Super/Natural: A Choice between Magick and Enlightenment

The Sorceress by John William Waterhouse, 1913

The following conversation is a somewhat edited excerpt from my current (private) practice journal. –Jenny

Jenny

I’m not even documenting my practice in Heartlighted anymore.

DreamWalker

Well if nothing is happening. . . . “This page left blank intentionally.”

Jenny

I feel that something interior has to work itself out and take me to a new level of nongrasping, naturalness. Something is “happening,” but not what you would think. It is a release of the spectacular, the special, the magickal. It is a letting go of magick and pointed intention as any part of the goal, which is enlightenment.

DreamWalker

What’s the boundary that keeps the special and normal from merging?

Jenny

See, that is a mechanical question. At this level of practice, I’m done with analysis of mechanisms. In other words, here is the mechanism, haha: The boundary is that between will and naturalness.

DreamWalker

Okie-dokie. . . .

Jenny

My practices, including visions and dreams that are sought, feel highly artificial now.

DreamWalker

Let the effortlessly natural mix with the naturally effortless. . . . 

Jenny

Just let be.

For I’m sitting in the stupid bathtub, surrounded by lit candles, and wondering what is supposed to happen next and why whatever that is isn’t actually happening . . . analyzing. 

DreamWalker

LOL!

Jenny

Desire is being burned out of me.

DreamWalker

Hmm . . . okay.

Jenny

Desire for the next stage

Desire for a teacher to cling to

Desire for magickal powers

Desire not to desire all of the above, because all that is not “enlightenment,” which is what I chiefly and rightly desire . . .

DreamWalker

That don’t sound like too much fun.

Jenny

Desire for “fun”. . . .  That desire for the supernatural wow factor is the boundary. Desire for beautiful novel visions and spectacular lucid dreams is the boundary. Desire is the self-alienated state of nonpresence.

DreamWalker

Ah, I see. . . . 

Jenny

So how the fuck is the thing supposed to sync with itself if I’m desiring (a thus future) synchronization? And so begins and circulates ever to its own beginning this practice level’s Analysis Trap.

Now, truly, this desire has, most of the time, been exceedingly subtle. But I now have to acknowledge that it has been operative since the inception of my main current practice. And when the insight-stage cycling reemerged around Thanksgiving Day, it was because I proceeded from that subtlety to plunging down the rabbit hole of experimenting with magical transmissions, astral traveling, and similar feats of identity solidification. If I were already fully enlightened, those actions wouldn’t introduce errors, but I’m not, so they do.

DreamWalker

Desire is at the attention level rather than the awareness level of mind, right?

Jenny

I don’t know that desire is attention to the exclusion of awareness. Awareness and attention are not opposed but stably interpenetrating for me in everyday life. You are taking some split that is more fundamental and dragging it back under a duality subframework that has already been resolved for me by an earlier level of practice.

At my current practice level, your question is too much mechanization of my experience for me to work out. Desire is simply desire. It is the fundamental state of all imperfection and alienation, which I believe is what Gautama Buddha taught. If I am desiring a preliminary result of completion practice, then I’m living in the future, which I cannot. This split is what keeps time segmented, linear. In other words, I have not brought the Fourth Time (timeless time) online. This is the point: I believe that the final boundary is Time.

DreamWalker

What is grasping?

Jenny

Desire on steroids.

DreamWalker

Desire is grasping? Nah. . . . Grasping is patterns.

Jenny

Desire-feeling that amounts to personal neediness, narcissism, is grasping.

DreamWalker

Programmed patterns of desire and grasping are directing attention.

Jenny

Yes, fair enough. But even in my attention to particulars, there is awareness in its usual breadth and clarity. Maybe it is just not complete, which accords with doctrine since rigpa cannot be at full measure until third vision has reached culmination.

The funny thing, given this understanding of the need for rigpa to come to full measure, is that I currently intuit that I need to pull back on the rigpa pole and reemphasize the Essence, the Mother, Emptiness pole. And I’m sensing on the periphery of my mind that this return to emptiness practice will be through body-based modalities.

DreamWalker

Perhaps you are needing more karmic release.

