Mailbag: Stream Entry, Arahant Claimants, and Ketamine

Pell wrote:

Which method will help one reach stream entry with better efficacy? I’ve tried shikantaza and felt like I was sitting in dullness the whole time allowing my mind to do whatever it wants. It was just like lounging on the couch wide awake which I’ve done numerous times before calling it shikantaza. I currently use TMI which is a directed effort system and it feels good. This kind of meditation seems reserved for stages 7+ in that system. I believe without concentration/samadhi chops, zazen is like groping around in the dark for awakening. What are your thoughts? Thanks for an awesome blog too! Just found it and it’s really fun.

> Which method will help one reach stream entry with better efficacy?

The problem with attachment to the Buddhist system is that the Buddhist system does not produce very many enlightened people. Given that, as a religion, its supposed goal is to bring liberation to all beings, and it has been around for thousands of years, we should expect to see thousands or millions of enlightened individuals, yet actually we see hardly any.

Do you know anyone who genuinely exhibits the qualities of Fourth Path Arahant? Culadasa claimed this attainment, yet his recent shenanigans have shown us that he is, at most, a Stream Enterer since, if he was Second Path or beyond, he would have overcome the “fetter” of sensual desire. Another Fourth Path claimant, Daniel Ingram, took this opportunity to heavily imply Culadasa is a psychopath, probably in retribution for the spat they had earlier this year (which, presumably, boiled down to a dick-measuring contest over who can write the longest and most incomprehensible book). Thus, Ingram is a Stream Enterer at most, as he has not overcome the “fetter” of ill-will. (List of paths/fetters: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_stages_of_enlightenment)

I have nothing against those guys, by the way. In fact, I like them a lot. They’re not bad by my standards. They’re bad by their own standards. And if you go around calling yourself some exotic title from a religion that makes certain demands of that title, don’t be surprised when that comes back to bite you on the ass. As I said at the time, if Culadasa had called himself a tantric, not a Buddhist, he’d have been just fine. Then again, he probably wouldn’t have sold as many books.

The Path system is there to provide unfeasible goals in order to keep you attached to Buddhism forever. Did you ever wonder why someone who says they’re a Stream Enterer is still meditating twenty years later, trying to get to Second, Third or Fourth Path? There needs to be a point where you say “Done”, otherwise you’re just running out the clock in a temple somewhere. Those who attain “Stream Entry” are supposedly guaranteed liberation within seven lifetimes(!) Is that a bet you want to take?

That said, I do think Stream Entry is a valid concept. In fact, it is the only one that matters, because everything after that point is the fall down the mountainside towards liberation, whether you want it or not.

I will tell you about the moment I attained “Stream Entry”, and it had nothing to do with Buddhism. This was in 2009 and I’d been meditating for a few months, using some very basic breath mindfulness plus some noting of thoughts and emotions, and my sessions were not very long (maybe 15 minutes, twice a day). Far more importantly however, I had started taking MDMA every week during nights out. MDMA was an immediate revelation to me. If you have ever played the game Doom, you will know of the moment you pick up the “light amplification visor”: what was dark and terrifying before is now completely illuminated and easily navigable. It’s hard to have anxiety when you can see what’s coming a mile away. For me, on MDMA, this was literal rather than figurative: people in the bar had time-tunnels coming out of them, like on Donnie Darko, showing me their past and future actions. This was the only time I’ve ever seen something like that, and was my original Arising & Passing Away Event™. This is why I consider MDMA to be a partial psychedelic which is fully capable of triggering the A&P.

Personality-wise, I was a completely different animal. On MDMA, I was an extravert, and was now getting laid a lot – and easily. A topic for another post is how meditation doesn’t really change any core personality traits, but drugs can – in almost an instant. My personality while off the drug was just my old introverted self. So the question was, which person am I? The answer was, both and therefore neither – i.e. No-Self. If you can become a completely different person and live a completely different reality by ingesting a few milligrams of a chemical, you are no one. You are Arya Stark with a pouchful of dead-guy faces. Different drug, different face. Except there’s no one wearing the faces, just awareness itself. And your regular face is just your homegrown drugs, your neurotransmitters. This was the No-Self insight coming through, but it took me a really long time to fully understand it.

Over the next year I meditated pretty regularly, and for longer sessions. I had attained what Culadasa would call the “pleasure jhanas” and had a natural inclination towards kasina objects. I had visions regularly – of golden Buddhas, pink pyramids with eyes in them, and several premonitions of the future. A year after the above events, I was still popping MDMA, though I had taken several long breaks in between to recover. On this particular night I’d taken some MDMA, gone to a nightclub, then headed round to a girl’s house who I’d been seeing. We were getting pretty serious and I was annoyed that she still hadn’t broken up with her boyfriend back home in her own country, so we had an argument about that and I stormed off home.

