Everything with a Capital E


How ya feeling? I just climbed out of the Dark Night. . . . 


Now that you are out of DN you are all set to contact Jim and Jamie! So yay!  I slept 12+ hours again and woke with a cough and a migraine. Migraine is now gone, thank God, coffee, Advil, and gabapentin. I’m working on editing revisions that I prompted Daniel to make—additions and clarifications. Eric is going to dial in Tuesday, too, although prolly for a short time since he has to go to work.


Did that immediately yesterday.  Jim might . . . will check messages for Jamie.


Oh, good on ya. I asked Daniel some bold questions about your list, our list. He said you were hilarious and that he vipassanized “Everything,” with a capital E (he knows capitals irritate me). So now I’m going to be writing him a letter. Wish me luck that I don’t start another fight. Telling us to get to fourth by “vipassanizing Everything” is unhelpful. I guess he doesn’t know or remember what he actually did to get fourth path.

If I were you, I would post that list stuff in the Underground; then Steph and I can comment, and Daniel can read in preparation for eventual Skype with him.

I will be sure to be bowing and scraping as I write him. Dammit.

I think I can list the Derived Material Qualities, the core processes, the chakras, and ask him to answer yes/no were these part of the 5% he had left to dissolve.


Might jog his memory.


I mean, is he saying that he tried to include all of experience in every single sit? Such that it was one piece of fabric? Fluxing? Is that the end practice?


Yep. Mahamudra.


Ah. But he went back to Mahasi et al. at the very end, in India.


Everything . . . resting on awareness resting on everything.


But meantime, isn’t it helpful to focus on what we think may be selfing in us?


I personally think so. Until it isn’t.  No one agrees with me, though . . . so there’s that.


Well, I guess that I have my questions for him then. Hey, can I use parts of this dialog in my letter to him? 


Ya wanna drag me in? heh heh. . . .


Yeah, I do. Because I’m always the one falling on the sword, and I think he needs to know that the Third Path Club is united in wondering, including Steph, I believe. I don’t mean to push him up against some wall, but he isn’t clear in just pointing to Everything. If you say it is 5% that is the problem, then that is not Everything; it is 5%.


Sure . . . . sounds good.


Really, I’m going to tell him he can talk with us about his answers in one of our Hangouts. In my experience with him, he is much more willing to answer follow-up questions and be pressed for details on Skype than in email.

He prides himself on being “one of the few meditation teachers who will answer almost any question.”

Then third-to-fourth becomes completely unteachable?

Maybe you should come on this Mahamudra retreat with me. Got $900 lying around? The teacher stays in contact afterward, as a “teacher.” A relationship, which is real Mahamudra.


Chakras, Wrathfuls, and Thick  Black Snakes: A Time of Transformation


For whatever reason, I decided to do fire kasina practice, planning to switch over to insight about halfway through. However, what felt like 30 minutes was 60. I never got the Red Dot. I’ve no idea why this kasina practice is no longer working for me as it did back in October. My only viable theory is that I’m racing past first and second jhana and getting stuck in third. The red dot is first jhana; when it spins and does tricks, that is second. I’m getting nothing but murky center right off the bat. A second theory is that I’m getting seduced into the bodily bliss and not tracking the visuals as strongly as possible. This is the case to some extent, but not terribly so anymore. Oh, well!

I should probably leave off this practice until I have more time to dedicate to it, as in big blocks of time that I don’t have now. I have learned a lot about third jhana by doing this practice, though.


After the fire practice, I extinguished the flame and continued sitting in the dark. Boundless Space, j5, was pretty much automatic at that point and amazingly wonderful, in the way that escaping the creepiness of resuming insight  practice would be. I tried to turn this platform to insight practice by searching for the other edge of that space. I never really find something as sharp as an edge. Also, finding a definite edge between the space and “myself” proves difficult. It isn’t the skin, for how come I can feel so far into that space? Yet the space itself doesn’t exactly equal me or belong to me. Again, although I’m used to this sense of expanding myself into the space, as I did last path, if I relax then the space, or whatever, moves into “me.” More precisely, everything just moves, and if I pay attention, then I get that the movement isn’t even in neat concentric circles. That has to be an illusion, so the more I let myself see this clearly, the better. All of space-like texture fluctuates and shifts nonconcentrically, assymetrically. What space seems to be can move through the supposed center, the core of me.

