Lets get clear about Final Awakening

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2 years 6 months ago - 2 years 6 months ago #109730 by Chris Marti

“Whatever you realize is not the end of the story. There is no end.”


— Adyashanti
Last edit: 2 years 6 months ago by Chris Marti.
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2 years 6 months ago #109738 by Eric
For me there was a sense of, at least at some point, getting the practice very pure for a time. Like to some degree practicing every moment of the day, while getting it done, as a serious "mindfulness enthusiast". Staying aware of awareness and letting go within that, kind of all day. It was kind of happening by itself to some degree but there was a sense of maintaining it, nurturing it, and over time that seemed to eventually lead to the *relatively* permanent sense of underlying letting go, relaxation, non-attachment. And that dimension, although maybe one of many, seems to be what it's all about to me, and maybe the degree of that internal relaxation is the degree of doneness. It continues to change but it strikes me more as polishing, as an asymptotic thing as opposed to some kind of constant rate of learning.

After that period, I seemed to be naturally aware in this way, naturally relaxed, not that everything was perfect. With every moment being a kind of practice the need to practice formally dropped off. I think sometimes I might not practice formally for a month, but there is practice nonetheless. I tend to practice more if I notice some unsatisfactoriness. There are probably more moments of non-awareness than there were during that period of intentional practice, but it doesn't seem to matter much. It's all just happening. It's slightly hard for me to imagine someone getting it done without that period of very pure practice.

I didn't experience any particular 4th moment. I knew it conceptually from maybe decades before, as well as from formative experiences on psychedelics. To me it was more of a gradual erosion. I loved the Kate comment "disposition of the estate of our former lives". I have lost a lot of passions, that seems to be part of the package.
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2 years 6 months ago #109759 by Anthony Yeshe

Antero wrote: Before I found a teacher, I did a lot of practice using Reginald Ray's material, especially his audiobooks, which are great and comprehensive. For example the one on Mahamudra has over 30 hours of teachings and guided practices. He has really found a way to condense the essence of vajrayana teachings in simple yet profound practices. One can get very far just with this stuff, but frankly I would not be where I am without a student-teacher relationship and taking retreats with Daniel Brown and his visiting Tibetan Lamas ( https://pointingoutway.org/ ). The courses are not cheap, but good value for money, I have been blown away by all of them, if interested, you can find more info on my practice journal using the tag: retreat .

Btw, some pragmatic dharma yogis would probably appreciate the fact that Daniel started his meditation career studying with Mahasi Sayadaw in Burma in late 70's. :ohmy: He has a scientist background (scientific studies with advanced yogis in early 80's, I think some of it was published in the Transformation of Consciousness co-authored with Ken W. and Jack E.) and mapping skills bordering supernatural. :cheer:

Vajrayana can seem confusing and messy, the best intro I know of is the World of Tibetan Buddhism series by Reginald, especially the second part: Secrets of the Vajra World. He also has a good book on the practical side of his own system: Touching enlightenment, that will probably make more sense after doing some meditation courses at dharmaocean or using his audio material.

When going into the deeper end, there are some more books to recommend, if you are interested, but IMO they are more useful after having solid experience in the actual practices.


Antero, thank you for this. I am actually so glad you mentioned Dan Brown. I am a big fan so far. Please recommend any books on Mahamudra/Dzogen that you feel are useful. Beginning or Advanced
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2 years 6 months ago - 2 years 6 months ago #109760 by Anthony Yeshe
On the advice/comments about Dan Brown's material I have watched some of his videos and ordered his book Pointing out the Great Way. I am only about 1% into the book but I can say that it is grabbing my focus and interest in a way that I know it would never have a few years ago. It is complex, subtle, and simple all at the same time. This is one of those books where I can only read about one page or paragraph at a time. Then I have to put it down and digest for a bit.

I found this 2015 conversation from Antero's practice journal to be very relevant to my thoughts and this thread: awakenetwork.org/forums/111-personal-pra...rnal?start=75#101416

"One thing I like about dzogchen/mahamudra is how they recognize the possibility -- heck, even likelihood -- of confusion/incompleteness of initial awakening. My reading of it is the various methods/exercises are about undermining any residual patterns of mind that obscure the initial awakening. I don't really get the sense that it's leading onward to new domains, so much as it is increasing the bandwidth of what is already so." -Shargrol

"Good point and I believe you are right. This path continues to surprise me. There seems to be endless possibilities for confusing the genuine awakened perspective for various experiences that arise as a result of that perspective. These transient experiences evolve and change with the maturation of the right view and because of the mistaken identification with the phenomena, the view is lost. This happens to me every time a deeper level of emptiness is penetrated and the everyday experience becomes different. There has to be a constant quality control going on in the background making sure one does not become complacent." -Antero

So many gems in only two paragraphs...