At the house, my brother was still up, partying with his girlfriend. I told him the story and he offered me some ketamine to unwind. I’d never had it before, but every drug I’d taken since I said “Yes” to MDMA a year ago had been awesome, and essentially the mirror opposite of whatever the societal propaganda had to say about it. I said “Yes” and he prepared a line for me to snort, of what I later found out was an heroic dose. He took a line as well, and we talked a little while. He then lay down on the bed and ushered for me to do the same. “Let’s take off”, he said. As soon as my head hit the pillow, I was gone: flying through the universe at the speed of light, with his consciousness totally palpable beside my own on our voyage through the stars. Coming out of the K-hole an unspecified amount of time later, I was totally blown away by what I had experienced. I was more blown away however by my brother’s descriptions of stars, planets and other cosmic formations we had seen, indicating what I consider to be my first genuinely telepathic event.

We then talked a bit about what we’d been doing earlier that day. Amusingly, we’d got up early that morning to go and get tested for STDs. It seemed so long ago that it could have been last month, or last year. Then I considered all the other things I’d done that day – a trip round town, buying some new shoes, then out for dinner somewhere, then back to the house for a little party, then out to the club, then over to my girlfriend’s, then back here. I had extremely clear recollections of all these events, but what was missing was a narrative structure in which to place them. It was not clear “who” these things had happened to. There was no story linking them together. Each memory seemed to last an eternity and, together, they lasted a lifetime. However, it was clear that these things had happened, and had ended. Something had experienced them. I thought back to the visions of the cosmos I’d just witnessed. Then I looked at where I was now. Suddenly, something clicked and I realized that the present moment, past memories, future prediction, imagination, regular dreams, lucid dreams, visions in meditation, and visions while tripping were all made of the same “stuff”. And the only thing they had in common was a ghostly intelligence or sense of awareness somehow countenancing it all. This was my Stream Entry.

After this, my life went into chaotic decline – slowly at first, then quickly. I lost money, jobs, friends, relationships, relatives, hope, my sense of purpose, and my future. All I learned each time is, those things are not me. Eventually, the message was received. This is what real enlightenment looks like. It’s never pretty. And it’s also why I think Culadasa’s latest fuck-up is the start of his authentic enlightenment, rather than the dress-up he’s been playing so far.

> I’ve tried shikantaza and felt like I was sitting in dullness the whole time allowing my mind to do whatever it wants.

That is 100% perfect shikantaza. Shikantaza doesn’t care about dullness. If you have dullness, it is because you need dullness at this time.

Dullness is only a problem in systems where you are trying to create dazzling states at all times, e.g. Theravada.

> It was just like lounging on the couch wide awake which I’ve done numerous times before calling it shikantaza.

Except you weren’t sitting up straight looking at a blank wall, so it’s not shikantaza. Or, if you want to call it zazen, you weren’t lying there with the intention to meditate and with full awareness of your faculties, so it’s not zazen.

You aren’t the first person to try to bullshit me that his lounging around the house in his tracksuit bottoms was somehow “Do Nothing” meditation, and you won’t be the last.

> I currently use TMI which is a directed effort system and it feels good. This kind of meditation seems reserved for stages 7+ in that system.

The Mind Illuminated is a Theravadin system and is therefore obsessed with the construction of and manipulation of mental objects. It feels good because it’s a left-brain dopamine hit. However, all objects inherently carry with them the Three Characteristics: impermanence (aniccā), non-self (anattā), and inability to satisfy (dukkha). If an object cannot satisfy, it should be dropped like a hot coal! Silence is preferable to impermanent, unsatisfying mental states.

Zen on the other hand does not emphasize the use of mental objects, but rather uses koans as a form of self-inquiry as to the nature of the awareness behind mental objects. “Just sitting” is to sit in this awareness, whatever its contents. The reason jhanas are not emphasized in Zen is that they are more baggage to be dropped.

Having practised both extensively, I can say officially that Zen is superior to Theravada in every practical way.

> I believe without concentration/samadhi chops, zazen is like groping around in the dark for awakening.

