Settling, Patience, and Letting Go: A Community Project

Jenny

One thing Daniel told me recently was to practice patience in the face of my recent intense (and distressing) Desire for Deliverance, which went on for almost two months. He tells me to investigate patterns “gently” and mainly just to let my recent (January/February) attainment “settle.” He says the brain can only rewire so fast, and I got stream entry less than a year ago. I said to him, “Then why do I feel like I’ve been doing this for lifetimes?”

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.

Vasily

Jenny, I’ve found myself coming to the same conclusion about patience from an experience that I think stems from a very similar place as your recent Desire for Deliverance, but probably not as intense.  By listening to something Adyashanti has said, and some things that Daniel has said, and some things that I have experienced, it feels like usually the cause is in some notion we are holding on to that either

  1. This can’t be it so I will try and in very subtle ways manipulate this experience, which clearly isn’t even a “thing,” nor does it help.
  2. That we have some notion of what our practice or reality should look like.

I have found useful incredible, incredible honesty about if I’m in any way trying to manipulate reality, as well as the fact that “awareness” doesn’t really care if it’s having a “bad” or “good” time; it’s this weird constructed notion of ourselves that gets really fussy about that. This has helped me remember to (my recent mantra): Chill the fuck out.

Jenny

Vasily, you have such useful insight. I really appreciate your Zen-inspired perspectives. They are  an often useful antidote to the crazymaking effort-manipulation and refuge-seeking knots we suddenly find ourselves in. I usually actually take perverse pleasure in Desire for Deliverance—I love all the cathartic weeping, praying—”melodharmas,” as Daniel calls them, haha. But when it goes on for 7 weeks? Not so fun anymore.

Upthread, you will see that I sent out strong intention after one of my sits to draw the card that would respond directly to this painfully long Desire for Deliverance. I drew the High Priestess, and that is an emphatically Yin card, one urging passivity, openness, and a “practice” consisting of patience.

I had told Daniel about my drawing the High Priestess, who urges patience. Here is what he wrote, and after reading it, that night I sat and went to High Mastery Equanimity and had the clearest experience of formations to date (I still haven’t posted here my entry for that sit by the way).

Jenny (to Daniel)

Lately, even “watching the motions of attraction and aversion” is taking me nowhere.

Daniel

Good. There is nowhere to get to but here. That’s the sort of response that drives people nuts, but it is still true. It is also not possible that practice isn’t doing something, even if you can’t see that right now.

I think that you can combine settling, patience and strong concentration. Settling is settling into right now, into this. Patience is allowing that sense of pulling to be embraced now and letting go of something (not a phrase I use lightly, but it seems to apply here). Concentration has to be grounded in this moment, in this plane, in these sensations, so it is also patience, and it is also settling. “Let it settle,” as Christopher Titmuss so wisely said to me one day. I would still be with the settling. That’s what comes to me this early, circadian-ly disrupted morning.

Jenny (to Elizabeth)

I too am looking forward to the dropping of MCTB2. We got really bogged down in the two most difficult chapters of the book—”Equanimity” and “Path and Fruit,” the latter of which includes the “Three Doors” section, which has always driven me bonkers and which caused me to drive Daniel bonkers over my being bonkers about it.

Exhale

He’s also even more overworked than usual now because three of his colleagues resigned.

We have finished “Equanimity,” which is fantastic and the most important chapter in the whole book. It was worth it that he and I took the time to haggle over every little part of it. We are both very, very happy.

We are almost done with “Path and Fruit,” now that we spent some 15 pages of email struggling with each other over just the No-Self/Suffering door, which is hilarious if you think about it! This one little section generated a ton of exchange with Daniel and exemplifies what a strange and wonderful, if often overwhelming, period in my life this has been—the challenges and opportunities of considering with Daniel every single passage in this book.

We have a chapter to get to on the Vipassana jhana models, which should be a walk in the park in comparison with the foregoing. Then we have another chapter that is a kind of catch-all space for the notation system detail, Nirodha Samapatti, and other advanced practice instructions. This is a brand new chapter.

