Dark Heart /Light Touch

This is a version of a post in my private journal, Heartlighted, edited here mainly to exclude details of my formal practice.

It is Monday, and I’m fine today – really fine, in fact. But all weekend I felt exhausted, matching the rainy lightless skies. I experienced some acute sadness and dread yesterday, especially, after someone messaged me a copy of Daniel’s announcement that he will soon send MCTB2 to his publisher. I’m dreading looking through public version, because it will resurface old wounds, as well as be tedious and time-consuming. Yet I will have to set aside time for this chore to ensure that my work has not been appropriated in the new version without crediting me.

I’ve also had some struggles within myself over the young man I’ve been trying to help. I was surprised to watch very intense feelings of guilt arise when I denied him something that in fact might have harmed him and in the past did in fact land him in the hospital. So, not only am I codependent, but also I’m an enabler codependent? This is surprising, and so it goes that these days I’m burrowing down into the deepest wounds of my existence with final insight. It is equally interesting to watch myself not be led into temptation by these sensations and yet see the feelings evaporate as soon as I sit still and merely recall the natural state. 

My practice is like so:

  1. Current formal esoteric practice in Epsom salt bath with candles
  2. Guru yoga (on dry land and cushion)
  3. Invocation of the Four Guests
  4. Saying the Prayer of Kuntuzanpo aloud (weepy through some of it)
  5. Yin yoga poses held while surrendering in meditation to the almost-painful intensity and release
  6. Another session of main formal practice

Last night I also held my hand under my reading lamp and saw the light emitting again. I looked at Kurt’s hands under lamplight, too. His also had some light flowing from them, but it was much fainter and shorter than the rays coming from my hands. 

Mr. Clean, Dr. Strange, and the Morning Light Body

This post is a version edited down from one in my private journal, Heartlighted.

Cycles Darkening the Body-Mind This Week

I continue to observe the re-emergent cycling of insight stages. In particular, yesterday I noted disgust with everything and an urge to renounce and quit everything: job, relationships, and even practice. Primal frustration. Of course, I didn’t act on any of that, and I didn’t fuel it into unmindfulness by engaging it and investing it with self-identification. But I did go out for a gourmet burger and one tall Margarita. (Hey, it was Friday night and I survived my annual performance review after a difficult year at my day job!)

In addition, all week I’ve felt ill, with flu-like symptoms: malaise, dizziness, headache, stomach pain, anorexia, runny nose, and, chiefly, intense body aches unrelated to musculature or exercise. However, I found that I was not coming down with the flu, after all. I kept waking in the morning in total well-being, But by close of business every day I was wracked with aches and the other symptoms to the point that I had to take Advil and use heating pads all over. My face began breaking out, as well, which was the final clue, along with the cyclic nature of my symptoms, that I was enduring some kind of intense body detoxification. Most “authorities” online say there is no such thing as yoga-induced detoxification. Those so-called authorities are wrong. The symptoms erupted at the same time every day, the same interval after my new bedtime yin yoga practice. 

For purposes of documenting toward my eventual map, I note here also that I’m more than a week into further reduction of the antidepressant Cymbalta. I’ve been at 20 mg for many months, far below the therapeutic dose for depression or anxiety. However, in my experience, attempts to go below 20 mg trigger an intense withdrawal syndrome. I’ve been through it before, in fact twice before: sensations of anxiety, migraine auras, insomnia, the works. This time I bought a milligram scale so that I may be very slow and precise with the milligram reduction to zero, as the drug companies offer no capsule of smaller dosage than 20 mg. Some of my current mood and physical disturbances could be because I went down by 5 mg a couple of weeks ago, meaning I’m now at 15 mg daily. The goal is to get off this drug completely because evidence is now emerging that it causes weight gain. I’m exceedingly tired of being fat, and migraine drugs caused massive rapid weight gain many years ago. Clean slate for the body-mind! 

Practice Doldrums All Week and Last Night

Whether an effect or a cause of recent doldrums and feelings of darkness and rebellion, my main practice and its effects have essentially died down. Naturally, this draining of life from the practice has engendered all kinds of speculations, from wondering if I’m being “punished” for my recent rebellion, to wondering if I’m being pointed toward a different venue or emphasis for practice. I’m mindful of the status of these speculations as empty, though, requiring nothing urgent or particular on my part beyond this naturalness of whatever is. And if frustration arises, it arises. I neither reject nor embrace it. I stay with it as experienced but am not invested in it, fooled by it. I do know better:

Mara, come bring your whole fucking army forth, but I will never be fooled again.

