Sex, Sin and Zen While Mastering the Core

Look closely at this still from "Girls! Girls! Girls!" and notice how the King has a rather large boner. Now you know why he was called Elvis the Pelvis.

I was sorely tempted to use either “crap” or “sucks” in the title of this post because I have a feeling those words translate into lots of blog hits. However, it seems sort of juvenile to me and I am not that desperate for hits, or attention. Sex, sin, and some spicy photos, should suffice.

Like a number of other Buddhist bloggers, I was contacted by Kim Corbin, Senior Publicist at New World Library, who inquired if I was interested in a free, advance copy of one of their books. Now, I understood she was not sending me a free book out of the goodness of her heart, but rather with the expectation that I would review or at least mention it, which doesn’t bother me since I also know that’s how the publishing business works. Despite the fact that I need another book like I need a hole in the head (I have over 1000 in my living room alone), I am such a book nut that I said yeah, sure, send it.

Bloggers and professional writers far more skillful than I at reviewing will no doubt subject this tome (Sex, Sin, and Zen by Brad Warner) to their scrutiny over the coming days and weeks. I am going to muddle through anyway, partly out of a sense of obligation, but mainly because it gives me an excuse to also discuss Mastering the Core by Daniel M. Ingram, which has created some buzz in recent years, although I had not heard of it until a couple of months ago.

I want to talk a little about the authors, and I have to tell you that I don’t know either of them, never met them or heard them speak. So while I don’t have any first-hand knowledge, neither do I have any preconceptions. I’m just calling it as I see it, from afar.

Warner and Ingram may not want to be grouped together, but they both identify themselves with “Hardcore” Zen (a term I think Warner coined), which is perhaps only tangential to “Dharma Punx,” I’m not sure. From what little I’ve been exposed to (strictly on the net), this hardcore/punx approach strikes me as mostly striking an attitude which may resonate with some, and might have with me years ago, but not now.

My impression of Brad Warner, though, is that he’s probably a sincere guy. At least, that’s what many people say. But a personality cult of sorts has sprouted up around him, and I feel he might regret cultivating this rock star like persona later on when, and if, he finds a real voice, because I think ultimately it will interfere with his message.

What is his message? Well, in this book it seems to be: sex is good, porn is cool, it’s okay to masturbate, remember to be responsible, be compassionate. Speaking only for myself, I don’t need a 282 page book to tell me that.

I’m glad I got the book for free, because I would sure regret forking over $14.95 to read something like this passage, where he discusses Gene Simmon’s sex tape:

Don’t get me wrong, I love Gene Simmons, and I’ll be a KISS fan till I die. And its really not for me to comment on Gene’s personal life. But I will anyway, because it’s fun. That video is just sad. I mean, the guy moistens his lady friend up by licking his fingers and then rubbing them on her. What is that world-famous seven-inch tongue for? If I had a tongue like that you better believe I’d put it to good use every chance I got! Plus, he is chewing gum throughout the proceedings.

Heavy stuff. I hear he’s tackling Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakakarika next. Can’t wait. Also coming soon, the inevitable  Brad Warner sex tape. It’s just a matter of time because I’m willing to bet the farm that this guy is getting laid like crazy. Which brings up another point. He calls himself a monk. He’s not. Monks are monastic, which he isn’t, and they are usually celibate, which he . . . well, I already covered that.

I am being facetious. Actually Warner has a pretty good handle on Buddha-dharma, and there are sections of the book that aren’t bad. The problem is that there are too many sections that are, which makes for a very uneven read. He has been called “a refreshing new voice,” but that’s only because he is looser with his language and his style is very informal, almost to the point of being rather juvenile at times. Too many exclamation points, too!

Seriously, if he had concentrated on being more explicit in a meaningful way, rather than in a titillating one, or his editor had trimmed it, removing the high school like passages and asides, this would be a much better book.

I think Brad Warner has potential. I don’t know if he needs to get over himself, grow up, or whether it has something to do with the role he’s put himself into, the drama, or what it is, but something is missing. Even when he tries not to take himself too seriously, it comes off as a contrivance.