Yet forcing that movement of the outermost to the seeming center is another wrong impulse. If I’m really paying attention to this intention, then agency falls away, and there is the magical marionette me, fluidly with the unfolding stream of that there. Months ago the effect was somewhat forced, ironically, creepy, and ratcheted. Now it is smooth, seamless, and oddly calm.

Chakras on the List

I was taking quite seriously what Steph writes above (thanks, Steph!) about noticing the self-identity caught up in the chakras. This made me notice that Daniel seems to be referring to the chakras too here:

Feel the going out into new territory with its confusion, tedium, frustration and creepiness as the thing itself: that which wants it to be known, mapped, predictable, safe, familiar is part of the thing that you need to see as it is: see those patterns in the head, chest, stomach, throat, etc. as more shifting, fresh patterns: that freshness keeps you honest, keeps you really paying attention in that slightly violating, slightly personally-taboo way that really helps in the end.

So that which is having a hard time with transitioning back to insight practice—feel that, look for it, in the chakras. So I did drill down and look. Nothing tense in third tonight, but that dang heart! Yeah, even when I’m not aware that I’m emoting—there is bound up there a sense of myself. I almost take pride in that spot, in the sinking in on itself, the contraction. What the hell is that? It is primarily, I think, a self-perpetuating need to feel the heartfelt in order to convince myself that I exist. When I look at that heart area more closely, I see that it cannot feed on itself at all, really. It is actually sending out heartstrings to individual imagined people, so that, ahhhhh, I don’t exist without you. This is very similar to what X X pointed out to me right before the August path: that subjects and objects create each other.

Dream Walker mentioned several months ago having to “clean out” that heart chakra. I haven’t wanted to clean it out. There is some kind of pride bound up with being able to feel so intensely. Man, I think that this is going to be a hard one to dissolve. I’m not even sure how to do so, since I can’t be the controller even on this, maybe, from one perspective, especially on this. Let it show itself, I guess.

Dream Walker is going to post that list of Derived Materials from the Vissuddimagga—oh, yes, he is! Then we can all sort that bad translation into something that makes sense. Are the chakras on the list?

Nightmares of Black Snakes

As soon as I went to bed, I started having some major fear response, creepy feelings, and then dizziness, as in vertigo. The bed was spinning—flipping, actually. This morning the dizziness continues, so I’m staying in bed. Maybe it is a virus. I was perfectly fine all evening, went for crepes with my son, played a card game with him. This hit very suddenly. Unpleasant.

Had nightmares of thick black snakes crawling horizontally across my visual field, from left to right, as in reading. Also dreamed of wrathful Buddhas with many eyes. Scary shit!

The dizziness has lessened considerably. I’m just wiped out, weak, and shaky. Probably a strange virus, but the timing, suddenness, fear component, and dreams of wrathfuls are a bit interesting. Eric says this: Chakra work can trigger that sort of thing, especially with the lower centers, bringing all kinds of repressed stuff to the surface. Or, it could be a virus. Time will tell.

Yeah, I don’t know much about chakras, but I guess I’m going to find out. So much to study, learn, and apply—I feel that I get going in one vein, and then something else jerks me up, and then I have to change emphases to deal with that. Sometimes this makes me feel that I’m never arriving at any milestone that seems really “reached,” but that’s just the way it is—with all these scattered half attempts. And, overall, I have to be thankful, and am, that I have some time and resources for practicing well and progressing.

I need to go back and listen, but it just occurred to me that in the Powers post-retreat audio posted at firekasina.org there is mention of black snakes (am I making that up?) and some multi-eyed wrathful Buddhist deity that Duncan banished.

This wrathful was bright emerald green and standing on one leg. He was holding some kind of emplements in his laterally outstretched hands. His forehead and expansive belly were covered with eyes.

