< 1 2 3 4 >  Last ›
 
   
 

Was Gautama Buddha Enlightened?

 
SkyPanther
 
Avatar
 
 
SkyPanther
Total Posts:  91
Joined  20-01-2016
 
 
 
21 January 2016 10:55
 
Niclynn - 21 January 2016 10:42 AM
SkyPanther - 21 January 2016 10:18 AM

I pretty much agree with Niclynn; 

However to add my own view; In the Pali Canon to be enlightened means to have removed all the taints of “Greed, Hatred, and Delusion”.  The first two are self explanatory, the third usually means “ignorance”.

And to expand that, it means ignorance in seeing reality as it is. With things like culture, traditions, rituals, genetic tendencies all clouding your vision. What the Buddha called “having dust in your eyes”.

Do I think he was enlightened?  Yes. Do I know if he was? No. But I have trust in him saying that he was, and his consequent teachings, and “trust” (or faith) is not the same thing as knowledge;  it could always be wrong.

As for Siddhartha Gautama, the historical figure, he did exist:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gautama_Buddha#Historical_Siddh.C4.81rtha_Gautama

Unlike Jesus, there is archeological evidence of his life; he lived and died, and never claimed to be a god.

Also something I really like about Buddhists:

“If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims.” - Dalai Lama XIV


Thanks for the post. Something that makes me uncomfortable about the concept of “enlightenment” is that I think it causes people to see enlightenment as a sort of linear goal. In my understanding, at least, it would be more likened to understanding a pre-existing concept about yourself. So just as children “kind of get” new concepts but don’t fully integrate them into understanding and seem to understand them more or less based on the occasion, I think every human must manifest some degree of enlightenment. Perhaps the Buddha just 100% “got it” in the way that children reach a stage where they fully “get” something like Piaget’s concept of conservation, or various theory of mind concepts - but I think everyone manifests the ideas involved to some degree, even if they will vary greatly in detail depending on time and place.

Ahh, I agree.  I do not think it is a “goal” but a “state of being” meaning if you do not keep practicing/cultivating that mindset it is also “impermanent”.  And you essentially stray from the path the Buddha laid out.  In other words, the realization of no-self, interdependency, impermanence, etc, (what I would call satori) should lead you to internalize the path of the bodhisattva. 

Or to dissect that, realizing that the path itself was a skillful means to getting to that realization. But that the golden chain, is just as “unskillful” as the iron chain. (They are still attachments) You do good, live with metta, not because you are conditioned to, by buddhism, or whatever other path, but because that has now been realized. To do something else, to someone that is “enlightened” would not make sense.  Which means you never stop dispelling delusion, or stop being loving, unselfish, etc.

I think that was made clear to me by both the Buddha, in the Canon, but also is emphasized over and over by people like Joseph Goldstein.

[ Edited: 21 January 2016 11:47 by SkyPanther]
 
sojourner
 
Avatar
 
 
sojourner
Total Posts:  5970
Joined  09-11-2012
 
 
 
21 January 2016 13:16
 
SkyPanther - 21 January 2016 10:55 AM

Ahh, I agree.  I do not think it is a “goal” but a “state of being” meaning if you do not keep practicing/cultivating that mindset it is also “impermanent”.  And you essentially stray from the path the Buddha laid out.  In other words, the realization of no-self, interdependency, impermanence, etc, (what I would call satori) should lead you to internalize the path of the bodhisattva.


This may sound like I’m being nitpicky, but it’s actually an important distinction to me - I wouldn’t be involved in Buddhist philosophy if I thought it could really be “impermanent”. I’m with Russell on that one: “The search for something permanent is one of the deepest of the instincts leading men to philosophy.” Knowledge can be sorta kinda “impermanent” in that you can be temporarily unaware of it, but that of which you eventually become aware doesn’t change, to my mind (or maybe it does, but again, if I was starting with that assumption I wouldn’t practice meditation in the first place.) So the way I conceive of it, you can’t actually stray from the path any more than you can create equations like 1+1=5 - but you can become disoriented about what is true, temporarily.

 

Or to dissect that, realizing that the path itself was a skillful means to getting to that realization. But that the golden chain, is just as “unskillful” as the iron chain. (They are still attachments) You do good, live with metta, not because you are conditioned to, by buddhism, or whatever other path, but because that has now been realized. To do something else, to someone that is “enlightened” would not make sense.  Which means you never stop dispelling delusion, or stop being loving, unselfish, etc.

I think that was made clear to me by both the Buddha, in the Canon, but also is emphasized over and over by people like Joseph Goldstein.


Yeah, in all honesty, I have a hard time with Buddhist language and iconography, and I’m not sure if that’s because I’m not connecting with what those symbols “point to” or I do connect with the underlying meaning but the symbols themselves are the mismatch. “Impermanence”, “emptiness”, “training the mind”, and pictures of solemn people sitting still as rocks with perhaps just a slight smile on their lips - I don’t know, for me it evokes a sense of sort of cold authoritarianism, like spiritual bootcamp or something (although I actually prefer that to anything that smacks of “New Age”, so if I had to err on one side or the other, I guess I’d choose that side). But for me, the states you mention above are most closely associated with being a kid and running around the woods in a state that might be considered mild ferality today. Building fairy houses out of rocks and looking for Indian caves and just running around screaming with absolute freedom. That to me is where that sense of energy and love is, although certainly not any sense of mind “training” or “discipline” - to me the minute you add those words, all the rest sort of dissipates. So I do struggle with the more structured, rule-bound side of Buddhism, but not so much that it outweighs the benefits I’ve seen from practicing.


