Wow, what a day!
I reiterate: If you want to be done, this is the way to get from third to fourth. I’m amazed at how thoroughly this has been able to lead me into cleaning up my perception and field integration in just two days’ worth of practices. In fact, every practice, with the exception of one, had the desired result the very first time I did it. I came into the retreat already with luminosity–meaning the shining of awareness from that side and this side–like two oceans mixing. But now it shines through even “my” thought. What was missing before now? Nothing. It was simply obscured–it is, after all, the way reality is. All you have to do is follow these simple instructions and thereby “clear up uncertainties.”
“Uncertainty” is a key word here. One thing touched on, among other things, was that what takes Western students so long is not the spiritual attainments at all, but all the parental attachment problems they bring to the table–er cushion. And this is not a matter of psychologizing on the cushion. He is talking about the lack of faith that stems from lack of safe and secure parental attachments in early childhood for probably most of us.
I’m so close, so close! Do you know how Daniel talks about not being able to figure out what that last 5% is? Well, there are sealing-emptiness practices for finding out. It is usually a “core process,” as Daniel calls them. Basically it involves probing for obfuscating core processes running in the background and keeping us from awakening. We penetrate any core process that caught us, grabbed us, made us reactive during the previous exercise. I maintained imperturbable lucidity through that entire sit until this one phrase, speaking for what is in the “stuck” meditator’s head: “I must have missed something.” When the teacher said this sentence, I felt something recoil in the heart area–it felt solid, so I penetrated it as a field of sensations until I was certain that it was empty of such existence.
The joke is that my assumption or subtle fear that I haven’t seen something I should have seen is precisely what I wasn’t seeing!
Otherwise, all boundaries have become permeable–the still, silent, vast luminosity and the field of sensations arising within it, as an expression of it, as it–they are now integrated. The boundaries between the sense doors–well, they are delusion too, so now all integrated.
What is left? This issue I have with trust. And that comes from the fucked up relationship with my alcoholic father, who should have been my first teacher. I may have to do tantric practices to address this issue before that last 5% flips. But maybe not. Maybe not. Anyway, I set up the view (luminosity) and the emptiness practices with a Westernized tantric image of the perfect father-teacher; humans, said the teacher, have a need to project–and better to use imagination to rewire those wounded pathways in the psyche, not a real teacher. In addition to Pop as the Exemplar Deity, we had U2 playing during a meditation–if you want an idea of the level of innovation that this retreat represents.
This last 5% is the last layer of duality, but it is the kicker. The task is for the central processor to deconstruct. You see, I have various levels of nondual awareness right now–but this last holdout is lack of faith, lack of trust, lack of certainty. There is likely a strong dose of guilt and anger there, too–because I “let” my father die, and he did that to me: Let me let him die.
The teacher corrects many a retreatant for confusing what we are doing for psychotherapy. But he has not corrected me. I’m not talking about using meditation to get rid of my “issues.” Rather, it is that those issues manifest a habitual core process of distrust, a karmic holdout: “I must have missed something”–meaning I am assuming that awareness’s search for something solid, permanent, and separate must have missed something because I was (almost) successful in completing the meditation, even though, other than this assumption, the mediation was perfect.
Toward the end of this journey, you bring the speed of awareness (luminosity, clear light) to Everything (with a capital E) that is moving, fluxing, vibrating within that vast stillness, that “view” which is awareness regarding awareness. This search with awareness is much, much faster than vipassana. Vipassana is at the subtle level of mind, not the very subtle level. Vipassana requires attention, penetration. Awareness, once it is kick-started like an engine, runs by itself. It does not involve attention. You simply have to not try to do anything, including trying to not try.
Awareness is not thought. It is so fast that it is outside time. At first you seem to have to deliberately “hold the view,” but it has been holding itself since lunchtime, which is called “automaticity.” Awareness shines forth automatically. The skillful teacher can point this out to you clearly in real-time., although all you will get is a series of metaphors until one clicks for you.
You wouldn’t believe how easy it is to let go–it is right here, already done. You just have to stop arguing.
So to finish this business up, you need to understand the three levels of mind (coarse, subtle, and very subtle). And you need to go beyond vipassana, which works at the subtle level but not the very subtle. This is why these Buddha-nature sects stress that you are already awake. Yes, you have to make effort, but toward the end, you have to ease up and let it do itself. This requires faith, and, as a culture traumatized by a long line of representatives of messed up parenting, our lack of trust and faith goes to the molten core.
The main thing I’ve learned from this retreat experience is that you have to have something that functions as Buddha-nature or God–though there is no God that is locatable. There is a God-function, and the way into that grace is through (1) emptiness practices to clear up uncertainties on the Wisdom side of things, and (2) on the Compassion side, you need love. So instructions by this afternoon were to soften everything. If you want to see luminosity, then you must look at objects with love and open to receiving back the love. It is about intimacy. It shines forth. The awareness is right here, it is timeless, it is boundless, and it is intensely intimate.
During the first few days, the teacher would shout “WAKE UP!” as a verbal equivalent of the zen sticks students are hit with. Today, however, the energy on retreat is running down a different channel. He sang to us, talked to us about love, and read poetry until there was not a sound in the room but weeping all around. This was very, very intense, and it felt like we were sealed up in a capsule outside time in some kind of psychedelic magickal chapel with no door. This man is magic. He is a gift come across the eons. I’ve made the most of this opportunity and will do so tomorrow.
Many retreatants have been passing through the insight stages. I told some about Daniel’s book. They are looking for this edition whose teeth I kicked in last week. Ah, well. We will see what happens, but that book needs to get out there, one way or another. As for me, aside from having a bunch of back-to-back fruitions yesterday and today, I have not noticed the stages while on retreat. I’ve been immaculate–very concentrated and on task the entire time.
Daniel would be proud of me; maybe he still is.
One more interesting phenomenon I want to mention: The energy of separate human beings that began this retreat started reorganizing itself into some kind of larger field a few days ago. Everyone in this beautiful house (owned by a Buddhist former exec of the company I work for) has become still and quiet. During breaks, we flow into the kitchen. One person puts on the kettle for tea, another brings in chairs, another sets out food–all without a word, like we all are parts of the same organism, in perfect harmony–so different from Days 1 and 2, when we were noisy and individual.
By the end of today, we were all singing together, laughing and crying. Everything is soft and radiant. I’ve made some new friends, and I have this awesome teacher. This has been a week-long peak experience. I never expected anything like this. Nor did anyone else. There are people here who have been on dozens of retreats. They all say that none has ever come close to the quality, authenticity, and effectiveness of this one.
Now to hold the view into my dreams, as may you all.