What’s Wrong with Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha: A Living List 

I’ve decided to begin a “living” list of all that Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha, including the version I myself worked on with Dan (MCTB2), has gotten so terribly wrong. I’m writing here as someone who actually attained what Dan incorrectly characterizes in a recent interview as having “taken awakening as far as it can go.” And since then I’ve attained significantly more, as confirmed by my highly qualified personal teacher.

I will try to confine my refutations of MCTB2 to in the list proper, which begins after all the intervening paragraphs to MCTB2(J). However, you may as well expect spillover; I certainly do. To the end of confining my list to this topic, I will first dispense with Ingram himself and his discussion board.

Daniel Ingram as No-Arahat

Daniel has some issues that disqualify him from even his own watered-down description of requirements for being an arahat.. The term arahat has a specific history dating back to the suttas and early commentaries, and means saint. Dan Ingram is no saint. My personal voluminous correspondence with him substantiates what I’m here only obliquely going to summarize.

Daniel has carefully crafted a false public self that you will see, if you watch him closely, is incongruous in affect with the situations and contexts in which he finds himself (or, rather, fails to “find himself”). He is one way in public, relying on morally codified virtue-signaling, while being a very different person behind the scenes. He is, in short, a person with an unusually high degree of fear, fear that stems from psychic wounds he suffered in childhood, which I will not detail or discuss here or anywhere. I will say this: Daniel’s constitutional fear is of affect, intimacy, and vulnerability. His gruff manner is to shore up defenses against these experiences that cause him deep suffering. These defense mechanisms exist to fend off what triggers his own reactivity, but his blind spot is that he doesn’t acknowledge that those defense mechanisms are themselves calcified patterns of reactivity. They cause him continual suffering, and they cause those around him who care about him suffering.  I was one of those people.

How did I come by the ugly behind-the-scenes exposures to the real, frightened, vulnerable, and compensatorily ill-tempered Daniel? By getting as close to him as anyone in his so-called community ever has or likely ever will. I was his friend, editor, site advisor, and confidant for almost a year. He was my mentor and helped me with my practice with frequency and depth. I have thousands of in-depth, lengthy email exchanges with him in my files. He told me things about himself that he stated he never conveyed even to his estranged best friend of several decades, Kenneth Folk. That’s how.

Although much, or most, of the faulty theory and advice in MCTB stems directly from Ingram’s patterns of reactivity (dukkhas) and defense mechanisms, I won’t write beyond what is necessary to clarify, or hint at, the nature of the problems in MCTB2. What I don’t say is in order to hold space for Daniel personally and spiritually. For I believe that he can go further up the path and reach buddhahood. I believe he will. I believe he will figure out what he lacks and find the resources he needs to address that lack. Almost every time that I sit, when I call the Third Guests into my mandala, I call him. May he find his way. May he reach true enlightenment in this lifetime and continue to help others do the same.

The Dharma Overground: A Dharma Wasteland

Initially, I thought to take on the Dharma Overground and its cultural sickness in my list, but why?  I can dispense with that discussion board summarily: It is poorly run, ineptly and nuttily “moderated,” participated in by about 99% males only, and reinforces a disturbingly masculinist (anti-feminist) culture that not only alienates and silences real women, but infects the membership against the feminine principle that is so critically necessary for gaining the higher realizations.

Daniel Ingram is directly responsible for failure to clean up the DhO as he many times promised me he would. But because one of his habit patterns with me was breaking promises, this failure is not exactly incongruous with the rest. If you are a woman, please don’t subject yourself to what goes unchecked at this site.

As if this weren’t enough to wreck the DhO  as a legitimate vehicle for buddhadharma and communion, then its content ought to be. The site is overrun with men, or boys, mostly immature, who identify with Ingram for his false militaristic “male locker room” machismo rather than for Ingram’s actually rather traditional engagement with Buddhist practice and maps. In other words, the bulk of the active membership lacks knowledge of even basic Buddhist theory and doctrine.  In fact, a cavalier disregard for actual knowledge pervades the DhO, a culture that my friend DreamWalker, one of the moderators that I asked Daniel to assign to that role, admits is “like a noisy college bar.” Is this where you want to discover how to awaken? Really?

