Lotuses of Nighttime Lucidity: Renewal and Intensification of Sleep Yoga

Shared here is a practice update on some amazing results of renewed interest in sleep practice. 

Inspired by my friend Jim, who is talented at lucid dreaming and even at fading out to the Clear Light Mind in dreamless sleep, I’ve recently committed to some “efforting,” even though that sort of tantric down-pull has in the past plunged me back into Progress of Insight stage cycling. I may be past that danger now because of progress in Dzogchen practices, so I’m experimenting with some tantric magic now.

I don’t gain much traction from western lucid dreaming methods. They feel clunky and not aligned with ultimate reality. For example, I have an app on my phone called Awoken. It is a cool app as such things go. It sounds off 10 times a day with bird chirping to signal that I need to do a “reality check.” A reality check is a series of reality-testing tasks one does to make sure one isn’t in a dream currently. The idea is that if reality checks become a habit in the waking life, then eventually the habit will make its way into dreams, where one then questions the reality of the dream and wakes up within the dream.

To some extent, for me, this works, but the problem remains that it posits a distinction between what is “real” and what is a “dream.” The entire method asks one to discriminate along a line of duality: reality versus dream. By contrast, ancient Tibetan methods have the daytime practice be to see daily life as a dream, because it is a dream, a projection of mind, essenceless. So one puts dream half-and-half in one’s dream coffee and drives a dream car to a dream office. The emphasis is completely different here: It is to see both sleeping reality and daytime reality as one seamless dream projection. 

My experiences with dream and sleep lucidity have in the past come from dream incubation rituals, which invites teachers to appear in the dream, as asked, to teach me. I’ve enjoyed nearly 100% efficacy with this method on the first night I invoke a teaching.

Mainly, lucidity has arisen as a mere side effect of my Dzogchen practice. In these  instances, I would normally be disembodied and referenceless as a “subject.” The “scene” would be minimalist, almost devoid of setting, and then totally devoid and without narrative development of any kind. These seem to be experiences of Clear Light Mind.

Most notably, immediately after the opening of rigpa in July 2015, I experienced a couple of weeks of uninterrupted lucidity in mostly dreamless sleep. To “wake up” in the morning without waking up at all is an almost indescribably strange experience. It brings home the seamlessness of night mind and awakened mind profoundly. This was the one effect of that life-changing retreat of 2015 that faded after a few weeks. I spent nearly a year working with dreams to try to recoup that attainment permanently, but I ended up putting that work aside because other Dzogchen practices called to me in the daytime insistently.

Dzogchen Trekchö is a path of integration, as is Tögal, or the Clear Light visions. In Trekchö one “cuts through” remaining obscurations of rigpa on the spot, off the cushion. Even so, there is normally one main obscuration that proves difficult to resolve for quite a while.

Accordingly, I’ve been noticing for months, since I’ve been off Cymbalta, that on the threshold of sleep, as I’m going under, some intense dark anxiety arises, terror. At that moment, I want only to escape my own terror, so I dive into the sleep of ignorance, or I wake all the way up and have to deal with insomnia borne of hyper-vigilance. I understand that some of this likely stems from a traumatic incident when I was 18 years old, when my mother fell and stopped breathing while I was asleep. That event plunged me into 10 days of hallucinations that everything organic was decaying and dying before my eyes, over and over again. I was not delusional: I knew the hallucinations were just that, but I couldn’t stop them until a session of hypnosis finally got me to sleep again. When I awoke the visions had stopped, but my problematic relationship with sleep had just begun.

Similarly, in the morning as I’m rising out of sleep, I sometimes feel intense depression, as in clinical depression. This affect seems cognitively linked to lack of achievement the day or night before, when I’ve not stayed on task or accomplished something on my agenda. Once I sit up in bed and begin meeting the new day, that mood evaporates rapidly and completely.

I’ve long pondered these threshold remnant clinical agitated depression manifestations, unsure what to do about them. The problem is that, in order to make a decision to practice through them, I would have to have sufficient lucidity to so decide. But the whole problem is that I don’t have the lucidity in those moments, so how do I get at the lack of lucidity to cut through it? It is a chicken-or-egg dilemma. Hence, the difficulty of this part of the path.

Sleep is a final frontier. A leftover boundary exists where I must discern how to bring lucidity into the most compelling remaining impulse to escape experience. I must stop leaping into darkness or bobbing back up into unrest as ways of escaping pain-memory. At least I can see these liminal moments and acknowledge them, though, so there is hope—hope and faith.

With this, I’ll briefly describe recent results with Tibetan methods from the Bönpo Mother Tantras. Both methods are nighttime methods that are partnered with the aforementioned mindfulness to see everything as vividly dream-like during the day. If you would like to try these practices, which I highly recommend over western techniques, see Geshe Tenzin Wangyal’sThe Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep, and the second part of Andrew Holocek’s Dream Yoga: Illuminating Your Life through Lucid Dreaming and the Tibetan Yogas of Sleep.

