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

Exactly, problem is when those people stay on that deluded path and don’t what to see that it’s not the real way. Their defilements are accepted and rewarded by people like Ingram.
If someone doesn’t want to admit that they’re wrong and really doesn’t want to get rid of their defilements he’ll always find some super-duper enlightened guru and will stay with those delusions.
If Sangha won’t say that it’s not the right path, won’t speak about why they’re wrong etc soon real teachings won’t be available at all… People love to go the easier way.


Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu on all your posts Nipaka! I’m glad that you have courage to say the truth directly without beating around the bush. It is very important part to let these people eventually see the truth. Keep inspiring them with good conduct on the one hand, and keep bashing the truth on the other. Because of such works like this one of Analayo, those who are ready to go further on the path will come around.

I speak from direct experience, because I would not make progress on the path if some teachers didn’t strictly tell me or give teachings how deluded I was at certain times. And I’m sure a lot of people can relate to such situations. It is invaluable act of kindness and compassion. Even if it is not pleasant in the first moment, great gratitude comes later on.

With Metta. :heart:


On the Dharma Overground thread (linked above), Daniel Ingram says:

I genuinely think my experience fits with at least the Bahiya of the Bark Cloth sutta description…

An identification both his critics and followers can presumably agree upon :rofl:


:heart: :pray:

It’s a bit like parents’ teachings - when we’re young we think they make no sense, but after some time we realize that they were right, just we weren’t ready to understand :slight_smile:


We all know that in the suttas, at times, the Buddha would confront a monk directly when they were misrepresenting the Buddha’s teachings or when they were heading into wrong view. The story of Sati in MN 38 is a good example.

12“Misguided man, to whom have you ever known me to teach the Dhamma in that way? Misguided man, have I not stated in many ways consciousness to be dependently arisen, since without a condition there is no origination of consciousness? But you, misguided man, have misrepresented us by your wrong grasp and injured yourself and stored up much demerit; for this will lead to your harm and suffering for a long time.”

13Then the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Bhikkhus, what do you think? Has this bhikkhu Sāti, son of a fisherman, kindled even a spark of wisdom in this Dhamma and Discipline?”

“How could he, venerable sir? No, venerable sir.”

14When this was said, the bhikkhu Sāti, son of a fisherman, sat silent, dismayed, with shoulders drooping and head down, glum, and without response. Then, knowing this, the Blessed One told him: “Misguided man, you will be recognised by your own pernicious view. I shall question the bhikkhus on this matter.”

15Then the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Bhikkhus, do you understand the Dhamma taught by me as this bhikkhu Sāti, mn.i.259 son of a fisherman, does when he misrepresents us by his wrong grasp and injures himself and stores up much demerit?”

16“No, venerable sir. For in many discourses the Blessed One has stated consciousness to be dependently arisen, since without a condition there is no origination of consciousness.”

17“Good, bhikkhus. It is good that you understand the Dhamma taught by me thus. For in many ways I have stated consciousness to be dependently arisen, since without a condition there is no origination of consciousness. But this bhikkhu Sāti, son of a fisherman, misrepresents us by his wrong grasp and injures himself and stores up much demerit; for this will lead to the harm and suffering of this misguided man for a long time.

The Buddha’s rebuke seems much more “aggressive” than Analayo’s, both are appropriate.


Thank you so much for that quotation!
Definitely, Buddha is sometimes really strict and it’s definitely needed. It’s great that today we have such a great Sangha and monks like Ven. Analayo ready to defend real Dhamma from being presented as a another great way to have a worldly life full of sensual pleasure.

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I find it interesting how the Buddha handled Sati’s case. Instead of just sitting down with him and straightening him out, he also went before the Sangha with Sati and showed him the harmony of understanding of the Buddha’s teaching within the entire Sangha. Sati sat with his head down, dismayed without a response, knowing he had gone outside the bounds of the dhamma.


If Analayo did say that and that is actually not true, I do agree with your criticism to the degree that statement is false.
I do think all of the harmless and beneficial parts of what Ingram taught should not be blamed and should be praised.

One thing I found helpful from his book was his insistence that people don’t take meditation teachers at their word, and to inquire about what their basis for their meditation instructions are.

I found this attitude of critical inquiry to be helpful for meditators who might otherwise blindly follow the advice of meditation teachers or tradition.

However, he advises that meditators to evaluate the accuracy of what the teacher’s say against the standard and criterion of “meditation maps and insight stages” (i.e. Theravada commentarial literature derivation) - as opposed to the “Buddha’s Dhamma-Vinaya.”

That’s one thing that I found fundamentally misleading about Ingram’s approach.

What an astute assessment actually. :thinking:

In retrospect, I feel heavily misled by him actually. Embarrassed even, at having been foolish enough to trust him and his approach. I actually didn’t know about DN, MN, SN, AN, etc. at that time.

