It is funny that it occurred to me right after my sit today that I haven’t taken the breath as meditation object in a long time, maybe a month and a half, even though that is my usual object. I didn’t even register that I had dropped it as an object.
Over Here to Over There
I went within seconds to Boundless Space, flipping back and forth with Boundless Consciousness, which weirdly seems to be a thing. And so of course what is observing that? More my occupation these days is opening my eyes from there and really dropping effort, so as much of whatever, including my “own” thoughts, are over there.
[Rereading this entry now, 20 February 2016, I want to point out that this movement of more and more subjectivity to the object field seems to be an early phase-in of allowing the illusory perceptual boundaries, in particular subject-object duality, to break down. You do not need to force anything to happen. You need only to go deeply into concentration, which will shift into vibratory and boundless states eventually, and simply notice what jhana-as-object is teaching you about fabrication of a particularized subject vantage point. Force nothing. Simply be present, with mind bright, fascinated, but easy.]
Insight into Particularization and Duality
I saw very clearly tonight that attention is selective, carving out swaths to pay attention to and identify with. The swaths may be thought, the sight of this brass lamp base, spaciousness, that consciousness—but there is always something actively left out, and the leaving-out and identification with what is left in is a burdensome effort, weighty.
Really seeing this, I actually see, visually, things jump and swirl a bit, as if not synchronized. And really, really seeing this, I can stop a big chunk of it. I can drop it. The lamp is there, the sound of an airplane going by is there, and then it gradually isn’t. And that is all, melding with those. Paying down a more targeting attention is full of suffering.
At Home with Being Lost
About 15 minutes into this sit, I momentarily lost consciousness, I was in some sort of daydream, and I swear that I cannot even recall what it was. Even though I’m not prone to sleepiness during sits, I think it is likely that I just fell a asleep for a moment. There was nothing dramatic, and no bliss wave. (Dan says there has to be a bliss wave or it isn’t fruition, although I suspect that experience is more various than his own in these matters.) No matter. Practice continues, regardless. And if that was one, then it is laughable and no comparison to the Great Event of August 8. Screw the maps for now. I’m thoroughly lost and enjoying the scenery. On its own, practice has evolved.
My sits are generally an hour now, but before stream entry (SE), they were around only 30, and I practiced only once a week, and only samatha, during that last dark night. It seemed to make no difference what I did or didn’t do. But once I entered Desire for Deliverance, I made a fervent promise to myself to prioritize awakening and not to lose equanimity if it emerged, which I felt it would.
Suffering as Setup for Equanimity
It is really odd to say this, and I have no proof whatsoever, but I feel that because my knowledges of suffering (Dark Night) were so intense and long, that alone set me up for EQ. So if EQ emerges, I definitely would be consistent. I did one or two 20-minute sits per day in HEQ. Shargrol told me that the sits can take a lot of energy, so shorter ones are fine at that stage. SE happened toward the end of a 30-minute group sit at my workplace. (We have a Friday lunchtime meditation club. So if you have lunchtime, that can be meditation time.)
Metta at Meetings
I actually “meditate” at odd moments during the day. For example, in unproductive meetings, I sit at the back of the room and practice some fairly intense metta for everyone in the room with me. It is peaceful-blissful. I like to think it helps everyone and raises the energy in that collaborative environment.
Sleep and Practice
I tend to be high on the energetic side of spiritual faculties, so I deliberately stay up late and meditate when I’m fairly sleepy. I’ve never dozed off on the cushion, so I probably cannot speak to that problem. I think I’m actually meditating while I’m sleeping. Ever since that event of August 8, I wake up with total loss of sense of body (though I can move and function) and intensity of felt spaciousness. Lately, I purposely observed where I was when falling asleep, and I’m pretty sure I’m falling asleep most nights while in rather spontaneous Boundless Space. I don’t know where you are with jhana practice, but worth a try to go into those states as you go to sleep, if possible.
I’ve never been on retreat, but I’m suddenly compelled to go on retreat. Unfortunately, the ones I would spend my vacation time on won’t let me in because I don’t have a retreat resume already. The beginner classes I don’t fit the description for, and they tend to be short. So I’m a bit frustrated about that. I have a friend at work who describes his practice as spotty and full of doubt (I think he is in the Dark Night), but he has done retreats and so can get into these more intermediate retreats that I’m turned away from. I feel that my extensive classes in the Tibetan tradition and my 4 years of daily meditation with results should count for something, so that system is screwed up.
The Choice to Be Mindful
Okay, I’m off topic, but just saying—steal any moment you can to be
mindful. Be creative with finding those moments. You are living out moments. You have some choice about how fully to be with them.