Daniel’s most off-hand email can cause for me an opening, and did, leading directly to path, to luminosity as persistent shift. He is not my Teacher by his own definition of what a Teacher is (someone sitting with a student in person, on retreat with him). We’ve expressly sought not to make editing some exchange for teaching. Nonetheless, he is my teacher, even if he disclaims me as his student.

In short, what a wonderful period of my life this has been, what a unique opportunity it has been to get to know Daniel personally and to have these conversations. I also feel this morning like expressing high gratitude for this little space, all the people here in the Underground. May I catch up on journals (mine and everyone’s) this weekend.

Vasily

I remember before my latest shift seeing what I believe to be formations really clearly. I agree with Daniel about the “if you’re seeing formations, enlightenment is close” thing.

Regarding the second part, “The river naturally empties into the ocean.”

Regarding the letting go of something, I find myself contemplating a phrase by T. S. Eliot from Journey of the Magi:

But set down

this set down

this.

In terms of letting go, what has helped me is feeling the suffering of grabbing, holding, and in the same motion of letting a hot coal fall out of our grip, by simply opening our hand—let go.

Luminosity Leading to Mahamudra: Colloquy with Daniel

This was an hour-long sit someplace in Equanimity, although I think I have slipped back into a lower phase, probably because I missed some sits, which was dumb to have let happen. This sit went back and forth between jhanas and Equanimity. I felt some strong bodily vibrations at two points, across my face (oddly) and later my hips and thighs. Not much to say about this sit except that it was pleasant, ñ11.j4.j5.j2 today.

Strength

 I drew the card Strength, upright. This is a major arcana card and indicates that courage comes from within. It urges me to stand up to whatever the universe is throwing at me. I should confront antagonism and wrongdoing head-on, out of the power of my convictions and faith. The calm, patient, and gentle nature triumphs over the danger of the wild lion.

Weird Sleep Pattern

I had a nice hour-long sit. I’m manifesting this strange sleep pattern lately wherein I come home and sleep from 9 p.m. to midnight, wake, bathe, and then meditate. It is odd but I guess better than what I was doing before, which was getting only 5 or so hours of sleep. I think I would be happier if I fixed my sleep dysregulation, which is the root of all my other dysregulation.

Resolutions to See the Six Doors to Fruition Clearly

I’m sitting here in a totally blissed-out high from jhanas and fruition out on the P8JP above eighth jhana. I have been resolving strongly every night, per Daniel’s advice, to have Fruitions and to be able to see those six doors very, very clearly, as well as to re-experience clearly the Dependent Origination of the restart-of-reality after cessation. 

The one time I experienced the latter was during stream entry, and it was the most miraculous, mind-blowing event I’ve ever had happen: totally decentered awareness, a spatial turning of that awareness to find Jenny not there, and then a layering of me back into being, link by link of the DO. Nama-rupa was distinct as it came back online. I wept outright after this happened. I knew I had experienced something like miraculous vision into reality.

Well, at least I’m pretty sure now that these things I’m experiencing are Fruitions, not state shifts as Daniel tried to tell me months ago (he was wrong back then, too, and I think that I’ve actually experienced these in clumps, at intervals, years before my supposed stream entry, which maybe explains why I seemed to possibly have picked up an extra path somewhere along the way).

Mahamudra Prep

Anyway, I’m reading only bits of a bunch of different books because I lack time for reading or much of anything else till MCTB2 is done. I’m trying to focus on Daniel P. Brown’s Pointing Out the Great Way: The Stages of Meditation in the Mahamudra Tradition.

I practiced the body points and one-pointedness instructions tonight, and I noticed quickly how sloppy I’ve gotten with regard to those lower jhanas, especially first. I caught myself three times “elaborating” on the mind-stream instead of staying with the orderly arising and passing of each mind moment. So I noted the “elaborating,” returned to my object, which was the breath tonight to begin with, which I’ve not done in a long time because I normally take the jhana factors as objects, or take no object (unsupported), and then I “intensified” concentration without distraction. When I get to second jhana, everything normally becomes much more naturally on task, which is normal, especially if I remember to “tune into the pleasure” at that point, or earlier, as Daniel advises.

