Luminosity Leading to Mahamudra: Colloquy with Daniel
This was an hour-long sit someplace in Equanimity, although I think I have slipped back into a lower phase, probably because I missed some sits, which was dumb to have let happen. This sit went back and forth between jhanas and Equanimity. I felt some strong bodily vibrations at two points, across my face (oddly) and later my hips and thighs. Not much to say about this sit except that it was pleasant, ñ11.j4.j5.j2 today.
I drew the card Strength, upright. This is a major arcana card and indicates that courage comes from within. It urges me to stand up to whatever the universe is throwing at me. I should confront antagonism and wrongdoing head-on, out of the power of my convictions and faith. The calm, patient, and gentle nature triumphs over the danger of the wild lion.
Weird Sleep Pattern
I had a nice hour-long sit. I’m manifesting this strange sleep pattern lately wherein I come home and sleep from 9 p.m. to midnight, wake, bathe, and then meditate. It is odd but I guess better than what I was doing before, which was getting only 5 or so hours of sleep. I think I would be happier if I fixed my sleep dysregulation, which is the root of all my other dysregulation.
Resolutions to See the Six Doors to Fruition Clearly
I’m sitting here in a totally blissed-out high from jhanas and fruition out on the P8JP above eighth jhana. I have been resolving strongly every night, per Daniel’s advice, to have Fruitions and to be able to see those six doors very, very clearly, as well as to re-experience clearly the Dependent Origination of the restart-of-reality after cessation.
The one time I experienced the latter was during stream entry, and it was the most miraculous, mind-blowing event I’ve ever had happen: totally decentered awareness, a spatial turning of that awareness to find Jenny not there, and then a layering of me back into being, link by link of the DO. Nama-rupa was distinct as it came back online. I wept outright after this happened. I knew I had experienced something like miraculous vision into reality.
Well, at least I’m pretty sure now that these things I’m experiencing are Fruitions, not state shifts as Daniel tried to tell me months ago (he was wrong back then, too, and I think that I’ve actually experienced these in clumps, at intervals, years before my supposed stream entry, which maybe explains why I seemed to possibly have picked up an extra path somewhere along the way).
Anyway, I’m reading only bits of a bunch of different books because I lack time for reading or much of anything else till MCTB2 is done. I’m trying to focus on Daniel P. Brown’s Pointing Out the Great Way: The Stages of Meditation in the Mahamudra Tradition.
I practiced the body points and one-pointedness instructions tonight, and I noticed quickly how sloppy I’ve gotten with regard to those lower jhanas, especially first. I caught myself three times “elaborating” on the mind-stream instead of staying with the orderly arising and passing of each mind moment. So I noted the “elaborating,” returned to my object, which was the breath tonight to begin with, which I’ve not done in a long time because I normally take the jhana factors as objects, or take no object (unsupported), and then I “intensified” concentration without distraction. When I get to second jhana, everything normally becomes much more naturally on task, which is normal, especially if I remember to “tune into the pleasure” at that point, or earlier, as Daniel advises.
(I think it is funny that, in the personality categorization for jhana, which Daniel takes from the commentaries, he and I are both aversive types. This means we don’t readily get into the intensely pleasurable states, like second, but prefer the higher refined states that are more neutral-feeling. But his tips for getting the rapturous ones work usually.)
I’m wondering whether the jhanas are going to be obtrusive somehow during the mahamudra retreat. Well, not much I can do about that. Interestingly, MCTB2 posits that the jhanas are hardwired-in human potential. After stream entry, says Daniel, one is basically in some manner of jhana if drawing breath. That perhaps explains why after stream entry I felt j4.j5 constantly, when not j5 outright.
Also, after stream entry it is impossible to do “pure” samatha—some degree of insight is always going to show up in those jhanas. This is true. DreamWalker keeps saying that the jhanas “obscure” insight; this is untrue. Noting—pshaw! For kindergartners! The MCTB2 Mastery part is governed by the jhanas as the entire framework. I don’t recall that noting is invoked after Part I of the book. Noting is where DW wants to be right now, so okay, so long as it is fruitful, but I urge him to experiment more, branch out, and, above all, cultivate some love of the Zen, because otherwise DW is holding up the entire field with his linearly fixated stubbornness! Oh, and move your journal to here in the Underground!
