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TOPIC: Imaging the ideal Practical Dharma website/book?

Imaging the ideal Practical Dharma website/book? 03 Oct 2016 19:30 #104529

Philip wrote:
a cut and dried beginners book that explains what awakening is

Good luck with that job! :P
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Imaging the ideal Practical Dharma website/book? 04 Oct 2016 16:01 #104534

It was the gin talking, honest... :whistle:
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Imaging the ideal Practical Dharma website/book? 05 Oct 2016 04:51 #104536

My reason fro not posting anymore is I really got to a point where I really don't have much else to say about practice. Plus 2 kids anchor attention in a very different direction with different energy expenditure and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....
Last Edit: 05 Oct 2016 04:52 by Nikolai Stephen Halay.
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Imaging the ideal Practical Dharma website/book? 05 Oct 2016 06:02 #104537

This is really interesting topic! :)

It's hard to imagine a book that would suit as many people as possible in different stages of various practices. One important aspect might be setting up a clear cultural context from which the book is written. It gives the reader a chance to form a relationship to the written text and in a way "translate" it into her/his own way of thinking. Maybe this is obvious. :)

I really like the idea of a spiritual friend! I also appreciate your advice and style of interacting on this forum, Shargrol. It seems to me that no book can substitute interaction. Could there be an "Ask Shargrol" -webpage/application coming up? :)
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Imaging the ideal Practical Dharma website/book? 05 Oct 2016 07:17 #104538

Kalle Ylitalo wrote:
Could there be an "Ask Shargrol" -webpage/application coming up? :)
That gets my vote!
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Imaging the ideal Practical Dharma website/book? 05 Oct 2016 09:13 #104539

(I think that webpage might already exist, called awakenetwork! :) )
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Imaging the ideal Practical Dharma website/book? 06 Oct 2016 12:22 #104544

As I have been following this thread, I have also been trying to formulate my own useful response. In the absence of that (heh), here are some thoughts:

First, does the world need yet another dharma book? I think that right now, there are a bunch of things out there that can get the ball rolling, so to speak, so that to provide another voice doesn't (IMO) contribute a lot of value. This is especially true when you consider the variety of approaches that are possible to practice, and how there is no one true path for everyone.

If I look back at all the dharma that I have read, I can only name two that have been deeply influential to my practice (such that it is right now). The first is Kapleau's "Three Pillars of Zen". The second is MCTB. And by far, the biggest impact each had was the simple message that awakening is possible. For newbies, that has to be the deepest revelation. Now, that message is pretty common ("The Mind Illuminated", "Science of Enlightenment", to take two recent examples), and even Joseph Goldstein now talks about it. So it is about the details, now, and I think a book is not necessarily the right way to go about that.

I did, in fact, create this place to allow for a current and relevant source of information about awakening. And while few have a full book inside of them, I did intend the "Read" and "Learn" sections to contain smaller bits of dharma stuff that would be useful to practitioners. Very much like the Hamilton Project. Plus the interactive discussions going on, as we have now. So IF you can't quite find the angle for a book, I would encourage you (and others) to try a few dharma essays here.

Now, to the "Ask Shargol" idea, I am seeing a "dharma bot" in the near future...
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Imaging the ideal Practical Dharma website/book? 06 Oct 2016 13:36 #104545

For me a big impact was hearing Loch Kelly say: "Just normal human awakening, no big deal." :)
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Imaging the ideal Practical Dharma website/book? 11 Oct 2016 14:30 #104591

I just had a thought: that the question "does the world really need another dharma book" is only problematic if the initial assumption is that the book must say something new. Just having more dharma resources overall is simple more overall goodness.

Edit: Also, each new book or resource might have only one unique "angle" or contribution. So what is more important might be to create a "patchwork" of inspiring resources for oneself, and to help others do the same.
Last Edit: 11 Oct 2016 14:56 by Noah.
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Imaging the ideal Practical Dharma website/book? 27 Dec 2016 12:15 #105474

I am new to pragmatic dharma, and what Matthew says holds a lot of sense for me.

