Three Nondualities and Their Consequences

Some of the terms used in this post were introduced in an earlier post several weeks ago.

All right, to continue my discussion of some of what I learned Thursday while talking with my teacher and then reflecting on my own awakenings – there are three ways nonduality can be experienced, three “levels” of nonduality, as it were. The first two are unbalanced but good doorways into the real thing; the third is the real thing, the natural state

The next three sections take each level of nondual in turn.

Partial Nonduality as Clarity (Infant)

A practitioner can experience lucid awareness as “no more out-there-ness.” However, he or she may still have no sense of the totality, of open ground, or Mother. He or she has failed to seal the totality of what arises as empty and therefore has not yet opened up experience of the vast, unbounded expanse. 

Awareness that is nondual with one object at a time, what in the Dharma Underground we used to call luminosity, causes, as secondary effects, visual high-definition and color saturation. The main effect, though, is that one’s awareness is reflected off one object at a time. It is therefore, technically, attentional nonduality rather than true awareness. Although luminosity is more than just a temporary nondual experience, and although it is normally preceded by a permanent felt sense of spaciousness, it nonetheless is not as open as true rigpa

The lesser openness is because the practitioner has not yet realized the emptiness of his or her very consciousness. Specifically, the practitioner has not yet realized that awareness does not arise, does not pass away, and has no findable entity-ness in the present.

Awareness has to be realized as unfindable in the present, yet always already illuminating the totality. It has to be discerned as not subject to impermanence, as timeless. Opening the true rigpa removes one’s own consciousness from obscuring view of the Mother, the vast expanse. With rigpa, the subject’s awareness shines off not just an object, but off the entire field, which, like awareness, is empty.

Luminosity, the attentional form of the clarity aspect of rigpa, is not actual light: It is as though you can “see” the awareness of a visual object continuously emanating from the object’s side. The practitioner directly knows, just as clearly as he or she sees the object, that the knowing is with the object, and that knowing over there is not separate from this knowing it to be such over here. The “sides” interpenetrate, yet awareness never moves. This description approximates the experience, but words find all sorts of ways to fail. To me, luminosity is the most difficult phenomenon to describe, to even conceptualize, yet it is a dramatic attainment.

This attainment came on suddenly in February 2015 upon my reading an email Daniel M. Ingram wrote me about how the mark of existence known as suffering can just vanish, an experience which you can read about in my prequel journal, Dharma by Dark Night, whenever I get caught up with transferring my Dharma Underground entries. 

The consequences of rigpa’s not being united with realization of the Mother are, among perhaps other things, that (1) the subject won’t actually drop out for good, and (2) one will mistakenly think enlightenment has been attained when it certainly has not. I made this classic mistake myself. 

With respect to the first consequence, the experience of attentional nonduality is like “two oceans mingling” because the clod-like Subject and Object have seemingly dissolved into each other; however, at a metalevel there is still a Subject who is having this wondrous nondual experience of the two oceans mingling. And this is because the practitioner, at the fundamental level of perception, is still grasping, still running identification processes. The permanent dropping away of the perceiving Subject is the end of fundamental suffering, dhukka;

Even true Rigpa is not by itself this dropping away permanently of the Subject, not quite. 

Although beyond the scope of this entry, it is worth my mentioning, I think, that ending of dhukka, correction of misperception, imperfectly stabilized natural state, is not enlightenment. It is not enough. It is not embodiment of the gains. It is not ultimate compassion and therefore, by my contemplation, not wisdom. Many, many practitioners stop here. It feels so “done,” after all.

For example, I have had more than sufficient interaction with Dan Ingram to believe with zero doubt that he has opened this level of mind. He calls this level of realization arahatship; he claims, at least publicly, that this means he has taken awakening “as far as it can go.” This is error. Many in the Pragmatic Dharma community err similarly. This happens mainly because they remain hyper-masculine practitioners. They do not make the shift to knowing precisely what to not do next. They have not surrendered to the whole. Instead of meditating with diligence in the same old vein, they need to make a decision.

