retrofuturist wrote:It probably depends on the detail of these maps and its applicability to one's journey. As a general rule, I actually find it more useful when people share their insights rather than the detailed methods they applied in getting to that insight... I think this is because of an intuitive awareness that everyone's life, journey and mode of experience is different, and that I work best when I experientially validate insights in my own way.
Perhaps you guys can expand on this a little bit. For example, a Hindu tantrika, and a Vajrayāna practitioner both may talk about a non-dual experience is very similar terms. Then the Hindu might say that both herself and the Vajrayāna practitioner are having the same experience (based on her 'map' which calls this experience the supreme goal), while the Vajrayānika might disagree. And another person(say, a Theravada practitioner) might say they're both experiencing a formless attainment, which is not the supreme goal. So insights, it seems to me, is harder to describe than maps, so where does that leave us?
To take a more concrete example, consider the 'anidassana viññāṇa'
. Ven. Ñāṇānanda claims it to be a supra-mundane experience available to an Arahant, which ceases with parinibbāna. Ajahn Amaro seems to claim it is the same as the Dzogchen rigpa. Ven. Thanissaro describes it as a supra-mundane consciousness, but leaves open the possibility of its continuation after parinibbāna. There are both similarities and differences in the way the three venerables describe and explain this insight.
And here's Joseph Goldstein on it, which may be relevant to this thread:
Two major things happened to me at that retreat. One is that I really struggled with the differences between vipassana and dzogchen. Because even though the dzogchen teachings, just like vipassana, felt resonant with my experience, it was saying quite different things about the nature of awareness and the mind.
What was the difference?
In the Burmese system, liberation involves transcending awareness. In dzogchen, liberation is recognizing that the nature of mind is awareness itself. These are two quite different ways of expressing things. I spent a month of that retreat trying to figure it out, trying to decide who was "right." I finally came to realize that I could understand both systems as skillful means rather than as statements of absolute truth.
Well, that was a huge relief. But, of course, then the question arises, "Well, skillful means for what?" What I've come to understand more deeply over the years-and what I think is supported by the teachings in all of the Buddhist traditions-is that the liberated mind is the mind that does not cling to anything. In one discourse the Buddha said, "Nothing whatsoever is to be clung to as I or mine. Whoever has realized this has realized all the teachings."
All the different methods and metaphysical systems can be seen as skillful means to accomplish the mind of no-clinging. This understanding really freed me from attachments to metaphysical models that I didn't even know I'd had. I'd been so completely immersed in the model of the Burmese teachings that when I came into contact with a different model, it became a huge conflict. I had just assumed that the particular way we speak of things was the truth, forgetting that the words were just skillful means for experiencing the mind that doesn't cling to anything. That's where the freedom is.
An Interview with Joseph Goldstein
As Ajahn Chah said, we "can't know the taste of the fruit without eating it"
. So ultimately the goal of the Dhamma to be experienced. But then again, we don't go around eating every fruit we see; if it looks rotten or unripe from the outside, we avoid it and pick one that looks edible. Similarly, there's simply no way to experience all the goals promised by Vedanta, Taoism, Sufism, etc etc. So initially one has to make a decision based on the outer appearance and stick with it, at least to some extent. This is where approaches such as text-critical ones, and an understanding of history important. You don't need to tie yourself into knots trying to resolve what the Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra says about skillful means with the ethical guidelines put forth in the Pāli Suttas if you understand the historical background.
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