This was the first reading I did after my lawyer broke off legal settlement negotiations with Daniel M. Ingram over copyright to Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha: An Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book, Second Edition. Our attorneys had quickly negotiated the key terms, chief of which was an acknowledgment for my contributions. But more than a month later, when the actual document arrived, it was one-way, with no credit or even acknowledgment whatsoever going to me, even though I am, as a matter of law, well beyond the threshold for authorship and in fact hold joint copyright as coauthor. As if that were not enough, a bunch of bizarre terms terms were added to severely limit my constitutional right to free speech and right to publish my own writings.

My lawyer and I agreed that there is no point in further negotiations, so notice was sent to opposing counsel. I will retain joint copyright. This was the cherry, to send over a document that changed the negotiated terms previously agreed to orally by all involved.

Here is an image of the spread as I read it:

Inner State: Eight of Swords Reversed

The image is of a gate, but there is no actual lock or even latch. I can walk through as soon as I know I can. Therefore, the gate is holding back nothing but the delusion that I’m held back. I can see all that awaits me on the other side, and I know I will walk through, in the future; however, there is still some subtly unresolved grief or issue that is detaining me. It is a prison of my own mind, not an actual gate “over there,” outside me and keeping me out.

Eight is the number of justice. The gate is a veil between the two plates of the scales of justice. Order and new balance must come out of the current chaos. The threshold I’m standing on is a point of no return. A transformation is coming, as soon as I let it, and it will further broaden perception so that nothing will ever be the same again.

But for now, I pause here and reflect on all that has happened since August 2014. I must go on and walk, but for the moment the reversed position of the card indicates that my will is weak, for passing through will involve one last pang. 

Outer Reality: The Hanged Man Reversed

The Hanged Man is my outer reality. Here I face the Other for the last time. 

Out of shame over and horror at his own actions, Judas hanged himself in the garden after having betrayed Jesus to death. Jesus saw the betrayal coming, and let it happen, with a final kiss, the kiss of death instead of true friendship. 

But this image of a hanged man is also purification though the mystery of crucifixion, the human reality of suffering as compassion and liberation. You see, vulnerability to the possibility of anguish, even that of extreme betrayal and enmity, is what makes love so sweet; just so, established love is precisely what makes betrayal sting. 

Interchange is suspended; negotiation is suspended; politics has strangled friendship. The die is cast. The stage has finally darkened. There was epic predestination not only in Christ’s life, but also in Judas’s.

A cycle has ended in death, two deaths brought about by a momentary kiss, a temporary crossing of paths.

Betrayal. Suspension. But also, now, all possibility of redemption because the First Noble Truth is known clearly as universal.

Advice: King of Wands Reversed

The image is of the Sumerian Sun God. This is a card of redemption through sheer individual will. This is a card of righteousness, will, and justice. In reverse, it indicates the need to look into myself for the power that fuels my righteous indignation. I should use it as fuel to light the way for others.


I’m standing on a threshold, between two plates of justice, and all is for the moment suspended in hush. I look with tenderness back at the site of friendship, betrayal, and madness born of early shame. Clear-eyed, I watch the last of the grief and disillusionment run out my overturned cup. 

It was all mythic destiny. But time to move on … any moment now.

Dream of White Chalk Caves

During one of my bouts of sleepiness today, I took a nap. Shortly before I woke up, I dreamed I was standing facing my son in bright daylight, before some white chalk caves. I sort of knew I was in dreamspace, because I knew those white caves were not part of the scenery anywhere near where I reside. I was about to go into a cave with my son to teach him meditation on retreat. He looked at me, his white tee-shirt nearly blinding me with glare, and said, “Yes, I’m ready.”

I’m wanting to actually teach him during his summer break from college. I could test material for a future meditation manual, and he could gain stream entry.

Formless Realms

Tonight I lighted my candles and  I called on my protectors, in case I’m under some kind of attack on my energy, which may be the case since one of the chief effects of the fatigue is that I blow off meditation and therefore calling for protectors’ help. After chatting with DreamWalker a bit, I agreed that I needed to resolve to sit and call them in, so I did. After calling in the retinue and doing some heart-opening guru yoga with Guru Rinpoche, I spent an hour gently going up the jhanas. 

Ordinarily I don’t notice j3 much, but tonight I did. It was wide but all in front, joyous with a trace of rapture wobbling in here and there. Then it suddenly bloomed into j4, which was oh-so-nice. By the time I’m past j2, I drop the breath as an object to labor over. The jhanas are self-guided at that point; all I have to do is not overapply effort. Nice and gentle–and they unfold. 