(I think it is funny that, in the personality categorization for jhana, which Daniel takes from the commentaries, he and I are both aversive 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. But his tips for getting the rapturous ones work usually.)

Jhana-Junkie Jenny

I’m wondering whether the jhanas are going to be obtrusive somehow during the mahamudra retreat. Well, not much I can do about that. Interestingly, MCTB2 posits that the jhanas are hardwired-in human potential. After stream entry, says Daniel, one is basically in some manner of jhana if drawing breath. That perhaps explains why after stream entry I felt j4.j5 constantly, when not j5 outright.

Also, after stream entry it is impossible to do “pure” samatha—some degree of insight is always going to show up in those jhanas. This is true. DreamWalker keeps saying that the jhanas “obscure” insight; this is untrue. Noting—pshaw! For kindergartners! The MCTB2 Mastery part is governed by the jhanas as the entire framework. I don’t recall that noting is invoked after Part I of the book. Noting is where DW wants to be right now, so okay, so long as it is fruitful, but I urge him to experiment more, branch out, and, above all, cultivate some love of the Zen, because otherwise DW is holding up the entire field with his linearly fixated stubbornness! Oh, and move your journal to here in the Underground!

Letting the Jhanas Bloom Naturally

I’m also continuing to work, for the most part, on not manipulating the jhanas but letting them bloom on their own. This means, for example, refraining from “pushing” my presence (or whatever) out into space in j5 and j6. Instead I simply call on the jhana and immediately drop manipulation and just observe what happens. I think that some amount of push or pull is necessary when one is for the first time trying to “find” a new jhana; however, later these things are wired in and all that is necessary is initial inclination, if even that. Even when I am “just sitting” I notice the jhanas unfolding in the background. I notice them unfolding as I sit at my desk at work. I was very much in j4 all day at work. They happen on their own, and they are much more pleasant than the insight stages, which also happen on their own.

Luminosity, Nondoing, Diminished Sense of Center, and j4.j5

Speaking of daily life, I remain enamored of, fascinated by, this luminosity, and I’m thankful that I’ve seen and understood clearly much of what is still not “awake.” For the past two days, I’ve had the sense of no-doer much of the day. I’m noticing that luminosity, increasingly less sense of “center,” and spontaneous unfolding are hooking up somehow. There really must be a brain and nervous system somewhere that is being “rewired.”

Daniel (from Interview with Vince)

“The sense of subject seems to be becoming more integrated with the field, or it seems to become less important, or they seem to see more of what I’ll call “luminosity of phenomena”: that they’re just showing themselves over there. Because that’s showing itself over there, maybe this is just showing itself over here. . . .”

Daniel (after I Showed Him This Quote)

That’s good stuff! Did this twitching corpse say that? I can’t even remember doing that interview with Vince. Perhaps we should try to pull that stuff into the book somehow when we get down the road to that part.

Jenny

Haha! That last sentence is what struck me, about how maybe this side can be luminous too. . . . Why has that not occurred to me?

Daniel

That recognition is part of the key. So: how to recognize that same aspect in the this side memory, dreaming aspect?

Jenny

Does this notion lead to any particular way of practicing?

Daniel

It should. Try seeing this side as part of the whole, as just more stuff, gently identifying patterns of effort and normalcy and me-ness that seem to be so ordinary that it would seem strange to interpret them any other way: Might help.

Jenny

Major gratitude, Daniel!

Postscript Nearly 3 Years Later: The Term “Luminosity”

Daniel uses the word luminosity loosely, I find, meaning different things in different contexts. Here he seems to be using the word in its traditional way, to mean not a whole nondual attainment, but the bright dynamic clarity aspect of the field (tsal) and the bright awake aspect of the practitioner’s mind (quasi rigpa). But in most contexts, and in virtually all conversations I had with him back in 2015, when Daniel has used the term luminosity he means not just an aspect of the post-4th-path unbounded whole, but a specific attainment—namely, permanent nondual sight-consciousness (NSC) as described in this chat with Vasily here:

http://jhanajenny.com/vasily-attentional-nonduality-luminosity/

Because my dharma friends and I have found the use of luminosity to be so slippery and nondescript, when it means the MCTB 3rd path attainment, I’ve replaced it in my own work with “NSC.” The path attainment is experienced only when the practitioner is looking at a visual object. It is sight-specific, although it concerns mainly the consciousness aspect of sight-consciousness. The shift does not include thoughts beyond that consciousness aspect of visual perception.

