The costs and benefits of pseudo Dhamma

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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phil
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The costs and benefits of pseudo Dhamma

Post by phil » Sun Nov 15, 2015 11:52 pm

Hi all

Reading a book by a popular and respected insight meditation teacher I find this:

"When we establish a certain momentum of of energy mindfulness and concentration we begin to experience the smooth and rapid flow of all appearances arising and passing by themselves. The more we settle into this process of who we are this process of the mind and body, the greater is our appreciation for the mystery of it all. There is an awesome grace in this true rhythm of life. Here is an incredible song of the elements singing themselves."

I'm sure if I dared to listen to the weekend retreat teachers at the popular meditation retreat center websites there would be even more blatant beautifying of life for the purpose of feeling good through Dhamma.

But maybe it's not such a bad thing. If people (especially people like me who have strong inclinations towards transgressive kilesas that can take over one's life) can develop more wholesome patterns of behavior through Dhamma even if it is a corrupted pseudo-Dhamma form maybe there can be better conditions for listening to something closer to the truth. On the other hand maybe they lose that opportunity.
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)

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tiltbillings
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Re: The costs and benefits of pseudo Dhamma

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Nov 16, 2015 12:00 am

phil wrote:Hi all

Reading a book by a popular and respected insight meditation teacher I find this:

"When we establish a certain momentum of of energy mindfulness and concentration we begin to experience the smooth and rapid flow of all appearances arising and passing by themselves. The more we settle into this process of who we are this process of the mind and body, the greater is our appreciation for the mystery of it all. There is an awesome grace in this true rhythm of life. Here is an incredible song of the elements singing themselves."

I'm sure if I dared to listen to the weekend retreat teachers at the popular meditation retreat center websites there would be even more blatant beautifying of life for the purpose of feeling good through Dhamma.

But maybe it's not such a bad thing. If people (especially people like me who have strong inclinations towards transgressive kilesas that can take over one's life) can develop more wholesome patterns of behavior through Dhamma even if it is a corrupted pseudo-Dhamma form maybe there can be better conditions for listening to something closer to the truth. On the other hand maybe they lose that opportunity.
You think Joseph Goldstein is just making up this stuff? The Dhamma has no beauty, no joy, in its practice and experience?
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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m0rl0ck
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Re: The costs and benefits of pseudo Dhamma

Post by m0rl0ck » Mon Nov 16, 2015 12:03 am

Sounds like the real thing to me.
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

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phil
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Re: The costs and benefits of pseudo Dhamma

Post by phil » Mon Nov 16, 2015 12:11 am

m0rl0ck wrote:Sounds like the real thing to me.
The elements singing themselves?

Leaving this particular quote aside ( Goldstein is very good) and assuming we all have heard Dhamma teachings that are about seeking beauty in life ( rather in understanding life and moving towards liberation from samsara ) maybe we could discuss the costs and benefits of an approach to Dhamma that is more about seeking to have pleasant mind states than it is about developing understanding of all mind states.

I sure use Dhamma as a panacea, no denying it. And I'm not sure it's such a bad thing.
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)

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m0rl0ck
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Re: The costs and benefits of pseudo Dhamma

Post by m0rl0ck » Mon Nov 16, 2015 12:13 am

I think you may have to give up pleasant and unpleasant to see the real beauty :)
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

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tiltbillings
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Re: The costs and benefits of pseudo Dhamma

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Nov 16, 2015 12:24 am

phil wrote:
m0rl0ck wrote:Sounds like the real thing to me.
The elements singing themselves?
Certainly a poetic way expressing what he has experienced. There is nothing "pseudo" about this. Again, do you expect all of one's Dhamma experiences and insights to be grim, dour, without any sense of of wonder, beauty and awe?
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Goofaholix
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Re: The costs and benefits of pseudo Dhamma

Post by Goofaholix » Mon Nov 16, 2015 12:26 am

While the language is flowery the point of the passage you quoted is simply saying that seeing the changing processes clearly and the more we can let go and settle into the way things are the more we'll appreciate aka the less dukkha.

What's pseudo Dhamma about that?
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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phil
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Re: The costs and benefits of pseudo Dhamma

Post by phil » Mon Nov 16, 2015 12:26 am

m0rl0ck wrote:I think you may have to give up pleasant and unpleasant to see the real beauty :)
But the beauty is in the understanding, isn't it? The unworldly(?) mental pleasure, vs. pleasure through the sense doors. (he who delights in the senses delights in suffering or words to that effect from the Buddha)

And to Tilt's comment, isn't the beauty in the understanding? I'm not proposing a dour attitude but there's a kind of sobriety in the midst of the things we used to revel in, isn't there?
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)

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phil
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Re: The costs and benefits of pseudo Dhamma

Post by phil » Mon Nov 16, 2015 12:35 am

We all know the great words from Ajahn Chah about the mind like a pond where many animals come to drink, watching them with wonder etc. he expressed so nicely the joy and beauty of watching mind states instead of being caught in them, he wouldn't say the same thing about sitting at an actual pond and watching animals would he? But I'm sure some pop teachers would. And again as you can see from the OP my purpose wasn't to condemn that sort of thing, just speculate on the potential cost of losing sight of the deeper Dhamma. If people are happier and less harmful to themselves and others, that is a good thing.