I sat in a candlelit Epsom salt bath for about 30 or 40 minutes last night with practice vacancy. Not alarmed, exactly, but restless, I stopped the practice, put on clean pajamas, and sat and thought a while about what practice I need during all this frustration and agitation. I contemplated Tarot, biblio-therapy, dream incubation, reclining meditation in visionary pitch dark, and so on. I decided that I need simple devotion rather than seeking and doing and controlling emphases. So I practiced guru yoga, called in the Four Guests, and recited the Prayer of Kuntuzangpo aloud, the poignancy of some of the phrases jumping out at me and causing pause. It was nice just to sit in the vastness of simplicity, the simplicity of vastness. Then I did a brief yin yoga sequence and crawled up into my bed to sleep. 

Dream Incubation Plans as Incubation in Fact

Normally before a dream incubation I will write out the question and make a full ritual out of setting intention, finally placing the sealed writing under my pillow. I was too sleepy for all this, and it was too much “doing” for where I currently am, the nature of the problem. But before falling out, I thought about the real need at this point of practice confusion to incubate a dream, or dreams, that would send a teacher, or teachers, to help me understand what I should being practicing now. I thought about my recent tarot reading with all the figures turned away from the observing “I” and toward a new path. I fell asleep while intending to formulate a dream incubation this weekend. But it turns out that this mere inclination toward intention incubated some dreams.

Dream of Mr. Clean

This dream was not very clear, and I don’t remember any actual dialogue, although I think dialogue happened.  I can try to enter jhana later to see if anything more floats up. What was clear was the setting and the teacher.

A man who looks just like the buff bodybuilder Mr. Clean of cleaning solutions logo fame is my teacher, a physical trainer. I am in a brightly lighted gym with him and eyeing with dread some kind of cruel-looking confusing obstacle course. He is talking, but I can’t hear or remember words. He is encouraging me to work gradually up to being able to take that course like a bosslady.

I guess the important point here is that this was a teacher, and the message was to pay a lot of attention to purifying and strengthening the body. Straightforward enough.

Interlude of Morning Light-Emitting Body

Sometime after 8:00 a.m., I awoke and went downstairs for some tart cherry juice and macademia nuts. I was snacking near the kitchen door, which is half glass. Sunlight from the East was shining in, and I was standing partly in the morning light. I happened to look down and noticed light emitting from my chest the same way it did for 2 hours on the way back from the mountains this past October.

Well, that was interesting. I methodically studied the situation. I took off my glasses to make sure this phenomenon wasn’t glare off my glasses. It wasn’t; the light didn’t change at all when I removed them. I considered other sources of natural reflection. My pajamas are black cotton with little dark purple diamond shapes, however, not exactly the most light-reflective fabric. So that explanation didn’t make sense. Next I checked right eye against left. From the right, the light rays went straight out, perpendicular to my body. From the left, the rays were slightly longer and slanted somewhat at an angle from my body.

The light seen from both eyes was white and with a misty, or translucent fog-like, “texture,” rather than being blindingly sharp electric or fire-like in texture-effect. The rays were 4 inches long (yes, I actually got out a ruler for measuring). The arrangement of the little light rays reminded me of bar codes: some of the lines were thicker than others, and all were spaced just as lines are in a bar code. Of course, bar codes are black, not cloud-like white light. The appearance was exactly the same as the last time this happened, except that I think the light rays were longer last time. 

I next looked at my hands, and the fingers were also emitting light, both white and the color of my flesh and the rings on my fingers. This also was the case last October.

I stepped back into the middle of the kitchen away from the ambient morning light, and in that place I could no longer see the light coming from my body or fingers. I stepped back closer to the windows, and again the rays appeared. Apparently, a certain amount of ambient light is necessary, for now. 

In general, for weeks I’ve been noticing these kinds of rays emitting from lamp shades and other ambient- lighted surfaces, sometimes dramatically emitting long bright rays. I’ve not mentioned it here because I have not been sure that these effects were not just some smeary film on my eyes or just my imagination because I’ve so long paid attention to such details in my practice.

The universe is really messing with me.

Dream of Dr. Strange

I returned to bed to sleep in. I then had a more detailed dream than that of Mr. Clean.

I am in a university walkway, pushing my way through a crowd and entering an old-fashioned classroom theater. Dr. Strange is the central figure before me, before the blackboard, down on the teaching platform. He is wearing a mortar board and scholar’s robes. He is the teacher, a professor. He calls on me, and I feel unprepared to answer. He asks me to recite the talents I was born with. I list all my degrees, honors, and awards. Then he says, “Nice enough for this workaday world, but none of that has taken you to Shambhala, has it?” He waves his hand and somehow I’m now seeing Shambhala, Tibet, as a vision contained and at distance within the classroom. I look at Professor Strange and say, “I want to travel there with you.” He says, “Not so fast.” He continues, “That was just a preview. You’ll need to put those talents you listed more fully to use before you can travel with me.”

