The Post-Eighth-Jhana Junction Point

I knew I was in Equanimity this morning because visual clarity was back to being intense. In the Dark Night, particularly Reobservtion, the center of attention is indeed murky, and clarity is lost.

Tonight I did an hour jhana sit. Highlights were that the shift into second jhana was sudden and deep, like falling off a cliff. Seventh and eighth are where my mind now naturally wants to go, and I look forward to the increasing concentration as I climb to higher Equanimity. The custom “Pure Land” jhana was intensely heavenly—waves of warmth from navel to heart and then over the whole body, like orgasm in a way, but pure, and an abstract radiance of high appreciation for nothing and no one in particular. Very pure, healing, and completely preemptive of states like anger and defensive territoriality.

After coming out of eighth, I made a resolution to attain to nirodha samapatti. I’m just recording my efforts in that regard. I’ve come out of eighth at times in the past and was someplace that I couldn’t recognize. I’ll hang out instead of jumping up. Post-eighth junction point is what Daniel calls the point above eighth jhana from which the meditator can go in various directions; however, I’ve never understood it to be a state in itself. This was the first time I wondered whether that junction were an actual state: It was a refined neutrality, somehow different from fourth. Maybe it was just heavy afterglow.

Equanimity is awesome. I’m so relieved to be out of the most painful Reobservation I can remember.

I’m completely off the DhO. There is something so freeing about having just completely given up and quit that stupid discussion board. It will never change. If schisms and blowups haven’t changed it yet, why would more of the same suddenly bring change? Anyway, gratitude to Daniel for letting us be here, in the endarkened basement of his virtual “house.” 


Reobservation into Low Equanimity of a Dramatic Insight Cycle

Yesterday I tried to do metta for a mere 20 minutes. But I just sat, staring at the candle, emotionally numb and unable to wish even myself well. Vibratory body continued. Insight stage notation from new MCTB2 notation system: ñ10.j3.j4. This is the fourth jhanic aspect of the third jhanic aspect of Reobservation insight stage. Actually this specific notation may apply more to Thursday. On this day I was moving into Equanimity.

This has been a particularly dramatic insight cycle. I never get A&P Events anymore, but I did this time. And I almost never even notice Reobservation, but this one has kicked my ass. Intense bodily vibrations have been prominent, and a very heavy and seemingly irresistible renunciation trip—especially toward everything Dharma.

But I think Friday night I was already drifting into low Equanimity. Now it is early Sunday morning, and I just finished a sit for an hour and 20 minutes. My best guess is n11.j3.j1, per the new notation system, which will be featured in MCTB2. (I urge all practitioners learn this notation system. It may seem off-putting to begin with, but you really need to be able to see the fine differences between substages and between subjhanas for mastery, and this system aids in that discernment greatly. So when you get your hands on MCTB2, learn it and apply it and encourage others to do so. It aids communication and journaling, and it helps you in awareness of your current insight stage, which may help prevent bleed-through, although I’ve had some significant bleed-through this week, unfortunately, despite my precision in knowing where I am.)

My concentration felt poor tonight, and jhanas were soft except for Boundless Consciousness (j6) and some portion of my time in Nothingness (j7). My bodily vibrations have calmed down into something finer, subtle, and slower. My mind is babbling while I sit, but I still sat more than an hour. I had bodily irritation, such as annoying itches, restlessness, and fleeting aches. This is a mimic of Three Characteristics stage, which is typical for me when I’m in low Equanimity. Eighth was hard to hold.

The “custom” jhana is weird. This is such an easy state for me to get, but tonight, for some reason, I didn’t feel I would get it. But I did. There is equanimity, then a bliss wave from the navel up to the heart and then everywhere, and the gratitude-y emotion. This time, however, the bliss-gratitude wave reached my heart, flipped over like a dead sea lion, and I started sobbing—completely unexpected, completely out of nowhere and nothing. It was the crying of grief, and the feeling that I cannot go back and undo consequences. So bright gratitude brought on deep black grief, without warning.

After I stopped being such a ninny, I sat long enough to get the purer gratitude wave generator going, but none of my samatha was impressive today. The insight stages are dominant.

There was a strong j3 element throughout all else in the sit—meaning my back was cold and I was creeped out a bit. The cold back is feeling of abandonment, as when a parent abandons a child, or a friend abandons or betrays one.  I almost alway get the creepy frozen back (“cold shoulder”) in j3. Practice highlights were that Nothingness was very rich and long, NPNYNP was definite but not lengthy.

