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TOPIC: Welcome!

Welcome! 10 Dec 2010 20:09 #154

Glad to have you here!
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Welcome! 10 Dec 2010 20:59 #155

Ian, great to see you here!

Welcome,

- Chris
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Welcome! 11 Dec 2010 05:02 #156

Sheila-- pleased to meetcha!

Ian, am so glad you're joining us! If you're as interested in the physiology of it all as I am, I highly recommend Huai-Chin Nan's Taoism and Longevity.
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Welcome! 11 Dec 2010 17:08 #157

Hi Ian,
And a hearty welcome to our little online community!

I'm glad to hear that you expanded your Zen practice beyond that of the Mountain and Rivers Order (the late John Daido Loori's org). Speaking as a Zen priest, I'm not happy with much of what passes for Zen in America (or anywhere else) these days. (BTW, do you live in the New York?)

It's also something of note that you are interested in Gurdjieff's Work. Me too. Back in the 1970s I was even a member of another Fourth Way school called the Arica Institute which taught many of the same things as Mr. G.

Regards,
Mike "Gozen"
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Welcome! 12 Dec 2010 17:32 #158

Officially announcing the arrival of, and welcoming, Jake to the forum.

Hello, Jake!

- Chris
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Welcome! 14 Dec 2010 10:59 #159

Hello everyone,

To follow the tradition, my first post on this wonderful new forum will be a short introduction for those who don’t know me already. I live in Geneva, Switzerland, and have been involved with various spiritual traditions during the last 22 years or so, including Zen and Theravada Buddhism, Hatha Yoga and Advaita Vedanta, but also the Western mystery tradition (ie, the A.’.A.’. and Chaos magick).

The discovery of Daniel Ingram’s book MCTB has been a major catalyst leading to important breakthroughs with the help of Kenneth Folk. I then studied with Alan Chapman who, after weeks of mind-blowing visionary and mystical experiences, skillfully brought me to the realization of what I had been searching all these years.

As far as Buddhism is concerned, my training in the hardcore (or pragmatic) sub-culture has been a wonderful introduction to early Buddhism. I now tend to go back to the Nikaya Sutta, having realized that there are no better Buddhist meditation manuals than the Satipatthana and the Anapanasati Sutta. Since the open frame of the A.’.A.’. is already very eclectic, I don’t feel the need to reinvent or modernize Buddhism.

- Alex
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Welcome! 14 Dec 2010 12:49 #160

Hello, Alex. I'm very happy to see you here.
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Welcome! 14 Dec 2010 15:54 #161


I now tend to go back to the Nikaya Sutta, having realized that there are no better Buddhist meditation manuals than the Satipatthana and the Anapanasati Sutta. [...] I don’t feel the need to reinvent or modernize Buddhism.

-alex_w

Welcome! Great to have you here, Alex! You've always been a reliable friend on the path.

I'm with you on digging the Nikayas. The phenomenal descriptions of practice and result in the Pali suttas are strangely compatible with contemporary findings with regard to how bring about change in one's mind. It doesn't take a lot of contextualization to make it relevent to Westerners, if any at all.

Again, welcome!

-Jackson
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Welcome! 14 Dec 2010 18:56 #162

Thank you Chris and Jackson, for your warm welcome.
You have created a wonderful forum!
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Welcome! 15 Dec 2010 00:09 #163

Thanks All, for my warm welcome as well!

Kate, I will have to check out that Taoism book. The internal energy structures of the body fascinate me, and I think the Taoists were better than most at mapping them out.

Mike, yes, I have a lot of love for the MRO and what I learned from them. But I had a hard time getting into the sangha and really feeling part of the community there, so I've drifted. I'm heading up for their Rohatsu after Christmas though, as a sort of good bye. I do live in NYC, and have for about 11 years no, but I will likely be moving to Portland soon (haven't mentioned it at work yet, so I'm trying to keep it quiet, if you know what I mean). Are you still based in New Mexico? My girlfriend and I are planning on hitting up Taos and Santa Fe, as we're traveling a southerly route through the US. Any chance you're in the area?