For me, the best part of Sex, Sin, and Zen is the interview with Nina Hartley, a porn actress who was big in the 1980’s and is still going strong (Both of her parents were ordained Zen priests). In fact, if I had been his editor or publisher, I would have suggested an entire book of interviews. I think dialogues with Buddhist teachers, practitioners and others with Buddhist connections about this subject would have been far more interesting and illuminating. Sex is personal. Once you have handled the few big issues, it gets pretty subjective.

By the way, the best book on sex I’ve ever read was The Hite Report on Female Sexuality by Shere Hite (1976), a nationwide study that contained many interviews with women discussing their feelings and thoughts about sex. For a typical self-involved male who at that time really didn’t have a clue about women, it opened my eyes.

In martial arts there is a maxim that a true warrior does not go around telling everyone what a great warrior he or she is. This is something you either get or you don’t. Daniel M.Ingram, author of  Mastering the Core, apparently doesn’t. And I need to make a correction, that’s The Arahat Daniel M.Ingram. He claims to be enlightened and what raises red flags for me is a) he claims he became enlightened at the age of 15 and b) his enlightenment is something outside of any traditional spiritual context. that he claims to have had an intense spiritual/meditational experience which corresponds with an early stage of enlightenment without an formal training, which I feel is a subtle way of suggesting that ultimately his “enlightenment” is something outside of any traditional spiritual context.

Ingham says “I crossed the Arising and Passing Away when I was about 15 and did it again about 4 more times by my recollection over the next 10 years without formal practice, technique or guidance.”

I’ve seen this before. Messianic gurus often claim to have had an intense spiritual experience or awakening at a very early age, and without the aid of a prescribed spiritual discipline. They did it on their own, because they’re special, unique, and teachers like themselves come along only once or twice in a millennium, so come with them, they will take you higher, etc. This way, later on, they can take their followers out of the tradition they have initially taught in and establish their own tradition. Nothing wrong with that per se, but they usually end up becoming cults.

Now, I am just an average person with average intelligence, talents and so on. One thing I feel I have that is above average, however, is a BS meter, and what also sends this meter all the way into the red is the question of Ingram’s credentials as a dharma teacher. From what I can tell, he has none. Zip. Zero. He attended a few meditation retreats. He mentions Sayadaw U Pandita, Junior but doesn’t indicate the nature of the relationship. One would think if it was a teacher-student relationship, he would not hesitate to say so. This vagueness is just another warning sign. He doesn’t say so in so many words, but the implication is that he doesn’t need any credentials or qualifications, because he is a self-empowered teacher and his enlightenment is superior .

Bettie Page was not into Zen, but she was hardcore.

Mastering the Core is subtitled “An Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book.” Yet, all he offers here is fairly standard stuff. Most of this ideas are based on Mahasi Sayadaw’s Progress of Insight, with a little watered-down Ken Wilber thrown in. Ingram paraphrases a lot of traditional Buddhist teachings. That’s fine. We all do that to a certain extent. But I think you need to try a little harder when you are writing a book, especially one that claims to be revolutionary or ground-breaking.

He says that you can become enlightened in this lifetime. Well, Mahayana Buddhism has been saying that for at least a thousand years, so nothing new there.

Ingram also tries to couch his book as some sort of generational manifesto:

It is the unrestrained voice of one from a generation whose radicals wore spikes and combat boots rather than beads and sandals, listened to the Sex Pistols rather than the Moody Blues, wouldn’t know a beat poet or early ‘60s dharma bum from a hole in the ground, and thought the hippies were pretty friggin’ naïve, not that we don’t owe them a lot. It is also the unrestrained voice of one whose practice has been dedicated to complete and unexcelled mastery of the traditional and hardcore stages of the path rather than some sort of vapid New Age fluff or pop psychological head-trip. If that ain’t you, consider reading something else.

This seems to have been lifted directly from Tom Hayden’s Port Huron Statement and JFK’s Inaugural Address, and I don’t buy it. The generations that have followed the boomers have been on a quest to find something to be about, only to find that meaning has eluded them. I have run across quite a number of younger people who have echoed this sentiment, so I don’t think I am off base. It reminds me of Marlon Brando in The Wild One:  “What’re you rebelling against, Johnny?” “Whaddya got?”