Jenny

Well, that release happens on its own in the causal dimension. So nothing to do with anything I do at this point here. You are searching for a comfortingly mechanistically distancing label, such as “patterns,’ for what is experienced nonmechanistically and naturally as a feeling of lacking. But, yes, if you like, grasping is desire that is patterned into identity and its sustaining identification processes.

My higher-level counterpoint is that analyzing things mechanistically is one of the key forms of grasping that has to go at this level, for me, for you, for everyone. Maybe not at your current level, but at this level. We are both saying that I have to work with the narcissistic wound, the feeling of lacking, the feeling of being incomplete.

DreamWalker

Sounds good to me. How do you do that?

Jenny

Not sure.

DreamWalker

Exemplar tantra?

Jenny

Probably some bodily reengagement with Trekchö, but this is a question for the teacher. And, at least for motivating theoretical context, probably understanding deeply what Almaas is pointing out. Trekchö feels natural; all other, including my main “special” practice, is now feeling fake. Think about it: I’m sitting and cultivating the conditions for some extraordinary states, getting high on the jhanas that unfold as a result, but all this feels strangely wrong.

It is like when you are making love and suddenly see yourself and your partner as two mindless bog frogs humping mere flesh-form mechanistically and you feel your naturalness as a higher-level human being peel off and evaporate. There is a split there, a loss of authenticity when humping is divorced from agape.

DreamWalker

Hmm. . . .  Wonder if J’s Gonna recommend a trip to R for you.

Jenny

Doubt that. J doesn’t have time to answer me until late March, anyway.

DreamWalker

Does that nonresponse make you feel abandoned?

Jenny

I’m not exactly emotionally spinning about it, because I trust J’s good heart, implicitly and always. I know his plate is full to overflowing. However, the motivation-analyzing thought-habit does sometimes arise, “Hmm, is he cutting me off on this plane? Why?” So sometimes I wonder if it is intentional even if I don’t question the basic total goodness of the motives behind any such intention of his.

No, I don’t feel abandoned by J, just sometimes a fleeting twinge of impatience at having to wait, which is good fodder for practice. Nothing like the depth and extent I felt with Daniel, which was Kalpa-Extensive Abandonment as High Betrayal. A twinge is just enough to wonder, have that thought-form arise, and see it evaporate.

I experience the same sort of twinge with my family, but it is more difficult with them because they are not sane, whereas J is the exemplar of sanity. I’m looking at them and their defensiveness as the setting that is expected from all family members when we meet, a collective, mutually reinforcing neuroticism. Then I feel myself start to be entrained by their energy and crazymaking. So I stop. I go silent. I disengage. I watch them continue to be obnoxious, but I ground my own energy as though slamming a stake through the center of the Earth. I’m there, and my twinge of defensiveness melts into feeling sad for them. This is genuine sadness, a love-compassion that, right now, I cannot respond to with speech or action in a way that will help them. I cannot fix this burning world, despite my longing to, my desire. 

I tried to explain all this to Kurt. And all he said was reductive: “All that is because you feel holier than thou.” So I had to stop right there, stop with him, too. Shut my mouth. Same thing: not defend territory but generate the entirety of space in silence. And if a gulf gapes open between us meantime, then that gulf is a matter of Time, linear time, mean time indeed.

All I have to do, haha, is overcome Time.

DreamWalker

Right. . . .

Jenny

Not to be understood even by my husband: This central lack in me is not being understood, not being known even by my closest loved ones.

DreamWalker

It’s lonely.

Jenny

This is the wound that alienates us from ourselves across a gulf of defense mechanisms. And it is the boundary that is keeping me from enlightenment.

DreamWalker

I’ve got that wound . . . not being seen.

Jenny

Right. It is common as rain. But I’m figuring it out. This being unable to share even the most precious thing I’ve found: the path to liberation. It hurts.

DreamWalker

Well, spontaneous perfection in action sounds pretty good.

Jenny

If I knew what that was like. But I understand now what I didn’t even a month ago: that my chronic retreat to solitude is about this. I find it very hard to be around people since the Mahamudra awakening. It is easier at work because at work everything is superficial, transactional, polite. But with my family it is difficult. With my friends, close ones who aren’t spiritual, it is hard. With dharma folk who I see as spinning and not getting through gates that ought to be easier to cross . . . hard. It is like being on this other side and the deep gulf that divides is horrifying. Because I cannot help them. And they think they don’t even want or need help. So where is the boundary between holier than thou and effective compassion? Hard.