The appeal seems to have been a pop culture-oriented, secular, apparently deep, treatment of “experientially-resonating, achievement-oriented meditation practice” - something like that, I think.

I am glad that Bhikkhu Analayo addressed the claims made by him.

What do you mean by “canon”? The “Theravada Pali Canon”?
Regardless of how you define, can you provide evidence to support this claim too?

Maybe to help those who might have been misled (like me, actually) by Daniel Ingram’s approach and thinking it to be representative of Buddhism/Buddha/Dhamma-Vinaya/etc. when it likely is not a completely accurate representation.

Ingram characterizes Analayo in the following way:
“On Monday an article appeared in the journal Mindfulness by Bhikkhy Analayo, who is a very strictly orthodox Theravada monk with impressive textual and linguistic skills and a bit of an agenda, as you will see if you read the article.”

Is it correct to characterize Bhikkhu Analayo as a “very strictly orthodox Theravada monk?”

I thought Bhikkhu Analayo specialized in EBT?

What exactly is your main point though? Like what exact concern or reservation do you have regarding the Bhikkhu Analayo’s critique of Daniel Ingram?

I had a very different experience. Of course, I think my own misunderstanding was blame-worthy first and foremost.

But I do think Daniel Ingram should be criticized and blamed to the degree he is actually blame-worthy.

I think you seem to using the benefit that he causes (which is obviously not zero) to excuse the harm that he causes.

Perhaps you are (rightly) concerned about being truly objective and taking a stock of both the bad and the good parts of Ingram’s approach?

I found this to be part of the appeal of Ingram’s book - “read these ~250 pages of secular distillation of Buddhism and get to the core of the Buddha’s teaching…without ever actually listening directly to the Buddha.”

It took me some time to realize that this approach essentially implies that Ingram’s voice matters more than the Buddha’s.

And this is appealing for those who (like me in the past) fancied themselves as “secular explorers” of Buddhism - “if I can learn Buddhism from a fellow secularist who mastered Buddhism, no need for me ever dip my foot into Buddhism…I can continue on the road to worldly success while not missing out on any of the benefits of Buddhism - I can eat my cake and have it too!”


The following seems to be a legitimate free download link for the article from the Springer website (saw this in the dharmaoverground comments section):

(Must actually read the article a bit more before I consider whether to comment or not :slight_smile: ).


I think we can do better than that. When someone criticizes another for being “aggressive”, this is an ad-hominem attack. We need to recognize that this is, in fact, the case, and that such attacks are not merely invalid, they reveal that the one making the critique has no better arguments.

It reminds me of the criticisms of BLM or MeToo protesters as being “angry”, as if that somehow invalidates what they say. They have darn good reasons for being angry! Maybe stop doing the things that make them angry!

Indeed. This is another kind of ad hominem attack, of the kind that has become all-too-common fare in secularist circles. There’s no need to take Analayo’s argument seriously because of who he is. Heck, I’ve even heard a senior academic make the same argument.

I haven’t discussed with Ven Analayo personally on how he thinks of himself vis-a-vis Theravada, but I suspect he would think of himself, as I do, as a student of the Buddha’s teachings who is ordained within a Theravada Vinaya tradition.

Regarding his “orthodoxy”, it probably comes as no surprise that Ven Analayo has come under severe attack from actual orthodox Theravadins. Oddly enough, Ingram himself is in some ways more “orthodox” Theravadin, as his thing is adapted from the modern Burmese Vipassanavada. Of course, no Theravadin would take any teacher seriously who promoted themselves as an arahant, like Ingram. The tradition has its flaws, but it still has a certain degree of shame and integrity.


I think it is exactly the case here: Daniel Ingram wrote a book that makes people angry, because on its pages he harshly and publicly insults people who have more spiritual/religious attitude to buddhism and who actually practice what Buddha actually taught.

A quotation from article that shows why Daniel Ingram writing can be considered aggressive/insulting, at least it is to my mind:

The traditional Theravada models contain numerous
statements that are simply wrong about what an awakened being cannot do or will do. My favorite examples
of this include statements that arahants cannot break the
precepts (including killing, lying, stealing, having sex,
doing drugs, or drinking), cannot become sexually
aroused … Needless to say, all are simply absurd lies
(p. 356).
There are those who are “technically” awakened, who
nonetheless can appear exceedingly ordinary, seem to be
of distinctly questionable character, disposition, and
moral virtue, or seem sometimes downright debauched,
nasty, and insufferable (p. 358).
When some old monk with pudendal nerve damage
(from extensive sitting), low testosterone, neuropathy
from diabetes due to a rice-heavy diet with little exercise, and pudendal vascular disease finally cannot get an
erection anymore, does that mean that all awakened men
cannot get erections (p. 377)?