Red Lotus Sacred Dream Lucidity

In addition to daytime and nighttime preliminary practices, Wangyal details sacred dreaming methods that involve waking up every 2 hours during the night and moving into a specific sleep position each time. The main practice, though, is tantric visualization of a four-petaled red lotus. The red lotus is visualized out in front, in the dark, but then shrunk and brought in and down into the throat chakra, which is the power seat of communication and dreams. The difficult part of this visualization for me is that the perspective is top-down from behind the eyes and into the throat. This is a pretty weird perspective to try to gain, especially because I’ve worked so long now at not localizing subjective reference at all, let alone behind the eyes or in the head. 

At any rate, the red lotus is luminous, filling the space with red light, radiating from the throat to fill the room. Andrew Holocek suggests a preparatory practice that involves tracing the shape of a four-petaled lotus over and over and over again on paper so that the “feel” of the shape can be internalized as body-knowledge. Tantra is normally associated with imaginative visualization, but just as, in my book, the bodily spaciousness attainment is the most important one, so tantric success is more about feeling the projected presence than about “seeing” it. It is important to feel the red lotus in the throat and to feel the nectar of that red light illuminating outward from that chakra to fill the room, to fill space. 

After enjoining the tracing of the red lotus on paper, Holocek’s version begins with tracing the shape repeatedly out in front with one’s extended finger, in the dark, while in bed, Then the flower is taken down into its home in the throat chakra. He then emphasizes that the flower should not remain cartoon-like but be seen and felt as vivid and three-dimensional, alive with reality. 

Finally, both books describe the inscription of seed syllables, or letters, on each of the four petals, with a fifth one, om, in the center of the flower. The seed syllables are each associated with one of the five elements. Each is also traced, in Holocek, on paper (preferably in proper colors) and then traced in the dark in front first. The order followed can be that of the earth into water, water into fire, fire into air, and air into space—the order of dissolution in death and release into the bardo. When the flower is in the throat, the letters are traced out in stages as sleepiness intensifies. Holocek remarks that when the letters are included then the blessings and powers of the buddhas are internalized in the dreamer. This was an aha for me: It is a spell, as with sigils. Sigil means seal. The letters are the seals of the spell.

The very first night I tried this practice, I had some results that amazed. First, I almost never make impulse buys, but the night before I read all this, I impulsively purchased an automated home lighting system that enables colored lighting. The instructions for the yoga are to see everything as red light and to try to sleep with some actual light on. So I set my new system on a timer to fade out from bright red to dull red and then out. 

I mentally went around the four petals in my red sleep chamber, as though circling some drain slowly, and then slipped into some kind of altered state through the om in the center. There was nothing in this state in the way of Jenny, and there were no objects, with the exception of red-tinged formless light. Suddenly a huge white number 17 burst forth in vision. It was insistent, pregnant with some secret meaning. It excited me with its hot-white urgency, which of course brought Jenny back online, whereupon I woke up and recorded the dream.

Then after being a up for 10 or 15 minutes, I repeated the trip around the lotus petals. This second time I went back through the center into a red-light formless lucidity in which there was no Jenny and no objects except the red diffuse light. Somehow the fact that my body was sleeping in my bed was “known,” but not in any sort of discursive way and not with any feeling of a Jenny-body or Jenny anything per se. It is really hard to describe this referenceless knowing, its manner of being knowledge while remaining without any subject-object markers or narrative delineation.

After a good while in this state, Jenny began reconstituting enough to critique the fact that the red light was a kind of object, which is funny. At a certain point, the referenceless knowing has to know that it knows in order to be complete, but that can devolve, like the creation narrative, or Dependent Origination, into individual consciousness. Jenny began remembering that this red light ought to be out by now because the timer was set for the red light to fade to off within 40 minutes of going back to bed. This memory brought home that I was really just sleeping, and this realization that I was sleeping woke me up! I opened my eyes from red light that had bathed its own awareness to the black darkness of the actual bedroom, a transition that was mind-blowing, to put it mildly.

Closer toward morning, I had a regular not-quite-lucid dream. Before me stood Jim, who is a lucid dream sign and teacher in my dreams, and Andrew. Together they were holding a torch aloft, like the Statue of Liberty. Suddenly, that aloft light changed into an IV bottle, and I knew that the medicine was for me. I said to Jim, “What?” And he replied, “This is the juice!” That’s exactly what Jim would say.

The next morning I read everything I could find about the number 17. It is apparently a number of purification and approaching enlightenment. In the major arcana, it is the Star, which has significance as a Jenny card in some of my readings recorded in this journal. I had the night beforehand been scheduling a sangha call on the topic of dream practice for Sept. 17.

