Discussions of Zen Buddhism in all shapes and sizes.
Has anybody tried BigMind™? What it is, a machine? A DVD?
In bigmind.org, there is a subscription service, but I'm a bit reluctant to hand the $15 without knowing if it isn't the thing that will,as advertised,make me get satori experiences in an hour.
I'm getting this torrent to check out first, and, yes, I know that downloading your enlightenment sounds incredibly ridiculous, haha
It's a process. It's based on voice dialogue - an reasonably well regarded therapeutic technique, during which one 'gives voice' to various aspects of yourself (subpersonalities, voices... call them what you will). BM essentially views 'standard' voice dialogue as part one of the process, where you work with what Genpo Roshi terms 'relative' or 'dualistic' voices, like the Controller, the Protector, the Damaged Self, The Seeker, etc.
So far, so 70's encounter group!
BM, though, then moves to a sequence of 'absolute' or 'nondual' voices, in which one talks as The Seeker after the Way, The Way, Big Mind, etc. And finally, you express some 'integrated' or 'free functioning' voices.
The basic idea is to give a sort of kensho experience - a "peak" (or "peek") experience which would, inter alia, raise a bit of the old Bodhi Mind, hopefully even give the motivation for a life on the zafu! It's not going to change your life forever, I'm guessing (though it probably has for a few).
However: Genpo Roshi's technique - and the man himself, and the marketing, etc - are not without their opponents, so it won't be difficult to find people who are very anti it. In fact, just wait for a few posts below this one, someone's bound to get stuck in!
I'd say: give it a try - I've done it a couple of times and it's been interesting. $15 isn't much to satisfy your curiosity - people happily pay more for a Blu-ray of the latest blockbuster. I'm not about to make it my main practice or anything, but it's certainly not without merit. It's an experiment in Western ways of engaging with Zen - and it's not for everyone.
Also, if you ever get a chance to practice with a teacher who's done a bit of Big Mind, there are other applications other than just giving a first "peek" - it can be used to explore koans, to investigate Buddhist ideas of non-self, etc etc. But that sort of thing rather has to be done with a proper Zen teacher.
I've watched the first part of the DVD today and it's very embarassing to say, but I think that everybody got enlightenment except me
The method was simple: we were asked to impersonate different roles and explore what it is like to be them. There were the dualistic, the non-dualistic and the "unified" roles.
The dualistic roles, presented on DVD1, were:
1. The Controller
2. The Skeptic
3. The Vulnerable Child
4. The Protector
5. The Damaged Self
6. The Fixer
8. The seeker
9. The way-seeking mind
They were experienced by answering questions - always on first person - like "Who are you?", "What do you see?" and "What is your value?".
In the second DVD, two new roles were presented: the BigMind™ and the BigHeart™. To get to the BigMind™:
1. We answered him as the controller to do our job differently and not let other voices come up. "Give me a very clear channel to the voice I want to speak to, without any static from the controller, the skeptic, the protector and the others"
2. He said "Sit in an upright position. I'd like to speak to BigMind™ now. Who am I speaking to now?"
3. We answered "BigMind™". "Do you find any beginning or end?"
And the enlightenment began. "No size, no space, infinite. Unborn, deathless. Not living on concepts. Embracing everything. Not describable as a shape, not definable as blue. I'm flux" - that's how people were describing how they felt.
Oh-mmmmm-kay, I agree. That may be a fancy way of describing not letting go of thoughts for 6 seconds, but then on 0:10:19, some guy said: "All things are manifestations of me" - And everybody agreed
Genpo asked: "In the past, many people were searching for the BigTruth™ or Enlightnment or Reality. What is this that they were searching for?" Someone wasn't sure, but he clarified: "Ok. 'All things are me'. Is this common knowledge? So wouldn't this be that wisdom?"
"What can we say about the other big minds?" "We are the same". Etc, etc...
People also continued describing how they felt: "Now I feel a very strong sense of peace/fearlessness" "I'm enlightened with all beings" "People think we are just an isolated thread, but we are connected!"
And so on. In 15 minutes they rediscovered the complete jargon of Buddhism while here all I got was my lousy skeptic self arising back and me being unable to get into the mental stage at 0:10:19.
