I’m so glad you got a lot out of the embodiment retreat. He is a superb teacher: precise, big-hearted, balanced–an exemplar of sanity.
Dwelling in the arms of the Mother is healing. Like you, I felt joy many times so deeply during the pointing-out narrative that I almost openly wept.
I especially loved this weekend how he would have us be as the Mother gazing into the eyes of her infant, and then have us be the infant gazing into the eyes of the Mother. And then listening for our child, listening for the coo of our Mother. And holding–enveloping and enveloped.
In 1995, after 20 hours of labor, I gazed deeply into the bright, alert eyes of my son. A mother never forgets looking into her child’s eyes for the first time. It will likely be one of the last images that comes to mind as I die. During this weekend retreat, the mother-infant archetype, floating up from the depths of meditation, shattered something in me, some last withholding. I understood. I saw with the heart. I understood.
The open, boundary-less ground of everything is Mother–vast, silent, still. Rigpa is the infant, the individual’s knowing the Mother. Infant awareness is of Mother awareness because Mother awareness encompasses infant awareness. This union is not homogeneous, but relational–a theme defining the Mahayana traditions.
Logocentricity versus Metaphoricity as Method
I suspect that many men, or analytical types, have a harder time than women and creative types in responding to the metaphoricity that is so much a part of the instructional method in Indo-Tibetan pointing-out and other teachings. For example, on the very male-dominated Dharma Overground (DhO), I can’t imagine that this sort of Madonna metaphor would go over well. There is on the DhO an emphasis on the following:
- Linear rationality
- Charting, diagramming, and mapping “territory”
- Hierarchical construction of binary signs
- Doing, achieving, and attaining
- Measuring results
- Comparing attainment with others’ attainments
- Counting with numbers ascending “levels” of states and stages
- Debating (logos) on dharma theory (logic)
- Reduction of emotions to fine-grained, merely observable “sensations”
The point I’m making here is that all that “doing” and competing is stuck in a masculinist perspective that is anathema–actually the obstruction–that prevents opening to the View, awareness.
Metaphoricity is appealing to creative imagination, to the most foundational relational archetype in the World: Mother-child. That relationship is not about drawing the lines of measurement and quantifiable hierarchy; it is about a nondual inseparable relationship of the particular to the whole, and the whole to the particular. And it is personal, interpersonal.
Now, if the relationship were chiefly erotic instead of maternal, then you can bet that the male principle would be figured as dominant, somehow, in the binary signifier male/female.
JC once said to me that a tantric merging with the feminine that is only erotic is essentially adolescent, inadequate. Full surrender is merging with the Mother. I suspect that merging with the Mother, giving oneself over to her, is not a topic that would go over well on most public forums, the DhO in particular.
The Trouble with Treating Emotions as an “It”
I want to say something about this bullet point from above, “reducing emotions to fine-grained, merely observable ‘sensations.“
This is important. Under MCTB (1 and 2), practitioners are bound to get stuck. Why? Well, because they bypass the second-person relational way of meditating on an "object” in favor of a third-person perspective that reduces experience to an “it.” JC sometimes touches on this point. He did so again this weekend.
If you are seeing your emotions arise as “empty,” that’s great; however, seeing them as empty is normally not enough to change the pattern of painful habitual reactions on the relative level.
Likewise, if you are “vipassanizing” your emotions into “vibratory” sensations, then you are bypassing the very human reality of what you are experiencing. You are making your emotions an “it” that you can transcend and gaze down on objectively. This bypassing is otherwise known as dissociation.
Many technical meditators can get quite far on unbalanced, domineering, masculinist practice. However, they tend to take their attainments and use them to split off and deny intimacy hunger and emotions in general. Until such practitioners bring practice back to the level of direct second-person relationship, then they will be split at their own core.
So it is not enough to see that the bodily sensations of suffering are a gazillion transient pixelated sensations that one can “observe”; one has to acknowledge and embody experience as something one relates to as equivalent, as face-to-face, as human life itself. Only then will the deepest emotional scars and patterns be metabolized and the life made fully human and whole.
The Mother holds us, wants us, patiently awaits our growth and recognition. Awakened awareness seeks us. When we are completely cognizant of her as the true agent of our awakening, as the automaticity that quashes seeking, then the infant (rigpa) is stabilized at full flaring intensity.
Mother is the feminine principle; rigpa, the infant, is the male. The nondual inseparable union is most of the way to full enlightenment. It is the automatic reflexivity of awareness released into the unobstructed natural state. Although the infant lucidity is the male principle, it remains super-interesting, as well as most instructive, that its manifestation requires that he rest. Where does he rest? In the arms of the Mother.
Mother is the ground, matter, and agent, and she wants to find us. Awakening, in other words, is inevitable, as we rest in the natural state.