Fall from Sambhogakaya to Nirmanakaya: Letting Go of Dreams, September 2018
September 2018 saw my commitment to dream and sleep practice begin to dwindle. I was undergoing chronic pressure at work as our unit was on the cost chopping block, and management made greater and greater demands as we slid toward inevitable layoff. I wanted to move on much sooner than I was let go, but I stayed to keep peace at home. I was also struggling with chronic fatigue that was either because of a change in my usual thyroid medication, or the beginning of Epstein-Barr virus reactivation.
In other ways, I was feeling stuck and stagnant. I was too exhausted to work on my book nights and weekends. I waited for my coauthor for more than a year, but he never threw even a crumb of time my way for preliminary discussions. In fact, after promising not to, he kept me shut out in the dark, with no updates as to time he might sort the rest of his life enough for a mere 30-minute dialogue. I’m sure he had good reasons. However, the silence and chronic waiting for two key situations (work and coauthor) to decide my fate drained my energy, including the considerable energy and patience that a practice as difficult as sleep practice requires.
By waiting many months for others to confirm or cut their alliance with me, I drifted out of alliance with myself and my new calling. For another 6 months I was to feel like a forgotten ghost adrift in most of my dharma relationships, as well as in my workplace and publishing career. I had to pull back down and in to take care of myself in the most rudimentary ways.
After the awakening that drops subject-object reference points, dharmakaya release begins. Even though that very gradual release of karmic traces differs completely from the Progress of Insight cycles, it still tends to move in much longer cycles of ascending and descending, ups and downs, sambhogakaya and nirmanakaya, as the human being who has woken up continues to grow up.
Along most of my Path, practice has alternated for 6 or so months at a time between juicy magical exhilaration, and coming back down to Earth, work, relationships, and the body. This month saw the decline of juiciness and sangha intimacy. I was beginning to retreat inward to sort complexities as I neared several endings that proved necessary to clear space for the mission ahead.
September 2: Hours of Hypnagogia and Lights
I completed a decently long meditation composed of bardo for Virginia, a secret practice, and some (too rushed) j7. From 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. I lay in bed listening to TC binaural beats. I was in some state closer to being awake than to being asleep, although there was a sliding scale. At one point I crossed over into sleep and on the way thought of Tibetan tigles and then made them appear before me. Then I passed into a scene with a sacred mountain ahead in the dusk. I made daylight happen, with full lucidity that I was controlling the sunlight. I became sufficiently excited that I was pulled back into my bedroom and actually saw my room illuminated momentarily as if I brought the light back with me while crossing over from the Dreaming to the Waking.
I have discerned that one of the reasons I’m pulled back so quickly out of liminal states is that I’m afraid of forgetting. I come back so as to be able to remember, log, report, analyze, and so on. What a Catch-22! Anyway, I lay there with my body resting and saw lights typical of hypnagogia for 3 hours, whether I had eyes open to my bedroom or not. Then I went downstairs to have a snack and my second cup of a new dream tea. I went back to bed and got some Stupid Sleep. My dream plan (left) had been to meet up with White Cat, but I do not remember any appearance of Cat. However, I saw my white hypnagogia lights, and Cat often pokes her head into those kinds of visions.
This new tea contains many different herbs, blue lotus included. It is delicious, and I enjoy it as part of a calming pre-sleep ritual in Zen-like contemplation.
September 4: Attempts at Difficult Sleep Yoga Instructions
I tried following Dan’s instructions for Sleep Yoga. It was extremely difficult. My concentration while I’m lying down is shit. I kept being drawn into the hypnagogic imagery and off the red lotus at the throat. I guess the idea is to let the hypnagogic imagery flow but to keep coming back to the red lotus. Very hard, and it is also hard for me to check rigpa while falling asleep because naturally I’m falling into dullness, which is precisely the problem. This lucidity stuff seems really difficult, and Dan says it is. Also, the Dzogchen texts say to focus on a blue lotus at the heart, not a red at the throat. Red at throat is for dreams; blue at heart is for Clear Light Sleep. I did have a few moments of Clear Light sleep that I can remember, but wow this is hard AF.
