Are 'maps' counter-productive?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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Viscid
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Are 'maps' counter-productive?

Post by Viscid » Sun Mar 03, 2019 9:14 pm

I have a friend who is getting serious about his meditation practice, and he's really into the book 'The Mind Illuminated' by Upasaka Culadasa which is a guidebook that presents a list of all the milestones one should be hitting as a meditator.

My question is whether an explicit 'map' of these milestones can be counter-productive to meditative progress? My friend often says that he's in a particular stage and he's anticipating a future stage, and while the instruction he obtains from the book is helpful and encouraging, it seems to me that creating a narrative around one's practice, situating themselves at one point and anticipating a future point, can be a hindrance.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James

SarathW
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Re: Are 'maps' counter-productive?

Post by SarathW » Sun Mar 03, 2019 9:21 pm

I think the map is very important.
When you have a map you know where you are and know that you are not lost.
Many people overestimate their progress because they do not have a map.
However, it is important to understand that the map is not the terrain.
Another important thing is to have the right map. That is why I rely on Sutta Jhana.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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SDC
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Re: Are 'maps' counter-productive?

Post by SDC » Sun Mar 03, 2019 10:00 pm

Viscid wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 9:14 pm
My friend often says that he's in a particular stage and he's anticipating a future stage, and while the instruction he obtains from the book is helpful and encouraging, it seems to me that creating a narrative around one's practice, situating themselves at one point and anticipating a future point, can be a hindrance.
I definitely think it can be a hindrance. Seems to me the Buddha approached the Dhamma from a few different angles. Trying to map out just one of those routes as "the way" can limit someone who is perhaps more apt to be successful with another. Just my take.

Glad to see you around, Viscid. :smile:

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bodom
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Re: Are 'maps' counter-productive?

Post by bodom » Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:37 pm

The following is from Buddhadasa Bhikkhu who is talking about the stages of Anapanasati but his words are relevant for your question:as well:
Most of you are still at the beginning, working on step one, but that does not mean you need not pay attention to the instructions about step four. If you do not know what to do, then it will be very difficult for you to do it when the time comes. We are giving instruc­tions as clearly as we can, that you will understand the proper way to do this practice. Many people, however, do not like to follow in­structions. They prefer to mix everything up with their own ideas and opinions. They like to make a hodge-podge out of things they read and hear from different places. You can do what you wish. But if you want to make this practice as successful and easy for yourself as possible, then we recommend that you follow these instructions that explain the most proper, efficient, and successful way to do this technique.
https://www.dhammatalks.net/Books3/Bhik ... athing.htm

:anjali:
The heart of the path is so simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice.

Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing.

Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this-just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle.

- Ajahn Chah

Laurens
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Re: Are 'maps' counter-productive?

Post by Laurens » Mon Mar 04, 2019 9:42 am

They are useful if you hold them the right way....

If you are looking at the destination instead of where the next turn is, then you're not going to go the right way.
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

pyluyten
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Re: Are 'maps' counter-productive?

Post by pyluyten » Thu May 09, 2019 4:18 pm

Hi!,

today i came to dhammawheel to look for any TMI related stuff. Found this post. I was looking about TMI because, at the same times
- its "stages" have some practical fundation. These are not "mystical stages", it is intended for practice. I like this part.
- distinguishing stages still requires interpretation. It is impossible to be sure you are at the stage you think you are. And yeah i know by the way you are at several stages at the same time!

Furthermore
- yes, i fear maps are counter-productive! and here is why : i noticed , depending on tradition - lineage - school of meditation, people will live different experiences, *even if their practice is the same* . This is because, people will anticipate stuff (like , here, jhana, or knowledges ), then their brain will convince them they have reach "stage 5", "bhanga nupassana", "upacara samadhi", "the 4th stage of yoga", whatever.

=> Anyway good practice instructions are valid for any stage
=> A book cannot and should not anticipate what you will live. You should not try to guess. focus, be opened, do not expect a specific stage, nor even any specific feeling, emotion.

Not much did happen in my meditations, but i happend "by itself", i was not expecting this, or not this way, i was surprised. Now i read some suttas i think these are clever because they describe the path but do not loose too much time in describing specific perceptions like"lights" during meditation - may be frustrating for some, but actually it's just better like this. Suttas are clever than we, that's it!

budo
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Re: Are 'maps' counter-productive?

Post by budo » Thu May 09, 2019 4:25 pm

I do not like The Mind Illuminated and I read the full book when it came out, nor the guru who wrote it (who demands $300+/hr for consulting). It is Pragmatic Buddhism.

The problem with TMI is that a lot of people get stuck on "Dullness", and it doesn't give you the true antidote. The true antidote to dullness is not eating after 12, preferably one meal intermittent fasting, not masturbating, and not drinking coffee.

People get tired or restless because Desire and Aversion (carrot and whip) tire you, that's why you need to lower addiction to food and sex to regain your vitality and energy.

The TMI community is really terrible and ignores the Buddha Dhamma and the suttas, if you bring up suttas in their community you will get ridiculed and even banned. The new age Gurus speak a lot of non-sense which contradict that Buddha dhamma, even though they literally use the picture of the Buddha and claim to be Buddhists.