Also, Zen, Adida, and the 4th Way? Quite an eclectic mix! Looking forward to reading your contributions here. :)
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Welcome! 19 Dec 2010 03:07 #164

Hi everyone! I missed your voices and am glad to hear them again. For those who don't know me I practiced concentration meditation for years (can't remember how many at the moment, 5?) and started insight practice a little less than a year ago. I've made much better progress with insight practices but I'm not a purist or partial to any particular approach, and am interested in hearing how others are getting liberated.
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Welcome! 19 Dec 2010 14:37 #165

Glad to have you here, Ron!
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Welcome! 20 Dec 2010 03:16 #166

Hi everyone...

I'm the newest
member...until the next one joins.


A little background on
me:

After falling away from
my Southern Baptist upbringing, I became a hardcore materialist/atheist.
Not because I wanted to be, mind you, but because I yearned for
rationality regardless of how depressing the projected outcome would be (e.g.
annihilation at death). I just refused to believe in something
because I wanted it to be true.

I began researching
certain philosophies/ethics...after all, just because I was no longer
"religious" was no reason to not want to be a good person & live
by a code of morality. I began following Buddhist ethics, as they seemed
the most universal; they were the least culturally-dependent out of everything
I'd read.

So little by little I
began to pick up other aspects of the philosophy...the reality of not-self
and the meta-physics of dependent origination. At that time I had just
finished a series of Newtonian Physics (aka classical physics) and was taking
an "Intro to Quantum Physics" class. The teacher spoke of how
classical physics was still a great set of calculations for manipulating reality,
but has been clearly proven wrong when it comes to understanding
the true nature
of it.

He made a small
remark...almost like an after thought...about only one person in history
getting it right. I stopped him & asked him to elaborate. He
said, “If you must know...it was the Buddha. And he learned everything from
introspection. I'd chock it up to coincidence, but he wasn't just right about
one or two things...it is enough to raise more than an eyebrow.” After
that teaser he continued on with the subject matter at hand...talk about
leaving a guy hangin'.

This led to a LOT of
research on my part...

Fast-Forward 2 years
later...


I've researched every
tradition & settled into Theravada, as I have come to see their scriptures
as the literal word of the historical Buddha--as opposed to the very symbolic
words of the Mahayana scriptures that focus on the archetype of the Buddha,
rather than the man himself (i.e., a floating Buddha that shoots laser beams
from his hands...Surangama Sutra style).

I've become an avid
reader of the Pali Canon, even learning Pali itself as I don't trust others'
translations when it comes to scripture that contains meditation instruction.
The fact that the Anguttara Nikaya contains most of this instruction
& it has yet to be translated into English makes this linguistic hobby a
necessity.

Although most Westerners
have gone all "Western" with the Buddhist Path...throwing out
everything that is silly to modern, civilized people & extracting the
"essence" of the Buddha's teaching (this is a crack at Daniel,
Kenneth, Stephen Batchlor, Jack Kornfield, and everyone else that claims to
have "gotten it right" & "tossed out
the unnecessary stuff"). After reading much, I decided to
take a gamble with my reputation.

Being convinced that
some type of "awakening" could result from the practices, but not
knowing what was important and what wasn't--maybe everything is? Who
knows?--I made the decision that I would follow the instructions from the Canon
and commentaries (Visuddhimagga) verbatim...even if everyone laughed at me for
doing so.

I took virtue very
seriously...I practiced recollections/recitations of virtue, the body, the
Buddha, Dhamma & Sangha...the whole nine yards. I stopped watching TV
& spent time practicing generosity by volunteering my free time
to charitable work.

I certainly felt good
about myself & life in general, and I my metta meditation was beginning to
give rise to jhana (solid absorption, not the “you’re in jhana because you feel
nice tingling in your legs” that some people preach). However,
vipassana, on a quantitative level, wasn’t going really far. Certain
“qualitative” insights had definitely come…and I know now that they were
equally important…but I had yet to see the “rise & fall” the Buddha spoke
about. Maybe that was the problem. The Buddha focused on
the outcome rather than the technique…he always says that you watch the rise
& fall, see things as they are, this leads to dispassion/non-clinging,
which leads to equanimity, which leads to the higher knowledges, etc etc etc. He
emphasized that different techniques were better for different people (says
this directly in at least one sutta).