Partial Nonduality as Emptiness (Mother)

Alternatively, and in my experience even at the same time as the first nonduality, is a nonduality that consists of a sense of pervasive spaciousness, silence, and stillness that can subtly seem like some kind of container of experience, or a “superspace” as Ingram calls it. This is a calming and deeply healing nonduality. It actually began for me upon stream entry, August 8, 2014, when my bodily sense of dwelling in a “core” move beyond me and into the space around me permanently.

With this attainment, there will often seem to be no boundary between the centralized subject and space, but this attainment is relatively dull and somehow, somewhere still bound by ignorance (avidyā, ma rig pa) until rigpa and ground unite, until the Infant rests in the arms of the Mother. 

The consequence of settling for this level of nonduality alone is that one may posit “God” or something as transcendent or outside of direct experience, failing to integrate it with rigpa and tsal

A Theravadin pointer to the Mother/ground is the fifth jhana, Boundless Space, or the boundless aspect of the fourth jhana. I spent a year walking around in what felt like j4.5. Later, when I had opening of luminosity, I had the two prototype realizations (quasi rigpa and ground) running in parallel. 

I now understand that what happened at the Mahamudra retreat last July is that the two prior, parallel nondualities became nondual with each other. The result was that the center-subject born of perceptual seeking permanently dropped out. The sense of a subject has not a single time returned; however, the rigpa aspect of the natural state “wobbles” in intensity for me and has not yet seeped in to illuminate all dreams and sleep. 

True Nonduality: The Inseparable Union

The inseparable union of the Mother (ground) and Infant (rigpa) is the full measure of nonduality. This is the natural state, the end of views, beyond which there are no more views to attain and no more “deepening.” When this has been experienced it is called Unbounded Wholeness. When it is stable every single second of every single day and night, regardless of all circumstances, even physical torture, then Dzogchen’s “cutting-through” (trekchö) has been attained, which is also called the Ground. From the Ground the visionary experiences (tögal) arise and Buddha-training has begun.

Tsal (Energy)

Tsal is simply the manifestations in all their diversity, from matter to thought, all that arises and passes as an expression of unbounded wholeness.

The Trouble with Masculine Practitioners

Highly masculine practitioners will try to get (conquer) the real nonduality, the natural state, by holding rigpa alone as the View the whole fucking time, deliberately and often quite artificially. This burning-it-out approach can actually “work,” I’m told, but it can also reintroduce—however subtly—suffering in the form of striving and seeking, which are anathema to the natural state, as they are reification of the Subject. Conversely, the more familiar a practitioner already is with resting in the natural state, the more he or she will tend to criticize this kind of practice as feeling too artificial. 

That feeling of artificiality is certainly the case for me personally, but not many practitioners can just skip a series of standard “masculine” exercises like I am now; therefore, I reemphasize that this practice journal is just an example of one woman’s path. Understand that the further up the Path you go, the more individuated your living path becomes. So this journal is not a practice guide for anyone else, although I am in the planning stages of writing a pragmatic cross-tradition modern (western) practice manual. You may well need all the masculine exercises to stabilize rigpa; perhaps most do. 

When you enter the path of integration, when you engage buddha-training, or whenever you are unsure or “stuck,” it is crucial to have a qualified teacher who knows the maps, the territory, and many different kinds of students. There also needs to be trust, attunement, a heart connection.

Last Month’s Practice Prescription

My prescription last month was as follows:

  1. Sit in automatic emptiness with eyes open.
  2. Do Lion’s Gaze, which is an advanced Mahamudra exercise involving panoramic vision (taking in the whole visual field) and seeing all as mind only, awareness only, until rigpa flares strongly, effortlessly.
  3. Do Liveliness practice by easing off the meditation and allowing tsal to fully arise: visual objects, music, reading, throughts, emotions, or whatever.
  4. Close eyes and rest into the body as ground, as Mother, the idea being that now she will be fully illuminated by the Infant, rigpa.

