Deconstructing Yourself: Koans

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3 weeks 2 days ago #114804 by Tom Otvos
I was recently catching up on some Deconstructing Yourself podcasts (Michael Taft) and found this episode really interesting:

deconstructingyourself.com/talking-about...h-henry-shukman.html

I liked it for a couple of reasons. First, I really liked the topic, as koans have generally intrigued me, and mystified me, at the same time. Second, the guest has a really great series on koans on my favourite dharma app, Waking Up. And third was a discussion about 15 minutes in about apps vs. community, which is why the other discussion on "community as sangha" is so apropos.

They also touch on a thesis of mine, which is that there is a non-trivial percentage of practitioners using these apps that will hit a wall and need help or mentorship, and that is generally lacking. No secret, I would love to somehow make AN that place of mentorship.

-- tomo

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3 weeks 2 days ago - 3 weeks 1 day ago #114810 by Dusko
AN as a place of mentorship or simply as a place to find helpful Dhamma friends. 

I think this place has lots of people who watch in silence and would likely get out into the open if more practitioners would join AN and start their journals here. Now with the TY button gone I’m sure we all will be replying with actual words and as such feel more personal, more warm and welcoming. 

DhO is busy because of Ingram’s book. 

AN could be busy if we get Shargrol to write a book :D and somehow communicates this site in the book :D I know, I know, I so was a sales man back in my days, and a good one at that :D 

Im done with books but his book I really would like to read as im a very practical joker and love hands on tools approaches. Shargrol seems to have cracked the code and stitched up a fine version for human sanity. Im not joking! I’m really looking forward to read that book. 

So yes, we need to find a way to attract new members and to keep them we already did remove that infernal button and are keeping the forum dynamic on daily bases. 

Ok, me done :D my son needs a glass of milk! Ta ta! 
Last edit: 3 weeks 1 day ago by Dusko.

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3 weeks 2 days ago #114813 by Chris Marti

Now with the TY button gone I’m sure we all will be replying with actual words and as such feel more personal, more warm and welcoming. 

I was wondering where that thing went! I recall making the argument to drop the "Thank You" button some years ago. We did drop it for a few weeks and then it came back. This was around the time of the last Buddhist Geeks conference in Boulder, CO (2016, I think). We were all sitting on a set of stairs on the main drag as we discussed it. So... have we dropped it now to foster more posts?

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3 weeks 2 days ago #114815 by Ona Kiser
That is the idea. I backed Dusko's recent proposal. 

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3 weeks 2 days ago - 3 weeks 2 days ago #114816 by Chris Marti

DhO is busy because of Ingram’s book. 

Dusko, I have to politely disagree but then I know the history better. The reason DhO became so popular is mostly due to Vincent Horn and Buddhist Geeks. Vince featured Daniel Ingram in a number of his very popular Buddhist geeks podcasts, and that is what really pumped up Daniel's popularity. Yes, MCTB would have certainly driven up Daniel's popularity but the Buddhist Geeks podcast just blew up, in a good way, and drove the popularity of a lot of people Vince featured. Vince was also directly involved in the design and development of the original DhO website and was a frequent and popular poster.

Just to set the record straight, and in the interest of accuracy and fairness.
Last edit: 3 weeks 2 days ago by Chris Marti.

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3 weeks 1 day ago #114817 by Dusko
Fair enough Chris! I really dont know the history but you get my point also I hope :D If we can somehow bribe Shargrol (heavily! I can put in a tenner) and make AN "Shargrol's home forum", mentioned occasionally :D several times :D  in his new book which btw, many are waiting for to come out (I know I am) then I feel some traffic might move this way! That is one idea.

The second idea is to get someone from here to talk on a show like Viking Guru or Buddhist Geeks, and give this place some exposure. That's where I see Shargrol AGAIN being of great importance as he seems to be gaining in popularity due to his rather sane approach (and Pepe sure helped a lot with that blog compilation but it has a name DhO in it and not AN) :( 

Also, I still think the Index Forum can look more clear and immediately inviting rather than having as it is now and then you enter and get many sub forums and sub-sub forums. I personally find it hard to navigate and Im lazy to go dig. I can only assume that many out there in this fast-paced digital era prefer clear and concise stuff for ease of navigation.

I know nothing about Google Search engines and how to push AN into the first page once folks search for meditation, vipassana, jhana ,etc ...I leave this to those who know such stuff.

BTW, in case we get more traffic, Im sure we can make an Inner Circle forum that is only for veteran members so you all can still have that place you can share stuff in private.

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3 weeks 1 day ago - 3 weeks 1 day ago #114826 by Shargrol

Tom Otvos wrote: They also touch on a thesis of mine, which is that there is a non-trivial percentage of practitioners using these apps that will hit a wall and need help or mentorship, and that is generally lacking. No secret, I would love to somehow make AN that place of mentorship.


I think this is generally true. And the idea really fired me up ten years ago. Since then, I see the paradox that while many are interested, paradoxically the number of people who are serious about wanting help/mentorship is still fairly small. 

As a metaphor, there are a non-trivial percentage of people who begin exercising and hit a wall due to a lack of training plans that accommodate the full range of periodicity of training & recovery, and same with diet and nutrition... but there are very few people who say "I'm going to make physical training" or "nutrition" a priority in my life. 

It's very interesting to me that the number of people who ask serious questions about practice, and then put it the test of actual practice, and then come back with the next stage of questions... are a very small % of the people who show interest on DhO/Reddit/AN.

Chris and I had breakfast a while ago and we were remarking that the thing that the thing that "sells" meditation, that makes it  interesting/compelling, attracts the kind of people who you really don't want to attract. And the people that are serious are going to find the information one way or another since there is so much stuff out there. 

