Relinquishing What’s Special
This post is a somewhat sanitized version of one that is in my private journal. There are some things you don’t want to know, trust me. The title for this post came on with insistence as I was falling asleep two nights ago, after I finished reading the cards shown here.
Since November 20, I’ve noted in my journals the reemergence of the Suffering of Change known as the Progress of Insight, after a year and a half with a sense that the cycling had ended with the exception of occasional mild Arising and Passing Away (A&P) flares, which I found fun. Since November, either I’ve become weirder, or I’ve started noticing and wondering about insidious weirdness: probably a bit of both. The patterns involved the following, as noted previously:
- rebellion against Buddhism and conventional morality
- engagement in certain magic spells on others
- isolation for hours most nights to talk with beings not physically present
- alternation between boredom and obsession with my main formal practice and resulting experiences
- experiences of siddhis opening
- feelings of ungroundedness
- insomnia and reluctance to sleep night after night
- compulsive continuation of formal practice in dreams, with a sense that I cannot escape the practice
- eating too much and drinking vodka at night after practice to blunt raptures and intensity of compassion waves
I discussed all this with my teacher, who cast these issues in terms of applying appropriate filters on certain archetypes, connecting firmly with compassion, and resolving energetic imbalances. After I told him near the beginning of the talk that I sensed “something big is going to happen,” he asked whether that expectation might be some conceptual notion that is causing reemergence of dukkha. I thought, dukkha? And at first I rejected this notion. I explained that it was precisely the intensity of bliss and compassion during practice that had me running for the dark, beef, horror movies, and vodka (dakini fare). The darkness is not during practice itself.
So what is all this flight to solid darkness about? As usual, there are multiple ways of explaining what has been going on, and I may fail to figure it all out until I land on the treatment, or treatments, that bring resolution. I did mention to him that one notion that has been haunting me is how fast my path has been and the resulting question I’ve been harboring about whether I’m “chosen” somehow for some mission about which I have little say. However, such thoughts are common during an A&P stage, so it is hard to sort cause from effect in this regard. we reviewed all the more mundane reasons that my path has been relatively fast, especially noting my suggestibility and low threshold for altered states.
There is a sense that I’m clinging to some last vestige of self and independent (narcissistic) will.
Interestingly, the little suffering I’ve always had at the beginning of my current practice sessions has become amplified during this period of emerging shadow sides and dakini-dark will-to-power episodes. Driven by compassion as an end, I have exercised means that are not strictly in accordance with codified morality. The little fear at the beginning of practice is that nothing new will by way of results will show up after all. And it is boredom when several nights go by without any novelty or spectacular anything. It is a reification, and it has insidiously grown fangs in the dark of reclusion. Very little shows up that is new, and the result has been that I’m casting about for some other practice, or I’m just confused and somewhat stymied.
But I think all this is precisely the point: Nothing new is happening, and there is now this suffering of change precisely because I’m filled with expectancy/fear of some Big New Thing (enlightenment). So the teacher is correct. He hit the nail on the head, and quickly. I’m seeking. And that seeking has to burn itself out, for it is pulling me out of the natural state. Otherwise, the realization becomes just another of the ego’s power grabs.
Magic is the temptation of Mara. My teacher spoke of the deeper magick, deeper than that of the tantrikas: This is the magick of not doing magick but simply being there, a vessel. This is the profundity far beyond spectacle and mystique, and it is in this that my true nature lies. It is the last return, what for eons I’ve been trying to remember.
The prescription he gave me was as follows:
- bedtime yin yoga practice, which is based on surrender and long passive asanas for deep tissue and energetic release
- addition of MCT oil to the diet to quell sugar craving borne of practice-induced energetic imbalance
- a deep dive into the Biology of Kundalini website: http://www.biologyofkundalini.com/
- nightly recitation of the Prayer of Kuntuzangpo and study of a certain commentary on it
I’ve been doing yin yoga nightly since talking with him and absolutely love it. It has restored my ability to sleep (and all night), made me feel grounded and normal, and made me return to eating better and seeking exercise and outdoors time. I feel a strong draw to physicality, which is what Dharma by Daylight was really supposed to be about: daily life and embodiment. It is relieving to return to the body, even if it sets aside the specialness of esoteric practices.
So last night I threw these cards, thinking about my practice path as I did.
