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TOPIC: Awakening - Emotions vs Suffering

Awakening - Emotions vs Suffering 15 Jan 2017 17:31 #105751

Chris Marti wrote:
Humanness is overrated for me.

Noah, I'm not judging you and please don't take this the wrong way but it's been clear to me for quite some time that you are not practicing to open up but to shut down. It's okay and I sort of grok why you feel this way and want to get rid of the pain, anxiety and other "bad" stuff that goes along with being a feeling being. Have you explained this to the various meditation teachers you've had over the years? It seems to me you'd be far better off to do that so they could be a lot smarter about your goals.

No worries, I wouldn't fight you on that one. To be completely honest, part of the reason (in terms of teachers) would be that I DO work processing and openness stuff with them, so it's absence isn't a red flag. I just see that type of work as a necessary intermediate step rather than the end goal, which affects the way I write.

I'm grateful for this community and its tolerance for my views which are outside the usual angle of discussion.
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Awakening - Emotions vs Suffering 16 Jan 2017 21:14 #105758

shargrol wrote:
I watched that video a while ago, it's probably the first time I had doubts about Shinzen's theories. I hope I'm wrong, but it seems very baloney sausage.

The arhat description, from what I remember and Chris' retelling, struck me as a red herring. In one other of his videos, he talks about meeting an a theravadian arhat who wasn't capable of walking, had to be carried by his monk peers, exhibited almost no muscle tone... and I had to wonder, why is this the model of an arhat instead of the historical buddha that walked all over india, talking with people, teaching into his 80s?

The zombie arhat just doesn't pass the straight-faced test. Sure it's an interesting curiosity, but I don't think it's what I would use as my model for the desired end state.

Gimme some rope here please, I did see both videos but I want to respond without painstakingly reviewing the videos to make sure I'm perfectly quoting the facts: :) I feel you guys are being too hard on the guy.

Shinzen spends some minutes trying to be properly skeptical, saying that there's only a 1/10 or 1/100 chance that there is a meaningful inference to be made of the superficial, charicature'esq similarity between the 'symptoms' of arahatship and the symptoms of the zombie guys. He assigned another 1/10 to 1/100'th probability that the anatomical 'facts' of the zombie guys can be made use of, and a further 1/10 to 1/100'th probability that making use of the previously mentioned unlikely factors can lead to an advantageous result for the bulk of humanity. His upshot is that the actual chance of 'value' being realized from this investigation is between 1/1000 and 1/1000000

I saw a video of him describing the guy with zero body tone, I didn't think he was using that as a model to pursue, more like an out-of-normal anecdote of the kind of lengths people can go to when pursuing the path.

That said, I too noticed his somewhat giddy reference to the dollar value of enlightening the whole freaking world. I kinda thought he was just showing his awareness of our materialistic western value system, and his excitement about his 'right living' hitting the ball out of the park, out of the city, out of orbit.
Last Edit: 16 Jan 2017 21:15 by matthew sexton.
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Awakening - Emotions vs Suffering 17 Jan 2017 00:54 #105759

Here's a quote about "the dude with no muscle tone" - Taungpulu Sayadaw:

The Sayadaw taught that each station in life holds the possibility for high spiritual attainment; he did not preach that everyone should become monks and nuns and undertake ascetic practices in order to attain arahatship and enter nibbana. Of greater significance to him was one' approach to meditation, the attitude with which to take up the practice. Within the pendulum movement of concentrated attention and flexibility, of striving and patience, lie the key to progress.
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Awakening - Emotions vs Suffering 17 Jan 2017 18:28 #105768

Beautiful quote! Any webpage/reference?
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Awakening - Emotions vs Suffering 18 Jan 2017 12:45 #105773

shargrol wrote:
Beautiful quote! Any webpage/reference?

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Awakening - Emotions vs Suffering 18 Jan 2017 15:43 #105775

Another one from the article:

"Regarding spiritual qualities, Taungpulu Sayadaw believed that patience is the noblest attitude, and that there is no practice more excellent than the perfection of patience. Without it, there can be no prosperity, no growth, and no positive development."
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Awakening - Emotions vs Suffering 22 Jan 2017 19:45 #105797

Noah wrote:
Chris Marti wrote:
... one realizes the remarkable degree to which ordinary desires and aversions have mysteriously disappeared and simply don’t arise...

