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TOPIC: The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry

The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry 24 May 2015 11:00 #98926

I posted this on DhO also, but some of you may not read that board. So I want to let you know that I've gathered together all my writings on meditation in one place. Amazon allows contributors to make their Kindle price zero for five days per quarter. I've asked them to make mine free for the period Monday, May 25, through Friday, May 29. I think they use Pacific Time to determine the on-sale times. You don't need to have a physical Kindle device to read a Kindle book. You can download the free Kindle reading app for Windows, Android, iPad, etc. Here's the book itself: www.amazon.com/dp/B00Y4PYM5G

Some of you will recognize that the title is a nod to Tarin's more serious work on the subject.

If you want a hard copy, I've also asked CreateSpace to make available a printed paperback: www.amazon.com/dp/1512341339
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The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry 25 May 2015 06:58 #98935

If you're in the UK, the equivalent link to the free download on Amazon UK is www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00Y4PYM5G
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The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry 18 Aug 2015 10:43 #100087

A summary of my conclusions is in the "Read" section of Awake Network:

awakenetwork.org/magazine/derek/279

It all seems pretty intellectual now. I don't think I'd write that way if I were doing it again.
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The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry 21 Aug 2015 06:24 #100112

The travelogue is now also available free of charge from Smashwords:

www.smashwords.com/books/view/567671
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The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry 21 Aug 2015 09:30 #100118

Hi Derek,

I read you article -- thanks for posting this!

I followed your description of how classical psychological theories describe the development of the self. However, I found myself suddenly lost at the last paragraph where you asserted, "The classical Buddhist definition and the psychological understanding of awakening point to the same phenomenon, expressed in different terms." I could not make that connection.

So, I went backward through the article looking to for the links between the Buddhist and psychological view of awakening. However, I could not find what shows that the two are pointing to the same phenomenon.

You say, "The “sure seeing of no-self” can be translated into psychological terms." You then do this translation by asserting that, "Awakening is the realization that the internal self-construct is just that—a mental construct, around which thoughts and desires can coagulate, but which has no real and external existence as an object of experience."

At this point, I was hoping to find a discussion of the psychological view(s) of awakening(s) and the parallels and distinctions between the Buddhist and the psychological views, and even perhaps references in support. I was hoping that this would then lead to your conclusion that the two view are, in fact, identical.

I don't see that. Can you help me link the two?

(p.s. I scanned (but did not read thoroughly) through the Slacker's Guide, but in my quick perusal, I didn't find those links.)
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The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry 21 Aug 2015 11:22 #100122

Hi, Andy,

I just meant that freedom from the belief in a self (the Buddhist fetter definition) is the same thing as seeing through the results of the developmental process (the developmental psychology definition). Maybe "definition" is not the right word? Would calling it a "conceptual framework" be better?
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The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry 21 Aug 2015 16:32 #100123

Derek wrote:
Hi, Andy,

I just meant that freedom from the belief in a self (the Buddhist fetter definition) is the same thing as seeing through the results of the developmental process (the developmental psychology definition). Maybe "definition" is not the right word? Would calling it a "conceptual framework" be better?

Using the term conceptual framework does loosen things up. I still feel confusion, though, and am not convinced that the two things are the same. Washburn's "regression in the service of transcendence" says that the person going through such an experience might have a variety of regressive symptoms, including those with psychotic overtones. I have a hard time seeing how this could be considered awakening from the view of many classical developmental psychologists. Mostly, I've not seen much agreement about developmental psychological definitions of awakening, and was hoping that you could point me to that.
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The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry 21 Aug 2015 17:43 #100125

I tend to agree that there isn't an obvious parallel between developmental psychology models and awakening. I think psychology can't lose "the self" because it is so essential to it's conceptual framework. The models tend to be very subject-object in their design. But I'm a dilettante, so I would be interested in learning more, too.

As near as I can tell, Gestalt is close (and my understanding is that in that framework, experience happens, then the facts of it are discerned -- but that might not be correct.) Anyway, if there is a psychological model that works from basic development all the way to awakening, I would love to hear about it.
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The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry 21 Aug 2015 17:51 #100127

shargrol wrote:
Anyway, if there is a psychological model that works from basic development all the way to awakening, I would love to hear about it.

Michael Washburn's is one. Ken WIlber's is the other, better-known one. I prefer Washburn's, though I don't agree with all of the details of his model, which is very Jungian.
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The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry 21 Aug 2015 18:36 #100128

Actually, Ken's model is really good -- good point. I don't find his final four stages very clear, but I really like how he even put models of therapy into their right developmental stage (i.e. script therapy does something different than somatic therapy, freudian therapy, etc. etc. ).

