy.
       At a certain point in practice it seemed to me that all of my experience, though empty, was being experienced through the filter of empty, lucid, awareness. At a certain point (January 2012) Awareness as Self, Watcher, Primordial Reality, or whatever term we use or don't use to designate a backdrop or ladnscape for reality that contains that reality, was seen through. It became apparent that that experience of Awareness was simply another appearance, undivided, not happening on any landscape or with any backdrop or source. It was simply the experience and the possibility that it reflected onto something or was born from something was seen to be impossible. The idea of Awareness as backdrop is simply the idea of Awareness as backdrop. It is not symbolic of anything else. The same could be said for the sense of identity. The experience of I or non-self is simply that, with nothing attached, signifying neither the absence of identity nor a separate self who experiences. The sense of self, the sense of awareness, the sense of relfective consciousness is immediate and is not happening against a backdrop, born out of anything, or landing on anything.
       I am not trying to build a new model out of this realization. As I wrote above it took me time to integrate this new, and very much unexpected understanding into what I understood my life and practice to be before it happened. It really and totally put me into a new and different place than any insight or change in practice had brought before. After it was integrated there was a great deal of freedom in not being tied to spritual ideas, or models. That being said, I can not see that this insight could not progressively happen after some reliance and belief on a non-dual backdrop behind experience, as it is precisely seeing through that that is the experience.

Bill
       

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
2/1/15 11:14 AM as a reply to Bill F..
I believe this Zen commentary is relevant here:

“Before I had studied Zen for thirty years, I saw mountains as mountains, and waters as waters. When I arrived at a more intimate knowledge, I came to the point where I saw that mountains are not mountains, and waters are not waters. But now that I have got its very substance I am at rest. For it’s just that I see mountains once again as mountains, and waters once again as waters.” -Ch’uan Teng Lu (The Way of Zen)

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
2/3/15 1:31 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
Hi Kenneth, thank you for the very clarifying interview and questions answered.  In the first half hour (min 24ish?) there is a point which you mention part of the Buddhas offering being about how do we make the most of a bad situation, how to treat each other better, etc.  I would love to hear you talk more about this, is it part of your book in progress, and is there anything you would like to say here about how this particular type of awakening relates? 

Cheers! 

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
2/7/15 3:40 PM as a reply to Megan Key.
Megan Key:
Hi Kenneth, thank you for the very clarifying interview and questions answered.  In the first half hour (min 24ish?) there is a point which you mention part of the Buddhas offering being about how do we make the most of a bad situation, how to treat each other better, etc.  I would love to hear you talk more about this, is it part of your book in progress, and is there anything you would like to say here about how this particular type of awakening relates? 

Cheers! 

Hi Megan,

Thanks for the question.

If we accept that the first part of the Buddha's program was to get off the wheel of death and rebirth, thereby ending dukkha once and for all, I think it's fair to say that the second part of his two-pronged agenda was to make the best of a bad situation. As long as we are alive, we are subject to old age, sickness and death, the death of our loved ones, the loss of everything that is dear to us, and so on. In short, even if you believe, as some do, that it is possible to purify the mind of all afflictive emotions, I think most of us would agree that while we are still draw breath, we are subject to the existential difficulties of life. (By the way, according to Buddhism, suicide is no solution at all, as it leads to being reborn, most likely in an even more unfortunate situation than this one.)

The second part of the Buddha's two-part program applies to everyone. What should we do while we are still alive, given that life is difficult and ultimately unsatisfactory? This is the question of a life well-lived. Buddhism offers some specific guidelines about this. There are 227 rules for monks and 331 for nuns in the Theravada tradition. They cover everything from how to eat, to how to fold your robe, to how to speak respectfully to others as well as a rather comprehensive set of injunctions against sex of any kind. For lay people, the rules are greatly relaxed, of course, as they are allowed not only to have sex, but even to touch money.

For our purposes, the entire package can be distilled to its essence by saying something like "treat yourself and other sentient beings with care and respect." It's probably no coincidence that these same basic humanistic values are also taught in almost every religion and ethical system known to humans. The "how to" details vary slightly, but the simple sentiment of good will and non-harming behind the various systems is remarkably close to consensus.

