Second-Path Toolbox Expansion Set

Not all tools are tools. | Photo courtesy of Chris Ensey

I had to laugh out loud when I read O’s saying that, while in a difficult in-between place, she once told her teacher that she hated him. It is weird and subsequently kind of funny to forget what one is supposed to be doing, meaning practicing, but there you go – other stuff going on. 

Daniel the Curmudgeon-Benefactor

Oddly, the very week that I started to work on MCTB2, stream entry happened, so in the course of talking about the book there was no way that event was not going to come up in conversation. Dan never analyzed or speculated about what I personally considered so darned fascinating about my stream entry event.  

So when I brought up again night before last how I wondered what that strange radical dislocation phase was on re-ignition of reality, and when he again thwarted discussion, saying that event was distant for me and more so for him, I got pissed at him and replied a bit curtly that I had written out the event right after it happened and it was he who was the map freak and so why was my x, y, z not on on the maps and why couldn’t he just answer the damned question!

Then I saw O’s comment about her teacher.

About two minutes later something dawned on me. So I emailed one more line back to Daniel, saying simply, “Oh! Okay. Sorry. You are actually giving me practice advice, right? I get it.” Meaning that I understood a possible context in which debriefing of my so-fascinating event of August 8 was not helpful for me here and now. 

He did say something about the maps, but it was, basically, that if I wanted to go by maps, then the maps say I should be able to repeat the event [Review Fruitions]. (Dammit!) It is rather embarrassing to keep finding that I’ve made this kind of stupid blunder, but, yeah, oh well, as you say. So next came back from his side specific meditation instructions, the way to do the Three-Percent Solution of noticing of just the large flows of aversion and attraction.

The Toolbox Expansion Set

I think that the meditation barrier I couldn’t bust my head through before all this consisted of thinking that (1) I needed to attend to the teeny-tiny particulate vibratory sensations and (2) I needed to attend to the Three Characteristics as such. I made this same sort of categorical error at the beginning of my last Equanimity stage, back in July. So, X_X, I think this is part of the toolbox expansion set you wrote of, and here is what I think I’ve put in the toolbox:

♦ To “get to” Equanimity, practice as if already in Equanimity.

♦ To practice as if already in Equanimity, incline the mind slightly toward the goal and then give no more than 3% meditative effort to the sit.

♦ Broaden considerably what you habitually have been thinking a proper meditation “object” is. This is supposedly second path; so the objects are likely going to be psychological/emotional, which is an observation that does match what most clearly has been arising for me the past few months.

♦ Widen considerably the scale on which you observe these new objects such as aversion and attraction: Forget about “vibrations”; attend to much larger swaths of movement and flux.

♦ Notice, when opportunities for such noticing present, that awareness and space are intrinsic in each other.

♦ Relax the notion that you need to look for the Three Characteristics in an effortful way: that work has been done already in some sense; therefore, just as you stopped noting early on, in preference for just noticing, the Three Characteristics, now don’t be afraid to altogether let go of the Three Characteristics conceptually.

Postscript 2.5 Years Later

I had forgotten all this until I started cleaning up posts after a site migration. This is all extraordinarily right-on. From that point in time on,  I never consciously evoked the Three Characteristics during a sit. Daniel, in pointing me to the mutuality, or rather radical interpenetrability, of unbounded macro-space (Mother Consciousness) and intrinsic awareness (rigpa), was already shifting me from Ordinary Special Insight to Extraordinary Special Insight in Tibetan Buddhism parlance. All good advice here that I will carry forward into the new book.

Most Refined Mid-High Equanimity and First Sense of Fractal Stages

I’m in the highest, most refined Equanimity I’ve ever experienced. Just like that, beginning sometime last night during that new little meditation Daniel gave me to do, which I’m going to call the Three-Percent Solution because he said to use only that amount of effort, and it solved some kind of major meditation problem I’ve been having. And I can go there any moment because it doesn’t really leave, so today during a meeting for example – just a slight inclination or memory does it, just awareness. Equanimity.

The sit I just finished was the first time ever that I have had a decently strong sense what people mean by fractal sense of nanas. While sitting in exceedingly clear mid-high equanimity, I felt the rolling in of A&P as fairly intense tingling up my thighs and little bursts of light, then exhilaration/fear, then longing bordering on misery, then disgust as nausea, then feelings of wonder and desire, and then peace like cradling and being cradled. 

I was sitting upright, legs crossed, perfectly poised, zero pain or discomfort, with sense of body mostly gone and sometimes frankly gone. I was also aware of jhanas, and 4th kept slipping into Boundless Space, which I kind of have to fight off a bit these days if I want to go elsewhere. So I felt into that effort to pull up out of that jhana, which was an odd twisting sensation of effort.

Last night there were huge billowing swaths and vortexes of flowing longing-toward and recoiling-from that went around and around and around. Less of that tonight and more little moments of feeling that awareness is syncing up with space, except that there is indeed this subtle fear. . . . 

That subtle fear is almost what it is to be alive. Yes, what it is to be.

The Three-Percent Solution: Attraction, Aversion, and Flow

Only 30 minutes to sit with such sleep deprivation, but what a profound sit in High Equanimity! It started with crying, because I’m doing all this stupid crying in this second path, but perfectly okay crying. I’ve done plenty of “Do Nothing” sits before, especially in Equanimity, but not like this. Being with the big flowing, rocking swaths – yes, now here, closer to surrender. Attraction, aversion, peace, attraction, aversion, peace – flowing around and around and around and around my dim bedroom and then speeding up and up and up like a vortex. I Didn’t feel my body, just melting completely unto it. I could stay and can.

Very nice.

[Postscript a year and a half later – This meditation was one Daniel Ingram adapted from what Sharda Rogell taught him, wrote up, and sent to me when I was having much emotion arise on second path, which is what that path is known for, if you believe in four paths. I loved this meditation and the write-up so much that I worked it into MCTB2. Hopefully, the rest of the practitioners out there will be able to access it soon and benefit too. I titled it “The Three-Percent Solution” because one of Daniel’s instructions was to exert just three percent of possible effort, to rest in ninety-seven percent naturalness.]

[Post-postscript 2017 – I’m unsure of the fate of this little meditation prescription, for after I registered copyright in the version of MCTB2 that was nearly finished, Daniel destroyed all our work and began over again rather than grant me a mere editorial acknowledgment for what amounted to more than $32,000.00 of free authorial work. The choice was a poor one, but it was and is his to make.]

Advice for Stream Entry

Tom,

My advice for stream entry is this: Once Equanimity arises, keep showing up for those sits, no matter what, even if it feels like you no longer know how to meditate, which is what happened to me. Show up and be gently curious.

My final Dark Night was so dark that during Desire for Deliverance I promised myself that I would never be lazy again, that I would not forget how intense this desire for liberation was, so when Equanimity arose, I did not make the mistake of becoming complacent, although I did have to learn, at the same time, how to widen my focus and let up on the kind of striving that seeks to screw things down with its regard.

I also had very intense faith that it would happen “to” me.