I’m so glad you got a lot out of the embodiment retreat. He is a superb teacher: precise, big-hearted,  balanced–an exemplar of sanity.

Dwelling in the arms of the Mother is healing. Like you, I felt joy many times so deeply during the pointing-out narrative that I almost openly wept. 

I especially loved this weekend how he would have us be as the Mother gazing into the eyes of her infant, and then have us be the infant gazing into the eyes of the Mother. And then listening for our child, listening for the coo of our Mother. And holding–enveloping and enveloped.

In 1995, after 20 hours of labor, I gazed deeply into the bright, alert eyes of my son. A mother never forgets looking into her child’s eyes for the first time. It will likely be one of the last images that comes to mind as I die. During this weekend retreat, the mother-infant archetype, floating up from the depths of meditation, shattered something in me, some last withholding. I understood. I saw with the heart. I understood.

The open, boundary-less ground of everything is Mother–vast, silent, still. Rigpa is the infant, the individual’s knowing the Mother. Infant awareness is of Mother awareness because Mother awareness encompasses infant awareness. This union is not homogeneous, but relational–a theme defining the Mahayana traditions.

Logocentricity versus Metaphoricity as Method

I suspect that many men, or analytical types, have a harder time than women and creative types in responding to the metaphoricity that is so much a part of the instructional method in Indo-Tibetan pointing-out and other teachings. For example, on the very male-dominated Dharma Overground (DhO), I can’t imagine that this sort of Madonna metaphor would go over well. There is on the DhO an emphasis on the following:

  •  Linear rationality
  •  Charting, diagramming, and mapping “territory”
  •  Hierarchical construction of binary signs
  •  Doing, achieving, and attaining
  •  Measuring results
  •  Comparing attainment with others’ attainments 
  •  Counting with numbers ascending “levels” of states and stages
  •  Debating (logos) on dharma theory (logic)
  •  Reduction of emotions to fine-grained, merely observable “sensations”

The point I’m making here is that all that “doing” and competing is stuck in a masculinist perspective that is anathema–actually the obstruction–that prevents opening to the View, awareness.

Metaphoricity is appealing to creative imagination, to the most foundational relational archetype in the World: Mother-child. That relationship is not about drawing the lines of measurement and quantifiable hierarchy; it is about a nondual inseparable relationship of the particular to the whole, and the whole to the particular. And it is personal, interpersonal.

Now, if the relationship were chiefly erotic instead of maternal, then you can bet that the male principle would be figured as dominant, somehow, in the binary signifier male/female.

JC once said to me that a tantric merging with the feminine that is only erotic is essentially adolescent, inadequate. Full surrender is merging with the Mother. I suspect that merging with the Mother, giving oneself over to her, is not a topic that would go over well on most public forums, the DhO in particular. 

The Trouble with Treating Emotions as an “It”

I want to say something about this bullet point from above, “reducing emotions to fine-grained, merely observable ‘sensations.“

This is important. Under MCTB (1 and 2), practitioners are bound to get stuck. Why? Well, because they bypass the second-person relational way of meditating on an "object” in favor of a third-person perspective that reduces experience to an “it.” JC sometimes touches on this point. He did so again this weekend.

If you are seeing your emotions arise as “empty,” that’s great; however, seeing them as empty is normally not enough to change the pattern of painful habitual reactions on the relative level.

Likewise, if you are “vipassanizing” your emotions into “vibratory” sensations, then you are bypassing the very human reality of what you are experiencing. You are making your emotions an “it” that you can transcend and gaze down on objectively. This bypassing is otherwise known as dissociation.

Many technical meditators can get quite far on unbalanced, domineering, masculinist practice. However, they tend to take their attainments and use them to split off and deny intimacy hunger and emotions in general. Until such practitioners bring practice back to the level of direct second-person relationship, then they will be split at their own core.

So it is not enough to see that the bodily sensations of suffering are a gazillion transient pixelated sensations that one can “observe”; one has to acknowledge and embody experience as something one relates to as equivalent, as face-to-face, as human life itself. Only then will the deepest emotional scars and patterns be metabolized and the life made fully human and whole.

The Mother holds us, wants us, patiently awaits our growth and recognition. Awakened awareness seeks us. When we are completely cognizant of her as the true agent of our awakening, as the automaticity that quashes seeking, then the infant (rigpa) is stabilized at full flaring intensity. 

Mother is the feminine principle; rigpa, the infant, is the male. The nondual inseparable union is most of the way to full enlightenment. It is the automatic reflexivity of awareness released into the unobstructed natural state. Although the infant lucidity is the male principle, it remains super-interesting, as well as most instructive, that its manifestation requires that he rest. Where does he rest? In the arms of the Mother.