It also necessarily involves space and awakened paradoxes of space, such as simultaneous stillness and interflow. Memories and dreams certainly can be vivid, bright, high-def., and “visual,” but do they have a spatial relationship vis-a-vis the practitioner? No. Or only if the “subject” is himself or herself represented as an object in the memory or dream in question.

For luminosity to be the attainment that Daniel usually means, it has to (1) involve real subject-object spatial-relationship deconstruction, (2) happen when seeing is happening (not abstracted thoughts, not other senses), and (3) be in itself a complete nondual relationship rather than one aspect among many of unbounded wholeness as known after MCTB 4th path. The sense of hearing and feeling also have nondual counterparts to this attainment, but they almost always happen separately and are as different from “luminosity” as sight is from hearing and feeling in general. I agree with where Daniel maps NSC/luminosity attainment: It is generally well after body and hearing, the final correction of misperception before realization of unbounded wholeness. The vocabulary of Dzogchen—rigpa, kunzhi, and tsal—offers more rigorious aspect distinction for what Daniel seems to be meaning from his post-MCTB 4th path perspective.

Cultivating the Empty Field with Vasily

Jenny

I guess I’m in this funky part of the path that is continually messing with my sense of control and making me want to “quit” or just pray to the universe to help me, or just to go to the gompa and do 75 prostrations, something physically exhausting, something magickal, some transfer of pain to the physical so that it will leave my heart and mind alone, leave me the fuck alone, some extreme surrender, some desire to be saved through absorption into the Other, some refuge that I have to find somewhere, someone or something! So I’ve extreme aversion to all this suffering that now consists solely of “not being able to get enlightened” so as to end this Suffering!

Vasily

I definitely have had similar feelings myself, and the answer I came up with that seems to be useful, is that our mind is trying to do literally everything except just being here. Like isn’t it strange how that seems rather difficult? To just really really be here 100% with reality and allow it to be 100% itself, and wanting to pray, or chant, or retreat, or go do x or y or z, all seem ways of our mind reassuring the illusion of self continues to exist through the idea of struggle. It isn’t any fun for our idea of self to just slowly fade away into a peaceful, absolutely stillness,  it wants STRUGGLE and ADVERSITY to make sure that it is known. Adyashanti talks about this and it sounds like a trap. A trap I continually find myself in.

Jenny

Bill said to me, “You know, Jenny, here is what it is to get fourth path: You have to be willing to die.”

Vasily

So maybe what he said about you dying potentially relates to the notion I mentioned above. When you are really honest with yourself, does 100% of you really want no cosmic drama? no struggle?  I believe if that were true, then there would be no struggle. It would just dissipate. Snow melting.

Jenny, do you remember when I was talking to you about cultivating the empty field? And I said that they were instructions. The willingness to die is also an instruction. There is no complex meaning. I don’t think there is anything complex about any of this: Struggle is complex; reality itself is simple, clean, clear.

So be honest with yourself, and ask the tough questions.

Don’t overcomplicate anything. Like you mentioned in another post, mango smoothies. It’s that simple. Enlightenment is just drinking mango smoothies. How could it be anything else?

The honesty is important. There are many people I meet, including myself, who hear advice, and go “yeah yeah yeah, but I will go do this instead.” Then thet come back and say, “it didn’t work when I didn’t do it.”

So cast off body and mind. Chill out. There’s no problem. Don’t make a problem. Things are simple. No problem.

Buddha nature, and mu, and form and emptiness, enlightenment, magick, enlightenment, cool. All those things are only as important as drinking a mango smoothie.  But are you allowing that truth to surface? If you aren’t that’s fine, that’s still part of it. So where is the problem? Phantoms implying other phantoms. No problem.