But there’s more. When I came into the office building at work that day, I found that someone had drawn a huge red lotus on the white board I pass by every day. I asked a coworker who drew it, and he said, “My daughter was just in here last night and drew that thing, but I have no idea why.”

Blue Lotus Sacred Sleep Lucidity

After all this, I continued to read the later parts of Geshe Wangyal’s book, which concerns the ultimate goal of sleep practice: to stop dreaming altogether, to have the body rest while the mind remains stainless in the referenceless Clear Light of rigpa. This attainment is much harder to reach and generally takes much more time.

However, I reflected on where I apparently am on the Path and how and why clunky dream methods have not been working for me. I determined that I should try to leave dreaming behind altogether and work with a practice that is like the red lotus one but with a blue lotus. Instead of letters or sigils on the petals, the blue lotus of sacred dreamless sleep is adorned with colored tigles, drops of light, again in the colors of the elements. The one in the center is blue-white. This is a simpler exercise, as there are not four different sleeping positions to have to remember to assume throughout the night, and no complicated Tibetan letter shapes to memorize.

Last night was my first night with this practice. Results were amazing, even though I did not have lucidity throughout sleep. I began by praying wholeheartedly to a dakini, Salgye du Dalma, who is the protectress of sleep yoga. I got in bed and closed my eyes after my preliminary practices, Nine Breathings of Purification, yidam practice with this dakini, and about 90 minutes of my main Dzogchen practice.

When I got in the position that Wangyal instructs (left side for women), I was intending to imagine the blue lotus, with the dakini in the center embodied as a blue-white luminous tigle. I was intending to do the whole in-bed practice, which involves seeing a yellow tigle on the top petal, a blue one on the right, a red one at the bottom, a green one on the left, and the blue-white one in the center. I was supposed to travel in a clockwise direction as I became sleepier and sleepier, as though spiraling down the drain, as with the red lotus dream practice, but with the difference that this lotus is supposed to be placed at the heart chakra, not the throat.

But when I prayed from my bed to Salgye du Dalma again, what happened was so remarkable that I never even started with the tour of petal-adorning tigles at the heart. As soon as I called out her name, a luminous and fluidly shifting blue flower shape appeared before me, whether my eyes were closed or open! I mean this was not imaginal visualization, but was there in the room, in front of me!

Over the past 5 or 6 months, I have sometimes seen a domed matrix before sleep. It has irregularly angled and irregularly spaced “grid” lines and a bright violet nimitta beyond the open top at center. This matrix appeared last night right before I called on the dakini. Then, after I called on her, the matrix suddenly shifted and became the blue underwater-like flowing flower with bright luminous white center. Although this was before my eyes instead of in my heart, I remembered to keep my heart open and in flow. But I kept my eyes on the flower in front rather than bring it in and down into my heart.

Yes, I then got all excited and even started imagining telling Jim about all this. I started telling myself, “Bad Jenny! Stop!”  I thought I would get pulled out by this excitement. But even while I was falling into this discursive planning and excitement, the flower kept blooming, growing, softly and luminously waving as if under water. It faded and collapsed only if I completely roused myself, and as soon as I went back into relaxation, it began its dance again.

So I was like “Oh, hot damn! this is for real!” I just gazed on the center white tigle, but then something strange happened. There was a flash of the the violet matrix, then the flower again, and then I was absorbed into the light at the center of the flower. There were some shifting scenes and times, and I was traveling fast through ages. Then all stopped and I was in a primitive, prehistoric cave. The cave walls were lighted because light of the dakini came there with my mind. All these cave drawings of animals and men with tools and spears were there, in quietness, timelessness. The texture of the rock could be seen and felt. 

This didn’t feel like a dream. It felt like being there. I was also still aware, somehow, that I had gone into the blue flower and that my body was in bed, although I couldn’t feel the bed or my reclining body, and all this was somehow known beyond memory reference or discursive thought.

So this was traveling. Finally.

Afterward, I must have fallen into Stupidity Sleep. In the morning, I was lying in the liminal state and was thinking of things I need to do, like a do list, and suddenly I would be there doing these things. Like I was at the bank actually doing a task, and then I was driving home from work, through the campus gate. It felt as though I were actually bringing these planned actions to fruition on another plane. Again, I was really there, not just dreaming. It was full-on traveling while I was still aware, two places at once, but no place.

I’m planning to clean up my altar, order a picture of this goddess (although her true form is a bright blue-white tigle), and adorn the altar with blue flowers and all sorts of blue things and luminous white things. I’m  Salgye du Dalma’s Number 1 fan. I’m going to be her devotee from now on, bend the knee. 

Super/Natural: A Choice between Magick and Enlightenment

The Sorceress by John William Waterhouse, 1913

The following conversation is a somewhat edited excerpt from my current (private) practice journal. –Jenny

Jenny

I’m not even documenting my practice in Heartlighted anymore.

