Attentional Nonduality with a Visual Object (“Luminosity”)

 

Jenny

Since you got stream entry, has your perceptual experience of, say, a distant cloud changed? Yes or No. If yes, how so?

Vasily

That question is so fundamentally hard to answer. Okay, let me go look at a cloud real quickly.

Okay, it’s super cloudy, but I got the general gist. So there’s this feeling I get: “Oh, wow, I’m really here, and I was here before but not quite and now here’s this sky, and it’s really here and vivid. It feels like there’s another dimension to it that wasn’t perceived earlier, like I saw the cloud (sky) but didn’t really see it.”

This has been happening with all five sense doors over the past couple months. It is like meaning and dimensionality have just begun oozing out of everything. I’m like, “How have I been missing this this whole time?”

Is that useful?

Jenny

Maybe. Let’s stick with vision for now.

Vasily

There’s more color and brightness to things, like high-definition.

Jenny

You remember all the talks we had with Daniel in the DhU about luminosity?

Vasily

Kind of.

Jenny

The brightness, the vividness, the higher definition . . . those are like secondary effects of luminosity and are truly visual. So it is good that you are noticing all that and can articulate that. This part is easy to articulate. The primary effect of luminosity, on the other hand, is a bitch to describe even when one has it and makes a living off using words.

Andrew

You know, things are just like, right there!

Jenny

Yeah, hahaha. Vasily, in regular dualistic perception, the object viewed is solid, discrete, and over there. And you are over here, and your awareness over here processes the sight experience such that the object is over there, unto itself, separate.

Vasily

Yeah, see,  that’s what’s the hard part about that question. It now feels natural for the space to feel unified. It doesn’t feel as much like I’m looking at the sky as that there just is this colored expansion of space and the colors change and the forms change
but things are really the same, if that makes sense. There’s also something to do with creation. Everything’s being created at once. And it is flowy somehow. That’s harder to explain, but I can go into it if you think it’s relevant.

Jenny

Luminosity happens while looking at an object happens. But the primary effect, as opposed to the secondary effects of clarity, high definition, and color saturation you mentioned, isn’t actually visual. It concerns the “consciousness” part of eye-consciousness.

Vasily

Right.

Jenny

So, in terms of separate Subject and separate Object . . . you say they are unified and in some sense the spatial demarcation of Subject/Object and the extension aspects differ from what they were before luminosity dawned. Yet the experience, you say, is somehow still “flowy.” 

Vasily

Like I flow into the sky/cloud . . . in some way.

Jenny

Specifically, “you” flow out into all this, and the “all this” oozes forth, as well. So the “flowy” aspect of the experience is because, in one sense, there is still an over here and an over there and they are “conversant” with each other dynamically, as it were?

Vasily

Well, not quite. Maybe there’s some part of that is like that. Yeah, there’s an over here and over there, but they really aren’t that different. They’re merely at different spatial locations, and that’s what I was getting at.

Jenny

Good.

Vasily

There’s this kind of “just space” that’s colored. There’s something underneath it.

Jenny

Underneath “just space”? And what is that? What seems to be underneath it?

Vasily

Awareness. Like something underneath the whole experience is immovable, un-understandable, consistent, and comforting.

Jenny

Alive.

Vasily

“Alive” is what I mean by the “creation” aspect: how these solid things seem to be simultaneous creation somehow. I’m still trying to get a better sense of that, however. All of that isn’t 100% finalized for me.

Jenny

So, just to summarize thus far—this attentional experience of an object is nondual, in one sense, because, although there is a dynamically fluid interchange of you with yon object, and hence an over there and over here, there is also one unified field that is vast, still, and pervaded by awareness.

Vasily

Yeah. Exactly.

Jenny

When I was first experiencing luminosity, I thought that my mind was fused with the distant cloud I gazed on outside my office window. It was as though my mind were over there with, in, or even as the cloud. But weeks and weeks later . . .

Vasily

Yeah, but I can see how the outflowing isn’t really positive, because that’s still implying mind over here going into over there.

Jenny

Yes, “flow” might seem to be still implying the unidirectionality of what in Dzogchen is called moving mind, which is the mind that clings to or pushes away objects (via the Three Poisons).

Weeks later, it seemed to me that “awareness” was impersonal, was with/in/as the cloud itself. As is ubiquitously parroted in the prag community, “The cloud is aware where it is.”

Vasily

Ya.

Jenny

However, the overarching truth is that both statements are simultaneously true: Your mind is at the cloud, yet the cloud is always already “processed” into being—without your subjective Perceiver manipulation’s being required.

Vasily

Right. Which is really what I’m trying to get at: Any feeling of nonduality is just another perception, because this awareness is already awakened.

Jenny

Very good, Vasily. Well put. That’s really key to next getting to rigpa, which is a whole higher order of magnitude, so to speak, beyond luminosity.

When you gaze on an object, there is a sense of two fluid streams intermingling. Nevertheless, because awareness is omnipervasive, there is paradoxically a sense of stillness and constancy, meaning some “ground” that is no entity yet is emphatically not impermanence.