Both black snakes and these kind of bardo deities can mark a time of tremendous transformation. A little omenous, and these did feel like nightmares, but it is what it is. So be it.

Dissolution and a Wall with Jhāna

I have been very sleepy and sleeping a lot the past couple of days. I’ve been really fatigued. This normally means Dissolution. Then I had surges of Fear today and began my sit with Fear in the forefront.

Second was very tingly.

I went up the jhanas and back down. Coming back down makes the factors of the lower ones much clearer.

I may have Pure Land 2. Pure Land 1 had the bliss coming in waves.

Before falling asleep, my body tends to start tingling intensely. It starts across the small of my back and then spreads. I’ll often wake with the same.

Last night’s sit was so mediocre and boring that I wouldn’t even record anything about it.

I’m feeling that I’m at a bit of a wall with jhana practice and need to do some insight practice again. I couldn’t remember what to even do, though. I decided to work with this, from one of Daniel’s DhO posts:

Feel the going out into new territory with its confusion, tedium, frustration and creepiness as the thing itself: that which wants it to be known, mapped, predictable, safe, familiar is part of the thing that you need to see as it is: see those patterns in the head, chest, stomach, throat, etc. as more shifting, fresh patterns: that freshness keeps you honest, keeps you really paying attention in that slightly violating, slightly personally-taboo way that really helps in the end.

There is another part of the same post by Dan, and it entered into this sit, too:

If you have 5th, or even 4j.5j, meaning the spacious aspect of 4th that is not truly formless but still quite open and wide, that is a really good pointer, just allow it to also go through anything you think is you, working on that seeming boundary line, as above, but allowing it to breathe, to flux, volumetrically, like moving blobs of space with texture all together, all of them just the natural world doing its rich and empty thing

So I sat and immediately noticed a lot of bad bodily pain—all over. Pain in my hip flexors, shoulders, shins, and feet. Really distracting and annoying. I allowed myself to notice how vulnerable and unsure I feel about heading back into insight practice in this apparent third path territory. The sensations were in the region of solar plexus and moving up toward the heart, also the heart had no warmth of its own. So I sat with the confusion, gut-wobbly effect, and bodily pain and tried, somewhat, to notice how, in being threatened, this was “me.”

At one point I reflexively went for the spaciousness Daniel mentions just above. I could feel out to the furthest reach and felt much more comfortable there than with the solar plexis ickiness. I also started thinking about my dharma friends and drifted into those pleasant thoughts. I noticed how all this was a way of escapeing that uncomforable core feeling. I considered pulling that far reach of the spaciousness in and through the core, but then I realized that I couldn’t do that. What I could do was allow it to happen, though, which I did. And I was able to observe that blobby phenomenon Daniel mentions. The space can cut through and out any side.

Observing can itself be investigated, but I didn’t get that far. I’m still in a lot of pain. I feel like stretching and sleeping.

I think it would be good to get with DW and Steph and list all the core processes that can be listed. These, along with the jhanas, are what Daniel vipassanized in late third, according to his narrative.

Exquisite Jhānas and Magick

1:23 AM 

White Tara is born of tears and embodies flame. There you go.

I stopped by the Tibetan shop on the way home from work and bought a print of White Tara.

1:31 AM 

I’m continuing to explore the jhanas. Seventh is stabilizing increasingly, but this weird air hunger does hit there.

Pure Land 1 is awesome. I wonder if anyone else experiences it this way that I do: First there is equanimity. Then after a minute or two, a wave of bliss blooms upward from third chakra up to the heart. When the wave hits the heart, then the gratitude flows out in all directions. Then it bottoms out to equanimity again. Moments pass again, and then a new wave of bliss rises and blooms into gratitude.

I thought this was awfully wrong, that it is broken up into phases, but then I read that Pure Land is actually a hybrid of samatha and vipassana. This state is sweet and easy.

I’m ready to delve into some magickal practices. A bit of an interesting detour ahead, I think.

