No meditator

No meditation

No stages

No states

No attainment

Nothing to attain

No God

No Buddha

No practice

No Path

This sounds very much like my experience in 2012. Obviously people have this experience at different times, but when it really permeated for me it was paired with, or was a fall out of, what some people call the insight into anatta, which is the experience of everything’s being exactly where it is, with no receiver hanging off. This is very different from seeing


the emptiness of self, but is seeing


the not-empty self as enlightenment itself. I wonder if that makes more sense now. If it feels a little or a lot like dying, then we shared the same experience. I think all of this is much more in line with my own perspective currently. 

Dear all,

This retreat has been life-changing. In fact, I guess I am glad it is ending tomorrow at noon, because I am not sure how much more intensity my mind, heart, neck, and back could stand! 

It is no doubt going to take me some time to sort, make sense of, and integrate what has happened here. How blessed I am to have sat with and received transmission from this instructor. His closing meditation today felt literally like it was blasting through my chest and head–like gale-force bright light was riffling through my very cellular structure (which is empty). I’m a total believer in this transmission business: *GULP.* I’ve never felt anything this powerful emanate from, or through, another person before.

Because of the new practices I’ve done on this retreat, I have distinctive changes in perception, realizations, including as of today the dropping out of the central processor (subject) while, nondually, particularities of relative reality arise within awareness, within and as the expression of the ultimate. The objects, so far, are no longer creating a subject. Holding the view of awakened awareness is automatic–is holding itself. 

Of course, these realizations can and usually do slip away. I think tomorrow we are talking about “protecting the realizations.” I will do everything I can to protect these. This central processor dropped out during our morning sit in a blast-like fruition reminiscent of my August path fruition–wherein, for a moment, awareness was radically decentered, and then I was layered back in as relative reality came back online. I was taking the entire field of sensation as object, my softened gaze resting on the mantel with butter-colored carnations, white daisies, and flickering candles in the morning light.

In the afternoon, he had all us wounded children who lack trust lie on our backs and sides to meditate so we could feel the earth “holding” us, the ground, to create the karma of trust for the next meditation. 

Part of what I am going to have to come to terms with are what changes in practice and paradigm will be required of me as I take this teacher as my own, which changes he alluded to the other day when we spoke on the veranda. For starters, in this tradition there is no “done.” In fact the Practice of Nonmeditation today was this whole surrender, precisely, of such notions as “attainment” and “being done” and even “surrendering.”

So, although I think there are ways that this course cross-maps to the one I’ve been working, the whole notion of getting anywhere other than right here is so anathema to the practice that there really can’t be a talk of what “path” I’m on. This is not to say that this teacher is against maps. He is definitely a mapper, and very technically precise in teaching, but he indicated that realization is a matter of cycling through the same practices again and again but “at higher resolution.” Then there is Dzogchen at the “Cutting Through” stage. How all that crosswalks to what Daniel calls “fourth path” I have no idea.

No meditator

No meditation

No stages

No states

No attainment

Nothing to attain

No God

No Buddha

No practice

No Path

(Oh–and No Jhanas!)

Sit in meditation with a realized teacher who is repeating this sort of list over and over again to you, for hours  on end, and see if it doesn’t crack wide open the substratum of subtle resistance in you. And when all that “doing” is blasted out, then he reads Talopa’s ancient instructions, which brought up a palpable sense of a thousand years of transmission. I was weeping like someone interrogated in internment camp.

Afterward, we sat again, and he had each of us bring up, aloud, the name of a friend who is suffering and from what; then he brought up all the children suffering in the world from loneliness and fear, all the broken children who cannot trust, and that is when I literally felt light blasting through my chest and head–coming from this man and the whole retinue of beings behind him. “Beyond time,” he said, “beyond space–awaking is inevitable: the Buddha is sitting under the Bodhi tree; Jesus is on the cross.” And then he read the heart sutra’s “gone beyond” mantra, and we all felt the interconnection holding all the suffering beings in the world. “Awareness–the sky; heart–a warming sun: Never doubt that what you feel right now makes a difference.”

My whole organism is in a kind of spinning disintegration and reorganization, in shock, with shockwaves passing through this mind-heart-body.