Sweet-Spotting the Practice from the Mother Side

Now, during my talk with my teacher, it came out that I find Liveliness a very difficult and unpleasant practice to engage in, both on the cushion and off. My teacher said that, because it is artificial, it may be sending me back up into my head, which means the whole thing becomes intellectual, artificial, and dissociated from ground and body. So he told me the bit about how the more the natural state is integrated, the more unacceptably contrived such efforts will seem. 

So this month, I’m starting from the Mother side, the feminine principle. I’m practicing inclining ever so slightly toward increased sense of rigpa from within the Mother aspect. This is really simply intensification of the Mother. This means I practice on and off the cushion by resting into my body, staying grounded, and then “sweet-spotting it” from there, turning up rigpa from there very slightly, with only the very slightest inclination. Even this amount of doing is often unnecessary. The natural state is always already, after all.

Awake Awareness to Open Ground

Part 2

I’m finally getting to this post. I spent this weekend transferring many entries to my older practice journal, Dharma by Dark of Night, I need to keep hammering away at transferring the many entries of that most remarkable year (2015).

Tonight I did a “Sky Gazing” meditation that I learned from my teacher’s teacher (via a recording of pointing-out instructions). Actually, I’ve done this one several times in the past week, followed by some chakra work that I’ll have to write about separately … someday.

I will not detail what each of the following steps entails. You really have to have a Mahamudra master enter meditation with you and point out these elements of awakened awareness from within the meditation, as a tour guide might. Transmission of master to student is central to the essence traditions, and I don’t mean just spoken communication. Moreover, Mahamudra and Dzogchen are basically “branded” by the lineage. In our society, the equivalent is intellectual property. So, out of respect for the lineage, I will definitely not presume to teach method. 

Sky Gazing

So the stripped-down high-level outline of Mahamudra as leading to sky gazing is as follows.

Drop into emptiness of self so that you are operating out of awareness purified of personality characteristics and the stories that subtend those characteristics.

Establish emptiness of time; recognize the changeless, timeless, aspect of awareness.

Now notice the lucidity, the brightness, of the empty awareness that pervades everything. Reality is transparent and vivid for being directly known as not solid, not entity. It is functionally bright but unfindable–brighter for being unfindable, in fact, paradoxically.

View all particulars that arise and pass away via the six sense doors as if they were a vast ocean’s waves, from the viewpoint of being that ocean (being the vastness, silence, stillness). Ocean-and-waves meditation integrates what arises and passes away with what doesn’t, nondual.

Orient to an inward, mind perspective on “out there” so that all of that vast space and its objects are seen to be mind only. Also, or alternatively, mix your own awareness out into space, and space into awareness, so that all is nondual without a shred of duality remaining.

Get into the range of automatic emptiness of totality, either by “sealing” all as empty as it arises, at the instantaneous “speed” of awareness, or by simply dropping into the emptiness of the totality (with immediacy and full range).

Ease up off concentration and effort; allow the mind to be simple.

Allow the lucidity to be nonconceptual, such that every mind moment is fresh.

Imagine being at the peak of a mountain on a cloudless day, sky gazing; See 360 degrees, in all directions at once, the vast and nonparticular expanse. This is the mind resting as contented

Finally, allow the spacious awareness to behold itself uninterruptedly. At this point, individual consciousness can “slip out.” This step is usually known as Lion’s Gaze, because if you throw a stick, then a dog will chase the stick, but a lion will keep its gaze on the thrower’s hand, the source. No location or reference point.

Checklist for the Natural State

  • Does everything spontaneously arise as empty moment-by-moment?
  • Is all tendency toward doing seen as empty upon its arising, termed simple?
  • Is all tendency to conceptualize seen as empty, termed fresh?
  • Is it lucid, bright, transparent?
  • Is it completely nondual, without inside/outside or any edge?