Then they embodied BigHeart™ and felt The Cries Of The World with their thousand arms. We were presented Yin and Yang compassion, gave birth to a million bodaisattas in our wombs and some ladies even cried, which reminded me of an occasion when I was a child and started to cry seeing one man eat a sandwich thinking "How happy this man is by eating a sandwich!" untill I realized I was just fooling myself by making a BigDrama™ with wishful thinking.
Finally, we explored the Master Role, which is the real controller besides the controller. Then non-thinking mind, and everybody was surprisingly unaffected by the minor demons of zazen. "I see how easy it is to let thoughts go", "The distractions come, but I'm so oh-detached." and then Genpo: "So that was your kensho and thanks for coming".
Ok, he didn't said that, but I felt like he did. It's hard not to think that this was a made-up BigCrap™.
I replayed these first two DVDs but that didn't help at all. The premise is not that outwordly: trigger kensho experiences using psychological techniques. Perhaps I need to be more non-judging. I've watched it twice and will watch it again eight more times till the end of the year and will report back.
Good for you, you are being real. You had the reaction you had, no white light experience, and that's just the way it is!
I think it's kinda baloney too, IMHO. I think voice dialogue is a great technique, but I think he may be misapplying it. Voice dialogue I think is more helpful in more mundane issues, and for asking more mundane questions.
Facing a precious mirror, form and reflection behold each other. You are not it, but in truth it is you.
MMMK, you've made some remarkable discoveries about yourself right out of the box, so to speak... it's not easy. Don't distract yourself from them with any assessment of what the process is or is not... you did it. It will reveal itself to you. I am touched that you saw so much about yourself and shared it with us. It doesn't matter if "the process" is baloney, which I think it is not. And, I would go easy on thinking that you should expect kensho out of the box like this. Give yourself the freedom to fail, that's true freedom. You'll never see a genuine kensho with conditioning and judgement in the way... so best to do a little foundational work... I spent years feeling like I didn't get it and trusting that some part of me did. And, it was true. So, each time you do the work you begin again, and again, and again.... Three of the cardinal rules of growth are: "make no comparisions, delete the need to understand, and make no assumptions". It's fortunate when we find our place of discomfort, stick with it for now... Something got you there, trust that until you outgrow it. You will know, you don't need us to tell you.
A zen koan to be with: it is better to have nothing, than something... (there is more, but I can't remember it)
Alisdair has given a balanced response. (this forum has gone into this subject ad nauseum if you care to search it out.) Instead, perhaps it would be good to find out for yourself the riches of going deeper into yourself... rather than focusing on gossip from unknown sources.
I'm moved to echo Keith here....
Good luck and thanks for practicing,
Not last night,
not this morning;
Melon flowers bloomed.
This topic comes up now and then. As Alasdair says it is a process.
The process is to become free of our self-images by first recognizing how self-images work then by letting them go.
Of course, the nine self images listed are not the only ones. They are Genpo Roshi's representative sampling of the self-images that are socially significant from his point of view.
The archetypes are not the images, the images—as they have already become conscious-- are how the archetypes arrange the contents of our consciousness. The archetypes are the deepest organizing principles of the fourth skandha, and the complexes are the more surface oriented and individual mental formations of the fourth skandha.
As semi-autonomous images, the controller, skeptic, protector, etc. are examples of how the archetypal-complexes of the 4th skandha manifest in socially meaningful ways that people can relate to collectively. They are “self images” in the sense that we take them to be our self (or parts of our self or our selves) when they come under the overarching sway of the ego complex.
By seeing how each of the images acts somewhat autonomously to affect our consciousness we can have one of the first experiences that show us the contents of consciousness are not our “self”. For example, by recognizing how the “controller” has its own story, its own point of view and biases, we can see how it is not our ego or our self, but an image formation that affects our consciousness almost with a life of its own if we don’t attend to what is happening.
The sense of excitement we experience when we first come to see how the complexes like the controller, protector, fixer, etc., are affecting our consciousness is an excitement that arises from the freeing of the psychic energy (in Chinese chi or qi) that was bound up in the attachment of the complex. It can be mistaken for something like kensho but should not be so mistaken.