Comment 1 year later: A Dzogchen text via Longchenpa says a rigpa tigle should be envisioned at the heart center. There seems to be wide variation on instructions for which chakra to focus on (throat versus heart), but generally throat is for dream manifestation, and heart is for Clear Light sleep. The latter term, Clear Light sleep, is also used or translated in a variety of ways. Some texts indicate that it is simply dreamless sleep with full nondual awareness steady; others seem to indicate that it means simply the cessation of all dreaming; still others clearly mean that the Togal visions are practiced in sleep as a kind of witnessing dream. In a witnessing dream there is no “I” and no action taken; there is simply a field that is self-arising and self-liberating.
September 8: Dream of Scrums to Rat Out Demons and Avert Collapse
As soon as I let go of all attempts to dream and remember dreams, of course I have a bunch of dreams!
I am living and working in a woodsy lodge that seems to be located in North Raleigh. The rooms are cool and dark, with lots of dark wood and much surrounding shade outside. my lifelong friend Ira is there with his wife Julia. There are other people I know, as well, maybe some from work. For whatever reason, my role is to organize and psychically inform people, and I call others into a conference room time and again. It is hard to make them listen and concentrate on the importance of what I’m telling them, so I decide to start running our meetings as scrums. I remove all the chairs from the room and call everyone in to tell them to stand and listen.
At the first scrum I call, I realize suddenly and sharply that Julia is possessed by a demon, despite how sweet and completely positive she always completely is. I tell her, “You are being dragged down by a demon who is hijacking you, so you need to do this practice I’m going to give you to protect yourself.” Ira laughs at me and says, “Oh come on! Julia possessed by a demon, really, Jenny?’ And I say, “Yes, I know it sounds crazy but I can psychically detect the presence of demons, and she is infected.” I tell them to please just do the practice, whether they accept my diagnosis or not. I say it cannot harm them, so humor me. I think I almost have Julia convinced to do it, and I give her the instructions that I got from a teaching on dispelling negative forces (demons).
Later I call another scrum. I tell them that there is about to be a Collapse, to hurry up and do the purification practices, as you don’t want demons hanging onto you when the world crashes. Then I’m standing on a balcony and looking at the Raleigh skyline. Suddenly, I decide to make the sky bright. In this moment of lucidity, the sky brightens up white. Then I see the moon. It is hurtling toward us rapidly, as if it will impact the Earth right where I’m standing. The others start screaming in terror. I tell them to hush, that everything is okay. They scream, “Okay? How can this be okay!” Then as the moon is about to hit us, I focus on it and it pops as if it is a balloon and my concentration is a pinprick.” I tell the others, “See, empty?” The ephemeral shards of the moon surface melt in the sun.
I would not call this dream lucid. There was no really clear sense that I was dreaming and in bed sleeping. There was, however, a clear sense that I had siddhis and some considerable power over what was detected and what the outcome would be. This is a far cry from my dreams of 2015, when John told me I had a gullible (codependent) dream ego that was led around helplessly by others in the dream. If you want to discern what you need to change about how you interact in the Waking, then look at how your dream ego moves through your dreams.
In the new dakini text I’m reading, it is written that the lower psychic powers develop upon one’s no longer caring whether one is in samsara or nirvana. This is sort of funny to me, because once I stopped caring about recalling dreams, I have this one about powers and remember it.
There is something I just remembered: at one of the meetings, I had these rectangles of light I was distributing. I said that these sheets of light can annihilate unwholesome beings but to be very conservative about using this power. These rectangles of light matched the retinal after-image when I looked at my cell phone, turned it off before settling in to sleep, and then saw it revive later in hypnagoia, where I willed it to light up the entirety. It did, and I had a few moments of what I think was Clear Light Sleep before everything plunged into darkness and then regular dreaming.