Vasily

Yeah. Which is why it feels like the consciousness sensations around my head are kind of flowing into this vast immovable thing, but not flowing into it, because they’re already part of it, just another vibration, wave, color, whatever.

Does that make sense?

Jenny

Yes. That sounds like Emptiness, which isn’t an entity, as nonetheless known as “one taste” or “one flavor” pervading all diversity of experience equally.

So your experience of your cloud is of bidirectional flow, interchange without clear origin on one side, and at the same time vast stillness because always already nakedly aware. Awareness has no arising, no passing, no contour, no edge, no inside, no outside. Realizing this, you are no longer funneling “out there” into “in here” in order to project “out there” into existence so you can take separate credit for its separate thingness. The default setting is about the ego structure’s need to remain the controller. 

Vasily

Yeah, that sounds right. I’m like 90% there, I think.

I’m also trying to notice (and this is more so about emptiness) how all thoughts / perceptions, even subtle ones of me needing to do anything, are empty, are just part of this luminous field.

Jenny

Yeah, okay on thoughts. I tend to address cognitive thoughts last, long after straightforward sense perception. Do you know why?

Vasily

Why?

Jenny

Because nearly everyone in the various Pragmatic Dharma communities has no more than MCTB second path, even when they think they have fourth path, and why? Because they are fixated on the nonduality of “thought” and cannot describe any change in relatively immediate feeling, seeing, or hearing. If you question them, they will say strange things, like that their perception hasn’t changed but their relationship to their perception has changed. To me and others I know, this “change” sounds merely conceptual and psychological rather than a true unbinding of sensory misperception at its root.

Thought is therefore a dangerous category to become preoccupied with first, because it can so easily stray off into mere conceptualization of nonduality instead of experiential nonduality. I believe this is why Daniel tended to overstate that “sensations” were everything: He was trying to correct for this reification of what we are talking about here.

Addressing “thoughts,” we quickly will get into the weeds and get lost and get stuck.

I’ve spent untold hours with my good friend DW because his map treats thoughts like any other sense door in this respect. But he does know and agree that the Pragmatic folk are fooling themselves in exactly this way.

So . . . this is all very complicated and requires we enter into long discussions about Mahamudra and Dzogchen. All we are doing tonight, though, is dealing with Vasily and luminosity. Put thoughts aside for now on this talk.

Let me say just in passing that “thoughts” are not things even in the most superficial samsaric regard. They have no weight, extension, color, size, or other aspect of space. So dealing with thoughts as if they reside in a space, or relate to space, is a categorical error from the outset. The reintroduction of “thoughts” into the vast luminous field has to be addressed with practices concerning time and impermanence, rather than space, which means we have to get into Mahamudra/Dzogchen. Tonight all I have time/energy for is luminosity. It is 3 a.m., after all.

It sounds to me like you have luminosity. This happened a few months ago?

Vasily

I feel like I’ve had this for a while. Just the visual high-definition aspect has been getting more obvious over past few months. Actually maybe I got something at a 1-day Dzogchen retreat a couple of months ago.

Jenny

This is why I wish you all would keep journals, at least for the sake of the unwashed masses who want to  awaken.

Vasily

That retreat did begin opening up some new territory.

Jenny

What did KD teach on that retreat?

Andrew

Thanks for the reminder. Need to restart my journal now that practice is moving again.

Vasily

Just classic Dzogchen stuff.

Jenny

Such as . . . ?

Vasily

Everything is light. Visualize hums burning up the entire field. We did that special Dzogchen breathing for mixing blue and red in each side of the lungs/breathing.

Jenny

Oh boy! That sounds like some tantra. Is he in Nyingma?

Vasily

But also some pointing-out meditation, like how Dzogchen true nature is right here.

DW

Delete the self, just hang in the quietness of the foreground of the mind; then you might see the things that are still noisy. Noise . . . that is where it’s still at if you can tune into that.

Andrew

The ocean is sometimes still, sometimes stormy.

DW

The complete silence of the foreground of the mind leads to opening the background that is awareness.

Jenny

Except that awareness (rigpa, we are now talking about) has no foreground/background or other edge.

Andrew

Using the same practice used to examine individual waves teaches you nothing about the whole ocean.

DW

Well, to me, awareness is hard to open because my heart chakra is noisy.

Jenny

The answer to your heart trouble is relational tantra. And add this mantra: “I release all martyr energies.”

Vasily

But isn’t heart chakra noise just part of it all? Or am I oversimplifying things?

Andrew

No.

Jenny

Vasily, no. Simple is good. Some of us cannot manage an uncomplicated version of simple, apparently. Samsara is self-generated confusion.

DW

So when I can quiet my heart, open it, then I can tune into my thought frequency. Then, quieting that, I can open the background of the mind that is awareness.

Vasily

Why not just cut right to it?

DW

Well, I have a recipe. That is limited.

Andrew

Can’t follow directions.