Dream Evaluation

Clearly, the events of the night and this morning are conveying to me that my formal practice since June is not the emphasis for me right now. I’m to take or make a side journey Instead, I’m being urged to pay a lot of attention to my body, all levels of embodiment, Nirmanikaya, and to bring the talents I came to Earth with into the arena of conduct. This means scholarship and writing.

Now it is up to me to act on what the teachers have conveyed.

Relinquishing What’s Special

This post is a somewhat sanitized version of one that is in my private journal. There are some things you don’t want to know, trust me. The title for this post came on with insistence as I was falling asleep two nights ago, after I finished reading the cards shown here.

Since November 20, I’ve noted in my journals the reemergence of the Suffering of Change known as the Progress of Insight, after a year and a half with a sense that the cycling had ended with the exception of occasional mild Arising and Passing Away (A&P) flares, which I found fun. Since November, either I’ve become weirder, or I’ve started noticing and wondering about insidious weirdness: probably a bit of both. The patterns involved the following, as noted previously:

  • reclusion
  • rebellion against Buddhism and conventional morality
  • engagement in certain magic spells on others
  • isolation for hours most nights to talk with beings not physically present
  • alternation between boredom and obsession with my main formal practice and resulting experiences
  • experiences of siddhis opening
  • feelings of ungroundedness 
  • insomnia and reluctance to sleep night after night
  • compulsive continuation of formal practice in dreams, with a sense that I cannot escape the practice
  • eating too much and drinking vodka at night after practice to blunt raptures and intensity of compassion waves

I discussed all this with my teacher, who cast these issues in terms of applying appropriate filters on certain archetypes, connecting firmly with compassion, and resolving energetic imbalances. After I told him near the beginning of the talk that I sensed “something big is going to happen,” he asked whether that expectation might be some conceptual notion that is causing reemergence of dukkha. I thought, dukkha? And at first I rejected this notion. I explained that it was precisely the intensity of bliss and compassion during practice that had me running for the dark, beef, horror movies, and vodka (dakini fare). The darkness is not during practice itself.

So what is all this flight to solid darkness about? As usual, there are multiple ways of explaining what has been going on, and I may fail to figure it all out until I land on the treatment, or treatments, that bring resolution. I did mention to him that one notion that has been haunting me is how fast my path has been and the resulting question I’ve been harboring about whether I’m “chosen” somehow for some mission about which I have little say. However, such thoughts are common during an A&P stage, so it is hard to sort cause from effect in this regard. we reviewed all the more mundane reasons that my path has been relatively fast, especially noting my suggestibility and low threshold for altered states.

There is a sense that I’m clinging to some last vestige of self and independent (narcissistic) will. 

Interestingly, the little suffering I’ve always had at the beginning of my current practice sessions has become amplified during this period of emerging shadow sides and dakini-dark will-to-power episodes. Driven by compassion as an end, I have exercised means that are not strictly in accordance with codified morality. The little fear at the beginning of practice is that nothing new will by way of results will show up after all. And it is boredom when several nights go by without any novelty or spectacular anything. It is a reification, and it has insidiously grown fangs in the dark of reclusion. Very little shows up that is new, and the result has been that I’m casting about for some other practice, or I’m just confused and somewhat stymied.

But I think all this is precisely the point: Nothing new is happening, and there is now this suffering of change precisely because I’m filled with expectancy/fear of some Big New Thing (enlightenment). So the teacher is correct. He hit the nail on the head, and quickly. I’m seeking. And that seeking has to burn itself out, for it is pulling me out of the natural state. Otherwise, the realization becomes just another of the ego’s power grabs.

Magic is the temptation of Mara. My teacher spoke of the deeper magick, deeper than that of the tantrikas: This is the magick of not doing magick but simply being there, a vessel. This is the profundity far beyond spectacle and mystique, and it is in this that my true nature lies. It is the last return, what for eons I’ve been trying to remember.

The prescription he gave me was as follows:

  • bedtime yin yoga practice, which is based on surrender and long passive asanas for deep tissue and energetic release
  • addition of MCT oil to the diet to quell sugar craving borne of practice-induced energetic imbalance 
  • a deep dive into the Biology of Kundalini website: http://www.biologyofkundalini.com/
  • nightly recitation of the Prayer of Kuntuzangpo and study of a certain commentary on it

I’ve been doing yin yoga nightly since talking with him and absolutely love it. It has restored my ability to sleep (and all night), made me feel grounded and normal, and made me return to eating better and seeking exercise and outdoors time. I feel a strong draw to physicality, which is what Dharma by Daylight was really supposed to be about: daily life and embodiment. It is relieving to return to the body, even if it sets aside the specialness of esoteric practices. 

