SuttaCentral

Analayo: "Meditation Maps, Attainment Claims, and the Adversities of Mindfulness"

Ven Analayo has published a critique of the claims of Daniel Ingram’s approach to meditation.

If you don’t know who Ingram is, don’t worry, you’re not missing out on anything.

But he has been an influential teacher, and Ven Analayo in his usual careful and grounded way shows that, though Ingram bases his meditation teachings on the traditional Theravadin series of insight knowledges, in fact they have little in common.

You can pay nearly 60 $AUD to download the PDF from Springer.

Or just download it here. Up to you!

MeditationMapsAttainmentClaims.pdf (387.3 KB)

32 Likes

Easy choice!!
As ever, gratitude to Ven Anālayo for making his publications freely available alongside paid versions.
Publishing with places like Springer puts his work into mainstream libraries that wouldn’t notice the pdf files he uploads to his website, and he is known to accept no personal payment or royalties for the works he publishes commercially.

16 Likes

I remember reading his book back in the day. Most of it is just regurgitated Vism along with descriptions of personal meditation experiences and claimed attainments.

His claims to arhatship definitely made me question his views and the more I read the texts, the more I realized he was basically playing the old switcheroo. If you refine awakening, you can be awakened too!

12 Likes

Absolutely epic. :studio_microphone: :droplet:

I am so impressed by Bhikkhu Analayo’s ability here to write (what had to be) a clear teardown so objectively and even generously. It couldn’t have been easy to write such a piece knowing your subject is alive and will read it and will likely react… in a less-than-enlightened way. I’m surprised his reviewers allowed the “armchair psycho-analysis” but I’m glad they did, as I really felt Bhikkhu Analayo trying to help him out here. Such compassion! Wow

Now we will all get to see if Daniel really cares about the research or just about his own ego when and how he responds.

Well played, Bhikkhu Analayo. Well played. :clap::pray:

16 Likes

I just read Bhikkhu Analayo’s article and you’ve summed up Ingram pretty well. I’d never heard of Daniel Ingram until today and I want my ignorance back. :wink: Seriously, I’m glad I know in case I ever hear someone mention this man’s book.

Unfortunately, I can’t imagine a person immersed in such a self-made delusion coming around. For his sake and others, perhaps he will.

5 Likes

For Anālayo, the canon is absolutely authoritative. He thinks Ingram cannot be an arahant because his descriptions directly contradict the texts. But Ingram has never been shy about the fact that he thinks the texts are not entirely accurate. These two people are simply not playing the same game–they are working under different assumptions. Javier is correct that Ingram has redefined awakening. He admits as much in his book. He calls his model the “revised four-path model.” All Anālayo has done here is illustrate that Ingram’s ideas are unorthodox.

Personally I don’t even care for Ingram’s work, though I have read it, but Anālayo’s tone here rubs me the wrong way. I don’t understand why he spent time on this.

3 Likes

I don’t want to talk about the tone of the writing, but I think the paper makes a similar work of that of Buddha when he was scolding Sāti for misunderstanding the function of consciousness.

If the Buddha wouldn’t have done that in the way he did, I think the consequences would have been really bad for the spreading of Dhamma.
If the teachings of the Buddha are not understood correctly, they could perpetuate the spreading of misinformation, which could be dangerous for all us as practitioners and followers of the Dhamma as well; liberation would be even farther away for us, or maybe directly out of reach.

17 Likes

He only recently came to know about Ingram and the influence he’s had on many potentially sincere practitioners. He feels that Ingram upends the Buddha’s teaching and leads people away from the path. He also felt that no one had responded critically to Ingram yet and he wanted to do so from an early Buddhist perspective. I believe that he has responded out of compassion.

21 Likes

My takeaway is that Ven. Analayo wasn’t defending the orthodoxy of any traditions per se, but rather that Ingram’s maps, claims and beliefs are diametrically opposed to the Dhamma as a whole, particularly key teachings of the Buddha. Teachings that, if turned around, cease to be Buddhism or even resemble Buddhism.

Sure, we all know that the texts that we have need skilled scholars and monastics to carefully consider and accurately translate them to get as close as possible to the word of the Buddha. But from Ven. Amalayos paper it appears that Ingram has fabricated a system so radically opposed to the Buddha’s teaching and then labeling it as Buddhism, that it warrants a formal distancing between the Dhamma and Ingram so that others might not follow that path.

12 Likes

Hi Clay,

My guess is that Ven Analayo is publishing a number of papers in Mindfulness to make sure that standard Buddhist ideas are represented. If books such as Ingram’s are mistaken for mainstream Buddhist practice then that is a problem.