Cool that you’re familiar with Joseph Goldstein! I’ve wanted to do one of his retreats for awhile, but I feel like he’s one that, you see it on a website, you go to click on it, and then 10 seconds later it’s like “This retreat is full with a long waitlist”, so maybe not in this lifetime, ha ha! I don’t know if you mean his online teachings or if you’ve been lucky enough to go to a retreat with him in person, but either way, yeah, he seems like an awesome teacher.

 
 
SkyPanther
 
Avatar
 
 
SkyPanther
Total Posts:  91
Joined  20-01-2016
 
 
 
21 January 2016 13:47
 
Niclynn - 21 January 2016 01:16 PM

This may sound like I’m being nitpicky, but it’s actually an important distinction to me - I wouldn’t be involved in Buddhist philosophy if I thought it could really be “impermanent”. I’m with Russell on that one: “The search for something permanent is one of the deepest of the instincts leading men to philosophy.” Knowledge can be sorta kinda “impermanent” in that you can be temporarily unaware of it, but that of which you eventually become aware doesn’t change, to my mind (or maybe it does, but again, if I was starting with that assumption I wouldn’t practice meditation in the first place.) So the way I conceive of it, you can’t actually stray from the path any more than you can create equations like 1+1=5 - but you can become disoriented about what is true, temporarily.

Ahh, yeah, I see what you mean.  I was using that description from my “secular” point of view.  If you do not believe in “enlightenment” as a permanent state (having transcended samsara).

I am kind of split between it. (If I actually believe in Samsara, or the more metaphysical aspects of Buddhism)  My whole life I have been at first (when I was younger) a secular Jew, and then just an Agnostic Atheist as I grew up and started living on my own.  And then very recently, about 2012 or so, I had an experience that is hard to explain, but the best way of describing it is a “connect the dots, aha! moment”, coming to a sudden realization that the self/ego is an illusion (it’s just memories, future projections, and cultural and genetic predispositions) that “now” is the only “real time”  and all life is interconnected, being made out of the same building blocks, coming from the same single cell (also apply information theory to this idea),  in conjunction to that, “change/entropy” is constant (impermanence).    Being ignorant of what happened, I thought I had some kind of blissful psychotic break.  The euphoria lasted for a week or two.

After thrashing around for a few months trying to figure out what “that” was, I found stuff from Alan Watts, and then the “Waking Up” book from Sam Harris.  And from that, started to get more interested in Buddhism, because it seems to describe what I felt pretty darn close.  And since then I would call what I had as pretty much a spontaneous, but deeper version of the “Overview Effect” : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overview_effect

But I still struggle with the paradigm shift; things like, what it means exactly, if anything, and my interest in Buddhism itself which seems to be echoing how I now feel with no prior understanding of Buddhism.  (Or meditating/mindfulness) 

And there is now a conflict.  A person/memory that was previously not spiritual at all, to experiencing something that I would definitely class as spiritual.

 

Niclynn - 21 January 2016 01:16 PM

Yeah, in all honesty, I have a hard time with Buddhist language and iconography, and I’m not sure if that’s because I’m not connecting with what those symbols “point to” or I do connect with the underlying meaning but the symbols themselves are the mismatch. “Impermanence”, “emptiness”, “training the mind”, and pictures of solemn people sitting still as rocks with perhaps just a slight smile on their lips - I don’t know, for me it evokes a sense of sort of cold authoritarianism, like spiritual bootcamp or something (although I actually prefer that to anything that smacks of “New Age”, so if I had to err on one side or the other, I guess I’d choose that side). But for me, the states you mention above are most closely associated with being a kid and running around the woods in a state that might be considered mild ferality today. Building fairy houses out of rocks and looking for Indian caves and just running around screaming with absolute freedom. That to me is where that sense of energy and love is, although certainly not any sense of mind “training” or “discipline” - to me the minute you add those words, all the rest sort of dissipates. So I do struggle with the more structured, rule-bound side of Buddhism, but not so much that it outweighs the benefits I’ve seen from practicing.

I see it like working out.  When you go to the gym, you follow, usually, a workout routine.  After a while, you build up muscle memory, and it comes naturally, you do not put in any, or as much effort.

It is authoritarianism, but it is meant to be, to keep you on the path till you have that “oh, I get it” moment.  After which there is no more effort at all, it comes naturally, you would feel “weird”/“unnatural” not following it.  The child analogy is also pretty accurate.  Once you get that “Oh, I get it” realization, the delusions of conditioning seem obvious.  And the “training” falls away, to you just being where the training was leading you.

Niclynn - 21 January 2016 01:16 PM

Cool that you’re familiar with Joseph Goldstein! I’ve wanted to do one of his retreats for awhile, but I feel like he’s one that, you see it on a website, you go to click on it, and then 10 seconds later it’s like “This retreat is full with a long waitlist”, so maybe not in this lifetime, ha ha! I don’t know if you mean his online teachings or if you’ve been lucky enough to go to a retreat with him in person, but either way, yeah, he seems like an awesome teacher.

I have not gone to his classes, but I have read his “Mindfulness” book, and listened to his podcast/classes.

I am planning on going to the Insight Meditation Center in San Diego though, (where I live): http://insightsd.org/  Once I have finished reading all of the Pali Canon (I am about 50% thought the Anthology of Disources, and then plan to read each discourse bucket fully.)

[ Edited: 21 January 2016 15:37 by SkyPanther]
 
sojourner
 
Avatar
 
 
sojourner
Total Posts:  5970
Joined  09-11-2012
 
 
 
21 January 2016 16:29
 
SkyPanther - 21 January 2016 01:47 PM

Ahh, yeah, I see what you mean.  I was using that description from my “secular” point of view.  If you do not believe in “enlightenment” as a permanent state (having transcended samsara).