DreamWalker

Well if nothing is happening. . . . “This page left blank intentionally.”

Jenny

I feel that something interior has to work itself out and take me to a new level of nongrasping, naturalness. Something is “happening,” but not what you would think. It is a release of the spectacular, the special, the magickal. It is a letting go of magick and pointed intention as any part of the goal, which is enlightenment.

DreamWalker

What’s the boundary that keeps the special and normal from merging?

Jenny

See, that is a mechanical question. At this level of practice, I’m done with analysis of mechanisms. In other words, here is the mechanism, haha: The boundary is that between will and naturalness.

DreamWalker

Okie-dokie. . . .

Jenny

My practices, including visions and dreams that are sought, feel highly artificial now.

DreamWalker

Let the effortlessly natural mix with the naturally effortless. . . . 

Jenny

Just let be.

For I’m sitting in the stupid bathtub, surrounded by lit candles, and wondering what is supposed to happen next and why whatever that is isn’t actually happening . . . analyzing. 

DreamWalker

LOL!

Jenny

Desire is being burned out of me.

DreamWalker

Hmm . . . okay.

Jenny

Desire for the next stage

Desire for a teacher to cling to

Desire for magickal powers

Desire not to desire all of the above, because all that is not “enlightenment,” which is what I chiefly and rightly desire . . .

DreamWalker

That don’t sound like too much fun.

Jenny

Desire for “fun”. . . .  That desire for the supernatural wow factor is the boundary. Desire for beautiful novel visions and spectacular lucid dreams is the boundary. Desire is the self-alienated state of nonpresence.

DreamWalker

Ah, I see. . . . 

Jenny

So how the fuck is the thing supposed to sync with itself if I’m desiring (a thus future) synchronization? And so begins and circulates ever to its own beginning this practice level’s Analysis Trap.

Now, truly, this desire has, most of the time, been exceedingly subtle. But I now have to acknowledge that it has been operative since the inception of my main current practice. And when the insight-stage cycling reemerged around Thanksgiving Day, it was because I proceeded from that subtlety to plunging down the rabbit hole of experimenting with magical transmissions, astral traveling, and similar feats of identity solidification. If I were already fully enlightened, those actions wouldn’t introduce errors, but I’m not, so they do.

DreamWalker

Desire is at the attention level rather than the awareness level of mind, right?

Jenny

I don’t know that desire is attention to the exclusion of awareness. Awareness and attention are not opposed but stably interpenetrating for me in everyday life. You are taking some split that is more fundamental and dragging it back under a duality subframework that has already been resolved for me by an earlier level of practice.

At my current practice level, your question is too much mechanization of my experience for me to work out. Desire is simply desire. It is the fundamental state of all imperfection and alienation, which I believe is what Gautama Buddha taught. If I am desiring a preliminary result of completion practice, then I’m living in the future, which I cannot. This split is what keeps time segmented, linear. In other words, I have not brought the Fourth Time (timeless time) online. This is the point: I believe that the final boundary is Time.

DreamWalker

What is grasping?

Jenny

Desire on steroids.

DreamWalker

Desire is grasping? Nah. . . . Grasping is patterns.

Jenny

Desire-feeling that amounts to personal neediness, narcissism, is grasping.

DreamWalker

Programmed patterns of desire and grasping are directing attention.

Jenny

Yes, fair enough. But even in my attention to particulars, there is awareness in its usual breadth and clarity. Maybe it is just not complete, which accords with doctrine since rigpa cannot be at full measure until third vision has reached culmination.

The funny thing, given this understanding of the need for rigpa to come to full measure, is that I currently intuit that I need to pull back on the rigpa pole and reemphasize the Essence, the Mother, Emptiness pole. And I’m sensing on the periphery of my mind that this return to emptiness practice will be through body-based modalities.

DreamWalker

Perhaps you are needing more karmic release.

Jenny

Well, that release happens on its own in the causal dimension. So nothing to do with anything I do at this point here. You are searching for a comfortingly mechanistically distancing label, such as “patterns,’ for what is experienced nonmechanistically and naturally as a feeling of lacking. But, yes, if you like, grasping is desire that is patterned into identity and its sustaining identification processes.

My higher-level counterpoint is that analyzing things mechanistically is one of the key forms of grasping that has to go at this level, for me, for you, for everyone. Maybe not at your current level, but at this level. We are both saying that I have to work with the narcissistic wound, the feeling of lacking, the feeling of being incomplete.

DreamWalker

Sounds good to me. How do you do that?

Jenny

Not sure.

DreamWalker

Exemplar tantra?

Jenny

Probably some bodily reengagement with Trekchö, but this is a question for the teacher. And, at least for motivating theoretical context, probably understanding deeply what Almaas is pointing out. Trekchö feels natural; all other, including my main “special” practice, is now feeling fake. Think about it: I’m sitting and cultivating the conditions for some extraordinary states, getting high on the jhanas that unfold as a result, but all this feels strangely wrong.