I don’t know how old Ingram is but I have some news for him: the Sex Pistols were my generation. I was 23 when the Sex Pistols were formed in 1975. By that time I had already been through my teenybopper period, my hippie period, my anti-hippie-pre-punk-Velvet Underground period, my heavy metal period, and my glitter period. My post-Velvet Underground-Patti Smith-Clash-punk period was fairly short. By then I had realized there was more to life than affecting an attitude and trying to be cool.

Hedy Lamarr, beautiful and brilliant. A sex symbol during the 1940's, she was also co-inventor of the technology that makes WiFi possible.

I don’t mind anyone appropriating icons from my generation so much, but Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious?  Being rude, odious and vile is not that cool. And even at their mushiest, the Moody Blues were ten times the musicians the Sex Pistols ever were.

In my opinion, the future of Buddhism in the West is something that is going to unfold naturally. Movements will come and go, that’s natural too. Trying to force things in a certain direction just because the direction is different is a shallow approach, and to me, at this stage of the game, rather boring.

Hedy Lamarr once said, “I can excuse everything but boredom. Boring people don’t have to stay that way.”

And like I said, Warner has potential. Ingram: Proceed with caution.


32 thoughts on “Sex, Sin and Zen While Mastering the Core

  1. I’m not a fan of Warner’s, which makes me probably one of the only under 30 convert males that falls into that category. I have enjoyed a few of his dharma talks however, but overall just tend to stay away. Not my cup of tea/flavor of ice cream.

    Ingram, well, you’ve said it all here.

  2. You wrote: “He claims to be enlightened and what raises red flags for me is […] he claims he became enlightened at the age of 15…”

    Not so, pal. The Arising and Passing Away (or A&P) is NOT enlightenment. It’s pseudo-nirvana, false awakening, the corruptions of insight. This is common knowledge to both Ingram and anyone who practices along the lines of the Progress of Insight.

    I’m not an Ingram follower. I don’t know the guy. I don’t care for his teaching style. But I know he isn’t claiming to be enlightened at 15. I don’t know how you could have come to that conclusion after reading the book… which means you probably didn’t read it.

    1. @ Sam: Thanks for your comment. You are correct the stage of arising and passing away is not the same as enlightenment. It is, however, considered a stage of enlightenment and said to be an intense spiritual/meditational experience. Ingram says that once you have the “A&P event” that “one will enter the Dark Night regardless of whether one wants to or not.” Frankly in all the years I have been involved with Buddhism, I have never heard of anyone talking about Dark Night, which I assume is similar to the Christian “Dark Night of the Soul.” It is not anything that I recall being mentioned in Mahasi Sayadaw’s The Progress of Insight, unless Sayadaw uses a different term for it (it’s been many years since I read that book). Ingram also talks about having psychic powers at this stage, etc.

      BUT, the point is that he had this intense experience which took him, as he describes, to the “Point of No Return,” and without any formal meditation training. I believe that such claims should be viewed with a certain amount of suspicion. Not that I don’t think it’s possible, I just think it would be very rare and I don’t believe that those who have actually had such experience will talk about them in the way he does, which to me just comes off as boasting, as well as setting the stage for a future claim of self-empowerment or self-enlightenment.

      Example: “I completed around 27 full, complete insight cycles with mindblowing A&P Events, Ass-kicking Dark Nights, Equanimity phases, and what seemed to be brand new, fresh Fruitions and Review phases between third and fourth path.”

      Throughout the book he criticizes others for practicing their “own way” without formal meditation training, which is pretty much what he claims he did. I think he contradicts himself at every turn. This is just my opinion of course. But like I’ve said, I’ve seen this sort of thing before and it almost always heads in the same direction.

    2. @ sam again: I pulled out my old copy of “The Progress of Insight” and it seems that Sayadaw differentiates between a “weak” and “mature” Knowledge of Arising and Passing Away, and says of the latter “It is such knowledge and understanding resulting from the continuous noticing of bodily and mental processes as they arise and dissolve moment after moment, and the discernment, in separate sections, of the arising and passing away of each of them, while being free from the corruptions, that is called ‘final knowledge of contemplation of arising and passing away.’” I don’t which one Ingram claims to have attained at 15, and I really don’t care. Enlightened people do not go around claiming to be enlightened. That’s that the bottom line.

