Relationship Ruin and Its Purification

I guess I’m in a Review phase now (ñ16.j1 or ñ16.j2), having just finished this intense cycle that culminated in a pretty impressive Equanimity drift-reverie while I was in Nothingness and then a clear cessation, return, bliss wave, and reset.

Fruition Out of Formless Realms May 3

During the DhU Hangout of May 4, I said that this cessation seemed to happen in Nothingness as I fixated on a pocket of what seemed more properly nothing than the attributes and motion of Nothingness. Daniel replied that more likely I detuned from even something already as detuned as Nothingness, touched into Neither Perception nor Yet Nonperception briefly, came out to the post-eighth junction point, and then had the fruition. This seems accurate.

At any rate, I recognize that it was an end-of-cycle fruition because of the reverie, the complete forgetfulness, the complete collapse to utter Gone, the emergence somewhere else, the rolling in of the bliss wave, and the sense of lock-in and reset.

Cycling since then has been very fast, a matter of hours instead of days, and light. Last night’s practice was unremarkable—just the usual jhanas, formlessness. I felt too neutral and flat. I also did not have much in the way of afterglow as I usually do.

I tried to sleep, for I was very tired and it was exceptionally late after meditation, but nothing doing. So I reflected, as follows.

Cyclical Arising of Traumatic Content and Related Bleed-Through

For months after the August 8 path [stream entry], I suffered the harrowing stuff springing up with the tragedies that marked my childhood and the senseless responsibility I feel for the death of my father. It is truly ridiculous that this happened, because I came to terms with all that decades ago, and it is not as if those old stories render me dysfunctional or weak; probably the contrary. And besides, in the South, whose daddy isn’t a drunk? Yet there it all was, coming up after that August path, after decades lying dormant, when I was supposed to be chasing insight, not “wallowing” in “psychological stuff.” This period was marked by interpersonal strife because of my emotional volatility and therefore bleed-through and transference.

And then all that suddenly died down midway between August and January. At that point there seemed to be a minor shift, and practice became much less about any emotional history and much more about spaciousness, the formless realms, and my growing confidence as a meditator. I was, in fact, so happy that I felt no urgency to be awake! I told my family that I had never been happier in my life!

Until this cycle, that is, which began mid-April, or maybe in fact earlier, maybe even in March. Then the exact same upsurge of memories and complexes traceable to my father repeated. The same emotional volatility, the same bleed-through with the same person. Yet again. And this time I’m really furious to see that I’ve learned nothing from the last time, that, if anything, this time was even worse. Resolutions didn’t help—even when I was editing the very MCTB2 chapter that gives the No-Bleed-Through Policy and Resolution.

How many times will I have to process this same “stuff”? What has to happen? Is it a matter of brute force just to hang on and limit the bleed-through? Can nothing be processed on out or finally heal? This unprocessible blockage is senseless, except, of course, that it just is what it is.

To make things worse, I feel that because this psychological “stuff” demands my attention, I’m somehow an inadequate practitioner, or at least an inappropriately distracted one. Exorcising my father’s ghost is not “path-worthy.” I’m therefore filled with doubt about my ability to awaken in this lifetime. I’m defeated. Yet if I simply ignore it, that doesn’t seem to help but only worsens the return of the repressed.

Still, this is just a mirage-like barrier, not the bright fluid truth seeping across the sands of time to write a prophetic hieroglyphic. It is a block of my own stubborn making. My own.

Zen and the Art of Cyclic Self-Maintenance

The question becomes, and indeed last night became, “Can I just stop punishing myself?” Can I just stop? Here I am asking the question that itself is the very tangle and complication that Vasily speaks of. Do I really need to process anything at all? Can I just stop? Is there a letting go just for the blind will that it be so? Well, yes, but goddammit no. I have never experienced a “letting go” that wasn’t automatic only upon some seeing-more-profoundly-than-ever-before.

DW asked me the other day, “You finished a big cycle, so what did you see? What selfing process did you delete?” I relate better to the “seeing” language than to the “deleting” language, so let me consider only that: What did I see in this last cycle? Have I learned anything at all yet? Or was this another senseless Dark Night like the first, whose lesson is only how through-the-center pain really is?

This cycle was marked by an A&P Event that was a vision of drinking my own tears, as in a tantric ritual of sorts, before an altar, and then exploding into white orchid petals. The Reobservation stage that followed had me torching and loudly renouncing people and places related to the dharma.

This cycle was burning bridges.

This cycle was cutting ancient dependencies by poisoning my connection to a friend.

This cycle was the enactment of the fantasy of purification.

What does it mean—any of it?

Nothing.

