The Importance of  Journaling to Practice and as Practice

Dear K—

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,

Jenny

I have a formidable backlog of entries to add to this new online journal, but I may as well begin recording current pathwork here so as to reap the considerable practice benefits I do from journaling, as well as to avoid adding yet more to the backlog. More than a month ago, I quit journaling, which has detrimentally cut my sense of path directionality and coherence. In short, I’ve felt adrift. I’ve felt that way probably most of my earlier path, as evidenced by my 2014-2015 online practice journal, but across the continually saying so, the path arcs coherently.

Spiral toward the Corpses Littering Charnel Grounds

But the path spirals, too. My teacher John seems to be beckoning me onward and inward toward a new and deeper, lonesome Dark Night of the Soul, or charnel ground, as he puts it. 

During the 6 months that I have been working with him, we’ve had to keep revisiting my longtime psychological issues: codependency, in western psychology terms; being the Helper, in Almaas’s spiritual enneagram terms, which means I need to thoroughly accept and integrate with Holy Will. Paradoxically, it means I need to better embody power that burns cleanly, intensely, quietly, uninterruptedly.

Even though the group of teachers John is in sharply (and correctly) distinguishes western psychotherapeutic work from dharma practice, they also assert that, especially for western students of the dharma, psychological barriers to practice are eventually going to emerge. They have, yet again, so here I am, and there they are. Now the hard yet naturally unfolding work begins of metabolizing all that “stuff” until it is integral, nondual. 

Where Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha Falls Off the Map

This embodiment practice is the work that MCTB and MCTB2 fail to cover because Daniel, my ex-friend and author, has so far been unable or unwilling to do it. Merely misappropriating the traditional Theravadin definition of arahat to lop off all emotional work, which is what MCTB has done, denies the adage that “they shall know ye by your fruits,” fruits being conduct. 

MCTB relegates psychodynamics to the term axis of development, and renders this axis some kind of extra or marginal pursuit, inessential to enlightenment. Wrong!

Hear this: It is not enough to correct dualistic misperception! One must metabolize those earliest scarred-over wounds of his or her individual psyche to open the heart-mind out into the interconnected field of humanity, to the sangha. Unless and until this work reaches fruition, no enlightenment. Sorry! 

For there is still core fear and self-guarding at the physio-energetic level, where abiding ultimate bodhichitta must be perfectly nondual with the perceptual attainment; until then, the correction of dualistic misperception is not even wisdom. Instead it is being appropriated, dangerously, to actually widen the core spit, to dissociate from oneself, which marks also an unwillingness to be vulnerable with others. No vulnerability, no intimacy; no intimacy, no nondual integration with the field.

We are all  mashups of schizoid shutdown and hysterical impingement. Bring this mashup to the path. “Get down in the mess,” of human relationships, as John says. Sort it, feel deeply into that most potent suffering, allow it to purify.

Bring it home.

Toward Realization of the Nirmanakaya

Far beyond what MCTB offers, I’m now working, in other words, toward realization of the nirmanakaya, embodiment of a buddha. This is a higher realization than that of the dharmakaya. Everything flows from the relative, the particular, the bodily energetic field–currently stuffed with scars. This integrative work introduces a vast toolbox, including tools such as Chöd

tantric practice to work with integrating “demons,” dreamwork toward lucid awakened awareness throughout sleep, and completely opening energetic karma-conditioned centers in the body, such as the solar plexus, third chakra, from which one should feel the bright flow of power.

Dreamwork Instructions

Last session John told me to revive my journal and to record my dreams, paying attention specifically to how the ego-I moves through the dreamscape, for this will tell me during daily life when and how I’m obscured from awakened awareness, asleep.

Sangha I See and Don’t Hear

My dreams the past few nights have been fragmented, so I remember only bits and pieces of what is some otherwise suppressed story. I remember a distinct fragment that was of my sitting with my longtime dear friend Ira at a bar. It was noisy, I think, so we didn’t talk but were still communicating somehow over my sense of loss. He laid his hand, open palm upward, on the bar. I placed my hand in his there, and he held it. It was enough.

Dreams of a Heart Continually Drawn Forth and Filled

The past few nights I’ve been waking many times  in apparent hypnagogia. It feels wondrous–no body, or rather a purely vibratory body free of aches and encumbrances, spacious beyond locating and blissful. In these states I remember that I have distinctly dreamed over and over again the drawing and filling in of a heart shape. There is no sense of an ego-I moving through the dream at all; the heart simply draws and fills in itself, automatically, over and over again, like an infinite-loop gif. 

