Post Daniel Ingram Deleted from the Dharma Overground
Someone today pointed me to a thread on the DhO, where I don’t ordinarily go, and there was Daniel going on about how Progress of Insight cycling continues after MCTB 4th Path. I had a DhO sockpuppet that I never used, but I thought someone, chiefly Daniel, might benefit from what I had to say about cycling, its stopping, and its restarting. So I posted. He is supposedly on retreat, but he swiftly deleted it. I had copied my work, thank goodness, and tried reposting it. Again, he swiftly deleted the post and banned the poor declawed Bodhi Cat. Meowwwww! Not to let a good post go to waste, I’ll paste it here, where the “Overlord” holds no scepter. Good information ought to be welcome on the DhO, but then that wouldn’t be characteristic of that space. I wish I were kidding. Below is my reply to Daniel’s comments in the “5th Path” post on the DhO, a reply addressing his claim that insight stages continue to cycle after MCTB 4th path is attained, “at least for me,” he writes. After he deleted and banned Bodhi (which means enlightenment), there ensued some private texts and emails with him. I remained calm, but his envy and ill-will were apparent. His current retreat is not doing much opening or lifting, it seems. Maybe that is because he is spending it closely monitoring the DhO. I truly hope he finds his way to someplace higher. Comrad Bodhi concurs, or would had he lived.
R.I.P. Bodhi Cat
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[Reply to Daniel on the DhO Post “5th Path]
I attained MCTB 4th Path. There is certainty about this attainment, unmediated direct certainty. For whatever it may be worth in terms of credibility in this conversation, I underwent months of my teacher’s probing for any sign of the contrary, and this attainment was confirmed by the teacher, as well. I was doing awareness practices on retreat when the center dissolved permanently almost 2 years ago.
Since then, I’ve experienced a deepening and deepening and deepening that is not a series of distinctive “shifts,” but instead is what feels like a continuous slow seeping into every nook and cranny of the self (which does exist but as pure presence without identity content and without the identification process that makes people normally experience even their own subjectivity as an object, a representation). I cannot say what the nooks and crannies actually are, or were, but the feeling is of a continuous sonic booming to greater oceanic depths of that original awakening.
I cycled hard before 4th path, with intense A&P stages and some devastating, ruinous Dark Nights. But the day the center dissolved, that cycling stopped. To be completely honest, I did occasionally notice mild A&P emergence. Whenever that happened, I would actually try to track whether the Dark Night stages followed. But I could never tell that they did, even when I looked for them. And the A&P stages were much milder than they were before 4th, and rare. I stopped identifying with insight stages. They ceased to be interesting in any way. As patterned experience, they paled in the blazing light of rigpa (clarity) and the one taste of emptiness.
Incidentally, I have a friend in this community who I’m convinced reached 4th path, and this is the only other person I know whose descriptions seem absolutely credible to me. He also stopped cycling at 4th path.
Oddly enough, recently, the cycles seemed to restart for me, after a year and a half of not being able to discern any cycles (other than rare and mild A&P). What was I doing or experiencing that made them restart? I’m still trying to sort this out, which may require time to give perspective, but I had at the time gotten into some pretty weird spaces with esoteric practices. I became extremely antisocial and locked myself in a bedroom for many hours every night, talking to nonphysical beings and practicing. I also was at a point at which I was rebelling against Buddhism, against the very lineage that got me so far. Part of this is the natural shedding of the Path as some new Fruition nears, but I don’t think that’s all of it.
This topic is too complex and personal to go far into here, but the rebellion was apparently in part a resurgence of narcissistic stuff from early childhood (and late childhood, too, most likely). According to some mapped psychological correlates of awakening, essential (not necessarily neurotic or pathological) narcissism (neurotic in me, though) intensifies before major new levels of awakening. It might manifest, for example as idealizing transference with one’s teacher, along with mirror transference (intensified need to be seen as special and to be appreciated as uniquely talented by the teacher).
It was like 2nd path turmoil, but at a much deeper fundamental level of bare existence and without spinning me out into reactivity. Speaking of reactivity, even though reactivity is rare and mild when I’m pulled out of rigpa by something intimately connected with said childhood stuff, this is the domain (childhood trauma) that remains an identity barrier or obscuration. This is fine, because I have a highly qualified teacher, and the practices are doing themselves at this point in a way that is clearly progressing and deepening the former awakenings toward ultimate fruition, by which I do not mean MCTB 4th. path.
I no longer think of things in terms of four paths, and I certainly no longer believe revised 4th path is “done.” I don’t identify myself as “arahat.” What is missing, or deficient, in my view and experience, when cycling persists or resumes is rigpa, and, specifically, the emptiness-of-time realization. There is a deeper surrender necessary after 4th path, one that requires giving up magick, for starters.
There is a deeper magick than that of the tantrikas. It is the magick that unfolds when you do not do magick. It is the magick of simply being present as pure being, a vessel through which cosmological-scale magick happens. It is best to lay off deliberate magick and wait for this scale of knowledge to unfold naturally, in my view and experience, and according to my teacher. Practicing magick from the still knotted holdouts of identity post-4th-path is one surefire way to derail the path to Buddhahood, I’m told, and my preliminary assessments are that my cycling reemerged largely because I began casting spells after a long hiatus. The spells were nothing dark by any means, but I was “sure” about the ends and was rebelling against lineage cautions about the “means.” I became increasingly pulled out and ungrounded, and the cycles reemerged temporarily. Magick is a side track, a derailing, golden chains. And when sufficient depths of surrender have been reached, magick will naturally lose all allure, all glamour. This is a sign of progress.