  3. I haven’t read Brad’s latest work, so I can’t comment on it. That said, I don’t think your treatment of Ingram’s was very even handed. Did you notice all of the disclaimers he himself put in the book? Did you notice that not only has he put the book out there for free, but that he’s not accumulating a following, and doesn’t appear to have any interest in doing so? You describe his approach as dangerous because it didn’t strictly associate itself with a lineage, and is an entirely personal approach. No kidding, really? He only tells you he’s going to do that in the book and that you should, if you have the least qualms about that, disregard what he’s written. How is that dangerous?

    He tells us in the book about his influences, which works he’s based his interpretation on, and where he’s coming from in general. There’s no deception, plagiarism, or unnecessary mysticism.

  4. Now, I am just an average person with average intelligence, talents and so on. One thing I feel I have that is above average, however, is when someone has not done their research. When BS meters are referred to I am almost certain they are unaware of their own ignorance and they will likely just be plain wrong with any stated facts.

    Daniel Ingram was probably was a student of Sayadaw U Pandita, Junior and just did not consider it neccesary to state it in a manner you wished to hear it.

    1. Gary: I don’t mind some criticism, in fact I welcome it. However, when it is as vague as yours is, it’s difficult to make any use of it. Thanks for commenting, though.

      1. Sorry I did not intend to be vague.

        You have no evidence either way with regards to Daniel being a student of Sayadaw U Pandita, Junior and for this lack of evidence you judge Daniel as being vague because the evidence was not presented in the manner you thought it should be.

        Yet when someone is vague about their Enlightenment you then consider this a useful quality to assess their Enlightenment.

        1. Yes, when the vagueness is accompanied by claims of attaining realizations or stages of enlightenment without any training or a teacher, based on some “ancient texts” which are equally vague. If he were less vague about Sayadaw U Pandita, Jr. then we would have some evidence, wouldn’t we?

          Look, I meditated for the first time when I was 15, too. I didn’t have any ancient texts, only The Way of Zen by Alan Watts, a black light, and a Ravi Shankar record. I didn’t have a clue to what I was doing. My great realization from the experience was “Ravi Shankar can sure play the sitar.”

          So why did he attain something while I didn’t? Is he more highly evolved than I am? More intelligent? Maybe it was just luck.

          1. Once again though, you’re attacking what you perceive to be the source or circumstance of his practice and insights, rather than the actual insights. The finger pointing at the moon may have some dirt on it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t pointing at the moon. He either speaks the truth or he doesn’t and earthly credentials aren’t going to make that apparent either way.

  5. Daniel uses the term “Dark Night” to refer to stages 5-10 of the Mahasi model, which are called the “dukkha nanas” (or, suffering knowledges).

    It isn’t hard to put together if you know how to read. You might want to wait until you understand something before you critique it, so you don’t sound like an ass.

  6. For the record, Daniel Ingram has had a great deal of formal training in Theravada Buddhism. I taught him the traditional Vipassana technique I had learned from Bill Hamilton, Sayadaw U Pandita, and Sayadaw U Kundala. Daniel also had an ongoing telephone relationship with Bill Hamilton for years. Circa 1996, I taught Daniel a variation on the traditional vipassana technique, which he credits for helping him attain 1st Path. And I was with Daniel, staying with him and his wife at their apartment in Chapel Hill, NC, giving him extensive daily coaching when he attained 2nd Path, circa 1997. Throughout those first few years of his vipassana training, Daniel and I spent many hours discussing the theory, practice, and nitty-gritty technical details of Burmese-style vipassana meditation and the Progress of Insight, which I had learned first-hand from Bill Hamilton, Sayadaw U Pandita, Sayadaw U Kundala, Sayadaw U Rajinda, Steve Armstrong, Stephen Smith, Joseph Goldstein, and a handful of other excellent but lesser known teachers, mostly Burmese monks.

    Daniel was an extremely dedicated and enthusiastic student. Armed with this solid foundation, he went on to read everything he could about meditation and enlightenment across a wide range of traditions including Theravada, Zen, Advaita, Tibetan, Jewish mysticism, shamanism, ceremonial magic; you name it, he studied it. He was especially keen on the Pali suttas and commentaries, from which he has read extensively.

    Anyone who doubts Daniel’s formal training should have a talk with him. I believe they will be more than satisfied.

