Unbounded Wholeness Analyzed

I had a phone conversation with DreamWalker last night, and I want to make a few notes, clarifications of my experience.

What It Means to Lose the Centralized Subject

First, about the central processor’s dropping out last July for good – I mentioned to DreamWalker that, when I told John that my roaming my body fields endlessly had stopped, John had said that was because seeking had ended. DreamWalker said tonight, “I think there is more to it than that.” DW said that he thinks the dropping-out is a shutdown of the fight-or-flight system. 

I think there is something to DreamWalker’s observation. I think that the roaming is seeking, yes, but it is not so much desire per se as a kind of hyper-vigilance, which is fear. Right before stream entry, I had profound insight into the way that my body creates objects and objects create the embodied subject. The constant roaming of attention is in order to keep all this going, to keep matching a particularized section of the body with a particularized section of the field. One Subject : One Object. This compulsion begins in very early childhood as a survival mechanism. It is root delusion, ignorance of our true nature and identification of limited constructs as “self.”

How would I discuss this in a book? Well, I will discuss it within a larger discourse on the Four Noble Truths. Enough said about that for now.

What Loss of Subject-Object Perception Means for Emotional Reactivity

But this is not just about perception gone over to apperception. It is also about feeling, emotion, reactivity. I explained to DW that now if I’m “worried” about my son’s driving back from Ohio at 4 a.m., then the worried thought-articulation goes through me and my speech may convey my habitual words of caution and protest; however, no emotion accompanies these habitual acts. It is as if the habitual script is waxed floss pulled through my brain and disposed of immediately: there is nothing for it to grab onto. 

This whole erosion of emotional reactivity has been just that: a slow erosion. It wasn’t sudden in the way the deconstruction of perception was July 30, 2015. It was a deepening, until one day I noticed that one experience was valued essentially like any other. This isn’t just a philosophical conclusion; it is an actual change in emotional processing. Actually, the emotions aren’t processed, because they don’t even arise, for there is nothing for them to hook onto sufficient even to arise. Empty thoughts, empty words born of habit. That is all.

This is so odd, now that I think about it analytically, but true. I can think worry, I can speak worry, but I’m not feeling it. It is sunk into and drowned by the vast depth of field before it can even arise. 

I suspect that, after some more time, even the worry-thought and the worry-words will just stop. After all, I pay a lot of energy into them with no return on that kind of investment. More and more, I’ve simply withdrawn.

I’d like to find a cave, one with a reading light and a nearby mango tree.

The Vast Expanse beyond the Visual Sense Sphere

Secondly, my main descriptor of the July awakening is “vast.” John links space with the visual sense door; however, DW is correct again when he says that it seems to him that the vast expanse I’m always on about is less about anything visual and more proprioceptive mechanosensation. In other words, the vastness I mean, when I try hard to analyze it, which is hard to do, vastness being vast and all, concerns my sense of body fields, bodily interior, and movement through space. Because some delusional boundary has dissolved that was between my interior and surface, between the body fields themselves, and between space and any of this – the result is this extremely expansive unboundedness. 

Why is this so clear to DW, who says the center has not dropped out for him, while it has been so difficult for me to figure out and articulate? Well, again, because vastness tends to drown analysis, because to analyze means to break things down to explain how they contribute to a whole. But the experience isn’t the analysis: The experience is vast. The experience is whole. The experience is all. 

DreamWalker, when he is frustrated with my lack of articulation says, “Yes, Jenny, everything is everything . . . so helpful.”

If one wants to teach or write, one must try to work up words from the perspective of one who does not yet have the realization. One must describe all the colors of the rainbow to one born blind.

Rigpa as (Visual Field) Luminosity

One other reason it has been so hard is that I do have the visual unbinding too: This is actually the sense of vivid directness that we call luminosity (rig pa). My mind is fused to yon juniper bush on which I gaze. Conversely, yon juniper bush is as aware as it is manifest over there, and that there awareness is this here awareness simultaneously. The time it takes to perceive has dropped out. This can seem like spatial bridging, or vastness, but it is not really about space so much as it really is about immediacy. A time-consuming centralized perceptual process has stopped with regard to any “object.”