DW

But without a clue, you’re lost.

Andrew

Open mind. Follow teacher’s pointing-out without trying to second guess or decode it.

DWI’m not willing to do tantra. So I’m doing it the hard way.

Jenny

DW, repeat after me: “I release all martyr energies.”

I’m serious. That’s your mantra.

DW

If my heart were fixed, it would be easy.

Jenny

I release all martyr energies.

Andrew

Two paths. (1) Fix heart: the way to do that is tantra. (2) Direct path: follow the teacher’s pointing out without question.

Take your choice.

DW

OK, Jenny . . . “I release all martyr energies.”

Jenny

You know exactly what I mean. You are indulging in the perverse pleasure of punishing yourself.

You deserve to awaken. You deserve a long happy life full of love.

Now, Vasily, my dear. . . .

DW

“I release all martyr energies.”

“I release all martyr energies.”

“I release all martyr energies.”

“I release all martyr energies.”

I’m cool with it.

Vasily

Okay, Jenny, please continue. I don’t want to keep you too late.

Jenny

Vasily, when you and I got stream entry at around the same time and met, what was and still is super interesting to me is that you said, and I felt myself, that SE brought with it a persistent feeling of j4.j5, the felt boundless space aspect, in everyday life.

Now, most practitioners apparently don’t get that “package deal” at stream entry.

My hypothesis is that people who get the spaciousness early, at SE as defined by MCTB, will move very quickly to fourth path attainment when exposed to decent instructions.

So, although we cannot be sure about others’ attainments, I am convinced that you and I had similar SE outcomes. And I’m inclined to believe you now, somehow, have gotten luminosity. This impression is not just because of your words, but also because of another level on which I’m feeling into you.

So what I would advise you to do next is this:

Get some conceptual/intellectual understanding of basic Dzogchen terminology—chiefly, rigpa, kunzhi, and tsal. I recommend starting with Tenzin Wangyal’s book The Wonders of the Natural Mind.

Then read the post about luminosity versus rigpa. Learn, conceptually, the difference between luminosity and rigpa from that.

Note that Mahamudra is essentially identical to Dzogchen’s first of two paths: Trekchöd. So do your damnedest to scrape together the dough and time to sit a weeklong Mahamudra retreat next summer. Mahamudra has more structure to it than Dzogchen Trekchöd. So it will be more “pragmatic” in flavor. It is very, very precise and structured.

Now, then, during another talk, we can address taking the mind perspective as opposed to the event perspective. That’s step 1 for you. If you have luminosity, you actually already know what this is. But what I want to see is whether the mind perspective is stable, or whether you can flip back and forth. The answer to that will suggest Step 2.

I love you all. Good night.

The Importance of  Journaling to Practice and as Practice

Dear K—

Regarding your stated difficulty in keeping a practice journal because you feel it reifies practice—in the dharma book I’m writing, I urge practitioners to keep a practice journal even when they don’t feel like writing. Daniel Ingram told me to keep a journal as soon as I met him, that it would be important, and he was right.

I’ve been able to discern and therefore tweak the course of my practice skillfully because I could see larger insight “trends” emerging in and from practice sessions recorded in my journals across months and years.

In addition, often in specific formal practice sessions I will have direct insight—see—but until I am able to transmit that to the page or to others and say, I don’t sense that I have the fruit: wisdom. In fact, often it has been the saying that led in formal practice to the next seeing.  From the perspective of the causal model, I see insight leading to wisdom, and wisdom leading to next insight.

Yes, I agree that it is important to be spontaneously in the moment during formal practice, not conceptualize, let go, and so forth, but then it is important to contemplate what that seeing brings up and forth in your everyday life and in planning your next formal practice.

What do I mean by “planning” next practice? I am thinking mostly about my earlier Theravadin-stage practices, when I was doing vipassana applying the Three Characteristics across Six Sense Spheres, how one characteristic or sense sphere would entail insight suggesting the next sense sphere or characteristic to emphasize in a formal practice session.

But even now—if something is coming up over calendar time as a pattern I wasn’t seeing clearly into before, that can suggest a practice emphasis for me to pursue. Last night offers an example.

Last night I stayed up practicing some esoteric stuff until 5 a.m. I’m now off Cymbalta and past the wicked withdrawal syndrome, and am lately confronting this twinge of anxiety I feel as times, especially before falling asleep. I have a history of phobias around traveling in cars and airplanes, and around everything Kerry in general. Kerry was planning to drive to Charlotte today, and I tend to be especially anxious when he is driving out of town. 

During my esoteric practices, I was tuning in to that “Kerry traveling” anxiety. I had sudden insight into my attachment to Kerry as keen suffering. I saw exactly why my protective love for him is suffering. It is a love that is particularized to him as special beyond everyone else on earth. I contemplated and felt in my heart center and solar plexus how I could not bear the feeling of any harm coming to him. I felt fear because family members of a couple of friends have recently suddenly died, including a son Kerry’s age who was killed in a car accident. This overprotection I feel for Kerry is extreme suffering.

