10 Comments on "NYC Talk: Choice"

  • Wow…

    I just listened to this while playing ball with my Dog. This is my new favourite dharma talk by you or anyone else. Very profound and effective. This practice is becoming more and more a part of my daily life. I feel like I finally get something that had been eluding me for quite some time. What I found particularly helpful, above and beyond the distant ships pointer, was the image of standing in a doorway with the manifest world in front of you and emptiness behind you. There was a lot of tension in my body before I tried this (I suspect I was going through the dukkha nanas) yet turning to that nothingness and sort of relaxing back into it resulted in an instant and deep burst of joy and laughter. There were even a few tears in my eyes. Turning the other way there was still quite a bit of tension and aching bodily, but when I turned around it didn’t matter at all.

    Thanks for a wonderful 33 minutes!

  • @ Mumuwu: Mudita, mudita, mudita, mudita my Dharma brother!

    @ Kenneth: In the most straightforward, beautiful and simple way you, once again, penetrate to the heart of the Path. Not only the Theravadan Path system, but the Path which underlies every tradition and teaching throughout history. This is why I believe you’re the real deal, not just as a teacher but as a genuinely caring, compassionate and joyful human being who’s presence is a blessing to the world.

  • These talks just keep getting better and better! My confidence in my direction of practice was increased by listening to this talk. I love that we have several gears to help get the job done. Thanks.

  • Wow! Thank you so much. These talks are such a gift. All of these murky fragments of understanding that I have been collecting are quickly clarified through your teaching.

    Near the end of the talk, you mention “Remembering”. It would be wonderful to hear more on your thoughts on the process and conditions of increasing remembering.

    • “Near the end of the talk, you mention “Remembering”. It would be wonderful to hear more on your thoughts on the process and conditions of increasing remembering.” -Justin

      Hi Justin,

      I believe that developmental meditation is similar to other kinds of learning. So it can be modeled using Maslow’s four stages of competence:

      1. Unconcious incompetence: I am not even aware that I don’t have the skill.

      2. Conscious incompetence: I know I don’t have the skill, but I can’t do anything about it. (This stage is frustrating, but essential. This is where I make the commitment to improve and deliberately begin to train in a technique. The rankling recognition of my own incompetence becomes a goad for further practice.)

      3. Conscious competence. At this stage, as long as I apply the technique, I find that I do have the skill. This is where remembering is so essential. At some point, the remembering is “the entire gig,” meaning that each time I remember to apply the technique, it works. The only thing that prevents me from demonstrating my skill, in this case the skill of continuous attention to this moment, is… forgetting to do it. To remember is to be awakened. To forget is to fall back into dullness and suffering.

      4. Unconscious competence. Just like riding a bike, there comes a time when you have mastered the skill. You no longer have to think about it. You are no longer even in the picture; it just happens.

      With regard to enlightenment, mastery comes in stages, with each new level building upon those before it. In fact, these four stages of learning are iterative. The fourth stage at each level is simultaneously the first stage of the next. In other words, when one level of skill has become second nature, there is often a honeymoon stage and then a plateau. Eventually, you notice that there is something else that you weren’t quite seeing clearly. You realize that you have just exited a new layer of Unconscious incompetence (stage 1) and are now at the stage of Conscious incompetence (stage 2). You have identified the new, more subtle problem and must now commit to further training in order to see through it.

      Luckily for us, we don’t have to worry that this will be an endless series of “not-quite-there” plateaus. At a certain point, happiness and fulfillment take over your life; I don’t know why, it just seems to work this way. And along the way, even in the beginning, each of us has the potential to access a perfect moment of awakeness. All it takes is to turn the mind toward its own essential nature (which cannot be seen) or to turn to toward the sound of the ships in the distant harbor, understanding that you will not hear them. In order to listen for a sound that is undefined, not finite, and therefore infinite, the mind must become infinitely receptive, infinitely open. And this openness inevitably brings a moment of perfect peace.

      -Kenneth

  • Kenneth – I guess the (or “a”) question is, what would a decision feel like? What would be the character of it? I mean, you can say “this is not it, and this is not it”, but then I want to know, what would a hypothetical decision feel like?

  • Another great talk – thank you Kenneth! Love how you can go from buying a pair of jeans to submitting to the will of God in one talk ;)

  • “At some point, the remembering is ‘the entire gig,’ meaning that each time I remember to apply the technique, it works.”

    Could you talk a bit more about what you mean by ‘it works’?
    And how is ‘not working’ like?

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