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TOPIC: Questions for Kenneth

Questions for Kenneth 01 Nov 2015 17:52 #100976

Qs for Kenneth

Hi Kenneth,

I have some questions for you regarding your current attitudes towards practice, the truth of things, etc. I realize that this may be a bit personal, but I can't help but be curious.

Some context-- I recall stumbling upon KFD around 2012 or so. I had recently read MCTB and crossed the A&P. I found myself confused by the "third gear" and "primordial awareness" stuff, as this all seemed pretty different from the 4 Path model. The actualism stuff was big at the time as well, and I seem to recall you posting on the Dho about experiencing a PCE and finding it interesting.

I was a bumbling newbie at the time (still am, actually), so I found myself rather confused. I never did manage to sort it all out in my brain.

Now, three years later, you seem to have "reverted" (for lack of a better word) to the more traditional 4 Path model espoused by the Theravada school. This is a very curious turn of events, so I am inclinced to inquire...

Was there any particular experience that brought about this return to the 4 Path Model?

Does the notion of Primordial Awareness promoted by various other Budhist schools have any merit?

Did all that actualism stuff benefit your practice in any way?

Why does skim milk cost less than whole milk, despite requiring a greater degree of refinement?

Are you happy?

Again, I realize this is personal stuff. You don't have to chime in if you don't feel inclined.

Peace,

Eric
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Questions for Kenneth 01 Nov 2015 20:33 #100981

Thanks, Eric. Best questions ever. One at a time, in no particular order:

"Are you happy?"

Yes, very happy to receive these delightful questions.

"Why does skim milk cost less than whole milk, despite requiring a greater degree of refinement?"

When I was a little boy, my mother would occasionally buy skim milk for a recipe, or because it was on sale. My father detested skim milk and called it "blue john" (pronounced as one word, with emphasis on the first syllable: blue-john). Dad was from Pasadena, CA, but his parents were from West Virginia and Georgia. Blue john is the watery waste product left over after the fat is removed from milk to make cream or butter. In my grandparents' time, it was marketed as livestock feed and universally despised by humans, but better than no milk at all if money was tight. Even the fat-free craze of recent years couldn't fully redeem it, and now that most people are back to eating fat, the only way to get rid of blue john is to blow it out cheap.
Last Edit: 01 Nov 2015 20:36 by Kenneth Folk.
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Questions for Kenneth 01 Nov 2015 22:22 #100982

Eric wrote:
Qs for Kenneth

Hi Kenneth,

I have some questions for you regarding your current attitudes towards practice, the truth of things, etc. I realize that this may be a bit personal, but I can't help but be curious.

Some context-- I recall stumbling upon KFD around 2012 or so. I had recently read MCTB and crossed the A&P. I found myself confused by the "third gear" and "primordial awareness" stuff, as this all seemed pretty different from the 4 Path model. The actualism stuff was big at the time as well, and I seem to recall you posting on the Dho about experiencing a PCE and finding it interesting.

I was a bumbling newbie at the time (still am, actually), so I found myself rather confused. I never did manage to sort it all out in my brain.

Now, three years later, you seem to have "reverted" (for lack of a better word) to the more traditional 4 Path model espoused by the Theravada school. This is a very curious turn of events, so I am inclinced to inquire...

Was there any particular experience that brought about this return to the 4 Path Model?

Does the notion of Primordial Awareness promoted by various other Budhist schools have any merit?

Did all that actualism stuff benefit your practice in any way?

Why does skim milk cost less than whole milk, despite requiring a greater degree of refinement?

Are you happy?

Again, I realize this is personal stuff. You don't have to chime in if you don't feel inclined.

Peace,

Eric

re models:

An enduring interest through the years has been development along some sort of continuum that seems to correlate pretty well with contemplative practice, and variously results in something called enlightenment, awakening, etc., or in psychological circles, higher levels of ego development, self-realization, etc. Maps are important in finding one's place on a continuum and crafting a practice regimen that will move one further along. But all maps are a work in progress. They are never complete, and never entirely accurate. So you use the one that seems most useful at the time. You can even use several maps at the same time, understanding that each one may have value within its own sphere, as viewed through a particular lens. As I go through my own process, different maps become most interesting at different times. Currently, I think the Four Paths map is a reasonably good one. I also appreciate a binary model in which there is either an awakened moment or not. For awhile, I worked on a model of my own, with up to nine stages. Lately, I've been finding Suzanne Cook-Greuter's model useful. Ken Wilber has had a lot to say about mapping, and I use that. If someone creates another useful map, I'll use it too.

Perhaps even more relevant than the value of different maps is the concept of different lenses. There are many different lenses for making meaning of experience, and most of us have access to at least a handful. Some of us have access to quite a number of lenses, each of which has value whithin its sphere. One might say that the point of developmental awakening is to access and cultivate a series of new lenses, each of which builds on those that came before. Paradoxically, one of the lenses that comes online for some people is one from which the idea of development through time is not relevant, and the idea of a person who could develop through time is a non-issue. This is a postpersonal, postautonomous lens, and some would say is the very essence of enlightenment. The paradox is that through time and effort one can develop access to a lens that does not feature time, effort, or an individual.