It is like when you are making love and suddenly see yourself and your partner as two mindless bog frogs humping mere flesh-form mechanistically and you feel your naturalness as a higher-level human being peel off and evaporate. There is a split there, a loss of authenticity when humping is divorced from agape.

DreamWalker

Hmm. . . .  Wonder if J’s Gonna recommend a trip to R for you.

Jenny

Doubt that. J doesn’t have time to answer me until late March, anyway.

DreamWalker

Does that nonresponse make you feel abandoned?

Jenny

I’m not exactly emotionally spinning about it, because I trust J’s good heart, implicitly and always. I know his plate is full to overflowing. However, the motivation-analyzing thought-habit does sometimes arise, “Hmm, is he cutting me off on this plane? Why?” So sometimes I wonder if it is intentional even if I don’t question the basic total goodness of the motives behind any such intention of his.

No, I don’t feel abandoned by J, just sometimes a fleeting twinge of impatience at having to wait, which is good fodder for practice. Nothing like the depth and extent I felt with Daniel, which was Kalpa-Extensive Abandonment as High Betrayal. A twinge is just enough to wonder, have that thought-form arise, and see it evaporate.

I experience the same sort of twinge with my family, but it is more difficult with them because they are not sane, whereas J is the exemplar of sanity. I’m looking at them and their defensiveness as the setting that is expected from all family members when we meet, a collective, mutually reinforcing neuroticism. Then I feel myself start to be entrained by their energy and crazymaking. So I stop. I go silent. I disengage. I watch them continue to be obnoxious, but I ground my own energy as though slamming a stake through the center of the Earth. I’m there, and my twinge of defensiveness melts into feeling sad for them. This is genuine sadness, a love-compassion that, right now, I cannot respond to with speech or action in a way that will help them. I cannot fix this burning world, despite my longing to, my desire. 

I tried to explain all this to Kurt. And all he said was reductive: “All that is because you feel holier than thou.” So I had to stop right there, stop with him, too. Shut my mouth. Same thing: not defend territory but generate the entirety of space in silence. And if a gulf gapes open between us meantime, then that gulf is a matter of Time, linear time, mean time indeed.

All I have to do, haha, is overcome Time.

DreamWalker

Right. . . .

Jenny

Not to be understood even by my husband: This central lack in me is not being understood, not being known even by my closest loved ones.

DreamWalker

It’s lonely.

Jenny

This is the wound that alienates us from ourselves across a gulf of defense mechanisms. And it is the boundary that is keeping me from enlightenment.

DreamWalker

I’ve got that wound . . . not being seen.

Jenny

Right. It is common as rain. But I’m figuring it out. This being unable to share even the most precious thing I’ve found: the path to liberation. It hurts.

DreamWalker

Well, spontaneous perfection in action sounds pretty good.

Jenny

If I knew what that was like. But I understand now what I didn’t even a month ago: that my chronic retreat to solitude is about this. I find it very hard to be around people since the Mahamudra awakening. It is easier at work because at work everything is superficial, transactional, polite. But with my family it is difficult. With my friends, close ones who aren’t spiritual, it is hard. With dharma folk who I see as spinning and not getting through gates that ought to be easier to cross . . . hard. It is like being on this other side and the deep gulf that divides is horrifying. Because I cannot help them. And they think they don’t even want or need help. So where is the boundary between holier than thou and effective compassion? Hard.

Bunch of psychological stuff coming up as though now is second path at a deeper level. What is prominent is mental echo, past tense itself as personal patterning. That boundary is a gap in time, and it has to close. That is why J keeps telling me to hold these people in my heart outside of time. To see them as the buddhas they will be but now.

DreamWalker

Ahh. . . .

Jenny

But I’ve not quite figured out how. Maybe J can specify the practice. I’m not good at it yet.

About your telling me that maybe N should skip Mahamudra and go directly into Dzogchen, tell me who you know that got awake awareness by starting with Dzogchen.

DreamWalker

Who?

Jenny

One person.

DreamWalker

Who is that?

Jenny

I’m asking you.

DreamWalker

Tibetans?

Jenny

Unverifiable.

DreamWalker

Totally.

Jenny

Dzogchen begins after MCTB 4th path. So how does one use a method whose prerequisite is 4th path to get 4th path? How does one actually practice Trekcho? Out of the blue? With no ground realization? What is the instruction for that?

DreamWalker

No idea how it is done.

Jenny

Okay, LOL! So why did you say that Dzogchen and skipping Mahamudra might be better for N?

Oh my. This bird thing is a bit off from exemplar tantra. I cannot tell from N’s writing where he is “seeing” all this. Is it during a sit? Is it out in front of him with eyes open? Is it behind closed eyes in his imagination? Is he really flying through the actual sky, circling in for a landing at Amazon?

