After yesterdays post on The Cyclic Path, I thought it would be worth exploring what further arose from Genpo Roshi’s The Path of the Human Being talk.
As I noted Genpo was speaking from his experience. I can only interpret from mine. But I find the exercise of ‘comparing notes’ insightful.
In the past, I’ve talked about the process of growth, the spiral sequence of development. I’ve also observed how there are cycles within cycles. The pattern I described like this:
balance, disintegration, growth, integration and repeat.
Genpo described the pattern like this:
Raise the Boddhi mind, practice, liberation, nirvana, cast it away.
Or to match the cycles:
Nirvana, cast it away, raise the Boddhi mind, practice, liberation.
Genpo uses terminology suited to a Zen path whereas I prefer a more generic terminology that can be seen reflected in all of life. Both perspectives offer value.
Genpo then takes this path and applies it to both the major cycle of 5 stages and the many sub-cycles within cycles. In short, his 5 stages are Opening, Submission, Liberation, Fall, and Integration. In the sense of the pattern, this is 2 cycles. Submission and Fall are both disintegration or cast it away steps. They are also the 2 process stages.
As he observes in the talk, as you get past level 3, the support resources become much more scarce. Fewer teachers have made this transition. His own experience was of an extended stage 4 until he learned to allow it. I’ve also mentioned Suzanne Segal’s experience where she resisted Liberation for years.
There’s a few points to observe about all this.
One is that his stage 4 is a process not an experience. In other words, it is not a distinct experience like awakening or Liberation but rather a sequence of allowing and release, of disintegration. It may begin before the previous stage and extend after the following one. Indeed, advanced teachers speak of this process as continuing indefinitely. Continual refinement, continual release. As Genpo is on a path of discrimination and was teaching, it may have been very difficult for him to let go of that spiritualized identity. Finally it reached a crescendo, what Adyashanti and Loch Kelly describe as the BBQ.
The danger here is in over-emphasizing the disintegrative aspect of the process. The traditional Vedic view of post liberation is primarily on refinement of perception. The end of that is indeed popping the bubble of transcendent knowledge but those I know have gone though that over a short time. This is a similar discussion to Satyam Nadeen’s term Deliverance. After Liberation, there can be a period of time where the mind tries to return. But just because there might be, we should not expect it. That expectation can actually create it or extend it. Never underestimate the power of attention and intention, especially in an awake mind. As Genpo might put it, we may pick a fool (the ego) for a Master.
Disintegration is a process of allowing, not doing. Attention should be with the silence. Putting attention on what we want to release holds it in the attention. At least it does until we are able to be aware without any grip or attachment whatsoever. To be allowing perpetually.
Another point that comes to mind is transcendent knowledge. Genpo speaks of this as a stage 3 thing, lost in stage 4. In my own framework, this develops throughout post-liberation refinement, only falling with the loss of identity just before Unity. As well, some people get a great deal of transcendent knowledge before Liberation. The white flash of merging upper chakras, the gateway to cognition, does not necessarily happen with awakening. For some, it can before. For others not until Unity. If it happens before, inner experiences of “reality” can be a barrier to first liberation. It becomes part of their construct. They are holding to experience of “truth” and disallowing being. That has to be released for Liberation. Same pattern at second waking or Unity, going into Genpo’s stage 5. That bubble must also be popped. All the layers of illusion transcended.
As Genpo observes, transcendent knowledge can hold a strong grip. It may take some time for all the identity shrapnel to be cleared, even after initial Unity.
All these points aside, it is fascinating to see the range of ways people come Home. And precious to find someone who has a good sense of how they got there. Genpo’s talk held a number of insights about post liberation: the struggle with knowledge, the curious role of karma, and another vision of the process. As more teachers describe the higher stages of consciousness, the clarity of the path will increase. This makes the process easier for those who follow.
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