autistic, ACIM, stages of enlightenment

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grumpyfreyr
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autistic, ACIM, stages of enlightenment

Post by grumpyfreyr » Fri Jan 11, 2019 7:04 pm

I'm autistic, and nonbinary (my pronouns are they/them/their/theirs/themself). Neither of things are interesting topics for me.

I've never been a practising buddhist (well, I did a weekend meditation course once and I lacked discipline) and I'm not that interested in buddhism as a vehicle (is that the right word?). But I still refer to Buddhist descriptions of the stages of the path, which I find helpful and very clear. They help me understand what's happening.

My current 'vehicle' is A Course In Miracles which has a lot in common with Buddhism and certainly the same goal, but a different approach and very different language. But ACIM is new (70s). Because of that newness, and its self-study nature, there's not a firmly established and robustly wise culture/community around the teaching, and of course, there's a great deal that ACIM doesn't spell out. It doesn't discuss behaviour at all - instead focussing solely on mind-training. While this approach is perfectly suited to its aims, it leaves a lot of people who aren't ready for it in a place without important guidance. Buddhism is a bit more mmmm mature. So, that I suppose is why I am here.

There's also a question that so far I seem unwilling to let go. It goes something like this: What is the common stage of attainment (is that how to call it?) for Buddhists? Both among monastic communities, and among lay people? Nobody seems to talk about it. Like, people don't say "Hi, I'm Alison, 53, Sotapanna". Why do people not report their state? Is it considered rude? Am I just very naive and don't realise that there are people in the world who would lie about it and this would lead to problems?
I'm uncertain as to where would be a good place to ask such questions. Any help would be appreciated.

I understand the teaching, but not the learners.

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Re: autistic, ACIM, stages of enlightenment

Post by retrofuturist » Fri Jan 11, 2019 9:39 pm

Greetings,

Welcome to Dhamma Wheel.

:buddha2:

Metta,
Paul. :)

P.S. If no one gets to your questions, I'll have a go at answering them next time I'm at a PC.
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Sam Vara
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Re: autistic, ACIM, stages of enlightenment

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:17 pm

Hi grumpyfreyr, and welcome to Dhamma Wheel! :hello:
What is the common stage of attainment (is that how to call it?) for Buddhists? Both among monastic communities, and among lay people? Nobody seems to talk about it. Like, people don't say "Hi, I'm Alison, 53, Sotapanna". Why do people not report their state? Is it considered rude? Am I just very naive and don't realise that there are people in the world who would lie about it and this would lead to problems?
I think that part of the answer is the fact that there are no universally-accepted criteria for attainments, nor any way of verifying them. Alison might be able to prove her name and even her age, but not the fact that she was sotapanna. Debates about what constitutes jhana, or stream entry, or a sekha, etc., are frequent and apparently never-ending. Ultimately they are a matter of aligning current reality with translated accounts which are sometimes inconsistent and frequently contested. To this we must add the fact that claims of attainment are to some extent a matter of status (a sotapanna would be listened and deferred to), and so there is some incentive for people to over-estimate their attainments or tell downright lies.

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Re: autistic, ACIM, stages of enlightenment

Post by SarathW » Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:31 pm

:hello:
Hi.
What is the common stage of attainment
Buddhist are a modest bunch of people.
We don't say that I am in grade 1 or grade 2 etc.
We learn the alphabet in grade 1 and learn addition and subtractions in grade 2
Bushism is not about the knowledge but about wisdom.
We can't measure wisdom.
However Buddhist teaching has grades like Sotapann for acquiring knowledge.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: autistic, ACIM, stages of enlightenment

Post by grumpyfreyr » Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:59 pm

@retrofuturist
Thank you, really.

I just found this discussion viewtopic.php?t=29843 which looks quite related to my question. Is it okay for me to just jump in on that? Would that be appropriate? It's a year and a half old? I'm hesitant, as I often misread social situations. I'm still reading. Oh new word: Arya. Fascinating.

@Sam Vara
The stages seem extremely clear to me. And when someone is in a later stage than me, while I can't verify their exact stage, I can at least tell that they are in a stage I have not attained, though there may well be a limit to that sense. Though I see your point about not being able to verify in terms of external appearance. But, why does that matter? What use would that kind of proof be anyway?
I'm surprised that there are debates about what constitutes stream entry etc. Who are the debates between? between stream entrants or later? or between uh, what do you call people who are pre-stream entry? is there a name for that other than "ordinary person" - that seems like a silly name. Why don't they get a special name?
Personally I see no reason to debate anything.
retrofuturist wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 9:39 pm
To this we must add the fact that claims of attainment are to some extent a matter of status (a sotapanna would be listened and deferred to), and so there is some incentive for people to over-estimate their attainments or tell downright lies.
That incentive surely would not apply to people who have actually attained. And cannot one who has attained examine another and verify, and report on their findings to all those who have not and therefore cannot see? Am I being naive? Or is attainment so rare that there simply aren't reliably any people in any given buddhist group who are even sotapanna? And so it's really a case of the blind leading the blind and nobody can really see anything?