For me, even more important than the guidelines, though, is the question you asked: how does awakening relate to a life well lived, including caring for and relating to others? If I look not only at my own experience, but at all the people I know who have sincerely practiced what the Buddha called vipassana-bhavana (development of insight), I see a very strong correlation between awakening and ethical behavior. When we can see our own experience more clearly, we can see how other people are like us; it's easier to feel our way into what it might be like to be someone else. This is empathy, and empathy is the birth of compassion. There is also this curious phenomenon of feeling as though your own experience is somehow impersonal, that even the momentarily arising sense that "this is me," so essential to functioning in the world, is just another experience, relating back to no one. It's possible to say, "there doesn't seem to be anyone in here," even as life continues to spin on as before. You don't lose the capacity to love, or even to hate, but the tendency to hate yourself for hating subsides. This is the birth of self-compassion. And since you can't take your own fears, anxiety, or catastrophizing thoughts quite so seriously as before, some bandwidth is freed up in the mind to consider the needs, wants, and happiness of others. This is the birth of metta (lovingkindness).

So insight training, which leads to awakening, has the power to bring about ethical behavior from the inside out; instead of having to be told again and again what is right, we just naturally stop hurting people so much when we can feel their hurts as our own. And we are more likely to care for people when we see their needs as our own. All of this comes from insight training. And although it is not absolute (I don't know of anyone who doesn't occasionally act out in irritation or anger, for example), it can be a radical shift over a lifetime, from "it's all about me" toward "everyone matters." It's a wonderful thing, really, and it's worth getting up each morning to find out how far it can go today.

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
2/7/15 9:36 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
re: Kenneth Folk (2/7/15 3:40 PM as a reply to Megan Key. )

"… (By the way,
according to Buddhism, suicide is no solution at all, as it leads to being reborn, most likely in an even more unfortunate situation than this one.)…"

Without qualification and documentation, this statement, as a generalization, is patently false.

Just for starters, and in just one tradition, check out the references in the 'Index of Subjects' of Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of the Samyuatta Nikaya, under 'Suicide', on p. 2044.

(And is this tradition the sole exception to that generalization?)

The speaker/writer might be more careful in representing "the Buddha," as this – by no means the first instance – raises questions as to accuracy, and hence authority.

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
2/8/15 11:16 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
Chris J Macie:
re: Kenneth Folk (2/7/15 3:40 PM as a reply to Megan Key. )

"… (By the way,
according to Buddhism, suicide is no solution at all, as it leads to being reborn, most likely in an even more unfortunate situation than this one.)…"

Without qualification and documentation, this statement, as a generalization, is patently false.

Just for starters, and in just one tradition, check out the references in the 'Index of Subjects' of Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of the Samyuatta Nikaya, under 'Suicide', on p. 2044.

(And is this tradition the sole exception to that generalization?)

The speaker/writer might be more careful in representing "the Buddha," as this – by no means the first instance – raises questions as to accuracy, and hence authority.

Thanks for the correction, Chris. My comment that suicide leads to rebirth according to the Buddha is based on a casual conversation with with one of my teachers many years ago. Researching it further now, I see that you are right. It looks as though the Buddha took suicide on a case by case basis. Here is a first attempt at an overview:

The Buddha believed that for stream enterers, once-returners, non-returners, and arahats, suicide would not change the class of rebirth (or non-rebirth) they were already guaranteed. Arahats, for example, would not be reborn, and non-returners would be reborn in the Pure Abodes whether they committed suicide or not. On the other hand, "ordinary people" faced an uncertain rebirth.

Here is a thoughtful essay on suicide and Buddhism by Michael Attwood, complete with citations:

http://www.westernbuddhistreview.com/vol4/suicide_as_a_response_to_suffering.html

For the purposes of our readers, most of whom the Buddha would presumably consider "ordinary people," I believe it is safe to say that suicide, according to Buddhism, in not a recommended option. Is there special dispensation for ordinary people who are terminally ill? Not sure what the Buddha would say, but it's an interesting question.

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
9/16/15 4:29 PM as a reply to Kenneth Folk.
I'm a late comer to this discussion as it stopped many months ago. But I saw the interview a few weeks ago on youtube and felt I wanted to comment:
If we consider what Kenneth is saying in this interview at a pragmatic level (i.e. the implications/result it can have for practice), instead of considering it at a philosophical debate level (i.e. trying to find a "right" definition of enlightenment, universal consciousness, ultimate reality, big mind in the sky, etc), the result is that what we are left with is a very traditional/sutta/canonical teaching: cling to nothing. The way Kenneth dismisses whatever lofty state Rick describes as just another phenomena with no higher ontological status than an ich can have the result, if followed and practiced, that one will not cling to anything including those lofty states as one meditates. After the interview I was left remembering how in the Majjhima-Nikaya we often find the expression "Liberation through non-clinging." We also find "nothing whatsoever is to be clung to." I feel this is exactly what we are doing when we meditate and adopt an attitude of objectifying/not-clinging to/disembeding from everything that arises, including the feeling of some lofty consciousness.


In brief, if no states, however lofty, is considered ultimate reality, you are left with "not clinging to anything", which is what the Buddha's teachings are all about, right? 