Sorry for the delay—I’m finally circling back around to this question of High Equanimity stage before stream entry. First, I’m not sure that I spent 2 months in High EQ. I think it would be more accurate for me to say that I spent 2 months in various levels of EQ. Low EQ felt just like Three Characteristics stage, with body aches, tingling, itching, just
pretty miserable, oddly, but still a relief from the Dark Night.
Once I got to about Mid-EQ, if that makes sense, the Great Teeming Faith arose. All the stages that had gone before were so, so clearly “by the book,” that I just had no doubt that awakening was real, that I was on the ride toward it, and that now I was in EQ and all I had to do was have the grace not to pay either too much or too little attention to it.
I did not note during EQ. In fact, I was advised all around not to, though I don’t do proper noting practice anyway because I find that labeling sensations is too slow and distracting.
Equanimity is tricky, like a ever-retreating mirage. You keep feeling like you are practicing badly because you keep slipping into almost daydreams of sorts, and you feel like you should be doing something very effortful instead, like noting. That isn’t the case. It is more about being receptive, showing up and letting the thing unfold and present. So less effort, more just being there over and over again, every night, not pushing it, not striving to reach stream entry or anything else. Just observe and be curious. Let it happen.
About mindfulness in daily life, I wish I could say something about that! Mindfulness is a good thing, but I’m usually absorbed during the day in my editing work, which actually is a kind of mindfulness, I think, but heavy on the hyperfocus side. For reaching stream entry, I think mainly the thing is formal sits. I even shortened my sits during that time to about 20 minutes because High EQ sits can take out a lot of energy, even though you aren’t so much exerting effort as having the energy just siphoned off by the atmosphere.
Consistency is key: Show up every day. Believe that it will come, because it will. But it will sneak up when you are looking at X, not when you are gunning for stream entry. If you feel doubt; fine, feel doubt. Sit with doubt. Just sit.
I sat for an hour. At first I thought I would do fire kasina practice because that seemed so exciting a few weeks ago. After spending half my time at that, I decided I really wasn’t “into it.” So I had some insight into the need to avoid being so predetermined or perfunctory about which kind of meditation I do. Instead, I should heed all that about feeling into the question and what I should be doing with my meditation sessions. Anyway, I finally just closed my eyes and soon was in Boundless Space, my usual spot these days, which is a clue. It is this spaciousness that I’m “supposed” to be working with now.
In particular, I have been playing with a couple of the nine suggestions Daniel gave Fitter Stoke on the DhO:
Going wide and through: as third is more spacious, more about dissolving a significant chunk of what seems to be observing, doing, controlling, analyzing, and the like, you both have to take on more of the sensations that seem to be all of that, which they aren’t, and also see how to dissolve the artificial boundaries that seem to delineate that from everything else, meaning the rest of what happens in what seems to be space. Play on the line: how do you know what the edge between what seems to be you and not you is, viscerally , perceptually, vibrationally, texturally, geographically, volumetrically? Any quality that you notice seems to really feel like it means it is you, see the Three Characteristics of that.
He indicates 5th jhana as a pointer. Since I have 5th down, it is easy to go to it and then pay attention to what still seems to be or imply “me.” It is a pretty weird and subtle affair. Sometimes I seem to be Consciousness, but then I can be Aware of Space, alternately. Although I really lose sense of my body, I purposely looked for what seemed me so that I could allow space to pour through that. The main thing I noticed was that I was actually bringing up pain or suffering and enjoying it somehow. Why was I enjoying it? Because I could identify with it, contract to it. So it seems that even suffering is maintained by the self for the self: identity is none other than a continual identification process. O attraction, O aversion!
The other pointer of Daniel’s that I’ve been playing with is this one:
Notice that you can’t do anything other than what happens. Try. See how those patterns occur. Try to do something other than what happens. It is preposterous, but when you try it, there are patterns that arise, patterns of illusion, patterns of pretending, patterns that if you start to look at them you will see are ludicrous, laughable, like a kid’s fantasies, any yet that is how you believe you are controlling things, so try again and again to do something other than what occurs and watch those patterns of confusion and pretending to be in control that arise and you will learn something. This is an unusually profound point.
As noted before, this is a really strange exercise. If I go to Boundless Space jhana and then open my eyes and then try to catch the moment of intention to move my body or gaze, there is this weird sense that I can’t do it, am motionless. I do end up doing it, but there is this strange ratchet-like effect in the motion, instead of the smooth perception of forward movement. The effect is unpleasant, so suffering arises, and I’ve already found (see above) that suffering is actually used in “selfing.” However, once I stop the exercise the Boundless Space goes wider and deeper.