I don’t know that permanence is tied to degree of secularity, though? My understanding is that enlightenment is more or less knowledge about the state of reality, in the way one would come to understand gravity through cause and effect.

 

I am kind of split between it. (If I actually believe in Samsara, or the more metaphysical aspects of Buddhism)  My whole life I have been at first (when I was younger) a secular Jew, and then just an Agnostic Atheist as I grew up and started living on my own.  And then very recently, about 2012 or so, I had an experience that is hard to explain, but the best way of describing it is a “connect the dots, aha! moment”, coming to a sudden realization that the self/ego is an illusion (it’s just memories, future projections, and cultural and genetic predispositions) that “now” is the only “real time”  and all life is interconnected, being made out of the same building blocks, coming from the same single cell (also apply information theory to this idea),  in conjunction to that, “change/entropy” is constant (impermanence).    Being ignorant of what happened, I thought I had some kind of blissful psychotic break.  The euphoria lasted for a week or two.

After thrashing around for a few months trying to figure out what “that” was, I found stuff from Alan Watts, and then the “Waking Up” book from Sam Harris.  And from that, started to get more interested in Buddhism, because it seems to describe what I felt pretty darn close.  And since then I would call what I had as pretty much a spontaneous, but deeper version of the “Overview Effect” : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overview_effect


Whoa! I must admit, some part of me has always wanted some kind of spectacular “mystical experience” (although maybe not that spectacular, ha ha, that must have bordered on being kinda scary). I’ve had plenty of weird experiences during meditation and such, but they’re all of the “things that come and go” variety - about as salient as any unusual experience one would have, like visiting a new country or whatever. It’s fun, but when the pictures fade and you go back to work, kind of a distant memory - I’ve never experienced the sort of hyper-real, hyper-memorable stuff people talk about when they talk about that kind of thing. That’s not to say I haven’t been shaped by meditative practice, because I can see that I have been, but more akin to exercise - you see the results, you may or may not remember going to the gym. Sounds like yours really lasted, though, if you’re still experiencing the “overview effect”, as you put it.

But I still struggle with the paradigm shift; things like, what it means exactly, if anything, and my interest in Buddhism itself which seems to be echoing how I now feel with no prior understanding of Buddhism.  (Or meditating/mindfulness) 

And there is now a conflict.  A person/memory that was previously not spiritual at all, to experiencing something that I would definitely class as spiritual.


I feel the same way about a lot of Buddhism quickly resonating with me, before I knew much about it. Whether that speaks to a sort of inherent rightness (i.e., people from all over have independently concluded that 1+1=2 and would recognize truth in that no matter where they were from,) or it’s a sort of zeitgeist / epoch thing (You know how people from similar circumstances have often come to eerily similar conclusions internally? Steve Pinker writes about this phenomenon when he talks about how entire generations, without consulting one another or seeing a famous adopter, often all find out they like the same baby names.) I don’t know.


As for the conflict, not sure why it would be a conflict?

I see it like working out.  When you go to the gym, you follow, usually, a workout routine.  After a while, you build up muscle memory, and it comes naturally, you do not put in any, or as much effort.

It is authoritarianism, but it is meant to be, to keep you on the path till you have that “oh, I get it” moment.  After which there is no more effort at all, it comes naturally, you would feel “weird”/“unnatural” not following it.  The child analogy is also pretty accurate.  Once you get that “Oh, I get it” realization, the delusions of conditioning seem obvious.  And the “training” falls away, to you just being where the training was leading you.


That may be. Some of it may be cultural as well, related to the time / places Buddhism developed, but honestly I’m not sure on that. I suspect that, similar to going to the gym, you can dress up “work” in different ways - a Nike “Just Do It” attitude; bootcamp style; jogging on a beautiful beach; trying a trendy new fitness regime with friends, whatever - in the end work is work and you just have to put in the time.

 

I have not gone to his classes, but I have read his “Mindfulness” book, and listened to his podcast/classes.

I am planning on going to the Insight Meditation Center in San Diego though, (where I live): http://insightsd.org/  Once I have finished reading all of the Pali Canon (I am about 50% thought the Anthology of Disources, and then plan to read each discourse bucket fully.)


Any reason you’re waiting until after your read the Pali Canon? Sounds like a cool project, but it doesn’t follow to me that you would need to wait until after to join a mindfulness class or group.

 
 
SkyPanther
 
Avatar
 
 
SkyPanther
Total Posts:  91
Joined  20-01-2016
 
 
 
21 January 2016 17:08
 
Niclynn - 21 January 2016 04:29 PM

I don’t know that permanence is tied to degree of secularity, though? My understanding is that enlightenment is more or less knowledge about the state of reality, in the way one would come to understand gravity through cause and effect.

I think I question it because would a Buddha from the time of Siddhartha be as “enlightened” as a “Buddha” from today?  A person who has access/understanding of Quantum Physics, Computer Science, Information, Theory, Evolution,  etc…  In other words, I think progressing education keeps you “enlightened” in the time you live in.

Now, Indra’s net sounds very close to what someone from that time would see Quantum Physics as… so maybe?  I don’t know.  Sort of a faith question… I have “faith” that Siddhartha understood reality as it is…  but I do not “know” for sure.

Niclynn - 21 January 2016 04:29 PM

Whoa! I must admit, some part of me has always wanted some kind of spectacular “mystical experience” (although maybe not that spectacular, ha ha, that must have bordered on being kinda scary). I’ve had plenty of weird experiences during meditation and such, but they’re all of the “things that come and go” variety - about as salient as any unusual experience one would have, like visiting a new country or whatever. It’s fun, but when the pictures fade and you go back to work, kind of a distant memory - I’ve never experienced the sort of hyper-real, hyper-memorable stuff people talk about when they talk about that kind of thing. That’s not to say I haven’t been shaped by meditative practice, because I can see that I have been, but more akin to exercise - you see the results, you may or may not remember going to the gym. Sounds like yours really lasted, though, if you’re still experiencing the “overview effect”, as you put it.