Even though here we are talking about rigpa, Infant Consciousness, rather than Mother Consciousness, and this realization is one separate from Mother-Space vastness, I think if you are following my words faithfully, you easily can discern why this opening of awareness while seeing would also effect a kind of relative vastness: Delusional locational  polarization of awareness has deconstructed. So even though the focus may be on one object, such as the juniper bush outside my office, and even though there is still a subject on some metalevel who is having a wondrous nondual experience, the locational polarization of subject and object has dissolved – while one is engaged in vision – into “two oceans mingling.”

So, DreamWalker, I have a new theory: Mother is chiefly the unbinding of proprioceptive mechanosensation, and Infant (rig pa) is the directness, intimacy, of the visual field.

Difficulty in Analyzing Unbounded Wholeness

Yikes. This is actually a really good analysis, a breaking-things-down for the sake of discussion.

But here is the thing: When you put these two together – visual awareness and spatial awareness – then you have the infant lying in the arms of the mother. And that inseparable union is so very vast yet direct and intimate that one might be forgiven, especially if these shifts come in quick succession, for being unable and even unwilling to analyze this unbounded wholeness.

Thank you, DreamWalker. 

I’m too sleepy to write about hearing. Maybe tomorrow.

Three Nondualities and Their Consequences

Some of the terms used in this post were introduced in an earlier post several weeks ago.

All right, to continue my discussion of some of what I learned Thursday while talking with my teacher and then reflecting on my own awakenings – there are three ways nonduality can be experienced, three “levels” of nonduality, as it were. The first two are unbalanced but good doorways into the real thing; the third is the real thing, the natural state

The next three sections take each level of nondual in turn.

Partial Nonduality as Clarity (Infant)

A practitioner can experience lucid awareness as “no more out-there-ness.” However, he or she may still have no sense of the totality, of open ground, or Mother. He or she has failed to seal the totality of what arises as empty and therefore has not yet opened up experience of the vast, unbounded expanse. 

Awareness that is nondual with one object at a time, what in the Dharma Underground we used to call luminosity, causes, as secondary effects, visual high-definition and color saturation. The main effect, though, is that one’s awareness is reflected off one object at a time. It is therefore, technically, attentional nonduality rather than true awareness. Although luminosity is more than just a temporary nondual experience, and although it is normally preceded by a permanent felt sense of spaciousness, it nonetheless is not as open as true rigpa

The lesser openness is because the practitioner has not yet realized the emptiness of his or her very consciousness. Specifically, the practitioner has not yet realized that awareness does not arise, does not pass away, and has no findable entity-ness in the present.

Awareness has to be realized as unfindable in the present, yet always already illuminating the totality. It has to be discerned as not subject to impermanence, as timeless. Opening the true rigpa removes one’s own consciousness from obscuring view of the Mother, the vast expanse. With rigpa, the subject’s awareness shines off not just an object, but off the entire field, which, like awareness, is empty.

Luminosity, the attentional form of the clarity aspect of rigpa, is not actual light: It is as though you can “see” the awareness of a visual object continuously emanating from the object’s side. The practitioner directly knows, just as clearly as he or she sees the object, that the knowing is with the object, and that knowing over there is not separate from this knowing it to be such over here. The “sides” interpenetrate, yet awareness never moves. This description approximates the experience, but words find all sorts of ways to fail. To me, luminosity is the most difficult phenomenon to describe, to even conceptualize, yet it is a dramatic attainment.

This attainment came on suddenly in February 2015 upon my reading an email Daniel M. Ingram wrote me about how the mark of existence known as suffering can just vanish, an experience which you can read about in my prequel journal, Dharma by Dark Night, whenever I get caught up with transferring my Dharma Underground entries. 

