Posts Tagged ‘Study’

The Two Paths

Posted: 12/12/2015 in Insight
Tags: , ,


point1WARNING 27/2/16

At the time of discussion of “The Two Paths” I was attempting to accommodate an intellectual Path; even whilst doing so I was uncomfortable with it. I tried to focus on the “shift” as described by HHDL but the intellect I was discussing with did not engage with the word – presumably because it was a non-intellectual process. Now that I have accepted mu it is clear that what I am aiming for is beyond intellect, and this whole rationalising of “Two Paths” was just an engagement with intellect. I am keeping this series of discussions on Two Paths on my blog as a warning as to how much the intellect can drag you in the wrong direction.

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Earlier in my blog I considered two Paths:-

zbullet The Path of Awakening
zbullet Deep Study leading to understanding

Where do I stand on these now that it is done and dusted? Perhaps the most important thing I have determined is to get rid of this theosophical capitalisation. The capitalisation related to the Unconditioned, some sort of noumenon. The path is what we do, and as such has no direct contact with the Unconditioned. The Unconditioned is, and that is it; we are in the world of conditions, the path is conditioned.

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Awakening:-

Let’s examine the two paths separately, first the path of awakening. Because I was fanciful concerning the Unconditioned, there was some vague and improper notion of awakening being concerned with the Unconditioned. I described it as a “sort of awakening” because it was that, but mainly it was an awakening from systemic conditioning or miseducation. In Buddhist terms it was breaking through an entrenched atta, the atta of my intellectual ego created by culture and miseducation. I began to describe this as a transcendence from lower to higher manas, it could be from the mundane to the supramundane; I am now going to call this a shift in consciousness, transcendence has too much showbiz attached to it. Somehow the turmoil in my mind at the time of hitting bottom created a jhana that allowed consciousness to emerge. I called this the starting of my path, it was a sort of awakening, but it had nothing to do with the awakening or enlightenment that people associate with the Buddha – I don’t go near that. Other experiences reminded me and reinforced my initial shift, and these experiences I associated with keeping to the path – these experiences were jhanas. So this path of awakening is inaccurately described as a “path of awakening”, it is better described as an insight path. Why insight? Insight comes through jhanas, right concentration, allowing consciousness to emerge. Initially the consciousness was blocked by the atta of miseducation and drink, and the resulting turmoil created a focus of concentration that allowed a shift in consciousness, a development of insight initially followed by gaining insights. This recent process spurred by group discussion online appears to have radically altered the description of this path but from where I look at it I don’t feel so; rationally it looks very different, I think.

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Deep Study:-

Following the discussions I have much more time for this approach of deep study but I am completely unhappy with it. Primarily it allows the intellectual to consider they are on the path simply by studying. I contend that this cannot be. Understanding requires concentration and insight, an insight that is not just reasoning, not even unconscious reasoning. It requires “contact with consciousness”, concentration creating the channel for that contact. This might happen through deep study because the concentration might cause it, but if it is then attributed to reason I see the intellectual atta clinging. I think this might be an unconscious path, and therefore similar to an insight path. The intellectual perceives this path as intellect, analysis and reason (because of atta), yet through the study develops the concentration that produces the insight and then attributes that insight to analysis. Does this matter? Yes, because they don’t see a shift in consciousness, they don’t see how much their focus on reason traps them in their mundane realm of analysis. How much they miss out on because of this I cannot know? Maybe nothing, maybe the whole world?

However the two paths are very little different. There is the shift in consciousness, this is very important. Because it is not life-changing like hitting bottom does not mean that it does not happen on the deep study path, but it does not happen in an earth-shattering way. The paths are different by emphasis, ie the words that are used. The insight path focusses on the concentration that leads to the understanding whilst recognising a role for reason, deep study focusses on reasoning.

How important is the turmoil? In Zen they have koans, they want to create the turmoil that produces the jhana. In my hitting bottom the turmoil happened because of my culture and miseducation, for the deep study path this turmoil is not emphasised – maybe it occurs but reason does not want to admit to it because it is not rational. In last night’s realisation LINK the intellectual turmoil was a prerequisite for the jhana, the jhana would not have happened without it, and the understanding would not have occurred.

At one stage in the online group I questioned whether the intellectual asked about their own path, I still feel that. Because they are attached to reason they don’t examine processes like turmoil and concentration, and insight becomes analysis.

Buddhism does somewhere I am sure but I don’t know the Pali/suttas.

Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

I have just had a huge negative reaction from a believer in Buddhism – horrific. It was out of the blue and as yet (if ever) I have no idea where it came from.

I suspect it came from a believer or a jhana king, and even if it isn’t that is where I begin this. A belief is simply an idea that is clung to, however beliefs are clung to by institutions and this makes those beliefs powerful; so powerful that those beliefs have been used to fight wars. My understanding of the Buddha is that he was trying to say to people to move beyond belief to understanding. Ideas are not important, they rapidly change over time; the deep conviction that comes with Insight into these ideas is the understanding that he was trying to convey.

Faith is a word that I have rejected. My view of it would be that it was not just belief but complete immersion in a set of ideas, and that immersion brings with it a conviction. However that particular conviction is not based on Insight but this immersion process. It is this immersion that leads to the blindness that can lead to conflict. “My faith is better than yours” is a consequence of this immersion, and because there is a conviction nothing can change that comparison.

Of course this is separation – division, and because Unity is fundamental dangerous to humanity.

However the word “conviction” here is interesting. To describe Insight I would begin with Eureka moments, followed by Insight through creativity, and then Insight meditation; I think all three are Insights although meditation is the only method – at a stretch you might call “being creative” methodical. What accompanies Insight is a deep conviction, a conviction that cannot be changed. This is a danger with Insights in that although they are never wrong they can develop, and if you cling to early Insights without allowing them to develop this can be harmful.

What if Insight is the basis to genuine Faith as opposed to immersed faith. Saul to Damascus is a described religious exerience that could be considered a “sort of awakening”, I presume St. Paul then had faith. If it is an “awakening” then there is Insight in St. Paul’s faith even if the terminology does not match Buddhists or mine.

Such a genuine religious experience has to be an “awakening” onto the Path, so the issue with Faith is not whether someone has Faith but where did that faith come from? If that Faith came from a genuine religious experience then that Faith is someone’s Path.

HHDL’s study method is taken from “The Middle Way: faith grounded in reason”. In the above descriptions Faith comes from Insight or religious experience, which hopefully leads them to follow a Path. If that Path is not subjected to analysis there is a danger of stagnation thought clinging. The suggestion of the title “Faith grounded in reason” is that the Faith can come from reason, to me the study method reads that although I don’t understand that. The study method says (this is my interpretation as I don’t understand it) that through immersion there can develop a conviction on the Truth of what is being studied leading to a deep conviction that is Faith.

Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

point1WARNING 27/2/16

At the time of discussion of “The Two Paths” I was attempting to accommodate an intellectual Path; even whilst doing so I was uncomfortable with it. I tried to focus on the “shift” as described by HHDL but the intellect I was discussing with did not engage with the word – presumably because it was a non-intellectual process. Now that I have accepted mu it is clear that what I am aiming for is beyond intellect, and this whole rationalising of “Two Paths” was just an engagement with intellect. I am keeping this series of discussions on Two Paths on my blog as a warning as to how much the intellect can drag you in the wrong direction.

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“If you are serious about Dharma practice, it is important to cultivate a good understanding of the teachings. First of all, it is important to read the texts. The more texts you read – the more you expand the scope of your learning and reading – the greater the resource you will find for your own understanding and practice. When, as a result of deep study and contemplation on what you have learned as related to your personal understanding, you reach a point on each topic when you have developed a deep conviction that this is how it is, that‘s an indication you have attained what is called understanding, derived through contemplation or reflection. Before that, all your understanding will have been intellectual understanding, but at that point it shifts. Then you have to cultivate familiarity, make it into part of your daily habit. The more you cultivate familiarity, the more it will become experiential.”
Dalai Lama, The Middle Way: Faith Grounded in Reason

This is the model I am using for the Study Path.

It is a major concession on my part to consider intellectual understanding as part of a Path but that doesn’t make my assessment of the intellectual ego invalid. The intellectual ego is so divisive. This ego is not tolerant, and insists that all accept its way; such a dangerous weapon.

Nature has given us a tool to control this ego – meditation. Having had battles with my own intellect I know how important meditation is to me to maintain control, and that is on a Path which does not see intellectual understanding as part. In fact in many ways connecting the words intellectual and understanding for me seems inappropriate. One aspect of the tool, intellect, is that it enables ideas to be held in the mind to be examined; this of course is not understanding but the intellect will always want to delude you that it is. In my view HHDL’s Path requires a great amount of meditation, something he does – I believe I read he sits for 4 hours a day.

There is another interesting observation. Minds dominated by the intellect find it difficult to meditate, typically “meditation does nothing for me”. I conclude without any real justification an incompatibility, maybe it is just incompatibility with an ego that is intellectual. I certainly conclude that someone on the study Path cannot let meditation go.

I broke down the Study Path into 6 stages:-

• Deep study
• Contemplation or reflection
• Deep conviction that this how it is – these first 3 are intellectual
• Shifting
• Cultivating familiarity
• Experiential understanding

I have not received any explanation how this connects with Insight despite highlighting its importance – as I saw it.

This Study Path is a Path I must tolerate as yet I do not understand how it can be a genuine Path without Insight. Where is the awakening in it? My yardstick!!!

Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

point1WARNING 27/2/16

At the time of discussion of “The Two Paths” I was attempting to accommodate an intellectual Path; even whilst doing so I was uncomfortable with it. I tried to focus on the “shift” as described by HHDL but the intellect I was discussing with did not engage with the word – presumably because it was a non-intellectual process. Now that I have accepted mu it is clear that what I am aiming for is beyond intellect, and this whole rationalising of “Two Paths” was just an engagement with intellect. I am keeping this series of discussions on Two Paths on my blog as a warning as to how much the intellect can drag you in the wrong direction.