Yesterday, too, one of my authors wrote me on Skype: “To be a mother is to know suffering.” I had stared at that sentence for a long while. This author narrowly escaped being a casualty last week in the Manchester attack that killed so many innocent children. He was telling me he is afraid for his son, who is Kerry’s age and traveling to Berlin.

So last night after contemplating and seeing all this, I saw this tiny booklet I have on daily purification from back when I was practicing in the Gelugpa tradition. Seeing that caused me to read it for the first time in a long time and to remember that phrase “mother sentient beings” and how in Tibetan Buddhism a mother’s love is the template and intensity standard for universal love. The book mentions, in particular, Vajrasattva’s “unbearable compassion.” That is what I feel for my child, particularly when he is confused or blind: unbearable compassion.

I suddenly began to see clearly how to end this surviving anxious preoccupation that is my pet locus of suffering. I saw that expanding that love I have for Kerry to all beings would be to dissolve a boundary that is currently still my identity-view based on super-special attachment and therefore suffering.

Furthermore, I understood the urgency of purification anew, because I understood that I have to extend that love to myself to release guilt, which is the backward-looking form of worry. My worry over Kerry comes from my believing Little Jenny deserves punishment and is unworthy of love. This insight led me to contemplate reviving some practices JC suggested to me for healing Little Jenny, who was abandoned by her parents and who therefore keenly feels hyper-vigilance against losing more family and being banished by peers.

Like Atiśa, who wrote it, I did that purification practice in that little book on the spot, to forgive myself for wrongs I’ve done others, for my shortcomings in being of service. Although I’m normally not one to take vows, I suddenly vowed to the depth of my being to stay. I vowed to stay here until everyone knows the joy of liberation. As I journal my practice over weeks and months, I’ll see what wisdom results from renewed practice emphasis on attachment-as-suffering and on purification as release. Then I’ll see what boundary remains and deal with that. This is all I mean by “planning” practice.

I believe that practice, like any project, should be guided by discernment. Setting intention is a formal part of meditation practice, after all.. That means that practice goals and documentation of which methods lead to which results is important, perhaps even critical. It may not be Zen or Dzogchen of me to say so, but I do say so even while currently being a Dzogchen practitioner. Structure is a tool. The causal model is a tool. As each rung is attained and integrated, you can throw off that bit of scaffolding as just artificial scaffolding, finally just abiding in the natural state (Trekchö). But my view is that abandoning the causal model from the beginning, or even in the middle of the path, is almost always disastrous, or at least unnecessarily inefficient.

People often mistakenly believe that one must first think in order to write. But practiced writers actually write in order to discover what they have seen and think. Thought is not an enemy to be permanently shut down, but to be integrated into the natural state. We are thinking, feeling creatures, after all. Back decades ago when my husband invited others to his Native American–style sweat lodges in North Florida, everyone would take off their clothes, sit in the pitch dark, sweat until there was no felt resistance, and then take turns speaking from the heart. Truth of experience is what matters, you see, however it unfolds, however “its” intention both reflects and informs “ours,” eventually merging.

So my advice is to just write, just as you speak truth from the heart during our retreats. Open your heart and be a hollow conduit for whatever speech-stream flows forth—without planning, organizing, or editing as it flows. Automaticity of writing without identity-investment in the result is in itself profound practice.

Love,

Jenny

Dishonesty in MCTB2 about Actual Freedom and Recantation of Arahatship: To Daniel

1 April 2018

This note that I appended to Daniel’s editorial “to do” list on 17 July 2015 was the communication whose reply began the fight that ended my role on MCTB2, which culminated in total destruction of that version and ended my relationship with Daniel. There was protracted raw ugliness involved in those endings, including my banishment from the DhU. Even so, after the late July blowup, we started becoming cautiously friendly again until October 2015, when he unaccountably became furious with me for sharing with him the tantric practice instructions now publicly posted here on my site for everyone’s benefit: 

http://jhanajenny.com/paragon-tantric-practice/

In October 2015 I was banished again after sending this practice to him. Daniel withdrew my agreed-to option of writing an editor’s preface to MCTB2. He also withdrew promised editorial cover credit, which had already been added to the front cover design. Eventually he denied me even a nod on the Acknowledgments page. We had completed 350 pages of work that I had given up nearly all of my free time for almost a year to complete.

After conflict ensued, I offered many concessions so as to simply finish up the little work we had left. Daniel was, as my attorney later stated, unwilling to compromise. I had filed for joint copyright of the work on the basis of coauthorship. That copyright is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office and valid. 

Daniel sent two lawyers after me, as recounted in my Dharma by Daylight journal. The first emailed wild, rambling threats to me, including threats to make me look “mentally incompetent” in front of a jury. Daniel was copied on the emails conveying these and other over-the-top empty scare tactics. He apparently endorsed, in fact authorized, these attacks.