The consequences of rigpa’s not being united with realization of the Mother are, among perhaps other things, that (1) the subject won’t actually drop out for good, and (2) one will mistakenly think enlightenment has been attained when it certainly has not. I made this classic mistake myself. 

With respect to the first consequence, the experience of attentional nonduality is like “two oceans mingling” because the clod-like Subject and Object have seemingly dissolved into each other; however, at a metalevel there is still a Subject who is having this wondrous nondual experience of the two oceans mingling. And this is because the practitioner, at the fundamental level of perception, is still grasping, still running identification processes. The permanent dropping away of the perceiving Subject is the end of fundamental suffering, dhukka;

Even true Rigpa is not by itself this dropping away permanently of the Subject, not quite. 

Although beyond the scope of this entry, it is worth my mentioning, I think, that ending of dhukka, correction of misperception, imperfectly stabilized natural state, is not enlightenment. It is not enough. It is not embodiment of the gains. It is not ultimate compassion and therefore, by my contemplation, not wisdom. Many, many practitioners stop here. It feels so “done,” after all.

For example, I have had more than sufficient interaction with Dan Ingram to believe with zero doubt that he has opened this level of mind. He calls this level of realization arahatship; he claims, at least publicly, that this means he has taken awakening “as far as it can go.” This is error. Many in the Pragmatic Dharma community err similarly. This happens mainly because they remain hyper-masculine practitioners. They do not make the shift to knowing precisely what to not do next. They have not surrendered to the whole. Instead of meditating with diligence in the same old vein, they need to make a decision.

Partial Nonduality as Emptiness (Mother)

Alternatively, and in my experience even at the same time as the first nonduality, is a nonduality that consists of a sense of pervasive spaciousness, silence, and stillness that can subtly seem like some kind of container of experience, or a “superspace” as Ingram calls it. This is a calming and deeply healing nonduality. It actually began for me upon stream entry, August 8, 2014, when my bodily sense of dwelling in a “core” move beyond me and into the space around me permanently.

With this attainment, there will often seem to be no boundary between the centralized subject and space, but this attainment is relatively dull and somehow, somewhere still bound by ignorance (avidyā, ma rig pa) until rigpa and ground unite, until the Infant rests in the arms of the Mother. 

The consequence of settling for this level of nonduality alone is that one may posit “God” or something as transcendent or outside of direct experience, failing to integrate it with rigpa and tsal

A Theravadin pointer to the Mother/ground is the fifth jhana, Boundless Space, or the boundless aspect of the fourth jhana. I spent a year walking around in what felt like j4.5. Later, when I had opening of luminosity, I had the two prototype realizations (quasi rigpa and ground) running in parallel. 

I now understand that what happened at the Mahamudra retreat last July is that the two prior, parallel nondualities became nondual with each other. The result was that the center-subject born of perceptual seeking permanently dropped out. The sense of a subject has not a single time returned; however, the rigpa aspect of the natural state “wobbles” in intensity for me and has not yet seeped in to illuminate all dreams and sleep. 

True Nonduality: The Inseparable Union

The inseparable union of the Mother (ground) and Infant (rigpa) is the full measure of nonduality. This is the natural state, the end of views, beyond which there are no more views to attain and no more “deepening.” When this has been experienced it is called Unbounded Wholeness. When it is stable every single second of every single day and night, regardless of all circumstances, even physical torture, then Dzogchen’s “cutting-through” (trekchö) has been attained, which is also called the Ground. From the Ground the visionary experiences (tögal) arise and Buddha-training has begun.

Tsal (Energy)

Tsal is simply the manifestations in all their diversity, from matter to thought, all that arises and passes as an expression of unbounded wholeness.