A common misconception is that upon mastery of a new lens, the old lenses never come online again. This is where we get the idea that a sage wouldn't be able to think of himself or herself as "I", or would lose the ability to feel emotions. A more accurate understanding is the well-known "transcend and include" concept in which earlier lenses continue to arise from time to time even after a new lens has become baseline. Anyone who has ever stubbed a toe will understand this; for a moment, you are back to the perspective of a toddler, where the body is you, and pain is a threat to your being. Similarly, when you become enraged at another driver for cutting you off in afternoon traffic, you have momentarily entered a lens that first came online when your were a teenager.

Lenses and maps are a tidy package, and the fact that by judicious triangulation using many different maps you can gain access to a lens that is so mofo enlightened that it doesn't need maps is one of the real treats of developmental enlightenment.
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Questions for Kenneth 01 Nov 2015 22:36 #100983

"Does the notion of Primordial Awareness promoted by various other Budhist schools have any merit?"

Hard to deny that Primordial Awareness can be a useful teaching tool. For better or worse, though, it's almost a lock that someone practicing with this concept will gain access to a subtle and exquisite state and believe they have found Reality with a Capital R. A good teacher will pull the rug out from under this notion, but not everyone has a good teacher, and people can languish for years in the doldrums of identification with an experience that has been taken for Ultimate Reality with a Capital U.

Same thing happened to me, though, so who am I to complain?
Last Edit: 01 Nov 2015 22:37 by Kenneth Folk.
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Questions for Kenneth 01 Nov 2015 22:57 #100984

"Did all that actualism stuff benefit your practice in any way?"

Yes, the actualism craze led to valuable insights. For years, I had rejected the ten fetters model of enlightenment as irrelevant by virtue of the fact that it never seemed to happen within the view of credible witnesses who could document it and challenge it with tough questions. During the actualism chapter on the DhO, I got to see what happens when sincere and even rational people buy into what I now think of as an "eradication" model, meaning that certain undesirable traits are forever eradicated while desirable traits are preserved. Bottom line; my initial hunch was borne out. As far as I can tell, no one succeeded in permanently eradicating anything. It's possible that the Buddha was right about impermanence.

Also, I was inspired by the people who so earnestly pursued actualism, and worked even harder at my own practice.
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Questions for Kenneth 02 Nov 2015 09:35 #100991

Great replies and comments, Kenneth. Really good.
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Questions for Kenneth 02 Nov 2015 17:12 #100993

I'm glad you enjoy my questions. With that being the case, I can't help but probe a little more...
Kenneth Folk wrote:

Hard to deny that Primordial Awareness can be a useful teaching tool. For better or worse, though, it's almost a lock that someone practicing with this concept will gain access to a subtle and exquisite state and believe they have found Reality with a Capital R. A good teacher will pull the rug out from under this notion, but not everyone has a good teacher, and people can languish for years in the doldrums of identification with an experience that has been taken for Ultimate Reality with a Capital U.

Same thing happened to me, though, so who am I to complain?

Serious question here-- did you note it? Did you ever enter into third gear and note the "primordialness"?

Piggybacking on that question, have you ever encountered a state that you were unable to note? That was so unusual that it defied any kind of investigation? (other than perhaps NPNYNP)

Thanks,
Eric
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Questions for Kenneth 02 Nov 2015 18:22 #100996

Eric wrote:
Serious question here-- did you note it? Did you ever enter into third gear and note the "primordialness"?

Yes, that's how I found out it was just another experience with no claim to "absolute" status; I broke it down into its consituent parts, which turned out to be body sensations, mental phenomena, visuals, etc. It's hard to do because the mind resists it. There is a lot invested in leaving such states uninvestigated, and after all, this is the essence of embeddedness. If someone suggests investigating it, you refuse, and insist that it's too holy/lofty/ineffable to be investigated, not realizing that this argument is not coming from the same state as the one you are defending. From the state itself (keeping in mind that there may be many such states along the way), there often is nothing to defend, so you have to take up another lens to fight for the virtue of the first.
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Questions for Kenneth 02 Nov 2015 18:43 #100997

Eric wrote:
Piggybacking on that question, have you ever encountered a state that you were unable to note? That was so unusual that it defied any kind of investigation? (other than perhaps NPNYNP)

Yes, there are lots of states where noting is not possible because that level of mental activity would pull you out of the state. This isn't because the states are unusual; it may be because there is so little meaning making going on in the state that you can't label phenomena while you are in the state. To bring a higher level of meaning making to the state would pull you out of the state and now you'd be in a different state.

