I sat 45 minutes tonight. I meant to lie down for the first half and then to sit up so that I could trace details about the difference I’ve noticed between dull ground when lying, and full-on rigpa when sitting upright. But I mistakenly sat upright the whole time.
I feel powerless to write anything adequate after doing one of John’s sequences: Just wow. And it isn’t the kind of wow I gain from jhanas, which are comparatively crude and coarse. This is the stateless state, an air more refined than a fanciful sprite, the very being.
First there is some concentration, attuning to the sound/silence, the sensation/stillness, and the vision/space. Then there is the mother and the infant. The innocence and complete openness of each gazing into the eyes of the other, resting into the sweet voice of the other, resting into the warm body of the other.
This effortless innocence, this timeless primordial innocence rests, rests into the ground, the stability. Over and over and over. It is utterly transient, ephemeral; yet it is stable. It is always already found to be functioning as that into which all continually dissolves, melts. I remember when I believed that “just letting go” couldn’t happen; it had to be preceded and triggered by insight of some kind, seeing into one of the Three Characteristics. At a former level of practice, that is true. But that is all over now. I understand what Daniel meant when he told me that the Three Characteristics just disappear.
And so the agent of awakening, now recognized, can take over, do the effortless work of unraveling the remaining subtle hideouts of reactivity, contraction, effort. All I “do” is rest, sit and rest into X as ground, X as mother. Open as innocence, so there is no contamination of effort, of specific agent. Simple, Fresh, Contented, and Uninterrupted.
Gently, awareness rests into the root chakra, then into the sweetness in the lower belly, which is as delicate as gently spread-open petals. Then there is the energy sponge of the solar plexus, heavy with liquid gold, power, heat, humming.
And then, my eyes now open, all these centers of energy can all be open flow. And the breath moves through the whole field of them, washing through all, as all stay opened, released and therefore further releasing.
Other people who have corrected dualistic misperception will say that this way of living is ordinary. I myself have heard them say so. But ordinary is emphatically the wrong word. This unbounded wholeness is soft and tepid because real, but it is the most wondrous of wonders. Every day that I live now, I am continually in awe that this is even possible, that it has actually happened, that I’m this fortunate. All is magick. All is lush. All is sacred. We are alive, after all, and, as John says, knowing that to be so, knowing separateness to be mere avidyā, is nothing less than spooky.
Paradoxes of Effort and Surrender in Meditation Practice
Just a practice note here–One change since the awakening of July that I’ve been sort of adjusting to is the loss of the “hair on fire” urgency to practice and “get somewhere.” Although it is true, if paradoxical, that before the central processor-subject reference point drops out it helps to try not to try to get somewhere, still that odd prescription makes total sense only
after the attainment comes. In other words, until there is no more reason to try, there will be, on some level, effort to get somewhere. I would say, instead, that total honesty is even more important than total surrender. In fact, direct seeing, fierce honesty, is the surrender.
No More “Hair on Fire” to Practice
At any rate, oddly, without urgency to practice, I seem to have less sense of a direction, of being led on by the “Dharma.” Maybe this is the usual course; maybe this is part of what John means by my now having to sit on the charnel grounds without a map, a light, or a friend. I’ve felt for months that I’m in some kind of holding pen, being kept back and slowed down for who knows what. It is kind of like I’m being tested, but by whom and for what I don’t know. It is just a feeling, intuition.
Some Results of Mahamudra Augmented by Energetic Practices
Oddly, too, I’ve suddenly lost the oomph behind third chakra practice. I feel that that work really has accomplished something, releasing and unwinding a knot of sheer terror, even terror over my own aggression, there in the power center of the body. Calm glowing energy is steady now, and I’m not easily thrown off into contraction, not even momentarily. One of the ways I keep noticing this change is that people will voice some assumption that I must be upset by X circumstance, or they apologize for criticizing me. I just blink, surprised that they would think those reactions “normal” or “default.” It is not that I don’t get mad or irritated at times; it is just that the blissful breath of the whole field is so much “louder” that nothing like that sticks. Well, almost nothing.
Of course, there was still that horror of a plane flight to Tallahassee that I’ve yet to write about, but a few years ago I wouldn’t even have been able to avoid a panic attack during a mild short flight.
Sleep and Dream Yoga
I’m now feeling called to work on sleep and dreams, from both a Buddhist and a Jungian framework, and to me this means that I need to get back to my jhana practice seriously and belt out some steely concentration. I’m even a little annoyed at how dependent I’ve seemed to become on pointing-out. Maybe that goes hand-in-hand with this drive I’ve also suddenly felt the past two weeks to disidentify as a Buddhist (something for another entry). “Buddhism” as construct is suddenly crampy, er empty.
Tonight’s Guru Yoga Practice
Tonight I started with calling in the retinue of masters and so forth, and then did some guru yoga with Padmasambhava as one I was melding with. He started popping up in place of the ideal father figure a couple of months ago, for whatever reason, spontaneously. I “saw” him and knew exactly who it was. He has the scary, fierce eyes; he’s a badass sorcerer. I think it is no accident that at this particular point on my path I am vibing off a compassionate but fierce dharma protector. I’m really descending now, going down into the relative, into the messy messy mess. And I’m carrying sword and staff.