Then I find KFD &
talk to Kenneth, who begins to instruct me one-on-one. He knows from
the start I am Buddhist & seems to be okay with it—even relates with me on
a certain level. In 3 months time I’m ripe for stream entry, but our
relationship is starting to go downhill. In addition to the
technique he’s teaching me, he’s beginning to interpret my experiences for me,
too. It is odd, because in addition to the normal run-of-the-mill
experiences, I’m having a few extra ones…ones that he has obviously never
had…even though they seem pretty basic. (More on these “extras”
later.)

He has been adamant
about me NOT practicing jhana/concentration at all. And I haven’t, yet somehow
I slip into 4th jhana before experiencing 2nd or
3rd. It is a mind-blowing experience…that unbeknownst to
me (or him) was not 4th jhana, but stream-entry. I
didn’t find this out until I finally left KEnneth/KFD & began practicing
under the tutelage of an Austrian man that spent 3 years as a monk in a Forest
Hermatige in Sri Lanka. He taught a Mahasi-derivative similar to the
fast-noting technique of Daniel. However, he really emphasized “perfecting
mundane right view” and a few other things that are certainly out of the
question when practicing under Daniel or Kenneth’s system.

I learned to recall the
fruition experience & work my way to 2nd path in no time
flat. I’m also not treated like an outcast when I ask about some of
these “extra insights”. In fact, I’m asked what I think of them…get
that! I wasn’t told how to understand what I experienced. I won’t go
into too much detail right now—as this is an article/post unto itself—but it
turns out that these “Extra Insights” come to people that follow the full
instructions of the religious side of meditation practice. I find
this very interesting. (BTW – some of these insight are basic
“seeing the precepts as what sets you free & not as a restraint” and others
are more difficult to put into words, but they help one to understand &
rationalize the whole “ending of kamma” and “why a full-blown arahant is
somewhat “saintly”…not in a magical sort of way, but in a very rational, “oh,
that makes sense now” sort of way. I will make a point to make a few
posts on this & my theory as to why it may take place.)

Take note: I’m not
saying that people that don’t meditate from a full-blown Theravadin religious
practice completely miss out or are doing something wrong. It’s just
that this brings up some interesting questions. Does one’s
perspective on the nature of the universe affect one’s awakening to that nature
of the universe? The Buddha did emphasize a lot on “perfecting
mundane right view” prior to stream-entry. Does one only need to let
go of his or her prior views for this to happen? Or must he “perfect
his view” towards that of the Early Buddhist worldview? In other
words, does not letting go of an old view prevent one from an insight? Or
is one coloring his or her insight by instilling a particular perspective prior
to the awakening experience? I certainly don’t have an answer for
you…but I spend a lot of time researching this…

Through my practice
& experience towards enlightenment I have learned a lot. I have
a good understanding of the Burmese (Abhidhamma-style) & Sri Lankan
(Sutta-style) meditation systems & the theory behind each. A lot
of Abhidhamma…how one can apply it to practice (and what parts to leave
out!)…several meditation methods that work & many that either don’t work or
work very slowly. I’ve come to appreciate a “qualitative” (Kornfield &
Thanissaro/Ajahn Chah) rather than just “quantitative” (Daniel/Kenneth & U
Pandita/Ñanananda) side to insight meditation. Regardless of
Daniel’s rants that no one should ever talk about how they “feel”, I vehemently
oppose his stance. While no one should turn their instructor into their
therapist, certain “qualitative” insights are very important for a spiritual
maturity to grow along side one’s progress. I liken it to the view
that one could teach a relatively young boy to have sex, he could even learn to
do “it” well, but without a certain level of maturity he would not benefit from
“it”. In fact, it could be very damaging psychologically for all parties
involved. I believe the same to be true for meditative
progress/spiritual maturity.

So what do I do
now? I spend a lot of time teaching meditation at the local Sri
Lankan temple. Most Sri Lankans have never meditated before—they
simply gave an offering, received a blessing & went home—yet are very eager
to see how they can experience what they’ve read about for themselves. I
also do a lot of research into the history of some modern day arguments—such as
how one defines an Arahant…this basically led to the split/creation of the
Mahayana & the Buddha-hood goal. Furthermore, I’m constantly looking
into how prior views, or lack thereof, play a role in one’s experience of
awakening (as detailed above).