The Trouble with Masculine Practitioners

Highly masculine practitioners will try to get (conquer) the real nonduality, the natural state, by holding rigpa alone as the View the whole fucking time, deliberately and often quite artificially. This burning-it-out approach can actually “work,” I’m told, but it can also reintroduce—however subtly—suffering in the form of striving and seeking, which are anathema to the natural state, as they are reification of the Subject. Conversely, the more familiar a practitioner already is with resting in the natural state, the more he or she will tend to criticize this kind of practice as feeling too artificial. 

That feeling of artificiality is certainly the case for me personally, but not many practitioners can just skip a series of standard “masculine” exercises like I am now; therefore, I reemphasize that this practice journal is just an example of one woman’s path. Understand that the further up the Path you go, the more individuated your living path becomes. So this journal is not a practice guide for anyone else, although I am in the planning stages of writing a pragmatic cross-tradition modern (western) practice manual. You may well need all the masculine exercises to stabilize rigpa; perhaps most do. 

When you enter the path of integration, when you engage buddha-training, or whenever you are unsure or “stuck,” it is crucial to have a qualified teacher who knows the maps, the territory, and many different kinds of students. There also needs to be trust, attunement, a heart connection.

Last Month’s Practice Prescription

My prescription last month was as follows:

  1. Sit in automatic emptiness with eyes open.
  2. Do Lion’s Gaze, which is an advanced Mahamudra exercise involving panoramic vision (taking in the whole visual field) and seeing all as mind only, awareness only, until rigpa flares strongly, effortlessly.
  3. Do Liveliness practice by easing off the meditation and allowing tsal to fully arise: visual objects, music, reading, throughts, emotions, or whatever.
  4. Close eyes and rest into the body as ground, as Mother, the idea being that now she will be fully illuminated by the Infant, rigpa.

Sweet-Spotting the Practice from the Mother Side

Now, during my talk with my teacher, it came out that I find Liveliness a very difficult and unpleasant practice to engage in, both on the cushion and off. My teacher said that, because it is artificial, it may be sending me back up into my head, which means the whole thing becomes intellectual, artificial, and dissociated from ground and body. So he told me the bit about how the more the natural state is integrated, the more unacceptably contrived such efforts will seem. 

So this month, I’m starting from the Mother side, the feminine principle. I’m practicing inclining ever so slightly toward increased sense of rigpa from within the Mother aspect. This is really simply intensification of the Mother. This means I practice on and off the cushion by resting into my body, staying grounded, and then “sweet-spotting it” from there, turning up rigpa from there very slightly, with only the very slightest inclination. Even this amount of doing is often unnecessary. The natural state is always already, after all.

Ways to Stop Sidetracking Buddhahood

Get a Highly Qualified One-on-One Teacher

In this past Thursday’s intense talk with my teacher, I gained more understanding of the variety of ways nonduality, in the domain of perception, can manifest in a given student. Catching the ways someone can go off too far in one direction requires a teacher with extensive knowledge of the tradition, extensive exposure to all kinds of student personalities and contexts, and true talent for teaching. I’m blessed to have such a teacher. You cannot go further with just books, maps, and dharma friends. The path becomes extremely individualized at this point, and navigation is a delicate undertaking.

Get Over the Delusion That You Are “Done”

At this point on the path, after one has slipped out of the suffering of individual consciousness and the tyranny of attention (as opposed to awareness, rigpa), one can easily believe one is fully awakened. The seeking has stopped, after all. If this is you, then the first point is to understand that you are not done. For example, MCTB fourth path attainment is not done. There is still far to go. The good news is that this next leg of the journey requires none of the striving and suffering that the earlier phases did. The true agent of awakening has been recognized, so all one has to “do” is be open and undistracted. You might practice just 15 minutes in the morning, a very simple sit, and then take that into your day. Awareness beyond individual consciousness will to the rest. But see my next subsection – on getting out of your own way.