I guess Culadasa is not immune to self-contradiction :)

He's actually made this point quite a bit, in his talks and elsewhere. He claims to not experience significant or noticeable waves of negative emotion anymore. The idea being that it is possible for them to arise but they are untethered or there is no grativational pull sustaining them or whatever. I can find some quotes if that is deemed helpful.

I found the aforementioned Culadasa quote:
As for my own experience, I have a family history of bi-polar disorder, was diagnosed as bi-polar myself, suffered from severe depression for many years, and was treated with anti-depressants, amongst other things. As a direct result of my practice, I have not used these or any other psychoactive medications for many, many years. (I currently do use antibiotics.) Nor have I suffered from depression in that time.

Occasionally I become aware of those same biochemical imbalances in my brain that in the past would have manifested as depression. Mindfulness reveals their presence and the influence they tend to have on thought processes and emotional reactions. Through mindful awareness I can easily recognize and set aside those unwholesome thoughts and emotions. This usually spares my doing or saying things that are hurtful to others, but I do have lapses of mindfulness where I experience feelings of being discouraged or unmotivated, and can get grumpy and impatient before I 'wake up' to what is happening. On the other hand, I suspect that even if my mindfulness failed me completely, I would still not go into real depression. My mind just doesn't work that way anymore. Although this sort of thing still occurs from time to time, it is quite infrequent and short lived. In sharp contrast to my earlier life, these occasional biochemical imbalances most definitely do not create suffering or in the least disturb my inner peace, happiness and contentment.

I hope these comments will be reassuring and of benefit to you. There is no need to redefine the stages of Enlightenment or fruits of the practice to make them more accessible, and doing so leads to an incalculable loss to everyone.


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Awakening - Emotions vs Suffering 23 Jan 2017 06:45 #105798

Lots of interesting sentence constructions and word choices in that culadasa quote. It bears attentive reading.
Last Edit: 23 Jan 2017 06:45 by shargrol.
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Awakening - Emotions vs Suffering 23 Jan 2017 09:12 #105801

Yes - be clear especially on the difference between experience and suffering. That's a tripwire for some ;-)
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Awakening - Emotions vs Suffering 23 Jan 2017 12:35 #105802

Synchronicity: On the KMcL podcast I'm listening to: "The end of suffering is not a state, it is a way of experiencing what arises."
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Awakening - Emotions vs Suffering 24 Jan 2017 16:23 #105816


Ken: ...Right now we have all kinds of reactive processes running around inside us which keep destabilizing our attention.And so one of the reasons we do the practices such as the five dakinis, or the four immeasurables or any of those things, is to knock out the fullness of the reactive processes, so they stop operating. And then our attention naturally becomes more stable. And then being able to live in the sense of emptiness of experience becomes more possible. So we are creating the conditions for that to arise.

But there is a huge amount of mystification. If you read the mahayana sutras, they’re wonderful. They’re beautiful. They’re elaborate, and they leave you the impression that you don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of ever being really awake. [Laughter] Right?

Student: The Heart Sutra.

Ken: The Heart Sutra is relatively innocuous, try the Avatamsaka Sutra. It goes on and on and on. Even the Diamond Sutrasare intimidating that way.

But when you get to the core experiences they describe, the picture is different. For instance, how many of you know the four stages of arhatship? Stream winner, once returner, no returner and arhat. Right?

Student: Very intimidating. [Laughing]

Ken: Yeah, except that what in the blazes does this mean? Okay. What’s a stream winner? Now it’s someone who—and if you read the formal descriptions—and you feel like “well you know, maybe twenty-five lifetimes if I work absolutely consistently. I don’t do anything else. I never earn a cent in my life. I just meditate all the time maybe I’ll just get there.” Like that, right?

Well, those wonderful descriptions are a poetic expression of how much people valued these things, so they, they blew it up tremendously. So what is a stream winner? A stream winner is a person who has had a sufficiently powerful or strong experience of emptiness that they can’t go back to being the same way. It’s something which screws up the system so you can’t go back. Now you’re on the path. You are in the stream. No? So when you’ve developed a level of attention, you have that experience. Then you’re a stream winner.

What’s a once returner? A once returner is a person whose level of attention is sufficiently high so that when a reactive process comes up, they are caught by it for a moment (one life) [snaps fingers] and then they return to wakefulness.

When a reactive process arises in a no returner, it just comes and goes. They aren’t caught by it. They don’t have to return. They stay in wakefulness.

Buried in this highly metaphorical language you have simple and accessible experiences expressed in code. These experiences are very accessible to all of us. The fact that they are seen as way out there, well, that’s poetry.