As DW recommended, I searched for the presence and permanency, I found it, and I relished it completely, But then a funny thing happened: It started being not all-pervasive, but in different areas at different times. Then some other “I” was aware that it was watching this awareness. I don’t think this is clean and dissolved. I was headily regal with the drunkenness of me.

11:31 AM: DreamWalker’s Rejoinder

Hmm, I don’t think I remember saying to relish in your consciousness regally with drunkenness, but hey whatever knocks yer sock off. If wallowing in yourself leads to clarity about who is wallowing within whom, then excellent.

Lock onto anything that seems permanent and feels like “mine mine mine” and concentrate on it with all your attention until it dissolves away. Space is not yours, the sensations of consciousness are not yours either. It is an overlay of identification, a selfing process running that needs to be shut down. (This is to clarify for anyone reading this what my advice entails, Jenny was a bit brief on the details)

Have fun. People (me) take this so seriously, it is a joy to see you doing this with such enjoyment.


11:35 AM: Reply to DreamWalker

My comments about relishing and regal drunkenness weren’t meant to convey that those were my “teacher’s” instructions.  They were meant to convey that I recognized and acknowledge a problem here: I had sort of abandoned the directive and went for the, um, high. But then insight started breaking through after I did so. In other words, I grant that I was likely off assignment, but same difference.

5:49 PM 

God, this jhana stuff is crazy exquisite good. . . . It is easy to understand how this can be addictive. Wow. And now I’m listening to Massive Attack in the afterglow. It doesn’t get much better than this. It is hard to believe that I started this evening and sit out crying, had another hard cry in fourth, which was utterly weird: Like the cry wouldn’t come out but needed to. Odd. And then I drifted off from all that, and BAM the cry came up like some black primordial choked swamp. As  Eliot Smith sings, “Situations get fucked up.”

Candle Flame

I took the flame as object through fourth. Clarity in second was remarkable, sharp resolution. I’m still not getting the red dot, and not much in the way of stable colors with eyes closed; however I’m seeing crazy shapes and images that are wispy, mirror-y. For once brief flash, a very realistic, photographic face flashed up. I’m not sure whose face, but I think it was the photographic face on one of the Tarot cards I drew a few days ago. Oh, it was the Guardian. . . . Hmmm. This is a card of self-protection against exploitation. It is a card of self-healing and sharp discernment of the workings of one’s own mind and power to direct it.

open and on the flame, though, is where I spent the most time. I found pleasure in just being practically in that flame, fused to its white-yellow-orange. Something about just the intense reality of it is so healing.

Third was again remarkable for the jaggedy cracked-ice halo effect, and this time the cool-pool bodily bliss was felt at the same time. And the two were as one.

Fourth, as I say, was remarkable for this dark guttural howling black cry that heaved itself up from my chest. And then spilled the tears: for all the grief, misunderstanding, and purity everywhere at all times. The rays from the flame rose up high as seen through these tears, rose up higher and higher, pulsing vertically with the rhythm of my breath. I started a Tara mantra. The rays made a kind of inverted slowly swirling cone, within which and out of which it seemed a ghostly white goddess was “trying” to form. But it never quite became clearly what it was. Still, I knew something, and it was she.


I blew out the candle, expecting to travel up the formless realms; however, the black primordial cry and the white-orange flame had changed my mind. The visions came on rapidly, morphing in and with the dark. This was when I saw the Guardian face flash, the face protecting me from exploitation. I called up Boundless Space but could barely feel it, and what was there was vibratory. So was thinking, “Okay, insight, then.” I had a fruition in fifth at some point, with a bliss thing trailing blossoms as a wake.

I called up sixth, with eyes closed, but the visions continued. Still, sixth was much clearer than fifth. As DW recommended, I searched for the presence and permanency, I found it, and I relished it completely, But then a funny thing happened: It started being not all-pervasive, but in different areas at different times. Then some other “I” was aware that it was watching this awareness. I don’t think this is clean and dissolved. I was headily regal with the drunkenness of me.

Next, Nothingness. Again—way too sparkly, with red thread and violent flashes of broken mirror here and there.