After the stage of seeing that these various archetypal-complexes are not “me”, we can turn to the most fundamental archetype of them all the “psyche” itself or what Genpo Roshi calls “big mind.” Hearing the voice of the “big mind” or “one mind” or “true nature”, however one wants to label the primary archetype, is the same as hearing the voice of God in the Christian context, that is, “No size, no space, infinite. Unborn, deathless.” Again, some people may mistake this for kensho or awakening. It is close to it, but it is not yet true awakening because there is still the mediation of “the voice.” . Hearing the voice of Big Mind arise within us is more like Moses hearing the voice of God in the Burning Bush than the awakening of Tathagata. As long as there are words there is the function of the archetype organizing the contents of consciousness. As long as one has the perspective of “Big mind is no size.” one is not experiencing the no size of big mind, that is one has not dissolved bigness and size.
The voice that says “all things are manifestations of me” is the appearance of the deep archetype but is not yet the enlightenment that realizes the true freedom of no-thing, no-me. The idea “we are connected” still has the perfume of separation.
Oh that is so sad to hear that the thought of “fooling myself” over came the joy of eating the sandwich with the man. The thought of “fooling myself” is an example of how an individualized complex (such as the Skeptic) can rise up in mind to overcome a deeper archetypal-complex. Both are complexes, but the deeper archetypal-complex shares a profound joy in the simple activities of living, while the individual complex creates drama by denying the profound joy as just “wishful thinking.”
The life story of Buddha tells us that Siddhartha has such a childhood experience and while under the Bo tree is was in recalling the experience that he was able to find his way to the deepest zen-samadhi. Such experiences as children of the sense of unification are the prodromal signs of seeing our true nature and should not be lightly discarded as “wishful thinking” as “the Skeptic” would have us believe.
The Blessed One said, “The recognition of the one vehicle (一乘) is obtained when there is no rising of discrimination by doing away with the notion of grasped and grasping and by abiding in the reality of suchness.” ~ From the Lankavatara Sutra
You are all being far too respectful and politic.
This is a blatant selling of The Dharma... I'd like to be able to say that Genpo Roshi is selling water by the river, but that would imply that the water he is selling is fresh... It isn't... it's dirty, stale water which at best may help one wet ones lips and which at worst will give one the bloody runs.
Really? All this ego-aggrandizing self-worship is being discussed as though it is true Dharma?
Please, people.... Let's not confuse our fellow seekers.
One man's poetry is another man's poison, and vice versa.
You can never tell what works to help some people. Big Mind is a contrived technique sorely lacking in depth, but who knows, it might be an opening to something more.
What do you expect of us folks living in the Big Smoke, glued to our little technotoys? We want a newfangled glossy-packaged instant enlightenment thingie - of course! And as far as Big Mind goes, we could probably do worse.
I hope you don't mind, but I'm not going to engage in this discussion further - I can tell your mind is made up. Mine isn't entirely, actually, but I'm not going to argue just for the sake of it. Another time, perhaps!
Funny, I said something similar to my teacher when we were discussing BM - I was expressing how I didn't like the hard-sell Marketing... He hadn't heard of it - so I described it how Alasdair did, and then appended my statement with "well.. it might be a very valid psychological introspection technique - but it's not zen"
Basically, cutting a long story short, my teacher told me to be careful with categorising things as "zen" or "not zen" . Is driving a car 'zen'? - is riding the underground part of 'zen practice' ?
Alastair, I don't mind at all.
With respect, I understand your teacher's caution, but statements like this can lead to problems (I think it's clear why).
Sometimes it's necessary to just speak plainly.
To better state my position (as regards BigMind) please allow me to quote Bodhidharma's famous verse:
A special transmission outside the scriptures,
Not founded upon words and letters;
By pointing directly to [one's] Mind
It lets one see into [one's own True] Nature and [thus] attain Buddhahood
Now, ask yourself honestly, does this sound like BigMind?
Umm, yes? By answering as these voices we are pointing directly to their emptiness. It seems.
Yes, I think that's exactly the point. And it is a good beginning point for Zen practice, as Genpo Roshi says.
Practitioners who cultivate the personal realization of buddha knowledge dwell in the bliss of whatever is present and do not abandon their practice.
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