Yeah, the euphoric feeling lasted for about a week, or week and a half. But the shift remained. Though, in all honesty, I was already “subscribed” to Secular Humanism, which is pretty close to Buddhist ethics. And working with Computers/Software, I learned about Information Theory, which is pretty much a scientific version of interdependence.  So maybe that was why that happened. 

And as for fear; it was blissfully scary. I was in a cold sweat for a few minutes right afterwords. Trying to figure out if I just had a stroke(or some other medical explanation, I am in my early 30’s so I doubt that, but who knows.), that felt really good.  It was a sort of “OMG, what was that…” coupled with “I feel at peace - a weight I did not know existed just got removed from my shoulders.” 

Niclynn - 21 January 2016 04:29 PM

I feel the same way about a lot of Buddhism quickly resonating with me, before I knew much about it. Whether that speaks to a sort of inherent rightness (i.e., people from all over have independently concluded that 1+1=2 and would recognize truth in that no matter where they were from,) or it’s a sort of zeitgeist / epoch thing (You know how people from similar circumstances have often come to eerily similar conclusions internally? Steve Pinker writes about this phenomenon when he talks about how entire generations, without consulting one another or seeing a famous adopter, often all find out they like the same baby names.) I don’t know.

That is exactly how I feel. The teachings (from reading them directly) resonate with me, and how I have already either lived my life (i.e, Secular Humanism), and how I now feel after the experience.  The Steve Pinker idea seems interesting, I will look that up.

Niclynn - 21 January 2016 04:29 PM

As for the conflict, not sure why it would be a conflict?

Because I felt all religions were pretty much “BS”, people trying to explain things they did not understand. And then governments using religion to control people.  Now I am starting to think that while both of those may still be true, not all religions may be fully “BS”.

Niclynn - 21 January 2016 04:29 PM

That may be. Some of it may be cultural as well, related to the time / places Buddhism developed, but honestly I’m not sure on that. I suspect that, similar to going to the gym, you can dress up “work” in different ways - a Nike “Just Do It” attitude; bootcamp style; jogging on a beautiful beach; trying a trendy new fitness regime with friends, whatever - in the end work is work and you just have to put in the time.

I agree, though for me, I do not feel like anything that I have read so far is “forced”, or “work”, it just seems like common sense.  Since most of the teachings are either in simile, or cause, effect, it all seems sort of a “duh” explanation.

Niclynn - 21 January 2016 04:29 PM

Any reason you’re waiting until after your read the Pali Canon? Sounds like a cool project, but it doesn’t follow to me that you would need to wait until after to join a mindfulness class or group.

Honestly, because I am a nerd, and like to absorb whatever it is I am learning about, before I actually move on.  I have been meditating for about 2 years now.  And mindfulness itself is pretty easy a state to get into for me. Mostly, I see what is happening, and have no real opinion or emotion to it unless asked.  Though some days I am less mindful than others… depending on life events, like work stress, etc, where I have to be engaged.

Thankfully, living in California, there are a bunch of different Buddhist/Insight/Meditation centers and retreats, I look forward to trying them once I have absorbed all the teachings/information.

[ Edited: 21 January 2016 18:01 by SkyPanther]
 
sojourner
 
Avatar
 
 
sojourner
Total Posts:  5970
Joined  09-11-2012
 
 
 
21 January 2016 22:40
 
SkyPanther - 21 January 2016 05:08 PM

I think I question it because would a Buddha from the time of Siddhartha be as “enlightened” as a “Buddha” from today?  A person who has access/understanding of Quantum Physics, Computer Science, Information, Theory, Evolution,  etc…  In other words, I think progressing education keeps you “enlightened” in the time you live in.


I actually don’t know if this applies to the concepts the Buddha taught, as to me they are more akin to learning about a state like “love” (in that it would be hard to say that people in 2016 are far better equipped to understand love because we have computers or something.) That said, I do think analogies for things like interdependence and the ethereal nature of reality are more easily found in modern scientific concepts - and perhaps a generation of people raised with these concepts is more primed to think that way in the first place.

Yeah, the euphoric feeling lasted for about a week, or week and a half. But the shift remained. Though, in all honesty, I was already “subscribed” to Secular Humanism, which is pretty close to Buddhist ethics. And working with Computers/Software, I learned about Information Theory, which is pretty much a scientific version of interdependence.  So maybe that was why that happened. 

And as for fear; it was blissfully scary. I was in a cold sweat for a few minutes right afterwords. Trying to figure out if I just had a stroke(or some other medical explanation, I am in my early 30’s so I doubt that, but who knows.), that felt really good.  It was a sort of “OMG, what was that…” coupled with “I feel at peace - a weight I did not know existed just got removed from my shoulders.”


Ha ha - kind of a funny aside, I thought I was having an experience like that the first time I sat down to meditate, but it turned out to be an actual earthquake! No doors of consciousness symbolically shaking open, I realized when my cat came flying into the room, staring at me in a very alarmed manner (she’s weirdly humanoid - you’d think a cat would hide, not come running in to be like “WTF is this?! Take care of it! And fill my food dish!”.) Anyways, I’m glad your experience was beneficial for you, that would have freaked me out a lot. 

Because I felt all religions were pretty much “BS”, people trying to explain things they did not understand. And then governments using religion to control people.  Now I am starting to think that while both of those may still be true, not all religions may be fully “BS”.