Reobservation does seem to be calming down and heading out, thank goodness. This was a baddy. I bled-through on someone I care for; it was not pretty. There are legitimate issues I need to straighten out with this person, but I absolutely wanted to torch him and everything conceptually related. I went into a heavy-duty renunciation trip.

I didn’t sleep much, but then stayed in my pajamas and in bed most of the day, dozing lightly, dreaming, and being like one post-illness or hung over—washed out and blah. My back and neck hurt all afternoon and evening, which is associated more with Reobservation than with Equanimity, so I’m not sure where I am.

Emotionally, I feel flat and professional; but underneath I feel ashamed for having lost control during Reobservation. Daniel gave some interesting advice that Kenneth gave him once, which is to renounce everything privately, not publicly, in heart and mind, and then to stop practicing for a few days. He got second path without warning that way.

Anyway, I’m crawling under a rock in a way, but sitting up straight, sober, professional, and flat-neutral in another way. This doesn’t feel like Equanimity so much as just Spent. Very sleepy before sit, but my concentration was better than last night’s, but then last night’s was shit.

Postscript 2.5 years later—I remember this particularly dramatic insight stage cycle well. The bleed-through I mention was onto Daniel. At one point I drew the Ten of Swords, pictured left, for outcome of the MCTB2 work we were doing together. When Daniel saw the card, he wrote only Alea iacta est, “the die is cast,” and indeed it was. Luckily, I don’t recall having another insight cycle this intense ever again. I was to have a Mahamudra awakening 3 months after this point, and, with the exception of occasional mild A&P-like episodes, the insight stage cycling ceased with that awakening, which is also when the Subject dropped out. Another 8 or so months later, even the mild A&P-like periods had faded out completely. It turned out that more than the opening of rigpa happened on that retreat: rigpa was fairly stable, stable enough for me to orient to the kunzhi naturally. It is interesting that, although Daniel’s descriptions to me and others about his own level of awakening sound just like this orientation to the kunzhi, he still experiences continual insight stage cycling, including kickass Reobservation stages, he claims. This continuation of the cycling indicates that something is incomplete in the realization of timeless awareness and unbounded wholeness, but what or why is not completely clear. I wish for him the ending of the cycling, for that is the cessation of  much unnecessary suffering. Awakening is indeed incomplete without that cessation. I don’t know anyone who cycles who wants to continue to do so; quite the contrary. This is a hint, as well as a wish.


Reply to Daniel’s Advice about Attaining to Nirodha Samapatti


Very interesting. And, incidentally, you mention much here that you don’t where you have written on NS publicly (although I’ve not run a search on the DhO archives, and maybe I should). Anyhow I think I’ll copy what you’ve written above and dump it into the advanced concentration practice chapter file for you to use or edit down as you see fit.

I have the formless realms, but the older texts say “mastery” of them is required, and I’m not sure how far or not far I am down the road of “mastery” of the jhanas in general, or at least in terms of what bare minimum is required to land nirodha samapatti. Some nights my practice is super-strong, the states are all blowaway hard, and the afterglow is heavy and lasts about 2 hours. Other times, not so much, and usually during those times it is because some insight stage is insistently bleeding through for attention, which is the case right now. I will say that I have Boundless Space and Boundless Consciousness down, although even they can be explored much, much more. They are easily attained, and I can stay in them with quite a bit of depth and endurance.

I can call the jhanas up out of order; however, I think I would do well to spend more time in each one, really exploring its bloom and factor progression. Nothingness has been hard to stabilize, and sometimes I feel oxygen deprived in it, but I’m still pretty new to it, too. I’ve gotten better results by learning not to try to stamp out or extinguish all the vibratory/strobing elements that I somehow sense in Nothingness even though it is also so cold and black, and its name makes you think it should be more like, well, nothing.

Eighth jhana (NPNYNP) still needs quite a bit of stabilization, if it even makes sense to refer to “stabilizing” such a state; I fall out of it pretty quickly most of the time because I start noticing it, which seems to reify it out of access—so, as with Nothingness, what seems to be needed for stabilization, paradoxically, is a letting-it-be-however-it-is rather than my being fascinated by it and how it is presenting. As soon as I’m fascinated, I’m outside of it. That in itself is an interesting insight: If something is super special, you have taken up a position on a posited outside.

