Reversing the Stack—A Nondual Practice Map, with Michael Taft


In this episode, host Michael Taft remixes his map of deconstructing sensory experience, and talks about how to use it to work in nondual traditions. Essentially the idea is to reverse the stack by starting out with Stage 4 (pure awareness) and then working your way up to stage 3, etc. Michael also spends some time talking about maps of meditation, problems therewith, and why he is already reworking this map after a short time.

Show Notes

0:25 – Introduction
2:11 – Michael’s reasons for opposing maps, and creating the Deconstructing Sensory
Experience map
5:05 – Critiques Michael has heard about the map since first presenting it, and his responses
10:13 – Brief review of stages 1-4 of the map
14:41 – The logic behind putting cessation as stage 5 in the previous map; why it’s now
removed from the map
18:19 – How each stage is useful and no stage is lesser than the others
21:13 – Description of stage 4, pure awareness; how this stage is viewed in other traditions
25:43 – Reversing the stack, using this model bidirectionally
29:56 – The observer trap and how reversing the stack overcomes this problem
34:34 – Outro

Note: this is only a map, only a model. Just like a menu is not food, this model is not claiming to be reality. It’s just a handy way to help you orient your practice.

This model doesn’t count for nondual meditations, high-concentration/jhana practice, etc. It is only to help you with your vipassana practice.

These are not discrete or digital stages. They are analog, and shade into one another. Each stage is desirable and useful for various things. No stage is somehow better than another.

In vipassana practice, however, we are usually attempting to tranverse the stack from stage one to stage four.

When doing nondual practices, we transverse the stack from bottom to top (4 -> 1) and do what we might call “nondual vipassana” or something akin to many Mahamudra practices—which is what this episode describes.

Level Name Description
1 Conceptual Thinking about sensory experience objects using words.
2 Phenomenal Object Contacting the phenomenology of sensory experiences in the form of objects.
3 Flow / Change Contacting the phenomenology of sensory experiences as vibration, waves, or change.
4 Pure Awareness Noticing awareness itself with no content.

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