Student: But they are taken literally by some. [Chuckles] Some of my teachers anyway!

Ken: Actually some in the group here. [Laughter] Well, there was this student of Zen who had a very, very deep experience at one point. And the circumstances were such that he couldn’t go to any teacher and recount his experience and have it reflected back, which is actually a important aspect. So in lieu of that, I think he picked up the Diamond Sutra. And said to himself, “If I can read this and understand it without having a single thought then I think I am probably on the right track.” And that’s what he did. It was all completely clear to him.

So when you have had certain experiences then you see what the poetry is actually pointing to. Now eastern teachers––many of them, almost all of them––they learned and were trained in this highly metaphorical way of expression. At the same time because they are in traditional societies, they don’t take it literally. They understand and know it as metaphor. Though they don’t talk about it as metaphor. It’s not the way one does things in a traditional society.

We’re in and have been brought up in a modern society. Modern society is characterized by the use of rational processes, particularly at times, in which you take everything literally. When you’re reading an account of a scientific experiment you’re paying attention to every word that’s being very clearly expressed because you want to reconstruct that experiment to see if you can do it yourself. So you take everything absolutely literally. But when we bring that literalness to this highly metaphorical thing the result is disastrous!

I’ll give you an example. I ran into this with a psychologist one time in a conversation. And it’s exactly this conversation. And he said “Well give me an example.” I said, “In Tibetan Buddhism you regard your teacher as buddha.” And he immediately said, “Oh, so he’s infallible.” So I said, “No.” That’s a perfect example of modern literal rational processes being applied to metaphorical imagery or mythic language really.

When you say you regard your teacher as a buddha, as Buddha, it describes the way that you regard a teacher as how you experience awakening mind; how you would want to live that way. It doesn’t say anything about being [unclear], but it says a great deal about, is your relationship with that person. And the role of that relationship in your spiritual process. It’s a huge difference in talking about a person as being [unclear]. Not the same thing at all. And those kinds of mistakes are being made all over the place. Noel.

Noel: Sure. Thank you.

Ken: Other questions?

Student: I just wondered, doesn’t that build on a little bit of our Christian heritage? Where the image of Jesus and some of those images are so pure and rarefied that we in our culture transform, transform those into tibetan culture or eastern religion cultures.

Ken: I think that a lot of us involuntarily in Christianity is equally misunderstood.

Student: And it goes with that as well, yeah and [unclear].

Ken: I think that being able to understand what is being pointed to in terms of one’s own experience, yeah. Without literal descriptions. Being able to understand what the other language is pointing to. Is something that is being lost to us to a significant experience and extent. Which means we don’t, we lack a way of talking about these things. And that’s problematic.
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Awakening - Emotions vs Suffering 24 Jan 2017 17:30 #105818

Thanks Shargrol, good stuff - I totally agree, but at the same time IMHO I wonder whether we can ever know with such certainty what was intended by the authors of these kinds of documents.

Could you say more about the dakini practice you've linked to? I will look into it myself also, but would be helpful - as I've mentioned, at the moment I'm getting more into some aspects of Tibetan tradition and am reading Judith Simmer-Brown's book Dakini's Warm Breath, and would be interested in your perspective. Mods, happy to split the thread/discuss on my thread if that's more appropriate.
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Awakening - Emotions vs Suffering 24 Jan 2017 18:08 #105819

Dakini conversation moved over to my practice thread....
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Awakening - Emotions vs Suffering 24 Jan 2017 20:51 #105823

Re the KM quote- An important distinction to make is what metric is being used. KM describes what I would call a "y axis" metric here: a measure of the sensory-perceptual lens through which content is perceived. I know of several Buddhist teachers who use an integration metric: the degree to which the y-axis has been synergized with the cultivation of life skills. This would explain the 10 Fetter model as well.
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Awakening - Emotions vs Suffering 25 Jan 2017 06:37 #105829

That's a nice map.

Hmm, maybe a Z axis could attempt to account for the context of degree of change/stress in life conditions. Monastic conditions, CEO running an organization, living on the streets, parent raising kids, skilled tradesman, subsistence hunting and gathering, spending time in prison, social activist, being independently wealthy... some kind of external stress/instability coefficient. Not sure how you would do that!
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Awakening - Emotions vs Suffering 25 Jan 2017 20:28 #105840

That would be the same axes but variables which determine the plotting.

These variables are
1- preconditions
2- techniques used presently
3- positive side effects of previous shifts

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