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TOPIC: Jnanas: States and/or Stages?

Jnanas: States and/or Stages? 11 Jan 2012 03:36 #4851


"And I argue that the arc of this experience is similar across traditions."

I'm not sure this is quite right. Using the phrase "may be similar" is better, IMHO. We're not dealing with replicable, objective science here just yet. All we have is personal experience filtered by a lot of things, including any reporting person's ability to lucidly communicate it.

For example, this whole idea that there is some iconic "initial awakening" is very suspect in my mind. What awakening does that refer to?

And.... why bother trying to pin this all down? Go practice!

[image]

-cmarti

I think awakening is a human somehow somewy getting insight into the fact that their "self" is an ever changing impermenant thing created by one's mind, that everything is constantly changing and in flux, and that a self-centered life dedicated to fullfullment of self-centered desries will always be unsatisfactory and painfull. Along with this is at least some sense that one is connected to all things and that there is nothing 'other" out there some where.

That is "awakening," getting to that basic place of insight. From there, one can develop all kinds of insights and abilities to become more and more wise and/or get relief from suffering. Or not. One can even make no new progress after an initial "awakening" and even live in misery from then on. It varies and what happens is infiinite in possilities. Fractalish.

How one gets to that point can also vary infinitely. However, I think it is always the resullt of a person really watching what is going on with just the right amont of disembedied, constant and continuous awareness with momentum. This can happen almost accidentally or, from a concerted effort using maps, teachers, books, methods, etc.
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Jnanas: States and/or Stages? 15 Jan 2012 18:49 #4852

I went back to The Buddha's Satori by Motoyama to see what he has to say about the experiences in the five stages of no-form. Took some notes, which I've posted below, in case someone might be interested.



Stage 5 – [Empty] Sky of No-Boundary

Meditator imagines that everything is empty and everything becomes
emptyHowever, the thought and
imagination that takes the world to be empty is still active Connected with dispelling the fear of death



Stage 6 – Awareness of No-Boundary

Meditator has halted activities of the “imagining mind” and the “discriminating mind” that
engages “this” or “that”Corresponds to a state of “no-image and no-thought” wherein perception,
imagination, will, action, discriminating mind, reason, and understanding all
cease.



Stage 7 – No-thing Existing

When state of “no-image and no-thought” can be maintained for 20 – 30 minutes
or even hours, wherein the mind and body are rendered still as if there is no
respiration or heartbeat, this represents transitional state into state of
No-thing ExistingMeditator achieves union with God, dharma, emptiness, etc.; however,
two “beings”, the meditator and God, dharma, emptiness, etc., are still distinct. It is a union of two in which the power of
the Absolute flows into the meditator. Meditator becomes aware that “nothing belongs to me” and that
everything exists by virtue of the activity of God, dharma, emptiness, etc. The self that is made to live by God, dharma, emptiness, etc. still
exists



Stage 8 – Neither Image nor No-Image

Meditator experiences that there is neither a self who imagines nor a
self who does not imagineMeditator experiences that there is a “here” and a “there” but at the
same time there is neither “here” nor “there” – this is called the idea of the “middle”
(Madhyamika) in Buddhism The “lower” world in which there is imagination and the “upper” world
in which there is no imagination simultaneously
exist. Verbatim: “I am where there is no self, which produces everyone and which
enables me to speak to everyone, while enabling everyone to act.” The (small) self that has been negated as to its being is still
functional as a tool because it exists in the place that is the present self. Because all are in the place of the present
self, it is possible to help everyone. Verbatim: “I am here assuming the same human form as that of everyone,
but at the same time, transcending this form I am enveloping everyone, wherein
there is no ‘me’ and no ‘everyone.’” Advancement in the union with God, dharma, emptiness, etc. -- realization
that there exists no self apart from the working of God, dharma, emptiness,
etc. – Absolute flows into the meditator stillAware of the “middle”, as well as thing-events taking place in it, but
leans a little towards “being” – not true God, dharma, emptiness



Stage 9 – Complete Cessation

All activities of the mind and body cease except for the body heatHowever, world of undefiled form has not disappearedTrue nirvana occurs when the world of matter and the world of mind become
nothing -- this does not represent final awakening



Stage 10 - Nirvana

Self has disappeared completely

Motoyama's description of stage 9 and 10 are not that helpful to me. They
seem inconsistent with his descriptions of the other stages or just provide
very little information about these experiences at these stages.
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Jnanas: States and/or Stages? 15 Jan 2012 18:54 #4853

Jake2, I'd rather hear about your personal experiences in your own words. I'd like to think you were drawn to this site because the individual people here were posting things that are interesting to you. Please consider this a request to return the favor. You can certainly link us to other sites and the expositions, comments and theories of other practitioners and teachers, but this site is really meant to be about interpersonal interaction.
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Jnanas: States and/or Stages? 15 Jan 2012 19:00 #4854

Chris, I definitely find the experiences that people here relate very interesting. And they also post things that are not related to their experience that I also find interesting. Maybe I posted these notes in the wrong section of the site or maybe I should have just linked to them somehow as you said. I will keep that in mind next time I'd like to share something of this nature.

I feel as though I share my experiences regularly but also choose to share information I find as well that might be helpful or interesting to others. I will be more careful in trying to strike a balance in the future or linking to information rather than posting it word-for-word since I do not want to interfere with the natural flow of conversation.

Thanks for the heads-up.

Jake2
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Jnanas: States and/or Stages? 15 Jan 2012 19:30 #4855

Chris and I (and others) created this forum with an implicit sense of how we would like people to interact here. I haven't always been good at making explicit my understanding of how I'd like this forum to operate. I think Chris has done a much better job.