I’ve read stories of how Pema Chrodron, when she was Trungpa’s student, would run up to him to excitedly tell him of some special insight or meditative experience she had just had. He would just wag his finger and say, “No Big Deal—remember?” I so relate to that story, in that I relate to Pema’s childlike excitement and fascination. The path is so darned fascinating; who would want to give it up to be awake to everything else? (Exception: Reobservation, which is maybe part of the lesson of Reobservation?).

The surprising thing to me about seventh and eighth jhanas are how fluctuating they somehow seem to be, how much they move. In Nothingness, with so much stuff tuned out, fluxing itself can be more easily seen, even strobing at times. With eighth, well, it is somehow moving and stationary at the same time; or rather, one can’t decide which it is: You are always already not really constituted for observing it. It is an extremely altered, very, very, very removed-from-reality state as I’ve experienced it. When I come out of it, I truly feel I was gone, in some kind of otherworldly timeless trance. Nonetheless, it somehow reminds me retrospectively of a colorless, or light electric gray, very refined, very thinned out boundlessness that is also a singularity, a collapsing.

In general, for many months, I’ve found that the concentration states are not just recreational or psychologically healing, but can and do spontaneously toss up insights, which I’m guessing is either vipassana breaking through, or simply intellectually understanding a pointer from them that then feeds back into vipassana practice. Do I even practice vipassana anymore, haha? Not deliberately. Therefore, I strongly suspect that mastering the samatha jhanas supports insight progress somehow, at least in the middle paths. In fact, in my conceited presumption, I would almost go so far as to say they seem required. Steph said the same thing during our Apr. 24 Hangout, her growing suspicion, based on experience, that the jhanas are crucial to awakening, somehow. 

One other observation I’ve made in my practice: Despite texts’ advice to the contrary, instead of mastering one jhana before attempting the next, I have found that working with the next higher jhana “prematurely” automatically strengthens, hardens, stabilizes the one below it. I’ve also found, and I think you say this in MCTB2, that going back down from eighth to the formed jhanas makes the factors of the formed jhanas pop to a greater extent than they do on the way up.

The news that attaining nirodha sampatti is no walk in the park, even with the preparations in place, is good to know. It sounds like a pretty extreme attainment.

The Primacy of Love over a Culture of Attainment

I’m upset, which is at least interesting, at least something to notice closely and learn from. This sense of disempowerment—ah, how pervasive it is. The rage is really deep, deep hurt. At least this much I know. Another opportunity to see how recoil, clinging, and passing happens. This hurting is actually love. This suffering is actually compassion all tangled up in bitter-tasting knots I gnash with my ineffectually sharp teeth.

Vibratory Intensity Continuing

I had much to say about the amazing jhana sit I had right before I became upset:

How Boundless Consciousness was so rich yet refined that it seemed no separate awareness was present. Or perhaps it was all awareness and no Consciousness, no it.  How splashes of red appeared here as in Nothingness the other night.

How Nothingness was somehow full of movement, flux, almost even bright black flashes. Yet it also became sustainable.

How NPNYNP is hard to sustain when there is too much effort around it, containing it. Give it air, it is thin and wants to fly freely. You have to neither exert effort nor just observe. It is difficult only because it cannot be grasped. But if you settle in with Nothingness, it will come on slippers made of shadows, yellowish gray ones. In fact, it was after relaxing out of practice that I sort of fell back into it with ease and found it sustainable. This is an extremely altered state—extremely removed from reality, very very deep and removed.

How I’ve been in the neighborhood of that sync-up Daniel somewhat inaccurately calls agencylessness most of the day, the bright green April trees swaying in perfect cool air, implausible. I’m one with the moment. The hands open the applesauce. There. Open. It is just happening. I’m just intersecting ripples of vibration. I’m tingling intensely all over, all the time. Not solid.

How gratitude rises from below the navel area, second chakra, and is a flush over the whole body in its secondary wave, like an orgasm but gentle. 

How the reason that .  .  . I can’t remember. Ah—how the reason that some days the results of the shift are less noticeable is because I’m in the Dark Night, so the center of vision is much harder to take in. It is there still, if I tune it, but vj3 tends to obscure the center of attention.

And something about lying down to take a nap in the evening and not being able to sleep because the left side of my body was vibrating one way, and the other side was vibrating another way, leaving interference pattern in between, no field of real body. It is easy for this to go into loss of body during meditation, boundlessness, but somehow the vibratory is predominant, a strong tendency for A&P or raptures to be in the forefront or background all the time, almost obscuring any other sense of insight stage. Last night I was in Misery with strong raptures, a weird combination.