I was talking to a well-known meditation teacher last month over a webcam and she remarked how incredible it was that we can talk with students from all over the world. I said we >had< to talk with students from all of the world because you have to go all over the world just to find the few students that are serious. :)

...and by the way, not being serious about meditation is fine. It's not the only important thing in life. So all of the above shouldn't be read as a slam on people that don't make meditation their number one priority, similar to how people who choose not to play the tuba aren't doing anything wrong. :D
Last edit: 3 weeks 1 day ago by Shargrol.

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3 weeks 1 day ago #114827 by Ona Kiser

Shargrol wrote: Chris and I had breakfast a while ago and we were remarking that the thing that the thing that "sells" meditation, that makes it  interesting/compelling, attracts the kind of people who you really don't want to attract. And the people that are serious are going to find the information one way or another since there is so much stuff out there. 


I think some amount of perseverance relates to being adaptable in your model/framework/approach as time goes on since reasons motivating your practice change and practice experiences change, and those changes can really undermine perseverance.

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3 weeks 1 day ago #114828 by Shargrol
Yeah, I think a lot of people dead-end because they uncritically use one method/approach for far too long... and then decide progress is impossible. (In some cases, I suspect they really want to quit so they self-sabotage and thus find a justification for doing so.) 

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3 weeks 1 day ago #114831 by Dusko
Reasons why people do this or that in meditation is but ... muddy waters at best :D Ignorance runs deep for anyone who starts on this path and while on it ... Saying stuff like "they sabotage themselves" is a judgement too harsh :D have pity on our poor souls Shargrol, we are but the wicked and such get no rest! 

Anyway, as far as I see it we do start with seeking that ONE method we can sink our teeth into and call it home for some amount of time and when we get some stuff going and insights gaining we of curse don't just let go of it as this sense of self loves that thing, why let go of such new toy, this clinging feels so good! Until it doesn't :D This is the whole point of meditation practices, to bring them to the point of being nothing special, yet another conditioned safe space that turned rotten. Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta. The Dancer gets a bit more disillusioned, and lets go of yet another dancing game.

All these practices are great at shedding light onto oneself and letting the mind see the mind and in doing so seeing all these dancing games (practices) as also being nothing special in and of themselves. Development of dispassion for all conditioned phenomena, not by will but by direct seeing of This unfolding.

Some folks like me might benefit to burn out to the point of letting go of that Dancer dancing the dance and just be with this-ness for the sake of this-ness unfolding. No goal no hope and nothing to look forward to but This Moment. Humbly, with utter acceptance this and this and this as it is ... be it pleasant, neutral or unpleasant. 
I burned out and even ran away from meditation. Tried my best to forget about it buy hey Joe :D once the wheel is rolling there is no way escaping it, so after several years I realized that there is no way out but just straight into THIS and keep at it. At this point, my Dancer got tired of it all and was not messing things up. At this point, there could be but honest practice. I don't see this being any different even if Shargrol gave me all the tips and tricks back in 2011 when I started losing it. We have the karma we have and we know not why, but it's unfolding and some of us need to go through fire and mud while others flow through the milk and honey.

Its of benefit to have good dhamma friends when times are bitter but also when the times are sweet.

This place can offer inspiration in form of journaling to keep us inspired as we read each other's logs. We all can chime in with tips and support. We also could offer video chats for those who might want that.

Ok, off I go! Promised my son a night walk through our forest. Its all about Halloween now :D 

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3 weeks 23 hours ago #114843 by Ona Kiser
I will add that for my own part it also seems that at any given time I have tended to think that whatever I've recently discovered or experienced is the World's Most Amazing Insight, and if I were to teach at that time, I would teach That Amazing Thing, and imagine that everyone should aim for it. But if you ask me a few years later, I'd think that way of practice was no longer interesting (though maybe interesting to other people), and I would be teaching something else. I tend now to hold quite lightly anything that seems true, and run it by the ancient teachings of my Catholic practice, and if it doesn't seem to fit, then I assume I might not understand enough yet to get it, or maybe that teaching is not untrue, but is super helpful for people at certain stages. An example would be the need for heroic effort. Or a practice some friends of mine do which is to work at approaching each event/moment/person with admiration for the divine manifest in them/it. I don't find either of these very relevant right now, but they have been or might again be. So it would be a bit overreaching to say "this is the key to sanctity!" (which people sometimes do, when they are really into a practice). But it also would be overreaching to say "these aren't very important" just because they aren't engaging for me right now. 

The same goes for the idea that it is or is not extremely important to have a practice. In my tradition it is extremely important. There are times when that resonates with my personal experience, and times where it doesn't. But I'll go with "I don't know" and it's possible that the traditional view is mostly there to encourage people to try hard, or it could be absolutely true, and I'll go with the latter even if I don't 'feel' it this month. If you see what I mean.

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3 weeks 13 hours ago #114845 by Dusko
Tom, when you talk about mentorship on AN do you mean actual offering of one on one teaching? Something like what Noah did on his new web page containing dozen teachers? 

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3 weeks 7 hours ago #114850 by Tom Otvos
I think mentorship can happen at different levels. At a minimum, it is the "voice of experience" here as senior practitioners comment on the practice threads or questions of newer folks. But of course that could also include more private, one-on-one stuff if people want, and if that were a regular thing I would be happy to help create something here to support that.

-- tomo

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3 weeks 6 hours ago #114851 by Dusko
Yes I too see it that way. Mentorship in many forms. I think I’ve read Shargrol once writing that he prefers to provide support on forums so others reading this might also benefit from it, instead of the one-on-one. 

Well, I guess it would be good to create a poll thread about this and see if anyone would be interested in creating one on one option? 

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