September 9: Attempts to Communicate with DreamWalker and John
I am on a bus, riding through the downtown of some charming city, maybe Raleigh or Portland. I am texting on my mobile phone to DW, but the messages keep going to the wrong people (Daniel, in one instance, I think). I arrive at some kind of Sunday school building and enter. I go to the bathroom at one point and find that there are no closed stalls, all the toilets are broken, and shit is everywhere (literally). I go out in the hall and locate a new toilet. I drag it into the women’s restroom to use but feel exposed because the stalls are collapsed and now there are men in there.
I have to pee, so I do so anyway and leave. Now I’m out in the hallway and some dude with long dark hair is teaching people tummo and tantric sex. Couples are in these red tents in the hallway, having sex. I have this feeling that this teacher is a bit of a charlatan. I walk down the hall, searching everywhere for John so that I can tell him about The Hidden Keys text and what I now know about fourth vision being death. When I finally find John, I try to hug him, but he will not hug me back. I try to talk to him, but he is like an unresponsive zombie and talks about other topics right through me to other people in the space. I’m sad and frustrated that he will not see me or respond.
September 11: Hypnagogia Most of the Night
I went to bed after 3 a.m. I didn’t fall into stupid sleep until around 6 a.m. after a snack. During the first (sort of) sleep, I saw rapid imagery flash for hours, along with lights—sometimes total light. There was a strong sense of John in my mind and coursing throughout my channels and chakras, which felt like being taken over. I told him “Leave me alone,” which is what I used to say telepathically to Daniel. Jesus!
September 16: Death of a Key Relationship and Death of Vocation
Evidently triggered by a three-card tarot reading on my future, I dreamed I am in a prison visitation room, sitting across from Daniel. Daniel is stock still and silent. He looks just as he does in his DhO photo. I say only this: Goodbye, Daniel. He says nothing. Then I awake up into another dream.
I am waking up on the floor beside my desk at work. I’m surprised to find I’ve been sleeping on the job. I sit up and notice that there is a corpse sheet laid over my desk, and my computer and monitor have been taken away. I realize with some fear response and grief that I’ve been laid off and will soon be escorted out of the building, never to return. I sneak out to tell the other editors and to write down their cell numbers. On the way back, I run into my boss and say, “So I’ve been fired.” Her lips start moving, but I hear nothing. Again I wake up from the dream.
I woke up in my bed but decided to try to go back to sleep. I don’t think I ever went under completely but lay there in awareness for 2 hours. I was surprised when I got out of bed that 2 hours had passed. I must have slept even though it seemed I was awake and aware of my room and body in bed the whole time.
September 23: Long Run of Dream Fragments about Being on Retreat
I had a long dream, or dreams, about being at this sort of spa campus in the country, maybe in Florida since sinkholes were at the ends of dirt roads.
John is in one conference room, but I am not allowed in because I can’t afford an admission ticket. Vasily is there, and he can afford to attend John’s gig. After he comes out, we go floating in this indoor salt pool. Everything is white instead of dark, though. It is almost like a deprivation tank in effect. Vasily is trying hard to theorize something, saying he understands now that he has been keeping part of himself behind a “wall,” but that enlightenment is about change in meaning, not change in emotions. I sort of argue with him, saying that eventually and very gradually emotional reactivity recedes but that this change lags behind perceptual baseline change. These pompous book authors hop in the pool with us and start a snobbish intellectual nitpicking of some book that has nothing to do with awakening. I leave the pool.
I am lying on a message table. Dr. Weir, my thyroid disease doctor, shows up to take my blood pressure and listen to my heart. This makes me tense because I am on retreat and want a spa experience. I close my eyes, and when I opened them, Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary, who wrote The Prime, the detox book I’m following, is there in place of Dr. Weir. That was more like it, because she pulls a massage therapist in to give me a Swedish massage for lympathic stimulation.
I am staying in a little cottage on the retreat campus, with Kurt, who is just vacationing, not doing any of the spiritual stuff. I suddenly am disgusted with everything spiritual and want to go home. Kurt reminds me that we do not have a car and must wait to the end of the retreat stint to take a bus back with everyone else. I say, “Fuck that,” I remember a car I saw parked next to one of the sinkholes. I decide to steal it. I go on my lappy and read how to hotwire a car. So I gather my things and hike down the sandy dirt road where I had seen the car. However, halfway up the road is a thick group of teens on spring break or some break. They are drunk and moshing, and for some reason I know that I can not penetrate them to get to that car I want to steal. Reluctantly, I turn back to the spiritual path, unable to escape it.