Saying that great arahants could do things like killing or having sex is pretty insulting for people who really believe and practice Buddha’s teachings.

And considering that, Bhikkhu Analayo response (at least to me), wasn’t aggressive at all, it was simply strict and to the point, and actually revealing the aggression of harsh critic (of real Buddha’s teachings) who was Ingram in the first place.

Is it aggression that we show that someone is aggressive? I don’t think so. I think it is self-defense and responsible behaviour that protects others from future aggression. It is basic psychology that if aggressive behaviours are not called out, they tend to reappear and spread further the bad influence.

Someone - Bhikkhu Analayo - finally stood up and shown that this book was partly act of verbal aggression towards some of theravadin/Buddha’s teachings, which can be seen in some quotes in the article. And that is simply revealing the aggression, not being aggressive.

And if Ingram calls Bhikkhu Analayo article aggressive, it reminds me of the quotation from the Bible:

“You hypocrite! First, remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.”


They’re also attacking because they don’t want to see the truth and are so convinced in their delusion and their master that even without reasonable arguments they’ll defend them with that low, ad personam attacks.
It’s pretty sad that this mechanism drives those people, metta and karuna for them :yellow_heart: :orange_heart: :brown_heart:

Dear venerables and friends, please remember that this is a public forum and that just as people here can read comments on the dhammaoverground forum, others can read our comments here.

What is being said here will be seen and is likely to stick around for a long time and be used in all sorts of ways against you by others. Knowing this, maybe be careful you don’t make yourselves an easy target for your arguments to be dismissed out of hand.


Yeah, this one always confused the heck out of me. Shouldn’t monks be (on the whole) taken more seriously as they have visibly dedicated their lives to (studying and practicing) the Buddha’s Teachings? It would be like dismissing someone’s ideas about modern medicine because, well, he’s a doctor. :roll_eyes:

I can’t find the link now unfortunately, but I remember him saying something to this affect in an interview when they tried to characterize him as “Theravada”

Thanks for the reminder, Bhante :pray: Hope you’re doing well and having a good rains! :slight_smile:


I have sat a retreat with Ven Anālayo where I heard him say quite simply that he follows the Buddha, and that the Buddha is his teacher.

Regarding “the Theravada,” is it really so monolithic that it can be characterised in simply terms? The need that folks have to slap labels on others and on themselves is quite mystifying.


Thank you Bhante for sharing this article.

As most of you are aware, even during the Buddhas lifetime, people would disagree and/or misrepresent his teachings, both within the Sangha (as per @Adutiya 's citation above) and from outside of the Sangha.

As such, it is wholly to be expected that this will continue (even increase) over time. The Buddha advised not to get angry about this, but to just correct the misrepresentations.

IMHO, Ajahn Analayo has demonstrated, in a very skillfull way, exactly how Mr Ingram has misrepresented some of the Buddhas teachings, and he has done this using Right Speech. A great example of the teachings in practice :pray:t2:

It is a great opportunity to actually see how Delusion, ill will, ego and attachment are the drivers of anger, harsh speech, argument, divisiveness etc. It is so easy to get caught up in it, especially if we really care about the topic.

What gives me confidence in particular teachers, however, is the consistency in how they behave; in body, speech and mind. And as always, the Buddha said it best :slight_smile:

The Kalamas asked “There are, sir, some ascetics and brahmins who come to Kesamutta. They explain and promote only their own doctrine, while they attack, badmouth, disparage, and smear the doctrines of others. Then some other ascetics and brahmins come to Kesamutta. They too explain and promote only their own doctrine, while they attack, badmouth, disparage, and smear the doctrines of others. So, sir, we’re doubting and uncertain: ‘I wonder who of these respected ascetics and brahmins speaks the truth, and who speaks falsehood?’”

The Buddha replied “So, Kālāmas, when I said: ‘Please, don’t go by oral transmission, don’t go by lineage, don’t go by testament, don’t go by canonical authority, don’t rely on logic, don’t rely on inference, don’t go by reasoned contemplation, don’t go by the acceptance of a view after consideration, don’t go by the appearance of competence, and don’t think “The ascetic is our respected teacher.” But when you know for yourselves:*

“These things are skillful, blameless, praised by sensible people, and when you undertake them, they lead to welfare and happiness”, then you should acquire them and keep them.’ That’s what I said, and this is why I said it.