Where are the members with high attainments for inspiration and sound guidance? Where are those who can enjoin the young ones to get a clue by cracking a dharma book? Other than a few Pali-heads who post there during rare spurts, the site is the blind leading the blind. Earnest practitioners who have honest realization are largely absent, many apparently having fled after the Second Schism, when the ridiculous cult of so-called Actual Freedom ran its course through the “community.” (By the way, Daniel has now taken down the Actual Freedom audios he recorded with Tarin, audios in which he renounced MCTB1, saying he was not really “done” with his awakening.) I agree that practice needs to be pragmatic, but pragmatism in the dark leads to communally reinforced endarkenment, not enlightenment.

If you aspire to enlightenment yet spend much of your time on the Dharma Overground instead of reading or listening to a gazillion better resources, actual authorities, or instead of following a qualified teacher’s direct practice instructions, then I daresay you have the wrong end of the enlightenment stick. My advice? Seriously contemplate  how you spend your precious short lifetime available for true dharmic theory and actual rigorous and diligent practice.

And if you are one of the multitude there playing guru to others, then consider salubrious acknowledgment of the psychological stuff that thus compels your role-playing rather than adherence to time- and student-tested precision. Consider the harm you do others by misleading them out of a base of ignorance rather than personal realization. The DhO exists primarily for rigor avoidance and narcissistic supply. Check in with yourself. Be honest with yourself. And when you see that this is so, construct a better project plan, for life is short, death is certain, and the time of death is most uncertain. Practice discernment.

Uses and Limitations of MCTB

Why is this post in the Book section of my site? Because much of what I list here as shortcomings and outright erroneous, ignorant modeling in MCTB2 will be corrected in my own book. So this list informs my research agenda.

There is much that is helpful in MCTB2. Specifically, Ingram offers the best, most phenomenologically detailed map of the Theravadin Progress of Insight stages in the world, hands down. Ingram gives some helpful advice for navigating these stages and attaining first path, stream entry. You can use the same basic strategies to gain second path, which is usually a comparatively short path.

Beyond MCTB second path however, MCTB2 cannot help you, and the DhO damned sure can’t. This is why so many people are stuck at the second path in that virtual community, including many who honestly believe they have MCTB fourth path but don’t.

In 2015 Daniel Ingram admitted on a Skype video call with me, DreamWalker, Steph S., and Vasily that he didn’t know how he himself got MCTB fourth path. I asked him, “You don’t know how you got fourth path, do you?” And he answered, “No, I really don’t.” I have some retrospective theories of how, theories based on my hearing his descriptions many times, reading his draft memoir closely and repeatedly, and learning much additional theory and practice from my current teacher. But the fact remains that Ingram himself admitted to us all that he hasn’t a clue. Ingram is not a dharma teacher; he is an emergency physician. He lacks access to repeatable results based on higher maps for his population. Daniel also stated to me in writing that he really doesn’t know the Indo-Tibetan Essence tradition maps. Apparently, he hasn’t attempted to know them, either.

Despite Ingram’s admitted cluelessness in this small Dharma Underground setting, he elsewhere wrote to me, his former collaborator on MCTB2, that he was putting out the new edition of that Book to “help those stuck in the middle paths, especially them.” In other words, he claimed that MCTB2 would offer guidance to attainment of fourth path, even while he admitted to the Dharma Underground coterie that he had no idea how even he himself got fourth path. Moreover, Daniel himself wrote an email to me insisting that “there are no path-specific practices.” Basically, he advocates just repeating what you did in for first path over and over again. Actually, there are plenty of stage-specific goals and practices, and that is largely what my own work will provide.