I made it to j7 for the first time in so long that I have lost track of how long. So I’m simply out of practice. It is weird to have that turning-away that j7, Nothingness, requires when mother-rigpa is flaring so. But it is possible.

During jhana, I have fragments of forgotten dreams float up. So jhana does indeed seem to prime dreamtime and dream recall.

I will continue to revive my jhana practice, taking more time to let each jhana bloom and transition on its own. It seems that hands-off is the best approach now.

This is a simple three-card spread that I read daily, or almost. The deck is the whack Mary-el Tarot by Marie White. It is a hard deck to use if you want to have a text guide as to specific divination. And I don’t think I will ever use it to read for other people, for that reason. It is my personal deck. To me, the better way to use this deck is to take the entire spread in as a whole picture, paying attention to the colors and emotions that the cards evoke.

Image of layout:

For example, look at all that red I’m seeing! The figures are all downright languid, yet the red suggests upheaval, passion. There is some kind of paradox here, and I have indeed been feeling these kinds of contradictions. I’m in an interesting, if sometimes confusing, transitional phase.

Inner World: Page of Wands Reversed

The first card position is my inner state. Here we have the Page of Wands reversed. The image is of Joan of Arc. In reverse, this card indicates a loss of faith or inspiration. This is oddly true. I felt on the night of this layout that i was in a rut, that my sits were repetitive and not as interesting as just sitting and being. What is weird is that my feelings around the sits are this way, but the sits themselves are amazing. Even if my mind wanders off task or target, the clarity, bliss, openness, and vastness are amazing. There is nothing to strive for. All I do is slightly incline the mind to notice. Then I ease off even that.

Outer World: Eight of Wands

Second card is the Eight of Wands. See the girl being carried by the phoenixes? She is asleep. This card position is of external circumstances. This card is about integrating my shadow side, the unconscious. The open lion’s cloak is revealing the core of the magician. The card urges a flexible and fluid response and interpretation of what reality is throwing at me. It is about magick, dreams, colors, poetry, life, specificity, the relative, and individuation.

Advice or Warning: Lovers Reversed

Third card is advice or warning. Here we have the Lovers reversed. This is warning me that I will encounter judgment, exclusion, and servitude. All this has been happening. I met with some bizarrely dramatic judgmental statements, from a couple of Buddhists. Exclusion, yes–I’ve been turned away from by a few. Servitude has to do with my codependency, my penchant for playing Helper, for topping from the bottom.

Meditation: Awareness/Energy in the Belly

Brief sit tonight focused on dropping awareness from the head to the heart and then to the belly. The glow in the heart is also already here in the belly. All you do is notice its already being there. The belly can hold much more energy than the head or the heart, holding great quantities like a sponge, as John says. I released the face and forehead into innocence, and the belly suddenly bloomed out into limitless space. It felt like a sonic boom of sudden bloom. The result felt almost like a yellow rose whose petals are held open by a cold, heavy rain.

I have a formidable backlog of entries to add to this new online journal, but I may as well begin recording current pathwork here so as to reap the considerable practice benefits I do from journaling, as well as to avoid adding yet more to the backlog. More than a month ago, I quit journaling, which has detrimentally cut my sense of path directionality and coherence. In short, I’ve felt adrift. I’ve felt that way probably most of my earlier path, as evidenced by my 2014-2015 online practice journal, but across the continually saying so, the path arcs coherently.

Spiral toward the Corpses Littering Charnel Grounds

But the path spirals, too. My teacher John seems to be beckoning me onward and inward toward a new and deeper, lonesome Dark Night of the Soul, or charnel ground, as he puts it. 

During the 6 months that I have been working with him, we’ve had to keep revisiting my longtime psychological issues: codependency, in western psychology terms; being the Helper, in Almaas’s spiritual enneagram terms, which means I need to thoroughly accept and integrate with Holy Will. Paradoxically, it means I need to better embody power that burns cleanly, intensely, quietly, uninterruptedly.

Even though the group of teachers John is in sharply (and correctly) distinguishes western psychotherapeutic work from dharma practice, they also assert that, especially for western students of the dharma, psychological barriers to practice are eventually going to emerge. They have, yet again, so here I am, and there they are. Now the hard yet naturally unfolding work begins of metabolizing all that “stuff” until it is integral, nondual. 

Where Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha Falls Off the Map

This embodiment practice is the work that MCTB and MCTB2 fail to cover because Daniel, my ex-friend and author, has so far been unable or unwilling to do it. Merely misappropriating the traditional Theravadin definition of arahat to lop off all emotional work, which is what MCTB has done, denies the adage that “they shall know ye by your fruits,” fruits being conduct. 

