Son’s Entrance on the Path

My 21-year-old son and I met with the local little Bön sangha this morning and practiced the Nine Breathings of Purification and Tsa Lung. After we ate potluck with the others, he and I went alone to a local cafe, where I gave him some high-level theoretical materials I wrote up, as well as a concentration practice and other marching orders for the week. 

Teaching and Writing

Thus begins my teaching my beloved son Buddhist view and meditation practice. He is a philosophy major at University and took to the theory like a swan to still water, comparing some points to Marx and Hegel. He asked intelligent questions about the dangers of nihilism and the role of renunciation, which tells me that I need to think about addressing those topics earlier than I first thought. He also said he felt the effects of the energetic practices this morning and wishes to return. 

My meeting with him weekly to teach him is a win-win for us: I organize him into and guide his practice, and his questions and “test subject” reports back to me help me with the writing and revision of the new Pragmatic Dharma meditation manual I’m now drafting for all the others out there like him. He found the tables I had prepared over the past three weeks engaging and clear, and we talked much longer than I expected about just the Three Trainings. 

We also talked about the differences between how Buddhist practice is being mapped on-the-fly in the West from the ways it is traditionally mapped in the far different cultures of the East. Specifically, we discussed the fact that in the traditional settings in the East, people will engage morality practice, devotional practice, and prostration practice for many years before having access to the higher teachings, if ever, whereas here in the West people tend to jump right into the endgame and then need to circle back around to clean up the so-called preliminaries. 

If he establishes daily practice as a habit, my intuition is that he will progress rapidly, like his mom, because we both are predominantly flighty air energy, which is associated with fast attainment progress, although longer efforts to stabilize the attainments. When I told him that most people combat dullness and sleepiness at first, he said, “I won’t; I’ll have to contend with agitation and excess energy.” Like mother, like son.

Dreaming of Vincent’s Insight Stages

When I returned home, I took a delicious nap. But I had a weird dream in which I was nervously trying to match up each of Vincent Van Gogh’s 39 self-portraits with the specific insight stage (ñana) represented by each. I was looking at each portrait to determine whether the artist were depressed or manic in it and as he was painting it. I was also pointing to each of the five colors of the Buddha Families, energies, and wisdoms.

A Word about My Current Formal Practice

My nightly formal practice continues, but I’ve not been writing about it here for several reasons. One reason is that I’m exploring some practices whose methods and results I’m unsure of as yet. The main reason, however, is that I’m not gaining new territory currently through meditation. I could write, “Oh, I had another delicious jhana-a-thon,” but that would serve little purpose for my readers. 

In my own view, this journal is nowhere near as interesting as its prequel, Dharma by Dark Night, for the latter was composed during my most intense acceleration of awakening. Most practitioners will therefore gain better hints and inspiration from that journal than from this one, this one being increasingly one concerned with dreams, visions, energetic cleanup, rituals, and signs – the very individualized magickal playground that can be explored after correcting misperception, fundamental suffering. Which brings me to my final reason for backing off recording formal practice here: I need to finish transferring the most interesting parts of that prequel journal to its online home here (Dharma by Dark Night).

Letting Go as Second-Path Method: Dark Night Done Right 

Dark Night of the Soul and Release

One the of the frustrations I’ve had so far with second path is that, as soon as I think I’ve figured out a kind of meditation plan, BAM! It goes to hell and I feel compelled to go in a different direction, often even within the same sit. I didn’t experience this pre-path: I at least was consistent for months at a time in the methods I was employing. X_X [Shargrol] had told me, accurately I think, that I have to show up and roll with the tour, let it happen, which dovetails, I think, into what Tarin was suggesting in those old DhO posts of his on second path. I follow the Thai Forest teachers a lot, and sometimes it can seem that they are saying to “just let go,” when, from a more “Daniel” point of view, “letting go” is an effect rather than a method of surrender. Now I’m not so sure there is that much difference between the two views. In other words, maybe letting go is, in some odd way, a method or technique.

Equanimity was very tricky for me first time around—just so slippery. The Dark Night stages were at least more straightforward, if agonizing. I didn’t even meditate much during that first Dark Night; I just hung on for dear sanity. Now, this time around, it seems that I’m being “asked” by something in the process to bring my Equanimity methods back down into the Dark Night territory. Very interesting! And if this is true, it shows me pretty clearly what I did not quite see during the last cycle.

As for Daniel’s book, when I get to this section, I think I’ll query him a bit on how particular path might change the “stock, standard advice” for DN, as he calls it. But, then, I guess he could write a 2,000-page book and still not be done!

Don’t Dream It’s Over: Lucid Dreams of the  A&P Stage before Stream Entry

Restless Dreams and Night Sweats

I had a restless night of sleep. I was dreaming I was talking with DreamWalker, then Katy, then Daniel, then Nick, and then Eric. Then I was meditating in my dream, sitting on the floor with crossed legs. I was not exactly dreaming lucidly, didn’t realize in the dream that I was dreaming. I woke up twice from these restless dreams, drenched in sweat, as if I were in the labor of childbirth. (This never happens, for I’m quite done with the hormonal causes of night sweats.) And every time I awoke, I heard myself saying aloud, “What is this, what is this, what is this?

Flashback to the Arising and Passing Away 2013

The A&P stage from May to July 2013 was one long series of spontaneously lucid dreams in which, as soon as I realized in the dream that I was dreaming, I invariably chose to sit right down and begin meditating. In the dream right before the ultimate A&P Event one, I dreamed that I was walking through the woods to a nice, woodsy home where a party was under way.

