Jhanas and Insight: Friendly Sparring with Pawel


After stream entry, says Daniel, one is basically in some manner of jhana if drawing breath.


Interesting =)


He and I are both aversive personality types. This means we don’t readily get into the intensely pleasurable states, like second, but prefer the higher refined states that are more neutral-feeling.


So I guess you won’t have anything against 4th path once you shut down half of your brain and rest of it finally “arrives.”


Instead I simply call on the jhana and immediately drop manipulation and just observe what happens.


Do you really “call” on jhana or are “jhana projectors” just getting active and casually start projecting jhanic qualities?


Um, the correct answer is B—”jhana projectors” causally start projecting jhanic qualities! Did I pass the test?

Seriously, though, yes, I know, but it was 4:30 in the morning, at which time I have Super Agency, linguistically speaking! You have indeed identified one area to try to see as more stuff that is “simply happening.” I’m quite attached to my jhanas, baby; I guess there is a reason that, in the fetters model, attachment to the jhanas is the last attachment to go!

It is funny because when I talked to Daniel by phone after path in February, he advised me to call up the jhanas, in order and out of order, and do all sorts of manipulative exercises with them, such as holding a jhana way past the point where I want to move to the next one and then suddenly “let go” into the next one to watch its factors bloom rapidly and therefore clearly. He said, “Your ability to call them up as you now can aids mastery, and mastery is good, although before, when they were sensed to be just “taking over,” you were more tuned into the no-self aspect.”

Lately, I’ve been “just sitting,” meaning I don’t call upon anything. I sit without agenda or expectation. They show up in this way, usually, more deeply, harder, than the other way, with a more intense, long afterglow. Now, however, I’m feeling like I maybe should be working on concentration per mahamudra manual in preparation for the mahamudra retreat July 24, as both Daniel and Bill advised that I strengthen concentration, although Daniel pointed out that “just sitting” doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not concentrated. I think Daniel is talking about moment-to-moment concentration, anyway, which this mahamudra is all about, from one perspective—the mindstream-of-events perspective (the other perspective is the awareness-itself perspective).

Some degree of insight is always going to show up in those jhanas.


Not that I pick on you, but what do you mean by “insight” in this context? You talk about it as it were some substance that was pouring up and filling some sort of path-cup. At least that is my impression. Could you clarify what do you mean by “insight”? For the sake of all living beings.


Sure, hahahaha! All I mean is that jhanas will be vipassana jhanas to some extent, not “pure” samatha jhanas. Daniel says that “at this point” doing pure samatha isn’t likely possible for me, although he invited me to run the experiment and see if I can do it. He said the experiment might be interesting.

When MCTB2 is posted, then it will be clearer what I’m talking about. Daniel has in MCTB2 made the jhanas, generically described, the entire framework for advanced meditation (both samatha and vipassana aspects). He states in MCTB2 that there is always some combination of samatha and vipassana—and vipassana will be quite obviously operative after stream entry, especially.

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.

The jhanas have furthered my insight rapidly because they are like little laboratories in which many specific variables are held at bay, or turned away from, which makes what’s left, the isolated variable, easier to see into, to investigate. I’ve had major insight in the Realm of Nothingness, for example, that I think would have taken a lot more time to come across without my having that attainment to Nothingness.

For example, why, when I’m feeling super agencyless do I also have such intense j4.j5 that I barely feel my body?


“Super agencyless”—I do not have that one yet, just normal plain old agencylessness. =(


Perhaps you need to try harder to not try harder!

All I meant was that I was aware of it most of the day, but, yes, there is no “degree” of agencylessness. That wouldn’t make sense. By the way, I’m finding that if I pay attention to whether or not there is agency, I am shifted into being aware directly that there is no agency. Should I be trying, Pawel, to tune into that all day? I mean, I don’t understand from Daniel, how “constantly” screaming obvious the agencylessness is supposed to be. He states in one of his DhO postings listing criteria for 4th path that it “isn’t always in the forefront of attention.”

Does an arahat have a “forefront,” by the way?

In the new criteria for 3rd path, by contrast, he states that agencylessness should be the dominant experience the vast majority of the time. Why the discrepancy?

I need to remember to ask him about this, but I’m trying to stop bugging him, for he has 100 hours of ER shifts to do in eight days.


Why agencylessness and not feeling body would be linked specifically to j4.j5? Body image projection does not have anything to do with “infinite space,” which is just another projection separate from projection of bodies. Have you tried to tweak this body sensation independently of jhanas as its own thing and then deepen it?


First, there is no logical reason that I can think of for why agencylessness would be linked specifically to j4.j5. I’ve just noticed that I tend to be in a pretty strong j4.j5 when I notice a sense of agencylessness as experience. As for not feeling my body, that is part of the definition of Boundless Space as a jhana: No body. It applies to j6 and j7, as well.

No, I haven’t tried that. I can’t do anything “independently of jhanas,” for they are always running, per Daniel—and per experience so far.

Daniel wrote a comment that “vibrating formless realms” refers to oscillating between seventh and eighth jhana. I need to follow up on this marginalia.