I'll have to look into Washburn. By chance do you have a good link to some starter info?
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The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry 21 Aug 2015 18:37 #100129

I'm curious -- why is it even worthwhile to try to draw parallels between psychology and buddhism? I mean, they seem to come from disparate times and conceptual models of what constitutes human behavior. What's the purpose?
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The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry 21 Aug 2015 18:39 #100130

I think the point is figuring out if they are disparate or not. Derek says not disparate. Shargrol and Andy are tending to think disparate ...at this stage in the discussion anyway.
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The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry 21 Aug 2015 18:49 #100131

But my question is... why does it matter?
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The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry 21 Aug 2015 19:30 #100132

The purpose of it is to turn "no-self" from a piece of Buddhist doctrine -- one that might seem abstract and philosophical to many people -- into something that's applicable to everyone, something that applies to all human beings by virtue of their "architecture."

If you're a Buddhist, then of course this will be unnecessary. But my point is that "no-self" is not just for Buddhists. Moreover, the possibility of awakening to no-self is grounded in theories based on observable experimental evidence.
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The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry 21 Aug 2015 19:39 #100133

shargrol wrote:
I'll have to look into Washburn. By chance do you have a good link to some starter info?

If you PM me your mailing address, I'll mail you the book.
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The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry 21 Aug 2015 20:09 #100134

Sounds good. PM being sent.

I don't really identify with being "a buddhist", but I do get a little defensively twitchy hearing it characterized as "no self". I agree with you that "buddhism" is just human nature observing reality closely, which leads to deeper and deeper "not self", but not really no self.
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The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry 21 Aug 2015 20:29 #100135

Got it. I'll put it in the mail on Monday,
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The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry 22 Aug 2015 12:17 #100146

Derek wrote:
The purpose of it is to turn "no-self" from a piece of Buddhist doctrine -- one that might seem abstract and philosophical to many people -- into something that's applicable to everyone, something that applies to all human beings by virtue of their "architecture."

Sooooo... western psychology is universal truth not 'doctrine'? :P
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The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry 22 Aug 2015 12:30 #100148

every3rdthought wrote:
Sooooo... western psychology is universal truth not 'doctrine'? :P

Exactly! Glad we agree on that point. :lol:
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The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry 22 Aug 2015 15:04 #100150

The purpose of it is to turn "no-self" from a piece of Buddhist doctrine -- one that might seem abstract and philosophical to many people -- into something that's applicable to everyone, something that applies to all human beings by virtue of their "architecture."

If you're a Buddhist, then of course this will be unnecessary. But my point is that "no-self" is not just for Buddhists. Moreover, the possibility of awakening to no-self is grounded in theories based on observable experimental evidence.

This sounds to me like taking two steps when one will do. And I'm not thrilled with the term "no self." If taken at face value it's just not true. Call me crabby and irascible, but the constant drumbeat of western meditators trying to force fit eastern spirituality into western science and psychology now makes me uncomfortable. I have never found buddhism to be any more abstract and philosophical than psychology. So again... why?

Edit: to be fair, I've done more than my share of force fitting in the past, especially when it comes to trying to explain the process of awakening in neuro-scientific terms. I think that was misguided. It made me feel good about myself, that I had answers and not more questions. It seems to me now to have been a grasping after a certainty that doesn't actually exist. Who's to say which is "better" or "worse" or to make any assumptions about what's "really going on?" When it comes down to it, we don't know. Maybe we will one day, but not right now. It took me a long time and a lot of soaking in what just this seems to be, but I think I'm much happier now with not knowing.
Last Edit: 22 Aug 2015 15:19 by Chris Marti.
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The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry 22 Aug 2015 20:23 #100153

I was going to post a confused reply to your pre-edited comment (since I had been under the impression that sciencifying Buddhism was part of what made most people in pragmatic dharma circles tick) but decided not to bother. And your edit explains my confusion. So never mind. lol
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The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry 23 Aug 2015 05:16 #100155

Chris Marti wrote:
This sounds to me like taking two steps when one will do. And I'm not thrilled with the term "no self." If taken at face value it's just not true. Call me crabby and irascible, but the constant drumbeat of western meditators trying to force fit eastern spirituality into western science and psychology now makes me uncomfortable. I have never found buddhism to be any more abstract and philosophical than psychology. So again... why?

Edit: to be fair, I've done more than my share of force fitting in the past, especially when it comes to trying to explain the process of awakening in neuro-scientific terms. I think that was misguided. It made me feel good about myself, that I had answers and not more questions. It seems to me now to have been a grasping after a certainty that doesn't actually exist. Who's to say which is "better" or "worse" or to make any assumptions about what's "really going on?" When it comes down to it, we don't know. Maybe we will one day, but not right now. It took me a long time and a lot of soaking in what just this seems to be, but I think I'm much happier now with not knowing.