I know that may all seem strange, but I wrote it with you in mind, so I hope that something past the words (which may make little sense) is communicated. ♥ Feel free to call me out if it seems like I am on a zen high horse. I’m trying really not to do that. It just seems like an interesting perspective to balance out complexity.

Jenny

Vasily, no, of course you are right. And I’m reading about mahamudra, so I do know better. I’m very frustrated tonight. I think I’m heading into Reobservation, and I was thinking similar thoughts while brushing my teeth: “Well, okay, my sit went nowhere grand tonight after 1.5 hours, I was thoroughly intimidated and disheartened by Daniel over the weekend (not that he meant to have that effect at all), I’m probably heading into Reobservation—but what if I just let those things all be how they are since, after all, soon enough things will change again.”

Bill’s words have been resonating heavy-duty. And Jim’s words about how this total disenchantment has to happen. And I saw something by Nick along the same lines—about how you have to “give up.”

I was bound to hit rocky territory eventually. It is time.

I went for a hot stone massage today. I enjoyed lunch with my son. I’m lately happier when I’m away from dharma stuff. I’ve been so immersed in MCTB2 and Daniel for so many months that I think this is probably just a necessary re-balancing, a return to the familiar touchstones that were in my life before all this.

And, yes, Bill was giving me instructions.

Thank you for your words, Vasily. It means so much to me, and you really are so very wise beyond your years.

x

Gender Imbalance and Unbracketed Assumptions in MCTB2

Elizabeth:

I too have had this experience with MCTB [of understanding passages only after matching experience]—for example with Equanimity (formations) and fractals. Now I know what they are. However, the Six Doors section as originally written is elliptical, terse, ambiguous, and without full quotations and analysis of those quotations. It never brackets Daniel’s assumptions, including assumptions about the level of practitioner he is addressing, which he has had me know is the rare “elite” practitioner. He believes that seeing the Doors clearly thousands of times was crucial in his awakening. Analysis and bracketing work are the author’s job, not the reader’s, no matter what level of practice the reader is on (whether novice or adept).

Part of the difficulty here [in my Dharma Underground journal] is that I presented only my side of the exchanges; you cant see the text and Daniel’s comments that I was responding to.

As for my current personal practice frustration, it doesn’t stem from my identifying as a “woman.” It stems, I think, from the stage of insight, and possibly path, I’m in. This said, my understanding of nondual awakening is that it does nothing to negate relative reality, and in that reality I’m not a man or androgynous or merely blank as to gender. Gender is empty of inherent existence, ultimately, like everything, but that in no way will ever mean I’m not reacted to as a “woman.” The ultimate reality does nothing, therefore, to relieve Daniel of responsibility for the extreme lack of women posters on the DhO. MCTB is what in my field we term a “male text.” It privileges modes, genres, and mythic structures that reinforce patriarchy and structurally and systematically exclude women. I’ve had no occasion to say this about any text since the late 1990s.

I do not believe Daniel is intimidating certain groups on purpose; nonetheless, rectifying the gender imbalance and bracketing his assumptions are his responsibility. I’m trying to raise his consciousness so that the DhO and MCTB2 can be more egalitarian and broadly accessible. This work needs to be done whether I’m eventually enlightened or not.

Daniel advised me to resolve strongly to see each part of Fruitions as clearly as possible as many times as possible. I have no certainty that these little twist-blip-bliss things I get are fruitions. They seem trivial to me, sometimes even annoying. They don’t in the least resemble the spectacular stream entry Fruition from August.

You mention the rarity of the reset [of reality after a cessation-fruition]. Have you seen the reset?

Thank you for writing. Daniel and I are grappling with the most difficult part of MCTB2 right now, but I’m confident that it will turn out well. His emails to me included responses that we can pull right into the text to improve matters.

Jenny

Quibbling Over the Three Doors Section: To Daniel

Dear Daniel,

You’ve written much in this and especially the other email that I don’t think you’ve ever published out before. Much of it clarifies crucial matters for me and, I feel, your readers. Some of it, in clarifying those matters, does cause, at least in me, a painful increase in practice “performance anxiety” or feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness, although I am also probably in Misery or DFD currently and blowing this feeling up out of all semblance of proportion.