I know this may sound like Buddhist Kumbaya, but it was truly the most authentic intensity of the Path that I’ve encountered so far in this life.

Love to you all, x,


Dear friends,

Wow, what a day!

I reiterate: If you want to be done, this is the way to get from third to fourth. I’m amazed at how thoroughly this has been able to lead me into cleaning up my perception and field integration in just two days’ worth of practices. In fact, every practice, with the exception of one, had the desired result the very first time I did it. I came into the retreat already with luminosity–meaning the shining of awareness from that side and this side–like two oceans mixing. But now it shines through even “my” thought. What was missing before now? Nothing. It was simply obscured–it is, after all, the way reality is. All you have to do is follow these simple instructions and thereby “clear up uncertainties.”

“Uncertainty” is a key word here. One thing touched on, among other things, was that what takes Western students so long is not the spiritual attainments at all, but all the parental attachment problems they bring to the table–er cushion. And this is not a matter of psychologizing on the cushion. He is talking about the lack of faith that stems from lack of safe and secure parental attachments in early childhood for probably most of us.

I’m so close, so close! Do you know how Daniel talks about not being able to figure out what that last 5% is? Well, there are sealing-emptiness practices for finding out. It is usually a “core process,” as Daniel calls them. Basically it involves probing for obfuscating core processes running in the background and keeping us from awakening. We penetrate any core process that caught us, grabbed us, made us reactive during the previous exercise. I maintained imperturbable lucidity through that entire sit until this one phrase, speaking for what is in the “stuck” meditator’s head: “I must have missed something.”  When the teacher said this sentence, I felt something recoil in the heart area–it felt solid, so I penetrated it as a field of sensations until I was certain that it was empty of such existence.

The joke is that my assumption or subtle fear that I haven’t seen something I should have seen is precisely what I wasn’t seeing!

Otherwise, all boundaries have become permeable–the still, silent, vast luminosity and the field of sensations arising within it, as an expression of it, as it–they are now integrated. The boundaries between the sense doors–well, they are delusion too, so now all integrated.

What is left? This issue I have with trust. And that comes from the fucked up relationship with my alcoholic father, who should have been my first teacher. I may have to do tantric practices to address this issue before that last 5% flips. But maybe not. Maybe not. Anyway, I set up the view (luminosity) and the emptiness practices with a Westernized tantric image of the perfect father-teacher; humans, said the teacher, have a need to project–and better to use imagination to rewire those wounded pathways in the psyche, not a real teacher. In addition to Pop as the Exemplar Deity, we had U2 playing during a meditation–if you want an idea of the level of innovation that this retreat represents.

This last 5% is the last layer of duality, but it is the kicker. The task is for the central processor to deconstruct. You see, I have various levels of nondual awareness right now–but this last holdout is lack of faith, lack of trust, lack of certainty. There is likely a strong dose of guilt and anger there, too–because I “let” my father die, and he did that to me: Let me let him die. 

The teacher corrects many a retreatant for confusing what we are doing for psychotherapy. But he has not corrected me. I’m not talking about using meditation to get rid of my “issues.” Rather, it is that those issues manifest a habitual core process of distrust, a karmic holdout: “I must have missed something”–meaning I am assuming that awareness’s search for something solid, permanent, and separate must have missed something because I was (almost) successful in completing the meditation, even though, other than this assumption, the mediation was perfect.

Toward the end of this journey, you bring the speed of awareness (luminosity, clear light) to Everything (with a capital E) that is moving, fluxing, vibrating within that vast stillness, that “view” which is awareness regarding awareness. This search with awareness is much, much faster than vipassana. Vipassana is at the subtle level of mind, not the very subtle level. Vipassana requires attention, penetration. Awareness, once it is kick-started like an engine, runs by itself. It does not involve attention. You simply have to not try to do anything, including trying to not try. 

Awareness is not thought. It is so fast that it is outside time. At first you seem to have to deliberately “hold the view,” but it has been holding itself since lunchtime, which is called “automaticity.” Awareness shines forth automatically. The skillful teacher can point this out to you clearly in real-time., although all you will get is a series of metaphors until one clicks for you.