They think you can attain Jhanas and drink your starbucks coffee, watch porn, and play video games.

If you're going to follow a map, then you should follow the Buddha's map, as defined in the suttas. It is the best map.

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Pseudobabble
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Re: Are 'maps' counter-productive?

Post by Pseudobabble » Thu May 09, 2019 4:28 pm

Viscid wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 9:14 pm
I have a friend who is getting serious about his meditation practice, and he's really into the book 'The Mind Illuminated' by Upasaka Culadasa which is a guidebook that presents a list of all the milestones one should be hitting as a meditator.

My question is whether an explicit 'map' of these milestones can be counter-productive to meditative progress? My friend often says that he's in a particular stage and he's anticipating a future stage, and while the instruction he obtains from the book is helpful and encouraging, it seems to me that creating a narrative around one's practice, situating themselves at one point and anticipating a future point, can be a hindrance.
Maps are counterproductive if you get attached to the conception of 'progressing' and 'becoming better' - that is Wrong Effort, bhava. Maps can produce that effect (they certainly do in me if I don't watch out), but they are extremely helpful as tools to give a sense of what should be done here, now. For example, there is no point attempting jhana if one has not worked out the basics of attentional stability, because it just won't work. But without a map, you not only don't know where you are (and therefore what is possible from 'here'), but you also don't know which way to go.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

'Some fart freely, some try to hide and silence it. Which one is correct?' - Saegnapha

binocular
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Re: Are 'maps' counter-productive?

Post by binocular » Thu May 09, 2019 7:00 pm

Someone brings you a treasure map --- and you trust the map why exactly?

It's not clear that it is reliance on maps that is the problem; it seems more it's the trust that one has in whoever produced those maps that can be a massive problem. Especially if it's a kind of I'm-looking-for-a-savior(and-I've-waited-long-enough-so-this-one-must-be-the-right-one) kind of trust.


I wonder what kind of attitude the ancient and pre-modern explorers of the world, esp. those pre-Columbus had toward maps. I'm sure something useful could be learned from them about maps and relying on them. They had maps, but their precision was often questionable, compared to those we have nowadays. Nowadays, we tend to take geographical maps for granted, and it seems to me this kind of blind reliance has spread on to other types of maps.
But how does one relate to a map for which one knows that it might be wrong, yet it's also the only source of information that one has?
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Sam Vara
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Re: Are 'maps' counter-productive?

Post by Sam Vara » Thu May 09, 2019 7:35 pm

binocular wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 7:00 pm
Someone brings you a treasure map --- and you trust the map why exactly?
Personally, I would trust the map if I knew the person to be truthful and reliable, and if they carried on their person little bits of the treasure: gold rings, diamond bracelets, crowns and coins.

binocular
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Re: Are 'maps' counter-productive?

Post by binocular » Thu May 09, 2019 8:03 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 7:35 pm
Personally, I would trust the map if I knew the person to be truthful and reliable, and if they carried on their person little bits of the treasure: gold rings, diamond bracelets, crowns and coins.
Crowns? You'd trust a map given to you by Hydra?
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Sam Vara
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Re: Are 'maps' counter-productive?

Post by Sam Vara » Thu May 09, 2019 8:17 pm

binocular wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 8:03 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 7:35 pm
Personally, I would trust the map if I knew the person to be truthful and reliable, and if they carried on their person little bits of the treasure: gold rings, diamond bracelets, crowns and coins.
Crowns? You'd trust a map given to you by Hydra?
Sure!
Crown Him with many crowns,
The lamb upon the throne:
Hark! How the heav'nly anthem drowns
All Music but its own!
Awake, my soul, and sing
Of Him who died for thee,
And hail him as thy matchless King
Through all eternity.
Crown Him with many crowns
Crown Him with many crowns

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Re: Are 'maps' counter-productive?

Post by retrofuturist » Thu May 09, 2019 8:29 pm

Greetings,
SarathW wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 9:21 pm
Another important thing is to have the right map. That is why I rely on Sutta Jhana.
If one is going to have a "map" it may as well be one the Buddha gave them.

For the most part, I think there is no necessity for manuals, maps and the like, beyond what the Buddha taught. It is said that once a practitioner is a stream-winner they are "independent in the teaching" and can therefore navigate themselves the remainder of the way based on what they've learned thus far. Therefore it would appear the priority, in the Buddha's Dhamma at least, is stream-entry, not the wonderful world of meditative adventures.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"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)

ChooChoo
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Re: Are 'maps' counter-productive?

Post by ChooChoo » Thu May 09, 2019 10:44 pm

SarathW wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 9:21 pm
I think the map is very important.
When you have a map you know where you are and know that you are not lost.
Many people overestimate their progress because they do not have a map.
However, it is important to understand that the map is not the terrain.
Another important thing is to have the right map. That is why I rely on Sutta Jhana.
Is this what you are talking about?

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

SarathW
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Re: Are 'maps' counter-productive?

Post by SarathW » Thu May 09, 2019 11:27 pm

Yes.
I am talking about Sutta in general including Samadhi Sutta.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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