Stop “believing” things! Just try them out and keep what works. If you like TMI’s stuff and it’s working for you, keep it until it stops working for you. Really, all you have is trial and error. And I read your other message on Reddit, and three weeks isn’t really long enough to assess anything in this game. Or, we have different criteria for what “works”, which is normal between beginner level (who wants “showy” effects) and advanced level (who knows exactly what he wants and is tired of anything that does not bring permanent inner peace).

My view, having tried most meditation types out there for more than 10 years, is that all meditation systems are a marketing campaign for just sitting. If you’re left-brained and you like “things” and you like to build systems and you don’t see the point in anything unless you have direct control over it, you’ll like Theravada. If you’re artsy and you like trinkets and little books of sayings, then you have Zen. If you’re a bit mental and you like the look of what they were up to underneath the Temple of Doom, Vajrayana’s for you. Whatever you start off with, you’re going to end up just sitting still doing nothing if you want to get enlightened. All the rest is just wrapping.

> What are your thoughts? Thanks for an awesome blog too! Just found it and it’s really fun.

I know, right?

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16 Responses

  1. Psychedelus says:

    Back when I dabbled with psychedelics more often, I used to sit still and play with the focus of my eyes to try and see the “space between things”. This has quite intense effects whilst under the effects of psychedelics, as your brain effectively snaps into a new visual pattern and your surroundings appear to change.

    Until recently, I had been practicing TMI. I realised I was becoming too obsessed with progress which was counter-intuitively or not, getting in the way of my progress. So, I read your last post on Shikantaza and I’ve started effectively doing that.

    With my eyes open, I notice my awareness keeps playing with the focus of my eyes like I used to do back on psychedelics. I should note that I currently meditate in a fairly boring room, but my chair is facing an old sofa with patterns on it which lends itself to some type of visual distraction.

    Do you think I should be trying to prevent this type of action?
    So far, I’ve just been trying to notice the attempt to control, and drop it when it happens. (Which in a recursive way could be argued is also an attempt at control.)

    • Illuminatus says:

      >Back when I dabbled with psychedelics more often, I used to sit still and play with the focus of my eyes to try and see the “space between things”. This has quite intense effects whilst under the effects of psychedelics, as your brain effectively snaps into a new visual pattern and your surroundings appear to change.

      Looking at the space between things is the visual equivalent of hearing silence, or the space between sounds. It is extremely powerful!

      You can read about Rurik’s trial of the silence meditation here: https://www.personalpowermeditation.com/forum2/nondirective-meditation-self-inquiry/ungrounded-feeling/msg2524/#msg2524

      The technique is the first one listed under “3. Focus on Silence” here: https://www.personalpowermeditation.com/meditation-pro-tips-vol-1/

      He almost attained jhana on his first run and, in my opinion, achieved in one sitting what would normally be 6 months’ work “watching the breath”.

      Working with NON-OBJECTS such as silence, or the nothingness around and within visual objects, is far more powerful than working with “objects” because non-objects are close to what you are, i.e. No-Self; no-thing. Sadhguru talks about Shiva being “that which is not”. Engaging with this nothingness lets the false self (mental objects and attachments to those objects) dissipate back into nothingness. Once learned, it is a complete path to simply sit and let one’s self dissolve back into No-Self.

      >Until recently, I had been practicing TMI. I realised I was becoming too obsessed with progress which was counter-intuitively or not, getting in the way of my progress. So, I read your last post on Shikantaza and I’ve started effectively doing that.

      >With my eyes open, I notice my awareness keeps playing with the focus of my eyes like I used to do back on psychedelics. I should note that I currently meditate in a fairly boring room, but my chair is facing an old sofa with patterns on it which lends itself to some type of visual distraction.

      >Do you think I should be trying to prevent this type of action?

      Eyes flickering, focusing, defocusing, refocusing, blinking and moving around “as if of their own accord” is completely normal, and it is 100% correct shikantaza to allow ALL of that. In fact, it is part of letting go of control, that you allow bodily functions to do their own thing (rather than “affixing” them with the intellect).

      I would cover up the interesting patterns on the sofa, though, using a white sheet.

      >So far, I’ve just been trying to notice the attempt to control, and drop it when it happens. (Which in a recursive way could be argued is also an attempt at control.)

      It starts off that way, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Within a few sessions, conscious relinquishing of control becomes an automatic process, meaning the mind starts to do it as its preferred way of being. Just noticing the tendency to control is enough for the mind to automatically let it go. It feels REALLY nice when this happens, and when it starts to happen “by itself” it is quite a revelation.