    For more on my own relationship with Daniel, read this letter I sent him in 1995:

    Also see the accompanying thread:

    @David: Yes, the “Dark Night of the Soul” terminology hails from St. John of the Cross and refers to Insight Knowledges 6-10, also sometimes referred to (by U Pandita and his monks) as the “dukkha ñanas.” As you may know, what the Theravada Buddhists refer to as the Progress of Insight is not exclusive to Buddhism. Rather, it is a way of describing and mapping a developmental process that is experienced by contemplative practitioners of all kinds, irrespective of tradition or technique. In other words, developmental awakening does not belong to the Buddhists; it is a human phenomenon. As such, it is not so important whether one uses Buddhist or Christian terminology to talk about it.

    As for whether one should talk about it at all, my answer is “Yes.” Openness, honesty, and transparency are healthy and good in dharma as in other fields of education. Withholding of information is creepy, unhealthy, and bad, serving only to reinforce existing power structures and doing nothing to empower students. One man’s humble opinion.

    To those who insist that one who is enlightened would not or could not say so, consider that by this logic the Buddha was not enlightened; if the suttas are to be believed, he boldly proclaimed his awakening to anyone who would listen.

    To everyone: awakening results from active, hands-on, daily practice of the techniques that have come down to us through the great contemplative traditions. Speculation, back-biting, and rigidly-held beliefs, however, lead only to suffering.

    May you awaken in this lifetime.

    -Kenneth Folk

    1. @ Kenneth: Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, I am not familiar with your work (I think I have run across your name recently) nor Bill Hamilton’s. Although I’ve had some experience with Theravada, it’s been nothing extensive, since it doesn’t really appeal to me, so I may be at a disadvantage in not knowing who certain teachers are.

      Since I am not a Christian, I am not particularly interested in their terminology. If others want to use it, fine. However, other than the fact they are both “religions” Buddhism and Christianity have little in common.

      I’m sorry but calling yourself an arhat seems a bit pompous to me. From what I’ve seen, great teachers do not claim to be enlightened.

      1. “From what I’ve seen, great teachers do not claim to be enlightened.”-David

        You are mistaken. If you are aware of a teacher from history, never mind his or her greatness, it is because he or she has either overtly or covertly claimed enlightenment.

        The Buddha and all of his disciples; Bodhidharma; Dogen; Bankei; Chinul; Ramana Maharshi; Nisargadhatta; Tulku Urgyen; Kalu Rinpoche… the list goes on and on, and all of these teachers spoke non-stop of enlightenment. Those few who did not go so far as to say, “I am enlightened,” made no secret of the fact that they considered themselves so. Personally, I find the hinting around to be infantile and manipulative. If you think you are enlightened, say so. The Buddha did.

        If you do not think you are enlightened, say so. But stop pretending to know what enlightenment is; you will only know when you find out for yourself. And meanwhile, stop sniping at people who are helping others to awaken. You are only perpetuating the crab bucket. It isn’t fair to yourself or to others.

        From the Urban Dictionary:

        “A crab bucket is what it is: crabs in a bucket. However, what happens in the bucket full of crabs is what makes it a famous saying. When a single crab is put into a lidless bucket, they surely can and will escape. However, when more than one share a bucket, none can get out. If one crab elevates themself above all, the others will grab this crab and drag’em back down to share the mutual fate of the rest of the group. Crab bucket syndrome is often used to describe social situations where one person is trying to better themself and others in the community attempt to pull them back down. Also often used in describing the ghettos of America (or anywhere, for that matter).”

        People are getting enlightened even as we speak by actually doing the practices that the Buddha and the other great thoroughly-out-of-the-closet teachers throughout history have recommended. Discussions like the one we are having now only have value if they circle around again and again to this reality: practice brings enlightenment. Speculation, uninformed opinions, and calcified ideas lead only to suffering.

        The Buddha, who called himself the “Awakened One,” said it best over 2500 years ago: “Don’t believe me. Don’t believe anybody. Come and see.”

        1. Kenneth, you seem to feel that discussions like this have little value, and yet you don’t mind writing this long comment to perpetuate it, including the bit about crab buckets which, pardon me, is a bit of a snipe or dig or whatever you want to call it.