Oh, that I have a hard time relating to, although I suppose a paradigm shift like that would be shocking. I was raised in a relatively observant Christian home, and I always prayed at night, so I understand what people mean when they talk about “talking to God”. It’s not like hearing voices “talking”, but it’s maybe like a form of meditation - you talk and talk about an issue in prayer, kind of open your mind to getting an answer, and oftentimes, a thought appears that seems like an answer - like your own thought in your own head, but kind of outside the usual stream of mental chatter, clearer and more certain, if that makes any sense? I still have that sometimes - at this last silent retreat I went to, I knew there was one day when I was supposed to ask the teacher a question, and I was all stressed out about it, and the night before, in walking meditation, I had one of those thoughts, that I should ask them about what kind of progress they’d seen in their own practice, that this would be helpful. It’s like listening to a stiller, less egoic part of your own mind, I guess. It actually kinda surprises me when I hear people raised in secular homes say that they thought / think religion really is total BS, so it’s hard for me to think of an analogy from my own experience on that front.

I agree, though for me, I do not feel like anything that I have read so far is “forced”, or “work”, it just seems like common sense.  Since most of the teachings are either in simile, or cause, effect, it all seems sort of a “duh” explanation.


That’s a good attitude. I find all the “mind training” stuff tedious and even oppressive sometimes, but I realize this is just me being lazy, more or less.

Honestly, because I am a nerd, and like to absorb whatever it is I am learning about, before I actually move on.  I have been meditating for about 2 years now.  And mindfulness itself is pretty easy a state to get into for me. Mostly, I see what is happening, and have no real opinion or emotion to it unless asked.  Though some days I am less mindful than others… depending on life events, like work stress, etc, where I have to be engaged.

Thankfully, living in California, there are a bunch of different Buddhist/Insight/Meditation centers and retreats, I look forward to trying them once I have absorbed all the teachings/information.


My advice would be to join a group sooner rather than later - even if you can only get there every once in awhile and do podcasts most of the time (that’s pretty much my situation) I think it helps a lot to have the human connection element.

 
 
SkyPanther
 
Avatar
 
 
SkyPanther
Total Posts:  91
Joined  20-01-2016
 
 
 
22 January 2016 09:43
 
Niclynn - 21 January 2016 10:40 PM

Ha ha - kind of a funny aside, I thought I was having an experience like that the first time I sat down to meditate, but it turned out to be an actual earthquake! No doors of consciousness symbolically shaking open, I realized when my cat came flying into the room, staring at me in a very alarmed manner (she’s weirdly humanoid - you’d think a cat would hide, not come running in to be like “WTF is this?! Take care of it! And fill my food dish!”.) Anyways, I’m glad your experience was beneficial for you, that would have freaked me out a lot.

LOL, I have two cats, so can relate to them seeming almost human-like at times… which with my new found appreciation for Buddhist thought, is an interesting thing to ponder.  One of the cats, Milo, walks around, or sits/lays down on my meditation blanket and starts purring as I sit.  It’s pretty cute.

 

 

Niclynn - 21 January 2016 10:40 PM

Oh, that I have a hard time relating to, although I suppose a paradigm shift like that would be shocking. I was raised in a relatively observant Christian home, and I always prayed at night, so I understand what people mean when they talk about “talking to God”. It’s not like hearing voices “talking”, but it’s maybe like a form of meditation - you talk and talk about an issue in prayer, kind of open your mind to getting an answer, and oftentimes, a thought appears that seems like an answer - like your own thought in your own head, but kind of outside the usual stream of mental chatter, clearer and more certain, if that makes any sense? I still have that sometimes - at this last silent retreat I went to, I knew there was one day when I was supposed to ask the teacher a question, and I was all stressed out about it, and the night before, in walking meditation, I had one of those thoughts, that I should ask them about what kind of progress they’d seen in their own practice, that this would be helpful. It’s like listening to a stiller, less egoic part of your own mind, I guess. It actually kinda surprises me when I hear people raised in secular homes say that they thought / think religion really is total BS, so it’s hard for me to think of an analogy from my own experience on that front.

My parents were “spiritual” Jews, not so much secular, they believe in God, but are not into the rituals of the religion… we celebrate the high holy days, Passover, Hanukkah, etc, and they both instilled “morality” in me, that is pretty universal, I would say, to most Christian/Jewish/Western society, “the Golden Rule”, etc, but I think I have been to a Synagogue like… 4 or 5 times in my life.  And, honestly, I like Christian churches better, the stained glass, high ceiling and ambiance is a lot more serene.

The “talking” in your head, just a few years ago, I would have labeled as either psychosis, imagination, or something in between the two.  However a few days after my Satori, Wake Up, Overview Effect (whatever concept you want to apply to it) I had something exactly as you describe “like your own thought in your own head, but kind of outside the usual stream of mental chatter, clearer and more certain”  Only I described it more like “My own internal voice, but not my own, emotionless, and seemingly confident.”

Only, it happened when I was mid sleep/wake, that twilight zone where you know you are either waking up, or about to fall asleep. The first one was “the number three is an important number”.  That was it.  I woke up, thought “ok, that was odd” and went on with my morning ablutions. Later on in the day I started thinking about it, and the first thought that popped up, almost spontaneously, was a magnet.  After trying to process that, it came to me…  the positive, and negative poll, and the “middle”, and from that, if you break the magnet in half you still have all 3.  And from that, this applies to pretty much everything.  For instance, politics, you have the conservatives and liberals, and the middle ground between them, and no matter which side you “remove”, you are still left with someone in the group of either liberals or conservatives that is more or less “extreme” than the rest, so a new medium is inherent. And from that, “self” implies “other”, and from that I came to interdependent origination without actually knowing anything about the concept in Buddhism before.  So when I read it for the first time (in The Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects) I was like “OMG, this is it!”.