This journal publishes peer-reviewed papers that examine the latest research findings and best practices in mindfulness. It explores the nature and foundations of mindfulness, its mechanisms of actions, and its use across cultures. In addition, Mindfulness features papers that address issues involving the training of clinicians, institutional staff, teachers, parents, and industry personnel in mindful provision of services.

Coverage in the journal includes reliability and validity of assessment of mindfulness; clinical uses of mindfulness in psychological distress, psychiatric disorders, and medical conditions; alleviation of personal and societal suffering; the nature and foundations of mindfulness; mechanisms of action; and the use of mindfulness across cultures.

Mindfulness features diverse viewpoints, including psychology, psychiatry, medicine, neurobiology, psychoneuroendocrinology, cognitive, behavioral, cultural, philosophy, spirituality, and wisdom traditions. It serves as a much-needed forum for the broad-based, leading-edge research in this burgeoning field.

10 Likes

I’ve read the entire article so finally I can write a post. :slight_smile:

I’m very grateful to Bhikkhu Analayo for writing this article and to Bhante Sujato for sharing. :anjal: I think Bhikkhu Analayo has written it mostly out of compassion to people who read Ingram book, to show how wrong is his attitude and to don’t get in the trap of following wrong path. I’m very grateful for this constructive critique. As already stated, Ingram changed vision of Enlightenment exactly so it suits his experience, his ego. Very strong vipallasas at work here.

I can’t find link, but I’ve seen post by a person who help him edit his book, that he got kicked out of project because he told Ingram not to put “Daniel Ingram, the Arahant” on front page. And Ingram used all of editors work (which was like editing of 400 pages for free) without acknowledgment, and being completely offended at him at the same time for his concern with putting “the Arahant” on the cover…

What is really problematic is that some people really believe what Ingram says. For example one person I know well believes that Ingram vision of enlightenment is true, and that real buddism is life-denying, the same view that Ingram presents. Such people look for such notions and then are very happy to find some “spiritual authority” who says their defilements are not defilements. In general people associated with so called “secular buddhism” tend to decrease the importance of sila in practice, believing in the delusion that buddhist enligtenment can be connected with living a full blown wordly life. But I haven’t met anyone who was more aggressive and harsh about this claim than Ingram. What is even more bad, is that he’s quite convincing and knows how to manipulate certain group of people into his vision, making them feeling good about their defilements and deluding them into thinking they’re on the right path.

I think Ingram used general hunger of young people for phenomenology of spirutual experiences, anti-religious secular tendencies and of course cravings. Since many westerners grew up disappointed with mainstream forms of religion based on too much dogma rather than actual spiritual experience, and many young people go for more scientific “phenomenological approach” seeing that these religious experiences appear to be real. I personally too have tendency towards phenomenology, so I understand this need of youth, but as Analayo said at the end of the paper, it needs to be very thouroughly put in various contexts to make it more valid and to avoid such subjective traps.

It is also a very important warning to all practitioners that we can fabricate our experiences, even deep spiritual ones. Thats why I believe guidance of a great meditation master like some Ajahns and sincere reading of suttas is essential for safe path towards real Enlightenment. It shows how very importaint it is to remember that our ego can trick us, and that to tread the path alone, especially while thinking we are wiser than everyone else is VERY dangerous, for ourselves and for those who follow us. Sadly, I know a lot of people in western world, who think they’re more smart than those “life-denying religious people” and they perpetuate wrong views in their conceit, thinking they’re so spiritualy advanced while not keeping even 5 precepts. I think it is essential to have a constant “spiritual reality check” by very competent meditation masters and to have that humility to do so. Something that Ingram clearly lacked. And it is exactly this spiritual reality checks (sila) that he attacks so strongly in his book.

Btw. here is first response of Ingram. As you’ve predicted, it isn’t exactly enlightened. It is unbelievable that somewhere there he writes that this paper of Analayo is aggressive. The only aggressive parts are citations of Ingram words insulting religious buddhism.
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/20758809

Blessings to the Sangha who protects the True Dhamma despite all difficulties. :dharmawheel: :anjal:

14 Likes

Anālayo’s exact words were that Ingram’s ideas have no value outside of his own imagination. I think that is aggressive, shockingly so. It is the sort of thing you say to a terrible enemy.

3 Likes

Anālayo’s exact words were that Ingram’s ideas have no value outside of his own imagination. I think that is aggressive, shockingly so. It is the sort of thing you say to a terrible enemy.

I think this is still quite polite when put against what Ingram wrote in his book.