And if anyone who makes a claim is assumed to be lying, how can you know that any actually do attain?

Maybe it's a problem that cannot be solved. At least not for ordinary people. And it also suggests to me that the majority of buddhists are ordinary people. That sotapanna is not common at all. Which answers my other question.

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Re: autistic, ACIM, stages of enlightenment

Post by grumpyfreyr » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:09 pm

SarathW wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:31 pm
Buddhist are a modest bunch of people.
This helps me. Actually it really explains a lot. Modesty is part of the buddhist culture (not being buddhist, I don't have this). It is a social rule. One might say that the ego of a buddhist is a modest ego. Veeery interesting. Thank you, so much!

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Re: autistic, ACIM, stages of enlightenment

Post by DNS » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:40 pm

Welcome to DW!

Yes, feel free to jump into any of the conversations already posted or you can start a new one.

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Re: autistic, ACIM, stages of enlightenment

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:54 pm

grumpyfreyr wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:59 pm

The stages seem extremely clear to me. And when someone is in a later stage than me, while I can't verify their exact stage, I can at least tell that they are in a stage I have not attained, though there may well be a limit to that sense.
Yes, people are often clear about what the stages are, but they often differ from each other! For example, there are lengthy debates here on DW as to what jhana is. Some say they regularly attain jhanas. Others say that's impossible. How to decide? Similarly, there are people known about on the internet who claim to be arahants or sotapanna. They have both followers, and detractors who call them deluded or worse.
I'm surprised that there are debates about what constitutes stream entry etc. Who are the debates between?
Well, people here on DW, among others! The debates are about the exact characteristics and attributes of someone who is sotapanna, which is essentially a matter of textual analysis and interpretation; and (as per above) whether particular people have that attainment.
what do you call people who are pre-stream entry? is there a name for that other than "ordinary person" - that seems like a silly name. Why don't they get a special name?
Maybe puthujjana?
puthujjana:
One of the many-folk; a "worlding" or run-of-the-mill person. An ordinary person who has not yet realized any of the four stages of Awakening (see magga). Compare ariya-puggala.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/glossary.html#pq
retrofuturist wrote: ↑Fri Jan 11, 2019 9:39 pm
To this we must add the fact that claims of attainment are to some extent a matter of status (a sotapanna would be listened and deferred to), and so there is some incentive for people to over-estimate their attainments or tell downright lies.
That incentive surely would not apply to people who have actually attained. And cannot one who has attained examine another and verify, and report on their findings to all those who have not and therefore cannot see? Am I being naive? Or is attainment so rare that there simply aren't reliably any people in any given buddhist group who are even sotapanna? And so it's really a case of the blind leading the blind and nobody can really see anything?
Actually, this was my point, which a formatting error has attributed to retrofuturist, so I'll answer it anyway!

Yes, the incentive would only apply to those who have not attained. I'm thinking mainly about people who have made some progress, and then over-estimate how well they are doing, and apply the wrong "label" from among those found in the Pali Canon. Some people claim that those who are sotapanna are extremely rare in the world today, whereas others say it is attainable for most monastics who strive hard in this life. If pushed for my personal "best guess" on this, I'd say that I have met a very small number, all of whom were monastics. But I could be completely wrong!

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Re: autistic, ACIM, stages of enlightenment

Post by grumpyfreyr » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:58 pm

Aha! found something in that other thread:
_anicca_ wrote:
Sat Jul 29, 2017 10:59 pm
It's best if you do not talk about your attainments at all and, if you do, only speak with other noble ones.
Beautiful. Makes total sense. Now the question is, how can one find other noble ones to speak with if nobody reports?

Perhaps my error is assuming that most Buddhists are noble ones/arya - is this false? Are most buddhists puthujjanas/worldlings? (see I'm learning more words, I am very clever, with my words)

If most buddhists are worldlings, then keeping silent in public about not being a worldling makes sense.

All of this has really helped me to refine my question: how do aryas find each other?

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Re: autistic, ACIM, stages of enlightenment

Post by dharmacorps » Sat Jan 12, 2019 12:08 am

I think the reasons people don't talk about attainments are actually pretty good ones. In the "culture" of Buddhism, to whatever degree you can discuss that, it is considered in poor taste to speak about such things. Making a claim of this sort is quite hefty and bold, and also, of little value to fellow practitioners. Those who actually have attainments, it seems to me, show by their conduct and morality, not by their saying "I am a such and so". There are a few exceptions to that of course.

But then you also have the Canon and Vinaya with it, which give many examples of people with legitimate attainments being acknowledged because the Buddha, being a Tatagatha present in the world, could verify these claims or refute them. But he is gone now, and we have no such benefit anymore. It is no mistake, in my mind, he left behind the Vinaya that it is a major offense for a Bhikkhu to make a false claim to attainment which acts as a barrier to people going around making claims. That has trickled down in Theravada circles to lay people as well. I think its good. The benefit for making claims is marginal compared to the suspicion and tension it creates. :anjali:

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Re: autistic, ACIM, stages of enlightenment

Post by cookiemonster » Sat Jan 12, 2019 12:11 am

grumpyfreyr wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:58 pm
how do aryas find each other?
Through long personal association (AN 4:192) & knowledge - supernormal (AN 3:40) or ordinary.