He seems to be caught up in an entire story, narrative that is not part of the meditation instructions.

You aren’t feeding him shamanism stuff are you?

DreamWalker

Who me? Nooooooop.

Jenny

Gooooood.

DreamWalker

LOL! No more than I feed you.

Jenny

Because we are not practicing shamanism. We are practicing tantra.

Don’t confuse your spewing with my swallowing.

DreamWalker

Tom Campbell’s My Big TOE!

Jenny

That book isn’t going after what I’m after.

DreamWalker

Well . . . kind of. Speculation. But simulation as holographic universes, and the bounding egg cracking. . . . 

Jenny

Does Campbell have nondual enlightenment? If he did, he would write about that.

DreamWalker

Yes. He is nonduality. 

Jenny

But told from the objective side of things because he is a scientist. Campbell is a buddha? Monroe isn’t.

DreamWalker

But his model is for basics of understanding the theory of everything.

Jenny

That stuff doesn’t matter until after buddhahood. It is a distraction.

DreamWalker

Monroe wasn’t in life.

Jenny

Lots of people can be open in weird ways without being enlightened.

DreamWalker

Right. Apparently, Monroe continued after death.

Jenny

Unverifiable? LOL!

DreamWalker

Unless you visit him.

Jenny

SIGH. LOL!

My current theory is that focus on magick subtends duality. Hence, magick’s being a hindrance, a major one. Western magick users will try to tell you that what they are doing leads to the same end, enlightenment. Not true. Because it objectifies at the level of mode: The self via intent versus the world as the manipulated.

So best to lay off all that, which is essentially what I wrote on that post Daniel deleted because, deep down, Daniel knows it is true and feels threatened by his own approach to that truth. Because magick is for control, just like the Overlord’s Delete button is, a major detour back up own ass. It is a tool of the deluded identity structures, a toolbox filled with defense mechanisms. 

It is best to put away your tool and wait for marriage.

In N’s case, he has publicly claimed a mental illness. So another reason not to pump magick into him. Tantra can be dangerous, after all, and requires prior stabilization to avoid danger.

The reason I logged on is because there is something in the back of my mind, something about the four visions mapping to the four vipassana jhanas and therefore to the four paths. So Dzogchen really is the fifth path, the echo that is the formless realms. 

I’m thinking more and more about this. Because fourth vision ends in what? Cessation and fruition.

And there is something creepy about third vision, with the wrathfuls and intensity. Fourth vision is Equanimity. It is like shedding the jhana factors as one moves to j4 and the formless realms.

DreamWalker

Magick at the level of attention traps you. Thus cycling.

Jenny

Even if you have awake awareness, maybe especially then, magick is a trap. The only place where it is not a trap is buddhahood. This thing about needing naturalness to permeate all “attainments” is predominant. So it goes around again: I’m back to looking at Sid’s Suffering 101.

Post Daniel Ingram Deleted from the Dharma Overground 

Someone today pointed me to a thread on the DhO, where I don’t ordinarily go, and there was Daniel going on about how Progress of Insight cycling continues after MCTB 4th Path. I had a DhO sockpuppet that I never used, but I thought someone, chiefly Daniel, might benefit from what I had to say about cycling, its stopping, and its restarting. So I posted. He is supposedly on retreat, but he swiftly deleted it. I had copied my work, thank goodness, and tried reposting it. Again, he swiftly deleted the post and banned the poor declawed Bodhi Cat. Meowwwww! Not to let a good post go to waste, I’ll paste it here, where the “Overlord” holds no scepter. Good information ought to be welcome on the DhO, but then that wouldn’t be characteristic of that space. I wish I were kidding. Below is my reply to Daniel’s comments in the “5th Path” post on the DhO, a reply addressing his claim that insight stages continue to cycle after MCTB 4th path is attained, “at least for me,” he writes. After he deleted and banned Bodhi (which means enlightenment), there ensued some private texts and emails with him. I remained calm, but his envy and ill-will were apparent. His current retreat is not doing much opening or lifting, it seems. Maybe that is because he is spending it closely monitoring the DhO. I truly hope he finds his way to someplace higher. Comrad Bodhi concurs, or would had he lived.

R.I.P. Bodhi Cat

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[Reply to Daniel on the DhO Post “5th Path]

I attained MCTB 4th Path. There is certainty about this attainment, unmediated direct certainty. For whatever it may be worth in terms of credibility in this conversation, I underwent months of my teacher’s probing for any sign of the contrary, and this attainment was confirmed by the teacher, as well. I was doing awareness practices on retreat when the center dissolved permanently almost 2 years ago.

Since then, I’ve experienced a deepening and deepening and deepening that is not a series of distinctive “shifts,” but instead is what feels like a continuous slow seeping into every nook and cranny of the self (which does exist but as pure presence without identity content and without the identification process that makes people normally experience even their own subjectivity as an object, a representation). I cannot say what the nooks and crannies actually are, or were, but the feeling is of a continuous sonic booming to greater oceanic depths of that original awakening.