*Then that noble disciple is rid of desire, rid of ill will, unconfused, aware, and mindful. They meditate spreading a heart full of love to one direction, and to the second, and to the third, and to the fourth. In the same way above, below, across, everywhere, all around, they spread a heart full of love to the whole world—abundant, expansive, limitless, free of enmity and ill will. AN3.65

With much metta :pray: :revolving_hearts: :sunflower:


Interesting article by Analayo. It occurred to me that the following post I came across recently on r/streamentry on reddit might be somewhat relevant to the entire topic:
A reconsideration of the meaning of “Stream-Entry” considering the data points of both pragmatic Dharma and traditional Buddhism
It’s a long but interesting post discussing comparing traditional Buddhist maps of enlightenment and the “pragmatic dharma” models and how they don’t match up (and how perhaps often too much is being read into momentary cessation/blackout experiences people have). The writer is also somewhat conciliatory and generous in his way and hypothesizes that perhaps the MCTB 4th path “arahant” stage may map to canonical stream entry.

I guess this at least shows that the issue is being discussed, which is no bad thing. IMO it’s healthy that any spiritual/religious movement (no matter how benign) is subjected to a healthy dose of scrutiny and examination and there there are critical pieces out there for those who wish to look. No harm either, I think, in this new “improved” approach (not necessarily a criticism as religion/spirituality is littered with new “improved” approaches which selectively pick and mix from the old) being compared with the system it is “improving” (particularly for those who might be unfamiliar with the more traditional understandings).

To finish, I’ll just copy some of the points from the final summary in the reddit post:

  • Primarily: I think there is a great deal of evidence and information to suggest that the momentary cessation/path-fruition experiences discussed so often in Pragmatic Dharma circles and in some of 20th/21st century Theravada, are not indicative of the noble fruits of stream-entry or any other later attainment described in the Pali Suttas, nor in the Mahayana schools’ descriptions of the First Bhumi (or later Bhumis).

  • I think the irreversible elimination of the fetters and the arising of the Dharma Eye (insight into conditionality absent the self-view which obscures it) should be the primary criteria for determining Stream-Entry, if we are taking what Gotama Buddha and his community of bhikkhus & bhikkhunis said seriously.

  • I think people should not be ashamed at the possibility of only attaining “mere” stream-entry, as if that is some lowly attainment that you should feel bad about. Stream-Entry (first Bodhi/awakening) is incredibly rare amongst humanity overall (though certainly not rare amongst dedicated Dharma practitioners - in fact it is very attainable and within reach to anyone who practices earnestly). The suffering that remains for a stream-winner compared to that which they have given up, is likened by the Buddha to the dirt scraped up in his fingernail versus all the dirt that makes up the Earth.

  • I think that by considering this meaning of stream-entry, this might help some people on the path in evaluating where they are, and their capacity to eliminate fetters. For instance, if this strict interpretation of stream-entry (three fetters, thorough realization of selflessness and conditionality) is indeed correct, then it must be the prerequisite to actually permanently eliminating/uprooting the later fetters (sensual desire, ill-will…etc), since the first three fetters must be uprooted first by necessity before the latter ones can be uprooted: “First, Susima, comes knowledge of the stability of the Dhamma [conditionality and selflessness], afterwards knowledge of Nibbana.” SN 12.70

  • I think that the perspective that “Cessation experiences = path attainments” have caused an unfortunate amount of frustrations to the point of even neurotic repression in practitioners who end up feeling guilt and frustration, or just general confusion at the fact that they still experience things like anger and sense desires, despite being told (often by senior practitioners in positions of authority) that they have attained something (for example, Second or Third path supposedly marked by a cessation experience) which is supposed to literally render such experiences impossible.

  • Identifying Anatta realization as ‘Canonical Stream-Entry’ - an attainment without connotations or criteria of emotional/behavioural perfection, IMO takes some of the cognitive dissonance load off that comes with calling oneself an Arahant (and the inherent antagonization & level of incompatibility it produces with the entire non-Pragmatic Dharma/DhO Buddhist world), and IMO better makes room for the further integration/human development which naturally continues after such a realization, rather than suggesting that it is the final unimprovable peak of human spiritual potential.

  • I think that the Bahiya sutta-type realization often described in the Pragmatic Dharma community as “MCTB 4th Path” is in fact more akin to Stream-Entry as described in the Suttas and to First Bhumi as described in the Mahayana traditions, rather than Arahantship, which (going by the classical definition of the word) it obviously does not align with at all. For those who have been long familiar with the Pragmatic Dharma community, you will know that this is not a new suggestion at all, but regardless, I think it is worth putting forth, especially today. I see no reason to think that this realization is equivalent to Arahantship, and that to think so would require an incredibly massive stretch in reinterpreting the fetter model, to the point where the model is practically meaningless.


Thanks a lot, Venerable. What a great advice!

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When I saw the title appear few days ago I had high hopes for a quality discussion of practice, experiences and term definitions. Not suprisingly it quickly turned to bashing and name calling.
How is that an improvement on what happened at the relevant thread on the Dharma Overground forum? Can’t we really do any better here? :frowning:


Thanks @tuvok, I was thinking the very same thing.