Prayer for Purification after Relationship Ruin

So it was that last night, after a mediocre meditation session, I lay awake pondering all these things in my heart. I was almost certainly in a brief Desire for Deliverance, ñ16.j2.ñ9.j3.j3. I suddenly got up out of bed and knelt down in triangulated moonlight and prayed. I wept and prayed for forgiveness. I grew up a Christian until my twenties, when I renounced all that to be nothing at all. As I prayed last night to a God the Father and to Jesus Christ, very directly and personally, I’ve never in my entire life experienced that kind of connection with anyone’s “God.”

Then when I lay back down and as I was finally drifting off to sleep, I thought, “I’m losing my fucking mind.”

Now ñ16.j2 (ñ11.j3.j4 through ñ11.j4.j7)

At the Sufjan Stevens concert in Durham tonight, I was distinctly aware of the mini-dark-night. Sit in the middle of the night was equanimous. I rose to Nothingness, but then my son came into the house, clanking along with all his belongings in from Chapel Hill for the summer, and booming sociably with his baritone voice.

(Sufjan was magnificient. What a treat that show was, and very different.)

Sweet Scented Candles Snuffed Out

I meditated by first lighting a sweet green candle tonight, which is always good for observing third. Interestingly, with my eyes open the candle was surrounded by a round haze, and the haze and the candle flame itself kept changing tints. The flame would be red while the haze was blue. The the flame would be bluish while the haze was purple. At the end of the sit, I lifted my left hand to signal that the flame should go out. It went out (but it was nearly under wax anyway, so don’t be all excited—I sure wasn’t).

I’m fine. Something feels ruined. But it is fine.

Lauding Jhāna Practice as Central to Liberating Insight

Replying To Steph S. 

Steph, to answer your question, I haven’t noticed outright strobing in Nothingness but once or twice, like regularly paced heat lightning. Usually, it seems more of a boiling motion, or just texture warping, as opposed to outright color. Tonight, Nothingness was really rich and sustained for longer than usual. It began varying from itself, and then I was in almost a dream-like state, or a vision state, wherein I started “seeing” branches, moonlight, bugs flying—all at night, with the images being nearly irredescent white. I thought some kind of full-blown vision realm would open, since that has happened before in fourth, but it didn’t go there, got just faint glimmers of images that way and then fell to blackness again. Nothingness is cold, too, somehow—creature of the Black Lagoon cold. I don’t seem to get flat, unvaried blackness; it always varies from itself somehow.

Equanimity or from the Bottom?

In terms of insight stage, my best guess is n11.2 to n11.3. Clarity is high, vibrations are sort of slow, jaw pain is present, jerky breath was very marked at beginning of sit, shaking occurred, and exhilarating Fear arose briefly. so I’m on the way to higher Equanimity, perhaps. Now, I could be totally wrong and actually be in the early stages of a new insight cycle. I would not be shocked if that were the case, that I have fallen all the way to the bottom. The reason I say that is that this last cycle was so, so different, odd, and intense. So maybe I’m in brand new territory. Maybe Review only just ended? Time and observation will tell. Feeling-tone is equanimous, and clarity is high, so best guess is that I’m still in Equanimity overall.

Keeping Renunciation to Oneself

One interesting thing that Daniel mentioned I could do the next time I hit a Reobservation stage that makes me want to torch everything Dharma related (including him) is to go on into the renunciation trip, for renunciation can bring a kind of freedom, but to see what it is like renouncing, including meditation practice, privately, in my mind and heart, rather than publicly. He said that this can actually be good practice—to quit formally but to do it internally. Daniel, this is brilliant.

Watching Out for A&P Bleed-Through

Daniel also mentioned, as did Dream Walker, that the A&P is another dangerous stage for a kind of bleed-through. I’m wondering whether that point should be made more explicitly in MCTB2. The A&P can be so darned fun—I’ve never thought of it as dangerous but as creative and freeing. I guess the hypomania can lead to indiscretion, and perhaps I think I am better at driving drunk than I really am.

I’m wondering if there is a connection between how intense my last A&P stage was, with a wow Event, and how horrific this last Reobservation was. I don’t know what to make of this.

Paying More Attention to Imbalance in Daily Life

I’m a mess at work, very bored and unfocused and so behind. I’ll need to do something about this problem. It is odd because I’m almost never bored with anything. I’ve never been anything but stellar at my jobs. I find something interesting in any subject. I need to get a grip, though, and I need to get more exercise and sleep. I need to ground down, be quiet, and purify. I think I’ll clean my office, to begin with.

Addressing Head Pain during Sits

I completed an hour-long jhana sit. I’ve noticed for weeks that the right side of my head tends to hurt moderately during meditation. I also tend to get pretty intense pressure-pain in the third eye area, particularly during intense state shifts, of which I’m having many.

Tonight I had jaw pain and mild body aching—all like the Three Characteristics stage, but this is typical Low Equanimity for me. What helps is to focus on pulling the excess energy out of my head and down into more grounding regions of my body.

