I'm going to defend the Ven. Dhammadharo position as I understand it, because the more I read it, the more I like elements of it and the more convinced I am that it's actually a complementary criticism that, properly understood, can provide insight regarding what's really going on during sitting meditation -- namely, that these processes are not self. I stand to be corrected. But here goes:
mikenz66 wrote:2. The approaches advocated also seem to involve choices (to study, to think about not-self, etc). Thus they would be subject to exactly the same criticism of "self making" as "formal meditation".
I would particularly appreciate it if anyone could shed light on the second point.
In the context of this comment:
... we might conclude that any activity (including sitting) can involve awareness in order to learn that such moments are not self. To expand on that, to make use of the words of Ven. Dhammadharo:Ven. Dhammadharo wrote:We can be aware while studying and listening, in order to learn that such moments are not self.
The more we [INSERT ACTIVITY HERE] in the right way, if there are conditions for it, the more will we understand the difference between just thinking and being aware. We will understand the difference between trying to control realities and just letting awareness arise naturally and being aware of what appears for one brief moment.
The volitional action, or kamma, presents itself in each moment, and it is always not-self. Each meditator, each moment, brings different kamma. Yeah, very often the kammic content will include the delusion of a self. But that also is not-self. I think that's what Ven. Dhammadharo and other critics are getting at. It's essentially an examination of the kamma that some folks might bring to the "meditation" experience. So from that perspective, you're right, activities such as studying and "thinking" about not-self would be subject to the very same criticism, depending on the kamma that presents during the course of these activities.
And that all seems very much in keeping with Abhidhamma teachings as well, at least in my limited understanding.