Post-Nirodha Bliss Continues
Tasting MCTB2 Path and Fruit
I concentrated most of the day on finishing some very tough detailed work on the Path and Fruit chapter of MCTB2. It contains the Six Doors section which hung Daniel and me up for weeks. I realized a couple of days ago, though, that I actually clearly experienced the no-self/impermanence door August 8. The problem is, I experienced it after the cessation and before I was layered back into being per Dependent Origination. However, I read in this Buddhist Phenomenology book I found online to read about NS that encountering the Three Contacts (doors) can occur after cession, not just before.
I’ve written to Daniel to confront him about this since I’ve told him repeatedly what happened after that cessation. At any rate, confident that I’ve experienced the very door that hung us up, I proceeded to fill out Daniel’s description for those who haven’t experienced it clearly; even so, this will be the most cryptic part of the book.
One goodie that came of the voluminous email struggles we had over this chapter is that I forced Daniel to list all the reasons he needs this section to be in the book at all. His answers were good and allowed me to piece together a passage that better sets out his purpose and audience than MCTB1 did. It helps. It both encourages hope and effort, and allays practice performance anxiety.
Just Sitting, Not Syncing
I sat about 50 minutes, meaning to sit only 30 since it was very late. I was “just sitting.”
The sit began with almost disturbingly loud sound of all the tones in the so-called silence. In fact, I’m still hearing an overabundance of “ringing.” Then I noticed a flood of other sensations and, beyond that, how I could not attend to all of them at once, and how effortful it was to keep this illusion of body-mind-self coherence going.
There was the scent of my violet crown chakra votive candle from the hippie mart; there was the almost-gone breath, exquisite; there was bad aching in my lower back that minutes later was totally gone simply because other sensations came to the fore. Impermanence was screaming loudly moment-by-moment and across all the categories and locations of sensations that I could not attend to all at the same time. Things could not synchronize, and I was the reason.
Looking for the Luminous Thread in the Core Processes
I opened my eyes sometimes and saw ordinary objects shine forth with “thought.” And I remembered my exchanges with Daniel over how I can possibly work luminosity on “this side.” I remembered that he said to try to see my own memories and daydreams as more of that object world which is just happening, more “stuff.” I remembered how much he stresses the “core processes” as the objects of notice in the Equanimity chapter. I remembered, too, how in his memoir of late third path he narrates working hard to see these core processes.
I continued the meditation. While my eyes were still open, I noticed a strong sense of nondoer; however, I then noticed turning of attention to even this. Attention is a kind of barely visible intention (hey, Pawel!). Daniel told me to especially pay attention to those processes that seem so, so ordinary that that they are hard to even see as existing just to preserve the illusion of a controlling, permanent self. How can I profitably pay attention to attention itself? This is getting damned tricky. I guess the same way I did everything before now: Simply look, simply see.
I closed my eyes and let myself be flooded with memories and daydreams. I saw the gorgeous pale pink-and-white hydrangeas in the window boxes of the the Plaza hotel in NYC. I saw the mahogany and burgundy velvet above the tea room. I saw flashes of green vistas from various balconies of my night dreams; I remembered eating my first kumquat in Florida as a child; I remembered eating grape Popsicles in the summertime heat of my childhood, with the hum of the AC at my back; I remember stopping my car on a road near Valdosta, Georgia, in my late 20s, just to take photos of this old white rural house; I remember lying in bed naked with Kurt after lovemaking 28 years ago while Paul Kane sat on the bed with us, smoking weed. I remembered being on LSD with my best friend Robyn and sitting across from her on the floor beside an open second storey window and staring into her beautiful morphing blue eyes; I remember studying for many hours, year after year, in the lounge on the top floor of Davis library in grad school, gazing on the fall leaves for miles stretching toward Raleigh and hearing Shelley in my head as I now hear Daniel; I remember my first look into my only son’s eyes after I gave birth to him, one line of our shared blood writ across the bridge of his nose.
All of these mind moments—are they me? Are they Jenny Margaret? Or are they just sensations, just the warp and woof of this entire field of this material plane? I could feel after this wondrous stream how everything illusorily in my purview wants to synchronize, and how just barely “off” everything is from corresponding with itself naturally. And all this obfuscation is because of another barely visible core process: resistance.
Nirodha Samapatti as Possible Path Moment
Eric emailed me to ask if I have any “afterglow” still from the NS. After sleeping so much of the weekend, thinking I was in Dissolution and then Fear last night, now I feel very focused and fantastic. Overall, since the NS, I’ve felt very A&P. This makes me think that NS was actually a path, maybe third path attainment itself. In other words, I’m looking to see if I’m in Review. This feels so far like the “honeymoon” period of about a month’s duration that I had with each of my known two paths.
I’m exuberant, expressive, and interested in magic and sex. Basically, this feels like an A&P stage.
I chatted with Tommy M yesterday about NS and path attainments in connection with it. But I need some sleep, so more later.
Ever since my last sit in the wee hours, as recorded above, I’ve been in a state of almost debilitating bliss and deep, deep peace. In other words, it is as though I can, so far, access the NS afterglow, which is just crazy! Note that last sit was not a jhana sit but explicitly vipassana-side “just sitting.”
My two prior paths were each followed by a month-long honeymoon period that felt like one long A&P. In short, I feel that this is a very auspicious time to make formal resolutions, so I’ll need to get it together before this goes. I feel that top-level is A&P, regardless of mini-cycles, and I can rise to fourth jhana to resolve.