Let Go of Maps, States, Stages, Siddhis, and Highly Artificial Techniques

This being the truth, why do some with MCTB fourth path not go further? Well, there are plenty of ways to get sidetracked from the natural state: 

  • If you keep micro-mapping every state, experience, stage – sidetrack.
  • If you start cultivating siddhis – sidetrack.
  • If you start employing “techniques” to gain lucidity in dreams – sidetrack.
  • If you chase after visionary experiences – sidetrack.
  • If you meditate with artificial means, as in jhana practice or even liveliness-of-rigpa practice – possible sidetrack

Accept That the Natural State Is All You Need

Artificial meditative activities and map mongering disrupt rather than stabilize the natural state. Keep to the Prime Directive: Ride the natural state to enlightenment, which is buddhahood.

There are three phases students go through with regard to Dzogchen:

  1. First experiencing the natural state,
  2. Coming to believe that the natural state is all that is needed, and
  3. Stabilizing the natural state so that it is the way of life every moment.

Get Out of Your Head and under the Feminine

What you need to do, after the subject perspective of individual consciousness has dropped away for good, which is where Dzogchen begins, is stabilize rigpa, the crystal clarity aspect of nonduality. But it is easy to overshoot fruition precisely by trying too hard from within your head.  If you are living in your head still, as many very masculine partly awakened practitioners do, you are likely to get stuck and stay stuck until you begin relating to your body and emotions, until you drop down out of your successfully dissociated head and into embodiment. Maybe this is why, traditionally, it is said that women are at an advantage for fully awakening.

More on the fruits of this talk in a few subsequent posts.

Awake Awareness to Open Ground

Part 2

I’m finally getting to this post. I spent this weekend transferring many entries to my older practice journal, Dharma by Dark of Night, I need to keep hammering away at transferring the many entries of that most remarkable year (2015).

Tonight I did a “Sky Gazing” meditation that I learned from my teacher’s teacher (via a recording of pointing-out instructions). Actually, I’ve done this one several times in the past week, followed by some chakra work that I’ll have to write about separately … someday.

I will not detail what each of the following steps entails. You really have to have a Mahamudra master enter meditation with you and point out these elements of awakened awareness from within the meditation, as a tour guide might. Transmission of master to student is central to the essence traditions, and I don’t mean just spoken communication. Moreover, Mahamudra and Dzogchen are basically “branded” by the lineage. In our society, the equivalent is intellectual property. So, out of respect for the lineage, I will definitely not presume to teach method. 

Sky Gazing

So the stripped-down high-level outline of Mahamudra as leading to sky gazing is as follows.

Drop into emptiness of self so that you are operating out of awareness purified of personality characteristics and the stories that subtend those characteristics.

Establish emptiness of time; recognize the changeless, timeless, aspect of awareness.

Now notice the lucidity, the brightness, of the empty awareness that pervades everything. Reality is transparent and vivid for being directly known as not solid, not entity. It is functionally bright but unfindable–brighter for being unfindable, in fact, paradoxically.

View all particulars that arise and pass away via the six sense doors as if they were a vast ocean’s waves, from the viewpoint of being that ocean (being the vastness, silence, stillness). Ocean-and-waves meditation integrates what arises and passes away with what doesn’t, nondual.

Orient to an inward, mind perspective on “out there” so that all of that vast space and its objects are seen to be mind only. Also, or alternatively, mix your own awareness out into space, and space into awareness, so that all is nondual without a shred of duality remaining.

Get into the range of automatic emptiness of totality, either by “sealing” all as empty as it arises, at the instantaneous “speed” of awareness, or by simply dropping into the emptiness of the totality (with immediacy and full range).

Ease up off concentration and effort; allow the mind to be simple.

Allow the lucidity to be nonconceptual, such that every mind moment is fresh.