Hot Dharma Injection

Jenny

I Woke with misery, fear, and disgust. I am guessing it is Reobservation. It could be hangover from yesterday’s unpleasantness, though, with D.

DreamWalker

Fun. What can you do with it? Where is it felt in the body? Can you unwind it?

Jenny

Body turning hot and cold with fear. Can’t eat. Shaking. Solar plexus.

DreamWalker

How exhilarating! Is it causing thoughts?

Jenny

Yes.

DreamWalker

Or is rigpa flaring?

Jenny

Thoughts of death, dread over deadlines, thoughts that my family is in danger. Thoughts of Daniel hurting me. Fear of cancer.  I had a medical test this morning. Fear of having another breakdown.

DreamWalker

Right. That’s a very busy mind.

Jenny

Fear for my sister who was fired from her job of 30 years as bureau chief. Yes, busy mind.

DreamWalker

Are you mindful of the thoughts, or lost in them?

Jenny

Mindful.

DreamWalker

Great.

Jenny

But that doesn’t mean the pattern itself changes, and on the level of relative reality, psycho-dynamics, it needs to change. It is all very well that it is “empty,” but tantra, magick, physio-energetic work, and even psychological work are necessary to change the trauma patterns—“karmic” propensities, if you will.

DreamWalker

I would just bump up some jhanas to equanimity, but I’m not working on emotional crap, hee hee hee.

Jenny

Low blood sugar. Eating first.

DreamWalker

That’ll screw your noodle. Eat something disgusting.

Jenny

Also my thyroid med ran out and I started taking the brand from Thailand. Missed some doses. Could be migraine too–face tingling.

I cried this morning over Daniel, before I had that pelvic ultasound. Not missing him. Just sad and horrified at his own obvious suffering.

My goal is not to stop him It is just to be able to legally put the right version out there. I want severance and peace. I also want this better version available to people.

DreamWalker

Good thing that doesn’t happen during your spells.

Jenny

Pelvic ultrasound this morning. Thoughts of cancer. 

Food seems to be helping some. I will sit with third chakra and then maybe nap.

DreamWalker

Or wherever the feeling pattern is.

Jenny

Did you see that tarot reading? http://jhanajenny.com/post/140842609207/legal-dispute-tarot. That was right before my copyright registration application was kicked back.

DreamWalker

Your app got kicked back again?

Jenny

No. That reading was before events of yesterday. Tarot spread showed lots of fire and darkness. Middle and last card both have flaming lions in them, interestingly. These are indicating the dark side of awakening, integration of demons and the profane into the sacred. Yea, there be a dark side. First and middle cards were both numbered 5. The number 5 in tarot means that power and control issues in a specific relationship are at the forefront.

DreamWalker

Fire . . . as in flaming.

Jenny

That too. Lion is strength. The reading says that I am completely in control of the situation, or completely submissive. Which?

DreamWalker

Fire, fire, fire!

Jenny

Hierophant reversed means that a religious figure is trying to rule with an iron fist and that this is causing me to question or rebel against the conventional morality of the religion or tradition and ask whether what is happening is really fair and right by me, ever has been. So I’m confronting the dark side of this tradition, the shadow side of the subconscious forces dancing with each other. In this position of my own state of mind, though, this card indicates straight-up rebellion, rejection of conventional morality, and entrance onto a new path.

Interesting—reading this: “Distortions–overattachment and blind acceptance or following. Just as you are eventually kicked out of your mother’s physical and emotional nest, so too will your own mind kick you out of an outdated mental nest that is no longer comfortable. To the neurotic, this looking outside of the self for the accepted norm of behavior can become literally ‘the voice of God.’ Hegel argued that we exist only as part of a system; he called it organicism. The only problem here is Hegel’s use of the word only. We exist in a system, by the grace of that system into which we are born, but then we must decide for ourselves how we want to use, to adapt, to change that system and so pass it on to the next generation. Some of us choose a personal system very much like our parent or predecessors, but we must choose it, not blindly follow it. Others of us strike out on very different paths from the map handed to us.”

What tradition am I upholding? 

What tradition am I rebelling against? 

What am I learning? 

How do I express all this?

DreamWalker

I’m getting motivated to understand the pointing-out instructions.

Jenny

Ah, well, good. Finally!