What is up with all the vibrations? They are invading my nonetheless very strong jhanas. The Dharma leads. Everything will show me. All things come. All things go.

Rarity of MCTB Fourth Path

I was thinking today how it seems that everyone I’ve met who has attained Third Path went through one or two false confirmations (yes, by well-known teachers) that they had Fourth Path, when they didn’t. In fact, I think most calls of Fourth are “soft,” meaning wrong. Usually the first false call has to do with simply a “feeling of being done.” Someone may even quit practicing for a couple of years. Then they figure out somehow that they didn’t get it, are not “done.”

In short, it is extremely rare to get MCTB Fourth Path. We are fools to think we can do these sits in our leisure time, be half-assed about it all, and actually get that attainment even after a decade or two. So chances are good that I’ll never get it. I guess that is fine. Whatever I did get is awesome. I’m happier than I can ever remember being, even right this minute as I sit here on this king-sized cherry rice planter’s bed, pissed and hurt. There is this equanimity in all—even the hurt—both empty and miraculous.

The Primacy of Love over a Culture of “Attainment”

Nothing matters without love, not even your “attainment” of enlightenment. We are love, or none of the rest of this shit about attainment this and attainment that matters one iota. And this is why conduct and affective purification fucking matters. And if you don’t think it does, then you are a goddamned fool. I don’t care what precious attainment you think you have. If you are afraid to stand for anything, if you are afraid to feel your feelings, if you are so afraid of being hurt or abandoned again that you put up walls or don spikes to put X in her proper place, then you cannot know love, and your enlightenment is but another false, false layer of endarkenment.

My speech-acts may be all messed up right now in this dark, dark night. But I do know how to love. It is just like Neither Perception Nor Yet Nonperception: You have to let it fly; you cannot contain, control, and protect it. It is not yours. You must share.

And charity begins at home. And I sound like a fucking little fool in this profound loneliness.

Be Something Else

Be something else, be something

     That is not what it is, for

     Being what it is, it is

     Too absolute to be.

If you insist on being

     What you are, how can we

     Ever love you, we

     Cannot love what is—

By which I mean a thing that

     Totally is and therefore

      Is absolute, for we

      Know that the absolute is

Delusion, and that Truth lives

     Only in relation—oh!

     We love you, we truly

     Do, and we love the

World, but we know

     We cannot love others unless

     We learn how to love

     Ourselves properly, and we truly

Want to love you, but

For God’s sake stop that yelling!

Robert Penn Warren 


First Attempt at Attaining to Nirodha Samapatti

Following Daniel’s public instructions and private encouragement, I tried for nirodha sampatti tonight, but I couldn’t do it. What I noticed about the sit is that it was on the vipassana side much more than on the samantha jhana side—a lot of vibrations, flickers, tingling, and so on. In the third vipassana jhana (vj3), the center was grayed/blacked out, and the vibrations were more like jagged lines in the periphery. Boundless Space (sj5) was clean and unforced where it used to be, and sometimes still is, thick and compelled. Boundless Consciousness (sj6) is almost seamless with Space.

Nothingness (j7) Intensely Vibratory

Nothingness was intensely vibratory. At one point I saw flashes of colbalt blue and vivid red, so what the . . . ? I mean, it is supposed to be Nothingness, right?

I have seen tiny glimmers of white, like glitter, in Nothingness before. This was the first time I’ve seen flashes of color, and these were for but a fraction of a second. Oddly, Nothingness is the most vibratory and strobing of all the states for me. When I emerge from it, I’m tingling hard all over my body. And while in it, it visually sparkles, roils, or varies from itself somehow, even though it is very black.

Eric asked whether vibratory sj7 was perhaps fractal. Maybe sj7.sj2? But, actually, I was experiencing a lot of upsurge of exhilarating Fear during this sit, the whole way through. So maybe vj6.sj7? Or even vj6.sj7.sj2.

Stabilization of a Jhana by Working the One Above It

Whatever jhana I think I’m working on stabilizing, it normally turns out that the one below it is the one that strengthens. This is an interesting observation. I work above what I’m really ready for, and the effect is that it matures the jhana below it. Working above my cutting-edge jhana stabilizes the lower jhanas. So, to stabilize seventh, I work on eighth and then find seventh automatically stronger. This is an important practice tip: Don’t stay in a lower jhana just because it isn’t yet perfectly stable; it may well be that working above that jhana will automatically finish the one below it.