This dreams seems to be chiefly about ambivalence toward further spiritual healing. It is true that sometimes I get dope-sick on dharma, yet cannot stop it. This sense is likely because I spend so much time in dharma discussions and dharma texts, studying so that I can teach. Otherwise, I think integration might descend (and ascend) to other planes. It is akin to being attached to dreams of ignorance because they are fun where lucid sleep implies responsibility. Here, I just want a fun vacation, but healing modalities and intellectual combativeness keep disrupting my relaxation. Below are some quotes from a dream dictionary:
To dream that you forget or can’t find where you parked your car indicates that you are dissatisfied or unhappy with an aspect of your waking life. You do not know what you really want to do with your life or where you want to go. Ambivalence.
To dream that your car has been stolen indicates that you are being stripped of your identity. This may relate to losing your job, a failed relationship, or some situation which has played a significant role in your identity and who you are as a person. If you dream that you are stealing a car, then it implies that you are trying to take credit for someone else’s work. It may also mean that you are downplaying the role that others had in your success.
To see a parked car in your dream suggests that you need to turn your efforts and energies elsewhere. You may be needlessly spending your energy in a fruitless endeavor. Alternatively, a parked car may symbolize your need to stop and enjoy life.
To see a pool of water in your dream indicates that you need to acknowledge and understand your feelings. It is time to dive in and deal with those emotions. Alternatively, a pool indicates your desire to be cleansed. You need to wash away the past.
To dream that you are seeing the doctor indicates your need for emotional and spiritual healing. The dream could also highlight medical concerns. Perhaps it is time to go and get a physical checkup.
All in all, this dream seems to be suggesting a need to purge spiritual scenes and persons. It is interesting that I chose this time to begin a deep detoxification of my body in the Waking.
September 28: Wild Hynagogia
The long sessions of hypnagogia continue without my practicing anything to do with dreaming or OBE. I feel while in these states and afterward when I reflect on them that these experiences are close-to-the-bone for purity of mind, meaning they are the mind as it really is with the filters removed. It is constantly creating new visions and scenes, rapidly, ceaselessly. It is amazing to be able to be in the visions yet aware metacognitively of them as such the entire time.
Another experience I continue to observe is a sense of seeing out versus seeing in. But both hover close to the boundary. I hypothesize that this boundary is false and has to dissolve. Maybe death is necessary for that?
The other night I had a particularly stunning hypnagogic vision: My entire visual field was tigles. Then they multipled into the millions, swirled like the whole expanse went into a vortex, and then were replaced by a night sky dense with stars and planets. The sequence was breathtaking.
I also feel guilty for not practicing this or anything lately except for book writing and detoxing. But I guess as autumn approaches, I’m going out of a magically gooey phase and into a no-nonsense nirmanakaya phase. The alternation happens all along the Path.
September 30: Nightlong Dreams and Relationship of Recall to Letting Go
All night long, first and second sleeps, I saw both sessions centering on a mixture of workplace (RTI) themes and retreat (John) themes. I don’t feel like writing it all out. It doesn’t matter anyway, just samsaric dreaming. However, I wanted to make a record here that my memory every day of dreams has been continual since I quit trying. That is an interesting data point to me, and I’m not sure what to make of it. Am I more on track by surrendering more? Or was I more on track when I had stopped dreaming because cessation of dreaming is the eventual goal? Sleep practice is hard to get even a theoretical handle on.
This concludes September 2018.
I was always right
About the morning
Okay, I’m an old shoe
Danced above the blaze
Never stopped crawling
Over the black dunes
And I’m waiting for you
Are you awake now, too?
I’m always one
Without a warning
Old days re-appear
Lift away, past the gate
Desert keeps forming
Underneath the black moon
And I’m waiting for you
Are you awake now, too?