Bunch of psychological stuff coming up as though now is second path at a deeper level. What is prominent is mental echo, past tense itself as personal patterning. That boundary is a gap in time, and it has to close. That is why J keeps telling me to hold these people in my heart outside of time. To see them as the buddhas they will be but now.

DreamWalker

Ahh. . . .

Jenny

But I’ve not quite figured out how. Maybe J can specify the practice. I’m not good at it yet.

About your telling me that maybe N should skip Mahamudra and go directly into Dzogchen, tell me who you know that got awake awareness by starting with Dzogchen.

DreamWalker

Who?

Jenny

One person.

DreamWalker

Who is that?

Jenny

I’m asking you.

DreamWalker

Tibetans?

Jenny

Unverifiable.

DreamWalker

Totally.

Jenny

Dzogchen begins after MCTB 4th path. So how does one use a method whose prerequisite is 4th path to get 4th path? How does one actually practice Trekcho? Out of the blue? With no ground realization? What is the instruction for that?

DreamWalker

No idea how it is done.

Jenny

Okay, LOL! So why did you say that Dzogchen and skipping Mahamudra might be better for N?

Oh my. This bird thing is a bit off from exemplar tantra. I cannot tell from N’s writing where he is “seeing” all this. Is it during a sit? Is it out in front of him with eyes open? Is it behind closed eyes in his imagination? Is he really flying through the actual sky, circling in for a landing at Amazon?

He seems to be caught up in an entire story, narrative that is not part of the meditation instructions.

You aren’t feeding him shamanism stuff are you?

DreamWalker

Who me? Nooooooop.

Jenny

Gooooood.

DreamWalker

LOL! No more than I feed you.

Jenny

Because we are not practicing shamanism. We are practicing tantra.

Don’t confuse your spewing with my swallowing.

DreamWalker

Tom Campbell’s My Big TOE!

Jenny

That book isn’t going after what I’m after.

DreamWalker

Well . . . kind of. Speculation. But simulation as holographic universes, and the bounding egg cracking. . . . 

Jenny

Does Campbell have nondual enlightenment? If he did, he would write about that.

DreamWalker

Yes. He is nonduality. 

Jenny

But told from the objective side of things because he is a scientist. Campbell is a buddha? Monroe isn’t.

DreamWalker

But his model is for basics of understanding the theory of everything.

Jenny

That stuff doesn’t matter until after buddhahood. It is a distraction.

DreamWalker

Monroe wasn’t in life.

Jenny

Lots of people can be open in weird ways without being enlightened.

DreamWalker

Right. Apparently, Monroe continued after death.

Jenny

Unverifiable? LOL!

DreamWalker

Unless you visit him.

Jenny

SIGH. LOL!

My current theory is that focus on magick subtends duality. Hence, magick’s being a hindrance, a major one. Western magick users will try to tell you that what they are doing leads to the same end, enlightenment. Not true. Because it objectifies at the level of mode: The self via intent versus the world as the manipulated.

So best to lay off all that, which is essentially what I wrote on that post Daniel deleted because, deep down, Daniel knows it is true and feels threatened by his own approach to that truth. Because magick is for control, just like the Overlord’s Delete button is, a major detour back up own ass. It is a tool of the deluded identity structures, a toolbox filled with defense mechanisms. 

It is best to put away your tool and wait for marriage.

In N’s case, he has publicly claimed a mental illness. So another reason not to pump magick into him. Tantra can be dangerous, after all, and requires prior stabilization to avoid danger.

The reason I logged on is because there is something in the back of my mind, something about the four visions mapping to the four vipassana jhanas and therefore to the four paths. So Dzogchen really is the fifth path, the echo that is the formless realms. 

I’m thinking more and more about this. Because fourth vision ends in what? Cessation and fruition.

And there is something creepy about third vision, with the wrathfuls and intensity. Fourth vision is Equanimity. It is like shedding the jhana factors as one moves to j4 and the formless realms.