DW has noticed that I oscillate wildly between intense faith and intense hopelessness lately. Primal frustration and intense faith seem to be steadily melding into each other, blending, which is an odd thing to say but somehow true.

I guess I’m in this funky part of the path that is continually messing with my sense of control and making me want to “quit” or just pray to the universe to help me, or just to go to the gompa and do 75 prostrations, something physically exhausting, something magickal, some transfer of pain to the physical so that it will leave my heart and mind alone, leave me the fuck alone, some extreme surrender, some desire to be saved through absorption into the Other, some refuge that I have to find somewhere, someone or something! So I’ve extreme aversion to all this suffering that now consists solely of “not being able to get enlightened” so as to end this Suffering!

It is silly, I realize, to feel this way. But, you know, Daniel, it seems to be Dharma, or at least dharma. I can’t fight what compels me to look straight at it. Yes, I’ve attained some insight quickly after putting in little time at technically effective practice. There have been these mortifying little ups and downs called cycles—but until lately there was an overall sense of “progress” and faith, ease and happiness.

Now the feeling-tone at a high level is different: I’m simply out of control. I’m sick to death of the f’n cycles. I feel like the jhanas have become a kind of drug I come home to shoot up, which is why I’m leaving them alone, letting them manifest by themselves. I don’t feel up to the task of attaining anything more in the way of insight or wisdom. I don’t have time. I don’t have time. I don’t have time. I can’t retreat or do daily practice as much as I’d like or need to. I’m not as smart as you. I’m not as tough as you. I’m not young as you were. I’m old. I’m tired, I’m dysregulated. I’m running out of time. The more I understand, the trickier the mystery becomes. I’m done with effort. I surrender. I just want to be done. I want to leave the Path behind. I want to stop comparing this with that.

And yet . . .  I told Bill Finch a shorter version of all this. He told me how, oddly, when he attained fourth path, he endured a weird kind of grieving at the loss of the mystery, the Path, and his identity as a good Buddhist. He said to me, “You know, Jenny, here is what it is to get fourth path: You have to be willing to die.”

I can’t fight what compels me to look at it and and acknowledge it now as my path. And what compels direction of my current gaze is that a huge phase in my life is coming to an end, a definitive close. Almost every night, it is literally “in the cards” I read. I’m moving on. I’m going to go in a different direction. My path is about to change. Lineage is about to change.

In fact, the transition is already underway: I don’t “practice insight.” I am concerned much of the time now with a return to the World, to the moral considerations, to the relative, to mundane and physical cycles, to the non-dharma friends and family I’ve been neglecting for many months, to physical exercise, sunshine, mango smoothies, daylily gardens, and lush green beauty. Everything is poetry, simplicity, devotion, and prayer. Nothing is calculus or imaginary numbers. When I see the world without calculus, the only equation is that everything is more vivid for being ghostly; everything is now relieving for being at long last luminous. There is something in me that needs to stop this seeking. There is something in me that needs to stop needing even to stop seeking. There is something in me that needs to stop.

So I’m turned away from you and the Dharma. I’m looking at life and the world. This is a regrouping, a hiatus, an undertow that is gathering polar force.

Although I see that there is all this impressive technical mastery you achieved—surely, there are other paths to nondual awakening than through those precious Six Doors I cannot see. For we are already awake merely for the stepping into that realization, Door or no Door. There have to be other thresholds or I’m simply doomed: There is nothing special or different about me. I’m just a middle-aged mom. Very few make it to the fourth path attainment. I gaze all around me in bewilderment at how “not done” and “not satisfied” much more accomplished and wise practitioners seem to be after many years. Do I have in me the grit you had in you in the 1990s? No. I’m not constructed that way. Few people are.

So I can’t do it, Daniel. I cannot see what I cannot see, and my magick/resolutions seem to be yet another closed door. Powers open sometimes, but they are always uncultivated surprises.