DreamWalker

I should take notes. I wish there were less bullshit around it, no fucking guru lama transmission bullshit and secrecy. It would be refreshing to actually have just a bunch of samples from western dudes. I’m looking at Ken McLeod right now. He’s explaining the not-doing stuff okay.

I hope he gets to the doing stuff soon!

Jenny

Hahaha! Good luck!

DreamWalker

“Reason. How many of you had an emotional discussion with somebody and somebody resorts to reason? Okay. And it’s perfect for our anger types because they don’t have to acknowledge their anger. They can just say, ‘Well, it’s like this, it’s like this, it’s like this,’ and it’s completely ineffective in an emotional argument, because it’s not about how things are, it’s about connection. But they don’t have to worry about any of that emotional stuff because they can just sit, quite content, and be perfectly right. They never have to actually embrace their emotion in the situation. Anger types do this all the time—it’s very irritating. So if somebody pulls that on you, don’t get into the argument. Just say, ‘This is how I feel. How are you going to relate to that?’ That will drive them completely nuts. ‘I don’t care whether it’s right or wrong. I don’t care whether it makes sense. It’s just how I feel.’ This is a good approach.”

You’re a master, Jenny!

“A traditional approach is guru yoga. Every practice tradition has what I call a repository of faith. In the Zen tradition—Soto Zen particularly—the repository of faith is the posture. That’s why they make such a big deal about the posture. Trust the posture, call it a repository of trust, too. In Thich Nhat Hanh’s tradition, it’s the bell. In the Theravadin tradition, it’s the Dharma, the teachings. That’s why they’re always talking about “the Dharma.” Drives me nuts. In the Tibetan tradition, the repository of trust is your teacher.
That’s where you place your trust, it’s where you place your faith, and he or she holds that. And if they don’t, then you have a big problem, as many people have experienced, unfortunately. But that’s one of the functions of the teacher, of the guru, in the traditional Tibetan approach—they are the repository of trust. And that links up with what I was saying right at the beginning, that you regard teacher as Buddha, which means it’s how you connect with awakened mind.”

I gots trust, yes I do. I gots trust, how ‘bout you?

Just not into the Tibetan type of trust, hahaha. I’d say it’s dharma I trust, but not the buddhisty crap dharma—the real unfolding of how the universe works, the dharma that has unfolded nonstop to get me to awakening.

Jenny

Alrighty then!

DreamWalker

The same thing that will get me the rest of the way.

Jenny

My “guru” dear J says, “This moment is Buddha; the medicine is Dharma.“

DreamWalker

The moment is the infinite now. The religious-y crap does not speak to me much.

Jenny

That’s fine.

DreamWalker

Though most seem to love, love, love it.

Jenny

I used to dislike it. There is a place for it now. I find ritual and transmission pragmatic. I don’t feel in any way enslaved by it. I don’t have a teacher (anymore) who lords it over people. There really is no difference between ritual and meditation. A good ritual is
the meditation.

DreamWalker

So says Frank.

Jenny

He’s right. 

And I’m righteous.

DreamWalker

Rite-eous.

Jenny

I’ve been praying for guidance. Is that wrong?

DreamWalker

“Resting without reference—you’re going to fall forever. Get used to it, you know. It’s a very good way to approach practice: You’re just going to fall. Forget about doing it right, just do it and use whatever methods you’re familiar with from your own practice so that you have the sense of opening to whatever arises in experience.”

Jenny

Well, that’s a trusted teacher’s instruction, though, ironically.

DreamWalker

The secret to falling well is to figure out there is no bottom, no splat.  In the falling, just the falling, hee hee!

Jenny

Okay. Not sure what that actually means. I think J calls that pattern one of resting into the ground–only over and over and over, moment by moment by moment.

DreamWalker

There is no self. You are falling without one.

Jenny

Oh. That old metaphor. Yes. All right. Whatevs, you know?

I have no time to read. I’m going to nap and then head to the office. Have to work my ass off all holidays to meet my fiscal year goals. I wish I had time to read all these books I have. Or transfer my journals to my own site.

DreamWalker

Work?

“Energy is very egalitarian, it goes everywhere in the system. In particular when you raise energy in the system it goes to both what you’re keeping out of awareness and also the mechanism for keeping it out of awareness. It goes there as well as it goes everywhere else. The consequence of that is that what is operating out of awareness begins to operate more strongly. And the blocking mechanism operates more strongly.

