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- Lets get clear about Final Awakening
Lets get clear about Final Awakening
Laurel Carrington wrote: Years ago I posted a thread entitled, “Many ways to Rome, or many Romes?” It’s a perennial question, isn’t it. FWIW, I think different paths emphasize different things, and bring different results en route, but that at the outer limits of the thing (as Daniel would say ) it’s the same.
To me, what is most interesting is seeing what unique human beings, wherever they are on the spectrum of awakening, are doing with their lives. What are we waking up to? What can we learn from each other? What can we experience together? I don't need or really want to view anyone through a conceptual lens which ultimately creates a separation from experience. There may be moments where that is helpful, and for those I am grateful for the maps, but for the most part it seems counterproductive. I prefer to hold the maps lightly and not spend too much time on them. Life is too short.
Of course, I've never been a very mappy practitioner and my language skills when it comes to describing my internal experience are relatively poor. Maybe if I were better at it, it would be more fun.
In my experience, any ideas about what awakening is--and especially any ideas that it is beautiful or idyllic--just tangle me up in conceptual thinking and effectively put me in a cage, paradoxically blinding me to the opportunity to simply rest in the experiencing of the present moment. The maps are just the most sophisticated and seductive of those ideas. But I'm in the minority around here and plenty of practitioners seem to find them useful. More power to them. For me, they just haven't been helpful enough to bother with much since first getting past my initial fascination with them years ago. Honestly, the more time goes by the more the maps seem to me a straitjacket. I'd rather invest the time and energy on study and practice, on exploring and experimenting and being curious about my experience. That's way more interesting than semantics debates, IMO.
No disrespect to the mappy folk--I've been grateful for their help. Whatever works for people.
I've followed this thread since it was started but couldn't get my account actived until today. Coincidentally, I started a thread, based on the OP, at DhO. I'll just link it here, if anyone's interested:
Lets Get Clear About Perfect Enlightenment at Dharma Overground
Lets Get Clear About Perfect Enlightenment
I haven't been able to get my user account activated at awakenetwork so I'm copying the OP from a thread there, entitled Lets get clear about Final Awakening. I recommend reading through the thread. I'd appreciate if someone active at awakenetwork could post this thread, to the thread there. Thanks.
Anthony Yeshe quoted with >, my comments with -.
>Lets get clear about final awakening. Lets make this a collective approach and pull no punches. For those who had an initial awakening, what to do next? To use Adyashanti's lingo, you are indeed enlightened after your initial awakening where the aperture opens up, but then it
closes again and ego fights back. Then you have a (~10 years of it by a few reports) post-awakening period where you are now changed
forever but not quite fully done.
- To be exact: Initial awakening is an opening of aperture. That is a very fitting description. However, if awakening is legit, it does not close again. This is not a correct way to understand it which I think reflects insufficient view on the whole project. The thing is that just one or even several awakenings are not enough. The number of awakenings doesn't really matter but it seems to me that few really have a complete picture of the path, from beginning to end. Suggested reading: What's Next? On Post-Awakening Practice
>Post-initial awakening is all about getting that damn aperture to stay open. This means that we are working towards an abiding state of awakening. There is not much information about this phase. I don't accept that it is because it is highly individualized or mysterious. I purpose
here that we attempt to develop it anyways. Lets shed light on all the dark spots that we can and see what we come up with.
- I don't accept it either. It is only logical that if it is possible to have one awakening, it should be possible to attain perfect enlightenment, and if it is possible, let's go for it! However, between initial opening and perfect enlightenment (buddhahood, anuttara samyak sambodhi) there's a lot of things to consider. Nevertheless, none of it is rocket science, imo.
>For the first part of this process I suggest we state our current assumptions, goals, and definitions for all to critique. In this, I hope we get a baseline on where we are at, where we are trying to go, and are we all experiencing the same truth? This will have to be a non-religious (sorry buddha, but you dont own enlightenment) and non-traditional approach. Enlightenment theory is obviously very contended and hotly discussed (many practices, teachers, methods, sudden vs developmental, etc.) but my main objective here is to maybe find out what we all have in common. What is the lowest common denominator in all of this? Perhaps getting clear about some aspects of this path will be helpful for us to make progress again.
- I really recommond reading my book above to answer many of these questions.