Citation of Ingram words from his book that shows he’s working against support of Sangha:

Rather than considering that his assessment of his own
progress could be mistaken, Ingram (2008/2018, p. 332) arrived at the following assessment of Theravāda (and early
Buddhist) doctrine:

Its maps of enlightenment still contain a hefty helping of scary market-driven propaganda and so much
garbage that is life-denying, dangerously out of
touch with what happens, and an impediment to
practice for millions of people. That the enlightened
lineage holders of the modern Theravada and their
ex-monk and ex-nun Western counterparts do not
have the guts to stand up and say, “We are deeply
sorry that for 2,500 years, many of our predecessors
perpetuated this craziness to put food in their bowls
and fool ignorant peasants so that they might be
supported in their other useful work, and we vow
to do better!” is a crying shame

Thing is probably many people (myself included) may deduce from that statement that Ingram distorts true dhamma, misguiding people into delusion that one can be enligtened while being full of anger and desire, at the same time pulling people away from supporting Sangha. And according to all Vinaya rules formulas, keeping sila is essential to inspire true dhamma in those without confidence, and to boost confidence of those who already have it. That is letting go of defilements, all desires included. So I don’t think that Analayo’s words are not in place. To my eyes it is just defense, some mirroring of Ingram’s attitude and exactly showing that Ingram’s vision of buddhism is totally deluded. And his book is called “Mastering core teachings of the Buddha” and not “Mastering core teachings of Daniel Ingram”. Ingram presents a very selective “teachings of the Buddha”, completely ignoring Vinaya for example, and all teachings on celibacy, renunciation of desires etc.

It is easy to sell defilements as spirituality to the masses. It is art and true service and compassion to inspire people to leave their defilements for the sake of true spiritual Liberation.

Ingram asked himself for such critique with his writing. And I’m very glad that finally someone - in this case Bhikkhu Analayo - made it. I wish it will help some people get out of misconceptions about buddhist path for their benefit and ending of dukkha.

12 Likes

Ingram actually gives his electronic copies of his book away for free, by the way, and does not charge for anything as far as I know. I’m embarrassed that I’m getting worked up about this, but I will say one more thing.

Not too long ago I heard Ven. Sujato say that it is the rebels and heretics in a tradition who are the most interesting (or something like that). Well here we have one. He runs a forum more active than this one (quite a feat in 2020), filled with young people interested in meditation, many who might not otherwise be. To say that he is an enemy or distorter of the Dhamma is to take a myopic view I think. Many of those who come to his work will eventually end up reading the suttas and engage with them themselves. I know this because that’s what I did. I think he’s an asset.

And yeah, he’s crass. But his teachings are not that far off the beaten path. It’s hardly like he’s encouraging animal sacrifice or something.

8 Likes

#notallrebels #notallheretics

17 Likes

Yeah thats the good side of it and I agree with you there. It is pretty ambivalent situation.

From my experience, I know 3 people who practice meditation for years and read Ingram for years, and they haven’t read much suttas yet. So it is clear that our experiences shapes our perceptions. Seems like ours were different. Anyway, I’m really glad that Ingram got you into suttas and that probably there are much more people like that. :slight_smile:

I’m not sure if Bhante Sujato meant that level of rebels and heretics, but maybe he will respond. Interesting question for sure. :anjal: :slight_smile: EDIT: He already did :slight_smile:

Thank you for your input clay. I will consider if my view is myopic. And I’m sorry if my messages were too harsh or unskillful in some other way.

6 Likes

Single data point. Heard of Daniel Ingram a few years ago. Couldn’t get past him calling himself an arahant on the cover of his book. So I never read him. :smile:

10 Likes

You didn’t got “clickbaited”, or should we say “attainment-baited”. :upside_down_face: Congratulations! :smiley:

2 Likes

Hah, I have his book for about a year. I bought it just to check how deluded the fellow is and check his vision of worldly arahantship.
It took me a few months to start it, I read a few pages and just wasn’t able to continue😂 such an ego trip…

3 Likes

Of course, if anyone makes something to introduce and popularize meditation in wider circles it’s great, always some people will get really interested and will finally find the right path. But it’s also extremely important that people who really know what it’s all about, like ven. Analayo, say that those other “ways” are not true. It’s the only way to preserve real Buddha’s teachings and help people to find it.
And sometimes speaking “aggressive” is the only way to really show someone that he’s not right. BTW it’s not really an aggressive way, it’s perceived as aggressive by the one who doesn’t want to admit that he’s deluded…
When it comes to defilements and delusion there’s no “soft” way. Being not strict supports defilements, if there’s any small possibility that deluded way is fine, we’ll always find a way to go there. That’s why all those rules are needed, as Ajahn Brahm says - freedom from desire, no freedom for desire.

3 Likes