I am completely taking off my moderator ‘hat’ for this
Sometimes I get frustrated by only looking at the intellectual side of practice. While this is a site that focuses on EBT’s, in this case I think that a practice perspective becomes really important, in that it brings balance to just an intellectual analytical debate. Obviously, one must look to attained Masters for this practice perspective, ie those who have seen the Dhamma for themselves, as otherwise it may just be a conditioned mundane perspective.
I can’t remember the source, but I have been reading some of the Thai forest tradition masters recently, Ajahns Mun, Maha Boowa, Pannavaddho. The thing that I really appreciate is the heavy emphasis on practice, as opposed to words. One takes the words and applies them to see the results. The results are what matters, the words are the tool.
One must experiment and adapt to see what works - what yields the results. The results being deep insight, and seeing for oneself. This is the aim of the Dhamma. I can’t quote a sutta to specifically support this, but it is part of the forth Noble truth , pointing the way to the cessation of suffering.
Personally I had a lot of trouble matching my experiences with the descriptions of samadhi and jhana that I had come across. After a brief discussion with one of the teachers mentioned by @Gabriel above, I was told to just keep doing what I was doing… ie the ‘outcome’ showed that it was the correct path, that it was yielding good results. This took away all my anxiety and worry that I wasn’t doing it ‘correctly’ - and practice proceeded a-pace. Words and descriptions are extremely clumsy tools! They have to pass so many filters, so many conditions and memory before they are uttered, and then heard!
In my case, before I had this discussion, I didn’t have the confidence to adopt this attitude, and was using the words as an instruction manual. I can honestly say, that this hindered my practice for several years. Now I have the attitude, that the words are one individuals experience or interpretation of the steps and states described. These are just conditioned things to point us in the direction of seeing the Dhamma for ourselves. It’s relatively easy to apply this to current teachers, but what about the words of the Buddha. As far as the EBT’s go, they are now just an approximation of the Buddhas own words… pointing in the direction, filtered through the minds and speech of countless other beings. This is why I believe that practice experience, experimentation and adaptation in practice, is so essential to really penetrating the Dhamma.
I think the grasping of the words of the EBT’s is a very common issue in the west, where the emphasis is placed on the intellectual understanding and endless debate about miniscule details, and the emphasis on exploration and adaptation within practice is minimised. Although some teachers do still emphasise this.
@frankk I can feel both your frustration and your dedication to clarify the situation. I respect the dedication you demonstrate in trying to share and illuminate the path I feel that all one can do is to offer a point of view and perspective, and it is up to other beings to either pick it up or not. It is not a ‘personal’ issue Thus one can only work towards letting the frustration, of wanting an uncontrollable outcome, go.
I realise that this is bending the focus from the original OP, but this issue has been discussed from many perspectives on the forum for quite a long time :-)I think it stems from a love of the true Dhamma, and the wish to aid all beings to be free of suffering…
So dear @moderators please feel free to ‘moderate’ this in any way you see fit.
I am a little embarrassed, by my outpouring, but it is driven by compassion for all of us, with our delusions and suffering and the desire to follow the path to liberation for all beings. To this end, the hesitation born of ego retreats a little, and I share my views and opinions.