      The mind prefers non-control eventually because it learns that that feels freer than control. This is also why shikantaza is not always immediately appealing to people, especially those with strong tendencies to control, and especially if they have been practising very directive meditations where this tendency has been trained. It takes a few weeks for the “giving up control” element to really start showing itself as a benefit and as the true way forward. To accelerate this process, use the “1. Letting Go of Control” Pro-Tip for a dedicated 2-3 sessions. This is the quickest way to get that release of control installed as a permanent feature. Tips 1, 2 and 3 in that article are real power-ups which can accelerate meditation progress in ways you would never expect: https://www.personalpowermeditation.com/meditation-pro-tips-vol-1/

  2. Man says:

    Illuminatus, I really like your stuff, but I don’t get why you’re so sure of certain things. There is a common tendency for people on first or second path to basically think they know stuff about third and fourth path, whether people can even attain fourth path etc.

    Stream entry is never pretty? There are plenty of anecdotes to the contrary, and Buddhism itself disagrees with that.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong but speaking in absolutes just because it’s what your experience was is not attractive.

    I also remember you saying that MCTB kicked you into a Dark Night. Not everyone experiences a Dark Night. I believe it’s a placebo occurrence anyway. You got primed up by Ingram, and there you go you get your bad first path experience.

    I’ve found that reading positive material is way more useful and actually helps shape my reality. You should know how much beliefs influence reality so if you think you’re going to have a bad time, you’re going to have a bad time. If you think fourth path is hard to get, you can fill in the blank.

    • Illuminatus says:

      Do you know of anyone who has attained Fourth Path?
      And therefore lives without the “ten fetters” listed here? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_stages_of_enlightenment#The_four_stages_of_attainment

    • Illuminatus says:

      > I’ve found that reading positive material is way more useful and actually helps shape my reality. You should know how much beliefs influence reality so if you think you’re going to have a bad time, you’re going to have a bad time. If you think fourth path is hard to get, you can fill in the blank.

      This sentence alone is the reason you don’t know what you’re talking about.

      You are describing shaping a dream, without any serious consideration paid to the idea that it IS a dream, and what that means for “you” or for the “dreamer”.
      You therefore undermine what awakening is, relegating it to something you just play around with in the dream state. “Hey, I think it’s easy, so it’s easy!”
      “Just think positively, maaaaan! Good vibes, bro!”

      We can safely file you away under “Hasn’t got a clue”.

      • Illuminatus says:

        Or, to put it another way, it’s like you found out one day that your mind was like a television set, and that everything you see through your eyes is somehow being piped in from an external source. Instead of becoming curious about WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE, instead you just said, “Oh well, I’ll just change the channel! I’m sure there’s something good on.”

      • Saturnus says:

        If an experience is a dream, why can’t one enjoy it instead of trying to put an end to it? When I am watching a movie or playing a video game I don’t bash it or degrade my experience of it because “it’s just an illusion”

        • James says:

          This is about finding the ultimate truth, good bad or ugly and not about feeling good although often times that is a by product on the bath.

    • Niels says:

      I couldn’t agree more with this post. Our belief systems effectively shape our reality, for better or worse.

    • Illuminatus says:

      @Man: I will have another go at answering this now I have calmed down and detached a little.

      >Illuminatus, I really like your stuff, but I don’t get why you’re so sure of certain things.

      The major theme in Stream Entry is that the truth of No-Self has been seen. This is like a bomb that blows up all the delusion you previously took as the truth of your existence (you don’t exist). What is left is a bunch of illusions sustained only by your emotional attachment to them.

      The three fetters that get blown up by Stream Entry are:

      1. Self-view. This is the one that does the damage — seeing the No-Self.

      2. Clinging to rites and rituals. This nukes 99% of Buddhism (and any other religion based on rites and rituals, i.e. all of them). Stream Entry is about going it alone and see through this stuff as more attachments to be shed.

      3. Sceptical doubt. Stream Entry installs an awareness (remaining largely unconscious at first then moving progressively into conscious awareness) that the Self is a dream or illusion and it CAN be seen through and it CAN be dismantled. This gives a kind of “bullshit detector” regarding the efficacy of various methods, since the only criteria for if they work or not becomes whether they acknowledge and work towards NO-SELF.

      So, that is why I’m so sure of myself. It is an inherent understanding of the situation, and how to proceed, and this is what Stream Entry is supposed to deliver for it to be actual Stream Entry. It is ALL about relinquishing attachments in order to become free. If a tech achieves this, it is a good tech. I know the destination, so I can say whether X tech or worldview delivers that.