Tonight’s Sloppy Jhana Practice
My jhanas felt sloppy and indistinct, even though, after about 10 minutes I felt effortlessly very concentrated, without distraction. So J2 is still distinct, J3 less so, J4 distinct, J5/J6 indistinguishable from each other, and J7 and J8 unattainable since the flaring of rigpa/mother seems to prevent the turning away that characterizes J7. I’m probably just rusty from lack of deliberate practice, but it is also just very weird to try to bring up these limited states after what has opened is limitlessness.
I sort of wish I could ask Daniel about this, whether he experienced the same thing and what, if anything, to do about it. I guess I’ll have to just practice jhana more and see for myself what can be done. Maybe I will make it off the waitlist into Lee Brasington’s retreat, where I can ask him.
Strange Billowing Warmth during Practice
One interesting effect I noticed tonight during the guru yoga was that a blanket of warmth welled up from where the candles were and covered the whole front of my body. I’ve never felt this happen before. It was fairly intense and broad heat, and I was too far away from the candles for them to serve as explanation. Truly, wonders never cease.
This retreat has been life-changing. In fact, I guess I am glad it is ending tomorrow at noon, because I am not sure how much more intensity my mind, heart, neck, and back could stand!
It is no doubt going to take me some time to sort, make sense of, and integrate what has happened here. How blessed I am to have sat with and received transmission from this instructor. His closing meditation today felt literally like it was blasting through my chest and head–like gale-force bright light was riffling through my very cellular structure (which is empty). I’m a total believer in this transmission business: *GULP.* I’ve never felt anything this powerful emanate from, or through, another person before.
Because of the new practices I’ve done on this retreat, I have distinctive changes in perception, realizations, including as of today the dropping out of the central processor (subject) while, nondually, particularities of relative reality arise within awareness, within and as the expression of the ultimate. The objects, so far, are no longer creating a subject. Holding the view of awakened awareness is automatic–is holding itself.
Of course, these realizations can and usually do slip away. I think tomorrow we are talking about “protecting the realizations.” I will do everything I can to protect these. This central processor dropped out during our morning sit in a blast-like fruition reminiscent of my August path fruition–wherein, for a moment, awareness was radically decentered, and then I was layered back in as relative reality came back online. I was taking the entire field of sensation as object, my softened gaze resting on the mantel with butter-colored carnations, white daisies, and flickering candles in the morning light.
In the afternoon, he had all us wounded children who lack trust lie on our backs and sides to meditate so we could feel the earth “holding” us, the ground, to create the karma of trust for the next meditation.
Part of what I am going to have to come to terms with are what changes in practice and paradigm will be required of me as I take this teacher as my own, which changes he alluded to the other day when we spoke on the veranda. For starters, in this tradition there is no “done.” In fact the Practice of Nonmeditation today was this whole surrender, precisely, of such notions as “attainment” and “being done” and even “surrendering.”
So, although I think there are ways that this course cross-maps to the one I’ve been working, the whole notion of getting anywhere other than right here is so anathema to the practice that there really can’t be a talk of what “path” I’m on. This is not to say that this teacher is against maps. He is definitely a mapper, and very technically precise in teaching, but he indicated that realization is a matter of cycling through the same practices again and again but “at higher resolution.” Then there is Dzogchen at the “Cutting Through” stage. How all that crosswalks to what Daniel calls “fourth path” I have no idea.
Nothing to attain
(Oh–and No Jhanas!)
Sit in meditation with a realized teacher who is repeating this sort of list over and over again to you, for hours on end, and see if it doesn’t crack wide open the substratum of subtle resistance in you. And when all that “doing” is blasted out, then he reads Talopa’s ancient instructions, which brought up a palpable sense of a thousand years of transmission. I was weeping like someone interrogated in internment camp.
Afterward, we sat again, and he had each of us bring up, aloud, the name of a friend who is suffering and from what; then he brought up all the children suffering in the world from loneliness and fear, all the broken children who cannot trust, and that is when I literally felt light blasting through my chest and head–coming from this man and the whole retinue of beings behind him. “Beyond time,” he said, “beyond space–awaking is inevitable: the Buddha is sitting under the Bodhi tree; Jesus is on the cross.” And then he read the heart sutra’s “gone beyond” mantra, and we all felt the interconnection holding all the suffering beings in the world. “Awareness–the sky; heart–a warming sun: Never doubt that what you feel right now makes a difference.”
My whole organism is in a kind of spinning disintegration and reorganization, in shock, with shockwaves passing through this mind-heart-body.
I know this may sound like Buddhist Kumbaya, but it was truly the most authentic intensity of the Path that I’ve encountered so far in this life.
Love to you all, x,
Making Little of Much
I don’t know where I am map-wise or even path-wise. What is naturally arising for me to work with is this strange decenteredness and felt-into surrounding spaciousness that has been the default August 8. So I’ll make the most of that by making little of it, just practicing and relaxing. Although I’m an intellectual, with a PhD in analyzing texts and constructing positions and arguments from them, I am also intuitive, a fluid practitioner. I’m genuinely not upset if a sit is weird. I’m willing to see what happens. I am willing to take the ride. I agree that, so far, this patience and faith in this process has proven crucial.