“Over time, you end up torn in two, necessarily, and you see this phenomenon in many, many teachers. It’s particularly common in yoga teachers who work with pranayama. And you can tell because—not all of them—many of them have a kind of strain in their face. You ever notice that? Because they’re exerting so much control and they have to keep exerting more and more control to keep that stuff out of attention.

“And how it shows up in behavior is that people who are doing this will have these areas of their lives which are somewhat out of control. Maybe obsession with sex, money, power—they’re the usual culprits.”

* * *

Jenny

I’m back now. What work is that from?

DreamWalker

http://www.unfetteredmind.org/retreat-teachings-pointing-out-instructions-mahamudra-5/

Jenny

It’s very much like what Daniel writes in MCTB2 about energy, about the dangers of a concentrated mind at high energy. And he uses the metaphor of fire. Ah, my elemental friend, fire.

“As the balance of energy and concentration matures, strangely it may feel like there is little energy or concentration. Reality may be clearly perceived naturally, with little effort. Experience may seem quite wide and inclusive rather than focused and concentrated. This change surprises many people, and they may cling to the immature phase of developing concentration, which feels narrow, and the immature phase of developing energy, which feels effortful; but, when these faculties mature, the feel is wide and easy, natural and clear, gentle and broad, and rich and subtle: Everything is just showing itself all the way through, on its
own.

“As we apply effort to practice and build our concentration, the mind will strengthen, which in general is positive, but I should mention a downside: However we are when our mind is more energetic and concentrated is written more strongly into the
brain. Thus, when you cultivate an energetic and concentrated mind, guard it well and direct it to skillful practices and skillful ways of being so that skillfulness is written deep into the mind. Do not allow it to go down unskillful tracks and channels for longer than it takes for you to recognize that it is doing so; otherwise, those unskillful mental habits and tendencies will be written on your mind with that same power. Moreover, when energy and concentration begin to come online before mindfulness is strong, the mind may
be prone to obsessive thinking fueled by the strong energy and concentration, so watch for this pattern and generally stay grounded in physical objects until some more skill is developed.

“A cultivated mind is like a fire. The hotter the fire, the more rapidly it can help accomplish all kinds of useful ends, like cooking food or melting iron for forging. However, the hotter the fire, the more rapidly it can also get out of control and burn things down if not properly monitored and tended to. Thus, when practicing, particularly on retreat, but even in daily life, be careful and respectful of the power of an energetic and concentrated mind. Use it skillfully, just as you would any powerful tool. Imagine that a really strong
mind is like an acetylene cutting torch. It is really useful for cutting through obstacles, such as delusion, but it can also cause hurt if not directed properly. Keep this analogy in mind, and your practice will likely fare better. “

Ironic, ain’t it? On oh-so-many levels.

Hey, I  dreamed of Daniel during my nap just now. He was sitting across from a younger ghost-like me, across his desk in his doctor’s office. He was writing me prescriptions (see Dharma is medicine above). In the dream, I realized that I was third-person Jenny and could remotely view anything. So then I floated out of that office, across time, and saw him driving through the rain to his hospital, middle of the night.”

Wow, that Ken collection looks awesome!

DreamWalker

I’m reading it. He flaps his gums a lot. Not bad, though. He just needs to get to the point.

Jenny

You say that about everyone. Sometimes a grand tour is doing something to you just by virtue of being that grand tour. I’m
not saying that it is true in this case. I don’t feel, for instance, that it is true in the case of A.H. Almaas, hahahahahaha! Almaas so needs an editor; someone tell him I’m now free, only it will cost him in the end, heh heh.

DreamWalker

Yeah. No one gets to the point. Why that is, I don’t know.

Jenny

Wow. You are really just not getting the whole nonlinearity concept, are you—not to mention the nonconceptual concept, hahahaha!

DreamWalker

I just want the hot dharma injection . . . and done!

Jenny

That’s maybe a problem? The problem?

DreamWalker

Nah. I am very, very patient. You could take lessons.

Jenny

Um, “I just want the hot dharma injection?” That’s “patient”? A-hahahahahaha!

DreamWalker

You’re the speed freak. Looky how fast you do stuff. You don’t even get to enjoy your suffering along the way.

Jenny

No one is more patient than someone who went through a decade of PhD work just to end up a godforsaken editor. I suffered a
lot, believe me.

DreamWalker

Overachiever.