>Here are some questions to start:
1) Where are you at currently and honestly tell us where your end goal is. Do you believe there is an end goal (It depends how you approach this philosophically).
2) Defend/explain your experience(s) of awakening. What is it like for you not being in this state 24/7 once having experienced it at least once? How do you know it was the real deal? This is dangerous but it can be helpful to compare notes.
3) What is your definition as final awakening/enlightenment/done? How do we get there? Who has this info sufficiently spelled out?
-1) Knowing awareness is my default mode of being but I'm still working on neutralising some subtle layers of substrate mind. I don't feel like being more specific than that on an open forum. Perfect wakefulness is my goal and I know that it is possible in this life. By saying this, I'm not special in any way. In our sangha we have a group of people at, let's say mature stage, where they have familiarised nature of mind and are in the process of integrating it completely. This has been achieved by numerous practitioners of history before.
- 2) Sudden and gradual ways of awakening are discussed. I've had 16 awakenings, major shifts, and a number of gradual awakenings. You can find my account, written quite recently from the linked book, page 51. I have also given instructions how dynamic concentration can be used to effect consecutive awakenings.
- 3) To be perfectly enlightened means to be perfectly awake, being in a state of pristine purity. What this purity is, didn't really dawn on me until a year ago, when my mind was at a full halt for an hour. By then I had had over 20 shifts (that didn't regress). Then I understood what ”pristine purity of emptiness” is.
- How do we get there? The self-based mind is like a Russian doll (analogy mentioned in the book too). Pre-awakening you are enclosed
as the smallest doll, inside the rest of them. Culturally, practitioners don't have but a few major shifts at tops so they are still somewhere there inside the biggest doll (layer of self-based mind). So, we have to know exactly where we are in terms of start and finish. Then we have to know a way to crack the nut, for doing that enables us to come to a stage where we no longer need to worry about finding knowing awareness anymore.
Mind nature: red pill or blue pill?
The experience of mind nature is, for almost everyone, a turning point in their practice. The utter groundlessness of experience, when you know it directly, not conceptually, affects people in different ways. For most people, there is a feeling of profound joy, freedom and a humble appreciation that that experience or shift is only the start of a journey. In that groundlessness, you know that it is possible to experience whatever life throws at you, and not react. That is freedom, freedom from the tyranny of reaction. But it is precisely here that you have to make a choice. Courtesy of the movie The Matrix, you have to decide: do you take the red pill, or the blue pill?
If you accept that, fundamentally, you are no different from every other person who has walked on this planet, that you cannot choose what you are aware of, and that you have to shoulder the responsibilities of awareness as they arise for you, you are taking the red pill. This choice requires a certain strength of character. You have to meet the turmoil of your own reactivity whenever it kicks up, find a way not be consumed by it, and, as your practice matures, see through it and do whatever is called for in the situation. In many traditions, this strength of character is not talked about explicitly. In Mahayana Buddhism, for instance, it is covered by cultivation of compassion and the corresponding cultivation of the first five of the six perfections-generosity, ethics, patience, energy and meditative stability. In Vajrayana, it is really what samaya is about, a commitment to make use of whatever you encounter in life to be present and aware. Unfortunately, the term samaya has been much abused and exploited for other purposes and it is often conflated with feudal fealty. In the Taoist classic, the Tao Te Ching, Tao refers to the way and to knowing the way, which is largely a function of insight. Te, on the other hand, refers to the strength of character needed to follow the way, because, as one person wrote, in Chinses society (as in our own) the world does not reward the life worth living. When you choose the red pill, you choose not to indulge your own reactivity or confusion, and that can be difficult when it comes to navigating the world.
If, on the other hand, you feel that your experience of mind nature makes you someone special, that you have transcended ordinary human existence, that the norms of society no longer apply to you, that you are not accountable to mere mortals, that you have access to a higher or deeper truth, and that that access means that your authority and wisdom is unquestionable, then you have taken the blue pill. Any adverse effects of your counsel or action you rationalize as the ripening of the injured party's karma, as purification, or as a mystery beyond ordinary comprehension. You live in a world of your own illusion. The patterns of self and self-cherishing have taken over the experience of mind nature and are, sadly, only reinforced by it.
Grilled cheese sandwiches and breakfast burritos.