I have had more since then, but most of them I forget by the time I actually wake up. One other that I remembered, and have actually written down, was a really good explanation to myself, of what “Rebirth” (as opposed to Reincarnation) means.  This is my journal, where I put up all my daydreaming ideas into, and was written a year or so after I started my actual exploration of Buddhism/Alan Watts: http://dreamersworkshop.com/blog/?p=78

 

 

Niclynn - 21 January 2016 10:40 PM

My advice would be to join a group sooner rather than later - even if you can only get there every once in awhile and do podcasts most of the time (that’s pretty much my situation) I think it helps a lot to have the human connection element.

I am going to a Mandir this Saturday, I have a friend at work that is into meditation, Sky Yoga and Kundalini,  but from the Hindu (he is Indian) perspective (though it’s pretty much a mix of Hindu and Buddhist ideas).

And I do listen to and read a lot of podcasts/blogs, from people like Joseph Goldstein, Joan Halifax, and Ram Dass.

Interestingly, there is also an episode of both Joseph Goldstein and Sam Harris talking about meditation:

http://www.samharris.org/podcast/item/the-path-and-the-goal

[ Edited: 22 January 2016 10:00 by SkyPanther]
 
sojourner
 
Avatar
 
 
sojourner
Total Posts:  5970
Joined  09-11-2012
 
 
 
22 January 2016 12:58
 

Glad you’re enjoying your experience SkyPanther. I know what you mean about suddenly seeing a lot of new creative analogies for “how life is” and having a real sense of excitement about exploring that. I would caution you to stay grounded in observable reality, as I think that enthusiasm can easily lead into possibly fruitless “new agey” realms that ultimately kind of reify subjective experience and cloud the kind of clear thinking that was so exciting in the first place (just my two cents, but you’re a science-y type so you may not have to worry about that as much.) And yes, I’ve heard both Joseph / Sam podcasts, they were great!

 
 
SkyPanther
 
Avatar
 
 
SkyPanther
Total Posts:  91
Joined  20-01-2016
 
 
 
22 January 2016 13:23
 
Niclynn - 22 January 2016 12:58 PM

Glad you’re enjoying your experience SkyPanther. I know what you mean about suddenly seeing a lot of new creative analogies for “how life is” and having a real sense of excitement about exploring that. I would caution you to stay grounded in observable reality, as I think that enthusiasm can easily lead into possibly fruitless “new agey” realms that ultimately kind of reify subjective experience and cloud the kind of clear thinking that was so exciting in the first place (just my two cents, but you’re a science-y type so you may not have to worry about that as much.) And yes, I’ve heard both Joseph / Sam podcasts, they were great!

Yeah, that has come up; mainly the new agey stuff, which is why I am trying to get a firm footing on what is actually “Buddhism”, and what is essentially a mix of that, with other ideas that have no footing in anything other than someone else’s LSD trip.

 
sojourner
 
Avatar
 
 
sojourner
Total Posts:  5970
Joined  09-11-2012
 
 
 
22 January 2016 19:27
 
SkyPanther - 22 January 2016 01:23 PM
Niclynn - 22 January 2016 12:58 PM

Glad you’re enjoying your experience SkyPanther. I know what you mean about suddenly seeing a lot of new creative analogies for “how life is” and having a real sense of excitement about exploring that. I would caution you to stay grounded in observable reality, as I think that enthusiasm can easily lead into possibly fruitless “new agey” realms that ultimately kind of reify subjective experience and cloud the kind of clear thinking that was so exciting in the first place (just my two cents, but you’re a science-y type so you may not have to worry about that as much.) And yes, I’ve heard both Joseph / Sam podcasts, they were great!

Yeah, that has come up; mainly the new agey stuff, which is why I am trying to get a firm footing on what is actually “Buddhism”, and what is essentially a mix of that, with other ideas that have no footing in anything other than someone else’s LSD trip.


I think that’s great, although I think a group like the one you describe in San Diego is probably a pretty safe bet in terms of finding a solid grounding in Buddhist philosophy. Buddhist philosophy is quite complicated and it can actually be quite helpful to engage with people who have studied it for awhile.

 
 
SkyPanther
 
Avatar
 
 
SkyPanther
Total Posts:  91
Joined  20-01-2016
 
 
 
25 January 2016 09:20
 
Niclynn - 22 January 2016 07:27 PM
SkyPanther - 22 January 2016 01:23 PM
Niclynn - 22 January 2016 12:58 PM

Glad you’re enjoying your experience SkyPanther. I know what you mean about suddenly seeing a lot of new creative analogies for “how life is” and having a real sense of excitement about exploring that. I would caution you to stay grounded in observable reality, as I think that enthusiasm can easily lead into possibly fruitless “new agey” realms that ultimately kind of reify subjective experience and cloud the kind of clear thinking that was so exciting in the first place (just my two cents, but you’re a science-y type so you may not have to worry about that as much.) And yes, I’ve heard both Joseph / Sam podcasts, they were great!

Yeah, that has come up; mainly the new agey stuff, which is why I am trying to get a firm footing on what is actually “Buddhism”, and what is essentially a mix of that, with other ideas that have no footing in anything other than someone else’s LSD trip.


I think that’s great, although I think a group like the one you describe in San Diego is probably a pretty safe bet in terms of finding a solid grounding in Buddhist philosophy. Buddhist philosophy is quite complicated and it can actually be quite helpful to engage with people who have studied it for awhile.

*nod*, I agree, I am actually looking now.  The Mandir was interesting, but too much unnecessary personifications for what the Buddha spoke about.  I understand that most Hindus do not actually believe in the various… (ok maybe that is an understatement) gods, but it just seems cumbersome. I like the Buddha dharma simply because it seems to have cut out all the cruft.