Jenny

In my dream I became sort of lucid in that I realized my viewpoint and the Jenny I was watching were split. And then I started, with viewpoint, going anywhere I wanted. Remote viewing. I started playing, testing it.

DreamWalker

Nifty. It is pretty obvious that it’s not real.

Jenny

What’s “real”?

DreamWalker

The movie of your life, starring . . . some other you-point.

Jenny

Oh. But usually in dreams I don’t question that. I don’t say, “Wait a dang minute.” Wallace says the way to regularly have lucid dreams is to take critical judgment with you into the dream. So you recognize “Hey, this isn’t how things work when I’m awake.” So much to do. So many practices. So much sweet glittering-pink mind candy!

DreamWalker

Well, I’m gonna guess that the instruction for dream yoga that you got so far is shit. But that seems to be a repeated theme with you. Then you will finally get good instructions, and wham!—overachiever Jenny will bang it right out.

Jenny

His bookis in two parts. First is lucid dreaming. Second is dream yoga. I’ve barely begun the lucid dreaming part.

DreamWalker

I’m really guessing it might just be turning up the awareness dial, and then it happens on its own.

Jenny

He says to do samatha into falling asleep. So see all the images flashing behind closed eyes, no matter how subtle, and, with awareness, follow them into dreamtime. He has a shit ton of methods. I’ve half-assed it so far. This is kind of a back-burner project right now. But I at least try a bit every day. My main interest right now is to heal the body. And to sit with volatile dark energies
from current situations and “contain” them while opening into them. That takes a lot of intention setting by means of old-fashioned morality.

It isn’t easy. And there are, yes, always blind spots and usually no way to be perfectly “good” and harmless.

DreamWalker

You?  Blind spots? Noooo!

Jenny

Oh, but yes. Which is why I’m trying hard to slow down this runaway legal train.

DreamWalker

What you can’t see is not blind. It’s nonexistent.

Jenny

Right. “Blindness” is a supposedly revealing metaphor. But it is only a metaphor—in other words, overshooting signification.

DreamWalker

Till it bites you.

Jenny

But being bitten is perhaps good, part of the learning. And perhaps unavoidable.

For who casts no shadows?

What has come to me is not to interfere with Daniel. Rather my emphasis is on doing what I want. He can have his do-over or whatever he wants. So long as the good version gets out to people who can use it as a practice manual. That is all that matters.

And so long as my future interaction with him is minimized or stops completely.

1. Severence
2. Peace
3. MCTB2-J out there

DreamWalker

Sounds reasonable.

Jenny

I think so. And not going after him per contract if I can simply accomplish those goals without going there. I want no further entanglement with him. And I don’t want to hurt him or his family. He is suffering enough as it is. Without my pouring it on. He has fucked up, but he can’t help it.

DreamWalker

It sounds like you’re getting aligned with the universe.

Jenny

That is why I was crying this morning: seeing that he is suffering.These are very hard lessons, because it isn’t clear where
the boundaries should be between what the other person “gets away with” and my having compassion for myself and the readers depending on this edition.

So that Tarot card advice card was reminding me to go back to basics. What do I stand for? Awareness. Majesty. Revelation. Keep everything at that level.

So I take the steps I need to, as calmly as possible, and no more. And let “revelation” happen from there for everyone involved. For that is what always happens anyway, despite the delusion of control.

Under Almaas’s system, No. 5 for Investigator (Dan) and No. 2 for Helper-Reformer (Jen) have the same blind spot: Resistance rather than surrender to Holy Will. That is the flavor of Basic Trust both Daniel and I lack. The universe as will. As opposed
to our own need to cope with patterns of resurfacing trauma by exerting delusional control.

Numbers 5 and 2 are linked this way. Ahhhh, Number 5! The number in my reading! ‘Tis Daniel.

The universe writ as Holy Will. Have to work on that.

So if I have to oppose someone for some greater good, best to do that as gently as gets the job done. And trust that alignment with Holy Will. Even if it kicks me in the proverbial teeth.

DreamWalker

No way! Who told you that? You’re getting all wisdom-y. You been listening to me?

Jenny

Prolly can’t help listening to you when you repeat yourself so much.

DreamWalker

I do babble on so, don’t I?

Jenny

Yeah. You should be quiet. Like me.

An opponent—if you see that opposition as suffering, really really really see it, then that helps. It is hard to do when they are attacking you. But necessary nonetheless.

I am Kane

LOL!