So how best to use MCTB2 when it comes out? Read Parts 1 and 2 (if they resemble what he and I worked on together, which is a big “if”). But forget his “revised four-path model” and his simple model. Those models are thin, at best, with nearly zero specifics. And realize that the advice given in Parts 1 and 2 will get you to second path and that is about it. After that point, it is best to turn to Indo-Tibetan Essence Traditions, particularly Essence Mahamudra. 

The List 

So here begins my list, which I will keep amending as inspiration and remembered facts emerge over calendar time. As time goes by since I left Daniel, I move further away from defining what my book will contribute by what his lacks. Nonetheless, life’s expensive lessons are often the best organizing principles. So it goes, and here I go.

1. The terms arahat and anagami have been gutted.

Why cling to these status signals? What obscurations are you short-cutting, bypassing, and denying by doing so and needing to do so? These terms have a specific history beginning thousands of years ago. The are closely associated with the Ten-Fetters model of release and enlightenment espoused by traditional Theravada. Daniel took these terms and gutted them of their main import: the ending of all emotional reactivity and the perfection of compassionate conduct. Yet he appropriated the terms to mere changes in sensory perception. If you are not a saint, then please drop the pretense of announcing that you are one by adopting these appellations. And if you are in fact a saint, with no suffering and with completely nondefective conduct, then the sign of that will be humility and service to others, not Ingram-style grandiosity. 

2. “Agencylessness” is not part of fourth path, let alone third path.

At buddhahood, one sees that there is absolutely no causality. Causality is the Big Lie, according to Dzogchen doctrine and theory. That means, when the causal model is seen through, so is karma. In second path I had profound insight into the nature of agency, and by that I mean not just my own agency but causality, the arrow of time.

Agency is causal by definition. The causal model works until one realizes the Emptiness of Time. It is philosophically incongruous to hold to a causal model of reality while saying that own-agency has been completely seen through. Yet this is what Daniel does in his list of criteria for MCTB fourth path, which he claims is as far as enlightenment goes for anyone, not just for himself.

One thing doesn’t lead to another if time is truly empty of own-nature, logically speaking. So positing your own lack of agency while maintaining that someone or something else is directing manifestation via “causality” indicates lack of realization of Emptiness of Time. You may well have insight into what still needs to happen for agency to collapse, for time to synchronize with itself, but so long as you have any sense of having personal intentions and decisive actions, you don’t have realization of philosophically pure no-agency

Neither does Daniel. As mentioned, Daniel is one of the most frightened, defensive, and controlling people I have ever known. He has a significant level of awakening and much contribution toward helping others gain the same. But no one as obsessed with own-will-to-power magick as he can have shed belief in his own agency. In fact, if you read Daniel’s criteria for third path closely, then you will see that he says agencylessness isn’t “always in the forefront.” That means, by Daniel’s own admission, the sense of agencylessness he places at third path is incomplete. He is honest about at least that much. 

At stream entry, or early on the third path at the latest, one should have and be able to describe profound correction of misperception in terms of the senses. These changes are so obvious and dramatic that you can readily describe them for others. After that level of attainment, Daniel is correct in placing luminosity, the taste of rigpa, at attainment of third path. He is mistaken about placing agencylessness there, though. That doesn’t mean he lacks insight into agency or that you do. It just means that it isn’t a done deal until causality itself is seen through, meaning  opening of the Fourth Time, all-at-once-ness, which happens at the culmination of the Fourth Vision of Togal. It is impossible before that moment. 

There is nothing subtle or uncertain about attainment of MCTB Fourth Path. If the center has dropped out permanently, then that is indeed attainment of fourth path, and it has profound consequences for how you experience via bodily, visual, and auditory sense spheres. Again, these corrections of former sensory misperception are readily described by those who have fourth path. And they are attained before and enable later true “agencylessness.”