My goal is somewhat more clear now. I am interested to study Mahamudra and Path Walking. From Dan Brown's book: "The term path walking pertains to the type of lifestyle, behavior, and specific practices engaged in after enlightenment that serve to enhance and consolidate the realization as an enduring condition of mind." I have never been a one technique guy, so I will continue to build my foundation of concentration/insight, practice hard contemplation, and then also Mahamudra et al.

The deeper down the rabbit hole I go and the more I embrace the madness of constantly oscillating between falling back into delusion and awaking to paradox, the more energy and interest I have in going further. This distinguishes my drive to practice from the beginning- the hair on fire need to finally see initial truth- to my current source of motivation which is to say that my mind is energetically inclined towards this and naturally wanting to explore Mahamudra.

The effect that any of this might have on my happiness or levels of suffering is not currently a carrot or a stick. I also have a healthy skepticism that I may just as easily lose this intrinsic motivation to continue progress and go back to just being content with my current (or next) level of awakeness. This is one of the main academic questions I had in the first place. If there is a final level of enlightenment, wouldn't it be guarded by a vast army of paradox and feelings of contentment that steal/hide the pure intent to go further?

Many have said there is no "done" or "final" awakening. I offer an updated commentary on my current belief/concerns of that topic:

Most likely the words I have used to describe this (done or final) are not appropriate. Perhaps this concept is one of those frustratingly subtle understandings that can only be described using poetic or paradoxical language. Maybe final awakening is where all paradox has been resolved. Or it ceases to be paradox to you anyways and you can't really explain that to others. Development still continues, but truth is simply known, and that is that.

Also, I consider the last paragraph in Dan-tha-man's book, "Following enlightenment and path-walking there is no need for further spiritual practice, outside of living daily life fully. Once one finds the elephant, one does not need to search for the footprints." He also mentions that there are no further stages, but further enhancement of enlightenment. This statement, coupled with other things Dan has mentioned seems promising, or at least intriguing to me. Some things seem to contradict others, but that may just be my level of current understanding. This will take some serious study and investigation. I will have to come back to this thread in a few years and post an update, for sure.

There may be stages/progress yet unknown, being shared, or quite frankly hard as hell to get to . Because I have even the slightest belief in this, I want to explore it. It is not for the sake of suffering or ego, there is simply energy there. For those who said there is nothing final, I will have to ask you again in 20 years. How do you know what you won't find?

Whichever the case, I like the concept that there is much more to go after initial awakening. This is fun. Pre-4th was not fun.

It is also interesting/coincidental to me that my first years of Buddhist training (pre-MCTB) was at a Karma Kaygu temple (after-MCTB I left Tibetan Buddhism mostly). I even did the obligatory "I need to go to India to find myself" trip to Dharamsala where the Dalai Lama lives. There I did my first 10 day retreat and studied all things Tibetan dharma (all of this was pre-1st path). I heard the word Mahamudra many times, read about it many times, and absolutely no understandings about it stuck in my head. It's super sticky now for some reason... Lol, full circle, I guess
Last edit: 2 years 6 months ago by Anthony Yeshe.
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2 years 6 months ago #109770 by Chris Marti

How do you know what you won't find?


We don't. We can't. There is always a different possibility. To my taste being comfortable with not knowing, and being attentive to that condition, is a key component of awakening.
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2 years 6 months ago - 2 years 6 months ago #109773 by Rod
I have been travelling for work over the past couple of weeks and just catching up on conversations so far. Something I was able to do whilst sitting on planes etc was read this book:

www.amazon.com/Trackless-Path-Ken-McLeod...C0CE6283JNG6YNDTM0A8

I will read it again a few times I think and it would be great to have a chat with Ken - not sure if that will be possible, but found this book very relevant to the discussion here.
Ken's commentary is very insightful or more accurately teases out/expands on the insights in the text very well.