      >There is a common tendency for people on first or second path to basically think they know stuff about third and fourth path, whether people can even attain fourth path etc.

      Because there are no demonstrable Fourth Path people! Name one. They all end up getting into sex scandals and other “high-attachment” situations.

      Stream Entry is the moment the dream is seen through. Everything after that is a progressive shedding of attachment. Fourth Path, if it is attainable (I am not saying it isn’t, just that I know of nobody who HAS attained it), is an advanced state of shedding attachments, where only the body remains as the final attachment (to be shed upon death).

      >Stream entry is never pretty? There are plenty of anecdotes to the contrary, and Buddhism itself disagrees with that.

      It is anecdotes and belief! You don’t have the knowledge yourself, so why do you think you can speak on it? It is pure vanity and is a product of your attachment to your beliefs and worldview.

      And anyway, I never said Stream Entry is never pretty. Maybe there is an elegant way of attaining it.

      However, the slog AFTER Stream Entry is never pretty. It is about giving up attachments. No one gives up attachments voluntarily at first! The universe takes things away by force. The emotional trace of the attachment remains, but is then given up when it is realized experientially that it sustains the false self and causes suffering. When this truth is seen, giving up attachments becomes more voluntarily, but it is more like they pop up in awareness (like what’s going on when I’m noticing my emotional reactions to these posts), a target is painted on them, then they are let go of via whatever effective technique you have developed.

      >I’m not saying you’re wrong but speaking in absolutes just because it’s what your experience was is not attractive.

      The idea that I’m trying to “attract” people is a reflection on why you personally do things, and is not much to do with me. I have no skin in this game. I’m not running this as a business. I write for the hell of it — to see what happens, and because some compulsion or inclination is there. Its most important function for me at the moment is to pull up my own attachments so I can drop them via conscious awareness and meditative method.

      That is the major part of the removal of the “sceptical doubt” fetter: I know that attachments cause suffering, they cause the illusion of the Self, and I know how to remove them. Hardly ANYONE knows how to remove attachment! They say they do, but their actions speak otherwise. I know I’m attached to many things, but I also have a target painted on every one of them. And I know how to destroy them. Do you?

      Post-Stream Entry, this game is entirely about burning attachments in the crucible of awareness of No-Self.

      I speak in absolutes because No-Self IS ABSOLUTE.

      >I also remember you saying that MCTB kicked you into a Dark Night. Not everyone experiences a Dark Night. I believe it’s a placebo occurrence anyway. You got primed up by Ingram, and there you go you get your bad first path experience.

      No, it is because MCTB is junk tech by a guy attached to systems, guruhood and geekery. It’s a mad game for him. He loves the dreamstate.

      >I’ve found that reading positive material is way more useful and actually helps shape my reality. You should know how much beliefs influence reality so if you think you’re going to have a bad time, you’re going to have a bad time. If you think fourth path is hard to get, you can fill in the blank.

      Beliefs ARE THE PROBLEM. There should be no belief you are unwilling to see through, to detach from, to destroy. Nothing should be sacred in this game. This is the real meaning of “When you meet the Buddha, kill him”.

      Buddhism is, ironically, the main obstacle to Buddhahood.

      Anyway, this last sentence of yours means you think enlightenment is something to be dreamed up, whereas really it is about destroying the dream.

  3. Pell says:

    Amazing experiences. Do you still experiment with psychedelics at all? I feel like I need some more evidence to appease myself. I read that shikantaza is powerful, but I’ve spent all this time watching, to more recently,trying to be the breath per your good advice. I read that jhanas are a powerful way to do vipassana and reach stream entry, but giving that all up is better and more effective? Are those 4 form jhanic states just not useful for what want to do(reach stream entry?) Is 4th path really just bunk? I’ve been inspired by the journey of this guy’s experiences that you may find interesting to read about: https://www.reddit.com/user/batbdotb/

    Perhaps shikantaza will make way more snese to me after stream entry? I guess right now I’m using a thorn to pluck out a thorn. When I could just sit. Thanks again — this blog is really have been of great help. I’m glad to be here.

  4. Pell says:

    Is shikantaza bringing balance to left brain leaning people? You seem to have had access to all of the jhanas before finding shikantaza. Do you believe your previously trained ability for stabilized absorption was not necessary for your success with shikantaza? Why do you have no interest in states anymore? Do you believe you’ll find freer people in the Zen tradition than other Buddhists traditions? Do you think Advaita Vendata produces more highly realized people than Buddhists systems?

    • Illuminatus says:

      >Is shikantaza bringing balance to left brain leaning people?