********************

Maybe 7 years ago I attended a talk in Bangkok given by Phakchok Rinpoche. He was a very powerful and funny man, and wound all the Theravadans up something rotten. The monks were squirming in the seats and monks and nuns were muttering away. To be honest I was just impressed with the man. I am going to refer to this with the Ludlum phrase “The Hinayana Incident”.

Accompanying his talk he gave out a paper describing 3 Buddhist Paths:-

Hinayana
Mahayana
Vajrayana

And there was some blurb that went vaguely like this. “In Buddhism you begin with some initial study that could be called the Lesser Vehicle or Hinayana. Then people begin to increase their study to the Greater Vehicle or Mahayana, and then finally they arrive at the highest form of learning Vajrayana.” Now to be perfectly honest it was extremely rude of this monk to go to a home of Thai Buddhism and present Theravada in this demeaning way.

I was personally not that invested in “being Theravada” so it didn’t wind me up, and after all it was someone from outside coming and talking about something he had never done – being Theravada. I think I am a bit angry about it now. I think all aspects of Buddhism talk about Unity, and yet the teachings are presented in such a divisive way. I have just got involved in a discussion online in which a similar division is occurring, and it reminded me of this. In fact all discussions online remind me of divisions, and whenever I think of division I think of uncontrolled intellect that delights in separation and cannot accept Unity. It reminds me so much of all the Trots who all claim they are Marxist, and believe in the power of the mass movement. Yet they all want the mass movement to follow their version of Marxism, and completely divide the Left by the way they say the mass movement should follow their particular individual bookwriter as opposed to a different bookwriter who has a Marxist group. In politics there is one leader the mass movement, and if organisers cannot get the mass movement to recognise the importance of seeing themselves as one Unity and the ensuing working together that could maybe dethrone the 1% then that means more wars for profits etc.

The parallel with Unity in Buddhism is so clear to me. You begin with Unity, because we are ONE and separation is caused by mind. From this Unity we can recognise that all Paths lead to Unity. This is a Truth for all Paths in Buddhism as well as for other Paths. So when there is a discussion in Buddhism shouldn’t it revolve around finding what is the commonality or the Unity rather than perpetuating mind-created differences.

This firstly made me think about my own Path – hitting bottom, coming out on the Path – awakening?, throughout my spiritual life somehow being close to the Path or not, being creativity helping closeness, erratic meditation experiences, veering to Buddhism, regular meditation, focussing on Theravada in retirement, wider reading, focussing on Buddhadasa. Basically the underlying Unity is what forced me onto the Path in the first place, and the rest of my life has been about holding to the Path or not, and how do I do this? For me in Theravada this meant Insight meditation, through Insight connecting to the Path.

When I read Eckhart Tolle, or others on the their creativity, I regularly see this hitting bottom and unconsciously I made an assumption that I now see as incorrect that peoples’ Paths will have this sort of awakening. Because of this awakening component my view of Phakchok Rinpoche’s hierarchy of study was an intellectual aberration.

With the current online discussion I was sent this quote from HHDL:-
“If you are serious about Dharma practice, it is important to cultivate a good understanding of the teachings. First of all, it is important to read the texts. The more texts you read – the more you expand the scope of your learning and reading – the greater the resource you will find for your own understanding and practice. When, as a result of deep study and contemplation on what you have learned as related to your personal understanding, you reach a point on each topic when you have developed a deep conviction that this is how it is, that‘s an indication you have attained what is called understanding, derived through contemplation or reflection. Before that, all your understanding will have been intellectual understanding, but at that point it shifts. Then you have to cultivate familiarity, make it into part of your daily habit. The more you cultivate familiarity, the more it will become experiential.”
Dalai Lama, The Middle Way: Faith Grounded in Reason

Now intellectual understanding is not something I am overly keen on as it has been my experience that the intellect is divisive. In fact I have seen that for those coming to the Path a focus on the intellect can lead to internal conflict that can produce awakening.

However there has always been a flaw in my approach that I have only partly internalised, why is Buddhadasa my teacher and yet he never had an awakening? I have never really answered that question until now – when perhaps I am getting answers.

Does there have to be an awakening? In the above quote HHDL describes a model of 6 stages:-

1) Deep study 2) Contemplation or reflection 3) Deep conviction that this how it is – these 3 are intellectual

4) Shifting 5) Cultivating familiarity 6) Experiential understanding

What is the shifting? Is it at all connected to awakening? Maybe shifting is just a smaller degree of awakening?

It seems to me there are two distinct types of Path:-

The Path of Awakening
Deep Study that leads to Understanding

If one has had an awakening, especially in the West where such awakenings are often associated with miseducation, it is hard to understand how deep study can be a Path.

If one is studious it is hard to see how someone who claims awakening after hitting bottom either through drugs or otherwise can be experiencing something other than feeling good in a recovery programme after the hangovers have gone.

What primarily needs to be understood is that no matter how exclusive these Paths appear to be they lead to Unity, and Unity is what all Buddhist seek, what all Seekers seek.

Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.