NPNYN was momentary, very hard to hold.

Pure Land 1 was easier. For me, it started out as a base of equanimity. In a few moments, raptures start blooming. Then BOOM the gratitude kicks in and becomes spacious.

Now finishing off this afterglow and will sleep to rise with my boy to go to a lunchtime sit. Then we are going to Duke Gardens to walk and converse. I love him so.  


 Love and Fear

The nice samatha jhana sits continue, although I missed last night because it was my birthday and I was dealing with some hard situations [with Daniel] (which became harder this morning):

Lately I’m noticing this weird thing with seventh—basically, I start noticing that I feel smothered, like I can’t get enough air (air hunger). I’m not sure what this is about or what to do about it.

Seventh and eighth continue to be hard to hold for long, but I trust that I will improve at stabilization.

Fifth and sixth are quite hard now, stable. Sixth feels clean and even rather than wobbly and fluxing. When it had more of the burden of presence, it was somehow harder to hold.

I prefer using a candle as object up through fourth, mainly for the way that this object (flame) allows me to understand third better.

I had a hard time getting to any raptures at second, probably because I was sad, let down by someone today. However, by fourth I was totally in the groove. Had a fruition out of fourth with a pretty intense wave of bliss (yea, for bliss finally!). Oddly, I felt like I had another fruition out of the bloom stage of sixth. But is that possible?

Pure Land 1 is easier to stabilize and stay in than seventh and eighth. I just read that this is attainable only by anagamis. I thought that was true only for NS. If so, I guess that is another sign that I really do have third path. Interesting.

I’m with Kenneth Folk, though: If made to choose, then I would much rather everyone be kind than everyone be enlightened. I mean that.

Thank you, Dream Walker for your friendship: your kindness, conversation, humor, and even some kicks in the ass. I take bliss where I find it.


I got so I could take his name—

Without—Tremendous gain—

That Stop-sensation—on my Soul—

And Thunder—in the Room—


I got so I could walk across

That Angle in the floor,

Where he turned so, and I turned—how—

And all our Sinew tore—


I got so I could stir the Box—

In which his letters grew

Without that forcing, in my breath—

As Staples—driven through—


Could dimly recollect a Grace—

I think, they call it “God”—

Renowned to ease Extremity—

When Formula, had failed—


And shape my Hands—

Petition’s way,Tho’ ignorant of a word

That Ordination—utters—

My Business, with the Cloud,


If any Power behind it, be,

Not subject to Despair—

It care, in some remoter way,

For so minute affair

As Misery—

Itself, too vast, for interrupting—more—


Emily Dickinson

Mastering Harder and Higher Jhānas

Obviously, I’m heavily into mastering the jhanas now. I’ve not been doing any insight, really, except to “clean out” or “disentangle” some selfing from Jhanas 5 and 6 (haven’t really gotten to 6 with this yet), via DW. I think I’ve convinced Daniel to break out part of the current, overlong jhana chapter from MCTB2, specifically the fire kasina instructions and dedicate a whole chapter to nothing but instructions for advanced samatha jhana practice—bleeding into investigating the states, though, at the end of this new chapter.

Last three sits, including tonight’s, have been remarkable for the clarity and hardness of the jhanas. I’m able to get second easily now (again) by tuning into the rapturous pleasure rather than anticipating the equanimity.

The formless realms are extremely seductive, heady, and heavy on the afterglow. I have a hard time ending the session. I have to come slowly back down the arc, which makes the lower rupa jhanas much more intense and clear with regard to their jhana factors.

Tonight, Nothingness was a bit easier to hold onto; eight was harder.

Pure Land 1 is pretty easy to hold onto after eighth. There is a brightening of the visual field, a lightness, and then equanimity as the bass note. On top of the equanimity, lightness, and brightness, there begins “blooming” rapturous waves of gratitude, supplication, and love. These waves were very clearly starting from the level and area of my navel, and spreading out but mainly up. A very interesting state.

I am unsure why I’ve so driven after a path to work on the jhanas instead of insight. It is very odd, this urge. Who knows?