The second lawyer drew up and sent me a bizarrely on-and-on emotional draft settlement agreement that offered me $10,000 to cancel my valid copyright and suppress the truth about my having any role on the book whatsoever or any relationship with Daniel. I declined this hush money, which, by the way, was less than a third of what my rate was for editorial work at the time. Because of the validity of my copyright, Daniel had to begin all over again with his original manuscript. He was unwilling to make a simple acknowledgment on his Acknowledgments page that I had done the work I did. This was all I asked for in exchange for copyright, and he refused. He sought to remove my name and take full credit for what was in truth a substantive collaboration.

I wrote this plea you see below to Daniel below back in July 2015 because a friend from the DhO had pointed me to audio Daniel had long ago posted to his Integrated Daniel site. You will notice my reference in this plea to that audio, in which Daniel states that his claim of “finishing” his path to enlightenment in 2003 was wrong. In that audio, he also states that “there is one more thing to finish,” and then apologizes to everyone for MCTB1.

In his cognitively dissonant written reply to my plea, Daniel says to me that he leaves the (damning) audios and videos posted on his site when he could just have taken them down. Well, note that after our legal scuffling, he did take the one in question down. This whitewashing history portends to me that he is maintaining in the forthcoming MCTB2 what I saw in the last draft of it. What is that? It is that he holds his four Actual Freedom comrades out as a dark cautionary tale of what happens when you try to get rid of your emotions. It is also that he conveniently excludes all mention that he himself joined them in the emotion-neutralizing goal and exercise. Finally, it is also that he conveniently omits mention that in 2012 he recanted his being finished with his path to the extent that he even apologized to the public for MCTB1. 

Daniel’s reply to my plea below was a masterwork of cognitive dissonance and gaslighting. It answered to none of the point about his suppressing the truth from MCTB2. Instead, he avoided answer to that, reconstructing the problem as my being, with regard to Actual Freedom, in a “box” that I find “comfortable” and “sacrosanct.” In essence, instead of answering my plea for truth in MCTB2, he constructed me as narrow-minded and sectarian about Actual Freedom. Even if that had been the case, it was far beside the point of my plea, a red herring—and more personally, gaslighting. 

His reply, which I still have in my files and reread today, says he found the AF experiments fun and fruitful. If so, then why did he whitewash from draft MCTB2 that he ever even participated in them, presenting instead there the old narrative of arahatship attainment in 2003? Why does he make his four old friends into a cautionary tale against things like Actual Freedom? And why has he now, after years of leaving them up and pointing to that fact as a defense of his truth-telling, taken down the damning audios upon the advent of MCTB2 publication? We are all waiting to see what is and isn’t whitewashed in the forthcoming MCTB2. It is to be hoped, although far from expected, that Daniel will come clean about the whole path he has truly followed.


17 July 2015

Many in these communities discuss and debate “being done,” with the vast majority eventually concluding that there is no such thing as being done with “practice,” whatever that means. Even you say in your draft that continuing insight practice is a good idea, which is a statement that puzzles me if you are truly done.

Bill tells me that tantra is where one goes after fourth path is attained—this is to work on the emotional/psychological axis, which, imho, is what you should have done rather than messing around with that stupid AF stuff and going on record as renouncing MCTB1’s rejection of the limited-emotions models. Tantra would not have necessitated that recantation. It could have empowered you to be vulnerable with your emotions and not reactive against them. Someone who has seen through to the true nature of all sensations does not exclude those sensations that make up “emotions,” doesn’t try to get rid of them. If I realize the true nature of the sensations that make up a visual object, does that mean I should then go blind? No. Nor should seeing the true nature of emotions entail their eradication. How Tarin could be so foolish as to think otherwise is mind-boggling; how you could follow his lead is even more so.

For one claiming arahatship, you seem to have a fair amount of work to do on emotions/psychology; therefore, coming completely and publicly clean about this matter can only restore people’s faith in you, which is very tarnished in both your own community and in Kenneth’s, whether you realize that fact or not. I’m not saying this in anger, Daniel, at all. I’m saying this as a friend who cares about you—not Daniel the arahat, Daniel the Overlord, Daniel the author, Daniel the meditation master, Daniel the teacher, but Daniel the still vulnerable and fallible human being.

Where is all this coming from and why now? Well, certain people in the communities brought forth to me the audios made by you and Tarin, a series of old posts from the AF controversy, and Kenneth’s audio denouncing you for lack of compassion evidenced by your trying to rid yourself of affect (I didn’t find Kenneth’s particular take that [theoretically] convincing, for the record). This is all very, very complex ancient history to you, I know. But you have made yourself a public figure. You’ve been out with everything up to a certain point, and that means, as you told Jim, you get to see what comes back at you, and this is it—what I’m telling you about the harm that is ongoing because of what you said and did under the apparent influence of Tarin.

You even believed for a long time that Tarin et al., had attained Actual Freedom. You recanted, publicly, “being done” in 2003. You apologized for MCTB1. I listened to all the audios, and they are damning and embarrassing. If you blip past all this in your book and elsewhere entirely, this wound will fester and none of this will ever be healed in these communities, no one will trust you ever again, no one will believe you are enlightened, and therefore few will heed you and learn. This much has been said to me by people long members of the DhO—very longtime members.

