Percentage of Awakening and Confounded Maps: To Daniel

­­­­April 2, 2015

Dear Daniel,

I hope you are all right. I’ve been enduring some super creepy vj3/fear sensations since late yesterday, so just checking in OCD fashion on everyone who has gone dark.

I won’t be writing you that letter I had planned. Maybe DW is a blockhead, after all, haha! Just kidding, I think, but Tuesday’s video conference with Jim and Jamie (and DW and Steph) pretty much convinced me that 3rd-to-4th is unmappable. At the end of the discussion, in fact, Jamie told DW, “If you want to work on deleting a list of core processes, then start with what you are holding so close to your heart now—start with your need for this territory to be mappable and mapped.”

DW seems to be driven to treat vipassana as a “deletion” machine, a kind of meat grinder, and he wants to run all the possible “selfing processes” he can identify through that machine until each is not only dissolved but “deleted,” destroyed. However, if we want to link up techniques to paths, then this technique seems to me more like something I might do very early on, say before stream entry.

DW thinks that there are many, but a finite number of, “selfing” processes going on, and that the Big Flip to nondual may occur well before 4th Path for some. Alternatively, it may occur at 4th Path, depending on the person and what he or she has or hasn’t done according to some master list in the sky.

His hypothesis, if I’m understanding it, is that when the right combo and number of selfing processes has reached some critical mass, then the Big Flip to “everything arises where it is” happens. But that alone may not get one all the way to MCTB/Ingram 4th. In fact, he thinks that is why some people who claim 4th don’t have all the pieces done and keep seeking—they have just the critical mass needed for the Big Flip, the most major piece. He thinks you, by trial and error, got all done—or at least many more—of the master list items in the sky.

For months we’ve gone looking for lists. There are the chakras, and there are the core processes (and how many of those?). DW is even trying to go through the Derived Material Qualities list from the Visuddimagga. He has assigned parts of that list to the four different paths, a proposed map. For example, he worked on “selfing processes entangled” with male/female sexual identity while on retreat during Second Path. However, I have never worked through anything like that, so his path-specific assignments do not match up with my experiences and therefore don’t make sense to me as a map.

(Of course, I can’t even account for all three paths in my case: I am aware of only two path fruitions, but I definitely match up, insight-wise, with the fifth stage in the Simple Model, so my best guess is that, somehow, I have attained to Third Path. It doesn’t seem to much matter anymore where I am: the maps from MCTB have largely done all the good they can, I think, and now it is about cutting my own path through a mysterious and tangled vastness before me. The only “map” is where my feet happen to tread.)

All these schemes, maps, models—they aren’t going to work for me. I’m not even paying attention to fruitions anymore—whether I have them and the “right” kind—and really couldn’t care less about them. Same with cycles—I pay attention to them to cope with my relative situations as morally skillfully as possible, and that’s really all. I don’t think fruitions are that important, frankly. All of this is just background noise anymore.

Currently, I also don’t sense that my awakening, which I’m convinced is happening, has anything to do with “deletion.” There is something wrongheaded about that word and concept to me, as if strong-willed methodical demolition were it. I feel intuitively that so long as I’m struggling to “get rid of X” then that is a move in the wrong direction somehow. When I’m formally sitting or just walking around, I’m trying to comprehend more, not less, if that makes sense. Setting out to destroy my “self” and arising of what suggests that self seems kind of like the “just let go” bypass—it is attempting to skip the entire insight needed.

One interesting question in all this, though, is that about the Big Flip—the one that accounts for being at least “almost” done. DW thought that you got the Big Flip at the very end of your journey, in India, during your last retreat. However, I pointed out to him that you consistently characterize yourself as having been 95% done well before that point in time. Nevertheless, that 5% of X that was missing, not seen, apparently did something pretty dramatic at the very end.

So . . . this leads me to wonder, were you already nondual in Third or not? Are there degrees of nondual, like being a little bit pregnant? How there could be degrees of such a shift is beyond me. Or is it that nondual was still a kind of mode in Third, one that hadn’t permanently and pervasively touched everything? Is that is what is meant by the 5%—the going beyond nondual a a mere mode, a special one?

I asked Jim if he saw 3rd-to-4th as 95% done, the way you characterize it for yourself. Interestingly, he said no, that right before our video conference he had in fact been sketching out a timeline on his kitchen table, and he figured that where Steph, DW, and I think we are was at most 50% done, probably less, probably only a third of done. Both he and Jamie have been very consistent on the DhU that “being awake” is like day from night to “awakening.” So, however much percent is not done, it makes a 100% difference somehow. So, again, is the nondual of Third Path in any sense really nondual?

All this percentage-of-awake/nondual talk is fundamentally confusing to me. So next I asked Jim, “Okay, so if Third Path was, say 45% of done for you, then did you, over several years after reaching Third, continue to experience little shifts? (“The Arahat fractal is vast, after all.”) He said, “You are asking if I inched up on being awake; the answer is no.” Now, he does say that everything he did up until the 36 hours over which the Big Flip happened did, he senses, help ensure that the Big Flip would happen. He doubts that he would have awakened had he never taken up meditation—even though he stopped meditating a couple of years before the Big Flip happened and pretty much renounced Buddhism.

So if there is no inching up on the thing, whatever it is and however characterized, then what’s with giving the percentages of “done”? Man, I’m just not getting any of this. . . .

Jim did go on to say some things that were compelling to me and made me sense that he is indeed enlightened, has pretty far-reaching insight. Like me, he doesn’t conceive of awakening as a deletion process. However—and this is key, I think—he stated that extreme disenchantment was, he suspects, important in Third. He said he started hating Buddhism, hating MCTB, and hating his Dharma teacher. He thought doing all this work was just folly, nonsense. He quit meditating and went instead on all kind of transformative adventures along the axes of magick and relative reality. So he moved out of New Jersey to the West Coast, he connected deeply with friends, and he started devotional practices to Inanna.

Jamie chimed in with agreement in response to my question—if you want to “map” anything in Third, then the one constant seems to be this disgust, this disenchantment with being a meditator meditating. However—Jim was quick to jump in and say, “It nonetheless pisses me off when everyone on Awake Network tells DW to stop meditating to get Fourth; it makes me hope he’ll go on a 3-month retreat and get Fourth just to screw with them.” In other words, Jim is hardcore on the notion that the path to Fourth is fundamentally unmappable, and deleting X, Y, or Z, including deleting meditation just isn’t enough, or even part of it necessarily.

The disenchantment is not pointing to deletion or even necessarily deconstruction as a mode.


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