I threw these cards right after the weekend retreat of March 27 and 28, which emphasized nonduality through work with the body. I was ecstatic after sitting with my teacher again after so many months. Something at this brief but sweet retreat happened–not a new shift, but a certainty that crystallized and sank down into me that the door on Ingram, MCTB2, all Buddhist forums, and high-maintenance people of all sorts, but especially former dharma friends, is now shut. 

Or, more properly, I’ve walked through this gate: http://jhanajenny.com/post/141579935947/gate-crucifixion-tarot

I’m precisely where I’m supposed to be, with the teacher  best for my development, and with the very few private dharma relationships that can fuel me rather than drain me energetically. My focus is wholesomely on simplifying my life, putting all the busy-ness I can aside, and nurturing my own life and practice. This is not the time to start a community, write a book, or chase after anything or anyone. Those impulses were my attempt to escape the reality of all that has passed and is passing.

Image of spread is here: http://jhanajenny.com/post/142258612762/enlightenment-arrogance-shapeshifter

Inner State: Nine of Swords

Ah, yes! The Nine of Swords follows the Eight of Swords, which is the gateless gate I mentioned, the one I felt I had passed through during this weekend.

The painting by Marie White is of the Temple of Eternity, so emptiness of time. It contains the four elements, a water veil, a sun above and beyond the invisible but functional line of the horizon, and a “this side” where we live. This card represents enlightenment, the highest state of a human being with intent. 

White’s painting shows the dark and light pillars in reversed positions, indicating that the other side of the view may be this side, here on earth, in time, in the relative. The air represents the pressure of challenge, and this leads us to evolution.

The card represents spiritual realization and the end of a long separation. It is the most appropriate card in the deck to represent my inner state after sitting this retreat.

Outer World: King of Wands Reversed

This card has come up often during the whole legal dispute. This time is it in the position of outer world, other person. In reverse it is a card of righteous indignation, arrogance, and inability to embody the power behind those energies skillfully. 

Advice: Queen of Wands

This card is of me in my current situation. It is a full-bodied feminine power. It is a nagual, a shapeshifter, a shaman, a witch. A complement to the King of Wands, the sun god, which marks my outer world, she is the dark, the inner, the flame in the temple of my own body. She is the dark forest and the dark night I must traverse alone. She wears a shard of obsidian near her third eye. It is both a weapon and a mirror. It is myself that she is showing me. This is a card advising me to re-create myself though the imagination and embodied power.

I’m so glad you got a lot out of the embodiment retreat. He is a superb teacher: precise, big-hearted,  balanced–an exemplar of sanity.

Dwelling in the arms of the Mother is healing. Like you, I felt joy many times so deeply during the pointing-out narrative that I almost openly wept. 

I especially loved this weekend how he would have us be as the Mother gazing into the eyes of her infant, and then have us be the infant gazing into the eyes of the Mother. And then listening for our child, listening for the coo of our Mother. And holding–enveloping and enveloped.

In 1995, after 20 hours of labor, I gazed deeply into the bright, alert eyes of my son. A mother never forgets looking into her child’s eyes for the first time. It will likely be one of the last images that comes to mind as I die. During this weekend retreat, the mother-infant archetype, floating up from the depths of meditation, shattered something in me, some last withholding. I understood. I saw with the heart. I understood.

The open, boundary-less ground of everything is Mother–vast, silent, still. Rigpa is the infant, the individual’s knowing the Mother. Infant awareness is of Mother awareness because Mother awareness encompasses infant awareness. This union is not homogeneous, but relational–a theme defining the Mahayana traditions.

Logocentricity versus Metaphoricity as Method

I suspect that many men, or analytical types, have a harder time than women and creative types in responding to the metaphoricity that is so much a part of the instructional method in Indo-Tibetan pointing-out and other teachings. For example, on the very male-dominated Dharma Overground (DhO), I can’t imagine that this sort of Madonna metaphor would go over well. There is on the DhO an emphasis on the following:

  •  Linear rationality
  •  Charting, diagramming, and mapping “territory”
  •  Hierarchical construction of binary signs
  •  Doing, achieving, and attaining
  •  Measuring results
  •  Comparing attainment with others’ attainments 
  •  Counting with numbers ascending “levels” of states and stages
  •  Debating (logos) on dharma theory (logic)
  •  Reduction of emotions to fine-grained, merely observable “sensations”

The point I’m making here is that all that “doing” and competing is stuck in a masculinist perspective that is anathema–actually the obstruction–that prevents opening to the View, awareness.

Metaphoricity is appealing to creative imagination, to the most foundational relational archetype in the World: Mother-child. That relationship is not about drawing the lines of measurement and quantifiable hierarchy; it is about a nondual inseparable relationship of the particular to the whole, and the whole to the particular. And it is personal, interpersonal.

Now, if the relationship were chiefly erotic instead of maternal, then you can bet that the male principle would be figured as dominant, somehow, in the binary signifier male/female.

JC once said to me that a tantric merging with the feminine that is only erotic is essentially adolescent, inadequate. Full surrender is merging with the Mother. I suspect that merging with the Mother, giving oneself over to her, is not a topic that would go over well on most public forums, the DhO in particular. 

The Trouble with Treating Emotions as an “It”

I want to say something about this bullet point from above, “reducing emotions to fine-grained, merely observable ‘sensations.“

This is important. Under MCTB (1 and 2), practitioners are bound to get stuck. Why? Well, because they bypass the second-person relational way of meditating on an "object” in favor of a third-person perspective that reduces experience to an “it.” JC sometimes touches on this point. He did so again this weekend.