DreamWalker

 “In the moment of compassion, compassion’s essential emptiness is nakedly clear. This is the union of compassion and emptiness. But this is not an emotion joining with emptiness. This is mind itself, which is simultaneously empty and clear, and that’s how it manifests in experience. The reason this is important—or one of the reasons—is that you don’t have to do anything at this point. It just arises. And referring to the remarks I made earlier, that level of compassion—non-referential compassion—arises because you’ve eliminated everything that gets in the way. Third step in training; you become empty, and the way emptiness expresses itself is as compassion.”

Jenny

Right. I’ve had moments of experiencing what he is talking about. It isn’t the pedestrian notion of “compassion” at all. So I’ve been saying for months now that the Tibetans have conceptualized the topmost bird’s eye view of the practice as having two wings: wisdom and this super-refined agape-style love. So insight is not enough. However, if it goes far enough, then I think that wisdom and compassion become nondual too. (Ken’s pronoun ambiguity is a bit maddening.) Compassion is infinitely more profound than the sila (morality) version. In many cases, compassion will not resemble morality in the least.

Hey, I just sent a pain-in-the-ass book to print! Yay me! Two years working on it. Boy, did that super-suck.

LOL!

DreamWalker

To print? Oh, you are at real work, if that’s what you mean.

Jenny

Yeah, buddy. Now I’m all SASified!.

DreamWalker

“Real” . . .  hahaha!

And to think, I thought you only fought with authors.

Jenny

Oh, no! I love my authors. Except one. And I’m trying to find a way to slap a hormone patch on his ass when he’s paying no attention. That may end by giving him the wrong idea, though. Maybe, instead, I’ll just give his ass the hot dharma injection–you know, a heart-to-heart.

XX’s Response about Conventional Wisdom and Insight

A good place to “place” the mind is right at the co-arising of sensations and feeling. You can tune into how there seems to be a dimension of reaction that seems to infuse sensations, but they can be teased apart. These are very basic reactions, along the lines of wanting to have (greed), wanting to avoid (hatred), and covering over with thought/fantasy (delusion). These are the energies of the “self” that we believe in and try to protect. The bigger/true self is aware of it all and doesn’t need protecting.

As a thought-problem: Imagine being in equanimity, where there isn’t much sense of the self: anything can arise and it doesn’t seem to disturb equanimity. Now imagine dark night, when the same sorts of sensations put us into a tail spin. What is different? The reactivity of dark night – grabbing to anything that seems to offer release, pushing away anything that seems to hurt, fantasying about alternative experiences that would fix things once and for all.

When things are tough, just stay with sensations as they are arising, no need to take on a huge awareness challenge when things are tough. But when things are a little open and inquiry/introspection can happen, take a look at how sensations arise and the mind reacts with a basic feeling: desire (greed), ill will (hatred), ignoring (delusion).

I keep using different words for GHD to give you a sense of this subtle energy of self. Greed, hatred, and delusion — while the source of our problems — are actually little impulses at the level of sensation. It’s only later that thinking becomes really solid and story-like that GHD become overt human behavioral problems.

By the way, the formal description of what I’m describing is inquiry into [the 12 links of] dependent origination (With Contact as condition, [the link of] Feeling arises) or looking at “Vendana.”

So, right now you’re probably feeling, how am I going to do all of this? Concentration practice, plus noting practice, plus introspection into vendana? Second path is a big confusion and is really specific to the meditator. Do what makes sense to you… and also know that everyone is confused during pretty much all of second path. So if a particular practice seems to make sense, go with that.

A while ago, we would talk about how a meditator starts creating a tool box as they go through the four paths. Unfortunately, in second path you are creating a lot of tools while you’re going through a lot of material. It’s disconcerting, but oh well!

Hope this helps.

X_X

Just another note: don’t be afraid to look for the “hurt” that is pretty much always under “anger.” Anger tends to go to defensiveness, fear, uncertainty, and then hurt. The hurt has the most wisdom in it, unfortunately. It’s a tough place to go, but that’s when things really open up. There can be a lot of crying in second path, too.

Conventional Wisdom and Insight into the Three Characteristics

One Path but Two Separate Lines of Development and Two Truths?

For a long time now, this question has been forming in me regarding vipassana insight (3Cs) and emotional/psychological “wisdom.” I think the question how the two are and are not connected came to the fore for me when (1) Florian recently cautioned me that the fruition is not in the vanishing/reappearance of reality during cessation but in the “wisdom” I take away from it, and (2) Dan recently referred to the benefits of my having “insight” into my childhood issues so that I can bring “wisdom” to those patterns. 