When practitioners come consult me and state only that they now “understand” through everyday perception that they are not an agent, not-self, yet they cannot describe any permanent changes to sensory perception itself, then I’m skeptical. In the domain of philosophical inquiry, agency means merely the ability to decide to do something, to take one action over another deliberately. That is the definition.

Now, if one is practicing western magick, then one is indulging in the delusion of agency by such definition. One believes that one can direct a personally desired outcome over other possible outcomes by means of his own power, yes? That belief and sense of the efficacy of will is philosophically adequate to fulfill agency. If Daniel had no sense of agency, he would lay down his entire expensive collection of custom ACME magick wands and do something less childish with his remaining sense of linear time. . . . 

I don’t know what people mean by “agencylessness,” and I don’t think they do either. Without phenomenological description, it sounds like an understanding that is conceptual, philosophical. But If you can intend, plan, choose, and take action, then you meet the academic philosophical definition of an “agent.”

If there is still causality, an arrow of time, then who or what is shooting that arrow, so to speak? What decider-planner has taken over your job of making everything unfold causally? Because causality is linear. It is this-leads-necessarily-to-that. What doer intelligence is driving this decision-tree of forward consequence, of determinate directionality?

I ask because Daniel lists as fourth-path criteria both direct perception of one’s own agencylessness and direct perception of unfolding of reality as lawfully causal. By contrast, Dzogchen view is of spontaneous, noncausal reality, “all-at-once-ness.” The ultimate realization is that “causality is the big lie.”

One may begin to let go of delusions of personal control by mid-second path. But full realization of emptiness is not until the culmination of the third Togal vision, which is far beyond MCTB fourth path. True freedom from the delusion of agency is at Buddhahood and not a moment beforehand. Delusional self-agency is folded into freedom from time itself. Agency and causality are synonyms, in this ultimate sense, not antonyms. It therefore makes no sense to say your agency has ended but another one has taken over the God job. That is to make the field a residual entity, a remainder.

No-self applies to both yourself and all phenomena in a true emptiness model. Buddhahood is realization that karma, all of it, is not the ultimate truth. The ultimate faith is nothing to purify. The entire causal model at that realization implodes in a cessation event. Meantime, so long as you are perceiving causality, there is delusion to uproot. 

The term “agencylessness” is not one I’ll be using in my book. It is a strange coinage that causes confusion from the perspectives of both theory and phenonomenologically accurate attainment description.

TBC. . . .

 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!

 

Investigating Boundary and Intention

Will-to-power is not the business of a buddha.

I sat for an hour. At first I thought I would do fire kasina practice because that seemed so exciting a few weeks ago. After spending half my time at that, I decided I really wasn’t “into it.” So I had some insight into the need to avoid being so predetermined or perfunctory about which kind of meditation I do. Instead, I should heed all that about feeling into the question and what I should be doing with my meditation sessions. Anyway, I finally just closed my eyes and soon was in Boundless Space, my usual spot these days, which is a clue. It is this spaciousness that I’m “supposed” to be working with now.

Awareness-Space

In particular, I have been playing with a couple of the nine suggestions Daniel gave Fitter Stoke on the DhO:

Going wide and through: as third is more spacious, more about dissolving a significant chunk of what seems to be observing, doing, controlling, analyzing, and the like, you both have to take on more of the sensations that seem to be all of that, which they aren’t, and also see how to dissolve the artificial boundaries that seem to delineate that from everything else, meaning the rest of what happens in what seems to be space. Play on the line: how do you know what the edge between what seems to be you and not you is, viscerally , perceptually, vibrationally, texturally, geographically, volumetrically? Any quality that you notice seems to really feel like it means it is you, see the Three Characteristics of that.