Key Terminology

Here I introduce some key terms before applying them to my own whereabouts on this path .In Bön Dzogchen are two potent metaphors, which I touched on in my recent entry on the recent embodiment retreat: the Mother (the empty, or open, ground of all) and the Infant (the knowing, lucidity, acuity).

Mother

The Mother is experienced after awakening as the vastness (in vision), stillness (in sensation), and silence (in sound) that is the functional (but unfindable, nonlocalized) “ground” from which all arises and into which all dissolves moment by moment. It is the “one taste” of emptiness of inherent existence, interdependent co-arising. It is unchanging space but also matter (etymologically, the same root as maternal) . In the framework of the Five Buddha Families, its unenlightened manifestation is dullness (ignorance, avidyā), like a dense rock. Illuminated from within by rigpa, however, it is experienced as unbounded spacious freedom.

Infant

The infant aspect of unbounded wholeness is the knowing. It is rigpa. What does it know? Mother. When true knowing reaches its full measure, which occurs with the third stage of Togal visions, then the mother is completely saturated with knowing, and the knowing is then itself vast, still, silent mother. The inseparable union of mother and infant is the true nondual enlightenment, buddhahood. Before that point, to at least some extent, the mother and rigpa are separate tracks. They may each be quite nondual in themselves, so to speak, which is to say that oscillation emphasizing one over the other is an approximation that points to the real full thing. But when the final click occurs, then another boundary, the last one, is cracked and shaken off. One emerges a buddha, enlightened. Rigpa is the male principle, so “infant” is often translated as “son,” and plays on the word “sun” are ubiquitous because the sunlight is inseparable with the sky. Rigpa has to permeate all of space, silence, and stillness – at all times, at the same intensity, even in deep sleep, for fruition to be had. The lucidity never flags for an instant. The resulting inseparable union of the infant and the mother is a higher attainment than the outcome of Mahamudra, which is awake awareness.

Note that the unbounded-wholeness level of realization is therefore far beyond Daniel Ingram’s revised fourth path, or what he (wrongly, misleadingly) terms arahatship. Dzogchen as a tradition in fact begins after MCTB Fourth Path. By all means, attain MCTB Fourth Path, which is essentially Mahamudra awake awareness, but know that the Path is not at that point “done.”

Tsal

There is a third aspect, Tsal, which is simply energy, or information, everything that appears to arise  and pass in the spontaneously self-manifesting phenomenal world, which includes thought. It has numerous sub-aspects that I’ve read about but am far from having memorized. My teacher thinks of the pre-Mahamudra-proper emptiness practices as being the best way to address tsal, specifically all the worldly suffering that obscures our seeing the natural state.

My Wherabouts on This Path

As I head into Dzogchen from Mahamudra, what my teacher is wondering is whether I have rigpa perfectly stabilized even during the day (apart from in sleep). Ripga differs from holding the very subtle level of mind via Mahamudra in that rigpa is not even subtly a “view” that is deliberately “held.” It is automatic: This means it fires up at the same intensity at all times, never clouded, never obscured even during torture, never dulled. The only one of the above-listed aspects of the natural state that varies, ever, for me is rigpa, the intense lucidity of my knowing the all-self-knowing. And that makes sense because the Mother cannot vary, logically; only one’s relative intensity of knowledge of it can.

Now, as I am beginning to understand it, knowing the ground can be thought of as (1) a level of practice, or (2) the fruition of all practice. I’m practicing within clear knowing of ground, but I do not have the fruition. Again, the fruition depends on completing the third stage of the Togal visions, which brings rigpa to full measure and corrects a subtle exteriority meantime remaining in the visual sense sphere. 

