Settling, Patience, and Letting Go: A Community Project
One thing Daniel told me recently was to practice patience in the face of my recent intense (and distressing) Desire for Deliverance, which went on for almost two months. He tells me to investigate patterns “gently” and mainly just to let my recent (January/February) attainment “settle.” He says the brain can only rewire so fast, and I got stream entry less than a year ago. I said to him, “Then why do I feel like I’ve been doing this for lifetimes?”
What do I mean by “vipassana”? Only that the Three Characteristics will show up in the concentration states, breaking “pure” samatha. Reality will show itself, its true nature, as it were, until even that “true nature” is undone and the Three Characteristics vanish for good.
Jenny, I’ve found myself coming to the same conclusion about patience from an experience that I think stems from a very similar place as your recent Desire for Deliverance, but probably not as intense. By listening to something Adyashanti has said, and some things that Daniel has said, and some things that I have experienced, it feels like usually the cause is in some notion we are holding on to that either
- This can’t be it so I will try and in very subtle ways manipulate this experience, which clearly isn’t even a “thing,” nor does it help.
- That we have some notion of what our practice or reality should look like.
I have found useful incredible, incredible honesty about if I’m in any way trying to manipulate reality, as well as the fact that “awareness” doesn’t really care if it’s having a “bad” or “good” time; it’s this weird constructed notion of ourselves that gets really fussy about that. This has helped me remember to (my recent mantra): Chill the fuck out.
Vasily, you have such useful insight. I really appreciate your Zen-inspired perspectives. They are an often useful antidote to the crazymaking effort-manipulation and refuge-seeking knots we suddenly find ourselves in. I usually actually take perverse pleasure in Desire for Deliverance—I love all the cathartic weeping, praying—”melodharmas,” as Daniel calls them, haha. But when it goes on for 7 weeks? Not so fun anymore.
Upthread, you will see that I sent out strong intention after one of my sits to draw the card that would respond directly to this painfully long Desire for Deliverance. I drew the High Priestess, and that is an emphatically Yin card, one urging passivity, openness, and a “practice” consisting of patience.
I had told Daniel about my drawing the High Priestess, who urges patience. Here is what he wrote, and after reading it, that night I sat and went to High Mastery Equanimity and had the clearest experience of formations to date (I still haven’t posted here my entry for that sit by the way).
Jenny (to Daniel)
Lately, even “watching the motions of attraction and aversion” is taking me nowhere.
Good. There is nowhere to get to but here. That’s the sort of response that drives people nuts, but it is still true. It is also not possible that practice isn’t doing something, even if you can’t see that right now.
I think that you can combine settling, patience and strong concentration. Settling is settling into right now, into this. Patience is allowing that sense of pulling to be embraced now and letting go of something (not a phrase I use lightly, but it seems to apply here). Concentration has to be grounded in this moment, in this plane, in these sensations, so it is also patience, and it is also settling. “Let it settle,” as Christopher Titmuss so wisely said to me one day. I would still be with the settling. That’s what comes to me this early, circadian-ly disrupted morning.
Jenny (to Elizabeth)
I too am looking forward to the dropping of MCTB2. We got really bogged down in the two most difficult chapters of the book—”Equanimity” and “Path and Fruit,” the latter of which includes the “Three Doors” section, which has always driven me bonkers and which caused me to drive Daniel bonkers over my being bonkers about it.
He’s also even more overworked than usual now because three of his colleagues resigned.
We have finished “Equanimity,” which is fantastic and the most important chapter in the whole book. It was worth it that he and I took the time to haggle over every little part of it. We are both very, very happy.
We are almost done with “Path and Fruit,” now that we spent some 15 pages of email struggling with each other over just the No-Self/Suffering door, which is hilarious if you think about it! This one little section generated a ton of exchange with Daniel and exemplifies what a strange and wonderful, if often overwhelming, period in my life this has been—the challenges and opportunities of considering with Daniel every single passage in this book.
We have a chapter to get to on the Vipassana jhana models, which should be a walk in the park in comparison with the foregoing. Then we have another chapter that is a kind of catch-all space for the notation system detail, Nirodha Samapatti, and other advanced practice instructions. This is a brand new chapter.
Daniel’s most off-hand email can cause for me an opening, and did, leading directly to path, to luminosity as persistent shift. He is not my Teacher by his own definition of what a Teacher is (someone sitting with a student in person, on retreat with him). We’ve expressly sought not to make editing some exchange for teaching. Nonetheless, he is my teacher, even if he disclaims me as his student.
In short, what a wonderful period of my life this has been, what a unique opportunity it has been to get to know Daniel personally and to have these conversations. I also feel this morning like expressing high gratitude for this little space, all the people here in the Underground. May I catch up on journals (mine and everyone’s) this weekend.
I remember before my latest shift seeing what I believe to be formations really clearly. I agree with Daniel about the “if you’re seeing formations, enlightenment is close” thing.
Regarding the second part, “The river naturally empties into the ocean.”
Regarding the letting go of something, I find myself contemplating a phrase by T. S. Eliot from Journey of the Magi:
But set down
this set down
In terms of letting go, what has helped me is feeling the suffering of grabbing, holding, and in the same motion of letting a hot coal fall out of our grip, by simply opening our hand—let go.