MCTB relegates psychodynamics to the term axis of development, and renders this axis some kind of extra or marginal pursuit, inessential to enlightenment. Wrong!

Hear this: It is not enough to correct dualistic misperception! One must metabolize those earliest scarred-over wounds of his or her individual psyche to open the heart-mind out into the interconnected field of humanity, to the sangha. Unless and until this work reaches fruition, no enlightenment. Sorry! 

For there is still core fear and self-guarding at the physio-energetic level, where abiding ultimate bodhichitta must be perfectly nondual with the perceptual attainment; until then, the correction of dualistic misperception is not even wisdom. Instead it is being appropriated, dangerously, to actually widen the core spit, to dissociate from oneself, which marks also an unwillingness to be vulnerable with others. No vulnerability, no intimacy; no intimacy, no nondual integration with the field.

We are all  mashups of schizoid shutdown and hysterical impingement. Bring this mashup to the path. “Get down in the mess,” of human relationships, as John says. Sort it, feel deeply into that most potent suffering, allow it to purify.

Bring it home.

Toward Realization of the Nirmanakaya

Far beyond what MCTB offers, I’m now working, in other words, toward realization of the nirmanakaya, embodiment of a buddha. This is a higher realization than that of the dharmakaya. Everything flows from the relative, the particular, the bodily energetic field–currently stuffed with scars. This integrative work introduces a vast toolbox, including tools such as Chöd

tantric practice to work with integrating “demons,” dreamwork toward lucid awakened awareness throughout sleep, and completely opening energetic karma-conditioned centers in the body, such as the solar plexus, third chakra, from which one should feel the bright flow of power.

Dreamwork Instructions

Last session John told me to revive my journal and to record my dreams, paying attention specifically to how the ego-I moves through the dreamscape, for this will tell me during daily life when and how I’m obscured from awakened awareness, asleep.

Sangha I See and Don’t Hear

My dreams the past few nights have been fragmented, so I remember only bits and pieces of what is some otherwise suppressed story. I remember a distinct fragment that was of my sitting with my longtime dear friend Ira at a bar. It was noisy, I think, so we didn’t talk but were still communicating somehow over my sense of loss. He laid his hand, open palm upward, on the bar. I placed my hand in his there, and he held it. It was enough.

Dreams of a Heart Continually Drawn Forth and Filled

The past few nights I’ve been waking many times  in apparent hypnagogia. It feels wondrous–no body, or rather a purely vibratory body free of aches and encumbrances, spacious beyond locating and blissful. In these states I remember that I have distinctly dreamed over and over again the drawing and filling in of a heart shape. There is no sense of an ego-I moving through the dream at all; the heart simply draws and fills in itself, automatically, over and over again, like an infinite-loop gif. 

Daily Phases in December

For a couple of months now, but
especially throughout December, which seems to always be a hard month for me,
the hardest, I’ve been waking up slightly depressed and wanting to escape into
sleep again. Then I will typically feel blissed out and spacious as cloudless
azure skies while drinking my coffee and whatnot. Then, later in the afternoon,
I’ll experience little ribbons of anxiety and misery winnowing through. I just observe them. I
don’t like them, yet there is something unchanged, unmoved, just bearing witness. At
night I’m expansive, godly, the meditation itself.


I put too much stock in others. Now I have to learn to stand strong, stand
alone, sit in silence, and need nothing. This crisis with the book has shown me
the limits of my practice, and that is a good thing. The moral chaos is a sign,
a reminder. A Buddha spontaneously fits the thought, word, and action to the
situation. But I still move from fear. Anger is a manifestation of fear. You do
not feel angry except where you are powerless and disorganized around that lack,
which at bottom is fear. Evidently, my opponent is afraid, too—terrified. 

Behold MCTB2: strangled
in its cradle.

Third Chakra Unwinding

I did a simple sit tonight for releasing into the solar plexus and then second
chakra. This practice is becoming more and more powerful, and I can sustain it
longer than I could just a few days ago. The third chakra beats like a second
heart. Tonight movement went beyond the thumping and started to rotate. I think this
is what John means by “unwind.” It will liberate itself, and I believe that is
the next level I will witness. This is really remarkable and necessary
practice. I’m grateful for John.

Onward through the Dust Motes

The anger and vengeful flare of the
past few days has already faded. I’m already planning a solo book. I’m looking
forward to the launch of my new group. There is much to come. I want this past
chapter, so to speak, to close and disintegrate to dust motes in departing daylight.