As my teacher says, I’m constantly “chilling with the Mother,” which has been and is healing; however, rigpa has some variability in illuminating the Mother. My teacher says that the Mahamudra he teaches is designed to unpack rigpa, not so much the Mother, which is why its fruition is called awake awareness, I guess, as opposed to anything about the “ground.” I don’t understand this assertion, however, because the main gain from my Mahamudra retreat of July 2015 seemed to be the full extent of limitless Mother. Can rigpa alone be realized, apart from the Mother characteristics? If so, then I think that would be “luminosity” of particularized objects in the field. I will have to remember to ask my teacher this question. It is important.

I do understand from him that Mother and Infant are really only aspects, never separate things. My favorite passages on the Mother and the Infant, from a book translated by John Reynolds (see Reynolds’ Bon Dzogchen book) form an ingenious chiamus: The passage on rigpa begins with rigpa’s (unfindable) characteristics but then by the end sounds just like the Mother; and the Mother passage begins with vastness, stillness, and silence, but moves toward an ending that sounds identical to rigpa! Brilliant!

My teacher says one can simply meditate on the Mother and that experience will be dull. When we fall asleep at night, we are falling into the dullness of the Mother, into the ground. That is not what is happening with me, though, at least during the day. I think I have rigpa flaring most of the time; it is just that rigpa is much harder to talk about than is the Mother. It has no overt qualities or characteristics, after all. In trying to describe it to someone who has not realized it, one is continually thrown back on saying idiotic things like “Hey, man, it is the unfindable knowing-ness aspect of awake awareness.” Unhelpful, I know!

The Very Subtle Level of Mind (View) as Opposed to Rigpa

How does one know whether one is still subtly having to “hold” the very subtle level of mind steady? Well, does any point in the Mahamudra setup above make the lucidity of knowing flare more than before? Does the spacious aspect become more emphatically and vividly spacious, for example?

Tonight, no. The vast nondual field of awareness was the same high intensity at all points in the meditation, right from the beginning to the end. As I told my teacher, pretty much all I have to do is sit down for the rigpa to flare up. The list of instructions above is much too much doing for what is already there for me. The list my teacher individualized for me is much simpler. The irony in Mahamudra is that, the more you advance, the simpler and shorter the practice instructions become, the more Dzogchen-like.

Now, the other night I did some grounding exercises that involved lying down on my back. I noticed in that position that the mother aspect (vast, silent, still) was dull. As soon as I sat up and took upright posture, rigpa blazed up. Why? Another question for my teacher next time we meet. Probably just conditioning, like everything else.

My other sense of dullness is when I become very, very focused on a work task or on a list of things I need to do to help someone. Well, sometimes this happens. I’m focused right now while typing, though, and the rigpa is blazing fine and high. 

I’ll have to keep studying and recording the situation. DreamWalker seems to think I need to identify what situations cloud rigpa and why. But he tends to approach practice more analytically than I do, whereas I respond to the poetry of metaphors. My teacher seems to suggest that simply “holding” the right view the whole fucking time is the answer, regardless of what causes obscuration. 

At any rate, a bit of effort in the practice is coming back into my life. My teacher cautions that pouring on the effort is dangerous at this point. This path is natural, after all. Well, yes, from the ultimate point of view, but this paradoxical caution is really no different than the one delineated throughout Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha, Second Edition, which many people wrongly assume is jacked up on effort alone. The paradox and rebalancing is covered in the classic Buddhist Five Spiritual Faculties teaching, as well.

Time may be always already empty, but I’m now nonetheless emphatically out of it for writing. .

Awake Awareness to Open Ground

Part 1

This entry is Part 1 of two parts on my now moving along an axis of attainment once again after eight months of integrating the gains of Mahamudra awake awareness (AA) into an increasingly pared-down human life.

Desire to Return to Some Effort in the Practice

When I last met with my teacher, before the recent embodiment retreat, I brought forward with some new, almost accusatory emphasis my feeling odd that I’m not “progressing.” I told him that I felt I was in some kind of holding pen. 