Understand the Past: The Sun
The Sun is a major arcana card that is about high masculine effort, energy, and illumination. I immediately thought “rigpa” when it turned up. The sun is the end of the Fool’s path in Tarot, where he realizes that he has been the Sun all along, that there was nothing to attain. He had only to remember who he was and thereby fill the entire universe. But, upon such realization, the fool takes this knowledge and steps off the cliff again. For cosmic hide-and-seek is cyclical, as is my path. The past of linear progress is a thwarted notion yet again. Now even the insight stages have re-arisen.
So this card is remarking that self-realization requires self-forgetting, and self-forgetting is path, path back to self-realization. Insight cycles have reemerged recently because grasping at special transcendent states and practices has drawn me back into the vicious circle of my own suffering. But no matter, for now I’m wiser. I will not react to the reaction and compound the problem. Nor shall I wait in fear or expectancy. I’ll simply let be.
This card is also traditionally about logos, about communication, especially writing. The message is that to find my purpose I need to look at the talents I was born with: writing.
The Sun is the glory of God, but also the glory of the individual, the infant. I’ve never been born, nor shall I die. But I need to lay off the magick.
Understand the Present: The Three of Swords
The Three of Swords is a card people tremble to see appear in a more traditional reading. It portends heartbreak and the ruin of an important relationship. It is suffering, and it is personal. See how contrasted the blues, violets, and grays of this card are with the blinding yellows of the Sun? The reassuring compass in the corner of the Sun is replaced with obscuring clouds here. However, Marie White writes that the dove that is descending here into flesh, into embodiment, is carrying the “arrows of the sun’s light.” My teacher often says that the journey up to the crown, transcendence, is inevitably followed by a journey back down to earth, to embodiment, to the Nirmanakaya. This card is about acceptance, the radical acceptance of current suffering, for the rays of light captured by the dove must be brought back down to Earth. As far as the human relationship component goes, this card is about the fact that the agent who wounded me was a divine gift.
Be This: The Page of Cups
This card is a court card, so it indicates an actual (youthful) person. It is also in the advice position of the reading. The blues and violets resemble the colors of the Three of Swords, but here they are clear water and sails set for journeying. This Page’s strength is unconditional love for herself and others. The advice is to project calm thoughts into the world and to take complete responsibility for manifesting appropriate thoughts and emotions, which is part of what my teacher was advising, as well: to be careful about what archetypes I let through when, to maintain control over that filtering, to keep an eye on the inner dakinis and vampires. This card explicitly advises right thoughts, right emotions, and right actions.
See Where All Is Heading: The Eight Of Cups Reversed
This is an outcome position, and here, strangely, we have fear of pain and vulnerability, the reverse of an open heart. The young girl in the picture is cloaked with Hercules’s lion’s skin to indicate that strength comes from the ability to be open-hearted and vulnerable. This card, reversed, portends a closed and guarded heart and, consequently, a fall from righteousness.
Logically, this would not be the outcome of following the Page of Cups as advice. So I’m not sure what to make of this part of the reading. Is it saying that I have some more dark stuff to go through? More fear? Clearly, this card is communicating with the Page card: Both are about young girls (Little Jenny) and open-hearted generosity.
I found on researching the traditional version of this card that it shows someone walking away from eight filled cups left on a shore. So, like the Page from my Mary-el deck shown here, there is the image of turning away from something or someone and starting out on a different journey. It can be about my needing to move on from something about my current practice, or it could be about abandonment and rejection I suffered as a child. A while back, my teacher told me to go back in time in meditation to Little Jenny at points of trauma and pour on the compassion. I did this practice only once, however, finding it difficult. So I may need to confront that I abandoned abandonment work. At any rate, this card in reverse can indicate an inability to let go, or a hesitancy to move on from relationship patterns that do not serve.
I may do additional reading around this one card for clearer divination. It is an intrinsically difficult card to read.
Contemplate the Visual Whole
Looking back at the visual Gestalt of this spread, I notice that the present, the advice, and the outcome positions all feature cards with a vulnerable youthful figure in a pose of curling inward and away from the obvious, open position of reference, from me the onlooker. The Page’s curve of neck repeats the curved neck of the dove that is descending into embodiment. And both show the same colors. The girl in the Eight of Cups is cloaked in a gift of symbolic strength, but she is upside-down with it, not straightforward, and the traditional version of this card shows a traveler who, like the Page of Cups, has literally turned his back on an emotional situation and is poised to go in a completely different direction, although with hard, hard reluctance..