This discussion and reading all your different perspectives and also common experiences, has been really valuable. Just want to add a 'Thankyou' at this point :)
Last edit: 2 years 6 months ago by Rod.
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2 years 6 months ago #109775 by Antero

Anthony Yeshe wrote:
Antero, thank you for this. I am actually so glad you mentioned Dan Brown. I am a big fan so far. Please recommend any books on Mahamudra/Dzogen that you feel are useful. Beginning or Advanced


These are some advanced recommendations, IMO only useful after receiving the pointing out instructions of the tradition in question:

Mahamudra

Daniel Brown, Pointing out the great way (which you have already found)
Khenchen Thrangu and Tashi Namgyal, The Ninth Karmapa's Ocean of definite meaning
Tashi Namgyal, Mahamudra, the moonlight, Quintessence of MInd and Meditation
Tashi Namgyal, Clarifying the natural state

Dzogchen

Kunsang & Schidt, Quintessential Dzogchen, confusion dawns as wisdom
Khenpo Palden Sherab and Tsewang Dongyal, Lion's gaze
Namkhai Norbu, The cycle of day and night
The Dalai Lama, Dzogchen, heart essence of the great perfection

Bön Dzogchen

Daniel Brown together with Geshe Sonam Gurung, Pith instruction for A Khrid Dzogchen
Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen, Heart drops of dharmakaya
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2 years 6 months ago #109776 by Antero

Anthony Yeshe wrote: Whichever the case, I like the concept that there is much more to go after initial awakening. This is fun. Pre-4th was not fun.


I could no agree more, an astonishing and wonderful exploration of the human potential. Happy pathwalking! :cheer:
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2 years 6 months ago - 2 years 6 months ago #109777 by Laurel Carrington
About losing a lot of passions—I can relate. I have some habit energy left, but it’s not the same. Still, dealing with it seems (for me) to require more than just letting things take their course.

ETA: responding to Eric’s Aug 20 post
Last edit: 2 years 6 months ago by Laurel Carrington. Reason: Clarification
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2 years 6 months ago #109778 by Jackson

Chris Marti wrote: We don't. We can't. There is always a different possibility. To my taste being comfortable with not knowing, and being attentive to that condition, is a key component of awakening.


I like what Chris said here. It's a nice pointer.

I thought for a while about how I might answer the questions posed in the starting post of this thread. A few years ago I likely would have had some very clear responses, and I would have felt very sure about them. Now, not so much! And I'm not at all saying that's better than having answers.

I'm not as comfortable with terms like "final awakening" anymore. I've been around long enough to know that the goal post keeps moving, and that a lot of intellectual gymnastics is needed to reframe one's well thought out notion of "done" in a way that reconciles it with pre-done and post-done. The edifice gets to large, and it takes way too much energy to try and keep the form from devolving into emptiness - which it will do anyway.

I find theses days I am much more guided by what interests and inspires me. I practice silent sitting. I practice Tsa Lung. I practice silent recitations of the mani with my mala beads, often while driving. I love all of it. It seems like familiarizing myself with nondual awareness is less difficult, less contrived. And I'm in no way a master. I have no idea what done means anymore. I do know what progress means. I know shifts occur, and they're good shifts. And that's pretty much it.

Always being comfortable that a different possibility exists. Being ok with that. Very much a key aspect of this path, in the direction of wisdom.
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2 years 6 months ago #109779 by Chris Marti
Hey Jackson! -- don't be a stranger.

:cheer:
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2 years 5 months ago #109868 by Laurel Carrington
Daniel started a thread on this very topic at www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/me...ards/message/9370243 .

The essay he referenced is at Integrated Daniel: integrateddaniel.info/overcalling-attainments/ .

The thread itself has some good discussion started, with Noah weighing in on the last post (at the time I was just viewing) with a reference to A. H. Almaas.

Yours truly here in the meantime has broken out Halfway up the Mountain by Marianne Caplan, and am just beginning it. It’s from 1999, before anyone ever heard of our pragmatic dharma or the online forums it engendered, and already I have some issues with it, but I am also seeing some of my own difficulties in context. Maybe others will find it interesting as well.
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2 years 5 months ago #109874 by Chris Marti
I think it's interesting that the person who is arguably most responsible for hooking people on the maps of progress is now advocating for them to back off that same obsession :P
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2 years 5 months ago #109876 by Michael V

Chris Marti wrote: I think it's interesting that the person who is arguably most responsible for hooking people on the maps of progress is now advocating for them to back off that same obsession :P


Like a meth dealer lecturing his clients about addiction and personal responsibility a couple months after his revised and improved recipe hit the market :evil:
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2 years 5 months ago #109881 by Andy
Back in May, Vincent Horn made a series of comments on Twitter about his experiences as a teacher. These were collected and posted en-masse on DHO by rik:
Vincent Horn on the Utility and Futility of the Maps: https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/8045096

Daniel chimed in to both agree and to provide nuanced counterpoint, as did Noah, and several others.The thread is a good indication of the growth that both Daniel and Vincent have undergone in the years since DHO started.