          As for the Buddha, if we are talking about the historical Buddha, no one really knows what he said or didn’t, or in fact, that he ever existed. Just because such statements are included in the Pali suttas, doesn’t mean a whole lot, since we know that a lot of things were added later on. Are you suggesting that we take everything in the Pali canon literally? It also says that the Buddha was born from his mother’s side and that he levitated over the Ganges . . .

          I don’t recall Nagarjuna ever claiming to have attained enlightenment, and know one knows for sure if he actually existed either. Dogen’s claims if any, I’m not sure about. The rest I can’t comment on. On this subject, I take a cue from the Dalai Lama, who goes out of his way to say “I don’t claim to have any great attainments” or something to that effect.

  7. Gary, good point, he says that in the book too:

    From page 347:

    “Then, on April 17th, 2003, on a 21-day retreat at the Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Center between medical school and my residency, I attained to arahatship. It happened while I was doing walking
    meditation on that glorious Spring morning. I was sick of the cycles of insight and profoundly inspired by the steady and gentle invitation of the teacher, Sayadaw U Pandita, Junior, to simply see through the whole thing as he had done. His calm smile seemed say, “You can do it. Come on! Any day now.
    I had barely taught in the previous 6 years as my own practice has consumed most of the scant free time I had, but a few days after seeing it I told my teacher I was thinking of teaching again. He shot me an uncharacteristically sharp glance and said in a forceful and commanding voice, “Good!””

    Does that make his claims to insights any more or less legitimate though? I feel like the community resorts to requiring credentials instead of evidence of insight.

    1. Vince: “inspired by the steady and gentle invitation of the teacher, Sayadaw U Pandita, Junior.” What does this mean? The Dalai Lama smiled at me once, from about thirty feet away, and that is the closest I’ve ever gotten to him despite the many teachings I have attended. Does that mean I had a teacher-student relationship with him? No.

      It’s not solely about credentials. But when you make statements like “The scary truth is that there are far more people teaching insight meditation that don’t know what insight is than those that do” the implication is that you do know what insight is, and I think you should provide some examples of how you learned what insight is, beyond your own self-powered realizations. He is really vague about all that and it makes me suspicious.

      1. I don’t think we was really vague at all. In fact, he gives fairly detailed explanations of the level of insight and concentration. Seriously, I don’t think you’ve read his book in much detail and you seem to be attacking him purely on the basis of an apparent lack of formal lineage. If that’s your approach, then fine, but I personally don’t agree with that.

        1. You miss my point entirely. I don’t care about “formal lineage.” I want to know that he practiced or spent time with a teacher that he can point to with some specificity, rather than someone he can’t name for some reason and that he attended some meditation retreats in India. And that wouldn’t be so important were it not for his claim of enlightenment. If you’re going to make a claim like that, which is not an insignificant one by any stretch of the imagination, you’d better expect that people are going to want you to qualify it.

          His insights and concentrations are subjective things. I’d like to see some objective facts, which he does not provide.

          If you read the book carefully, you will see that he is subtly saying that all the other teachers have screwed it up (“What went wrong?”) and implying that he’s got it right. That’s my impression anyway.

          1. That’s your impression? That “all” the other teachers got it wrong? This just reinforces the notion that you didn’t read the book. He is harsh on modern practice, but it’s a sort of tough love on the theme of dogma not equating to the furthering of insight. It’s your blog, and I commend you for allowing this discussion to occur on it’s coattails, but your impression is simply not enough to discredit the entirety of a work/author as being worthy of caution when you’re operating on the basis of mere impressions.

          2. I’m not really discrediting him, I’m raising questions which I think are valid. And all the discussion here has done is raise more questions. Aren’t you also operating on your impressions? I think the book would be okay as sort of an introductory were it not for the issues we’ve been discussing.

  8. David,

    In saying that “great teachers do not claim to be enlightened”, can you give a some more background of your own leanings. Since Shakyamuni Siddhattha Gotama openly claimed Enlightenment, you are obviously not a Buddhist as one might assume from your writing.

      1. Actually there was no cheap shot here, I was quite serious.

        Your blog “Practical advice regarding teachers and leaders” has a lot of common sense advice like a parent protecting a child. But then there are the statements like Enlightenment being the realization that there is no end game or that those who are Enlightened live with out an ego.

        Without supporting evidence these ideas appear to have been adopted because they fit your world view or experience. Or do you know of an Enlightened teacher that holds to and teaches these ideas?