I've read half of MCTB and it does seem to be a powerful book in its message that awakening is possible for the individual. However the methods it speaks of to achieve awakening appear to be highly siloed. It seems that if you were able to enact your own awakening from that advice, the reality you'd have achieved is more of a glitch in the matrix or the product of an obscure chance that you were made for than the effects of a reliable, well designed practice.

I think a more effective pragmatic dharma book would be a closer examination of the underlying factors of enlightenment touched briefly earlier on in MCTB. A closer examination of the psychology, path and cultivation of those, since they are after all supposedly what the higher ends of practice in MCTB depend on. If you lack a reliable way to describe and inculcate those, then the farther reaches of pragmatic dharma may be better described as "pragmatic dogma"; not pragmatic dharma in any real sense for most people who would have occasion to read it.
Last Edit: 27 Dec 2016 12:24 by playerpiano. Reason: stupidity removed
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Imaging the ideal Practical Dharma website/book? 27 Dec 2016 13:26 #105475

Hmmm..... yeah, sort of.

There's a dogmatic approach to practice ensconced in the MCTB community but not necessarily in the pragmatic dharma community. The first group says, "You must do things our way." The second group says, "Do whatever seems to work for you." In other words, it might be a mistake to conflate the hard core MCTB group that stems directly (and only) from Daniel Ingram's work and the more accommodating pragmatic dharma world that includes folks who have and use other approaches.

As my friend shargol might say - this is fodder for a schism!
Last Edit: 27 Dec 2016 13:27 by Chris Marti.
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Imaging the ideal Practical Dharma website/book? 13 Jun 2017 07:07 #107005

I had a bit of a realization which I think might actual be the seed crystal for a book. While I believe in the utility of all the methods and maps, the single constant for my own life has been the investigation of ill will and purification. That's where my interest is. So I'm thinking that I can in many ways retell this stuff from that perspective... more a focus on suffering and the end of suffering than the focus on attainments and better attainments. And less intellectual and more experiential. Less life vs spirituality and more no-difference/just life. Probably with a "no big wow" aspect, too.
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Imaging the ideal Practical Dharma website/book? 13 Jun 2017 08:41 #107006

Start writing!

:cheer:
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Imaging the ideal Practical Dharma website/book? 14 Jun 2017 13:27 #107014

In many ways, I find personal accounts (rather than attempts to teach) to be the most rewarding. For example, that article I linked to on the other thread, where someone described the effects of a 14-day darkness retreat. Or the opening chapters of the Contemplative Fitness book, where Kenneth talks about his time with Bill Hamilton.
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Imaging the ideal Practical Dharma website/book? 14 Jun 2017 19:06 #107018

This topic continues to be one that SPUDS discusses frequently, given our newly formed zest, as well as the fact that multiple members are deeply technical folk with the know-how / resources to develop a cool pragdharm website. Seems serendipitous that this thread just popped back up :)
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Imaging the ideal Practical Dharma website/book? 14 Jun 2017 22:19 #107019

Geoff wrote:
Seems serendipitous that this thread just popped back up :)

I thought so too. Reading the tea leaves...
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Imaging the ideal Practical Dharma website/book? 16 Jun 2017 20:12 #107035

shargrol wrote:
I had a bit of a realization which I think might actual be the seed crystal for a book. While I believe in the utility of all the methods and maps, the single constant for my own life has been the investigation of ill will and purification. That's where my interest is. So I'm thinking that I can in many ways retell this stuff from that perspective... more a focus on suffering and the end of suffering than the focus on attainments and better attainments. And less intellectual and more experiential. Less life vs spirituality and more no-difference/just life. Probably with a "no big wow" aspect, too.