You wouldn’t believe how easy it is to let go–it is right here, already done. You just have to stop arguing.

So to finish this business up, you need to understand the three levels of mind (coarse, subtle, and very subtle). And you need to go beyond vipassana, which works at the subtle level but not the very subtle. This is why these Buddha-nature sects stress that you are already awake. Yes, you have to make effort, but toward the end, you have to ease up and let it do itself. This requires faith, and, as a culture traumatized by a long line of representatives of messed up parenting, our lack of trust and faith goes to the molten core.

The main thing I’ve learned from this retreat experience is that you have to have something that functions as Buddha-nature or God–though there is no God that is locatable. There is a God-function, and the way into that grace is through (1) emptiness practices to clear up uncertainties on the Wisdom side of things, and (2) on the Compassion side, you need love. So instructions by this afternoon were to soften everything. If you want to see luminosity, then you must look at objects with love and open to receiving back the love. It is about intimacy. It shines forth. The awareness is right here, it is timeless, it is boundless, and it is intensely intimate.

During the first few days, the teacher would shout “WAKE UP!” as a verbal equivalent of the zen sticks students are hit with. Today, however, the energy on retreat is running down a different channel. He sang to us, talked to us about love, and read poetry until there was not a sound in the room but weeping all around. This was very, very intense, and it felt like we were sealed up in a capsule outside time in some kind of psychedelic magickal chapel with no door. This man is magic. He is a gift come across the eons.  I’ve made the most of this opportunity and will do so tomorrow.

Many retreatants have been passing through the insight stages. I told some about Daniel’s book. They are looking for this edition whose teeth I kicked in last week. Ah, well. We will see what happens, but that book needs to get out there, one way or another. As for me, aside from having a bunch of back-to-back fruitions yesterday and today, I have not noticed the stages while on retreat. I’ve been immaculate–very concentrated and on task the entire time. 

Daniel would be proud of me; maybe he still is.

One more interesting phenomenon I want to mention: The energy of separate human beings that began this retreat started reorganizing itself into some kind of larger field a few days ago. Everyone in this beautiful house (owned by a Buddhist former exec of the company I work for) has become still and quiet. During breaks, we flow into the kitchen. One person puts on the kettle for tea, another brings in chairs, another sets out food–all without a word, like we all are parts of the same organism, in perfect harmony–so different from Days 1 and 2, when we were noisy and individual.

By the end of today, we were all singing together, laughing and crying. Everything is soft and radiant. I’ve made some new friends, and I have this awesome teacher. This has been a week-long peak experience. I never expected anything like this. Nor did anyone else. There are people here who have been on dozens of retreats. They all say that none has ever come close to the quality, authenticity, and effectiveness of this one. 

Now to hold the view into my dreams, as may you all.


Dear all,

I thought I would give a little preliminary report from this retreat so far, because I can’t help it, even though I fell and sprained my wrist yesterday and shouldn’t be typing. If Daniel will kindly add me back to DhU, then I’ll follow up more there later and schedule a Skype retreat debrief there for anyone interested in more details about this particular group of teachers and the incredible innovations they have generated with their retreat offerings. 

There are many, many things to say beyond what I can type. 

It is very rare to be able to access these advanced teachings without a gazillion prostrations and 10 years of morality practice first. 

First, my general impression of Mahamudra itself: The sophistication, technical precision, efficiency, heart, and elegance of the Mahamudra map and methods leaves everything else I’ve encountered in the realm of Buddhist practice in the dust, especially for finishing what we call fourth path. I hardly know where to begin. And I don’t think that is just the retreat bliss-high talking here, although I admit I’m as high as a fucking kite on the bliss… .   

Not in my most idealized fantasies of this retreat did I imagine anything this good, beautiful, staggeringly profound, direct, and effective. Words fail me, but you know me: I’ll try words on for size anyway.

Today, in just one day, I got past two obstacles, one of which I’ve had since my shift in January: The obstacle was that I had “luminosity” in the immediate sensory world but not evident in my “this side” thoughts, memories, and daydreams. Retreat teacher unraveled this for me by giving me the “Emptiness of Time” practices.  