DreamWalker

Magick at the level of attention traps you. Thus cycling.

Jenny

Even if you have awake awareness, maybe especially then, magick is a trap. The only place where it is not a trap is buddhahood. This thing about needing naturalness to permeate all “attainments” is predominant. So it goes around again: I’m back to looking at Sid’s Suffering 101.

 Unguided: Disintegrated DMI

In every story, every secret told
You are not the first to wake up
To learn your lines before you have the part
You woke up early and you woke up torn
You the temporary boarder
The heat wave humming in the house of cards

You spun chapter into rapture there
Yeah, you were as brave as traffic
You chased the spotlight into her arms
And you forgot that you could fly, but not
That you were still the person sleeping
The heat wave humming in the house of cards

A play for the girl
A cross for a hook
Sinking into the green sea wonder
Under the sea
Walking the floor
Over the waves that we lived under

Something’s unguided in the sky tonight
There is something unguided in the sky

You wrote yourself into a corner, safe
Easy to defend your borders
A fallen saint into a whispered time
Killing time because I have to, why?
Because it isn’t mine, remember?
Killing time because it wasn’t mine

You’re earning your stripes
You’re counting the stars
You’re winding your barely working watch
You’re lucky to be on the lam like you are
Lucky you’ve already been caught

There’s something unguided in the sky tonight
There is something unguided in the sky

Post Daniel Ingram Deleted from the Dharma Overground 

Someone today pointed me to a thread on the DhO, where I don’t ordinarily go, and there was Daniel going on about how Progress of Insight cycling continues after MCTB 4th Path. I had a DhO sockpuppet that I never used, but I thought someone, chiefly Daniel, might benefit from what I had to say about cycling, its stopping, and its restarting. So I posted. He is supposedly on retreat, but he swiftly deleted it. I had copied my work, thank goodness, and tried reposting it. Again, he swiftly deleted the post and banned the poor declawed Bodhi Cat. Meowwwww! Not to let a good post go to waste, I’ll paste it here, where the “Overlord” holds no scepter. Good information ought to be welcome on the DhO, but then that wouldn’t be characteristic of that space. I wish I were kidding. Below is my reply to Daniel’s comments in the “5th Path” post on the DhO, a reply addressing his claim that insight stages continue to cycle after MCTB 4th path is attained, “at least for me,” he writes. After he deleted and banned Bodhi (which means enlightenment), there ensued some private texts and emails with him. I remained calm, but his envy and ill-will were apparent. His current retreat is not doing much opening or lifting, it seems. Maybe that is because he is spending it closely monitoring the DhO. I truly hope he finds his way to someplace higher. Comrad Bodhi concurs, or would had he lived.

R.I.P. Bodhi Cat

* * *

[Reply to Daniel on the DhO Post “5th Path]

I attained MCTB 4th Path. There is certainty about this attainment, unmediated direct certainty. For whatever it may be worth in terms of credibility in this conversation, I underwent months of my teacher’s probing for any sign of the contrary, and this attainment was confirmed by the teacher, as well. I was doing awareness practices on retreat when the center dissolved permanently almost 2 years ago.

Since then, I’ve experienced a deepening and deepening and deepening that is not a series of distinctive “shifts,” but instead is what feels like a continuous slow seeping into every nook and cranny of the self (which does exist but as pure presence without identity content and without the identification process that makes people normally experience even their own subjectivity as an object, a representation). I cannot say what the nooks and crannies actually are, or were, but the feeling is of a continuous sonic booming to greater oceanic depths of that original awakening.

I cycled hard before 4th path, with intense A&P stages and some devastating, ruinous Dark Nights. But the day the center dissolved, that cycling stopped. To be completely honest, I did occasionally notice mild A&P emergence. Whenever that happened, I would actually try to track whether the Dark Night stages followed. But I could never tell that they did, even when I looked for them. And the A&P stages were much milder than they were before 4th, and rare. I stopped identifying with insight stages. They ceased to be interesting in any way. As patterned experience, they paled in the blazing light of rigpa (clarity) and the one taste of emptiness.

Incidentally, I have a friend in this community who I’m convinced reached 4th path, and this is the only other person I know whose descriptions seem absolutely credible to me. He also stopped cycling at 4th path.