Letting the Jhanas Bloom Naturally
I’m also continuing to work, for the most part, on not manipulating the jhanas but letting them bloom on their own. This means, for example, refraining from “pushing” my presence (or whatever) out into space in j5 and j6. Instead I simply call on the jhana and immediately drop manipulation and just observe what happens. I think that some amount of push or pull is necessary when one is for the first time trying to “find” a new jhana; however, later these things are wired in and all that is necessary is initial inclination, if even that. Even when I am “just sitting” I notice the jhanas unfolding in the background. I notice them unfolding as I sit at my desk at work. I was very much in j4 all day at work. They happen on their own, and they are much more pleasant than the insight stages, which also happen on their own.
Luminosity, Nondoing, Diminished Sense of Center, and j4.j5
Speaking of daily life, I remain enamored of, fascinated by, this luminosity, and I’m thankful that I’ve seen and understood clearly much of what is still not “awake.” For the past two days, I’ve had the sense of no-doer much of the day. I’m noticing that luminosity, increasingly less sense of “center,” and spontaneous unfolding are hooking up somehow. There really must be a brain and nervous system somewhere that is being “rewired.”
Daniel (from Interview with Vince)
“The sense of subject seems to be becoming more integrated with the field, or it seems to become less important, or they seem to see more of what I’ll call “luminosity of phenomena”: that they’re just showing themselves over there. Because that’s showing itself over there, maybe this is just showing itself over here. . . .”
Daniel (after I Showed Him This Quote)
That’s good stuff! Did this twitching corpse say that? I can’t even remember doing that interview with Vince. Perhaps we should try to pull that stuff into the book somehow when we get down the road to that part.
Haha! That last sentence is what struck me, about how maybe this side can be luminous too. . . . Why has that not occurred to me?
That recognition is part of the key. So: how to recognize that same aspect in the this side memory, dreaming aspect?
Does this notion lead to any particular way of practicing?
It should. Try seeing this side as part of the whole, as just more stuff, gently identifying patterns of effort and normalcy and me-ness that seem to be so ordinary that it would seem strange to interpret them any other way: Might help.
Major gratitude, Daniel!
Postscript Nearly 3 Years Later: The Term “Luminosity”
Daniel uses the word luminosity loosely, I find, meaning different things in different contexts. Here he seems to be using the word in its traditional way, to mean not a whole nondual attainment, but the bright dynamic clarity aspect of the field (tsal) and the bright awake aspect of the practitioner’s mind (quasi rigpa). But in most contexts, and in virtually all conversations I had with him back in 2015, when Daniel has used the term luminosity he means not just an aspect of the post-4th-path unbounded whole, but a specific attainment—namely, permanent nondual sight-consciousness (NSC) as described in this chat with Vasily here:
Because my dharma friends and I have found the use of luminosity to be so slippery and nondescript, when it means the MCTB 3rd path attainment, I’ve replaced it in my own work with “NSC.” The path attainment is experienced only when the practitioner is looking at a visual object. It is sight-specific, although it concerns mainly the consciousness aspect of sight-consciousness. The shift does not include thoughts beyond that consciousness aspect of visual perception.
It also necessarily involves space and awakened paradoxes of space, such as simultaneous stillness and interflow. Memories and dreams certainly can be vivid, bright, high-def., and “visual,” but do they have a spatial relationship vis-a-vis the practitioner? No. Or only if the “subject” is himself or herself represented as an object in the memory or dream in question.
For luminosity to be the attainment that Daniel usually means, it has to (1) involve real subject-object spatial-relationship deconstruction, (2) happen when seeing is happening (not abstracted thoughts, not other senses), and (3) be in itself a complete nondual relationship rather than one aspect among many of unbounded wholeness as known after MCTB 4th path. The sense of hearing and feeling also have nondual counterparts to this attainment, but they almost always happen separately and are as different from “luminosity” as sight is from hearing and feeling in general. I agree with where Daniel maps NSC/luminosity attainment: It is generally well after body and hearing, the final correction of misperception before realization of unbounded wholeness. The vocabulary of Dzogchen—rigpa, kunzhi, and tsal—offers more rigorious aspect distinction for what Daniel seems to be meaning from his post-MCTB 4th path perspective.