I cycled hard before 4th path, with intense A&P stages and some devastating, ruinous Dark Nights. But the day the center dissolved, that cycling stopped. To be completely honest, I did occasionally notice mild A&P emergence. Whenever that happened, I would actually try to track whether the Dark Night stages followed. But I could never tell that they did, even when I looked for them. And the A&P stages were much milder than they were before 4th, and rare. I stopped identifying with insight stages. They ceased to be interesting in any way. As patterned experience, they paled in the blazing light of rigpa (clarity) and the one taste of emptiness.

Incidentally, I have a friend in this community who I’m convinced reached 4th path, and this is the only other person I know whose descriptions seem absolutely credible to me. He also stopped cycling at 4th path.

Oddly enough, recently, the cycles seemed to restart for me, after a year and a half of not being able to discern any cycles (other than rare and mild A&P). What was I doing or experiencing that made them restart? I’m still trying to sort this out, which may require time to give perspective, but I had at the time gotten into some pretty weird spaces with esoteric practices. I became extremely antisocial and locked myself in a bedroom for many hours every night, talking to nonphysical beings and practicing. I also was at a point at which I was rebelling against Buddhism, against the very lineage that got me so far. Part of this is the natural shedding of the Path as some new Fruition nears, but I don’t think that’s all of it.

This topic is too complex and personal to go far into here, but the rebellion was apparently in part a resurgence of narcissistic stuff from early childhood (and late childhood, too, most likely). According to some mapped psychological correlates of awakening, essential (not necessarily neurotic or pathological) narcissism (neurotic in me, though) intensifies before major new levels of awakening. It might manifest, for example as idealizing transference with one’s teacher, along with mirror transference (intensified need to be seen as special and to be appreciated as uniquely talented by the teacher).

It was like 2nd path turmoil, but at a much deeper fundamental level of bare existence and without spinning me out into reactivity. Speaking of reactivity, even though reactivity is rare and mild when I’m pulled out of rigpa by something intimately connected with said childhood stuff, this is the domain (childhood trauma) that remains an identity barrier or obscuration. This is fine, because I have a highly qualified teacher, and the practices are doing themselves at this point in a way that is clearly progressing and deepening the former awakenings toward ultimate fruition, by which I do not mean MCTB 4th. path.

I no longer think of things in terms of four paths, and I certainly no longer believe revised 4th path is “done.” I don’t identify myself as “arahat.” What is missing, or deficient, in my view and experience, when cycling persists or resumes is rigpa, and, specifically, the emptiness-of-time realization. There is a deeper surrender necessary after 4th path, one that requires giving up magick, for starters.

There is a deeper magick than that of the tantrikas. It is the magick that unfolds when you do not do magick. It is the magick of simply being present as pure being, a vessel through which cosmological-scale magick happens. It is best to lay off deliberate magick and wait for this scale of knowledge to unfold naturally, in my view and experience, and according to my teacher. Practicing magick from the still knotted holdouts of identity post-4th-path is one surefire way to derail the path to Buddhahood, I’m told, and my preliminary assessments are that my cycling reemerged largely because I began casting spells after a long hiatus. The spells were nothing dark by any means, but I was “sure” about the ends and was rebelling against lineage cautions about the “means.” I became increasingly pulled out and ungrounded, and the cycles reemerged temporarily. Magick is a side track, a derailing, golden chains. And when sufficient depths of surrender have been reached, magick will naturally lose all allure, all glamour. This is a sign of progress.

I don’t have time right now for rigpa wars or omniscience debates, for treading that conceptualized territory that consumes, unfruitfully, so many forums. Such theoretical debates are of little use and can actually cause confusion for those who are not ready for, say, the completion practices in Tibetan Buddhism. I can certainly have those discussions at a separate time, but not today and probably not publicly.

So what can help the cycling to stop? Practices beyond Mahamudra, and certainly far beyond ordinary vipassana. For example, your mind may indeed be liberated, and there is no more “doing” at the level of identification and perception (those processes have unknotted), but the attainment of 4th has to be allowed to unknot the rest, including the subtle body, including psychodynamic (second-person relationship patterns set in early childhood). This requires certain specific allowing/surrender practices beyond Mahamudra if one is aiming for Buddhahood in this lifetime. Buddhahood, not just 4th path “arahatship,” is absolutely possible in this lifetime. And buddhahood means to be nondefective on all “axes,” as no “axes” of the person are actually separate from pure nonrepresentational Being, and that means on the level of personality disturbances, neuroticism, and even the defects of “normal” psychological health.

What I’m saying cannot be proven. No debate will show the truth of it where communion has failed. It isn’t subject to third-party verification processes, as you know. But, for whatever it is worth, I promise you that it is so, that there is more territory beyond MCTB 4th, that miraculous deepenings are so very possible, that complete healing and “magick” beyond your imagination are in the offing.