There are a few Theravada Centers in San Diego, and a few Mahayana/Bodhicitta Centers, I will visit them to see which ones resonate more with me. Including the Joseph Goldstein one, just because I really like his ways of explaining the suttas.

[ Edited: 25 January 2016 09:35 by SkyPanther]
 
sojourner
 
Avatar
 
 
sojourner
Total Posts:  5970
Joined  09-11-2012
 
 
 
25 January 2016 11:34
 
SkyPanther - 25 January 2016 09:20 AM

*nod*, I agree, I am actually looking now.  The Mandir was interesting, but too much unnecessary personifications for what the Buddha spoke about.  I understand that most Hindus do not actually believe in the various… (ok maybe that is an understatement) gods, but it just seems cumbersome. I like the Buddha dharma simply because it seems to have cut out all the cruft.

There are a few Theravada Centers in San Diego, and a few Mahayana/Bodhicitta Centers, I will visit them to see which ones resonate more with me. Including the Joseph Goldstein one, just because I really like his ways of explaining the suttas.


I think that’s a good idea. And I don’t know what your experience will be like, but for me the two most important things to keep in mind have been: 1. Your ‘practice’ will always be changing, so don’t get attached to what you experience at one point 2. It’s worth it to spend time finding teachers you connect with (doesn’t have to be in person, necessarily, since a lot of material is online now). I mention the first because my initial experience with meditation was very sort of ‘magical’, almost a buzz, and while I still experience that, even those ‘magical’ states loose their novelty at some point and then you have to look for what’s beyond that. Then you think you’re on the road to getting it all “figured out” because you start to get some insight into whatever comes up next and, poof!, it’s off to the next thing. A part of me is still adapting to the idea that meditation is not a linear thing with a defined endpoint.


The second I emphasize because one of my first experiences with mindfulness was actually a class geared towards incorporating it with children, and I remember being like so upset when the first thing that happened was the teacher mildly rebuking me for a sort of cultural difference (I asked something about how mindfulness relates to discipline, since I work with a lot of behavior therapy programs, and, that being a very liberal, Ivy-League-Town group, they were kind of like “Discipline! Why would you even say that word! Who wants to “discipline” children?”). Normally it wouldn’t have been a big deal but I was very new to the practice and had these kind of exotic expectations that I was going to be working with a bunch of enlightened beings who would completely understand me or something. Not so. All the usual relational roadblocks and misunderstandings apply, although you can typically assume people engaged in such a practice are at least more open to the idea of working on / overcoming those. And on the positive side, taking the time to find people who speak to your current needs (often different teachers will be sort of ‘specialized’ in addressing a particular aspect of experience, so more likely than not it will be a group of people) is really helpful. The last couple of retreats I’ve been on were led (in part) by a man who’s gay (which may seem irrelevant although it’s perfect for me, as I usually feel instantly judged by women but I’m not really comfortable working with straight men) who seems great at interacting with animals. That general attitude put me at ease - if he is willing to bond with woodland creatures who might literally bite him, odds are good he is equally chill with skittish human minds, and that’s how he seemed to me. For me, that was very helpful, and I probably did more actual meditating on those retreats than I have at any other time, just because I was able to kind of relax and let go a little bit. For someone else, a teacher who’s a bit more ‘pushy’ - in a ‘tough coach’ sort of way - might be ideal; for another it might be someone very analytical, some people might need a sort of pep talk style teacher (I have never felt as excited about the general idea of Buddhism as I did after doing a retreat with Sharon Salzberg and Robert Thurman - they’re so good at painting a picture of what a complete practice can ‘look like’), and so on. But either way, my experience has been that if you take the time to find a few teachers that speak to you, it really is worth it, vs. just going “Well, this class / retreat is closest or easiest to get to, guess I’ll go there.”


Anyways, just my two cents - good luck with everything, hope you’ll post back periodically with your experiences!

 
 
SkyPanther
 
Avatar
 
 
SkyPanther
Total Posts:  91
Joined  20-01-2016
 
 
 
25 January 2016 11:45
 
Niclynn - 25 January 2016 11:34 AM
SkyPanther - 25 January 2016 09:20 AM

*nod*, I agree, I am actually looking now.  The Mandir was interesting, but too much unnecessary personifications for what the Buddha spoke about.  I understand that most Hindus do not actually believe in the various… (ok maybe that is an understatement) gods, but it just seems cumbersome. I like the Buddha dharma simply because it seems to have cut out all the cruft.

There are a few Theravada Centers in San Diego, and a few Mahayana/Bodhicitta Centers, I will visit them to see which ones resonate more with me. Including the Joseph Goldstein one, just because I really like his ways of explaining the suttas.


I think that’s a good idea. And I don’t know what your experience will be like, but for me the two most important things to keep in mind have been: 1. Your ‘practice’ will always be changing, so don’t get attached to what you experience at one point 2. It’s worth it to spend time finding teachers you connect with (doesn’t have to be in person, necessarily, since a lot of material is online now). I mention the first because my initial experience with meditation was very sort of ‘magical’, almost a buzz, and while I still experience that, even those ‘magical’ states loose their novelty at some point and then you have to look for what’s beyond that. Then you think you’re on the road to getting it all “figured out” because you start to get some insight into whatever comes up next and, poof!, it’s off to the next thing. A part of me is still adapting to the idea that meditation is not a linear thing with a defined endpoint.


