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.]


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. 


Hurrah for Nothingness and  Siddhis 

I have two new phenomena to report: Nothingness and siddhis. First, I think I got Nothingness (j7) last night, but I’m not really going to draw that conclusion firmly until I can reproduce it and steady it again and again. I was actually trying to practice insight in Equanimity, but damned if that just isn’t happening lately: The jhanas seem to be taking over and taking me for a ride no matter what I try to do otherwise. 

Practice in Accord with Nature and Intuition

One thing I seemed to realize last night, after sit, was that the jhanas have been prodding me to move along, up the arc, whereas I’ve been “stuck” in weakened jhana states because I didn’t just go along with whatever new one was leading the dance, or “trying” to. Instead I assumed that I wasn’t “ready” for the new one, precisely because the lower one was worn out or weakened or something, so I stubbornly tried to strengthen the lowers ones, not realizing that I was supposed to let go and move on.

I’ve been a little frustrated lately with how dense I am in practice. For whatever reason, I seem to have been smarter before August. Probably another illusion, but whatever.

Gigantic Bright White Nimitta in Real Space before Me

Secondly, while in a hotel suite in Georgetown Saturday night, in the early (dark) morning hours, after an intense talk with my son for most of the night, I sat in a kitchen chair in the cross-talk of two loudly humming opposing heat fans. I was sleep deprived, but alert and interested. A spherical white nimitta filled my Washington DC hotel room and appeared to be a window or portal into another world. Again, vipassana just wasn’t going to come on, so I relaxed into samatha, rose to j4, and then quickly had a big bright pure white visual nimitta, with my eyes closed. The cross-hum of those fans made everything really otherworldly, nicely so. My nimittas are usually a lavender color, slipping into white only briefly now and then. This was the first time I had a bright white one, right off the bat, and saw it grow mammoth, filling the kitchen, and stabilize. Oddly, this didn’t surprise me. When I opened my eyes, in the dark, lo—the nimitta remained and in fact grew huge and 3D spherical, filling the hotel room. Then it became a kind of door into somewhere else and there were blooming roses with skulls in the folds, fountains of flowing dust, Buddha images—all kaleidoscopic projections on or from within the orb.

So, much new territory this week, consisting of 3D, before-me manifestations and maybe Nothingness. It is funny that before I wrote this, this past week felt like a meditation failure. I am “supposed” to be working insight, moving toward second path. Every time I try to investigate my frustration, because that is the chief thing, either I get nowhere or jhana takes over. 

Is this a trap? Is it avoidable? Should it be?

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!

Retreat Advice by XX (Shargrol)


Probably the best way to think of where you are is still in the “progression through nanas is good, progression through jhanas is going to happen too” domain, which is what second path and the early part of third path are all about. When fruitions hit, they probably won’t make as a big difference, but they are a nice sense of “ahhhh, that was good. I’m done for the time being and it feels good.” You’re doing the right thing, watching how the mind naturally sees and, as important at this stage, how practice seems to lead itself onward into new experiences and new sensitivities to old experiences.

I know what you mean about not being eligible for longer/advanced retreats because of not going through the system. But, in the same way you hit stream entry in a half hour sit instead of a 3-month IMS retreat (which is the usual “system” approach), just take what retreats you can, and simply commit to fully experiencing them. Success on retreat is more about getting out of your own way, rather than length or even format. Daylong retreats are worth a week of sitting, weekend retreats are really helpful, 5 days is good, 7 days is really good, 10 day is great, but, paradoxically, only if you really show up as an open questioning/experiment, approach each day sit-by-sit, approach each sit moment-by-moment rather than thinking that time really matters.

That attitude will also keep you from getting the delusions of grandeur that happen when you think “Oh, I’m going to go on this retreat, kick ass, get paths, and be awesome.” Too many of us have gotten too hardcore on IMS retreats, felt destabilized, and, to rub salt in the wound, realize how bad it was to be without recourse to having a teacher be able to talk with us about maps. Ironically, the IMS retreats are perfect for making healthy progress if we drop the “awesome meditator” quest and just do the schedule and let things happen.

Between Something and Something: The No-Mapping Zone

Equanimity or Crap

Well, I’m oscillating between something and something. DreamWalker recently told me that he doesn’t really drive himself crazy trying to pin down what part of the Dark Night (DN) is showing up: It is just “crappy” or its “equanimity.” I’m finding that perspective less stressful thannhyper-mapping. 

Mapping Difficulties after Stream Entry

It seems that after first path, things become much harder to map much of the time. If I had to guess, though, I’d say I’m oscillating between Low EQ and Mid- or High EQ. All those itchy, pin-prickly things and boredom occur for me in Low EQ, and I’ve been there enough times to clearly see that pattern. Low EQ is surprisingly kind of crappy—for me, anyway, but it is much, much better than DN, which goes to the bone. This crappiness is much more superficial, with a lot of thoughts just roiling on the surface and with the feeling that I don’t know how to meditate anymore.

Reobservation Seldom a Thing for Me

The odd thing about Reobservation is that it tends to be the one part of the DN that doesn’t show up clearly for me. Dissolution, Fear, Misery, Disgust, and Desire for Deliverance are very clear—they were especially so prepath, crystal clear. But after Desire for Deliverance, I just sort of experience a weird mixture of mild ordinariness/boringness and crappy feelings. The alternating “good” sessions are based in Boundless Space and feel very much like Mid-High EQ.

The Confusion of Second Path

Second path is confusing. I had a brutal DN in the last prepath stage, but at least what was going on was clear. This feels much more like I’m just on a ride, and it is usually a surprise where a sit takes me. I seem unable to plan or predict how a sit will go, whereas my sits were consistent and progressively skillful prepath; I really did plan how they would go. Aha! Something interesting there, no doubt.

Diminishing Delusion of Control

I’m guessing that there is some utility or usefulness to the crappy-feeling sits, and to the oscillation, feeling that I’m not in control of this thing. Prepath, I was so, so resistant to the DN that I stopped practicing, went on antidepressants, and tried to blot out what was happening to the extent possible, which wasn’t very possible. I never learned any “lesson” from that DN except that suffering can make you want to do
anything to end it. I never developed any equanimity toward it, never even tried,
because that would have been laughable.

This time, I’m trying hard to go into whatever pain and suffering presents, but this is hard work. It is amazing how strong the impulse is to recoil from shame, humiliation, rejection, and just plain aches and pains.