Hi, Eric! Did you see where Moses, er Daniel, brought the law down from on high and threw it before swine, er, I mean all DhO beings? He didn’t answer clarifying questions about whether he was talking about criteria for having 3rd at all, or criteria for “late” 3rd. He’ll escape my questioning only so long, for now that this cat is out of the bag, it will certainly have to go into the revised edition.


Yeah, path 3 and 3.5, that make some sense. I would still push 2nd path into 1st and make those two early and mature anagamis into two separate paths, 2nd and 3rd.


There is not a two-phase third path in Daniel’s Revised Four-Path Model or in his Simple Model. Both models are worthless to me. They say almost nothing.

I’m inclined to agree with you Pawel—First Path ought to be Fruition and cycle based. As soon as actual insights/wisdom and walking-around persistent changes in perception start up, that ought to be next (Second?). At some almost-done point, that ought to be Third.

At any rate, Daniel has a bunch of ‘spaining to do.

If one has to have luminosity and agencylessness the “vast majority of the time” to even qualify for 3rd path, then, as DW mentioned, Daniel has lot of filling in of Second Path to do in his model! Currently, Second Path has zero insight listed—just, oh, another path and fruition attained. So friggin’ what!


Investigating Boundary and Intention

Will-to-power is not the business of a buddha.

I sat for an hour. At first I thought I would do fire kasina practice because that seemed so exciting a few weeks ago. After spending half my time at that, I decided I really wasn’t “into it.” So I had some insight into the need to avoid being so predetermined or perfunctory about which kind of meditation I do. Instead, I should heed all that about feeling into the question and what I should be doing with my meditation sessions. Anyway, I finally just closed my eyes and soon was in Boundless Space, my usual spot these days, which is a clue. It is this spaciousness that I’m “supposed” to be working with now.


In particular, I have been playing with a couple of the nine suggestions Daniel gave Fitter Stoke on the DhO:

Going wide and through: as third is more spacious, more about dissolving a significant chunk of what seems to be observing, doing, controlling, analyzing, and the like, you both have to take on more of the sensations that seem to be all of that, which they aren’t, and also see how to dissolve the artificial boundaries that seem to delineate that from everything else, meaning the rest of what happens in what seems to be space. Play on the line: how do you know what the edge between what seems to be you and not you is, viscerally , perceptually, vibrationally, texturally, geographically, volumetrically? Any quality that you notice seems to really feel like it means it is you, see the Three Characteristics of that.

He indicates 5th jhana as a pointer. Since I have 5th down, it is easy to go to it and then pay attention to what still seems to be or imply “me.” It is a pretty weird and subtle affair. Sometimes I seem to be Consciousness, but then I can be Aware of Space, alternately. Although I really lose sense of my body, I purposely looked for what seemed me so that I could allow space to pour through that. The main thing I noticed was that I was actually bringing up pain or suffering and enjoying it somehow. Why was I enjoying it? Because I could identify with it, contract to it. So it seems that even suffering is maintained by the self for the self: identity is none other than a continual identification process. O attraction, O aversion!


The other pointer of Daniel’s that I’ve been playing with is this one:

Notice that you can’t do anything other than what happens. Try. See how those patterns occur. Try to
do something other than what happens. It is preposterous, but when you try it, there are patterns that arise, patterns of illusion, patterns of pretending, patterns that if you start to look at them you will see are ludicrous, laughable, like a kid’s fantasies, any yet that is how you believe you are controlling things, so try again and again to do something other than what occurs and watch those patterns of confusion and pretending to be in control that arise and you will learn something. This is an unusually profound point.

As noted before, this is a really strange exercise. If I go to Boundless Space jhana and then open my eyes and then try to catch the moment of intention to move my body or gaze, there is this weird sense that I can’t do it, am motionless. I do end up doing it, but there is this strange ratchet-like effect in the motion, instead of the smooth perception of forward movement. The effect is unpleasant, so suffering arises, and I’ve already found (see above) that suffering is actually used in “selfing.” However, once I stop the exercise the Boundless Space goes wider and deeper.

Postscript 2.5 Years Later

On rereading this journal as I clean up the site migration, I find it fascinating to see from my more recent engagement in Indo-Tibetan essence traditions how much of a closet Tibetan Buddhist Daniel is. I’ll comment on the Fitter Stoke advice and MCTB2(J), and then I will go ahead and take public issue with Daniel’s mapping of realization of agencylessness at MCTB third path.

MCTB2 Version That No Longer Exists for Public Reading

Those nine points in the advice to Fitter Stoke DhO post were pulled into MCTB2(J) by yours truly, right after my Mahamudra awakening on the retreat of 2015. That version of Daniel’s post was significantly revised by yours truly, too. I rearranged the nine exercises in a sequence that matches actual Mahamudra sequencing, and I expanded and enriched each of the nine pointers into full-blown stepped out meditation instructions. Daniel was happy with my reworking and added Tibetan-y headings, over which we had a good laugh.

It was a magnificent addition to the book, as Dreamwalker can attest, as he read both versions back in the summer of 2015, before I filed for and received copyright. It will not be in MCTB2. It and the other 350 pages of our glorious work were destroyed by Daniel. For the record, even just a few months ago, I offered to surrender my copyright to him in exchange for a mere editorial acknowledgment of my work on the Acknowledgments page. He refused, yet he continued to plead with me to drop my copyright (for nothing).