      I think so, because equanimous non-judgment is a right-brain thing. So is the way vision is allowed to broaden out, and so is the kind of whole body awareness you end up getting with shikantaza. Ultimately however the most important thing is the relinquishing of control; the right brain is under constant suppression by the egoic left brain. Shikantaza might be the first time in years your right brain has been allowed to “speak” — and it speaks using images and feelings, and some of the images actually pop out and play on the wall.

      >You seem to have had access to all of the jhanas before finding shikantaza. Do you believe your previously trained ability for stabilized absorption was not necessary for your success with shikantaza?

      Impossible to say, since I can’t “go back”. It’s just an instinct that shikantaza will be accessible to all if they give it a good go and suspend their judgment about all the reasons that it makes no sense why it would work. I’ll point out I was a sceptic about Do Nothing meditations when I was first introduced to them, and I wrote some of that here on the blog (but don’t ask me where; I can’t remember). I’ve done a 180-degree turn now, though.

      >Why do you have no interest in states anymore?

      I do. I spend every Saturday afternoon in at least a few hours of third jhana. It’s very healing. It is also unparalleled in general niceness of feeling. This also keeps me aware of the jhanas’ benefits and limitations. What follows is just my experience; I do not speak for anyone else, here.

      – Jhanas are relatively difficult to train. (Shikantaza requires no training, so beginners can pick it up.)

      – Using the jhanas as a primary mode of practice establishes the precedent that perception of reality should be based on dazzling altered states of consciousness. That’s a dangerous precedent because, as you know, reality often sucks. Jhana makes everyday life look like shit in comparison. (Shikantaza only uses ordinary everyday awareness as its primary mode, so this “contrast” effect does not occur.)

      – Aside from generating good feelings, jhanas can create other distortions in reality. For example, meditating on infinite space once led to me seeing voluminous space surrounding and permeating all things; black holes pouring out of objects; and a sense of “infinity” within everything I saw. It was totally fucking cool! Like psychedelics but without the comedown. However, I was out having dinner with friends at the time, and was aware that I was seeing things that they weren’t. (So, it’s alienating.). I’ve also had things like, after meditating on infinite consciousness, seeing bright luminescence permeating all things. If I’ve been concentrating a lot, sometimes fourth jhana will suddenly descend on me just while out walking, and reality will get eerily silent, still and wide. First time I attained third jhana, I hallucinated gold blissful light pouring down from heaven for an entire week, even while just out in a shopping centre. Maybe I’m just an oddball and other folks don’t get these things happening, but for me the jhanas have a momentum which keeps them going for some time after I finish meditating. It’s cool at first but gets old. It’s another way to be a weirdo. It is NOT what I signed up for. (NONE of this stuff happens with shikantaza because it uses everyday awareness, not dazzling altered states, as its basis.)

      – Jhanas reduce cravings, but only for a few hours. (Shikantaza eliminates attachments permanently in a way that can be “seen”.) Post-jhana state makes me quite desireless (provided I reached one of the equanimous states, which are third and fourth), but it is temporary. An example from the Saturday just gone: I spent around three hours in third jhana. Afterwards I wanted to go for a walk. Ordinarily I will use a craving as a basis for the walk, e.g. “going to get a sausage roll” or whatever. What it is doesn’t matter; its purpose is to get me walking. In an extremely “quenched” post-jhana state however, I walked outside and up the road a little. At the top I had to choose a direction to turn. Problem was, I didn’t WANT anything, so couldn’t choose. However, the sun felt pretty nice and I was very happy just to stand still in it. The end result was, I ended up just standing still in the middle of the street for about 10 minutes like a weirdo, completely unable to make a decision (but feeling nice the whole time). Again, this is not what I signed up for. Also, once the “quenched” state wears off, cravings ratchet right back up — especially sex drive. Concentration can actually encourage and enhance addiction. This is due to the dopamine increase caused by concentration practice. The states themselves ARE addictive.

      >Do you believe you’ll find freer people in the Zen tradition than other Buddhists traditions?

      I don’t know. I don’t know much about Zen, and I have no affinity for it other than it turned out I was doing shikantaza. A student told me that was what I was doing; I didn’t look into it beforehand. I’m not sure there are many “free” people in any tradition. Theravadins however do seem oddly imprisoned by their own maps/systems.

      >Do you think Advaita Vendata produces more highly realized people than Buddhists systems?

      I have no idea what Advaita Vedanta is or what it’s about whatsoever. I have heard the words but that’s the extent of it.

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