I have started meditating in the mornings before work instead of, or in addition to, at night. I’m not doing daily spreads daily necessarily, but when something intuitive moves me to do so. I left the last spread out on my altar for days, enjoying the energy of the pictures.

This spread is interesting for showing two pages, both with blue sky backgrounds and reds in the foreground, reds consuming their feminine forms.

Image of the spread is here: http://jhanajenny.com/post/142316260317/tarot-page-swords-five

Inner State: Page of Swords

This card features the brashness of youth, a girl no less, wearing the red dragon of power and strength normally the purview of a man’s world. It bespeaks potency and auspicious power born of her not yet having hardened and contracted around a set of old beliefs. It is of imagination and inventiveness.

Outer World: Page of Wands

This page, like the first, holds a sword. This is the Joan of Arc painting I love so much. The strength of this warrior princess is of faith, bearing the banner (message) of faith and perseverance. This card is in the position of the outer world. Court cards usually represent actual people. Traditionally, this card warns of strange news or a message from family. Last night my sister left me a strange message that she is involved in a second lawsuit. Hmm, I better call her back to find out what is up. She, my son, and I have all been embroiled in legal issues at the same time. It has been a strange time.

Warning: Five of Swords

In the tarot, the fives usually involve the Dark Night of the spiritual journey, being halfway from the Fool to perfection of enlightenment (nine of swords). They involve suffering and challenges. In this rendition, Marie White has painted Athena, another feminine warrior, goddess of reason and intelligence as strategy in resolving disputes. 

Well, here she is in reverse. Traditionally, this card in upright or reverse is ambiguous, tricky to read, with regard to whether a dispute is about to resolve or escalate, whether a hatchet is about to be buried or thrown between the eyes. 

There is a sense of planning retreat from battle. Five involves change and upheaval; swords means it will likely be extreme and involve tough negotiations, difficult communications, and battle weariness. 

The card, in this position, warns of a detached, cold, person who will try to get his way at all costs. The traditional versions of this card indicate that this person sees himself as all-powerful and will stop at no amount of bilateral destruction to get his way. 

This card indicates a serious, even dangerous conflict. In this reverse position, the card indicates either slow resolution of recent hostilities, or a brutal escalation on the horizon. Either way, there will be no reconciliation, and no one will “win.” It remains a volatile situation for the time being, one that could go either way. The traditional versions of this card indicate that the courts may soon be involved. Here, the fact that Athena is goddess of law and justice, not to mention battle strategy, seems to echo that meaning.

Losses and destruction all around will be spectacular.

Takeaway

I’m most intrigued that all three cards are emphatically female warriors–those of traditionally weak and submissive mien who persevere with faith and reason on their side. I recently asked my teacher what all the legal stuff was about in my family currently. He stated, “Well, poor personal boundaries.” He often mentions that issues are intergenerational, ancestral. My family tree is full of two types: drunks and religious fanatics. Enough said.

I threw these cards right after the weekend retreat of March 27 and 28, which emphasized nonduality through work with the body. I was ecstatic after sitting with my teacher again after so many months. Something at this brief but sweet retreat happened–not a new shift, but a certainty that crystallized and sank down into me that the door on Ingram, MCTB2, all Buddhist forums, and high-maintenance people of all sorts, but especially former dharma friends, is now shut. 

Or, more properly, I’ve walked through this gate: http://jhanajenny.com/post/141579935947/gate-crucifixion-tarot

I’m precisely where I’m supposed to be, with the teacher  best for my development, and with the very few private dharma relationships that can fuel me rather than drain me energetically. My focus is wholesomely on simplifying my life, putting all the busy-ness I can aside, and nurturing my own life and practice. This is not the time to start a community, write a book, or chase after anything or anyone. Those impulses were my attempt to escape the reality of all that has passed and is passing.

Image of spread is here: http://jhanajenny.com/post/142258612762/enlightenment-arrogance-shapeshifter

Inner State: Nine of Swords

Ah, yes! The Nine of Swords follows the Eight of Swords, which is the gateless gate I mentioned, the one I felt I had passed through during this weekend.

The painting by Marie White is of the Temple of Eternity, so emptiness of time. It contains the four elements, a water veil, a sun above and beyond the invisible but functional line of the horizon, and a “this side” where we live. This card represents enlightenment, the highest state of a human being with intent. 

White’s painting shows the dark and light pillars in reversed positions, indicating that the other side of the view may be this side, here on earth, in time, in the relative. The air represents the pressure of challenge, and this leads us to evolution.

The card represents spiritual realization and the end of a long separation. It is the most appropriate card in the deck to represent my inner state after sitting this retreat.

Outer World: King of Wands Reversed

This card has come up often during the whole legal dispute. This time is it in the position of outer world, other person. In reverse it is a card of righteous indignation, arrogance, and inability to embody the power behind those energies skillfully. 

Advice: Queen of Wands

This card is of me in my current situation. It is a full-bodied feminine power. It is a nagual, a shapeshifter, a shaman, a witch. A complement to the King of Wands, the sun god, which marks my outer world, she is the dark, the inner, the flame in the temple of my own body. She is the dark forest and the dark night I must traverse alone. She wears a shard of obsidian near her third eye. It is both a weapon and a mirror. It is myself that she is showing me. This is a card advising me to re-create myself though the imagination and embodied power.

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.