At first I was confused by the latter statement by Daniel because I happened to be editing passages in MCTB2 about the “ultimate” insight’s being only that into the 3Cs, and conventional wisdom concerning emotions, morality, and the like as being completely separate.

MCTB

From MCTB is the following:

To really ‘get’ what the Buddha was talking about, we need to venture far beyond these conventional definitions of wisdom and attain to ultimate insights by engaging specifically in insight practices. Many people try to make insight practice into an exercise that will produce both insights into the ordinary world and ultimate insights. We should not count on ultimate teachings to illuminate our relative issues or vice versa; therefore, it is extremely important to keep the relative and ultimate wisdom teachings separate. Failure to do so causes continual problems and makes progress on either front more difficult rather than easier. Throughout this book, I will differentiate those practices that produce ordinary wisdom from those practices that fall within the third training and lead to ultimate realizations independent of our relative insights.

Second Path and Thoughts

Another reason that this question is so foregrounded right now is that, so far, second path does seem to involve having to look at macro-level “thoughts” and emotions, not just the usual thing people, including Daniel, mean when they say “sensations.” My first-path strategies, or at least frames of reference for such, no longer seem sufficient.

So this conversation I had last night went very deep into what awakening does and does not accomplish. Although I knew that it does not necessarily, directly, or automatically effect improvements in emotional, moral, or interpersonal functioning, it was explained to me in impressive depth what can be the helpful connection between the two “axes.” 

It seems at my stage to come down to there still being a “Witness,” but we still have to put that ability to witness to work emotionally, interpersonally, psychodynamically, and the work is work – it is not an automatic boon of having attained insight into the 3Cs. It is a separate axis, then, to that extent; however, having insight into the 3Cs seems to be creating a necessary if not sufficient condition for doing this other work much more effectively and efficiently than I otherwise could.

The Anger-Fear Polarity

Fours years ago, when I would experience anger at someone, it was like demonic possession: There was anger, and I was that! Now, by contrast, there is this self-distancing. I’m watching the sensations of anger as they arise and shift, and I see that often it is defensiveness, which is a kind of fear, and the fear is often all mixed up with love, admiration, attachment toward the other person, the target and counter-target. Everything usually comes back to fear for me, maybe for everyone  – I don’t know. Fear tends to make avoidance seem like the most comfortable option available, so when I’m defensive, I will still tend to want to avoid seeing even that, especially that.

“Sensations” versus Wisdom

First path seemed to be a whole lot more “about” sensations and raw perception with very little “wisdom” resulting. This second path stuff does indeed seem to drag me, kicking and screaming, into psychological/emotional terrain. I know next to nothing about second path. So I am trying to meta-cognize what to do, if that makes sense. I seem to have to move more back and forth between noticing “sensations” and integrating or articulating them as acquired, thematic, conceptual “wisdom.” But the
connection is tenuous: It seems that paying attention to the sensations finishes up a lot of “rewiring” at this path, and then the articulated wisdom realizations seem to spring up independent of all that noticing, out of “nowhere.” They seem to have more implications for morality and living in conventional reality, too. Subterranean connections?

So now, rather than straightforwardly attending only to raw sensation, as in first path, I’m likely going to have to zigzag between having insight into 3Cs (at the level of thoughts) and using that ground bought by self-distancing as a platform from which to work on conventional wisdom, my “stuff.”

Postscript 2 Years and 2+ Paths Later (April 2017)

The post above was written October 2014, when I had just started working with Daniel Ingram on MCTB2. There is much that I wish I had time to elaborate on here, but full treatment will have to wait for my book. A couple of comments will have to suffice.

First, I now outright reject Ingram’s quasi-Wilberian, quasi-Integral separation of conventional wisdom and ultimate insight. I say “quasi” because I would like to believe Wilber’s intent was not to separate the axes, but to integrate them. (However, I have more than a few qualms over Wilber’s masculinst/modernist hyper-classification schemes.) Daniel runs with Wilber’s classifications in order to avoid integration, in order to keep hyper-compartmentalized his own unfinished path, largely so he can keep claiming he is an arahat, when he’s not.