I practiced two “Emptiness of Time” methods: One by Nagarjuna, and the other formulated by the teacher himself; both worked the very first time, but I found Nagarjuna’s landed me more directly in the most profound vastness, even though it is the more complicated of the methods and thought to be “difficult.” Anyway, got rid of that big bad problem in a single sit. Yay!

There was a related problem: We were told to enter the subtle level of the “mind-as-event perspective,” which basically amounts to vipassana in that you follow the object (the body or breath) as it breaks up into vibrations, particles, patches–impermanence. Then we were told to “take the view,” which is the “awareness-itself” perspective, which is the luminous, space-like, intimate, always-already-here “knowing-ness.” We were to hold that changeless view and to see the fluxing bodily field of dancing particles as movement within that lucid unchanging still awareness. Hrmmmm. I couldn’t do this! There was always one or the other in the damned background or foreground.

I asked what to do about this–more emptiness practices? (I already had good emptiness of self, emotions, and thought when I came into the retreat.) The teacher said, “Hold on–no. We need to go to the very subtle level of mind.”  Very subtle, is the third level of mind, past coarse and subtle.

So, with Emptiness of Time practice and what came next began Mahamudra proper. And it so happened that this was right where my cutting edge was.  I cannot type out what all happened next, but it was, um, a religious experience in the best sense of the word.

Stimuli were introduced at each sense door–eventually involving literally singing to us and chiming bells for sound; we were to listen to every sound in the environment; he had us experience the sensory field–all while we held the luminous awareness precisely by not holding it! In other words, he took us to the Very Subtle level of mind, where we eased off the effort and seeking, and let it find us. He kept saying, “You don’t have to seek it: It wants you.” This worked! The vast awareness stayed still while the sensory flux happened within it, generated by it, as an expression of it. No more foreground/background lack of integration.

Then he kept pointing out and singing, and this broke down the construct-boundaries between the sense doors, which yielded a “mandala” of sensory experience. 

This was only one day!

The retreat began Friday evening, so we’ve had four days. Until today, I was basically waiting for all the other retreatants to catch on or up. My concentration was much stronger, apparently, than anyone else’s coming in, but I gave it my all anyway. (Concentration for days on end is hard work!). Beginning yesterday, John started individualizing instruction by giving those who got stuck at a certain place more of the rudimentary stuff. I’m thrilled that I’m finally getting somewhere new, beginning today, although even what I didn’t need attainment-wise was very valuable to go through so I could understand the map, and so this teach could figure out my cutting-edge.

As for my true level, I already have one level of nondual awakening. I am missing only the last, most subtle piece, maybe that fucking gnat Daniel mentioned. And here it is: Even though when I’m looking at or sensing objects, and the awareness flows from both sides, like “mixing oceans,” I’m still processing that level of “nonduality” through a subtle level of subject-object-verb separation. In other words, I’m zeroing in on a particular object or part of the field, which excludes the rest of the field of sensation. The TOTALITY has to be deconstructed–then all that occurs is liberated.

By the way, the teacher is a perfect blend of no-nonsense technical precision, directness, and heart. This morning, he came up to me on the veranda, barefoot, and talked to me alone, saying,  "Jenny, you are bringing strong foundational skills into this retreat–how is it so far for you?“ Anyway, I told him, and I asked him if he would continue on as my teacher. He said, "Certainly, but this is a different path, you know.” I said, “Yes, I know; I’m ready for the change.”

Okay, I’m exhausted!

Love to you all–xoxo,


Half Staff for the Undead MCTB2

One year has now passed since Daniel Ingram and I suffered the falling out that officially ended my collaboration with him on the expansion, revision, and editing of the second edition of Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha: An Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book. We finished approximate 350 manuscript pages in the 10 months that we were comrades in this effort. We had about 150 more at the time, and multiple times I tried to patch things up with him to finish, even offering to do a pass without communication and simply deliver it to him — free PhD-level work in my off hours. All offers were met with hard refusal.

Yesterday I sent Daniel a short note (well, short for me). In it I again appealed to him to be pragmatic, agree to an editorial acknowledgment for the more than 800 unpaid afterhours I devoted to that work, and I would surrender my joint copyright to him. I periodically send him such notes. He never replies, but I know he reads them. I keep offering him an opening out of his own mess. But he doesn’t see the way out. He is imprisoned by his own device. The way out is so easy and clear, but it takes a step. I cannot take that step; he has to. I have no qualms about opening myself to rejection or other vulnerability by repeatedly asking him to reconsider the situation. And I’m not doing so because I have anything to gain. 