I just need to spend more time on Nothingness and NPNYNP. I’m naturally drawn up to them quickly.

Hmm, well, I just looked at MCTB2 instructions, and I’m doing it wrong! Daniel says one goes into eighth, then emerges to that post-eighth junction point, and then sometime after that, nirodha samapatti just happens without warning. Sounds bizarre. I was thinking it happened after a few moments in eighth, but that is not how Daniel lays it out. So this fits with my noticing that stabilization of X comes with going to Y. 

Resolve Over Time as a Condition

Daniel also says thinking about it and intending it for days or weeks beforehand can help it happen. I think that nirodha samapatti has to be intended and tried more than a few times before it happens. I’m merely curious, but I was also a bit psyched out, I admit. It is probably premature for me to be trying for N.S. Failing to get it may just frustrate me, but oh well. I also think I’m currently psyching myself out with regard to N.S. If I keep trying for a while and finally give up, maybe I’ll relax enough to let it happen. Or not.


Emerging Secondary Effects of Luminosity in A&P

That visionary experience was an A&P Event. Why didn’t I see that when I wrote it, let alone when I had it? I have A&P stages all the time, but I didn’t think I had A&P Events anymore. Wrong: Exploding into a cascade of white flowers is definitely an A&P Event. Why explosions? Because the beauty cannot be contained. It is without boundary and boundedness. It must be free of its own intensity. It must express.

And last night . . . the intense tingling across the small of my back, and then dreaming of floating above and looking down into Kurt’s body and seeing that I could move the energy in him with just my eyes.

All day and night, the new way that perception happens was especially clear and royally vivid. It is during the A&P that the new directness is most constantly in my face, resolution is sharp. I see a cloud: Seeing is so thoroughly in the cloud seen that the cloud shines forth with the always already released. I have disappeared into it, into the seeing-seen ephemeral equipoise. So fused to it. No boundary. 

Shining with the ever passing soft quiet clarity. The palest ice-blue cloud, the midnight-green juniper furs swaying, The cherry-red LED traffic light so stark, the brocaded blue and silver concert hall proscenium representing itself forth continually. “Always with an eye toward attention itself.” Is there attention itself? Yes, everywhere, all at the same time–awareness. And the relief is that it is not mine. Oh my God. This is it. This is it. This is it.

Kurt drove us tonight in his old Mercedes two-seater to Durham for a concert. I was riding gunshot and just staring out at vast twilight sky, somehow so close, completely one fused to here, the opening in the cloudy batting electric and implausibly nondistant. . . . And then on the car stereo Kurt played Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” And tears started down.

“Jenny, just what in the hell is the matter with you?”

I laughed and cried at the same time and said, “It is this impossible music, and the Everything. It is the last nth. It is really all too beautiful, you know, because so direct. It brings tears.”

“Well, you certainly are strange anymore—better somehow, less likely to jump at a surprise sound, but strange.”

It is true. I’m ecstatic and weepy all the time. I’m absorbed. I’m obsessed. I’m consumed with the pathos, granduer, supplication, and surrender to all this. All of it. The Path. I don’t want it to end. Oh, this Specialness. And yet, I’m fine with endings. Let it be. Let Death itself come to me. All bare experience. Let it come. Let it be. All. No boundary. All is so real that it is miraculously empty. Right this second.

I’m staring into my bedroom mirror at the reflection of nearby lamplight now. All this geometry is equally immediate at every point of perspective. It is more real for being vividly empty and ephemeral, starkly shining with the presence that is not. So present that it precludes distance, direction, and the processing that declares, “presence.” Everything arises and passes simultaneously where it is, instantly, automatically. All is particulate tiny tingle; all is One, yet with nothing holding it together and with no remainder beyond its very passing.

I’m at least 87.9% enlightened, Jim. And if I’m somehow mistaken, then I declare this entry my official miscall that all Third Pathers make at least once on the way, with nothing artificially Special and Transcendent superadded.

Look at subtle presence in Nothingness. Look at Specialness. Let them go by letting them run their full course to the heart of my intensity. I’ll meet you all at the signpost half past Twelfth Path, then, all right? For Every Good Badass Dharma Cowboy Deserves Favor. Even one who sits like a Girl.