Arahat means saint, which means one with nondefective conduct. When nondefective conduct arises from Ultimate Compassion, it is spontaneous, a spontaneous manifestation of Unbounded Wholeness realized. One way you can tell a false arahat is to watch his preoccupation with externally imposed codes of conduct, conventional morality and ethics, codified behavior in general. Practicing sila was never meant to be the end result of the path, nor ultimately a separate “axes of development,” notwithstanding Dan Ingram’s claims to the contrary. Sila is one of the Three Trainings meant to support the start of the second training: concentration. In turn concentration supports insight practice, but is not in itself liberating insight. When ordinary insight is attained through second path, and then extraordinary insight leads to fourth path, next comes a gradual seeping in of the wisdom realization, and this starts to erode agency and purify conduct concomitantly. Daniel’s ongoing preoccupation with low-level magick and morality as a separate axis evince his lack of integration. Since, in my experience, the integration happens almost totally by itself, it is a bit of a mystery why Ingram seems stuck here, why he still cycles through the insight stages, and so forth. I checked in with my current teacher about this issue of morality versus ultimate compassion, and he confirmed that my experience and view is in accordance with his own, as well as with doctrine and theory.

At the level of practice engaged in second path, the practitioner’s predominant concern automatically becomes “mental echo” and psycho-dynamic integration of the almost purely five-sense-sphere insights of first path. In fact, this preoccupation with mentation and emotional reactivity is how I and friends such as DreamWalker actually define second path.

My rejection of Daniel’s compartmentalization of personal development in MCTB is precisely because, as Florian indicated to me back in 2014, ultimately there is no separation into distinct “axes” one’s insight into sensations and one’s purification of psycho-dynamic “stuff.” That Daniel maintains otherwise evinces only his own failure to integrate the path gains. Please understand that on the Dzogchen path, which begins where MCTB Fourth Path ends, even the last distinction usually left standing in Buddhism –  that between relative truth and ultimate truth – is released into Unbounded Wholeness. If you read closely the works of the Thai Forest masters, such as Ajaan Lee, you will find discourses on Awareness that keep pace with Mahamudra’s Awake Awareness and Dzogchen’s Rigpa-Kunzhi. Daniel cynically rejects that this level of attainment is possible, but his failure to metabolize his psycho-dynamic scars need not be yours. I continue to hope he will actually finish this path in this lifetime.

Without my further commenting here on what I know from my personal relationship with Daniel about his past and his continued seeking, in private, toward healing and embodiment of insight, I will say just this: In MCTB and the parts of MCTB2-J I saw, Daniel withholds a key piece of information from readers and does so while knowing better. This information, when he finally revealed it to me in our private correspondence, directly triggered an opening that landed me within 24 hours with a permanent major shift: luminosity, the visual manifestation of nondual awareness between Subject and percept. This, together with realization of emptiness of self and phenomena, was attainment of third path as I define it.

If you keep reading as I post up later parts of this journal, you will find that very exchange I had with Daniel and what happened in the aftermath as luminosity bloomed. It began with my asking Daniel if we should expand the title of the chapter “The Three Characteristics” to “The Three Characteristics of Conditioned Phenomena.” For I had been reading some of the old texts that emphasize that the three characteristics are the truth of conditioned reality, not ultimate reality. Daniel said no to my query, but he also made clear in his reply to me by email that the three characteristics are not “ultimate reality,” although MCTB certainly says they are.

Daniel is deliberately withholding this information from MCTB readers, and I can only speculate that he does so because he is afraid that practitioners will relax investigative rigor prematurely and instead fall into the anagami traps, hypostasizing a “God” or “Awareness,” and essentially spiritually bypassing the earlier paths of realization. However, privately, he admitted to me that, with true insight into true ultimate reality, the three characteristics “just vanish.” This is one key way that Daniel’s private interchanges with me differed from what he makes publicly available. Perhaps this one is owing to the 7 years that he was stuck on the path from MCTB third to fourth, where he apparently fell into the “anagami traps.” If you ask him, I believe that is what he will say.

He also admitted on a Skype with me, DreamWalker, Vasily, and Steph S. that he has no idea how he got MCTB fourth path, so he has no idea how to tell others to attain it. He defensively insisted to me months before that Skype call that there are “no path-specific practices.” Untrue! There damned sure are; hence, my forthcoming book.

I will address at greater length this complex web of issues in my own book. Suffice it to say here that promoting particulate “sensations” as “ultimate reality” is a false flag, and, concomitantly, insight without psycho-dynamic integration that amounts to nondefective wisdom is the mark of someone who has further to go on his own path to true “done.”