There seem to be quite a number of contributors here who are interested in discussing approaches to practice, so how about adding a “Practice” sub-forum here? I mean practices described in the EBTs of course!
The “Discussion” and “Q&A” sub-forums could then be reserved for technical discussion of the EBTs.
Since the EBTs discuss practice, and discussion about the EBTs must include a discussion of personal interpretations. That discussion is actually quite important at eliminating idiosyncratic views and strenghtening overall understanding of the EBTs themselves.
Thanks to @gnlaera for finding the quotes from Bhante @Sujato (I was going to go and search for them). I can understand what he means by needing to have a whole sense of a person and not wanting to give advice to a mere ‘digital persona’.
One of the things I’m learning through being a member on this forum is to loosen my fascination with the deeply personal. If I participated in such a corner I’m afraid I would find it hard not to indulge in “personal dumping”. Allowing practice discussion “everywhere … alongside the EBTs” as @Mat suggests helps to maintain a non-indulgent position that does something to keep my unenlightened ego in check.
If I was to be part of a practice group, I think I would want it to be fairly small, and also closed. People can be more mutually supportive after they have developed history together and know about each other’s practices. The sudden interpolation of remarks from left field, or the arrival of a newcomer who inadvertently swings the group in a new direction could be disruptive in a bad way. I would expect it to work better in a PM thread with just a few sympatico people hanging out together in private.
@Mat, You are sitting on the wall: “I’m not for having a practice corner… , I’m for it as well.” @karl_lew, which half of Mat do you agree with LOL?
(walks over to Mat. Shakes head. Whacks Mat with a nerf sword. Walks back)
I can see the need for a Practice FAQ thread, but not a Practice thread. A Practice FAQ thread would deal with terminology, common techiniques, etc. But a Practice thread alone would be in conflict with the Discussions thread which often has posts discussing practice in an EBT context.
(Mat walks over. Shakes head. Whacks Karl with two nerf swords. Walks back)
It is easy to invite a number of people to a PM discussion and thus make it into a small group discussion. This overcomes all the more serious problems of trying to do it (and moderate it) in a large public forum.
One of the dangers of a Practice forum is that we cannot provide guardrails against misinterpretation. It would be quite horrible for all of us to speak these words of the Buddha ourselves:
Why does the mendicant Sangha seem so diminished?
If others come to harm through our lack of mindfulness in the Practice forum, we would be quite devastated. We have people in the world today who use phones and GPS yet accept the world as flat. We therefore cannot expect sanity from all readers. The forums as they are today weave practice into complex threads that require a disciplined heedful mind to follow. A Practice forum could become dangerously prescriptive in its very openness and approachability. It could become a trap for the unwary.
I see the same danger in any forum or relationship based on teaching, whether people are physically present or internet remote. I run into this issue all the time when teaching people about rock climbing. I tell people, “if you do the wrong thing you could die. Even if you do the right thing you can die” If they still ask questions I tell them what works for me and why. I also share all the dangers I know about. People ask me to take them rock climbing outside. I say, “NO.” I say they have to be a certified leader so that we can trust each other. Students too often assume that the teacher will save them or prevent them from harm. This is why I am very careful with what I do or say regarding teaching of any sort. When I take people rock climbing outdoors I say, “we will need to watch over each other and keep each other safe. we will both learn from one another.”
Therefore in a small practice PM group, we still need to have published guidelines and expectations and more critically, advisories about danger. I once thought that meditation was universally good. In this very forum of D&D I have learned that it is not always the case, that meditation can destabilize and cause harm if approached too aggressively or with unrealistic expectations.
Thank you for the clarification. I like the rock climbing simile!
In fact, I agree with Bhante Sujato’s posts linked earlier in the thread and I’m against a D&D practice thread.
However, I’d love to have a small practice PM group. I agree there are dangers, but then again, aren’t we surrounded by various dangers in any case? Though I’m in good health, I might not make next week. A PM group would have the advantage of not being publicly accessible, so not everyone can just wander in—especially those who are vulnerable. Also, it should be clear to everyone joining that they do so at their own risk. For me, such a group wouldn’t be about giving others advice or taking advice from others—but I’d like to hear others’ experience on the path as I find that quite inspiring. Actually, I’d prefer an offline group . . . but we’re all over the world! Finally, I’m mainly in favor of just experimenting with it to see how it goes. If disharmony arises the experiment can be simply abandoned . . .
My paragraph above notwithstanding, I’m sympathetic to your consideration of the dangers of online Dhamma groups. And I don’t want anyone to have negative experiences.
I will gladly participate as well, despite all my cautionary chattering. Such a group is essential an Internet sangha. The tricky issue is deciding membership on an ongoing basis, but we can work that out over time. Participants should be aware of the dangers of meditation and acknowledge responsibility for their own practice. Participants should:
avoid being prescriptive (i.e., “x is the right way”),
avoid being judgemental (i.e., “your way is wrong/right”),
restrain themselves to experience-based cautious observations (e.g., “x worked for me under these conditions”).