Postscript 2.5 Years Later
On rereading this journal as I clean up the site migration, I find it fascinating to see from my more recent engagement in Indo-Tibetan essence traditions how much of a closet Tibetan Buddhist Daniel is. I’ll comment on the Fitter Stoke advice and MCTB2(J), and then I will go ahead and take public issue with Daniel’s mapping of realization of agencylessness at MCTB third path.
MCTB2 Version That No Longer Exists for Public Reading
Those nine points in the advice to Fitter Stoke DhO post were pulled into MCTB2(J) by yours truly, right after my Mahamudra awakening on the retreat of 2015. That version of Daniel’s post was significantly revised by yours truly, too. I rearranged the nine exercises in a sequence that matches actual Mahamudra sequencing, and I expanded and enriched each of the nine pointers into full-blown stepped out meditation instructions. Daniel was happy with my reworking and added Tibetan-y headings, over which we had a good laugh.
It was a magnificent addition to the book, as Dreamwalker can attest, as he read both versions back in the summer of 2015, before I filed for and received copyright. It will not be in MCTB2. It and the other 350 pages of our glorious work were destroyed by Daniel. For the record, even just a few months ago, I offered to surrender my copyright to him in exchange for a mere editorial acknowledgment of my work on the Acknowledgments page. He refused, yet he continued to plead with me to drop my copyright (for nothing).
Why does this matter? Because this is a man who publicly claims to be an arahat, which he mentions in MCTB means “Buddhist saint.” This is a man who holds himself out to the public as a teacher of the Buddhadharma. Yet approximately 90% of the difference between MCTB1 and MCTB2(J) was my authorial contribution, meaning my integration, not his. To let him falsely claim that integration as his own and subsume it under his name while banishing me and mine from all public acknowledgment would be to mislead potential students looking for a trusted teacher. In his latest pleas, he insinuated that if my practices were so advanced, my attainments were so high, and my morality were real, then the proof would be that I let him have my copyright for himself.
Yeah, nice try.
I wrote to him thus: “Equating my morality and attainments with handing over to you my copyright is like saying my refusing a two-year-old candy for supper every night is immoral because the toddler wants candy.”
Problems with “Agencylessness” vis-à-vis Daniel’s Magick
I want to pursue a point here about what Daniel calls agencylessness, particularly because he not only makes it, along with “luminosity” (rigpa), a criterion for fourth path, but indeed requires it for confirmation of even third path. Much more reliable Indo-Tibetan maps situate realization of true agencylessness at Buddhahood, not at these earlier stage gains. Realization of the Fourth Time, otherwise called Timeless Time, opens at Buddhahood, not sooner.
It is true that, during second path, from doing the practice Daniel prescribes for Fitter Stoke, I did have direct insight into the nature of eventual agencylessness. More specifically, I saw in my direct experience that eventually a complete synchronization of all of reality with itself would happen, would have to happen—and hadn’t yet. This much is true. And it is also true that post-fourth-path involves a gradual erosion of the sense of agency, to the point that practicing Western magick, of which Daniel is still an avid fan, seems pointless, even silly.
As fourth-path realization deepens—and it does deepen if one is not positively stuck—then one becomes a vessel, you see. Increasingly, one is simply present when cosmological-scale magic happens, a conduit. We are talking the cosmos here, universes! The last time I had any friendly interchange with Daniel, he was dabbling in low-level self-powered magick for sport. This is not the business of buddhas, in case you are curious. Nor is obsession with western magick compatible with claims that one has realized agencylessness.
The Benefit of a Doubt for Daniel’s Claim of “Agencylessness”
To give Daniel the benefit of a doubt, I’ll speculate that, when he claims “agencylessness,” he means in terms of former subject-object perception, which is indeed one type of “doing.” He means, I think and hope, only that no Subject is needed to process manifestation into being itself / other-than-Subject. If this is what Daniel means by claiming agencylessness, it is just another way of saying that the central processor of percepts has dissolved for good. So I maintain that the term agencylessness is unnecessary at best, confusing at worst.
I do believe that Daniel has that level of realization, meaning MCTB fourth path, which I too attained on July 29, 2015. But Daniel stopped there, apparently, has so far failed to integrate those gains into his emotional life, into his holdout loci of reactivity, into the psycho-dynamics of relationship, and into and out the other side of his need to contain affect and control against vulnerability. So tantra is in order, as well as Dzogchen.