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Re: autistic, ACIM, stages of enlightenment

Post by grumpyfreyr » Sat Jan 12, 2019 12:41 am

DNS wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:40 pm
Yes, feel free to jump into any of the conversations already posted or you can start a new one.
Thank you, I feel very welcomed.
Sam Vara wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:54 pm
Yes, people are often clear about what the stages are, but they often differ from each other!
How odd. Everyone I've spoken to who claims one of these stages seems to agree about them. Even across faiths.

There is only one truth. If there are two disagreeing about what is true, one or both must be wrong.

I'm afraid I don't fully understand what a jhana is, though from what I've read I've understood it to be a temporary experience in meditation, rather than an irreversible shift of perception.
Sam Vara wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:54 pm
Some people claim that those who are sotapanna are extremely rare in the world today, whereas others say it is attainable for most monastics who strive hard in this life. If pushed for my personal "best guess" on this, I'd say that I have met a very small number, all of whom were monastics. But I could be completely wrong!
Thank you, this is an extremely helpful answer. I know, you could be wrong, but it is an honest report of your experience - experience which I, no matter what my state, do not have. And thus I am very grateful.

I want to ask this question but don't know how to tactfully: are you a worldling? Presumably it is acceptable for worldlings to report that they are worldlings, since no status is associated with it?
dharmacorps wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 12:08 am
examples of people with legitimate attainments being acknowledged because the Buddha, being a Tatagatha present in the world, could verify these claims or refute them. But he is gone now, and we have no such benefit anymore.
My thought is to be like "uh, surely we can do something even without Buddha. Even a middling attainer could show the way to another, and that other could then confirm to the rest that this one knows the way, and then there is at least a way to see who is as far as that one, though of course, nothing will ever work for the skeptic." Are there no known enlightened teachers (or at least those that everyone knows to be maybe sakadagami) in Therevada Buddhism? Not having such teachers to rely on seems a ridiculous state of affairs.
cookiemonster wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 12:11 am
Through long personal association
Bummer dude. real bummer. (thanks)

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Re: autistic, ACIM, stages of enlightenment

Post by Sam Vara » Sat Jan 12, 2019 1:04 am

grumpyfreyr wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 12:41 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:54 pm
Yes, people are often clear about what the stages are, but they often differ from each other!
How odd. Everyone I've spoken to who claims one of these stages seems to agree about them. Even across faiths.

There is only one truth. If there are two disagreeing about what is true, one or both must be wrong.
Well, here's a very old thread on the sotapanna issue to give you a flavour.

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=4857

(It's so old, it's probably not worth responding to any of the posts!)
I want to ask this question but don't know how to tactfully: are you a worldling? Presumably it is acceptable for worldlings to report that they are worldlings, since no status is associated with it?
I'm not sure whether it is acceptable or not. It might be advisable to avoid all types of self-identification, in that it tends to strengthen the self-view and is thus a hindrance to progress. But yes, as far as I understand the different criteria (and I'm far from being an expert on this aspect of the suttas) then I guess I am a "worldling"!

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Re: autistic, ACIM, stages of enlightenment

Post by paul » Sat Jan 12, 2019 9:51 am

There is a measure called “protecting the sign”, which means conserving a favourable mental state that has arisen as a result of concentration, and involves avoiding unnecessary talk and interactions, as they have a detrimental effect. Secondly, there are ten fetters binding beings to samsara, and they are progressively severed with each path-knowledge. The third last is conceit, and refers to comparisons about attainments, so that is avoided.

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Re: autistic, ACIM, stages of enlightenment

Post by grumpyfreyr » Sat Jan 12, 2019 9:55 am

Thanks for linking to that thread. Looks interesting. Also long hahaha
Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 1:04 am
It might be advisable to avoid all types of self-identification
I think there's a great confusion about this. They are not identities. They are just descriptions of experiences, that people have gotten very excited about. What's that zen saying? before, [being an arya] is like gold dust. after, it's like horse manure. These experience descriptions are expressed as identities "I am [state]" presumably because the arya can talk about it like that without it inflating their ego. Rather it does the opposite for them. Anyone saying they are a sotapanna is admitting deep personal failure, and it only gets worse as you go on (until full attainment, presumably) - though that's not how outsiders may view it. However, all worldlings would be confused by this and view them as self-identities to be obtained, since their whole existence revolves around self-identity (yes, I may be oversimplifying).
Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 1:04 am
as far as I understand the different criteria (and I'm far from being an expert on this aspect of the suttas) then I guess I am a "worldling"!
Thank you for answering this. This really helps me. You have no idea how much.

Now there's a new question in my mind:
"How can an arya who has never been a worldling in this lifetime (and therefore doesn't have personal experience to draw from) learn to understand worldlings (in order to develop more compassion) while keeping their own experience or 'status' a secret from those they want to understand?"

Really, you've all been so helpful. I'm very grateful.

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