Imagine being at the peak of a mountain on a cloudless day, sky gazing; See 360 degrees, in all directions at once, the vast and nonparticular expanse. This is the mind resting as contented

Finally, allow the spacious awareness to behold itself uninterruptedly. At this point, individual consciousness can “slip out.” This step is usually known as Lion’s Gaze, because if you throw a stick, then a dog will chase the stick, but a lion will keep its gaze on the thrower’s hand, the source. No location or reference point.

Checklist for the Natural State

  • Does everything spontaneously arise as empty moment-by-moment?
  • Is all tendency toward doing seen as empty upon its arising, termed simple?
  • Is all tendency to conceptualize seen as empty, termed fresh?
  • Is it lucid, bright, transparent?
  • Is it completely nondual, without inside/outside or any edge?

Key Terminology

Here I introduce some key terms before applying them to my own whereabouts on this path .In Bön Dzogchen are two potent metaphors, which I touched on in my recent entry on the recent embodiment retreat: the Mother (the empty, or open, ground of all) and the Infant (the knowing, lucidity, acuity).

Mother

The Mother is experienced after awakening as the vastness (in vision), stillness (in sensation), and silence (in sound) that is the functional (but unfindable, nonlocalized) “ground” from which all arises and into which all dissolves moment by moment. It is the “one taste” of emptiness of inherent existence, interdependent co-arising. It is unchanging space but also matter (etymologically, the same root as maternal) . In the framework of the Five Buddha Families, its unenlightened manifestation is dullness (ignorance, avidyā), like a dense rock. Illuminated from within by rigpa, however, it is experienced as unbounded spacious freedom.

Infant

The infant aspect of unbounded wholeness is the knowing. It is rigpa. What does it know? Mother. When true knowing reaches its full measure, which occurs with the third stage of Togal visions, then the mother is completely saturated with knowing, and the knowing is then itself vast, still, silent mother. The inseparable union of mother and infant is the true nondual enlightenment, buddhahood. Before that point, to at least some extent, the mother and rigpa are separate tracks. They may each be quite nondual in themselves, so to speak, which is to say that oscillation emphasizing one over the other is an approximation that points to the real full thing. But when the final click occurs, then another boundary, the last one, is cracked and shaken off. One emerges a buddha, enlightened. Rigpa is the male principle, so “infant” is often translated as “son,” and plays on the word “sun” are ubiquitous because the sunlight is inseparable with the sky. Rigpa has to permeate all of space, silence, and stillness – at all times, at the same intensity, even in deep sleep, for fruition to be had. The lucidity never flags for an instant. The resulting inseparable union of the infant and the mother is a higher attainment than the outcome of Mahamudra, which is awake awareness.

Note that the unbounded-wholeness level of realization is therefore far beyond Daniel Ingram’s revised fourth path, or what he (wrongly, misleadingly) terms arahatship. Dzogchen as a tradition in fact begins after MCTB Fourth Path. By all means, attain MCTB Fourth Path, which is essentially Mahamudra awake awareness, but know that the Path is not at that point “done.”

Tsal

There is a third aspect, Tsal, which is simply energy, or information, everything that appears to arise  and pass in the spontaneously self-manifesting phenomenal world, which includes thought. It has numerous sub-aspects that I’ve read about but am far from having memorized. My teacher thinks of the pre-Mahamudra-proper emptiness practices as being the best way to address tsal, specifically all the worldly suffering that obscures our seeing the natural state.

My Wherabouts on This Path

As I head into Dzogchen from Mahamudra, what my teacher is wondering is whether I have rigpa perfectly stabilized even during the day (apart from in sleep). Ripga differs from holding the very subtle level of mind via Mahamudra in that rigpa is not even subtly a “view” that is deliberately “held.” It is automatic: This means it fires up at the same intensity at all times, never clouded, never obscured even during torture, never dulled. The only one of the above-listed aspects of the natural state that varies, ever, for me is rigpa, the intense lucidity of my knowing the all-self-knowing. And that makes sense because the Mother cannot vary, logically; only one’s relative intensity of knowledge of it can.