Unfortunatelly, my saying so to him, and my giving him some practices during the last warm exchange we had, inspired him to banish me from the DhO and MCTB2 the next day. Later his second lawyer offered me $10,000 to cancel my copyright, to forever hide the nature of my former relationship with Daniel, and to forever refrain from any and all public critique of Daniel or his work in my own work. But I declined to be Daniel’s enabler.
Problems with “Agencylessness” vis-à-vis Daniel’s Causal Model
Another easily discerned chink in Daniel’s agencylessness claim is that, while claiming he has realized it, he also claims that the interdependent field is seen by someone with fourth path as “lawful” and “causal.” Realization of a causal model as ultimate is such an obvious contradiction to agencylessness that I’m amazed to find myself currently under the necessity to explain the contradiction as such.
Realization of the Fourth Time at buddhahood means no less than realization that causality is the big lie. Think on it. Think long and hard on it. Understand, at least conceptually, that the causal model collapses the instant agency does, all other criteria for fourth path being met. Dzogchen view is that the Unbounded Whole is uncaused, that it spontaneously manifests transient-instant-by-transient-instant. Taking the ultimate fruit as path view, there is not even any karma to purify.
So, no, Daniel hasn’t realized true agencylessness yet, nor have I, although I’m well on the way. Realization of the Ground (kun gzhi), or any revised fourth path, can be described deliciously with regard to various subaspects of pre-awakened experience, and I’ll offer those descriptions in due course. But what it comes down to is the nonduality of the otherwise presumptive subjectivity and presumptive object field. Untie that knot, liberate awareness unto itself, and that attainment itself will do most of the rest of the work through the coarse, subtle, and very subtle body, liberating reactivity there and elevating conduct to “buddha activity.”
I could go on for pages about post-MCTB-fourth-path deepening of the realization, but another day awaits in its quasi-causal effulgence for that task to unfold. Meantime, do investigate boundary and intention just as Daniel prescribes.
I don’t know where I am map-wise or even path-wise. What is naturally arising for me to work with is this strange decenteredness and felt-into surrounding spaciousness that has been the default August 8. So I’ll make the most of that by making little of it, just practicing and relaxing. Although I’m an intellectual, with a PhD in analyzing texts and constructing positions and arguments from them, I am also intuitive, a fluid practitioner. I’m genuinely not upset if a sit is weird. I’m willing to see what happens. I am willing to take the ride. I agree that, so far, this patience and faith in this process has proven crucial.
Reading page 47 of Clarifying the Natural State, I find that flawlessness is generally a tall order.
Reading it is really, really something in light of how my lunchtime sit went today. For my mind was all over the place, with thoughts arising as little snippets of inner text, samatha states, pin-prickish restless sensations that I noted (yes, Burmese noted!) as such, spontaneous arising of metta practice for those in the room with me, sensations of feeling the energy of the others in the room, opening my eyes and seeing the autumn leaves blowing beyond the glass windows and feeling separate from them (noted), trying to find the “line” between sensations of self and other but becoming confused, feeling into the spaciousness surrounding me and bringing it somehow into the center, noticing what was then not there that is usually “me” (whereupon all that me stuff returned!), and feeling frustrated that I was meditating “poorly” today simply because, um, these experiences were so obviously discontinuous.
Less Noticeably Separate
Then I realized, “Well, of course they are discontinuous.” So I just sat. One difference I noticed from all the earlier months was that the two-track mind that I’ve many times referred to seemed less stratified into two. There was that abiding calm, but there were the rapid changes, yet they felt less strikingly separate, less noticeably separate, anyway.
This being so, you should sustain presence of mind in stillness when calm, in thinking when thoughts occur, and in perceiving when perceptions take place. Do not deliberately try to think when still or prevent a thought when it occurs. No matter what your state may be—lucidly clear, totally empty, suffused with bliss, or completely restless—simply remain undistracted. You do not need to modify or correct anything. Therefore, undistractedly maintain the natural state of your mind with a naturally aware presence, no matter how it is or what is perceived or felt. That is simply called “meditating.” Other than that, there isn’t even as much as a hair-tip to adjust mentally by meditating.
Interesting to me from the perspective that I was somehow suffering from the notion today that I was not “properly” meditating because my mind was “all over the place.” Was I meditating? Or was I distracted? What exactly is distraction from the natural state? Not an easy question to answer. Can we be “with” a distraction and therefore it is not a distraction? From what are we distracted? From this natural essential state that is not any of those? Simple yet difficult.
The Three Percent of the Solution
So when my nonteacher Daniel gave me the detailed noninstructional mere suggestion to sit with only 3% effort, I think that 3% was provided merely to allow even effort to be “natural.”