Maybe I could gain technical mastery if you were my teacher and I were there with you in person. Because relationship is in fact a door for me, or that unspeakable bridge that we buried. But that is, of course, out of the question this lifetime, and you aren’t coming back for any additional lifetimes, are you? There is your book, but when I read of the Six Doors and even the Dependent Origination thing I did see one single time, the book leaves me and perhaps other similarly situated middle-path seekers withering in the formidably tall shadow of high standards and rare attainments.

Nonetheless, my editing this book has constituted your teaching me, even though this activity doesn’t meet your high-standard definition of what teaching is, or Teacher is. At times, like now, the lessons have been plenty painful, too, mainly owing to my emotionally and mentally processing feeling disowned as a “student.” But, as Alan Chapman says, transmission and teaching has more to do with the intent of the student than it does with that of the teacher. So disown me as you have and will, the choice is not completely yours. And so goes the quote, apropos of my saying so: “Choose your teacher carefully, for this person will be your executioner.”

Maybe mahamudra and JC will be my way forward. Maybe magick will be. Whatever it is, I think it won’t be MCTB2 or Ingramesque proficiency, let alone mastery. It will be found in human relationship, in the heart, not in technical or “phenomenological” details.

You write equations on the whiteboard of my dreams for me, but I don’t understand your notation or the language you speak to parse them out for me. So the figures fly off, and the whiteboard explodes. I’m left alone, floating toward cold evaporate nothing in a white blinding fog.

In a different dream, I’m before an altar that is draped in white satin. I am being told by a teacher or a priest on the other side of the altar to drink down a crystal chalice overflowing with tears. I do as I’m told, and as I empty it of the last salty drop, the whole dream explodes into a firework fallout of white orchid petals.

Notation or fragrance? Far-flung black runes, or rain of white petals?

A rejection is underway. I don’t choose its necessity. I fall in step, somehow onward although directionless through the fog.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

If almost no one who has Fruitions sees the Three Doors, seeing them is not actually a frequent or reliable diagnostic tool for Fruition, is it? So this item doesn’t seem to answer to my question about purpose of this section in the book, meaning audience-centered purpose.

Is ability to see these Doors a direct result of “striving” and gritting teeth for higher standards, really? Didn’t you say you saw one very clearly at mere stream entry? How was that clarity because your striving was better than my striving? How long did you practice to get stream entry? It took me 200 hours with no retreats. Couldn’t I just as easily say that was because my striving and standards were higher than yours? You see the problem here, don’t you? Association doesn’t argue causation.

Is not seeing them a result of having low standards, but not so low that one doesn’t get paths in short order? I don’t fully understand the connection you seem to assume.

For example, say another 10 years goes by and I still can’t experience one of the Doors clearly. Is this failing my fault? Not hardcore enough? Slacker, perhaps? Am I mentally imprecise? And if I am imprecise, is that because I’m not taking your book seriously enough? Careless, perhaps? Hair not on fire? Or is it that I need to hire a teacher? Or is it that the effort I bring is just somehow, some way, the wrong kind?

Realize that you are talking to someone who spent 10 years studying 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, to earn a master’s and PhD with distinction from UNC-Chapel Hill, yet it remains probable, doesn’t it, that I’ll never see these Doors. For whatever reason, my fruitions are not clear although the stream entry one was astounding.

Be careful that you actually mean the implications your statements offer.

I’ve resolved and resolved, and I get insight, but I don’t get blowaway surefire Fruitions, generally, let alone Three Doors or a repeat performance of that restart.

I guess I need to figure out how to resolve better? Or will that not work so much as just persisting in resolving? It is pretty hard to keep resolving and resolving and resolving for reality to show itself when day after day it does not, at least not in the ways you say are crucial. Belief wanes after a while.

You haven’t at all made a case to me that striving and high standards had anything to do with your seeing the Three Doors from stream entry on. Again, I could argue that my standard and efforts were better than yours because I got SE without retreat time and with only 200 sitting hours in daily life (and my sits were only 30 minutes per day). You seem to be making unfounded, unqualified, unrestrained blanket assumptions. Confounding factors are everywhere. Shouldn’t you account for that and not assume?