So last night I threw these cards, thinking about my practice path as I did.

Understand the Past: The Sun

The Sun is a major arcana card that is about high masculine effort, energy, and illumination. I immediately thought “rigpa” when it turned up. The sun is the end of the Fool’s path in Tarot, where he realizes that he has been the Sun all along, that there was nothing to attain. He had only to remember who he was and thereby fill the entire universe. But, upon such realization, the fool takes this knowledge and steps off the cliff again. For cosmic hide-and-seek is cyclical, as is my path. The past of linear progress is a thwarted notion yet again. Now even the insight stages have re-arisen.

So this card is remarking that self-realization requires self-forgetting, and self-forgetting is path, path back to self-realization. Insight cycles have reemerged recently because grasping at special transcendent states and practices has drawn me back into the vicious circle of my own suffering. But no matter, for now I’m wiser. I will not react to the reaction and compound the problem. Nor shall I wait in fear or expectancy. I’ll simply let be.

This card is also traditionally about logos, about communication, especially writing. The message is that to find my purpose I need to look at the talents I was born with: writing.

The Sun is the glory of God, but also the glory of the individual, the infant. I’ve never been born, nor shall I die. But I need to lay off the magick.

Understand the Present: The Three of Swords

The Three of Swords is a card people tremble to see appear in a more traditional reading. It portends heartbreak and the ruin of an important relationship. It is suffering, and it is personal. See how contrasted the blues, violets, and grays of this card are with the blinding yellows of the Sun? The reassuring compass in the corner of the Sun is replaced with obscuring clouds here. However, Marie White writes that the dove that is descending here into flesh, into embodiment, is carrying the “arrows of the sun’s light.” My teacher often says that the journey up to the crown, transcendence, is inevitably followed by a journey back down to earth, to embodiment, to the Nirmanakaya. This card is about acceptance, the radical acceptance of current suffering, for the rays of light captured by the dove must be brought back down to Earth. As far as the human relationship component goes, this card is about the fact that the agent who wounded me was a divine gift.

Be This: The Page of Cups

This card is a court card, so it indicates an actual (youthful) person. It is also in the advice position of the reading. The blues and violets resemble the colors of the Three of Swords, but here they are clear water and sails set for journeying. This Page’s strength is unconditional love for herself and others. The advice is to project calm thoughts into the world and to take complete responsibility for manifesting appropriate thoughts and emotions, which is part of what my teacher was advising, as well: to be careful about what archetypes I let through when, to maintain control over that filtering, to keep an eye on the inner dakinis and vampires. This card explicitly advises right thoughts, right emotions, and right actions. 

See Where All Is Heading: The Eight Of Cups Reversed

This is an outcome position, and here, strangely, we have fear of pain and vulnerability, the reverse of an open heart. The young girl in the picture is cloaked with Hercules’s lion’s skin to indicate that strength comes from the ability to be open-hearted and vulnerable. This card, reversed, portends a closed and guarded heart and, consequently, a fall from righteousness.

Logically, this would not be the outcome of following the Page of Cups as advice. So I’m not sure what to make of this part of the reading. Is it saying that I have some more dark stuff to go through? More fear? Clearly, this card is communicating with the Page card: Both are about young girls (Little Jenny) and open-hearted generosity.

I found on researching the traditional version of this card that it shows someone walking away from eight filled cups left on a shore. So, like the Page from my Mary-el deck shown here, there is the image of turning away from something or someone and starting out on a different journey. It can be about my needing to move on from something about my current practice, or it could be about abandonment and rejection I suffered as a child. A while back, my teacher told me to go back in time in meditation to Little Jenny at points of trauma and pour on the compassion. I did this practice only once, however, finding it difficult. So I may need to confront that I abandoned abandonment work. At any rate, this card in reverse can indicate an inability to let go, or a hesitancy to move on from relationship patterns that do not serve.

I may do additional reading around this one card for clearer divination. It is an intrinsically difficult card to read.

Contemplate the Visual Whole

Looking back at the visual Gestalt of this spread, I notice that the present, the advice, and the outcome positions all feature cards with a vulnerable youthful figure in a pose of curling inward and away from the obvious, open position of reference, from me the onlooker. The Page’s curve of neck repeats the curved neck of the dove that is descending into embodiment. And both show the same colors. The girl in the Eight of Cups is cloaked in a gift of symbolic strength, but she is upside-down with it, not straightforward, and the traditional version of this card shows a traveler who, like the Page of Cups, has literally turned his back on an emotional situation and is poised to go in a completely different direction, although with hard, hard reluctance..