Signs of Readiness for the Natural State via Essence Mahamudra
What a weird sit—fascinating and far from the usual, to the extent there is such a thing in one who looks forward to the jhanas immensely. I sat for an hour and 20 minutes and had to make myself stop because of duties. I could have sat all night.
Daytime Restlessness and Impatience
Which brings up the question, where am I? I was irritable today—incredibly impatient and antsy. I was working on MCTB2 and becoming cross for no good reason. I wanted and intended to go for a long walk to work off the edginess, but then I got an upset stomach and couldn’t. It felt almost like I was in Disgust, but last night I was in Equanimity, so that wouldn’t make sense unless some fractal nesting of one stage inside another.
So I calmed myself down through reasoning self-talk and proceeded with my work. Today I have to go to the office to make up missed work there. I’m always hunched over a computer. I need to move, need to resume massage therapy, need to return to the body, need to ground, need to renounce and turn. I’ve no idea why, but some weird switch was flipped during that last big, intense cycle. It is like the magic has gone out of the dharma. Like I want to be alone. Like I’m no longer dream-seeking, thrilled, and fascinated. Maybe this is good, but it feels like loss of magic. Disenchantment. Like something is ruined now and will never be the same again.
DW says, “Welcome to third path.” Haha.
I feel like an impostor about claiming third path. But, hey, luminosity!
Reduced Fabrication in Jhāna
Oh, the sit. First jhana was distinct. Fourth was the center of gravity again. I stayed in it an unusually long time, looking for something, as it were. There was no nimitta. But there was a sense of flux—not fine vibrations, but roiling. Space roiled through body. I was aware of awareness itself roiling through the room, body, sight (when I opened eyes) and everything. I spent a long time here, waiting for something to show up, but I don’t know what I was waiting for.
Fifth, Boundless Space, which for so many months was my favorite and compelling jhana is now one I tend to rush through and find problematic to hold. Interestingly, I am lately having a really hard time telling it from sixth. Boundless Space and Boundless Consciousness—I’m trying to figure out the difference. The problem is that Boundless Space feels like consciousness to me now. Boundless Conscious does come with this subtle shift from the lower body field to the head. So my head space seems sacrosanct, radiating out.
DW says this is a problem! Party pooper!
Okay. So I tried to exert less energy in sixth, to just let the jhana be. That was interesting. When I’m not pushing my “own” consciousness “out,” it seems to be a roiling sheet of sorts, but 3D. It fluctuates more, sometimes with body fields, sometimes with vision, sometimes with subtle thought. It is less homogeneous when less forced outward, moving more. Fascinating!
Nothingness (j7) has become this really nice resting place for me. Really cool and dark, like the Underground! Just as I have had to learn not to push out so much in fifth and sixth, so here I’ve had to learn to ease into the black pockets instead of forcefully contracting a self. Forcefully contracting oneself—what a weird inny-out! Just a few weeks ago, I felt air hunger in this state. Now it is like a soft bed.
Same with eighth about relaxing and easing up on the effort. My advice, once you manage to push yourself into eighth, is this: Soon after those sits are reached, stop pushing. Just tune into Nothingness, don’t rush, don’t push, but instead just let it happen. Eighth is now a subtler thing. I’m not always even sure I got in it. It is like a black hole to memory.
The Let’s-Not-Fabricate-Jhanas P8JP Jhana
I came out and resolved for nirodha samapatti (NS(. I tried to forget about the resolution, but that will have to become so routine that I really really forget about it. Interesting—at the post-eighth junction point (P8JP), I seem nowadays to be in another state, a strange one. It is formless but lucid, pure, and restful. It is kind of like fourth, but more refined, thinner, but not as contracted and black as Nothingness, and not utterly discombobulating like NPNYNP (j8). In this state, all urge to fabricate jhanas goes. I feel I could sit forever, and it is extremely hard to end the session. At one point, I felt I might be powering down, as if toward NS, but false alarm. The body did power down—I mean completely. But mind kept going and definitely a sense of time, which was about 4 to 6 minutes. This Whatever state was so neutral, restful, and compelling that I couldn’t exit. I finally opened my eyes and could see things mildly fluxing with the turn of attention. Maybe this is what Daniel means by “attention wave”?
Watching attention “itself” is a weird experience that seems to induce that sense of immediacy that I guess is what Daniel calls “agencylessness.”
States were not vibratory, but rolling and so neutral that they were nearly numb physically and blank emotionally.
I’ve gone on previously about how, when Daniel told me that “ultimate reality” is just the Three Characteristics but without the Suffering one, I had an opening that led to this path shift known as luminosity. Well, today, working on the book, I was telling him that he needed to add that to the book. He wrote back to me with this:
Want to get really crazy about it? You could actually get very, very out there and say that all three vanish, but that is likely to just totally confuse nearly everybody.
Postscript 2.5 Years Later: Guidance toward MCTB Fourth Path
This statement by Daniel indicates to me, from where I sit now, that he opened rigpa and oriented to the Mother (kunzhi) sufficient to drop the Subject. So it continues to baffle me that (1) he never went beyond the 3Cs in our version MCTB2 to explain what ultimate reality actually is, (2) he never stopped insight stage cycling whereas I and reportedly others stopped cycling when rigpa opened, and (3) he denies having experienced the affect purification from dharmakaya release. What is most dumbfounding is that dharmakaya release automatically begins upon the realization of the Ground, which is in essence MCTB Fouth Path. It certainly began for me and others I know at that same point. Why not for him? It is an interesting mapping quandary, and so far I’ve not come up with or heard from others any theory that makes sense.
This post and the one before it mention the beginning of my inability to tell j5 from j6. These days I consider j5 a conditioned and limited pointer to the kunzhi, and consider j6 the same for rigpa. Moreover, I think j7 is akin to absorption into the central channel from where masters used to practice Mahamudra, and j8 is a model for the space-time travel of a fully realized buddha. Detail on these correspondences will appear in my book.
For now, if you are practicing jhana and are in the neighborhood of MCTB Third Path attainment, I suggest paying a lot of investigative metacognition to the difference between Boundless Space and Boundless Consciousness. Can you notice and document the difference between these two states phenomenologically? Conversely, can you notice and delineate all the characteristics between the two that are identical? Over calendar time, watch for (1) the point at which Boundless Consciousness rather than Boundless Space becomes the center of gravity in your daily practice, and (2) the point at which the two states become increasingly hard to distinguish from one another.
When you have felt spaciousness in daily life and luminosity as baseline, and then you begin to notice the difficulty in distinguishing j5 from j6, then my advice is to seek out a retreat in the Essence Mahamudra methods. Note the term Essence, which is to say, not sutra and not vajrayana. Essence Mahamudra is equivalent to Dzogchen Trekchöd.