The second I emphasize because one of my first experiences with mindfulness was actually a class geared towards incorporating it with children, and I remember being like so upset when the first thing that happened was the teacher mildly rebuking me for a sort of cultural difference (I asked something about how mindfulness relates to discipline, since I work with a lot of behavior therapy programs, and, that being a very liberal, Ivy-League-Town group, they were kind of like “Discipline! Why would you even say that word! Who wants to “discipline” children?”). Normally it wouldn’t have been a big deal but I was very new to the practice and had these kind of exotic expectations that I was going to be working with a bunch of enlightened beings who would completely understand me or something. Not so. All the usual relational roadblocks and misunderstandings apply, although you can typically assume people engaged in such a practice are at least more open to the idea of working on / overcoming those. And on the positive side, taking the time to find people who speak to your current needs (often different teachers will be sort of ‘specialized’ in addressing a particular aspect of experience, so more likely than not it will be a group of people) is really helpful. The last couple of retreats I’ve been on were led (in part) by a man who’s gay (which may seem irrelevant although it’s perfect for me, as I usually feel instantly judged by women but I’m not really comfortable working with straight men) who seems great at interacting with animals. That general attitude put me at ease - if he is willing to bond with woodland creatures who might literally bite him, odds are good he is equally chill with skittish human minds, and that’s how he seemed to me. For me, that was very helpful, and I probably did more actual meditating on those retreats than I have at any other time, just because I was able to kind of relax and let go a little bit. For someone else, a teacher who’s a bit more ‘pushy’ - in a ‘tough coach’ sort of way - might be ideal; for another it might be someone very analytical, some people might need a sort of pep talk style teacher (I have never felt as excited about the general idea of Buddhism as I did after doing a retreat with Sharon Salzberg and Robert Thurman - they’re so good at painting a picture of what a complete practice can ‘look like’), and so on. But either way, my experience has been that if you take the time to find a few teachers that speak to you, it really is worth it, vs. just going “Well, this class / retreat is closest or easiest to get to, guess I’ll go there.”


Anyways, just my two cents - good luck with everything, hope you’ll post back periodically with your experiences!

Interesting, thank you for the suggestions.

One interesting thing that I noticed as well (at least from the online stuff) is that a lot of teachers tend to try to break down the ego of western audiences.  For instance, by being “rude/mean”, or seemingly “inappropriate” to western sensibilities.  Have you run into that on retreats?

I saw in a different thread you mentioned that a lot of people get the mistaken view that ego is built up in Buddhism(or conversely that they try to “kill it”); when in actuality the whole point is realizing that there is no ego to kill.  And that conceit is sometimes confused, and intermixed with confidence, which can lead to ego being built up.

 
sojourner
 
Avatar
 
 
sojourner
Total Posts:  5970
Joined  09-11-2012
 
 
 
25 January 2016 12:04
 
SkyPanther - 25 January 2016 11:45 AM

Interesting, thank you for the suggestions.

One interesting thing that I noticed as well (at least from the online stuff) is that a lot of teachers tend to try to break down the ego of western audiences.  For instance, by being “rude/mean”, or seemingly “inappropriate” to western sensibilities.  Have you run into that on retreats?

I saw in a different thread you mentioned that a lot of people get the mistaken view that ego is built up in Buddhism(or conversely that they try to “kill it”); when in actuality the whole point is realizing that there is no ego to kill.  And that conceit is sometimes confused, and intermixed with confidence, which can lead to ego being built up.


No, but most of the practice I’ve done has been through branches of IMS, and I think they are very sensible people, which I appreciate. Actually, any experience I’ve had that I’ve felt a little ‘eh’ about was when I practiced outside that kind of loosely related family of organizations, now that I think of it.


As for the whole “killing the ego” thing, I think that gets into a bunch of nonsense at times, honestly. Maybe I just have a Protestant work ethic dwelling deep within my soul but the stories Harris tells about that turning into abusive situations in Waking Up all sound like Serious Drama to me, which is just the opposite of quieting (not killing) an ego. Putting the ego at the center of a soap opera. Egos are wont to do that anyways but it’s actually a lot harder if you just sit and meditate and then go scrub a toilet and then meditate some more, vs. getting into some crazy situation with a guru type.

 
 
SkyPanther
 
Avatar
 
 
SkyPanther
Total Posts:  91
Joined  20-01-2016
 
 
 
25 January 2016 12:16
 
Niclynn - 25 January 2016 12:04 PM
SkyPanther - 25 January 2016 11:45 AM

Interesting, thank you for the suggestions.

One interesting thing that I noticed as well (at least from the online stuff) is that a lot of teachers tend to try to break down the ego of western audiences.  For instance, by being “rude/mean”, or seemingly “inappropriate” to western sensibilities.  Have you run into that on retreats?

I saw in a different thread you mentioned that a lot of people get the mistaken view that ego is built up in Buddhism(or conversely that they try to “kill it”); when in actuality the whole point is realizing that there is no ego to kill.  And that conceit is sometimes confused, and intermixed with confidence, which can lead to ego being built up.


No, but most of the practice I’ve done has been through branches of IMS, and I think they are very sensible people, which I appreciate. Actually, any experience I’ve had that I’ve felt a little ‘eh’ about was when I practiced outside that kind of loosely related family of organizations, now that I think of it.


As for the whole “killing the ego” thing, I think that gets into a bunch of nonsense at times, honestly. Maybe I just have a Protestant work ethic dwelling deep within my soul but the stories Harris tells about that turning into abusive situations in Waking Up all sound like Serious Drama to me, which is just the opposite of quieting (not killing) an ego. Putting the ego at the center of a soap opera. Egos are wont to do that anyways but it’s actually a lot harder if you just sit and meditate and then go scrub a toilet and then meditate some more, vs. getting into some crazy situation with a guru type.

Yeah, I agree on the Drama point.  And I think I will try with the IMS center as well.

 
 < 1 2 3 4 >  Last ›