Taking Salt Baths and Doing Pre-meditation Rituals

I need to get my new bathtub ordered so I can return to nightly Epsom salt baths (peppermint or lavender). I get much good out of completing the purification ritual of bathing, putting on clean pajamas, and lighting a sweet-smelling bee’s wax candle. I really ought to clean up the room, too. Meditation benefits from preparation. I even do prostrations sometimes, and say the whole Tibetan-y refuge thing: “Until I reach enlightenment, I take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha with body, speech, and mind.” There is a lot of good to be had in balancing mastery activities such as learning notation with absolute surrender, purification trips, and prayer—just complete giving up and giving over.

Lauding Jhana Practice as Central to Awakening 

Past stream entry, I’m now pretty much in the camp that says there is something crucial about the jhanas, crucial to awakening. So although I do understand why the Three Trainings must be kept separate in certain respects before path, afterward there was a good reason that I was compelled to start mastering the jhanas. They hold secrets, clues, and objects one needs to investigate. It is endlessly fascinating to me that Daniel has made generic jhana descriptions the framework for all meditation practice, period, in MCTB2 Part 2, Mastery.

However, I need to post this article by Thanissaro that points out the dangers that the jhanas hold, too, if the meditator doesn’t thoroughly investigate them but instead tries to make these fabricated things into the ultimate refuge.

I practiced but didn’t care much. Hard week, emotionally, and I’m very behind at work and will likely have to work all weekend. It is interesting how much faster hard emotions pass. But part of me is just so tired that I just stop feeling. I just want the company of warm soup and sweet, stable friends. Awakening and those who are awakened seem so much less important than those whom I can count on.

Enjoyed some text chat with Steph today. I’m so thankful to have this space and these companions. So much of this is hard and confusing and doubt-ridden enough without also being done alone.

During my Friday lunch sit with my workplace meditation group, I simply rose up through the jhanas to eighth, with particular attention to steadiness and samatha-side solidity. I had little time to develop more, because these sits are pathetically brief, only 30 minutes. I can remember when 30 minutes seemed like an eternity, now it feels like an assault to have to quickly come out of seventh or eighth at the sound of that 30-minute chime.

Exploring Seventh and Eighth Jhanas

My mind lunges toward seventh and eighth jhanas now. These are the states of brand new exploration. Seventh still creeps me out sometimes, and I suddenly will fall down out of the state because I feel air hunger. It may be interesting to practice some vipassana against this state, to really look at the suffering there and what is being abandoned as I move to NPNYNP and perhaps why. Eighth is asking me to let go more than I have so far, for it to become sustainable. I do have these moments of completely surrendering into it, and then these odd clicks/blips happen, sometimes many in a row. During those brief flip-outs, there is an absence of self, and that absence really clarifies, by contrast, just how much self remains in all the jhanas below this one.

Consciousness Compared with and to Nothingness

State shift from first to second came soon and was hard—like shifting gears with a clunk and unintended deceleration. I’m having increasing difficulty sensing the true difference between Boundless Space and Boundless Consciousness. More specifically, I seem sort of disenchanted with Boundless Space. The transition from Boundless Consciousness to Nothingness is something to pay attention to and reflect on when not sitting. In both states, there seems to be self-presence, so what makes for the difference? In the first the containing space, or the quality of spaciousness, itself is the object that brings the subject-sense to bear, and vice-versa—although, about that vice-versa, one of the ways that Conciousness has changed in the past couple of months is that it has become more subtle, less some thing that is pushed out into space. It is now more that mind doesn’t push against so much as just abide interfused with space, which is more subtle in feel, by far.

Nothingness, by contrast, involves a distinct self-presence and a great (and scary) sense of the merely provisional, fabricated nature of that self-presence. This self-presence consists in turning in and away from the expansive dimension of Bounless Consciousness (Space). In this way, some surviving sense of self is caught being very sneaky: No need for pushing up against or out into an object—turning away from all that, renouncing it, is also creating a sense of self. Relationship is still creating some subtle sense of central, controlling self. Affirming or denying x, attraction or aversion, creates the One Doing All This. This discovery is disappointing, but I suspect that this is the utility of the jhanas to insight: It is easier to see these subtle working than it is to see them in workaday, off-cushion reality, where that shift I had still seems to be ongoing, such that so much more of what I ascribed to a self on a this side seems to reside in the objects, and this “much more” does include thoughts. I feel, moreover, like I’m in some jhana all the time; I suspect in the jhana states is where to find the hiding places we need to enlighten.