Why does this matter? Because this is a man who publicly claims to be an arahat, which he mentions in MCTB means “Buddhist saint.” This is a man who holds himself out to the public as a teacher of the Buddhadharma. Yet approximately 90% of the difference between MCTB1 and MCTB2(J) was my authorial contribution, meaning my integration, not his. To let him falsely claim that integration as his own and subsume it under his name while banishing me and mine from all public acknowledgment would be to mislead potential students looking for a trusted teacher. In his latest pleas, he insinuated that if my practices were so advanced, my attainments were so high, and my morality were real, then the proof would be that I let him have my copyright for himself.

Yeah, nice try.

I wrote to him thus: “Equating my morality and attainments with handing over to you my copyright is like saying my refusing a two-year-old candy for supper every night is immoral because the toddler wants candy.”

Problems with “Agencylessness” vis-à-vis Daniel’s Magick

I want to pursue a point here about what Daniel calls agencylessness, particularly because he not only makes it, along with “luminosity” (rigpa), a criterion for fourth path, but indeed requires it for confirmation of even third path. Much more reliable Indo-Tibetan maps situate realization of true agencylessness at Buddhahood, not at these earlier stage gains. Realization of the Fourth Time, otherwise called Timeless Time, opens at Buddhahood, not sooner.

It is true that, during second path, from doing the practice Daniel prescribes for Fitter Stoke, I did have direct insight into the nature of eventual agencylessness. More specifically, I saw in my direct experience that eventually a complete synchronization of all of reality with itself would happen, would have to happen—and hadn’t yet. This much is true. And it is also true that post-fourth-path involves a gradual erosion of the sense of agency, to the point that practicing Western magick, of which Daniel is still an avid fan, seems pointless, even silly.

As fourth-path realization deepens—and it does deepen if one is not positively stuck—then one becomes a vessel, you see. Increasingly, one is simply present when cosmological-scale magic happens, a conduit. We are talking the cosmos here, universes! The last time I had any friendly interchange with Daniel, he was dabbling in low-level self-powered magick for sport. This is not the business of buddhas, in case you are curious. Nor is obsession with western magick compatible with claims that one has realized agencylessness.

The Benefit of a Doubt for Daniel’s Claim of “Agencylessness”

To give Daniel the benefit of a doubt, I’ll speculate that, when he claims “agencylessness,” he means in terms of former subject-object perception, which is indeed one type of “doing.” He means, I think and hope, only that no Subject is needed to process manifestation into being itself / other-than-Subject. If this is what Daniel means by claiming agencylessness, it is just another way of saying that the central processor of percepts has dissolved for good. So I maintain that the term agencylessness is unnecessary at best, confusing at worst.

I do believe that Daniel has that level of realization, meaning MCTB fourth path, which I too attained on July 29, 2015. But Daniel stopped there, apparently, has so far failed to integrate those gains into his emotional life, into his holdout loci of reactivity, into the psycho-dynamics of relationship, and into and out the other side of his need to contain affect and control against vulnerability. So tantra is in order, as well as Dzogchen.

Unfortunatelly, my saying so to him, and my giving him some practices during the last warm exchange we had, inspired him to banish me from the DhO and MCTB2 the next day. Later his second lawyer offered me $10,000 to cancel my copyright, to forever hide the nature of my former relationship with Daniel, and to forever refrain from any and all public critique of Daniel or his work in my own work. But I declined to be Daniel’s enabler.

Problems with “Agencylessness” vis-à-vis Daniel’s Causal Model

Another easily discerned chink in Daniel’s agencylessness claim is that, while claiming he has realized it, he also claims that the interdependent field is seen by someone with fourth path as “lawful” and “causal.” Realization of a causal model as ultimate is such an obvious contradiction to agencylessness that I’m amazed to find myself currently under the necessity to explain the contradiction as such.

Realization of the Fourth Time at buddhahood means no less than realization that causality is the big lie. Think on it. Think long and hard on it. Understand, at least conceptually, that the causal model collapses the instant agency does, all other criteria for fourth path being met. Dzogchen view is that the Unbounded Whole is uncaused, that it spontaneously manifests transient-instant-by-transient-instant. Taking the ultimate fruit as path view, there is not even any karma to purify.

So, no, Daniel hasn’t realized true agencylessness yet, nor have I, although I’m well on the way. Realization of the Ground (kun gzhi), or any revised fourth path, can be described deliciously with regard to various subaspects of pre-awakened experience, and I’ll offer those descriptions in due course. But what it comes down to is the nonduality of the otherwise presumptive subjectivity and presumptive object field. Untie that knot, liberate awareness unto itself, and that attainment itself will do most of the rest of the work through the coarse, subtle, and very subtle body, liberating reactivity there and elevating conduct to “buddha activity.”

I could go on for pages about post-MCTB-fourth-path deepening of the realization, but another day awaits in its quasi-causal effulgence for that task to unfold. Meantime, do investigate boundary and intention just as Daniel prescribes.