I can't help but think that the more social and financial pressures there are on spiritual teachers, especially in our Western society, the more likely they are to take the blue pill no matter how good their intentions in the beginning. Because it's not like you can choose the red pill once and be done with it: you have to make that choice again and again, day after day, moment after moment, no matter what difficulties arise. You can never stop cultivating Te, that strength of character, no matter how little the world rewards it. It would be so easy to convince oneself it is for the greater good, for sangha, for dharma, for the lineage, for all the people who are suffering. Just one little blue pill...
shargrol wrote: It occurred to me: there isn't a red pill, but there is a blue pill. Interesting.
That's bang on.
More thoughts on teachers and the blue pill: secular mindfulness is all the rage, the latest snake oil cures-all panacea, not unlike smoking cigarettes in the 1930s. It makes people feel better, helps them be more productive--if a zillion clickbait articles say say it's great, it must be true. McMindfulness and its variants are "all natural and organic" repackaged ancient wisdom backed by the white coat professionalism of of the caring and trustworthy Dr. Science, in whom modern society puts their faith now that God is dead. You, too, can meditate your way to greater happiness, no matter where your cog is located in the capitalist machine! Science and technology are at the forefront of human progress which will only continue indefinitely. Pay no attention to the climate change going on behind the curtain, folks.
...Isn't that just another form of transcendence, a way to deny the realities of the human condition? People really want that blue pill. The pressures on meditation teachers to be takers and purveyors of the blue pill must be enormous.
Also, I don't believe there is an inevitability to human evolution, the advancement of science or the liberalization of society. We could end up living in a new Dark Age or some bizarre dystopian nightmare. We have to be vigilant for our community (each other directly and in the larger sense) as much as we have to be vigilant for our selves.
Kacchapa wrote: Have to differ Chris, you're a very good teacher.
Called out! And I would agree--you absolutely step into a teaching role (and do a very good job of it). There are a lot of great people doing a wonderful job teaching on the forums who aren't officially Teachers with a capital T.
IMO the more teaching represents survival (whether financial or social), the more pressure there must surely be to take the blue pill. So if you're teaching in a major hierarchical institution, especially if you have a title, there is a lot more pressure--I'm thinking Sakyong Mipham as a most extreme example, here. Can you imagine the intense pressures he felt as Trungpa's son and the heir to the lineage? The poor man was thoroughly boxed in, shouldering an absolutely massive burden, and almost certainly surrounded by people pushing the blue pill (no I'm absolutely not making excuses for his behavior just expressing sympathy).
And then you have the many professional dharma/meditation teachers competing for students, who must surely feel a lot of pressure to make sure the evolution of their personal practice goes in a socially acceptable direction so as to be palatable to as wide an audience as possible. Or to target a specific demographic, because that's how business works. Request a media kit from Tricycle or Lion's Roar and they will send you spreadsheets of everything you need to know about their readership--income, education level, gender, etc., so your product and advertisements can be carefully tailored to the people who can afford your fees and are most likely to buy it. Feeling the urge to take your personal practice in a Tantric direction? Got to think twice about that, wouldn't want to make one's target audience uncomfortable, less likely to go wrong with carefully sanitized Western Theravada or just stick with Mindfulness. Got a sudden yen for exploring hoodoo rootwork? Well, that's kind of a fringe thing, so it might not do much to put food on the table or clothe your child or pay for his/her education. Questioning your lineage or tradition, or even come to the conclusion that it's all just religious bullshit and you need another paradigm entirely? Ouch, that could really put a dent in the bank account--better to just not look too closely, practice some lovingkindness instead, trust that one's teachers know better, surely it's just the hindrance of Doubt that can be remedied with more practice, and hey dharma makes the world a better place and that's a worthy goal...
I'm not saying that institutional and for-fee teachers are all corrupt, by any means. Just that the pressures upon them must surely be intense. May they continue to nurture their personal practice in an authentic way despite market forces.
I myself am incredibly grateful for the freedom to go in any direction practice wants to take me, without the social or financial pressures placed on those who are officially part of the industry. And also grateful to be a member of forums that help people learn, for free, on the margins of that industry.
May all who want to see clearly have the courage to keep saying no to the blue pill, no matter what arises in our experience.