Although I’ve left
atheism in the dust & embraced a religious life as a Theravadin Buddhist,
I’m not dogmatic. Certain insights have led me to really believe in
a lot of aspects regarding kamma & rebirth (not reincarnation, but the
continuation of the action/reaction cycle…seeing death/rebirth as nothing more
than another form of becoming…and that once that you see what little is
actually “you”, it is easy to see that small part re-sprout). If you
told me I’d believe this stuff 8 years ago, I would’ve said something to hurt
your feelings.


Yet, these experiences
have not led me to try & convert everyone to my perspective or denounce
other beliefs. It has motivated me to continue my research…into
other’s experiences, into their views before/after certain attainments, their
methods of attainments, etc. I try to find information to pull
everything together in a rational way…for every “mystical” aspect of Buddhism
I’ve come to believe, I’ve come to believe because it is no longer so
“mystical” after all.

-Brian A.J.
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Welcome! 20 Dec 2010 04:30 #167

Hi, Brian,

I think we must have an unusually high percentage of onetime Christian refugees among our small number; interesting, isn't it?

Thanks for your saga!
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Welcome! 20 Dec 2010 05:05 #168

I'm curious to hear more about practice without religion and feelings vs. dharma WITH religion and feelings.

With Daniel and Kenneth I often thought, what about the entire eight-fold path? Is it really going to work to just concentrate on one or two? I'm not sure, but I definitely thought about it. A lot.
  • Dharma Comarade
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Welcome! 20 Dec 2010 06:09 #169

Brian, welcome to the forum. I enjoyed your introductory post, as I can tell that you're really engaging with the teachings instead of just thinking about them. Not only that, but you're doing so within a framework (Theravadin Buddhism) that has been in place for millenia. There's a reason why this form of practice has survived that long, even if it isn't practiced by the majority.

I look forward to hearing more from you. A lot of us have more of an eclectic/integrate approach to Buddhist practice than a traditional one. Speaking for myself, my practice is greatly influenced by the Theravada, more so than any other tradition. I think we'll have a lot to talk about, and I know I can learn from you.

Nice to have you here.

-Jackson
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Welcome! 20 Dec 2010 13:57 #170

Welcome, Brian. Glad to see you here.

Did Kenneth's diagnoses ever make you wonder just what in your reported experience wasn't an effect of your practice?

;-)

- Chris
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Welcome! 20 Dec 2010 17:24 #171

Chris,

LOL...you make a good point. We laugh, though I believe it is moving toward an extreme that is no longer humorous.

Kenneth had to do a lot of persuading....lots of it...to convince everyone that the IMS/Goldstein method & attainment wasn't the end of it all. He still points out that it was wrong of Goldstein to presume that just because he progressed no farther, there was nothing more to attain. (What I call "Unconscious Arrogance".) That it wasn't all magic & make-believe...that one could, through different methods & systems etc., go farther than the other purported.

Yet when Kenneth hit a wall & could progress no more, he became "the pot calling the kettle black" and claimed that anyone who believed that there was more out there was believing in "charlatans & medieval mysticism". He also presumed that the wall he hit was Arahantship. Regardless of how one defines Arahantship, most all definitions agree it is the end of attainments. The fact that he's had recent further attainments should be a good time for him to do some soul-searching (pun intended!). Yet he constantly says that anyone claiming an attainment or knowledge beyond his sttainment/knowledge is a "charlatan"?

Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, meet pot. You two should get to know each other better.

I've met quite a few people within the Sri Lankan Forest Tradition that are more advanced than Kenneth, yet they are surprisingly humble...always saying "this is the extent of my knowledge".

Once upon a time, Kenneth just wanted everyone to "get their hands dirty" with practicing...he just wanted you to practice in a way that helped you to progress. That's it. If you practice rightly, you'll see the truth yourself & need no one to interpret it for you.

But Kenneth has been leaning more & more toward an Vedanta/Hindu outlook on the nature of ultimate reality. This has clouded his judgment & he nows not only wants you to practice, but he wants to interpret your experience for you, as well. He wants you to believe everything positive in your life is from his "system of practice" & everything bad is from you not following it correctly. And if you don't agree with kundalini karma he's selling, chances are he's not going to be so inclined to help you...