Someone posted this quote from A. H. Almaas on Facebook the other day. Perhaps Almaas's explanation will make more sense to you than mine:
Experience and recognition of true nature, regardless on what dimension of subtlety and completeness, do not automatically dissolve all ego structures. It is our observation that ego structures, and for that matter psychodynamic issues, are not affected directly by enlightenment experiences. This is due to the fact that these structures and issues have mostly unconscious underpinnings. Unconscious elements of the psyche are not impacted by conscious experience directly, except maybe in exposing them to consciousness in some occasions. These structures are impacted only by awareness of them and complete understanding of their context.

The enlightenment experience may give the individual a greater detachment and presence that makes it easier for him or her to confront these structures and issues without becoming overwhelmed by them, and hence have a better opportunity to work through them. The greater presence that may result might make it easier for the individual to abide more in true nature, and this way have a greater detachment from the influence of the structures. But the structures will not self-destruct simply because the soul has seen the light.

We understand that this view is counter to the claims of many individuals who profess enlightenment. The actions of many of these individuals should speak for themselves.

Furthermore, enlightenment and liberation, or the arriving home, is not only the realization of true nature. This realization is necessary for enlightenment; it is its experiential ground. Nevertheless, enlightenment also includes the absence of all structuring that may impede any of the basic dimensions of true nature, as those of basic knowledge and creative display of potential. Practically, this means the working through ego structures and issues. If there is a structure that one is not aware of, or has not worked through directly or indirectly, it is bound to obstruct or obscure true nature in one way or another, at one time or another.

Enlightenment then has two sides: the abiding in true nature and the liberation from all rigid and fixed structures. In fact, the more one is liberated from ego structures and their patterning influence the more one is able to abide in true nature.
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The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry 23 Aug 2015 08:09 #100158

My bet is that "true nature" idea is actually an eternalist fantasy and that the "enlightenment experiences" being talked about here, including ones that would lead an individual to profess enlightenment, is not quite the experience of the fabricated nature of self that really breaks the ridge beam.

The use of psychological language that implies as metaphysical reality to unconscious underpinnings and ego structures that are impacted by awareness of them is another clue here that this system is basically a therapeutic model... and not quite an awakening model. I'm not discounting the value of therapeutic models, and I'm not saying they don't have value within a meditator's life, but at least so far I'm still seeing them as of a different domain as awakening models.

The tricky thing about awakening seems to be the tendency, as Vince Horn put it, to make new dualilties out of non-duality - returning to the mundane world and out of a residual habit of needing to create a solid sense of self one keeps putting some aspects of it in conflict to other aspects. As if those objects and those conflicts are really real. Returning to actual experience seems to mitigate this habit post awakening, almost instantly un-confusing the solidness of the new dualities. As temporarily useful as they might be, they become seen as so much calligraphy on the surface of the water.

Hmm... this passage is suggesting to me that indeed awakening and psychology are different domains... It seems like awakening always points to >the nature< of experience and points away from the solidity of any metaphysics or objects, while not being in conflict with thoughts about metaphysics or perception of objects, because after all thoughts and perceptions are simply experiences.... but I'm still keeping an open mind. Looking forward to reading the book!
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The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry 23 Aug 2015 11:44 #100163

The tricky thing about awakening seems to be the tendency, as Vince Horn put it, to make new dualilties out of non-duality - returning to the mundane world and out of a residual habit of needing to create a solid sense of self one keeps putting some aspects of it in conflict to other aspects. As if those objects and those conflicts are really real. Returning to actual experience seems to mitigate this habit post awakening, almost instantly un-confusing the solidness of the new dualities. As temporarily useful as they might be, they become seen as so much calligraphy on the surface of the water.

Derek, Shargrol says it very well here and I agree with what he says. There are no dualities to be found, anywhere, and replacing the simple duality of subject/object (self/other) with a more complex or deeply buried one (true nature, for example) will likewise eventually have to be seen through. We want security and we want there to be something, anything, to land on. But there is nothing there, nothing at all. This need can be very, very subtle and I really think it's also stage dependent to some extent.
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The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry 23 Aug 2015 11:48 #100164

... since I had been under the impression that sciencifying Buddhism was part of what made most people in pragmatic dharma circles tick...

It is, Ona, It is!

But the more I ponder this and the more things seem to settle the more that tendency appears to be a search for security in knowing. I'm convinced that same can be said of having to have neat classification schemes and detailed models of awakening. These eventually get dropped, too.

:)
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