For example:
"V: When I first was starting out as a meditation teacher I answered this question by helping people recognize and move through the traditional state-stages of the early Buddhist meditative path (ex. The 16 stages of the progress of insight, the 4 paths, the 8 jhanas, etc.)

D: Which is just one very narrow aspect of the path. It is good to have grown to appreciate the vast breadth of the path.

V: I quickly realized this was a sub-optimal way of teaching because: 1) Not everyone can easily move through the traditional state-stages and have success with this approach.

D: Very true."



For me, after second path, the path maps did not match up so well with my lived experience, and insights have tended toward a more toward a Mahayana-esque flavor, and not so much in a Vipassana framework. Daniel points out that he attained "Vajrayana-esque results with methods that were relentlessly Theravadin."

A number of practitioners here have also leaned towards Mahayana/Vajrayana, having started with purely Theravadin practices.
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2 years 5 months ago #109882 by Chris Marti
And yet... Daniel claims that the Theravada path structure is part of every other Buddhist theology. Maybe it's hidden in there in different language, but it's there, he says. I believe I just read that recently in MCTB2. Effing Buddhist teachers and their sneaky two-tongued ways!

:P

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2 years 5 months ago - 2 years 5 months ago #109897 by Chris Marti
So let's talk about this more: is awakening the product of tapping into innate human capabilities that don't vary all that much from person to person, or is awakening the product of how we approach the process? In different terms, is awakening waiting there for all of us with generally the same result or is it the practice we use that determines the result?

Maybe this is the "nature vs nurture" question for the spiritually inclined.
Last edit: 2 years 5 months ago by Chris Marti.

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2 years 5 months ago #109900 by Laurel Carrington
I think it’s pretty clear from the past 10 years’ worth of evidence that one method doesn’t work for everyone. Why any single practitioner benefits from one approach while another needs something else isn’t something I am prepared to understand, but it appears to be the case. Also, not everyone is even moved to undertake practice at all—in fact, the vast majority of people are not. My 2 cents.

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2 years 5 months ago #109901 by Chris Marti
Thanks, Laurel.

But, but, but... is awakening basically there in similar form for everyone, or is awakening a product of how we practice? Is there one "kind" of awakening that's essentially the same for everyone, or are there multiple kinds of awakening that mirror our practice and theology?

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2 years 5 months ago #109903 by Andromeda
I'm currently reading-- and have fallen in love with--A Trackless Path, Ken McLeod's translation of and commentary on a poem by 18th century Tibetan mystic Jigme Lingpa. It has much to say about the maps. The introduction discusses some of the controversies and debates such as sudden versus gradual and self-power versus other-power. Ken writes,

"My own teacher [Kalu Rinpoche], despite my best efforts, consistently refused to engage these issues. When I pressed him on any of these matters, he would only say, 'When you understand, you see they are not different.' There is a great mystery here, no doubt, but I think it is the mystery of human experience and little is to be gained by trying to resolve these differences one way or another."
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2 years 5 months ago - 2 years 5 months ago #109904 by Chris Marti
Yeah, the Buddha was pretty astute that way, too. He never addressed those nagging philosophical and metaphysical issues that entice the rest of us lowly humans.
Last edit: 2 years 5 months ago by Chris Marti.

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2 years 5 months ago - 2 years 5 months ago #109905 by Laurel Carrington
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 :lol: ) it’s the same.
Last edit: 2 years 5 months ago by Laurel Carrington.

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2 years 5 months ago #109906 by Shargrol
I've thought about this a lot and here's my short answer:

There are certain insights that are truly sequential, i.e., developmental, i.e. depending on previous insights.. While those insights are sequential and therefore fairly universal, the quality/depth of transformation from those insights vary by individual.

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2 years 5 months ago #109907 by Andromeda
Have you noticed what variables seem to have an effect of the quality/depth of transformation? And when you say quality, what specifically are you referring to?

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2 years 5 months ago #109908 by Shargrol
All the classic stuff affects quality/depth:

amount of sitting practice/retreat time
degree of undigested material from previous stages of development, including traumas
spiritual scene within which the insights happen
amount of therapy/teacher interaction
general life context (financial security/insecurity, worldly responsibilties, social/national/world chaos or stability)
stability/instability in life pattern
physical health/disease
number of really good breakfast burritos or grilled cheese sandwiches eaten in the last 60 days
etc.

So fairly straightforward. Except people underestimate breakfast burritos and grilled cheese sandwiches.

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