Now, as I am beginning to understand it, knowing the ground can be thought of as (1) a level of practice, or (2) the fruition of all practice. I’m practicing within clear knowing of ground, but I do not have the fruition. Again, the fruition depends on completing the third stage of the Togal visions, which brings rigpa to full measure and corrects a subtle exteriority meantime remaining in the visual sense sphere. 

As my teacher says, I’m constantly “chilling with the Mother,” which has been and is healing; however, rigpa has some variability in illuminating the Mother. My teacher says that the Mahamudra he teaches is designed to unpack rigpa, not so much the Mother, which is why its fruition is called awake awareness, I guess, as opposed to anything about the “ground.” I don’t understand this assertion, however, because the main gain from my Mahamudra retreat of July 2015 seemed to be the full extent of limitless Mother. Can rigpa alone be realized, apart from the Mother characteristics? If so, then I think that would be “luminosity” of particularized objects in the field. I will have to remember to ask my teacher this question. It is important.

I do understand from him that Mother and Infant are really only aspects, never separate things. My favorite passages on the Mother and the Infant, from a book translated by John Reynolds (see Reynolds’ Bon Dzogchen book) form an ingenious chiamus: The passage on rigpa begins with rigpa’s (unfindable) characteristics but then by the end sounds just like the Mother; and the Mother passage begins with vastness, stillness, and silence, but moves toward an ending that sounds identical to rigpa! Brilliant!

My teacher says one can simply meditate on the Mother and that experience will be dull. When we fall asleep at night, we are falling into the dullness of the Mother, into the ground. That is not what is happening with me, though, at least during the day. I think I have rigpa flaring most of the time; it is just that rigpa is much harder to talk about than is the Mother. It has no overt qualities or characteristics, after all. In trying to describe it to someone who has not realized it, one is continually thrown back on saying idiotic things like “Hey, man, it is the unfindable knowing-ness aspect of awake awareness.” Unhelpful, I know!

The Very Subtle Level of Mind (View) as Opposed to Rigpa

How does one know whether one is still subtly having to “hold” the very subtle level of mind steady? Well, does any point in the Mahamudra setup above make the lucidity of knowing flare more than before? Does the spacious aspect become more emphatically and vividly spacious, for example?

Tonight, no. The vast nondual field of awareness was the same high intensity at all points in the meditation, right from the beginning to the end. As I told my teacher, pretty much all I have to do is sit down for the rigpa to flare up. The list of instructions above is much too much doing for what is already there for me. The list my teacher individualized for me is much simpler. The irony in Mahamudra is that, the more you advance, the simpler and shorter the practice instructions become, the more Dzogchen-like.

Now, the other night I did some grounding exercises that involved lying down on my back. I noticed in that position that the mother aspect (vast, silent, still) was dull. As soon as I sat up and took upright posture, rigpa blazed up. Why? Another question for my teacher next time we meet. Probably just conditioning, like everything else.

My other sense of dullness is when I become very, very focused on a work task or on a list of things I need to do to help someone. Well, sometimes this happens. I’m focused right now while typing, though, and the rigpa is blazing fine and high. 

I’ll have to keep studying and recording the situation. DreamWalker seems to think I need to identify what situations cloud rigpa and why. But he tends to approach practice more analytically than I do, whereas I respond to the poetry of metaphors. My teacher seems to suggest that simply “holding” the right view the whole fucking time is the answer, regardless of what causes obscuration. 

At any rate, a bit of effort in the practice is coming back into my life. My teacher cautions that pouring on the effort is dangerous at this point. This path is natural, after all. Well, yes, from the ultimate point of view, but this paradoxical caution is really no different than the one delineated throughout Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha, Second Edition, which many people wrongly assume is jacked up on effort alone. The paradox and rebalancing is covered in the classic Buddhist Five Spiritual Faculties teaching, as well.

Time may be always already empty, but I’m now nonetheless emphatically out of it for writing. .