KokuRyu: He said "The books and the precepts and the rules are just a distraction. What's most important is to learn how to sit, and to learn how to practice seated meditation. Learn that first."
I claim I got anagamihood in late 1996 based on these things:
1) I had gone through what to me felt like 3 complete progress of insight cycles.
2) I had access to Nirodha Samapatti
3) I now could perceive the luminosity/centerless/awareness-as-manifestation-ness of the vast majority of the phenomena that made up the whole changing sense sphere, which was a radical and permanent transformation of how I viewed the world.
ian1977: hey awesome metafilter thanks for the sweet religious pamphlets, usually i have to get up and answer the door.
you can order pizza online now too but you still have to answer the door to get the za.
The purpose of jogging is to be physically fit. The method is to regularly run a set distance or time at a set pace. The effects of running vary. You are energized and invigorated on some days, tired and worn out on others, stiff or sore on some days, flexible and relaxed on others. The effects vary from day to day, on some days positive, on other days negative. The results are increased strength, muscle tone, endurance and general fitness.
The same distinctions apply to meditation. The purpose is to cultivate attention. The method is placing and resting attention on the breath. The effects are varied. On some days, meditation is like a peaceful rest in infinite open space. On other days, it is more like a struggle through a howling storm. On some days, attention is clear and stable. On other days, all we experience is distraction and pain. The results are an increase in the level of attention, the ability to stay in attention in both formal practice and daily life, and less reactivity in our lives.
How do you cope with [magical, metaphysical claims] in your study and practice of the teachings?
This book is for those who really want to master the core teachings of the Buddha and who are willing to put in the time and effort required. It is also for those who are tired of having to decipher the code of modern and ancient dharma books, as it is designed to be honest, explicit, straightforward and rigorously technical
I have also included a modicum of social commentary, some of which has a definite bite to it. Some of you may not find it helpful, or even find it quite distasteful and offensive. Some of you will quickly dismiss it as harsh or wrong speech. I am torn between the feeling that there really are some important points in those sections and the understanding that not everyone will be able to make good use of information and opinions presented in such strong terms. Thus, I ask you to please skip over those chapters and get to the friendlier or more technical sections beyond them if you don’t find them helpful.
The world is brimming with very nice and friendly dharma books. There are hundreds available on the shelves of any mega-bookstore. However, I believe that there is room for a book that sometimes conveys its message in a very different voice, though I respectfully give you the option to choose how much of that voice you want to hear. It is the unrestrained voice of one from a generation whose radicals wore spikes and combat boots rather than beads and sandals, listened to the Sex Pistols rather than the Moody Blues, wouldn’t know a beat poet or early sixties dharma bum from a hole in the ground, and thought the hippies were pretty friggin’ naive, not that we don't owe them a lot. It is also the unrestrained voice of one whose practice has been dedicated to complete and unexcelled mastery of the traditional and hardcore stages of the path rather than some sort of vapid New Age fluff or pop psychological head-trip. If that ain’t you, consider reading something else.
While I may be fooling myself, I think this section, while a bit harsh and probably disrespectful, is likely to be helpful to someone who also wishes to go against the grain and become an actual meditation master.
The real dangers that come from using a cutting tone are that it will alienate both readers for whom such a tone is simply not helpful and those who could really benefit from such a tone but do not want to admit this. Worse, it may cause others to agree too strongly...
I heard someone speculating that Zen might have developed as being very austere and drab because of how colorful and unstable Japan was during its development, and likewise the Tibetan tradition was very colorful and complex because Tibet was so bleak. Burmese Buddhism might be so extremely technical, goal-oriented, efficient and effective because their country is such a chaotic mess. Perhaps in just this way, we have the most goal-oriented culture in the world and yet tend towards the least goal-oriented, least practical and least effective take on Buddhism I have found anywhere.
It is an unfortunate shadow side of our culture that many of us can barely tolerate one more goal to attain, one more hoop to jump through, one more exam to pass, one more certification or degree to obtain, one more SUV to buy. Perhaps we are crafting a Buddhism in which you don’t have to really ever accomplish anything so as to find a refuge from our extremely neurotic fixation on achievement. This might explain why we often fixate on teachings such as “Effortless effort”, “There is nothing to attain,” and postponing enlightenment through the Bodhisattva Vow. Believe me, as someone who has two graduate degrees and actively involved in a field that requires constant reading, recertification, and training, I am often sick of the whole achievement trip as well.
On the other hand, I have found that goal-oriented practice combined with good instruction and a few good conceptual frameworks is largely unstoppable barring extreme circumstances.
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