Benoit

RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
9/16/15 8:21 PM as a reply to Ben V..
I feel this is exactly what we are doing when we meditate and adopt an attitude of objectifying/not-clinging to/disembeding from everything that arises, including the feeling of some lofty consciousness.


As I understand you you are in the terrain of viññāṇa discussions.
Here is the monk Sujato on the matter: 
[url=]https://sujato.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/vinnaṇa-is-not-nibbana-really-it-just-isn’t/ 
Dismissing even the consciousnesses of eternity-all-pervadingness (an olde debate).
How is this cessation not nihilism? Then one investigates "beyond" (see below), because "beyond" is a point to nibbana.


Any person can find so much to validate what they'd like the study to be, definitiely and comfortably:


Here is the aṭṭhakavagga, III. EIGHT-VERSED DISCOURSE ON THE CORRUPT, describing even the problem with even one who seeks purity, the clinging to a purified existence:

 
For the purified man there is not at all in the world
A contrived view concerning this or that existence.
The purified man, having abandoned illusion and self-regard—
What would he go by, he who has recourse to nothing?
That while purified mind (out of harmful thoughts and actions) may be skillful, it can be a clinging for special existence, ignorant of 'the magic of the mind' (wherein consciousness is taken up like any other decaying-arising phenomena).

Then there is one translation here from the Upasīvamāṇavapucchā (again, in the the aṭṭhakavagga):
(http://www.nippapanca.org/uploads/2/4/5/9/24591864/av_path_press_edition.pdf)


1074. accī yathā vātavegena khittā atthaṁ paleti na upeti saṅkhaṁ evaṁ munī nāmakāyā vimutto atthaṁ paleti na upeti saṅkhaṁ

Just as a flame tossed by force of wind
Quickly goes to its cessation and subjects not itself to any
designation,
So the sage released from the mass of names
Quickly goes to his cessation and subjects not himself to any
designation.

(...a student's question here...)

1076. atthaṅgatassa na pamāṇamatthi yena naṁ vajjuṁ taṁ tassa natthi sabbesu dhammesu samohatesu samūhatā vādapathāpi sabbeti

For one who has gone to cessation there is no measuring up;
That which could be told of him no longer exists;
When all ways of thought are removed
All ways of telling are also removed.
[1]


So  a person may just study, drops into non-concept, too, for themselves, for direct personal experience and understanding.
What can be asserted? What is reliable?
Is knowledge of inconstancy reliable? 
How? 
What does one understand/how has one directly understood from own practice about understanding things as they are?
Seeing mental objects of mind arise? Seeing mental contact with its own objects? Seeing mind want its own objects? What is this? 
What is reliable understanding? 
Own investigation on these is done; that is the practice. Own alert, relaxed training to mind the mind and get to know it, learn what is reliable there? What is practical in this knowledge of mind? What is a skillful actual life then?



While speech is many things and mental object naming, like cars in a long concept train.

Who answers what is viññanam anidassanam? In speech it is dismissed or wrestled; Is there anything experiential there to know for oneself independent of sharing speech with others?


____________________________
edits: links, clarification, bold instance

[1] edit: And this is just presenting some investigations in one tradition of "Buddhism", to say nothing of the others nor the many, many other non-Buddhist schools people have promoted over time based on their investigations, claims, communities, experiences. So if all these schools form from individuals, can one current individual right now serve themselves, too, by doing their own work, investigating and observing alertly and relaxedly, own mind?  (And/or, in other traditions, as also in Buddhism, there is also the faith path of being which may not have investigation. I am not making a heirarchical comparion; just saying.)


RE: Kenneth Folk Interview on Batgap
Answer
9/23/15 9:07 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Thanks for sharing that book 'The Magic of the Mind'. I just did a quick read of the chapter on non-manifestative consciousness. It makes me think of a theory I thought of recently. In physics, I've read that apparently if there were light accross the universe. but there were no objects (planets, bodies, dusts, etc) in that universe upon which the light could land, the light would remain invisible. One can only see light if it lands on an object. So in that hypothetical universe the light is non-manifestative. When I read that I was thinking about the Burmese lineages that say Nibbana is complete cessation and there is no consciousness there. If Nibbana is non-manifestative consciusness, then upon realizing it one would "feel" as if there was no consciousness, just as one would feel as if there was no light in that universe with only light and no objects.
In any case, this remains interesting philosophical speculation about Nibbana. From a pragmatic point of view, however, this speculation doesn't matter. All we need to do is dis-identify/disembed/not cling to arising, manifesting phenomena until liberation occurs. I don't think we need to figure out philosophically what Nibbana is exactly before we get there if we can understand the pragmatic aspect that it`s about abandoning clinging.