Tantra can help with subtle body and psychodynamic duality at specific trouble spots for the practitioner, but Dzogchen is the only tradition that has the means to buddhahood without the need to go through the dying process to reach it. It requires very deep surrender, total naturalness, beyond what sustains the Two Truths as two truths. There are not true truths; there is only wholeness for those who realize it.

There are many ways to maintain and deepen surrender to the Unbounded Whole, adjuncts to Dzogchen. For example, when my recent reemergence of cycling started causing me to drink vodka martinis and eat beef after esoteric practices, I knew I had a problem, that I was trying to ground magick energies that had got too pointed and hot. My teacher prescribed, along with a certain prayer/invocation, yin yoga, which quickly calmed everything down again by rebalancing energies and emphasizing surrender at the bodily and energetic (meridian) levels (fascia, and even bone structure is altered). I assume each asana, which is intense, for 3 to 5 minutes and continually release into gravity (these are passive stretches, yin). I meditate in the poses, folded over in full surrender even to the pain.

One is not fully enlightened until subtle remaining exteriority of vision is corrected via Togal visions. Rigpa (luminous awareness) doesn’t reach full measure until third vision is completed. Fourth vision apparently ends with a massive cessation-singularity and “return” to life. Everything stops and restarts, just as in an MCTB “fruition,” which is extremely interesting in the context of this discussion about insight stages. The visions are not “magick” that you “do”; however, they open up a nonphysical dimension co-occurring with physical matter reality eventually, the height of rigpa, the completeness of Unbounded Wholeness. No other tradition has this, not even essence Mahamudra. Alternatively, one can “finish” the path to buddhahood when the visions arise in the bardo after death.

MCTB 4th path can be a trap, velvet handcuffs. It feels so, so “done.” And it is done, as far as what can be done via vipassana (ordinary special insight) and Mahamudra (extraordinary special insight) goes. Dzogchen maps call for stabilization and deepening of what you so far think cannot be deepened, namely MCTB 4th. In Dzogchen, this first level of deepening is Trekchod (“cutting through all solidity and reactivity”). Then there is is the Path of Togal. Until you have gone through all four visions, had that fruition, and are lucidly aware throughout both dreams and dreamless sleep, you cannot say that you have taken awakening as far as it can go in this lifetime. It can indeed deepen—and how. Emptiness does indeed become “more empty,” but you cannot know what you do not know experientially for yourself. 

Another sign that deepening is occurring via these other maps is that moral codes are shed, hyper-classification notions like “separate axes of development” are dissolved. This is because ultimate compassion-love is arising spontaneously, and all codified behavior is abandoned as the exteriorized identity crutch that it is. Of course, one has to be cautious, have discriminating wisdom, for apparently I shed too much too fast recently, and the resumption of POI cycling was the sign, which I was grateful for having so that I could remediate and regroup.

A book that I’m currently reading that maps awakening from a western depth psychology and object relations theory perspective is A. H. Almaas’s The Point of Existence: Transformations of Narcissism in Self-Realization. I cannot put this book down, and I highly recommend it, if for no other reason than his phenomenological descriptions of what seems equivalent to MCTB 4th, but in much different language than yours, and from a linguistic perspective of the former Subject rather than the Field of sensations. A very, very nuanced treatment.

My qualifications are that this book misunderstands Dzogchen as method. This is a old book, and Almaas states that he thinks westerners will be alienated by Eastern methods. His own methods seem to be inquiry with students that goes to far more subtle depths than psychotherapy but, to me, resembles it. So this is not a methods book. It is a phenomenological description over against developmental psychology, so it is a correlate map. The guy is a genius, and his precision is a huge theoretical help. This book addresses central narcissism in awakening. Next I’m going to read the Pearl beyond Price and The Void, which I think address other psychological disturbances/disorders and barriers. Despite his method that looks a lot like therapy, Almaas states that therapy cannot actually resolve narcissism or other psychological patterns; only realization can.

https://www.amazon.com/Point-Existence-Transformations-Narcissism-Self-Realization/dp/0936713097/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1487029835&sr=8-1&keywords=the+point+of+existence

 

Casting the Field

Magick is real. Although the merest thought is intent, it doesn’t require your belief in order to manifest all sorts of chains and webs. You are alive in a vast universe. That’s spooky! Your thoughts and words contribute to an energy field that is oh so very real. Everything, energetically and by Law of Karma, reduces to fear or to love. Those are the two options.

As this species awakens from its delusions, as the West awakens from the bad dream “history,” there will be trauma and throes as the karmic traces are released. This is happening. The pressing question is this: Will it take 100 years to liberate this species and planet, or 1,000? Well, that answer depends on this primary thought: Which field are you casting?