It began on somewhat of a reactionary note, on my part. Members of others forums were getting really deep into fabricating their own systems of awakening, and (in my opinion) grafting their ideas on to traditional maps in ways that made their "attainments" appear far more significant than they actually were. Chris and I, among others, got tired of the incessant mapping, and began to favor a different approach. It's hard to put the approach into words. But, perhaps instead of being map-based or attainment-based, it was more process-based; processes based on principles arrived at through the insight realized through practice.

You'll notice, if you dig through the archives, that while some forums were hung up on deciding how many stages of awakening there are, I was personally more interested in (and writing about) the processes that, when applied, lead to realization. It was more of a skills-based approach, which had more to do with stabilizing realization than climbing some hypothetical ladder to enlightenment.

Where I don't think that everyone in this forum shares this particular perspective, there is a sense in this group that we have the tools we need to live an awakened life. Our realization deepens and stabilizes through continued practice, and the distinction between practice and everyday life get less and less defined.

So, in my usual long-winded way, I'm trying to say that we (Chris and I, and presumably the others) want to hear about your practice, and what it means to you. If you're interested in Motoyama, that's cool. But, why? What in your experience keeps leading you back? This is far more the kind of thing we'd like to talk about :-D

Does that make sense?
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Jnanas: States and/or Stages? 15 Jan 2012 19:38 #4856

Yes, that is very well said, Jackson.

Also, it is impossible to have a conversation with a third party. Conversation must take place between those of us who are actually here. Not people in other places, dead people, suttas, what have you.
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Jnanas: States and/or Stages? 15 Jan 2012 19:55 #4857

I think I've been the recipient of the kindest gentlest version of this 'redirect' from Chris, on occasion-- 'what is it that got your attention in what you posted, Kate?' I know I have the tendency to think that whatever it is that I'm enthusiastic about at any given moment is wonderful in some way so blindingly obvious that there's nothing I could say to add value.


I share your interest in Motoyama's explorations and writings, Jake2-- although you've clued me in that there is a great deal since the old references I encountered a decade ago-- and I would love to know to what degree you've been able to incorporate his insights and observations into your own practice-driven understanding.

Maybe the best place for just displaying the cool new information-- raw and undigested-- is the thread about reading/viewing resources. Although most of us-- certainly moi-- stray across borders all the time.

It would be a great service [to me, anyway] to see an annotated list of authors taking the physio-energetic developmental stages approach. I have a few things I could add to it, but I think perhaps you have more expertise?
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Jnanas: States and/or Stages? 15 Jan 2012 19:57 #4858

That's a great suggestion, Kate.

Thanks
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Jnanas: States and/or Stages? 15 Jan 2012 19:57 #4859

-- AND I want to add that the 'straying' sometimes provokes excellent clarifying statements of purpose from the Seniors here, so thanks!
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Jnanas: States and/or Stages? 15 Jan 2012 20:20 #4860

Jackson, thanks for the background. That is very good to know. I want to make sure that I do not inadvertently stray from the spirit of this board. And I see why that spirit is such that it is.

I am interested in Motoyama's work because my teacher once told me he is aware of very few others that have a similar level of awakening. So I delved into reading his work at this recommendation. I've also been greatly helped by Motoyama whom I met in April 2008 in San Diego. At that time, I was read by his AMI machine and he went over the report with me. I was having problems with "irregularity" which inhibited my practice and he told me that I was putting too much effort into sitting up straight during meditation. This was aggravating the disc/nerve between my 4th and 5th lumbar vertebrae. This was without palpating me or observing my sitting practice in any way. We just sat there in the conference room and he told me that. He said I should not put as much pressure on my lower back when sitting and showed me sacral exercises to help correct the spinal distortion. The AMI printout showed that my body's energy was accumulated in the lower half of my body, which is indicative of a depressed state. I did have problems with depression up to that point, although it was so pervasive that I didn't even realize it at the time because I didn't have a happy state to compare it to. Motoyama told me to focus on my third eye in meditation instead of my sacral cakra, which would correct this upper/lower imbalance over time. I am stubborn and it took me awhile to fully implement his instructions, particularly because I was scared to focus on my third eye. I had spent about 4 months in a Zen monastery in Japan where I had taken on koan practice. During a sesshin, I focused too hard on my koan, my head heated up, and my irregularity turned up full-force. So I associated the GI problem with focusing on my third eye. When I finally did follow Motoyama's instructions, my problem was greatly ameliorated and I am very thankful for his consultation. This is another reason why I tune into his writings. Sorry that was so long-winded, but I wanted to share why I admire Motoyama and his work so much.

Kate, I've been following his instructions in Theories of the Chakras for my practice. Another book that I've found helpful is Awakening the Chakras and Emancipation which highlights experiences of chakra awakening as well as offers cautionary remarks. Unfortunately, I don't know much about other physio-energetic developmental approaches; my knowledge is primarily rooted in Motoyama's brand of Kundalini Yoga.

Jake2
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Jnanas: States and/or Stages? 15 Jan 2012 21:21 #4861

"I went back to The Buddha's Satori by Motoyama to see what
he has to say about the experiences in the five stages of no-form.
Took some notes, which I've posted below, in case someone might be
interested."--Jake2

Just remembered that Hokai has been putting up something similar, from a Shingon perspective, at his blog-- in case you might find it interesting: http://www.hokai.info/blog/
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Jnanas: States and/or Stages? 15 Jan 2012 23:24 #4862

Thanks. I'll check it out. Kukai has always interested me and someday maybe I will read his work more closely. I also want to go back and take a look at the Ten Ox-Herding Pictures as well. My teacher did a really good explication of them when I was in his Intro to Zen class in college and I'll have to dig out my notes.
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