If you are seeing your emotions arise as “empty,” that’s great; however, seeing them as empty is normally not enough to change the pattern of painful habitual reactions on the relative level.

Likewise, if you are “vipassanizing” your emotions into “vibratory” sensations, then you are bypassing the very human reality of what you are experiencing. You are making your emotions an “it” that you can transcend and gaze down on objectively. This bypassing is otherwise known as dissociation.

Many technical meditators can get quite far on unbalanced, domineering, masculinist practice. However, they tend to take their attainments and use them to split off and deny intimacy hunger and emotions in general. Until such practitioners bring practice back to the level of direct second-person relationship, then they will be split at their own core.

So it is not enough to see that the bodily sensations of suffering are a gazillion transient pixelated sensations that one can “observe”; one has to acknowledge and embody experience as something one relates to as equivalent, as face-to-face, as human life itself. Only then will the deepest emotional scars and patterns be metabolized and the life made fully human and whole.

The Mother holds us, wants us, patiently awaits our growth and recognition. Awakened awareness seeks us. When we are completely cognizant of her as the true agent of our awakening, as the automaticity that quashes seeking, then the infant (rigpa) is stabilized at full flaring intensity. 

Mother is the feminine principle; rigpa, the infant, is the male. The nondual inseparable union is most of the way to full enlightenment. It is the automatic reflexivity of awareness released into the unobstructed natural state. Although the infant lucidity is the male principle, it remains super-interesting, as well as most instructive, that its manifestation requires that he rest. Where does he rest? In the arms of the Mother.

Mother is the ground, matter, and agent, and she wants to find us. Awakening, in other words, is inevitable, as we rest in the natural state.

This was the first reading I did after my lawyer broke off legal settlement negotiations with Daniel M. Ingram over copyright to Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha: An Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book, Second Edition. Our attorneys had quickly negotiated the key terms, chief of which was an acknowledgment for my contributions. But more than a month later, when the actual document arrived, it was one-way, with no credit or even acknowledgment whatsoever going to me, even though I am, as a matter of law, well beyond the threshold for authorship and in fact hold joint copyright as coauthor. As if that were not enough, a bunch of bizarre terms terms were added to severely limit my constitutional right to free speech and right to publish my own writings.

My lawyer and I agreed that there is no point in further negotiations, so notice was sent to opposing counsel. I will retain joint copyright. This was the cherry, to send over a document that changed the negotiated terms previously agreed to orally by all involved.

Here is an image of the spread as I read it: http://jhanajenny.com/post/141579935947/gate-crucifixion-tarot

Inner State: Eight of Swords Reversed

The image is of a gate, but there is no actual lock or even latch. I can walk through as soon as I know I can. Therefore, the gate is holding back nothing but the delusion that I’m held back. I can see all that awaits me on the other side, and I know I will walk through, in the future; however, there is still some subtly unresolved grief or issue that is detaining me. It is a prison of my own mind, not an actual gate “over there,” outside me and keeping me out.

Eight is the number of justice. The gate is a veil between the two plates of the scales of justice. Order and new balance must come out of the current chaos. The threshold I’m standing on is a point of no return. A transformation is coming, as soon as I let it, and it will further broaden perception so that nothing will ever be the same again.

But for now, I pause here and reflect on all that has happened since August 2014. I must go on and walk, but for the moment the reversed position of the card indicates that my will is weak, for passing through will involve one last pang. 

Outer Reality: The Hanged Man Reversed

The Hanged Man is my outer reality. Here I face the Other for the last time. 

Out of shame over and horror at his own actions, Judas hanged himself in the garden after having betrayed Jesus to death. Jesus saw the betrayal coming, and let it happen, with a final kiss, the kiss of death instead of true friendship. 

But this image of a hanged man is also purification though the mystery of crucifixion, the human reality of suffering as compassion and liberation. You see, vulnerability to the possibility of anguish, even that of extreme betrayal and enmity, is what makes love so sweet; just so, established love is precisely what makes betrayal sting. 

Interchange is suspended; negotiation is suspended; politics has strangled friendship. The die is cast. The stage has finally darkened. There was epic predestination not only in Christ’s life, but also in Judas’s.

A cycle has ended in death, two deaths brought about by a momentary kiss, a temporary crossing of paths.

Betrayal. Suspension. But also, now, all possibility of redemption because the First Noble Truth is known clearly as universal.

Advice: King of Wands Reversed

The image is of the Sumerian Sun God. This is a card of redemption through sheer individual will. This is a card of righteousness, will, and justice. In reverse, it indicates the need to look into myself for the power that fuels my righteous indignation. I should use it as fuel to light the way for others.

Takeaway

I’m standing on a threshold, between two plates of justice, and all is for the moment suspended in hush. I look with tenderness back at the site of friendship, betrayal, and madness born of early shame. Clear-eyed, I watch the last of the grief and disillusionment run out my overturned cup. 

It was all mythic destiny. But time to move on … any moment now.

I had another object dream this morning. I call them object dreams because there is no me, no people, no story. There was simply this human brain, illuminated and white. The vision was of penetrating by micro-thin slices into the brain. As the brain stem was approached, my own voice boomed out “No!” and my son’s name. I then woke up.