What I found so amazing about Mahamudra is that it offers stage-specific and realization-specific practices, a scheme which is extremely efficient and precise. It appears to be linear, progressive in a straight line up through 23 stages, but in reality most practitioners go round and round and round before the realizations “stick.” So one goes to one’s “cutting edge,” and if everything before that has stuck, then those practices are thinned out. So the practice becomes shorter, the higher up the realizations go. It is ingenious.
Of course, this model says one is never “done”–except one definitely gets done what they call awakened awareness, which, I think matches your fourth-path criteria. What they call Nondual Awareness matches your third path; it is basically what you call luminosity. The other sense doors (besides vision) have other metaphors: silence, vast space-like awareness, and so on.
When one has the central processor (center-point, subject, doer) drop out, as I did last Thursday morning (after the Dependent Origination thing happened again), that is from the final practice, which addresses “particularization” of phenomena in the field. The awakened human mind still particularizes sensations in the field of experience (ie, will focus on one object over others in the wide, vast awareness), but this practice stops those objects from referring back to, implying, and creating a center, a subject, a core processor. Teacher had us really look into the background core processes that were keeping us from awakening. Mine was doubt in my meditative abilities, doubt that I had a sufficient number of years of practice clocked to awaken. They didn’t call these “core processes,” but that is exactly what they are. They are the background contexts.
Interestingly, this model does account for flipping back and fading of the awakened awareness (fourth path) “gains.” So practice continues until the gains are completely hardwired in–automaticity. When none of it fades for even an instant in daily life, that is called “cutting through.” I’ve no good idea yet what that is all about. It looks like some far-out visions are involved. He mentioned some pretty interesting alterations in perception, such as the ability to visually see streams of sensation flow into each other.
This Dzogchen and tantra seem to me so far to be like your other “axes of development.” Insight is basically done; however, relative, magickal, and compassion side of things is being “saturated” with the wisdom gains. Wisdom and compassion have to become nondual, in other words: So I have this realization–now what am I going to do with it to make my life as happy as possible and help others?
There is this other axis of development that is psychology. There is interest in integrating western psychology with the awakened being’s mind. I heard from that after (and even right before) awakening, all this bad karma comes boiling up in the practitioner–eons of crap, eons of unskillful patterns of behavior and feeling. But I’ve not had time to study all this yet. I thought I had issues with my father resolved decades ago; the path kept surfacing them, though, so I now I will need to deal with all that anew.
So it looks like “cutting through” is when fourth path (awakened awareness) has stayed for quite a time and saturated daily (and nightly) life. To protect the gains, there are practices under the rubric of “how the realized mind stays.” What I like about this approach, among other things, is that it avoids making the practitioner feel like a failure if the attainment fades or flips for some time before sticking for good. The flipping back or fading is considered normal and basically an interim stage or “path.” There is no reason to panic if it flips back; one just keeps doing the practice, and eventually the realized mind will “stay."
Most interesting to me was that it turned out that the key in my letting the boundaries drop away was rigpa (or "rigpa”). It was direct realization of that primordial-feeling God-function you wrote so eloquently of in your imaginary numbers mini-essay; taking that as true and looking into it allowed for surrender of my doubt, for faith. Yet it is empty.
Mahamudra posits three levels of mind: coarse, subtle, and very subtle. Coarse is our usual daily mind. Subtle is the level of vipassana practice, seeing the impermanence, the arising and passing away. Very subtle is where realization emptiness of time goes beyond impermanence. At that point, the “attention” of vipassana is supeseded with the more refined and fast (because timeless) Awareness. This is rigpa, essentially. This is the interdependent, boundaryless vast awareness not confined to time and space. It functions the way God would if we could find a God. It is unfindable in space-time, yet there seems to be intelligence, knowingness.
Since last Thursday, the main difference in the forefront is this vastness. Mind/awareness is vast, vast, vast now. Everything is vivid and vast in a way that is much more refined and impressive than Boundless Space. I finally was able to meditate last night, and I cannot even put into words how unfathomable that experience was. I’m bringing awareness down to the heart, embodying the exemplar mother that holds and protects all beings, allowing that to open like a golden rose and shine.
The boundlessness is amazing–oceans of sensation co-mingling where before there were multiple layers of gross dual sets, stratified across artificial boundaries that falsely seemed the very structure of reality.
That continually moving around redefinition of the subject-perspective is gone. It is all completely still now.
Agencylessness has been coming to the fore during the past 48 hours. For example, I’ve been hyper-aware of the movements in my face–scowling, eyebrows lifting, etc. It is strange that these movements are just happening in and as an expression of vast awareness. It is hard to explain, but I think I was so identified via intentional self with these movements before last Thursday that I didn’t notice them–I was thoroughly identified with them, fish in water. Now they feel like I’m not intending them, almost as if something else is moving my face, that I don’t have to do it and actually can’t do it.
Another distinctive thing I’ve noticed is total lack of desire to tell people about, discuss, or analyze the attainment (this message notwithstanding). It is not that I’m not incredibly happy and awed; I am. It is just that words will fail and some kind of urge to own attainments, take credit for them, seems to have unexpectedly dropped off. The realization supersedes and subsumes all questions of and about it. It is completely satisfying. The only reason I’m documenting what is unfolding every night is because I know the others in the Underground want me to be as specific as I can be for them. I can feel a lot of rewiring going on, a lot of reorganization of energy body.
Yet another thing is an extremely heightened feeling of compassion for those who are not awake. I look at my husband and son, at their agitation and unknowingness, and it just sears me as if I were looking into an abyss they were about to fall into. Still, I cannot reach across this gulf and hold them back from the precipice. I think it is actually distressing to Kerry that his mom has changed so much in the past year. I am resolving to go do regular mom things with him and not talk about this, at least not right now. He needs me to be just his mom, familiar.
Lastly, I’m having difficulty finding the boundary between dreaming and being awake. In the morning, while sleeping, I’ll dream that I’m getting up and checking the alarm clock and dressing. And then I am actually doing those things and can’t figure out or remember where/when the dream ended and the waking reality began. When I’m sleeping, I can see the room through my closed eyelids!
I’m sorry I’ve gone on and on. Forgive me.
I hope you are okay.