the following is an email i answered with regard to the last blog entry on the vipassana knowledges. I thought that many people might have the same reservations and would like to share with you my take on this:
Well, believe me, the thought about whether to make such information available or not crossed my mind a ten-thousand times.
But here is the definite answer, i think:
“Tathāgatappavedito dhammavinayo, bhikkhave, vivaṭo virocati, no paṭicchanno”
“O monks, the teaching and guidance proclaimed by the Tathagata shines all openly – not covered up.” AN III. 2. 9
Buddha’s stance on the Dhamma is closer to our modern way of developing science and pushing the boundaries of knowledge than any kind of mystic circle of secret knowledge only transmitted from teacher to pupil. And as i think you have a valid point in that people might grow in their expactations, this must not be a bad thing. (cmp. how Ananda mentioned that the desire to arrive at Nibbana finally ends there but brings one closer through practice itself)
Yesterday, when i published this, i was thinking of how many suttas the Buddha gave describing in detail the experience of the 4 jhanas. He did not keep their experience or fabric to himself or some selected pupils. No, he wanted everyone to enjoy them, develop them, master them.
The reason for sharing this information is twofold: Get them motivated, make it clear that this is much closer and un-mystical then they might otherwise think, secondly allow open discussion about the best way to help others go through those stages. Isn’t it amazing how much like a natural process/LAW (Dhamma) this is, like the jhanas?
… So this works also as a feedback system, very much like the suttas do, in fact!
Very interesting indeed. It makes me wonder though, whether or not
it is beneficial to have such information, being that it builds
expectations for the potential meditator. Most vipassana teachers, I
have found, would not divulge this information to the student.
it shouldn’t really be that much of a “secret”. The chart is basically a visualization of the comments given by Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw. with some additional informations gleaned from the Suttas and myself seeing people “walk” through some of those stages.
remember one of my earliest experiences with meditation, I had attained
the first jhana for the first time. It took me over a year to do it
again. Why? Because then on, every time I sat in meditation, it was an
expectation, a goal, and the thinking that I was doing about it
prevented me from attaining it again.
That being said, it is nice to
have an idea on where you might be, and perhaps it will do no harm,
provided you don’t pay it any mind while you are on, or before you go on
I especially like your anthology on “Christianity in Buddhism”, and
you interpretations. I think that I will forward it to Lars.
Thanks, yes. After moving to the US i was (after a long time in a-religious Europe) “forced” to make clear to myself the differences between Buddhism and Christianity. Might help other Buddhists as well…