By the way, this category of presumption is what makes the DhO like a men’s locker room. Have you noticed that all three women down in the DhU immediately started posting practice journals there that they would not in the more intimidating testosterone-laced environment of the DhO? I think you need to think about how your presumptions affect groups of people who are conditioned by our society to generally back down from the competitiveness that these kinds of assumptions and assertions of superior effort and standards foster.

Read what I’ve just written again about how women may be largely written out of the picture by where you draw that bright line, as evidenced by three women’s journals in the DhU where none of these women would expose themselves this way on the DhO and haven’t.

The DhO is rampant with boastful boys and men who swagger about and assume that they have this and that ability and attainment, or that any accidental result is a direct consequence of their superior effort. MCTB breeds this culture and entrenches that divide that implies to girls that girls cannot get enlightened. That divide originates with the masculinist bent of your book, the presumptions that effort and measuring sticks fully explain success, and the double standards and blindness you exhibit to other explanations for successes. For example, your blindness to my arguable superiority to you because it took me only 200 hours in daily life to get stream entry. But seriously, wouldn’t it be silly of me to actually believe that, much less publish that as a standard? Seems silly for a woman to believe it, but you are doing a parallel thing much of the time. You have no evidence that you see the Three Doors emphatically because your efforts and standards are superior to those made and held by people who can’t see the Doors.

This is not to say that you are consciously excluding women, or any other groups, or that women can’t achieve high standards. What I’m saying is more fundamental (patriarchy) than that: I’m talking about the way men, including you, in our culture have this tendency to take credit for lucky happenstance or other confounding factors. They tend to move off the assumption that, if a good thing happened, then they deserve the credit for it. They did it!

How do you know that I didn’t get stream entry so fast because motherhood taught me to broaden my width of attention, to remain mindful, and to be patient? As Pawel wrote in the DhU, “Maybe motherhood was better for your practice than all Daniel’s retreat time was for his practice.” Pawel is making a point about your assumptions, about assumptions that the resources brawly young men bring to the Path are “better” higher standards than the often different resources women bring.

Women and girls in our society are relentlessly and insidiously trained from the get-go to read situations contextually and to not assert themselves or claim credit. You can’t undo this conditioning just by saying that MCTB doesn’t intend to exclude women. You have to adjust proactively. If you back up and look over my email, check out how many times I ask you a gentle rhetorical question rather than say outright, “I think you are wrong.” And I’ve a lot of feminist and post-feminist theory under my belt and am generally a high achiever. Still, I’m conditioned by our society to be intimidated by the assertions of men, by you, however presumptive the assertions may be. So, when you flatly declare “I draw that line where I do,” the presumptions codified in that line generally affect women differently than they do the swaggering braggarts on the DhO. Those braggarts are rewarded for being the way they are because MCTB models male-matching assumptions culturally. Women have no refuge there. I hope the irony that the DhU so far is a refuge for them and has more active women posters than the public DhO isn’t utterly lost on you.

There is indeed a publishable paper in this, and plenty of journals on women, patriarchy, and spirituality. Plenty to do for the Jenster!

Yes, others draw it elsewhere. So are you telling the women I refer to above, however unconsciously, to beat it? Given the cultural realities that none of us can change, don’t you have to make some kind of adjustments and receptive qualifications to your hard bright line when you reflect on the intimidation it may cause in some groups of people, such as women?

(Oops, look again at the question marks—women ask questions to avoid confrontation and assertion.)

Just your impression because you happened to be someone who sees the Doors? Your sample size appears to be 1, or 2 if you count Claudiu and discount the fact that he quit the practice, despite having this special insight that is presumed by you to be because of superior striving and standards.

Where are Claudiu’s strivings and high standards now?

I think you are assuming a lot, and when you do this, it intimidates people.

And you think this is a healthy obsession to transfer to your readership? Didn’t you just write a DhO post about attainment competitiveness as “dharma poison”? And didn’t I respond in the DhU with a post-feminist critique of your post? Yes, all that happened. It seems strangely recent, too.

Sometimes I can’t help but think our correspondence, carefully edited way down, would make an interesting postmodern dialogical dharma book, maybe more interesting than any book either you or I could write all alone.

Jenny