For the record, not a single person I’ve listened to or talked to buys that your “relative modifications” a few years ago were not ultimate insight attainments. I myself don’t buy that those changes weren’t insight-driven. Your explanations are merely puzzling. Call a small attainment a “modification”—makes no difference, for a small attainment is still an attainment, and one concerning specifically perception (the field distortion, the veil, time pressure). You were practicing intense mindfulness [rather than the more properly Actual Freedom exercises], and you got new insight attainments that removed distortions in perception.

Luckily you utterly failed to get rid of your emotions, failed to repress them, so actualism was shown to be a complete failure, which it is, in both theory and results. How one could make the logical-thinking error that “seeing through” emotions would equal eradicating them frankly stuns and bewilders me. Your latest comment in the DhU space was to the effect that when the ultimate and the relative converge, then the relative is the point; this statement mirrors what the mahamudra texts say.

There are not two Daniels: a relative one who needs to get rid of emotions, and an ultimate one who has seen through to the true nature of them and doesn’t in that way seek. In your so-called relative reality, there ought to be shining through the wisdom of the ultimate—this does not mean neutralization of emotion but quite the contrary. It should mean ability to feel and use passion fearlessly; it should translate into loss of self-guarding and ability to have human intimacy.

So were you mistaken when you followed Tarin’s lead? Will you at least acknowledge that? Did you finish up some work in the perceptual field, no matter how small? Will you at least acknowledge that? Your reputation as the brashly honest and utterly honorable Daniel we all were drawn to via MCTB1 depends on these acknowledgements, or some explanations that make sense.

The difference enlightenment should make to the emotions is considerable. I say that from experience, not theory. And that difference is not eradication but willingness to feel, ability to stay with that vulnerability of being emotionally present through all, including embarrassment (not run from it). In short, enlightenment should bring not the limitation of emotions, but the enrichment of the full range of them—minus reactivity. Reactivity is the act of guarding a self from vulnerability. A Daniel who has fully seen through the “self” shouldn’t guard himself as intensely from intimacy as you do, shouldn’t fear people, shouldn’t marshal forth the defense mechanisms and cover-ups that you so intensely do often enough, shouldn’t retreat, shouldn’t threaten, shouldn’t vanish.

I do not doubt that you are the most realized and wise person whom I’ve had the good fortune to meet and get to know. And that is why it does pain me that you cannot talk about any of this, cannot come clean. My awakening is transforming my emotions and psychology directly—meaning that insight into the Three Characteristics is. August lopped off my phobias, and my family is amazed how much less reactive I am just generally, naturally. In fact, these effects are so pronounced that my husband now wants to meditate, something that stunned me. No, this is not from Morality Training. It is from insight, and very logically so. When I’m driving on the Interstate and the conceptual thoughts that used to cause physiological fear response to arise—well, they get nowhere, because I see through those sensations. Because I’m okay with feeling afraid, I’m not afraid. I trust reality rather than stand in opposition to it, guarding myself, bracing for impact.

So you have a blind spot, one you and your models completely overlook but everyone else sees and knows. We are just trying to understand how what you said and did during the AF era fits in with everything else, your path.

I’m nobody. I’m just a newcomer and your editor. You may dismiss what I’m saying as old hat. You may truly believe you have nothing more forthcoming on this front. You may truly believe that you are not only as enlightened as you can be, but as enlightened as anyone can be. You may truly believe that emotions can and should be compartmentalized off as a special set of sensations that insight can’t and doesn’t have to touch or see through till they are just happening and not reactively defended against. You can do all that, or continue to, but you would be wrong.

And you are my friend—you have no choice in that matter, either. In my heart you are my friend and you are the teacher that led, is leading, me into awakening. You may think that I don’t even know you, but you would be wrong about that too. You may not know me, but I know you. I’ve dwelled nightly in the textures and cadences of your words and mind intimately for a year. That has changed and is changing my life. I wouldn’t write all this if I didn’t feel intense gratitude that you exist and do what you do for so many.

JJF

Nirodha Samapatti: Attainment at Last

Jenny

I just had something weird happen during my sit. I lost consciousness while sitting up straight on the floor in a half lotus. It was not a Fruition because those are fast. I lost 30 to 40 minutes at least, with no sense of time or anything during that time out. It was like being “out” for surgery: I was completely and utterly gone—as in a coma, like Daniel said of nirodha samapatti.

I know I lost all that time because I set a timer at the beginning of my sits, and I set this time for one hour. I felt like I was about 20, maybe 25, minutes in. Suddenly, there was a kind of rock-heavy downshift and thud. Then I was out, and the next thing I knew, I was coming up out of it. I looked at the timer and there was three minutes left on it. So there is at least a half an hour I cannot account for and had no residual sense of having had that time pass in some way—not even the way we normally sense time has passed when we’ve slept.

