I am reading Daniel Ingram’s book Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha, which is a sobering experience for me. At a general level, nothing is new, but the level of detail and practicality is beyond what I have found other places. Also, it reads far more as a manual exclusively for awakening than most other books, which is refreshing.
And when he asks the reader to examine their own attitudes about some of the topics he writes about, I find everything he points to as less than helpful views. How did those get formed? For me, I think it happened because I have looked for teachers and teachings who can address things at this level of specificity, but have not quite found it. (Or maybe I didn’t see it, or wasn’t receptive to it.)
This goes especially for the dark night, which – according to what he writes about it – could run its course much faster with right guidance and practice. I had neither when I went through it, and didn’t even know it was a dark night or that others went through it as well.
It is easy to tell myself stories about how it was necessary and so on, which is true of course. In the inner/outer situation I was in, it couldn’t have been much different, and there are certainly gifts in what happened.
But it is also true that with the right guidance and practice, the process could have unfolded with much greater speed and ease.