Difficulty Exiting

Eighth—even though I cannot sustain this state long, when I fall out of it the afterglow remains immense. It is impressive. Today, when the bell rang and my companions all started moving and gathering their belongings for lunch, I opened my eyes. I felt I was still so deeply in jhana of some sort that I couldn’t feel my body or move. It was difficult to come out of this state. Everything looked removed, as if in a dream. The sky was gray, and the bright green trees were swaying in the wind outside the window. Unreal.

Psychological Stuff

Flower whose common name is “Bleeding Heart”

Because Fitter Stoke brought up on another thread my “talking about” my probable stream entry with him as I did, and because he gave me a full 5 seconds to answer each of his queries about the event, aftermath, and jhanas—and to do so via chat box—now seems like a good time and place to link to my first journal, which I trust supersedes the usual DhO ritual hazing of those claiming stream entry.

[Link to the Dharma Overground is now deleted from here.]

Codependency

After I huffed off the DhO during the Last Straw phase of antifeminist bullshit there, I moved over to Awake Network (AN) for a while and replicated and continued my practice journal there. I then later deleted my account there after being told, contradictorily, that I was both “cultish” toward (well, okay) and lacked respect for (absolutely untrue) Daniel. I copied that journal to my private hard drive, where it will remain. If I ever have occasion here to refer to some post in that thing, I can always copy and paste.

The main pattern in that AN journal was much tempestuous emotionality, with a lot of Desire for Deliverance craziness—sits devolving to crying and even praying. All this childhood trauma stuff was coming up with regard to my father, who drank himself to death when I was 12 and who, when drunk, was known to be sometimes quite abusive, even punching my sister in the face and pulling a gun on me and threatening to shoot my pet basset hound through the head in front of me when I was about 9 or 10.

The unbottling of this “stuff” began right after stream entry and continued for a few months. It resulted in “bleed-through” onto no one other than Daniel, but it did go to him because we had by this time begun the intense work on MCTB2 and had frequent, usually daily, contact over the book. Idealization ensued, which is really just another manifestation of alcoholic family codependency.

So, even though this was all only my “neurotic stuff,” the automaticity of the dharma post-SE dictated that this stuff come up and be dealt with somehow. And it was, even though working through “stuff” on the cushion is not worthy of another Path moment, and according to MCTB, not worthy of a single moment of consideration, an opinion with which I have to disagree now. It seemed to need to happen, and something important was cleared so that I could return to practice proper. And Daniel and I seem to have cleared out our relational problems after a bad blowup that was intensely emotionally painful to me. Honestly, his stiff boundaries continue to be hard for me to observe at times because (1) the collaborative work we are doing is intense and affects my practice and me, and (2) I have leaky boundaries, period, and will have to work at this issue probably the rest of my life because of Daddy.

Apologies if this is too much information. It certainly is more than AN would tolerate. That’s why it is Underground, at least. I value honesty foremost, even when it gets me in trouble, as it often enough does.

Postscript 2.5 Years and 2.5 Paths Later

As I reread this post from more than 2 years ago, what strikes me full force is that my deference and supplication toward Daniel Ingram in blaming our trouble on my codependency is itself what was codependent, ironically.  In truth, he behaved reprehensibly toward me, over and over and over again. I had to walk on eggshells with him continually. He wrote to me that he could not do relationships and “can’t do process,” meaning he is literally unable to problem-solve or compromise. All must be on his terms alone.

Daniel is a publicly self-proclaimed arahat who privately confessed to me 

  • inability to be in anything but superficial relationship with other human beings,
  • inability to engage in give-and-take to resolve conflict, and
  • inability and unwillingness to endure his feelings of vulnerability.

Someone who has “taken enlightenment as far as it can go,” as he publicly claims, would not be this. He would not be thus psycho-dynamically crippled and would not keep lying to the public about having unsurpassible wisdom, not to mention compassion.

I covered up for Daniel for a entire year, subtending his public image like a good little Assistant to the Cult Leader. I enabled him. I endured his repeated and unpredictable rage and shutdown over triggers I was bewildered by when I could identify them at all. All this tempestuousness wore me down—while I was, behind the scenes, trying to reorganize the DhO and while spending my nights and weekends on MCTB2, which he wrote served in part as his “resume.”

Over the past few weeks, scandals in certain dharma communities have come to my attention—scandals in the Integral community, for example, because of lying, treacherous “teachers.” I also had occasion to recall the harassment Daniel’s first lawyer, an ordained Rabbi and Buddhist book author, inflicted on me for copyrighting my work. Note this: I have the right to copyright my work. 

So up before me here—the apparition of the False Teacher.

There is more I could reveal about Ingram, and part of me thinks I should. Just a few words would be like a blast of light on his false public identity. In fact, I wrote it out here, for my own clarity. But I’ve deleted all that from the public version of this postscript. And that is to protect him, but not this time out of codependency. I keep silent now from a broad and timeless perspective that is holding space and holding clarity.

My holding is without need.