Oddly enough, recently, the cycles seemed to restart for me, after a year and a half of not being able to discern any cycles (other than rare and mild A&P). What was I doing or experiencing that made them restart? I’m still trying to sort this out, which may require time to give perspective, but I had at the time gotten into some pretty weird spaces with esoteric practices. I became extremely antisocial and locked myself in a bedroom for many hours every night, talking to nonphysical beings and practicing. I also was at a point at which I was rebelling against Buddhism, against the very lineage that got me so far. Part of this is the natural shedding of the Path as some new Fruition nears, but I don’t think that’s all of it.

This topic is too complex and personal to go far into here, but the rebellion was apparently in part a resurgence of narcissistic stuff from early childhood (and late childhood, too, most likely). According to some mapped psychological correlates of awakening, essential (not necessarily neurotic or pathologica) narcissicism (neurotic in me, though) intensifies before major new levels of awakening. It might manifest, for example as idealizing transference with one’s teacher, along with mirror transference (intensified need to be seen as special and to be appreciated as uniquely talented by the teacher).

It was like 2nd path turmoil, but at a much deeper fundamental level of bare existence and without spinning me out into reactivity. Speaking of reactivity, even though reactivity is rare and mild when I’m pulled out of rigpa by something intimately connected with said childhood stuff, this is the domain (childhood trauma) that remains an identity barrier or obscuration. This is fine, because I have a highly qualified teacher, and the practices are doing themselves at this point in a way that is clearly progressing and deepening the former awakenings toward ultimate fruition, by which I do not mean MCTB 4th. path.

I no longer think of things in terms of four paths, and I certainly no longer believe revised 4th path is “done.” I don’t identify myself as “arahat.” What is missing, or deficient, in my view and experience, when cycling persists or resumes is rigpa, and, specifically, the emptiness-of-time realization. There is a deeper surrender necessary after 4th path, one that requires giving up magick, for starters.

There is a deeper magick than that of the tantrikas. It is the magick that unfolds when you do not do magick. It is the magick of simply being present as pure being, a vessel through which cosmological-scale magick happens. It is best to lay off deliberate magick and wait for this scale of knowledge to unfold naturally, in my view and experience, and according to my teacher. Practicing magick from the still knotted holdouts of identity post-4th-path is one surefire way to derail the path to Buddhahood, I’m told, and my preliminary assessments are that my cycling reemerged largely because I began casting spells after a long hiatus. The spells were nothing dark by any means, but I was “sure” about the ends and was rebelling against lineage cautions about the “means.” I became increasingly pulled out and ungrounded, and the cycles reemerged temporarily. Magick is a side track, a derailing, golden chains. And when sufficient depths of surrender have been reached, magick will naturally lose all allure, all glamour. This is a sign of progress.

I don’t have time right now for rigpa wars or omniscience debates, for treading that conceptualized territory that consumes, unfruitfully, so many forums. Such theoretical debates are of little use and can actually cause confusion for those who are not ready for, say, the completion practices in Tibetan Buddhism. I can certainly have those discussions at a separate time, but not today and probably not publicly.

So what can help the cycling to stop? Practices beyond Mahamudra, and certainly far beyond ordinary vipassana. For example, your mind may indeed be liberated, and there is no more “doing” at the level of identification and perception (those processes have unknotted), but the attainment of 4th has to be allowed to unknot the rest, including the subtle body, including psychodynamic (second-person relationship patterns set in early childhood). This requires certain specific allowing/surrender practices beyond Mahamudra if one is aiming for Buddhahood in this lifetime. Buddhahood, not just 4th path “arahatship,” is absolutely possible in this lifetime. And buddhahood means to be nondefective on all “axes,” as no “axes” of the person are actually separate from pure nonrepresentational Being, and that means on the level of personality disturbances, neuroticism, and even the defects of “normal” psychological health.

What I’m saying cannot be proven. No debate will show the truth of it where communion has failed. It isn’t subject to third-party verification processes, as you know. But, for whatever it is worth, I promise you that it is so, that there is more territory beyond MCTB 4th, that miraculous deepenings are so very possible, that complete healing and “magick” beyond your imagination are in the offing.