I followed a path lighted by garden lights. I entered the house and saw my husband there, as well as many others. My friend Diana, who is a Christian mystic—actually an ordained priestess of some obscure gnostic order—was there, and I gravitated toward her. She asked me to follow her and help rearrange some furniture in one of the rooms, which we did. 

Then we returned to the main room, and there was Neil Finn (hey, why not?) playing guitar and singing. I suddenly felt sad because I was the only one paying any attention to old Neil. Where was Crowded House? Oh—there is that song by Crowded House, which is the soundtrack to this dream, and the video shows the band members walking through a house like the one in this dream. I’ll post it, for it is truly post-worthy in this context (and really any other context). Check out the lyrics.

Diana has a meditation practice. In this dream, I turned away from Neil Finn for a second and locked eyes with Diana. Suddenly—I was aware that I was dreaming, and so was Diana. We both dropped cross-legged to the floor, facing each other, and began meditating, still with our eyes open and locked upon each other’s eyes.

The walls of the room we were in, and then the walls of the house, peeled open like a flower blooming, everyone else disappeared, and suddenly the wooden floor on which Diana and I sat was a raft. Diana and I were speeding across a great ocean on this raft, and everything was intensely luminous, internally lit as if by the purest, whitest strain of starlight. The ocean was luminous, the raft was luminous, Diana was luminous.

Before I told Diana about this dream, her father died. As she was packing to travel to the funeral, she posted on social media that she was listening to Crowded House—to that song. It was a few days after my dream.

The Arising and Passing Away Event 2013

The night after this dream, I had another dream, which was more abstract in the end. I was walking along this dirt road. The houses were far apart, but there was one house that was so familiar somehow. I stopped and stared at it, trying to remember why it was familiar. Finally, I kept walking. There were pink rose bushes blooming all along the dirt road, on the side of the road that this house was on. I suddenly realized that I was dreaming. Then everything became kaleidoscopic and then exploded into a shower of colors, falling pink rose petals, among jewel tones.

This was my big A&P Event. Insight stages were a full month or a bit more back then, and this was the A&P that preceded that bad Dark Night that preceded stream entry.

The day I awoke from this last lucid dream of that entire year, my husband was out of town, as was my son. It had been raining all night, so everything was so, so, so bright and clear under the rain glaze. The greens of the grass and trees were like green flames. I walked all over downtown Apex all day and into the evening—ecstatic, tearful, looking at the droplets of rain water on the flaming green greenery, wandering in and out of the sweet-smelling, spicy-smelling quaint shops. I was positively high. I was hypomanic. I was absolutely chosen.

Exactly one week later, a shift occurred that caused my vision to become radically distorted, like a fun-house mirror, with everything warping. I could barely work, and this ended up being a 6-week-long medical crisis (diagnosed as a persistent migraine aura, metamorphosopia), which followed a very, very clear Dark Night progression over the week between A&P and the vision problem. I had been ramping up on dry vipassana via MCTB. This is when I first posted on the Dharma Overground.

Postscript 2 Years Later

It is interesting about the Diana dream—the images of ocean, luminosity, and raft/vessel are all traditional metaphors informing doctrine and theory about the Path of No More Learning.

Only shadows ahead barely clearing the roof
Get to know the feeling of liberation and release

Your Path: No Way to Screw It Up

Jenny

My practice is really messed up!  I think I may be all the way back at the bottom: Little in the way of emotion, but lots of body pain, ratcheted sense of attention, jaw pain! Ugh!

I think I screwed up Equanimity somehow.  

Oh, well! Around and around we go!

Russell

It’s your path, Jenny; there is no way to screw it up.

Equanimity Advice to a Querent

Sorry for the delay—I’m finally circling back around to this question of High Equanimity stage before stream entry. First, I’m not sure that I spent 2 months in High EQ. I think it would be more accurate for me to say that I spent 2 months in various levels of EQ. Low EQ felt just like Three Characteristics stage, with body aches, tingling, itching, just
pretty miserable, oddly, but still a relief from the Dark Night. 

Once I got to about Mid-EQ, if that makes sense, the Great Teeming Faith arose. All the stages that had gone before were so, so clearly “by the book,” that I just had no doubt that awakening was real, that I was on the ride toward it, and that now I was in EQ and all I had to do was have the grace not to pay either too much or too little attention to it.

I did not note during EQ. In fact, I was advised all around not to, though I don’t do proper noting practice anyway because I find that labeling sensations is too slow and distracting.

Equanimity is tricky, like a ever-retreating mirage. You keep feeling like you are practicing badly because you keep slipping into almost daydreams of sorts, and you feel like you should be doing something very effortful instead, like noting. That isn’t the case. It is more about being receptive, showing up and letting the thing unfold and present. So less effort, more just being there over and over again, every night, not pushing it, not striving to reach stream entry or anything else. Just observe and be curious. Let it happen.

About mindfulness in daily life, I wish I could say something about that! Mindfulness is a good thing, but I’m usually absorbed during the day in my editing work, which actually is a kind of mindfulness, I think, but heavy on the hyperfocus side. For reaching stream entry, I think mainly the thing is formal sits. I even shortened my sits during that time to about 20 minutes because High EQ sits can take out a lot of energy, even though you aren’t so much exerting effort as having the energy just siphoned off by the atmosphere. 

Consistency is key: Show up every day. Believe that it will come, because it will. But it will sneak up when you are looking at X, not when you are gunning for stream entry. If you feel doubt; fine, feel doubt. Sit with doubt. Just sit.