It’s interesting in that while I think there is no “ideal” practical dharma book (as we humans don’t come anywhere remotely close to being standardized), nevertheless a great many widely-scattered people can benefit from a unique take.

There is certainly a temporal aspect going on here as well – so much of dharma instruction, to me, has a “ships passing in the night” feel to it. You have to be at the right place in terms of your own timeline to really benefit from an instruction, and the source of that instruction is on an arc of their own. I can look back and see very clearly where I hitched my wagon at certain points in time and how that benefitted me, and when it was time to move on. Reggie Ray’s teachings were instrumental in me taking my ragged, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants practice and grounding it in the body and in experience. When it began to appear obvious that from a practical standpoint, that sangha wasn’t going to get one close to what is actually attainable, MCTB somehow popped up. Kenneth’s teachings, back when he was teaching the 3-speed transmission and had an active website, were HUGE for me. Now I have trouble glomming on to much of what he is saying (or so I think. I was holding my two-week old daughter yesterday and looked at her and felt at my core ‘she’s not a thing, she’s part of a process!’).

And more recently, the advice and personal journals on this site have provided inestimable aid in dialing things back and “just sitting” through late third path territory.

Oddly, it all goes back to Reggie. I recall Tami Simon on her podcast describing how she was hemming and hawing to him about whether or not she wanted him to be her instructor and he said something to the effect that it didn’t matter. “….You will get the dharma you need”. High on the “woo woo” meter for sure, but something I’ve always found to be true in my own experience.

But I digress. What I meant to say is that I agree with Chris. Start writing -- people will certainly benefit!
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Imaging the ideal Practical Dharma website/book? 16 Jun 2017 20:32 #107036

All I want to say is... hurray for a two-week old daughter!!!! Congrats Jim! :) :D :)
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Imaging the ideal Practical Dharma website/book? 16 Jun 2017 20:37 #107038

shargrol wrote:
All I want to say is... hurray for a two-week old daughter!!!! Congrats Jim! :) :D :)

Ha ha. Thanks friend! I don't mean to hijack your thread here -- I've meant to write about this experience over in my own log, but you know, sleep.........
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Imaging the ideal Practical Dharma website/book? 17 Jun 2017 07:28 #107041

Note to self... I think a good book/website would also speak to the whole spiritual cult thing, too.

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Imaging the ideal Practical Dharma website/book? 20 Jun 2017 08:04 #107060

Hello Shargrol and others,

I read the first questions in your thread. If you ever write a book I would definitely want to read it, just as I would want to read a finished version of 'Contemplative Fitness' and the book Ron is working on.

I have to say though that one of the unique features of the whole Pragmatic Dharma movement that have attracted me is the individualized teaching aspect: Doing Skype sessions with Kenneth Folk, Regular Skype back and forth noting with a friend (another student of Kenneth), reading practice logs and comments from advanced practitioners here and elsewhere, and getting comments on my own practice log in DhO recently by you, Shargrol (I'm Ben V on DhO), are all powerful teaching tools for me. Books are great, but for me these have been the main points.

That's my own experience anyway,

Benoit
Last Edit: 20 Jun 2017 08:05 by Benoit Santerre.
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Imaging the ideal Practical Dharma website/book? 20 Jun 2017 13:45 #107063

Our Seattle group just established a standing Thursday work session for website creation. I'll post here once we launch the landing page/V1.
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Imaging the ideal Practical Dharma website/book? 23 Jun 2017 07:42 #107075

Noah wrote:
Our Seattle group just established a standing Thursday work session for website creation. I'll post here once we launch the landing page/V1.

Do you want it stand-alone, or would you consider an extension to AwakeNetwork?
Last Edit: 23 Jun 2017 07:43 by Tom Otvos.
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Imaging the ideal Practical Dharma website/book? 23 Jun 2017 09:43 #107078

We'd like it to be a part/member of the awake network in terms of close association & links, but we'll be hosting on our own & designing our own content.