I was doing concentration, but I’m not aware that I got all the way to seventh and eighth. I did not resolve to get NS (I kind of gave up on making resolutions for NS for now, feeling I’m not ready and should focus on resolving for clear fruitions). I normally get very intense afterglows from jhana practice, and I do not feel right now like I’m in a heavier one than usual. The main thing I’m noticing is extra clarity and brightness of mind, like I don’t need to sleep and could work all night or go for a walk in the moonlight. It is as if I have no need for sleep, all fatigue is gone.

Vasily

Could deep eighth possibly cause this?

Jenny

No. I’m positive this was nirodha. There is still some consciousness in eighth jhana. It is now 13 hours later and I’m still in the most intense and blissful afterglow I’ve ever experienced. It’s unbelievable.

The shutdown was distinctive, The powering back up was, too. My timer and my burned down candle showed that I was as if in a coma for about 30 minutes, completely gone. No mental activity or sense of time whatsoever in that state. I just vanished for half an hour. Everything feels different now, extremely vivid, clear, and blissful.

I’ve no doubt at all that this was the real deal.

I stayed up till dawn just to fully check out this afterglow and to scour the DhO for Daniel’s comments on claims to NS. I also looked at the language from texts and looked for any possible differential diagnosis.

There is no way that I can think at this point that what happened last night was anything other than the real deal, nirodha samapatti. The shutdown was distinctive; the rise out was distinctive. Three moments of shutdown and the reverse on the way up and out. I had zero consciousness for around 30 minutes (which, oddly, apparently didn’t affect my sitting posture at all, which was upright on a pillow, half lotus). I was completely, utterly gone. And my mobile phone app proves how much time I lost from all mental activity whatsoever. My new votive candle was burned down way past where it should have been if felt time were real time elapsed.

What is odd to me is that I was doing some mahamudra tips for concentration side only, and my usual vibratory stuff was almost nonexistent during the sit. So, apparently, for me to get NS, I have to lean way, way over to the samatha side of things—as in actually not cultivating even 30% vipassana, but none at all since plenty is there.

Also, hilariously, this happens soon after I gave up on its happening and quit with the resolutions after 3 months of steadfastly resolving? Funny how the Dharma does this to me all the time—must give up to get!

So power failure outage, nothing whatsoever in the way of mental anything for 30 minutes, gradual come up and back online, and a delayed-onset stunning afterglow lasting many, many hours.

I now am feeling incredible clarity, like a ton of “psychic gunk” was cleaned out, kind of like you feel the day after doing LSD. Everything is vibrant, extraordinarily clear, and blissfully calm.

Just as advertised, as Daniel says, and I highly recommend it if you can get it.

Postscript Almost 3 Years Later

I’ll never forget this event. It was truly the most stunning sudden event to happen on the path after the stream entry out-of-body and reboot experience. I had been practicing Daniel’s instructions for this attainment for 3 months and casting resolutions. Three changes seemed to make the difference on this night: (1) I leaned all the way toward the samatha side and away from the vipassana aspect, which was already strong; (2) I maintained metacognitive monitoring of how the sit was going past first jhana and in fact all the way up; and (3) I “forgot” about the spells I had been casting for 3 months straight, the forgetting being a common ingredient of most effective spells.

 Jhanas and Insight: Friendly Sparring with Pawel

Jenny

After stream entry, says Daniel, one is basically in some manner of jhana if drawing breath.

Pawel

Interesting =)

Jenny

He and I are both aversive personality types. This means we don’t readily get into the intensely pleasurable states, like second, but prefer the higher refined states that are more neutral-feeling.

Pawel

So I guess you won’t have anything against 4th path once you shut down half of your brain and rest of it finally “arrives.”

Jenny

Instead I simply call on the jhana and immediately drop manipulation and just observe what happens.

Pawel

Do you really “call” on jhana or are “jhana projectors” just getting active and casually start projecting jhanic qualities?

Jenny

Um, the correct answer is B—”jhana projectors” causally start projecting jhanic qualities! Did I pass the test?

Seriously, though, yes, I know, but it was 4:30 in the morning, at which time I have Super Agency, linguistically speaking! You have indeed identified one area to try to see as more stuff that is “simply happening.” I’m quite attached to my jhanas, baby; I guess there is a reason that, in the fetters model, attachment to the jhanas is the last attachment to go!

It is funny because when I talked to Daniel by phone after path in February, he advised me to call up the jhanas, in order and out of order, and do all sorts of manipulative exercises with them, such as holding a jhana way past the point where I want to move to the next one and then suddenly “let go” into the next one to watch its factors bloom rapidly and therefore clearly. He said, “Your ability to call them up as you now can aids mastery, and mastery is good, although before, when they were sensed to be just “taking over,” you were more tuned into the no-self aspect.”

