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Dhammika Veteran


Last Active
  • Re: Ken Wilber on egolessness

    Here is a fuller portrait of Wilber from a 2012 article, by someone who was deeply influenced by his thinking -- and still is -- and then also saw his clay feet:

    Core of the essay:

    "Wilber failed in the exact ways his own model predicted. His model champions the idea of transcending the ego, not negating it. It calls for crowdsourced intellectual rigor and peer review. It goes on, at length, about the shadow self and how our unconscious desires sabotage our greater goals. It covers our primal and biological nature and how our lower impulses must be accepted and kept in check.

    Yet he would succumb to the same faults he warned us about.

    David Foster Wallace states in his speech “This Is Water” that we all choose something to worship, whether we realize it or not. Wilber would say what we choose to worship is dependent on the stage or level of consciousness we’ve developed to. And he would be right.

    But what he seems to have missed is that worshipping consciousness development itself, Wilber’s so-called “second-tier” thinking, leads to the same disastrous repercussions Wallace warned of: vanity, power, guilt, obsession.

    No one is immune.

    As humans, we have a tendency to cling to ideologies. Any positive set of beliefs can quickly turn malevolent once treated as ideology and not an honest intellectual or experiential pursuit of greater truth. Ideology does in entire economic systems and countries, causes religions to massacre thousands, turns human rights movements into authoritarian sects and makes fools out of humanity’s most brilliant minds. Einstein famously wasted the second half of his career trying to calculate a cosmological constant that didn’t exist because “God doesn’t play dice.”

    Wilber’s brilliance will always be a part of me. But what he really taught me is this: There is no ideology. There is no guru. There is only us, and this, and the silence."

  • Re: 4NT Revisited.

    And when things seem confounding and unclear, I remember something Bhante Gunaratana wrote somewhere, to the effect that: Even delusion is impermanent.

  • Re: One cap fits all?

    Thanks for all you do to make this a fine forum @federica!

  • Re: Book of Eights: Chapter 1

    In one of his many talks, Thanissaro Bhikkhu speaks of pleasure in a way not often associated with meditation and Buddhism. This is pertinent to this discussion and has been helpful to me, in observing how my addictions -- and they have been that -- to the pursuit of pleasure to the point of intoxication and pure heedlessness leads one right down the rabbit hole of suffering. (A line from a Talking Heads song comes to mind: "How did I get here?!") That sort of pleasure-seeking is definitely dukkha-generating. But the contrarian way that Thanissaro Bhikkhu puts it is that there is pleasure in the blameless work of developing concentration. And the desire for harmlessness in our choices and a relief from suffering for ourselves and in our interactions with others is a positive desire. I think his radical phrase that the Buddha was "a connoisseur of pleasure" is not just food for thought but an entire buffet:

    "So the Buddha is not teaching you to be a stoic with a stiff upper lip, denying yourself any pleasure or happiness. He himself was actually a connoisseur of pleasure. He wanted only the highest happiness. And he found it. As for us, he wants us to want only the highest happiness, and to practice so we can find it, too. He didn’t say that pleasure is bad or that numbness is good, but he did say that different levels of pleasure have different effects on the mind. You want to look at the pleasure you find in different aspects of your life to see which kinds of pleasure are harmful and intoxicating, and which ones help to clear the mind. The ones that clear the mind include not only the pleasure of concentration, but also the pleasure of generosity and the pleasure of observing the precepts. The Buddha talks about how the practice of generosity and the precepts gives rise to a sense of joy, a sense of wellbeing, that then becomes a basis for concentration. From there, you develop the more refined levels of pleasure that come with concentration. As the mind grows clearer and clearer, you get to the ultimate pleasure, one totally free from disturbance, because it lies outside of space and time..."


  • Re: "Book of Eights" or Atthakavagga

    Here is a thoughtful review of the book, BTW, by one of the secular Buddhist folk. Still waiting on my copy: