Trauma, Transference, and a Post-Feminist Perspective: To Daniel

27 April 2015

Dear Daniel,

This letter began as part of a reply to your email reply of the same date; however, I believe what I have to say deserves the separate and formal auspices of a letter. I hope you will read this letter when well-rested and attentive. It is important to me that you do. I think it will increase your understanding of where I’m literally coming from and, I hope, may therefore prevent some otherwise potential triggers from firing in the future.


“As one thing to consider which is just one small possible example that illustrates a larger point about recognizing our own personal internal sign-posts, look for clue words and specific issues that you wish to use in emails or online posts during this state and, should you find yourself wanting to use them again, consider that there is a possibility that these terms and their correlation with this stage might aid you in self-diagnosis.”


Yes. Good idea, in general.

My apology, by the way, and just to be clear about this from the outset, covers my last three emails to you, not what I wrote out on the DhO. Keep reading.

You’ve suggested that I look for the key issues and key words in those emails so that I can recognize them when they emerge in the future. Because every bleed-through incident I’ve had has been with you, I suspect that it may be helpful for you to have some background on my issues and key word triggers, as well. You may be less likely to invoke them yourself if you are aware of what they are and why they are triggers for me. This, above all, is the purpose of this letter: to make you more aware of my background and the trauma behind the key metaphors you used at me without the otherwise potential benefit of such awareness.

The key issues and key words for me in those emails, the desperate tone of which I do apologize for, are abandonment, a patriarch’s complete control of his house, and marginalizing to unofficially “influential” space, to hidden private domestic life, a daughter, so to speak, who has tried to clean up some of the accumulated mess in that patriarch’s house, mess accumulated by virtue of a lack of boundaries (rules and enforcement) that protect all the children (community) in that solely owned and patriarch-ruled house.

I’m well aware now, and was semi-aware even as I was writing you those angry/hurt emails, that I’m still reacting to parental abandonment, to my severely alcoholic patriarch, who continually broke my heart by breaking his promises to me to quit drinking and quit the cycle of arbitrary abuse in his household of four daughters and a wife, my mother, who herself was only a few years older than my two half-sisters.

You need to know that I feel a very deep, primal sense of betrayal when I perceive that someone who has set himself up as authority and house owner has broken a promise or has been disloyal to me, has publicly rendered me an illegitimate (unofficial relation), has not parented properly (expressed consistent rules and boundaries for the good of all his children), and has acted in ways that seem like arbitrary power that is not ever to be openly questioned, on pain of constructed banishment.

So, let’s see, here is a list of the trigger words/issues in those email exchanges:

  • There is the patriarchal figure’s house and his absolute authority and ownership over that house (your words, your metaphors, used to curb, contain, and deny my pleas and appeals for public consistency regarding my actual roles therein and to deny my deserving the courtesy of your prior communication to me of the specifics of your upcoming actions on the DhO and DhU, actions meant to respond to request that came from only me in the first place).
  • My marginalization in your house to “behind the scenes” as an ultimately dispensable and banishable guest (a guest is a highly temporary, not familial, relation). If I confront you with the questionable outcomes of your actions and inaction, no matter how unjust the outcomes in my sincere view are, you respond to my sincerity ultimately with the threat of noncare and dismissal of me from your house, despite my many months and hours of labors for your comparative ease and the good of the community. In fact, my role as your guest, and you as owner are what you invoke as “at bottom” and “ultimately” our relationship to each other. Instead of what you could extend me as courtesy and kindness, you drop our discourse down to the level of your right to be punitive and dismissive. This move by you is unfortunate.
  • There are promises, and the patriarch’s seemingly arbitrary reversals and abandonment
  • There are your communications that I’m not to be trusted, even as you break your promises and publicly and privately shame me as unworthy of trust and undeserving of your forgiveness, forgiveness which is a sign of your generosity, not my worth to you.
  • There is my being aggressively reconstructed by you as a submissive penitent (guest only, in the house of the ultimate owner and silencing authority, the one whose money pays for his rights, which he invokes a the sign of disagreement): “My granting you a moderator role publicly in the Underground is my generosity toward and tolerance and forgiveness of you (which you have not deserved) for your moderation (?) actions (?) on the Overground.” I’m not sure what “moderation actions” you mean, by the way, as I never took a single action as a moderator during the many months I was left with moderator controls after I resigned from that role that I didn’t ask for and didn’t ever want.
  • Forgiveness is an extremely aggressive, condescending word and trigger, as is tolerance—the implication being that I’m a sinner, fundamentally flawed and ugly, and undeserving of your courtesy and a presumptive ground of inclusion and friendship. There is your forgiveness of my sins instead of proactive courtesy, and that forgiveness is denoted your overgenerous gift, for which I must demonstrate that I’m grateful, or you may withdraw from me at your pleasure and at any moment, constructively abandoning me, since it is your house and I have no official (legitimate) role there, having not deserved such a role, being fundamentally untrustworthy despite my working like a dog and falling on the sword repeatedly for constructive change for the whole of our family (dharma community). In fact, you say that if I don’t show gratitude for your forgiveness, then I’ll never be trusted again.
  • My public embarrassment and shame when you arbitrarily abandon former promises, for I have hinted or said over many months out on the DhO, “Mark my words, Daniel will clean up this site and the governing language,” even though I’ve not said explicitly, “Daniel and I talk on the phone and email behind the official scenes, and he promised me he will eventually do X,” which is the actual truth and one that I had every right to reveal as such, though I did not, out of respect to you and our private communications. After all, there is a limit to the good that rights alone can do; courtesy counts for a lot, and I’ve asked you for courtesy, not my rights. That you keep invoking your rights says a lot to me about you that I certainly would rather think otherwise.
  • There is arbitrary and confusing power wielded by an emotionally unavailable man and communicatively unavailable man (ie, which means the equivalent of alcoholic patriarch). Arbitrary power means, specifically, that there was sudden public reversal of your intent to reform the DhO, and shortly thereafter the unannounced dropping of four disciplinarians, one anonymous (arbitrary power), down on the marginalized space I alone took the initiative to revive, hidden, as always, behind the scenes.
  • There is the withholding of the daughter’s public legitimacyin relation to the patriarch and his house: “Jenny is [just] the editor of MCTB2,” which lies outside your house, meaning that publicly that you disown and render illegitimate my influencing your thoughts and plans regarding the DhO, while you nevertheless privately seek my counsel on the same—all this being, from a post-feminist scholarship point of view, a patriarchal attempt to marginalize a woman’s thoughts, feelings, advice, voice, and labor to the space of illegitimacy (ie, “she has no official role and cannot be trusted with official authority, even as I privately benefit from her counsel and assistive labor continually). “In fact, I can barely forgive her for protesting that I treat her this way, and if she doesn’t repent, desist, and show gratitude for my generous forgiveness, I’ll without from her the legitimacy and trust she has in fact already earned.”

So, you see, I’m well aware that you are in some respects a father figure to me, your dust jacket rejection of being anyone’s “Daddy” notwithstanding. This reading stems quite well from your own stated “ownership” of your “house,” the DhO/DhU, your own metaphors, which you wield to control me and curb my voice to spaces of illegitimacy. Transference/countertransference, just to be clear.

In terms of enlightenment, you also are a representation of my life’s goal, my development, my growing wisdom. So, unfortunately, sometimes when I’m frustrated with the goal itself, as in Reobservation, that can bleed into my being frustrated with you as the representation of that more realized being I wish I were. I’ve not bled-through with anyone but you, and for months I’ve been contemplating why it is always you. I’ve thought about it a lot, mainly from a Freudian post-feminist perspective, which is one I have deep, scholarly knowledge of and continued reverence for.

Practically speaking, it may also be that we are regularly engaged over this book and you have in fact had a number of conversations with me over improving the DhO. The DhO is important, and the book is important. And we both care a lot about them, really. So just the frequency and intensity of investment on both sides about both of them makes for contact and vedana, at least on my end. 

From this current place of relative calm from which I now write you, with equanimity, I do own and clarify that I stand by my open letter on the DhO as appropriately and sensitively written and edited to comply with the rules on the DhO and to serve a noble cause, a cause I sincerely believe you will look back on one day and recognize that I embodied out of kindness to the community you say you care about and therefore to you. That it took the form of civil protest of your actions/nonactions, does not change the fact that I did it out of love and compassion for you and yours. Someday, if not today, you will understand this about me and what I’ve done, tried to do.

I understand Laurel’s objection that I outed that you insinuated privately that I’m sectarian. Laurel is a more frequent poster on AN, by far, than she is on the DhO. She brings the very different, more polite (pretentious) ethos of AN to the DhO. She also was on the wrong side of the fence when the Bill Glamdring puppet attacked me for days on end, persisting in believing that Bill Glamdring was a real member that should be taken seriously and negotiated with. I was on AN for a while. Laurel lacks situational acuity. But let’s move on; I consider what she thinks a negligible point on your part and, frankly, not worth responding to with more of my time.

Laurel and Katy had no basis whatsoever to red-flag that open letter of mine, for the letter broke none of the rules stated in writing on the site—which, and I guess you missed my intended irony, was actually part of the point of my open protest, that there is a lack of rules, just “openness” as an ideal. Well, I was open to you out on the site, open to all, and there is no written rule against being thus open. In fact, your ideal is the opposite, so I was a champion of your ideal there, Daniel. Please see that much. Please admit that much to yourself privately, if not to me.

Moreover, that letter was incredibly tame compared with frequent fare on the DhO. I believe you know this to be the case. I believe you know you took it personally, not that I did anything wrong or broke any rule in your house. I received no moderator warning, by the way, and didn’t even have a chance to know I’d been charged by these women of breaking a rule stated in the DhO site language. Acting behind the scenes with me, as usual, you told me that they pressed the little red flags. You told me to what end, since I broke no rule? Just to shame me for having a voice and using it? The little red flags should be tied to actual rules, Daniel. I broke no DhO rules, so I still do not understand what problem that letter posed. Care to explain what rule I broke, other than your unofficial one that I not actually take your ideal of openness as real or applicable to my own public expressions but only to everyone else’s?

In fact, in your latest reneging of your earlier promises to reform the DhO, you did use “openness” as your defensively stated ideal, the reason you decided to make a liar out of me on the DhO for my saying you would do otherwise. That letter was a completely “open” letter to show you, both constatively and performatively, the direct consequences of that unstructured, unqualified “openness” you love so much. The young brawly men go unchecked; Jenny gets a slap in the shadow of the woodshed.

Are you beginning to understand? Well, where logic prevails, you can’t have your cake and eat it too, even if I’m constructed just a nonfamilial guest in daring to say so to you here and yet again.

It is still supremely ironic to me that this well-written and restrained letter I wrote from the heart and for all the people, many of whom are frustrated with the DhO culture, would be flagged by the likes of Katy, who attacked Kenneth viciously for many days on end while you were abroad, in front of the whole DhO. It was relentless and very ugly. Kenneth was passive-aggressively dismissive of her attempts to engage him on the issue of paid dharma teaching, just as you have been passive-aggressively unresponsive to my questions about fulfillment of intention to reform the DhO site language and structure. The situation of Daniel-Jenny is in fact analogous to that one of Kenneth-Katy, actually, although the Katy-Kenneth one was a public blowup that was many times more spectacular than anything I’ve ever done on the DhO, especially in engaging there with you.

Did either Kenneth or Katy stop in over four days of nasty mutual attacks in your house to consider that they were hurting you and your moderators? Incidentally, I was hurt too, in the aftermath, when several threads were spawned (none by me) to beg you to make good on your promises to reform the site. Specifically, Claudiu called me out publicly on the thread titled “Moderation” to give him semantic and legal definitions after Kenneth accused Katy of libel. Claudiu also emailed me privately for legal consultations while all unfolded and you were away, blithely engaged in your powers.

So, Jenny, this woman, this Jill-of-all-trades back-office assistant, is continually sought after by the official moderators and the owner-patriarch for her labor, research, writing, editing, and advice. And then she is denied public roles and legitimacy by the patriarch on the basis that she alone, not the patriarch, is unworthy of trust and stands a penitent mere guest at the pleasure of her lord and master (you). Do you begin to see your actions and tropes in the clear light of day? Do you begin to understand how my suppressed and repressed rights for an official role and voice turn in the dark of my heart to resentment of you? Is it any wonder that during a hellish Reobservation stage, after running out of my antidepressants, I might completely renounce you and lash out?

I trust that, as you can read and have a brilliant mind and often tender heart, you are beginning to see how your silencing me, your rendering me merely an invisible and illegitimate assistant, serving in the margins of your “house,” completely at your pleasure and as someone who must repeatedly earn your forgiveness or at least be damned grateful for it—how all this would retrigger in me very deep hurt harkening back to the arbitrary abuse my father inflicted over my childhood’s actual house of four daughters and his very young wife, my mother. 

My father drank a fifth of gin a day. Straight gin! He was emotionally unavailable to me. He drank himself to death by age 45. He would routinely come into my bedroom before I went to school, while sober, and cry in my lap (talk about drama), promising to stop the drinking and arbitrary violence against two of my sisters. Now, what did he issue as the guarantee of his intent to make good on his promise? Why, his paternal love for me: “Jenny, I’m going to stop drinking as of this day, because I love Emily, your sisters, and you.” Daniel, I loved my father with all my heart. And I believed him every single time he cried in my lap, at my feet, and made this promise, every single time sobriety and clear seeing temporarily prevailed. 

Invariably, the very same day he made such promises, sealed with his love for me as guarantee he would keep them, he broke those promises. I remember walking home from school in the rain, holding the hand of my little sister, and missing ballet lessons, because he was home on the family room couch, completely naked, unemployed, drunk, and passed out. He couldn’t even pick his little girls up from school in the rain and get them to ballet.

So promises were broken, repeated, broken, repeated, broken, repeated—to a mere child, who was told by this father that his success in acting well by her and the family depended on how lovable she proved to be. Moreover, he wielded terrible, arbitrary, and unchecked power. Because my older sister was talking on the phone too long one night, for one among many examples, he once took out a pistol and held it to my pet basset hound’s head and told me and my little sister that he would blow the dog’s head off if Judy didn’t get off the phone in five seconds. I think I was 8 or 9 years old, so my sister would have been only 5. Think about it: He would blow our pet’s head off in front of us, his children, if someone else we couldn’t control, my older sister, didn’t immediately do what he said. Talk about traumatic disempowerment!

Other times, my older sister Judy would utter one word of protest at some arbitrary rule Daddy laid down at the dinner table. When she did, he would punch her in the mouth, with his fist. I watched the blood run down her face and the tears and look of betrayal and incomprehension fill her eyes. I think she was 16 during one of these incidents that I’m thinking about right now.

I’m trying to make you understand some context for how your words, metaphors, and other ways of constructing spaces in which to relegate me to unquestioning silence affect me, way beyond what you consciously intend. So, as you ask me to identify the words and issues that are triggers for me, I ask you to be aware of the same. I was likely traumatized by much that happened in my childhood, because of the owner and patriarch of a house in which I was never made to feel loved, secure, and legitimate as a voice and a devoted, obedient daughter.

One of the subtle ways in which my father caused me harm was in not being the adult in our interactions, but the child, and then turning around and being the punitive parent. So, during his morning cries and promises in my lap, I looked at him and realized, “He is out of control.” On some level, I also realized, “This man is a child, and he is asking me, the actual child, to parent him.” That I was made, repeatedly, to see my father as helpless without me, as a child I had to parent, left me in abject terror. I was not secure. Who was going to take care of Jenny if her own father was so helpless that he expected his small child to be morally responsible for whether he quit drinking and lived to see her graduation, her wedding day, her newborn son? And what would happen then to Jenny’s mind and heart if and when he died instead living to those times? What would happen to this little girl, knowing as she did that she was responsible somehow, knowing that she failed to prove sufficiently lovable to guarantee her father’s good will and very life?

Look at my current (old) profile photo on the DhU. I was flipping through a folder of photos of me, and that one arrested my attention for posting in your house well before I wrote those enraged, hurt emails to you. I thought little of it at the time. But in the past 24 hours I’ve really thought, “Why did I post that particular picture?” In that picture, I’m holding my baby sister Jill. I am a child there, but I’m posed as a parent. I parented my parents when I was but a child. This is the subtle and perhaps saddest legacy of my father: That I was never allowed to be a child. I could not even have friends over, ever, because of my shame that my father would be naked on the couch, with empty gin bottles scattered around him. The child of an alcoholic lives out a primordial fear of abandonment, a sense of failing to prove lovable and worthy, a sense of shame. It is so with me.

So Katy has a lot of nerve pressing my little red flag. You have a lot of nerve, too, by the way, holding her out to me as the reason I’m still not to be trusted but publicly shamed and privately shamed and called a guest at your disposal, a temporary and utterly powerless voice that you nonetheless rely on all the time as you please to do the parenting of the community the nurturing of your authorial talents. I am just laughing and shaking my head at the absurdities that abound here, and what a field day I could have, if I chose, in writing a scholarly publication on the subconscious machinations of patriarchy in online spiritual communities that only pretend to be egalitarian while actually being quite constraining and subordinating and exclusive of its most devoted and otherwise legitimate members.

Now, regarding Katy, do you know that people leave the DhO on account of her behavior? Jim Luceno has stated out on the DhU that he will participate in the DhU only so long as Katy is kept out. Now did you give Jim the sectarian shaming that you gave Jenny? Or are we once again applying one standard to the daughter, and a different one to the enlightened sons? Jim left the DhO for two reasons, he has said: 75% because of Katy, and 25% because you failed to do something about Sawfoot. You have still failed to take official action against Sawfoot, but you did arbitrarily delete his metacognition practice thread, even though your doing so is patently against your own ideal of openness to anything that reduces suffering. What rule and official boundary did Sawfoot violate? None. But your power is as absolute and arbitrary as you wish with Sawfoot, as it is with Jenny.

Jim is a very valuable member of this community, and was one of the better posters on the DhO. Sawfoot stayed, and Jim left. This tradeoff is due to your ideal of openness. When will you see that ideals have failings in the practical world? When will you practice the nonidealism and pragmatism that you preach?

I have been mulling over the idea of vetting Bill F. (William Finch) as a candidate member of the DhU. He is tight with Vince Horn, and was asked to teach by the latter. He has an extremely committed practice wherein he practices 3-5 hours a day. He has connections to Kenneth, but is currently into Mahamudra and tantric practice. He is also very into the devotional side of tantra, stating that tantra is not tantra at all without that guru devotion, which he defines as “adoration of the teacher.” DW is very reluctant to consider Bill. You know why? Because Devin distrusts practitioners into the devotional stuff. However, meantime, Jim Luceno sucks the toes of a Sumerian goddess, under the auspices of Western magick, and that is a-okay with DW, just grand.

Are you going to address Jim’s and DW’s “sectarianism”? Or am I alone the sectarian here, even though I would like to include Tibetan Buddhists and Chuck (who is already a member but doesn’t know we are active).

All the continual blowups, as well as the “schisms”—they are the results of your “openness” ideal. The speech acts constituting them are all within the Code of Conduct on the DhO, which is minimal and lacks a coherent, communicated-out reporting and enforcement protocol, despite the template I gave you 9 months ago to address these structural lacks, despite my willingness, in all things, to help you help other to awaken. I have no DhO policy basis on which to complain about Katy’s atrocious behavior on the DhO, and she certainly has no policy basis to complain about my behavior, specifically my open letter pleading with you to reconfirm your intentions regarding DhO reform publicly.

My open and public letter was a plea, a final plea, and it still is, for you to keep your public and private promises to reform the DhO, in part by reconsidering “openness” as an ideal that has outlived its unqualified constructiveness. 

I did not write this letter in anger. I wrote with equanimity and from a place of personal truth that I hope you will come to value someday, as it is sincere and well-meaning toward you.

Fondly and sincerely still yours,


Mentors, Group Re-Formation, and Psychic Flashes

Aquamarine is the stone of the seer and the sayer.

Posted here is an excerpt from a much longer entry in my private journal.

Dreams of Two Mentors

I had a dream after I began writing this piece. It was brief and simple. My teacher is walking ahead of me in the dark, but I seem hesitant, with some angst about the intensity into which he is leading me. He stops and looks back over his shoulder at me. He beckons me, saying, “Follow me.” I say, “Okay. Let’s go.” Then he walks out the top of the luminous matrix into Space. Everything pales out.

I had a subsequent dream. I am trying to IM with my bestie in Asheville, but the the computer keeps losing our connection. I am fed up with it and decide to penetrate the screen through meditation. When that doesn’t immediately work, I think, “Oh, I need to add lubrication.” So I fill up a bucket with water, turn on the TV, and pour the water over the TV. My mother materializes on the spot and says I’ve ruined the carpet. I move through the screen and am in Asheville, in a big Victorian home where a party is underway. My bestie opens the door and hugs me, When enter I see every “group” I’ve ever belonged to there. I hug Ira and Paul. I find the DhU (minus Daniel). Finally, I go upstairs. In a room there is a long farm table. People are seated on either side. I sit on one side. At the head of the table sits Daniel. He and I are psychically aware that the other is nervous. In fact we feel the same. We avoid speaking to or looking at each other, and engage in conversation with those immediately next to us. I start talking about how best to deal with the influx of people now asking me for practice advice. Daniel starts talking to the person to his left about the same topic, giving the answers about time management, disclaimers against being a “teacher,” insisting on a specific question, and all those Danielisms. He finally says, “Tell her this.” and gradually we come to look each other in the eye. Then all the others vanish. We are speaking directly and calmly to each other from the two distant ends of the same table. 

Psychic Flashes—An Example Involving Group Dispersion

I’m experiencing a lot of psychic flashes—sudden visualizations. For example, a chat channel was becoming too crowded with pre-pathers and strangers for my comfort. The Seattle group and my own vision of a select group were being conflated, and the communications were not appropriate for those on earlier paths. After a certain psychic flash that morning, I decided to put an end to the chaos and wrote everyone as follows:

I’m going to be frank about my thinking, having discussed matters thoroughly with several of you on private channels.

First, this channel is getting crowded, and I don’t think it is skillful or efficient to discuss all layers of practice with those who are working on first and maybe even second path. It is a distraction and can become a sidetrack for them. Second, I dislike Google Hangouts as a medium for the reasons that I stated before. On-the-fly chats that cannot be indexed and easily retrieved are problematic for my purposes. It feels chaotic to me, unfocused for depth. I prefer going to a threaded private forum space that has a chat function. The site I designed more than a year ago has all that, plus “blogging” spaces for members, backups, security.

Because I have to work a full-time job, my spending large amounts of time on every pre-path aspirant who comes along doesn’t scale well, esp. since there are already resources for that out there. So, practically, I need to manage my time if I’m going to complete what I sense is my own mission—a book that is “pragmatic” but goes beyond MCTB. I have to finish this path and write. That is what my intuition tells me I’m supposed to do. My goal is to write something that gets people third and fourth MCTB path and beyond. I don’t mind answering questions, but to protect my energy and all-too-scarce time, I have certain ways and means for answering such questions. I have a website with a form that specifies what I need to know before I can give meaningful advice, or fit my response to the individual, and how the asker should formulate conversation with me for optimal response.

The Innermost Courtyard vision and mission as stated out on that old forum is pretty much the focus I’m still looking for in any group that organically forms and organically continues. I think a small, intimate intensive that focuses on advanced esoteric practices will help us grow. The members bring “specialties” to the mix. For example, Jim has mad skills as a lucid dreamer. My chat with Andrew on here yesterday already impacts the way I will write about the post-AA experience, because he has a nuanced way of stating phenomenological results, and that drew out from me more nuanced ways of communicating what he is currently noticing. So that helps the book, which eventually helps all those currently focused on ordinary insight.

I’m not in SPuDs, as I’m not there in Seattle. Moreover, my own sense of what Pragmatic Dharma is and ideally will become in the short term is under significant revision driven by my being on the upper end of the path. Specifically, I’m going through this major revision of my earlier Pragmatic Dharma “total openness” ethic. Mahamudra and Dzogchen are “completion-stage” esoteric practices. Traditionally, one would have practiced the eight other -yanas decades before ever hoping to have access.

In my own current practice, my teacher has repeatedly had to thwart my mappy proclivities so that I will experience deeply the wisdom of spontaneous presence, or increasingly close approximations thereof. He is actually mappy himself, as is Mahamudra, but the point he is making with me is that mapping territory in the somewhat distant past differs from mapping terrain currently underfoot. This allowing for spontaneity may sound cliche, but actually it is part and parcel of opening the Fourth Time and accomplishing the Spontaneous Presence of a buddha. It is method.

At the upper end of this path, trust in the teacher becomes critical. My teacher has enjoined me to keep my esoteric practices “under wraps.” Truly, I’m not one to be so namby-pamby sounding. But I have to trust that he has sound reasons for what he tells me to do and not do. He says our culture, even that of most diligent practitioners, isn’t yet ripe for a floodgate of esoteric information to open.

I really don’t want expansion of membership at this time  I want to go deep with a few select people and build slowly. I’m not in a place as a practitioner or potential mentor where I feel ready to launch a broad “movement.” I felt that Movement drive when I was in the Dharma Underground—the thrill of it all—but things are different now. I went into a virtual cave for almost a year when my former drive to start a group failed. Doing so deepened my perspective. 

So, in sum, I’m saying that SPuDs is its own animal. And I think it is best to have Innermost Courtyard be its own animal.

Thanks for listening and reflecting on what I’m saying.

Interestingly, it was the pre-pathers who jumped in to agree with me. So the inclusive channel is closed.

Earlier on the morning that I wrote and sent this message, the psychic flash was that I saw the wrist mala I made years ago. It was on my nightstand. Immediately a vision flashed up of its breaking, the beads scattering. I put it on and wore it to work.

After I sent this message, disassembling the pragmatic group, I went to the restroom, where that mala that I’ve had so long broke. Its “liberated” beads are aquamarine, my birthstone. It is the seer’s stone, representing water’s clarity and mirroring. It is also the stone of the throat chakra, yielding quiet resoluteness in negotiating, teaching, and communicating.

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. . . .

Gaslight Backwash

What follows was scarcely interesting enough to write, but I did so primarily to give the context for this cool tarot reading to come in my next post.

So here goes.

Gas and Heat without Illumination

Daniel Ingram just can’t seem to let go of me, incredibly. Do you know what gaslighting is? If not, you are about to find out by example, as he restarted a Word Womb with me again, as of old. I called him out for attempted gaslighting, and then I blocked him. 

Yes, he wrote email in which he attempted to whitewash and reverse even history whose correct version can be proven with documents in my possession, including a draft resolution agreement he sent my attorney back in March that shows not a single term we bargained for on its face. My attorney broke off negotiations with Daniel at that time, citing Daniel’s complete unwillingness to bargain in good faith after he sent a bizarre, possessive, ranting “agreement” over that in no uncertain terms was attempting to buy my work for chump change – as well as my silence about all sorts of things, including the nature of our relationship and the fact that I did the work that I did. In short, it is evident on the face of the document that he sought to take the work and present it to the world as his own. 

So Daniel has now retold a new (false) version of that history: that he offered to destroy the files containing my work and that I rejected that offer, and that he never wanted my work anyway because it was flawed. 

He never made any such offer. In fact, I contacted him in writing twice after all that legal stuff broke off, so he had every opportunity to make the case that, um, he and his attorney just plumb forgot to put the terms in the draft agreement. He made no attempt at any such clarification. 

He continued by saying that I had “demonstrated” that I “misunderstood key points” of his book, as if that were the reason that our collaboration ended. Untrue – and easily proven to be so. The work broke off because we had a fight that had zero to do with my work and its excellent quality. 

He has now claimed that because I “misunderstood” his book, that caused conflict that made the MCTB2 work a heavy struggle. Untrue. My work was superb, and I have writing and witnesses that he was extremely pleased with it. Why go through 350 pages with someone if the work was bad? I’m damned good at what I do, and I was intimate with the methods in the book, having a high degree of attainment myself. That was my best work to date, and we worked extremely well together.

The attempted gaslighting continued on: He stated that the crux of our conflict is my trying to steal his work and publish it as my own, as if I’m incapable of writing a book not channeled through Daniel – as if I’d want to. The truth is opposite his attempted gaslighting: He took my work and reneged on the compensation he had promised me in writing. He retained lawyers to threaten me and then offer me chump change to acquire the manuscript that was 90% my work so that he could hold that out to the public as solely his work. He sought to do this, not to destroy our files, as I can show anyone who wants to see the draft agreement.

Daniel evidently needs for me to need him, narcissist that he is. He went on, in fact, at length, comparing me with his new editor, like some creepy narcissist ex-boyfriend trying to make his ex jealous with his new trophy girl (who remains nameless). Then he pretended that he didn’t want my work anyway, that it had problems. Really pathetic. 

New Threats and Attempts to Silence Me

In this email Daniel even attempted to threaten me yet again with another unspecified lawsuit, saying with no basis whatsoever that he fully believes and fears that I’m distributing and will distribute unauthorized versions of the work we did together.

Oh, there is more. He tried to intimidate me into not writing my own book, saying he fears my commentary will take my “misunderstanding” of his work and build further confusion on that. That’s right: he is coercing me against comment on his work. In fact, he keeps stating that anything I write will be stealing his work. Unbelievable!

In short, he has twisted this whole situation into some weird threat against me for my writing my own book, which is not MCTB2 but my original solo work.

Ingram’s evident narcissism and paranoia continually amaze me. This man has been emotionally abusive, has lied over and over again, and is still trying to control, silence, and manipulate me. In this email, he showed jealousy of me for my spiritual progress in Dzogchen, and begrudged me full enlightenment, saying that his wish was only “generic” and “not anything beyond that.” Sympathetic joy in another’s happiness is one of the four immeasurables, and he expressly withheld genuine sympathetic joy for a “generic” template. How generous is that of this self-proclaimed arahat?

Heightened Psychic Clarity

He compared me to a stalker and a rapist back in November, this man who calls himself “arahat,” which means Buddhist saint. To withhold a mere editorial acknowledgment for authorial contributions, he has embraced a scorched earth policy, and it is bearing its bitter fruit: ashes. MCTB2 is scorched earth, and he may have it as such, with all my heart. He has told hosts of lies, issued baseless aggressive threats to me, and now he is trying to invalidate what I know to be the historical truth. He is even trying to control me into silence. In that draft resolution agreement he sent over in March, he filled out unbargained-for clauses seeking to silence me. 

For starters, it says that I’m never to tell anyone the nature of our former relationship or that I did any of the work that I did in fact do. He wished, you see, to claim all that work as his own. He has now attempted to gaslight me by trying to rewrite history, saying that he offered to destroy my files but that I “didn’t finish the legal process.” No such thing ever happened. In truth, my lawyer was disgusted with him for what he sent over, which contained zero terms for me. In truth, the agreement shows that Daniel wanted that work and wanted it badly. In truth, his lawyer had threatened to sue me if we didn’t make a deal, but having no case, he never served me with any suit.

Daniel Ingram is no arahat by his own or anyone else’s definition. The horror of reading this letter and seeing so clearly who and what he truly is made me gasp that I was ever fooled into admiring this person even as a person, let alone as a spiritual leader. 

Interestingly, it also made rigpa blaze like a blowtorch of clarity and made bliss coil around that clarity in elaborate filigree. Clarity was in fact nothing short of psychic psychic psychic. 

I see you. I feel you. I know you. Always.


It turns out that all has resolved for the best: My work isn’t going to boost the reputation of a teacher who is this false, this cut off from himself and from the sangha, this separated from the interconnected field of humanity he pretends to care about. This exchange was goodness: It was like any vipassana insight that leads to automatic release of delusion.

Daniel’s lies and scare tactics didn’t work before, and they damned sure won’t work now. Now he must start over on MCTB2, excluding my contributions, and good. I will not cover up what he has done. Nor will I be intimidated into silencing my blogs, my critical commentary of whatever he may eventually publish, or, especially, my own book. 

I expressly called “gaslighting” after just about every paragraph of his latest message. I then blocked him from the last unblocked account: My email. 

Now on to write my own book. Dan Ingram can piss off.

Daniel Ingram and MCTB2: An Update

Daniel and I exchanged some emails this week after someone on his G+ community page threatened me with black magick and he swooped in to shut that down and ban the person. 

The upshot of our subsequent emails was that I again offered to transfer copyright to him if he would just agree to give me an editorial acknowledgment. He refused the offer, stating that he has started over on the book from scratch with an unnamed copyeditor, so as to exclude my 800 hours of work on the 350 pages he and I polished over a year’s time. That way, he doesn’t have to acknowledge me at all for anything, and that is apparently what to him matters most. 

Incredibly, then he again asked me to cancel my valid joint copyright registration! 

After I stopped reeling from the nerve he has, I replied that if what he were saying were true, that he started over again way back when my work stopped in October 2015 (he now claims there were “problems” with the work I had done, which is bullshit), then why did he and his lawyers throw money, begging, and threats at me to make me drop my copyright? Why is he still pleading with me to cancel my copyright registration? If he has truly started from scratch and excluded my work, he has no need of my joint copyright registration. 

Well, which is it?

I stand amazed at the choices Daniel Ingram has made, the destruction that has been unloosened on our work, and the cognitive dissonance he continually exhibits. That work was the best work I’ve ever done. It was beautiful, we were both thrilled with it, and we were almost done nearly a year ago. Now it will never see the light of day. It was for nothing only because it is more important to him to withhold from me a modest editorial acknowledgment for my major contributions than it is to put out the great and timely edition for practitioners. 

The remaining situation is complex on many levels. He does have legal hurdles to overcome because I hold copyrights to our version and it will be hard to exclude our merged expressions and my restructuring and designs. He claims to have started from scratch and not to be using any of my work, but I have many reasons to disbelieve that. For starters, he refused my attorney’s request that he destroy my files in exchange for my copyright cancellation. Why?

No further offers or acceptance of offers will come from me. I will hold on to my valid joint copyright, and I will invoke it to reap what is due me for my trouble if what I suspect comes to light when he tries to gain copyright registration for his alternate version. For the community, which he has kept in the dark on this matter, it means a far different edition likely long from now, and then he still has legal hurdles to overcome so long as I hold joint copyright on the other version.

Meantime, I’m writing my own book. It will take years because I have a day job I have to keep, but I’m putting myself on a schedule and will write it, for the sake of all beings. Although our MCTB2 is now a colossal waste, as Daniel prefers a War of Attrition to reasonable process and justice, at least this way my best work won’t go to support a man who clearly is no arahat by his or anyone else’s definition. Self-aggrandizement, control, and winning matters more to him than putting out the best and timely version of the edition. It matters more than mutual forgiveness and dissolving karmic bonds.

I will not cover up what has happened, as he is attempting to and tried to pay me $10,000 of “hush money” to do. I have issued him multiple generous offers over the past year, and his refusals to compromise in the least shows a man who not only can’t practice the basic virtue of generosity, but can’t even see how he is hurting not primarily me, but his own community and himself. I pray every day for Daniel’s release from his own unprocessed trauma; at the same time, I will not silently take his dishonesty.

This is the only valid copyright registration of MCTB2 on file with the U.S. Government. I’m co-owner on the basis of my being a coauthor. Daniel Ingram counterclaimed in writing to the U.S. Copyright Office, falsely, that the work on file was solely his work, that I was just a “disgruntled editor trying to steal” his work. His counterclaim failed. He sic’d several lawyers on me with blustering threats of multiple lawsuits and vows to basically traumatize me in front of a jury by making me out to be “mentally incompetent.”

By contrast, my attorney offered Daniel my half of the copyright if he would agree to give me an editorial acknowledgment or proof that he had destroyed my work and was actually starting over. Daniel refused both options and continued to simply demand that I cancel my joint copyright registration. My attorney broke off negotiations, citing Daniel’s complete unwillingness to compromise on any point important to me and therefore his lack of good faith in negotiating a reasonable resolution. Sad, but I’ve learned some valuable, empowering lessons. I’m going to now write my own dharma book, or die trying. 

I stand on the turret. I keep the watch, Daniel. And when I sit to rest, I sit as the mother-goddess holding in her arms all the neglected and abused children of this world, all those who experience terrible suffering and cause others terrible suffering. May we all awaken from the confusion of interpersonal nightmares.

Counter-Dream of a Pokémon Pantheon

I was awakened this morning 30 minutes early by the telephone. I knew upon waking that I had been dreaming. But it was only after another 30 minutes and a cup of French roast that the dream floated up to conscious memory. It was a jumbled dream with many scene changes, but that was appropriate because the scenes themselves were united only by a theme of change. I never became lucid, but there were a few moments when I “almost” did, meaning I recognized that reality was strange and that I must have been forgetting something. I was forgetting to wake up in the dream!

The Dream

I am in a playhouse auditorium, sitting in the audience with many others. There is a older, portly round man standing on the stage and watching the audience. He starts directing us with a bullhorn, issuing roles we are to play. I’m told to play Alexander Hamilton. I protest loudly that I want to be Thomas Jefferson or at least George Washington, not the imperialist Hamilton. The director ignores my protests, and I’m led back several times to some makeshift dressing area, where I try on different costumes. I notice that I seem to be the only woman around, and I reflect that there are no leadership roles for a woman in this play and that I’m being forced to dress and act like a man.

The dressing closet I’m in is locked. But the walls are flimsy. I tear a hole in one near the bottom and crawl out on my belly, like a snake. Then I stand and run, men with flashlights and dogs in pursuit. They are carrying 18th Century costumes, and they are trying to capture me, enslave me, and make we wear their costumes and go to battle for them.

Suddenly, I’m in a house in which I live. Each room is a different color. I go from room to room, repainting each in a different Easter egg color. My home’s interior looks like an Easter basket. I reflect on the elements, and I’m performing some kind of alchemical magick outside each threshold to tell what color each room should be painted. There is a vague sense that I’m expecting a baby and need to figure out which room should be the nursery.

Suddenly, my mother, who is a master gardener, and I are standing on the roof and looking at this banzai-looking tree on a lower terrace. It has somehow grown from dwarf to gigantic proportions and is splitting the exterior of the house and will soon split the interior. My mother wants to simply saw back the limbs. But I jump from the roof and look for the root of the tree, telling her that cutting its limbs will hurt it and not solve the problem. I find the root, and by some weird magic, I as I pull up the root, the tree shrinks down to its proper banzai size. 

I remember that the dictatorial play director is hunting me down as though I were an escaped slave and that, if he catches me, he will force me to play the bad guy.  

The phone rings, waking me.

The Evaluation

Not until I wrote this dream out just now did I realize where some of the elements were coming from:
DreamWalker had earlier sent me a link to a blog post by Daniel Ingram in which Daniel was pointing out the imperialist, colonialist, patriarchal, and black magic implications of Pokémon GO and was recounting a dream in which he had tried to capture a Pokémon with a ball but was morally repulsed by the action. His post proposes a modern tantric pantheon of Pokémon we can all skillfully relate to and merge with instead of enslave and train to battle for us. 

Crazy, yes? But he does have a point about the current fad Pokémon GO and other games that entrain the body-mind to dark, exploitative purposes. When people – normally the young men who are recruited to fight our wars – play these games obsessively, one has to wonder what military-industrial-complex entity is behind this form of possession.

My dream involved playacting as colonialists, pastel colors like Pokémon, elemental magic, my escape from captivity and slavery, my identity as a woman over against patriarchy, a house that was splitting like an Easter egg or Poké-ball might, and a Zen-flavored tree whose root of delusion I cut. 

Earlier dreams of mine overtly about Daniel were about his art of deception, disguise – basically lying.

So where is my dream ego these months later? Well, not lucid in the dream, but at least refusing to be further exploited and led along by patriarchy. I’ve escaped that scene. I’m not going to play some role the patriarch orders me to, including his own projection onto me of the colonizing “bad guy.” In short, I
will not ever again allow myself to be used and cheated as some man’s “assistant.” In this dream, I lept from the split structure to cut delusion at its root, rejecting the mere cosmetic fix of my mother’s generation’s more passive contingent.

Speaking of mothers and tantra, in October 2015 it was my sending Daniel my own teachers’ instructions for a tantra that involves merging with a motherly figure, like White Tara, that sent him into an unaccountable rage and ended our interactions for good. The night before, we had been on Skype IM, having fun. I had asked him why he was not working to become a Buddha. He paused for a while and then wrote that he had resolved thousands of times that his thoughts, words, and deeds be for the liberation of all. He strongly implied a bodisattva vow. He asked me what more he could do, and I mentioned some Indo-Tibetan practices. He had voiced interest in tantra, so I sent him the initial practice that my own teacher has most students do. As a result, I was told to turn over all my unfinished MCTB2 files within the week and was issued other very unkind and projective accusations. This is what I got for being thus motherly toward him. I called him to apologize and try to understand what had upset him in my communication or instructions. He commanded me to turn over my work within a week and hung up on me

This man was my friend. He was my first teacher. If you think it is easy or fast to process being betrayed by someone you consider a spiritual friend and teacher, try it sometime, and drop me a line a year later on the subject of how much working-throughyou have had to do as a result of that spiritual betrayal.

Others have remarked to me the new and different emphases on embodiment and furthering his path that are featured in Daniel’s most recent interview, along with rethinking the use of “enlightenment” in MCTB2 as a term for what he has, which is no more than what I have. I listened to this interview and was heartened to hear it liberally sprinkled with my own words, phrases, and even complete sentences. So Daniel heard me, after all. And if those interviews are sincere, then good. I believe that he has a good heart under all that armoring, projection, and other latticework of defense mechanisms. I know truths about his early life that others don’t, so I know he has a hard row to hoe to reach full enlightenment. It will take much more than technical skill as a editator to finish the path. It will take surrender to the whole, and in Bon Dzogchen that whole is called the Mother.

Daniel’s delightfully eccentric and insightful post is here:

Maybe if Daniel tantrically merges with a sufficient number of colorful cartoons, an Easter egg functionality will open, enabling him to plumb and put in order the depths of his broken heart, and to relate more fully to the actual human beings who have in good faith crossed his path.