One of the main priorities is not to reinvent the wheel. There are lots of good pragmatic resources already in place so we'll just direct traffic accordingly.

The main difference of our site is we are looking to start grassroots in person sanghas in other cities, starting with LA & Portland.
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Imaging the ideal Practical Dharma website/book? 25 Jun 2017 12:23 #107089

Note: I don't mean to derail discussion about Shargrol's book. This just came spilling out this afternoon. Hopefully it adds to the discussion:

Wow! This thread has me excited. So much to comment on. I have a feeling that books like this seldom get finished, which is a shame, just as has been pointed out: It seems there's an initial desire of sharing what you've experienced, but that it dries up as you get further into your practice.

And, from what I've read in many other books, when the desire doesn't dissipate, and a book is finished, they can be very dry and not accessible helpful for the beginner.

From what I can gather things look very different from the perspective of someone who has experienced enlightenment, and while books written from that perspective are filled with deep truths, they're hard for a beginner to understand or appreciate. It seems every book on meditation can find itself trying to describe ice cream to someone who has never tasted it. A difficult task.

Likewise I think the market is flooded with beginner "meditation for relaxation" books. I personally don't believe it's ground that needs to be covered again.

What's more, I agree with the above points that a single perspective is very limiting, as everyone's journey is different, and we all need different nudges at different times.

That's why I've been mentally planning a book somewhere in between (everyone's planning a book - lol). I don't have Shargrol's knowledge, but I can see the problems, love to write, and have a strong idea.

Of course I felt I should probably get further with my practice before I made the presumption that I might have anything to add, but this topic has made me want to ask now, despite not having even experienced SE.

(Forgive me if this message is scatty; I'm on holiday, sitting by a swimming pool, typing this on my telephone. I would still be interested to know what you all think.)

Perhaps it might be used as a launching point for discussion... Obviously Shargrol's work would be something I would like to read, but here's what I had in mind.

It's probably very flawed, but it's what feel would be helpful for me (and to answer Chris's questions about "ideals", that's the best place I think anyone can come from -- the book they wanted to see themselves).

Anyway...

Given all the pitfalls noted above (some great points that I feel we're all aware of), I've been wondering how a book vould cover as many cases as possible, being a practical guide, while not shoving one person's opinion down everyone's throats. A "Mastering the Core Teachers of the Buddha: The Good Bits" or (reflecting my entry, and more seriously) "Mindfulness: The Missing Manual".

A book that could help as many people as possible who have found themselves past the "relaxation" phase, and who need guidance: A great teacher in lieu of a great teacher. The book I was searching for myself.

In my head it would follow the popularised 16 stage path (each stage would be represented by a chapter with a commonly accepted description of the the experiences, both on and off the cushion), but crucially it would include short accounts from different mediators describing their experiences of that stage.

Not only might it possible for students to recognise their own experience in the descriptiions, but it would help students realise how different our experiences can be in each stage. I would hope it would also help illustrate the common truths, and by doing so, paint a much clearer picture of what each stage is like -- instead or just one author's version.

For example, Ron has spoken about the "pitiful whining" he made during reobservation. His teacher told him it was common, but I didn't experience that. Reading another account closer to my own experience might have helped me, while also making me realise that differences are normal.

I've also thought about how each chapter title should have the different variations (in Pali etc,) to help students recognise the same thing can be called many different names, and aid in their own research. Each stage chapter would also include descriptions of common pitfalls for each stage, and things to look out for, too.

Finally, my plan would be to include a chapter on "Falling into the Pit of the Void". Not everyone experiences that, but as someone who did, there's plenty I wish I could have read that would have reduced my suffering.

So anyway, that's the book that's been floating around my head for the past few months. It's an idea pumped full of enthusiasm, but lacking in knowledge. I would very much like to hear thoughts on whether people think there's any merit in a book structured this way.
Last Edit: 26 Jun 2017 06:14 by Johnny W.
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