His website was a good thing, but there are so many people there telling him how great he is & treating him like a Tibetan Guru that I believe it has had a negative effect on him. When you don't have friends you consider as equals to challenge your ideas & keep you on track, it is easy to go way off course. I'm afraid this has happened to Kenneth. Whether or not he will realize this before it becomes to large a problem to control...only time will tell.

The part that gets me is this: he learned this U Pandita/Mahasi style meditation system at a Thervadin Buddhist meditation center. They only cared that you meditate--not that you converted to Buddhism. Kenneth's system is a non-religious meditation system...yet he no longer only cares that you just meditate with good technique, but that you see things & interpret things the same way he does.

Okay...feels good to vent. I'll stop my rant, now.
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Welcome! 20 Dec 2010 17:45 #172

"His website was a good thing, but there are so many people there telling him how great he is & treating him like a Tibetan Guru that I believe it has had a negative effect on him. When you don't have friends you consider as equals to challenge your ideas & keep you on track, it is easy to go way off course. I'm afraid this has happened to Kenneth. Whether or not he will realize this before it becomes to large a problem to control...only time will tell."

Well Brian, I've been telling Kenneth almost exactly this in an e-mail exchange the past few days -- because he sent me a message asking me what was up since I no longer participate on his forum. I've been very direct with him (no pun intended). He lost the adults a few months ago over his new "direct mode" practice and the unskillful way he managed that transition in his practice, especially with his students and forum participants. He has, indeed, become a believer in his own "stuff" to the apparent exclusion of having any kind of objective POV. It is, in so many ways, the opposite of what attainment should be and should look like to the "outside" world.

Caveat emptor!
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Welcome! 20 Dec 2010 18:42 #173

You know...I feel bad about being so harsh with Kenneth in the previous post. As I mentioned in the last line, I was venting.

I think Kenneth has gone way off track. I know that I had to move away from him in order to make good progress...and that is a little depressing, because I do think he's a good guy. Although I do not agree with his interpretations on several things, he's motivating people to meditate...& he's doing a good job of it.

I really hope he is able to take a step back & return to the core mission: Get People to Meditate. Don't say that people with different approaches/interpretations are wrong. There will always be someone with a higher attainment & a differing opinion. The important point is to get people to meditate...over time, the wrong views will straighten themselves out.

With all this said, I don't think Kenneth deserved for me to be so harsh on him. Regardless of whether or not his means have become counter-productive, I know that his intentions are wholesome.
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Welcome! 20 Dec 2010 19:01 #174

I don't think any of us think that Kenneth is some kind of crooked super-villain. Like Daniel Ingram, he has inspired a great many would-be-practitioners to take up a solid practice and really go for it. I am one of the many, and I am incredibly grateful for the amount of time and resources both Daniel and Kenneth spent on me over the years.



But good intentions are not good enough. "Idiot compassion" is a good example of this. You don't give an alcoholic a drink to stop the pain of their withdrawal symptoms. That just perpetuates the problem. Good intentions must be brought together with good discernment. Discernment is one of the ways that Kenneth has seriously missed the boat, in my opinion. It's pretty apparent to me that he has some pretty serious blind spots, and that they are growing exponentially due to the Direct Mode practice. He can't seem to see the trees, nor the trees. It saddens me. More than anything, I hope he snaps out of it. I want earthly Kenneth back. Otherworldly Kenneth is, well... creepy and disappointing.



Good intentions or not, his judgement is seriously impaired. And he's doing it to himself.



-Jackson
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Welcome! 20 Dec 2010 19:06 #175

We must not be afraid to speak truth to power.
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Welcome! 20 Dec 2010 19:48 #176

Someone fill me in on what this Direct Mode stuff is about. I went AWAL from KFD for a while...this must have come about during my hiatus.
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Welcome! 20 Dec 2010 19:58 #177

Read this:

http://kennethfolkdharma.wetpaint.com/thread/4249588/Kenneth%27s+Experiment

The other conversations about it, where some of us were expressing skepticism and doubt about the practice, seem to have been removed. My entire practice journal is gone now, too, all three chapters spanning over a year.
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Welcome! 20 Dec 2010 20:02 #178

Brian, when you reply please reply in the topic I'm about to create in the Meditation Practice section here. I'll call it "Direct Mode". Let's try to keep this topic, called "Welcome," for the welcoming of new folks to this forum.

Thanks!

- Chris
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