It was kind of stupid for me to be saying so, because I had agreed with him after attainment of Mahamudra AA in July 2015 that it would be a good idea for me to integrate the gains with my everyday life, to pull my energies back down to earth, and to sort my chief psychological issue, which is my codependent relationships with alcoholics and other emotionally shut off men who represent my father. As a practitioner, I had driven myself hard for a year, after all, my hair having been on fire for awakening since the Arising and Passing Away Event of summer 2013 and even more so since stream entry (or whatever one wants to insist on calling or not calling it) on August 8, 2014. I also had spent more than 800 hours working on MCTB2 with Daniel Ingram and roosting with some intensity in that turbulent relationship and those much healthier other relationships of the Dharma Underground. I had sacrificed my health, sleep, exercise, family time, most entertainment, and contact with my nondharma friends and extended family. 

It was time, after AA, to unravel that yearlong knot, the most driven and transformative year of my life, and return to the basics of being an ordinary human being. And, actually, although I parted ways with Daniel this past October (almost 6 months ago now), I’m only now beginning to get even my sleep and work schedules normalized. Next is exercise, enjoyment of nature, creative writing, and homemaking. I’ve pared down my relationships, my commitments, and my urge to make a new dharma community happen. As my wise teacher said, I needed to stop running and feel my losses, as well as my gains.

Liberation of a Terror-Stricken and Numbed Out Third Chakra

I once read that, even as inside every schizoid and numb man resides a hysteric, inside every hysterical woman there is a split-off and numbed outcropping of self.

Nearly “by accident,” as if there were such a thing as accidents, I discovered a teaching and practice on the third chakra and gravitated to it nightly for months. I found it easy, from awakened awareness, to release into that otherwise tense and numb center in the body. Sheer terror was stored there I discovered. From meditation on that center, I experienced first that it pulsed and thumped like a second heart. Weeks later it began to rotate and open out as I simply sat and rested awakened awareness into it. You see, at this point on the path, I am awake, but now awakening has to do its work. Practice is much simpler and more refined because the agent of it has been recognized as not Jenny. I rest in the natural state, and it does the work.

I had conversed with my teacher about my insights into the patterns of psychosomatic reactivity there in the solar plexus, that third chakra. The dispute with Daniel had given me plenty of opportunity to observe that even my own righteous aggression frightened me. The terror and nausea from the pain Daniel caused me, and the pain of my anger back at him, ballooned upward from the solar plexus and spread as a wave of heat-flush over my chest and shoulders, and then down my back. A simple email from him or his lawyer would do this to me, even though my mind was free, still, and expansive and the emotion moved through quickly and evaporated

Polarization of the Victim and the Perpetrator

My teacher talked with me about how the victim and the perpetrator are bound together –a holdout duality. I have been so identified with being a victim, since I was a baby and underwent many surgeries in addition to living in a violent alcoholic household, that even my own fierceness makes me feel victimized by it. Interestingly, this kind-hearted man, my teacher, told me, “The only way to undo that polarity is to be willing to be the perpetrator, for then the victim and the perpetrator will neutralize each other.” He didn’t mean that I should be a perpetrator in conduct, or not necessarily; he meant that awake awareness hadn’t had a chance to “practice” from within the very volatile and intense energies fueling terror and rage. I had to learn to relax into those instances in which my fierceness is called for.

Awake awareness, focused on that area of the body, unknotted that polarity. So some “untethered selfing process,” as DreamWalker calls subtle obscurations that remain after the subject drops out and the vast expanse of the field opens up, seems to have stopped, to have been liberated. I can see the threatening email come now and think “oh shit.” But there is absolutely no grab viscerally or emotionally, no balloon from the power center and no contraction at the heart center. 

Of course, the path is cyclical, so it may well be that, although third chakra seems to be open now, more is later to be discovered there. Work with the body as ground, as Mother, will continue. 

Part 2 will discuss some terminology and the way onward in practice.

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,

Jenny