Tantra can help with subtle body and psychodynamic duality at specific trouble spots for the practitioner, but Dzogchen is the only tradition that has the means to buddhahood without the need to go through the dying process to reach it. It requires very deep surrender, total naturalness, beyond what sustains the Two Truths as two truths. There are not true truths; there is only wholeness for those who realize it.

There are many ways to maintain and deepen surrender to the Unbounded Whole, adjuncts to Dzogchen. For example, when my recent reemergence of cycling started causing me to drink vodka martinis and eat beef after esoteric practices, I knew I had a problem, that I was trying to ground magick energies that had got too pointed and hot. My teacher prescribed, along with a certain prayer/invocation, yin yoga, which quickly calmed everything down again by rebalancing energies and emphasizing surrender at the bodily and energetic (meridian) levels (fascia, and even bone structure is altered). I assume each asana, which is intense, for 3 to 5 minutes and continually release into gravity (these are passive stretches, yin). I meditate in the poses, folded over in full surrender even to the pain.

One is not fully enlightened until subtle remaining exteriority of vision is corrected via Togal visions. Rigpa (luminous awareness) doesn’t reach full measure until third vision is completed. Fourth vision apparently ends with a massive cessation-singularity and “return” to life. Everything stops and restarts, just as in an MCTB “fruition,” which is extremely interesting in the context of this discussion about insight stages. The visions are not “magick” that you “do”; however, they open up a nonphysical dimension co-occurring with physical matter reality eventually, the height of rigpa, the completeness of Unbounded Wholeness. No other tradition has this, not even essence Mahamudra. Alternatively, one can “finish” the path to buddhahood when the visions arise in the bardo after death.

MCTB 4th path can be a trap, velvet handcuffs. It feels so, so “done.” And it is done, as far as what can be done via vipassana (ordinary special insight) and Mahamudra (extraordinary special insight) goes. Dzogchen maps call for stabilization and deepening of what you so far think cannot be deepened, namely MCTB 4th. In Dzogchen, this first level of deepening is Trekchod (“cutting through all solidity and reactivity”). Then there is is the Path of Togal. Until you have gone through all four visions, had that fruition, and are lucidly aware throughout both dreams and dreamless sleep, you cannot say that you have taken awakening as far as it can go in this lifetime. It can indeed deepen—and how. Emptiness does indeed become “more empty,” but you cannot know what you do not know experientially for yourself. 

Another sign that deepening is occurring via these other maps is that moral codes are shed, hyper-classification notions like “separate axes of development” are dissolved. This is because ultimate compassion-love is arising spontaneously, and all codified behavior is abandoned as the exteriorized identity crutch that it is. Of course, one has to be cautious, have discriminating wisdom, for apparently I shed too much too fast recently, and the resumption of POI cycling was the sign, which I was greatful for having so that I could remediate and regroup.

A book that I’m currently reading that maps awakening from a western depth psychology and object relations theory perspective is A. H. Almaas’s The Point of Existence: Transformations of Narcissism in Self-Realization. I cannot put this book down, and I highly recommend it, if for no other reason than his phenomenological descriptions of what seems equivalent to MCTB 4th, but in much different language than yours, and from a linguistic perspective of the former Subject rather than the Field of sensations. A very, very nuanced treatment.

My qualifications are that this book misunderstands Dzogchen as method. This is a old book, and Almaas states that he thinks westerners will be alienated by Eastern methods. His own methods seem to be inquiry with students that goes to far more subtle depths than psychotherapy but, to me, resembles it. So this is not a methods book. It is a phenomenological description over against developmental psychology, so it is a correlate map. The guy is a genius, and his precision is a huge theoretical help. This book addresses central narcissism in awakening. Next I’m going to read the Pearl beyond Price and The Void, which I think address other psychological disturbances/disorders and barriers. Despite his method that looks a lot like therapy, Almaas states that therapy cannot actually resolve narcissism or other psychological patterns; only realization can.

https://www.amazon.com/Point-Existence-Transformations-Narcissism-Self-Realization/dp/0936713097/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1487029835&sr=8-1&keywords=the+point+of+existence