I’ve conceded and conceded and conceded until all that is left for me is an editorial acknowledgment on a page few will look at or read. I was promised cover credit and a signed Editor’s Introduction. He withdrew both while taking my 350 pages of work. His attorney offered me $10,000 to give up copyright and all acknowledgment whatsoever for the work I did. I was supposed to agree to let Daniel take full credit for all the work as if it were his alone.

This is the rub. I have my copies of all iterations of 13 chapters, with tracked changes. Conservatively, 90 percent of the tracked changes are mine. I revised the structure of the book radically, wrote as well as elicited from Daniel entirely new passages, rewrote nearly every sentence while maintaining his unique voice, designed many tables for the book, suggested and helped shape brand new chapters, and on and on. I did so while I was rapidly awakening as an MCTB practitioner and with Daniel’s direct mentoring. That work represents, therefore, integration that is mine. It is not Daniel’s alone, and it is wrong for him to hold himself out to the public, and to those who come to him for practice advice, as the source of that integration.

The fight of a year ago was itself over dishonesty, over his reply to me when I confronted him with his dishonestly about his role in the Actual Freedom (AF) experiments. You see, in the draft of MCTB2 that I read, Daniel makes his friends of the AF era into fools, into a cautionary tale about the dark side of trying to get rid of emotions and replace them with ideal feelings of harmlessness and felicity. His personal history chapter also conveniently skips his taking any part in the AF experiments and holds that he attained arahatship in 2002, something contradicted by his own old audios still posted out on his personal site. I asked him to come clean in MCTB2 about his role and motives during the AF era. He wrote me back a very harsh letter that condemned me as narrow-minded. This was a day or two before my first retreat with my new teacher.

There is more fuel beneath the fire, but let’s stop there. The point is that, as I stated months ago, Daniel is being made honest. I just received another of many, many acknowledgments Thursday from another author. I am totally “over” editorial acknowledgments, folks, except for delighting in the generosity and virtue of those who write them. I feel good; they feel good. I think the corporate-speak for this situation is win-win. All right. But this isn’t an Eight Worldly Dharmas clinging for me. That is not what this situation with Daniel is about. I need nothing in this situation for myself.

It costs Daniel nothing to tell the the simple truth of my contributions to MCTB2. He had agreed to much more. He doesn’t have to thank me; he doesn’t have to like me. But I’ve conceded all I think I should and then some. I draw and stand by the line here, where he means to pass off all that work as his own. Any further concession on my part would positively reinforce his dishonesty with himself. It would be plain wrong. It would not be the lesson he needs to take to heart at this time.

Daniel wrote me back December that he would never be friends with me ever again, that my work on the book would never see the light of day, and he would therefore never give me an editorial acknowledgment. In that letter he tried to downplay that he even liked my work. He said I was a stalker, and he compared me to a rapist. 

This man was my friend and my first and most important spiritual mentor and benefactor.

Although Daniel stated that he had already destroyed my work, he hired a lawyer to buy off the work so he could present it to the world solely as his own. He wrote to the U.S. Copyright Office that I was just a “disgruntled editor obviously trying to steal [his] work.” He also wrote on his counterclaim that the work was solely his own. That is very, very far from true. It is almost incomprehensible to me the extent of this dishonestly, particularly since I can easily prove otherwise.

Kindness is not always “niceness.” Turning the cheek is not always the skillful response in a conflict that has escalated to this extreme: 

  • The fact is that I did that work. 
  • The fact is that it far exceeds the federal legal threshold for co-authorship. 
  • The fact is that I hold in my hand the registered copyright certificate with his name and mine on it, and it is valid. 
  • The fact is that he offered $10,000 to me for the work, which means he values it. 

May we both heal all past trauma, know the perfection of compassionate response, and attain Buddhahood for the sake of all others in this wondrously, if sometimes bewilderingly and tragically, interconnected field of humanity