Sometimes, I sort of want to throw in the garbage concepts like arhatship and other milestones. I’d just like to replace it with the concept “better.” I like “better” because it doesn’t assume any particular goal. There’s just better than the last thing. (The reason I use “good” so much in the protocol document and not “better” or even “best” is for local methodological, pedagogical, and philosophical reasons: better can sometimes be problematic for local, in the trenches wayfinding. And best is pedagogically misleading and philosophically twisty.)
I like better not only because it doesn’t assume any particular goal, and one could clarify that as “no particular *fixed* goal.” Better doesn’t make a *thing* out of an end state; it doesn’t necessary connote, assume, or imply an end state at all.
It also doesn’t assume sort of “top-down directionality” or “top-down wayfinding.”
To do better, to go in the direction of better, you just need to take one little step in some better direction.
Ah, but that’s not exactly right.
There is another piece that needs to be added to “better” and that’s “nonmonotonicity.” That is, sometimes, to get to something better, sometimes things need to temporarily get worse. That *dip* is nonmonotonicity. (Monotonicity [as opposed to nonmonotonicity] is never going down [nor sideways??], only going up, but sometimes there’s going up slower, sometimes there’s going up faster.)
Ok, so with “better” and “nonmonotonicity,” there’s still directions/directionality, there’s still *wayfinding,* in terms of (a) what to *do* next, and so (b) where to [hopefully or experimentally] *go* next, for (c) to eventually *get* somewhere (maybe unknown). And that somewhere, the sort of intuitive/implicit/inexplicit/felt *planning horizon* gets longer and longer, farther and farther out, the more skilled and experienced one gets; one navigates deeper and longer nonmonotonicity, as sometimes needed, over time.
And there’s always a next somewhere, and the “final” (not final) somewhere (no fixed somewhere) is always over the horizon. And sometimes one needs to massively backtrack, and that’s ok. There’s time. It’s built in.
And, so, you can just keep going. States, stages, gateless gates, stateless states, unconceptualizable states, pristine states (along some dimensions)—it can be very helpful to have and make maps and milestones. But, traditions recognize that, say, “deconditioning” continues after arhatship. The path always just continues.
You can just keep going—better and better.
Above, I haven’t talked about how all this is sort of “multidimensional.” Things can be multidimensionally getting nonmonotonically better (and so also worse) at the same time, along a vast number of dimensions. There’s local and large-scale tradeoffs, at first. But the sort of “average” of the whole thing keeps getting better and better. And sometimes there’s big dips, even “late stage” big dips. But some biggest dips eventually just never happen ever again.
And eventually one starts exploring something like globality, optimizing the whole thing all at once (via mostly little, local operations), while, challengingly, somehow, everything is mediately/indirectly or immediately/directly connected to everything else. Things deconvolve and de-intertwingle over time, what’s weakly separable becomes weakly separate, gloriously non-interacting, to some degree, and to greater and greater degrees, when it wouldn’t be helpful if those things interacted, but it’s still all connected, somehow. It’s the ultimate puzzle, in part because the final goal is over the horizon and one is learning (and unlearning) better and better goals over time until the idea of a goal itself gets replaced with something better, too.
You can just keep going and going. Eventually meditation blurs and blends with life, being lost in life is the same as being in the meditative state, effortless, costless, engaged, nothing to maintain; it’s just what you are. You get to keep all your tools, they become you, they are you, and also you get to just live, to get lost in life, you can just let go, all the way down, and do what you want because what you want is the right thing to do. (Really right—wellbeing, self-aligned, nonartificial…)
If you have the right method, and by method I mean, sure, some *invariances,* of course, but also something creative, nonstereotyped, fine-grain, innovative, that nevertheless-and-in-any-case can navigate, can travel, in straight lines or along any n-dimensional line, and you just just keep going and going.
Again, you can just keep going and going, better and better.