Lately, I’ve been “just sitting,” meaning I don’t call upon anything. I sit without agenda or expectation. They show up in this way, usually, more deeply, harder, than the other way, with a more intense, long afterglow. Now, however, I’m feeling like I maybe should be working on concentration per mahamudra manual in preparation for the mahamudra retreat July 24, as both Daniel and Bill advised that I strengthen concentration, although Daniel pointed out that “just sitting” doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not concentrated. I think Daniel is talking about moment-to-moment concentration, anyway, which this mahamudra is all about, from one perspective—the mindstream-of-events perspective (the other perspective is the awareness-itself perspective).

Some degree of insight is always going to show up in those jhanas.

Pawel

Not that I pick on you, but what do you mean by “insight” in this context? You talk about it as it were some substance that was pouring up and filling some sort of path-cup. At least that is my impression. Could you clarify what do you mean by “insight”? For the sake of all living beings.

Jenny

Sure, hahahaha! All I mean is that jhanas will be vipassana jhanas to some extent, not “pure” samatha jhanas. Daniel says that “at this point” doing pure samatha isn’t likely possible for me, although he invited me to run the experiment and see if I can do it. He said the experiment might be interesting.

When MCTB2 is posted, then it will be clearer what I’m talking about. Daniel has in MCTB2 made the jhanas, generically described, the entire framework for advanced meditation (both samatha and vipassana aspects). He states in MCTB2 that there is always some combination of samatha and vipassana—and vipassana will be quite obviously operative after stream entry, especially.

What do I mean by “vipassana”? Only that the Three Characteristics will show up in the concentration states, breaking “pure” samatha. Reality will show itself, its true nature, as it were, until even that “true nature” is undone and the Three Characteristics vanish for good.

The jhanas have furthered my insight rapidly because they are like little laboratories in which many specific variables are held at bay, or turned away from, which makes what’s left, the isolated variable, easier to see into, to investigate. I’ve had major insight in the Realm of Nothingness, for example, that I think would have taken a lot more time to come across without my having that attainment to Nothingness.

For example, why, when I’m feeling super agencyless do I also have such intense j4.j5 that I barely feel my body?

Pawel

“Super agencyless”—I do not have that one yet, just normal plain old agencylessness. =(

Jenny

Perhaps you need to try harder to not try harder!

All I meant was that I was aware of it most of the day, but, yes, there is no “degree” of agencylessness. That wouldn’t make sense. By the way, I’m finding that if I pay attention to whether or not there is agency, I am shifted into being aware directly that there is no agency. Should I be trying, Pawel, to tune into that all day? I mean, I don’t understand from Daniel, how “constantly” screaming obvious the agencylessness is supposed to be. He states in one of his DhO postings listing criteria for 4th path that it “isn’t always in the forefront of attention.”

Does an arahat have a “forefront,” by the way?

In the new criteria for 3rd path, by contrast, he states that agencylessness should be the dominant experience the vast majority of the time. Why the discrepancy?

I need to remember to ask him about this, but I’m trying to stop bugging him, for he has 100 hours of ER shifts to do in eight days.

Pawel

Why agencylessness and not feeling body would be linked specifically to j4.j5? Body image projection does not have anything to do with “infinite space,” which is just another projection separate from projection of bodies. Have you tried to tweak this body sensation independently of jhanas as its own thing and then deepen it?

Jenny

First, there is no logical reason that I can think of for why agencylessness would be linked specifically to j4.j5. I’ve just noticed that I tend to be in a pretty strong j4.j5 when I notice a sense of agencylessness as experience. As for not feeling my body, that is part of the definition of Boundless Space as a jhana: No body. It applies to j6 and j7, as well.

No, I haven’t tried that. I can’t do anything “independently of jhanas,” for they are always running, per Daniel—and per experience so far.

Daniel wrote a comment that “vibrating formless realms” refers to oscillating between seventh and eighth jhana. I need to follow up on this marginalia.

Hi, Eric! Did you see where Moses, er Daniel, brought the law down from on high and threw it before swine, er, I mean all DhO beings? He didn’t answer clarifying questions about whether he was talking about criteria for having 3rd at all, or criteria for “late” 3rd. He’ll escape my questioning only so long, for now that this cat is out of the bag, it will certainly have to go into the revised edition.

Pawel

Yeah, path 3 and 3.5, that make some sense. I would still push 2nd path into 1st and make those two early and mature anagamis into two separate paths, 2nd and 3rd.

Jenny

There is not a two-phase third path in Daniel’s Revised Four-Path Model or in his Simple Model. Both models are worthless to me. They say almost nothing.

I’m inclined to agree with you Pawel—First Path ought to be Fruition and cycle based. As soon as actual insights/wisdom and walking-around persistent changes in perception start up, that ought to be next (Second?). At some almost-done point, that ought to be Third.

At any rate, Daniel has a bunch of ‘spaining to do.

If one has to have luminosity and agencylessness the “vast majority of the time” to even qualify for 3rd path, then, as DW mentioned, Daniel has lot of filling in of Second Path to do in his model! Currently, Second Path has zero insight listed—just, oh, another path and fruition attained. So friggin’ what!