        1. Gary, if you think you are in a position to decide who is a Buddhist and who’s not, I don’t know what to say to you.

  9. Hi, David

    In your original article above, you wrote:

    “I want to talk a little about the authors, and I have to tell you that I don’t know either of them, never met them or heard them speak. So while I don’t have any first-hand knowledge, neither do I have any preconceptions. I’m just calling it as I see it, from afar.”

    Many a blogger, I’m sure, has written a blog post without first-hand knowledge. I won’t make a big stink about that fact, in and of itself. However, I consider it extremely unfortunate that you chose to do so about this topic.

    As for your claim not to have any preconceptions, I find it very hard to believe. In fact, the rest of your article, and your subsequent comments additionally, lead me to conclude that you have a great many preconceptions regarding both of these authors and the subjects of which they write. This is also not something to make a big stink about. I have LOADS of preconceptions about, heck, pretty much everything.

    However, I am greatly disheartened by your blog based on the fact that a) you don’t seem to care to research your topics before writing (in particular, your comments about Daniel Ingram’s career as a student of the Dharma), and b) the fact that you can’t seem to handle the existence of your own preconceptions.

    I wish you much success in your pursuit of liberation from suffering.


    1. Sorry you feel that way. Also sorry to tell you that I did a web search for “Daniel M. Ingram” and all that came up were the things he wrote. So, as I said more or less in the post, that’s all I had to go on. The links posted in the comments here did not come up in the search. Never heard of Kenneth Folk so how could I search for him.

      I think if you look over the blog, you’ll find that in general it is pretty well researched.

      Yes, I have some already formed thoughts about the subject. I’ve been doing this for over thirty years. What I said was I had none about the authors. I never heard of either of them until recently.

  10. David,
    I think the very best thing for you to find the answer to the question of whether or not an enlightened being should or should not claim his/her attainments is to go out there and become enlightened. You should be able then to see if it’s true that no one enlightened should claim their attainments, if it’s true that enlightened beings should keep the rest of their community in the dark as to what can actually be attain in this lifetime. My two cents.

    you also mentioned that you have some already formed thoughts about the subject. You have been doing this for over thirty years? And have not even reached stream entry? (which is obvious to see based on your limited, and utterly incorrect notions about enlightenment).

    My humle advice for you: it is to time for you to reconsider your practice.


    Jorge Freddy

    1. Freddy, no one is trying to keep anyone in the dark. No one is withholding secrets. It’s a matter of approach. I prefer a more humble one. Stream entry? I come from the Mahayana tradition and we don’t really deal with that. In fact I have never heard a meditation teacher, even in Theravada talk about this stuff outside of say a lecture situation.

  11. David,

    By having an enlightened being not talk about his/her attainments IS keeping everyone in the dark, as also it is to not share with others the fact that enlightenment is possible in this lifetime. You mentioned that you “prefer a more humble approach” so now it’s about your preference? You mentioned earlier that for Kenneth to call himself an arahat was pompous of him. Perhaps it may be pompous of your part to believe that a fully enlightened being must shared the very same humble approach you so prefer. You are allowed and totally entitled to your views and preferences (or whatever else you choose to “cling” to). Again, it seems like the only way you can talk with actual property is for you to reach enlightenment (again, hopefully in this lifetime 😉 and then you can undeniably know what a true enlightened being chooses to do in terns of communicating to others his/hers attainments. You have never heard a meditation teacher mention Stream Entry before? even in Theravada talk? That probably shows you that perhaps you have been exposed to a mere diminute area of all that is emcompassed under buddhist practices (after all, Mahayana is only one school of buddhism). It may be beneficial for you to go ahead and learn more about some of the others school if you plan to intelligently engage in a buddhist discussion. Again, it is only my humble opinion and 2 cents all wrapped into one.

    Jorge Freddy

    1. Unfortunately, you have no idea what forms of Buddhist practice I have been exposed to. Ironically, many of the commentators here have accused me of having preconceived notions and yet almost all of the responses have been full of preconceived notions about me.

      Also many of you have suggested I didn’t read the book carefully, but it’s looks as if few of you read my comments carefully: I did not say anything about kenneth’s enlightenment. I was referring to Ingram.

      I’m closing the comments on this post because this discussion is going nowhere.

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