I’ve read the entire article so finally I can write a post.
I’m very grateful to Bhikkhu Analayo for writing this article and to Bhante Sujato for sharing. 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.
Blessings to the Sangha who protects the True Dhamma despite all difficulties.