He indicates 5th jhana as a pointer. Since I have 5th down, it is easy to go to it and then pay attention to what still seems to be or imply “me.” It is a pretty weird and subtle affair. Sometimes I seem to be Consciousness, but then I can be Aware of Space, alternately. Although I really lose sense of my body, I purposely looked for what seemed me so that I could allow space to pour through that. The main thing I noticed was that I was actually bringing up pain or suffering and enjoying it somehow. Why was I enjoying it? Because I could identify with it, contract to it. So it seems that even suffering is maintained by the self for the self: identity is none other than a continual identification process. O attraction, O aversion!

Agencylessness

The other pointer of Daniel’s that I’ve been playing with is this one:

Notice that you can’t do anything other than what happens. Try. See how those patterns occur. Try to
do something other than what happens. It is preposterous, but when you try it, there are patterns that arise, patterns of illusion, patterns of pretending, patterns that if you start to look at them you will see are ludicrous, laughable, like a kid’s fantasies, any yet that is how you believe you are controlling things, so try again and again to do something other than what occurs and watch those patterns of confusion and pretending to be in control that arise and you will learn something. This is an unusually profound point.

As noted before, this is a really strange exercise. If I go to Boundless Space jhana and then open my eyes and then try to catch the moment of intention to move my body or gaze, there is this weird sense that I can’t do it, am motionless. I do end up doing it, but there is this strange ratchet-like effect in the motion, instead of the smooth perception of forward movement. The effect is unpleasant, so suffering arises, and I’ve already found (see above) that suffering is actually used in “selfing.” However, once I stop the exercise the Boundless Space goes wider and deeper.

Postscript 2.5 Years Later

On rereading this journal as I clean up the site migration, I find it fascinating to see from my more recent engagement in Indo-Tibetan essence traditions how much of a closet Tibetan Buddhist Daniel is. I’ll comment on the Fitter Stoke advice and MCTB2(J), and then I will go ahead and take public issue with Daniel’s mapping of realization of agencylessness at MCTB third path.

MCTB2 Version That No Longer Exists for Public Reading

Those nine points in the advice to Fitter Stoke DhO post were pulled into MCTB2(J) by yours truly, right after my Mahamudra awakening on the retreat of 2015. That version of Daniel’s post was significantly revised by yours truly, too. I rearranged the nine exercises in a sequence that matches actual Mahamudra sequencing, and I expanded and enriched each of the nine pointers into full-blown stepped out meditation instructions. Daniel was happy with my reworking and added Tibetan-y headings, over which we had a good laugh.

It was a magnificent addition to the book, as Dreamwalker can attest, as he read both versions back in the summer of 2015, before I filed for and received copyright. It will not be in MCTB2. It and the other 350 pages of our glorious work were destroyed by Daniel. For the record, even just a few months ago, I offered to surrender my copyright to him in exchange for a mere editorial acknowledgment of my work on the Acknowledgments page. He refused, yet he continued to plead with me to drop my copyright (for nothing).

Why does this matter? Because this is a man who publicly claims to be an arahat, which he mentions in MCTB means “Buddhist saint.” This is a man who holds himself out to the public as a teacher of the Buddhadharma. Yet approximately 90% of the difference between MCTB1 and MCTB2(J) was my authorial contribution, meaning my integration, not his. To let him falsely claim that integration as his own and subsume it under his name while banishing me and mine from all public acknowledgment would be to mislead potential students looking for a trusted teacher. In his latest pleas, he insinuated that if my practices were so advanced, my attainments were so high, and my morality were real, then the proof would be that I let him have my copyright for himself.

Yeah, nice try.

I wrote to him thus: “Equating my morality and attainments with handing over to you my copyright is like saying my refusing a two-year-old candy for supper every night is immoral because the toddler wants candy.”

Problems with “Agencylessness” vis-à-vis Daniel’s Magick

I want to pursue a point here about what Daniel calls agencylessness, particularly because he not only makes it, along with “luminosity” (rigpa), a criterion for fourth path, but indeed requires it for confirmation of even third path. Much more reliable Indo-Tibetan maps situate realization of true agencylessness at Buddhahood, not at these earlier stage gains. Realization of the Fourth Time, otherwise called Timeless Time, opens at Buddhahood, not sooner.