I don’t have time right now for rigpa wars or omniscience debates, for treading that conceptualized territory that consumes, unfruitfully, so many forums. Such theoretical debates are of little use and can actually cause confusion for those who are not ready for, say, the completion practices in Tibetan Buddhism. I can certainly have those discussions at a separate time, but not today and probably not publicly.
So what can help the cycling to stop? Practices beyond Mahamudra, and certainly far beyond ordinary vipassana. For example, your mind may indeed be liberated, and there is no more “doing” at the level of identification and perception (those processes have unknotted), but the attainment of 4th has to be allowed to unknot the rest, including the subtle body, including psychodynamic (second-person relationship patterns set in early childhood). This requires certain specific allowing/surrender practices beyond Mahamudra if one is aiming for Buddhahood in this lifetime. Buddhahood, not just 4th path “arahatship,” is absolutely possible in this lifetime. And buddhahood means to be nondefective on all “axes,” as no “axes” of the person are actually separate from pure nonrepresentational Being, and that means on the level of personality disturbances, neuroticism, and even the defects of “normal” psychological health.
What I’m saying cannot be proven. No debate will show the truth of it where communion has failed. It isn’t subject to third-party verification processes, as you know. But, for whatever it is worth, I promise you that it is so, that there is more territory beyond MCTB 4th, that miraculous deepenings are so very possible, that complete healing and “magick” beyond your imagination are in the offing.
Tantra can help with subtle body and psychodynamic duality at specific trouble spots for the practitioner, but Dzogchen is the only tradition that has the means to buddhahood without the need to go through the dying process to reach it. It requires very deep surrender, total naturalness, beyond what sustains the Two Truths as two truths. There are not true truths; there is only wholeness for those who realize it.
There are many ways to maintain and deepen surrender to the Unbounded Whole, adjuncts to Dzogchen. For example, when my recent reemergence of cycling started causing me to drink vodka martinis and eat beef after esoteric practices, I knew I had a problem, that I was trying to ground magick energies that had got too pointed and hot. My teacher prescribed, along with a certain prayer/invocation, yin yoga, which quickly calmed everything down again by rebalancing energies and emphasizing surrender at the bodily and energetic (meridian) levels (fascia, and even bone structure is altered). I assume each asana, which is intense, for 3 to 5 minutes and continually release into gravity (these are passive stretches, yin). I meditate in the poses, folded over in full surrender even to the pain.
One is not fully enlightened until subtle remaining exteriority of vision is corrected via Togal visions. Rigpa (luminous awareness) doesn’t reach full measure until third vision is completed. Fourth vision apparently ends with a massive cessation-singularity and “return” to life. Everything stops and restarts, just as in an MCTB “fruition,” which is extremely interesting in the context of this discussion about insight stages. The visions are not “magick” that you “do”; however, they open up a nonphysical dimension co-occurring with physical matter reality eventually, the height of rigpa, the completeness of Unbounded Wholeness. No other tradition has this, not even essence Mahamudra. Alternatively, one can “finish” the path to buddhahood when the visions arise in the bardo after death.
MCTB 4th path can be a trap, velvet handcuffs. It feels so, so “done.” And it is done, as far as what can be done via vipassana (ordinary special insight) and Mahamudra (extraordinary special insight) goes. Dzogchen maps call for stabilization and deepening of what you so far think cannot be deepened, namely MCTB 4th. In Dzogchen, this first level of deepening is Trekchod (“cutting through all solidity and reactivity”). Then there is is the Path of Togal. Until you have gone through all four visions, had that fruition, and are lucidly aware throughout both dreams and dreamless sleep, you cannot say that you have taken awakening as far as it can go in this lifetime. It can indeed deepen—and how. Emptiness does indeed become “more empty,” but you cannot know what you do not know experientially for yourself.
Another sign that deepening is occurring via these other maps is that moral codes are shed, hyper-classification notions like “separate axes of development” are dissolved. This is because ultimate compassion-love is arising spontaneously, and all codified behavior is abandoned as the exteriorized identity crutch that it is. Of course, one has to be cautious, have discriminating wisdom, for apparently I shed too much too fast recently, and the resumption of POI cycling was the sign, which I was grateful for having so that I could remediate and regroup.
A book that I’m currently reading that maps awakening from a western depth psychology and object relations theory perspective is A. H. Almaas’s The Point of Existence: Transformations of Narcissism in Self-Realization. I cannot put this book down, and I highly recommend it, if for no other reason than his phenomenological descriptions of what seems equivalent to MCTB 4th, but in much different language than yours, and from a linguistic perspective of the former Subject rather than the Field of sensations. A very, very nuanced treatment.
My qualifications are that this book misunderstands Dzogchen as method. This is a old book, and Almaas states that he thinks westerners will be alienated by Eastern methods. His own methods seem to be inquiry with students that goes to far more subtle depths than psychotherapy but, to me, resembles it. So this is not a methods book. It is a phenomenological description over against developmental psychology, so it is a correlate map. The guy is a genius, and his precision is a huge theoretical help. This book addresses central narcissism in awakening. Next I’m going to read the Pearl beyond Price and The Void, which I think address other psychological disturbances/disorders and barriers. Despite his method that looks a lot like therapy, Almaas states that therapy cannot actually resolve narcissism or other psychological patterns; only realization can.