Also, some states have high levels of embeddedness as a prerequisite. An example of this would be any hard jhana; the very definition of the state may be that you can't think in words while you're in it. Another example is ordinary (non-lucid) dreaming. Although noting can sometimes happen in non-lucid dreams, it's more like dream noting... there isn't any self-awareness there. In such cases, it's sometimes possible to enter the state, exit from it, and then remember the component phenomena, which is a kind of retroactive noting.

But there are also states where this won't work. A good example of this is plain old sleep, where you are out like a light, not dreaming, and have no memory of anything at all when you wake up. Cessation/nibbana is another example. You lose consciousness, and then you wake up, but you have no idea what happened in the meantime. A third example is medical anaesthesia. The doctor tells you to count backward from 100, you get to 98 and black out, and then wake up wondering when they are going to begin the procedure, when in fact they finished hours ago.
Last Edit: 02 Nov 2015 18:45 by Kenneth Folk.
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Questions for Kenneth 09 Nov 2015 13:55 #101088

Kenneth Folk wrote:

re models:

An enduring interest through the years has been development along some sort of continuum that seems to correlate pretty well with contemplative practice, and variously results in something called enlightenment, awakening, etc., or in psychological circles, higher levels of ego development, self-realization, etc. Maps are important in finding one's place on a continuum and crafting a practice regimen that will move one further along. But all maps are a work in progress. They are never complete, and never entirely accurate. So you use the one that seems most useful at the time. You can even use several maps at the same time, understanding that each one may have value within its own sphere, as viewed through a particular lens. As I go through my own process, different maps become most interesting at different times. Currently, I think the Four Paths map is a reasonably good one. I also appreciate a binary model in which there is either an awakened moment or not. For awhile, I worked on a model of my own, with up to nine stages. Lately, I've been finding Suzanne Cook-Greuter's model useful. Ken Wilber has had a lot to say about mapping, and I use that. If someone creates another useful map, I'll use it too.

Perhaps even more relevant than the value of different maps is the concept of different lenses. There are many different lenses for making meaning of experience, and most of us have access to at least a handful. Some of us have access to quite a number of lenses, each of which has value whithin its sphere. One might say that the point of developmental awakening is to access and cultivate a series of new lenses, each of which builds on those that came before. Paradoxically, one of the lenses that comes online for some people is one from which the idea of development through time is not relevant, and the idea of a person who could develop through time is a non-issue. This is a postpersonal, post-autonomous lens, and some would say is the very essence of enlightenment. The paradox is that through time and effort one can develop access to a lens that does not feature time, effort, or an individual.

A common misconception is that upon mastery of a new lens, the old lenses never come online again. This is where we get the idea that a sage wouldn't be able to think of himself or herself as "I", or would lose the ability to feel emotions. A more accurate understanding is the well-known "transcend and include" concept in which earlier lenses continue to arise from time to time even after a new lens has become baseline. Anyone who has ever stubbed a toe will understand this; for a moment, you are back to the perspective of a toddler, where the body is you, and pain is a threat to your being. Similarly, when you become enraged at another driver for cutting you off in afternoon traffic, you have momentarily entered a lens that first came online when your were a teenager.

Lenses and maps are a tidy package, and the fact that by judicious triangulation using many different maps you can gain access to a lens that is so mofo enlightened that it doesn't need maps is one of the real treats of developmental enlightenment.

Thanks Kenneth. Suzanne Cook-Greuter's model is well worth exploring.

Still working toward a lens that leads to mofo enlightenment :) .
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Questions for Kenneth 19 Nov 2015 13:23 #101328

Hi Kenneth - could you give us your definition (with examples) of :
  1. embeddedness vs. disembeddedness
  2. lens
Thanks.
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Questions for Kenneth 20 Nov 2015 13:16 #101345

I'm sorry to butt in again, but I have to ask--
Also, some states have high levels of embeddedness as a prerequisite. An example of this would be any hard jhana; the very definition of the state may be that you can't think in words while you're in it

I'm a bit confused about what you mean by embeddedness within hard jhanas. At the arahat level, isn't every sensation fundamentally disembedded, even within hard jhanas?

I personally think of fundamental disembeddedness as the entire sense field being "over there" with no Doer, Agent, Self, etc "over here." Thus, even a very hard jhana would be fully disembedded, at least at that level of attainment, correct?
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Questions for Kenneth 20 Nov 2015 14:32 #101346

Eric wrote:
At the arahat level, isn't every sensation fundamentally disembedded, even within hard jhanas?

I hope it's fine for me to weigh in. The assumption that at some level of enlightenment, all things will be automatically “disembedded” all the time doesn't make sense to me. In my experience, disembedding is a process that occurs many times and at many different levels. To disembed is to deconstruct experience, to be one step removed from the experience by recognizing it (and possibly categorizing or naming it) as it's happening. That approach is not conducive to jhanic absorption, which requires steeping in pleasant sensations without deconstructing them.
Last Edit: 20 Nov 2015 16:29 by nadav.
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