thereductor wrote:Hey all.
I agree that every practitoner should seek reputable instruction, and discuss their experiences with a teacher wherever possible.
However, I do not think the theravada community is best served by staying silent on issues of attainment. This long standing silence makes errant claims more frequent, and the consequences further reaching, than they would be otherwise (or so I suspect).
On the net there are forums set up where they proclaim attainment and enlightenment regularly, appropriating buddhist terms and concepts while removing the context in which they were orignally placed. There is emotional satisfaction and conceit satisfaction, and just enough wisdom to make it all very alluring. It is delivered directly to a person's computer, where they lap it up with relish.
Yet there is little coming from the online theravada community which might counter act this. There is a reluctance to discuss the fruits of traditonal practice and views in a way which would connect with a seeker of a certain sort. Claims are mostly met with suspicion, and the better responses are text based. Little is said by anyone that might betray the actual depth of experience among the theravada practitoners. And to me this lack seems to be a loss.
I think what is going on is that generally there is a focus on the Dhamma and the means of getting oneself on the path to liberation rather than a focus on disclosing attainments. Meditative experiences should, in my opinion, only be discussed with one's teacher or guide and one's closest kalayanamittas. We know from the Brahmajala Sutta that a primary source of wrong view is one's meditative experiences. Furthermore, Vism also ennumerates ten imperfections of insight that occur on the path. And those imperfections actually only occur for those who are making progress.
Being convinced of a meditative episode as the experience of ariya phala & magga or one of the jhanas and then discussing that experience with others on the Internet having convinced oneself that it is an attainment is a recipe for delusion and conceitedness. And you alude to that by mentioning the website where there is a community of people who self-referentially claim and recognize each other's "attainments'.
I have also seen some people use their claim of attainment, some purposefully and others unwittingly, as a badge of authority. Not only are they deluding themselves but put themselves in a position to have a deliterious influence on others.
One thing that Valerie touched on earlier which was incredibly insightful is that its through one's behaviour that one's progress on the path is most accurately reflected. The other thing I want to say is that with progress comes humilty. The greater the progress, the greater the humility. I am reminded of something my teacher often says:
"A branch of a tree that bears fruit comes down because of the weight of the fruit. Similarly a person who develops paññā (wisdom) becomes more humble".
I think any discussion of personal attainment on a forum such as this one comes at the cost of discussion that which leads one to liberation. The focus becomes the attainment experience rather than the truely transformative process that is actually walking on the path.