It is true that, during second path, from doing the practice Daniel prescribes for Fitter Stoke, I did have direct insight into the nature of eventual agencylessness. More specifically, I saw in my direct experience that eventually a complete synchronization of all of reality with itself would happen, would have to happen—and hadn’t yet. This much is true. And it is also true that post-fourth-path involves a gradual erosion of the sense of agency, to the point that practicing Western magick, of which Daniel is still an avid fan, seems pointless, even silly.

As fourth-path realization deepens—and it does deepen if one is not positively stuck—then one becomes a vessel, you see. Increasingly, one is simply present when cosmological-scale magic happens, a conduit. We are talking the cosmos here, universes! The last time I had any friendly interchange with Daniel, he was dabbling in low-level self-powered magick for sport. This is not the business of buddhas, in case you are curious. Nor is obsession with western magick compatible with claims that one has realized agencylessness.

The Benefit of a Doubt for Daniel’s Claim of “Agencylessness”

To give Daniel the benefit of a doubt, I’ll speculate that, when he claims “agencylessness,” he means in terms of former subject-object perception, which is indeed one type of “doing.” He means, I think and hope, only that no Subject is needed to process manifestation into being itself / other-than-Subject. If this is what Daniel means by claiming agencylessness, it is just another way of saying that the central processor of percepts has dissolved for good. So I maintain that the term agencylessness is unnecessary at best, confusing at worst.

I do believe that Daniel has that level of realization, meaning MCTB fourth path, which I too attained on July 29, 2015. But Daniel stopped there, apparently, has so far failed to integrate those gains into his emotional life, into his holdout loci of reactivity, into the psycho-dynamics of relationship, and into and out the other side of his need to contain affect and control against vulnerability. So tantra is in order, as well as Dzogchen.

Unfortunatelly, my saying so to him, and my giving him some practices during the last warm exchange we had, inspired him to banish me from the DhO and MCTB2 the next day. Later his second lawyer offered me $10,000 to cancel my copyright, to forever hide the nature of my former relationship with Daniel, and to forever refrain from any and all public critique of Daniel or his work in my own work. But I declined to be Daniel’s enabler.

Problems with “Agencylessness” vis-à-vis Daniel’s Causal Model

Another easily discerned chink in Daniel’s agencylessness claim is that, while claiming he has realized it, he also claims that the interdependent field is seen by someone with fourth path as “lawful” and “causal.” Realization of a causal model as ultimate is such an obvious contradiction to agencylessness that I’m amazed to find myself currently under the necessity to explain the contradiction as such.

Realization of the Fourth Time at buddhahood means no less than realization that causality is the big lie. Think on it. Think long and hard on it. Understand, at least conceptually, that the causal model collapses the instant agency does, all other criteria for fourth path being met. Dzogchen view is that the Unbounded Whole is uncaused, that it spontaneously manifests transient-instant-by-transient-instant. Taking the ultimate fruit as path view, there is not even any karma to purify.

So, no, Daniel hasn’t realized true agencylessness yet, nor have I, although I’m well on the way. Realization of the Ground (kun gzhi), or any revised fourth path, can be described deliciously with regard to various subaspects of pre-awakened experience, and I’ll offer those descriptions in due course. But what it comes down to is the nonduality of the otherwise presumptive subjectivity and presumptive object field. Untie that knot, liberate awareness unto itself, and that attainment itself will do most of the rest of the work through the coarse, subtle, and very subtle body, liberating reactivity there and elevating conduct to “buddha activity.”

I could go on for pages about post-MCTB-fourth-path deepening of the realization, but another day awaits in its quasi-causal effulgence for that task to unfold. Meantime, do investigate boundary and intention just as Daniel prescribes.