Just Wow

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.

Dear all,

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.

No meditator

No meditation

No stages

No states

No attainment

Nothing to attain

No God

No Buddha

No practice

No Path

(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.

Second-Path Toolbox Expansion Set

Not all tools are tools. | Photo courtesy of Chris Ensey

I had to laugh out loud when I read O’s saying that, while in a difficult in-between place, she once told her teacher that she hated him. It is weird and subsequently kind of funny to forget what one is supposed to be doing, meaning practicing, but there you go – other stuff going on. 

Daniel the Curmudgeon-Benefactor

Oddly, the very week that I started to work on MCTB2, stream entry happened, so in the course of talking about the book there was no way that event was not going to come up in conversation. Dan never analyzed or speculated about what I personally considered so darned fascinating about my stream entry event.  

So when I brought up again night before last how I wondered what that strange radical dislocation phase was on re-ignition of reality, and when he again thwarted discussion, saying that event was distant for me and more so for him, I got pissed at him and replied a bit curtly that I had written out the event right after it happened and it was he who was the map freak and so why was my x, y, z not on on the maps and why couldn’t he just answer the damned question!

Then I saw O’s comment about her teacher.

About two minutes later something dawned on me. So I emailed one more line back to Daniel, saying simply, “Oh! Okay. Sorry. You are actually giving me practice advice, right? I get it.” Meaning that I understood a possible context in which debriefing of my so-fascinating event of August 8 was not helpful for me here and now. 

He did say something about the maps, but it was, basically, that if I wanted to go by maps, then the maps say I should be able to repeat the event [Review Fruitions]. (Dammit!) It is rather embarrassing to keep finding that I’ve made this kind of stupid blunder, but, yeah, oh well, as you say. So next came back from his side specific meditation instructions, the way to do the Three-Percent Solution of noticing of just the large flows of aversion and attraction.

The Toolbox Expansion Set

I think that the meditation barrier I couldn’t bust my head through before all this consisted of thinking that (1) I needed to attend to the teeny-tiny particulate vibratory sensations and (2) I needed to attend to the Three Characteristics as such. I made this same sort of categorical error at the beginning of my last Equanimity stage, back in July. So, X_X, I think this is part of the toolbox expansion set you wrote of, and here is what I think I’ve put in the toolbox:

♦ To “get to” Equanimity, practice as if already in Equanimity.

♦ To practice as if already in Equanimity, incline the mind slightly toward the goal and then give no more than 3% meditative effort to the sit.

♦ Broaden considerably what you habitually have been thinking a proper meditation “object” is. This is supposedly second path; so the objects are likely going to be psychological/emotional, which is an observation that does match what most clearly has been arising for me the past few months.

♦ Widen considerably the scale on which you observe these new objects such as aversion and attraction: Forget about “vibrations”; attend to much larger swaths of movement and flux.

♦ Notice, when opportunities for such noticing present, that awareness and space are intrinsic in each other.

♦ Relax the notion that you need to look for the Three Characteristics in an effortful way: that work has been done already in some sense; therefore, just as you stopped noting early on, in preference for just noticing, the Three Characteristics, now don’t be afraid to altogether let go of the Three Characteristics conceptually.

Postscript 2.5 Years Later

I had forgotten all this until I started cleaning up posts after a site migration. This is all extraordinarily right-on. From that point in time on,  I never consciously evoked the Three Characteristics during a sit. Daniel, in pointing me to the mutuality, or rather radical interpenetrability, of unbounded macro-space (Mother Consciousness) and intrinsic awareness (rigpa), was already shifting me from Ordinary Special Insight to Extraordinary Special Insight in Tibetan Buddhism parlance. All good advice here that I will carry forward into the new book.