Gotta run..thanks for the feedback,
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)

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Re: The costs and benefits of pseudo Dhamma

Post by seeker242 » Mon Nov 16, 2015 12:36 am

"The knowledge and vision of things as they really are, monks, also has a supporting condition, I say, it does not lack a supporting condition. And what is the supporting condition for the knowledge and vision of things as they really are? 'Concentration' should be the reply.

"Concentration, monks, also has a supporting condition, I say, it does not lack a supporting condition. And what is the supporting condition for concentration? 'Happiness' should be the reply.

"Happiness, monks, also has a supporting condition, I say, it does not lack a supporting condition. And what is the supporting condition for happiness? 'Tranquillity' should be the reply.

"Tranquillity, monks, also has a supporting condition, I say, it does not lack a supporting condition. And what is the supporting condition for tranquillity? 'Rapture' should be the reply.

"Rapture, monks, also has a supporting condition, I say, it does not lack a supporting condition. And what is the supporting condition for rapture? 'Joy' should be the reply.
I don't know. I don't think good feelings are "pseudo Dhamma" as most of the above are "good feelings" :)

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Re: The costs and benefits of pseudo Dhamma

Post by phil » Mon Nov 16, 2015 1:24 am

seeker242 wrote:
"The knowledge and vision of things as they really are, monks, also has a supporting condition, I say, it does not lack a supporting condition. And what is the supporting condition for the knowledge and vision of things as they really are? 'Concentration' should be the reply.

"Concentration, monks, also has a supporting condition, I say, it does not lack a supporting condition. And what is the supporting condition for concentration? 'Happiness' should be the reply.

"Happiness, monks, also has a supporting condition, I say, it does not lack a supporting condition. And what is the supporting condition for happiness? 'Tranquillity' should be the reply.

"Tranquillity, monks, also has a supporting condition, I say, it does not lack a supporting condition. And what is the supporting condition for tranquillity? 'Rapture' should be the reply.

"Rapture, monks, also has a supporting condition, I say, it does not lack a supporting condition. And what is the supporting condition for rapture? 'Joy' should be the reply.
I don't know. I don't think good feelings are "pseudo Dhamma" as most of the above are "good feelings" :)
Hi, did you read my earlier post about unworldly ( forget the Pali) vs worldly pleasure? You are quoting the former above and they are undisputed, of course.

As for the happiness of the householder who enjoys sensory pleasures, the highest ( if I recall correctly, correct me if I'm wrong) is blamelessness.

Here is another quote from Goldstein that better gets at what I am so far unsuccessfully trying to communicate:

"our progress in meditation does not depend on the measure of pleasure or pain in our experience. Rather the quality of our practice has to do with how open we are to whatever is there."

A bit earlier: "if we have a painful sitting meditation is not going "right" but if the feelings are pleasant light soft floating tingling then we are successful meditators. All of us find such conditioning very hard to drop, the source of our error is simple but tenacious: we like feeling good and we did not like it when it hurts."

I think a lot of people who are getting into Dhamma use it as a way to feel better about life and again I think that's not bad but do teachers (like Goldstein does above) make sure to point out that there is a kind of trap involved there?
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)

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tiltbillings
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Re: The costs and benefits of pseudo Dhamma

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Nov 16, 2015 2:45 am

phil wrote:We all know the great words from Ajahn Chah about the mind like a pond where many animals come to drink, watching them with wonder etc. he expressed so nicely the joy and beauty of watching mind states instead of being caught in them, he wouldn't say the same thing about sitting at an actual pond and watching animals would he? But I'm sure some pop teachers would. And again as you can see from the OP my purpose wasn't to condemn that sort of thing, just speculate on the potential cost of losing sight of the deeper Dhamma. If people are happier and less harmful to themselves and others, that is a good thing.

Gotta run..thanks for the feedback,
And you think Joseph is saying anything different from Ajahn Chah? I rather doubt that Joseph fits into the category of "pop teacher."
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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tiltbillings
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Re: The costs and benefits of pseudo Dhamma

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Nov 16, 2015 2:50 am

phil wrote:
Here is another quote from Goldstein that better gets at what I am so far unsuccessfully trying to communicate:

"our progress in meditation does not depend on the measure of pleasure or pain in our experience. Rather the quality of our practice has to do with how open we are to whatever is there."

A bit earlier: "if we have a painful sitting meditation is not going "right" but if the feelings are pleasant light soft floating tingling then we are successful meditators. All of us find such conditioning very hard to drop, the source of our error is simple but tenacious: we like feeling good and we did not like it when it hurts."

I think a lot of people who are getting into Dhamma use it as a way to feel better about life and again I think that's not bad but do teachers (like Goldstein does above) make sure to point out that there is a kind of trap involved there?
Ooookay, but I find your use of Joseph's quote in the OP and your subsequent remarks confusing.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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tiltbillings
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Re: The costs and benefits of pseudo Dhamma

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Nov 16, 2015 2:52 am

phil wrote:
And to Tilt's comment, isn't the beauty in the understanding? I'm not proposing a dour attitude but there's a kind of sobriety in the midst of the things we used to revel in, isn't there?
And the understanding can be quite beautiful and joyous.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: The costs and benefits of pseudo Dhamma

Post by Goofaholix » Mon Nov 16, 2015 3:00 am

tiltbillings wrote:And the understanding can be quite beautiful and joyous.
Yes, we don't seek understanding in order to get beauty and joyousness, we seek understanding and that understanding sometimes just happens to be accompanied by a sense of beauty and joyousness. I think the quote in the OP clearly says the latter but my guess is that phil may have read it as the former, is that your point phil?
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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