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Jasen over at Leverage pointed me at Culadasa last year. I try to keep a very careful eye out for all the higher-quality, contemporary meditation instruction in existence, but he slipped through the cracks.
Anyway, I want to give a particular shoutout to Culadasa. Some of his unpublished material made it into my hands a while back, and I noted that his description of meditative progress most closely matched my own experience out of anything I’ve read. I still had enough fundamental disagreements with his stuff, though, that I couldn’t recommend, and qualify my recommendation, in a compact enough way to bring him up.
Now, however, there’s a kindle book which readers might want to have a look at. It’s a transcript, which has all the problems of a teaching transcript (wordy, low signal-to-noise). But the reason I’m mentioning it is that aspects of his description of mindfulness meditation are nearly isomorphic to my formulation of foreground background meditation.
I want to emphasize that I had not been exposed to this aspect of Culadasa’s teaching before, so, for whatever it’s worth, I consider us to be relatively uncorrelated sources.
To expand on correlated vs not: Apparently, Culadasa taught neuroscience and has experience in Theravadin and Tibetan traditions. My PhD had a strong neuroscience component and I draw inspiration from Theravada, Tibetan Buddhism (and much more; not saying he doesn’t). And, we both seem to have converged on some very similar formulations. The difference between us is that Culadasa is, apparently, a double lineage holder and has been meditating for four times as long. In any case, I have personally updated in favor of me being less likely to be an idiot, which felt good. And, as with any teacher where I suss out some concordance, I’m more curious about the things he writes about that I “don’t (yet?) get or see why it’s worth focusing on.” So update on various things as you will. 🙂
Anyway, there’s plenty I disagree with or cringe at in that ebook, and you have to wade through a lot of speaking for the intermittent good stuff, but if you’re curious about an alternative global and local perspective on the same processes that I describe, you might want to check it out. I’m considering recommending it to people (who I don’t think would wade through my blog) as an introduction to meditation. There is no other meditation book that I would feel comfortable recommending to a beginner who I might never see again. (There are other meditation books on this blog that I would recommend, but only if I could be sure they would be heavily qualified by me or my blog.) Actually, Meditation for the Love of It stands out as being relatively safe and powerful, but that book, too, I think leaves out sooooooo much and needs to be heavily qualified over a long-haul meditation practice.
Of note, Culadasa has non-transcript book coming out soon. I have some expectation of being disappointed, but you can bet I’ll be reading it carefully.