Mother is the ground, matter, and agent, and she wants to find us. Awakening, in other words, is inevitable, as we rest in the natural state.

Current Practice Goals and Means

John has urged me to write down my dreams and to notice how the “I,” or ego-self, is moving through the dream. He pointed out that in one of my recent dreams the “I” was gullible and being led along by others I should have not followed, or at least should have questioned. 

The lucidity of awakened awareness must be established and stabilized throughout dreams and even deep sleep. One of the many books I’ve had open is B. Alan Wallace’s Dreaming Yourself Awake: Lucid Dreaming and Tibetan Dream Yoga for Insight and Transformation.

I have too many books open, but I feel particularly called to do dreamwork next. I need to go back to working on dream recall, for it is foundational for lucid dreaming, as well as providing ways to see how my ego is still asleep. What makes it nonlucid in dreams will clue me in during the day about when and how and why awareness is obscured. 

I will likely put chöd practice back on the shelf for a while to focus on this. I have the third chakra work going really well, so I will keep that up. I’m sitting a weekend retreat at the end of March with John to learn more somatic, grounding, embodiment practices. 

I’m annoyed that my jhana practice has sort of fallen off since July. I think I should really work on mastering concentration. It is important for so much that I want to do, on the cushion and off, including lucid dreaming.

My current marching orders are to untangle the victim/perpetrator polarity on the emotional reactivity level by the following means:

  • Physio-energetic meditations, especially opening third chakra
  • Tantric chöd practice
  • Dreamwork

I’ll write more about the victim/perpetrator duality another time. One of the most fascinating conversations I have had with John is about this topic and how I’m identified with being a victim. 

Dream of Time

This morning I had a simple, clear dream. As in most of my dreams for months now, I was traveling. This time I was driving my red Honda Accord coupe, frantically trying to get from my old workplace in Durham (why my old workplace?) to UNC Hospitals, or some hospital near Chapel Hill. 

I was late for surgery. I had impulsively decided to have a breast reduction, which in real life I’m thinking of doing. I took out some paperwork at a red light, but I could not read the time I was supposed to be there, nor the address. I also couldn’t read the car clock for the current time. This inability to read is common in dreams and should have alerted me that I was dreaming. Instead, I kept rubbing my eyes, frustrated that I failed to see clearly and had to rely instead on memory.

Finally, I arrived at the hospital and figured out after some false starts that I was supposed to be on the second floor. I went up there and saw Kurt, with his shirt open, sitting in a lounge chair in the corner of the waiting room. He was trying to suckle a tiny baby girl dressed in pink. I said, “What are you doing?–You don’t got the goods for her.” He had some chicken from KFC or some such place, with gravy. He kept dabbing gravy on his nipple and then letting the baby suck it off. He said it was just to comfort her. I said that he was feeding her delusion, which would not sustain her. He said, “Nonsense–look how much gravy I have!” I just winced and shook my head. 

I realized that I was somewhat surprised to learn that I had a baby daughter. That is the second thing that should have alerted me that I was dreaming. I only wondered what I was forgetting. 

I had to wait a long, long time, even though I had been running late. Finally some male doctor with white hair came in and talked to me briefly about the operation. I wanted to discuss what cup size I should be, how my pain would be controlled, and how long recovery would be, but he said he knew best and rushed me into surgery without really answering my questions. He was behind schedule, he said. The next thing I knew, I was being put under general anesthesia.

I have no profound reading of this dream, but Kurt and I had a rocking belly laugh tonight when I told him about the gravy-suckling attempts he made! I had been talking to my neuro Friday about addressing the body as part of the path, and possibly having this surgery. 

How did I move through the dream? Well, not lucidly. It was my idea to have the surgery, and I was the one driving, but I had to hurry up and wait, so I was sort of a victim of time, others’ schedules. The baby was the second child, little girl I often regret not having had after my son. The doctor didn’t answer my questions, was patriarchal, but I felt I had to go ahead with the surgery immediately or I would chicken out forever.


Here I’m discussing how the third chakra practice I’ve been doing for a few months has made me realize, experientially, that the deeper in, the farther out. Feeling vertically down into my individual life and emotional suffering, in other words, is release. The power center of the body starts releasing by itself, and the mystery of liberation by crucifixion is realized and made automatic through through this experience.

Beautiful sit had tonight amid yellow, red, and
blue candles. I’m working every sit on resting into the numbed-over terror in
the third chakra.

I am sleeping a lot, like I’m finally catching up on all the
sleep I skipped during the past year while working on MCTB2. I’m pulling everything back in—regulating, catching
up at work, responding to requests, sleeping and eating well. I Will kick in
exercise, think more about myself. I will work on conduct. I Open to others by centering
and grounding myself. No codependence. The scars have to go. The insidious shadows must be banished in time.