Digesting Genpo

Digesting Genpo

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.

Last Updated on April 27, 2018 by Davidya

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  1. Bob


    Thanks for these writings about Genpo, Adyashanti and the comparisons of structures or patterns you see in experience of waking up. May I ask how, if you are familiar with them, would you describe the difference between the “awakening” dynamics of other teachers like Nisargadatta Maharaj, Ramana Maharshi and Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, His Holiness’ Karmapa and Dalai Lama?

    I would be interested in your comments on so-called instant and gradual enlightenment also.




  2. Kris

    Hi Davidya,
    Genpo states the first two stages as opening and submission.
    Would i be correct in assuming that the opening is an event, an awakening or intensifying of the background.
    While the submission is a process of oscillation between being the background or feeling it more intensely and the ego trying to be the background, thinking that it can somehow be what it is not.
    As a result of these oscillations does the ego eventually surrender to the fact that it cant ‘be’ the background thus leading into complete surrender and liberation?
    This seems to be happening here…

  3. Davidya

    Hi Bob
    Thanks for visiting.
    I am familiar with the awakening stories of some teachers. Ramana awoke spontaneously. Like a few others, he was able to assist people in coming to that place. But a number of teachers who awaken spontaneously do not offer an effective process. At the other end of the scale are teachers from a long tradition with a detailed process to offer but sometimes baggage with that.

    I reviewed the spectrum of teachers at the beginning of this post:

    A few points to consider:
    – where are they on the spectrum?
    – do they have students who are awake? Lots?
    – do they teach awakening or do they teach layers of awakening? As Genpo observes, some teachers get stuck at first waking or have not yet moved past that. Some traditions only point to a single waking. That should not be the goal.
    – do they have a framework or process you can relate to?
    – few people who awaken become teachers. Most have ordinary lives.

    Most people start the path with one teaching but eventually find they need to tap into others for certain aspects. For myself, for example, I still have the same meditation practice but have used other things for clearing the heart.

    Awakening is a natural process, just like growing into adulthood. As a result, a few people simply wake up spontaneously. But for most of us, it is a conscious process of some kind. What is needed varies widely and is quite dependent on unobvious things, like what they’ve brought forward from the past or our internal relationship with reality. Every journey is unique. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, that’s the whole point of all this, for Self to go every deeper into possibility.

  4. Davidya

    Hi Kris
    If you take a look at the original post, I describe Genpo’s 5 stages in more detail.

    Essentially, 1, 3, and 5 are experiences, usually experienced as a distinct change in reality. People sometimes call 3 a ‘pop’ or switch. (laughs) Indeed, in groups when someone awakes, all the awake can feel it as it is they who are waking more. A wave of laughter and emotion often engulfs the room. We could call them milestones. For some, it can be less distinct though, eventually becoming very clear.

    2 and 4 are processes. In my tradition, 4 is seen as a process of refinement of perception and physiology that starts earlier on and continues long past 2nd waking. It has a form of waking in itself, God Realization, and it’s own reality and illusion to awaken from. But its more a process.

    2 is a process also, that of the seeker, one who has a deep taste and wants more.

    1 is something I had but was not talked about in the teachings I followed. It seems like an awakening and the Self becomes very real but the ego self duality remains.

    In many ways, the entire path is one of submission or allowing. It is not something we do but rather release. Self is already awake – we just have to get out of the way.

    We may get the impression from a teaching that the process is linear. Step 1, 2, 3. And certainly there are those key milestones. But if you observe growth in the larger context, you see it always has that oscillating, cyclic nature. 2 steps forward, one back. For example, some talk of how the mind tries to regain control after first waking.

    The ego is very funny and very wily. I remember once realizing it was pretending to be Self, masking itself as the goal. At the time it horrified me what a maze it was to get past. But as the silence becomes stronger, eventually it is simply overshadowed. The light becomes too bright.

    How the ego is lost varies by person. Typically there is simply a moment of allowing deep enough that we switch from a person experiencing the Self to the Self experiencing the person. We become that – thats the key. Even when the switch happens, it may not be clear at first – it is new territory. But at some point, it is unmistakable. I am That.

    As I mention, even after the switch, some people can have a period where the mind tries to comes back. The long held habits play while the silence gradually deepens. Ego shrapnel I call it.

    At some point the deeper benefits begin to show – the freedom. The peace. The happiness. What’s really amazing is they just get better and better. Just when you think you’ve experienced ultimate happiness, there’s more.

    But of course, as is the way of all life, it has that oscillating quality. The depth comes and goes within your current ‘range’.

    Does the ego surrender? It’s more the soul that surrenders. The wave falls back into the ocean. It’s only after, you realize the ego is largely no longer there. Keep in mind that the ego is not a thing. It is just a concept of me. Loosing the ego is not unlike forgetting something. (which is very funny)

    Clearing all of that though takes time. Under the ego, a mental construct, is the emotional energy and under that is the core identity, a sub-conscious fear driven energy that drives the others. That falls later, before 2nd waking.

    On the right is a link under Pages called Key Posts. You’ll find sections on the process, waking and so forth if you want to dig more.

    Just remember that this blog is in many ways a journal of my process. None of it is “truth”, just my observations of the journey. If that helps you on yours, I am overjoyed.

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  6. Bob



    Thanks for the detailed comments, responses to my questions. You have a way with words that is rare. I have read various parts of your blog and am enjoying the ideas and insights you have placed here. I usually don’t care for too much “spiritual” talk unless I can meet the person or see the body language and hear the voice. Adyashanti has a strong visual presence that parallels his message on the youtube vignettes I have seen. He is genuine. Of course there are exceptions like Nisargadatta and Ramana. Though I have practiced in the Tibetan and Zen traditions I have always read far and wide about traditional teachings and spontaneous realizers too, such as Katie, Tolle, Segal and U.G. Krishnamurti. Is there some where on the blog where you discuss Franklin Jone’s learning/teaching journey? He certainly has magnetism for his students and has written a great deal. I have studied astrology since the sixties and he has a classical “spirtual teacher” chart. I often use astrology as a tool in working with meditation students, not to predict any particular future contents but to get a better feel for how one’s life/incarnation is “wired”. I have used these planetary cycles to time solitary retreat practice also. Not that anytime you could manage to do it wouldn’t work just as well.




    1. Davidya

      Hi Bob
      You’re welcome and further thanks. I’ve done a lot of writing on the subject during the last year and the practice seems to help the vessel become a clearer channel. (laughs)
      Some teachers have a strong presence called darshan. They are simply an example in and of themselves. One need only be around them to benefit. I’ve not met Adyashanti but have heard some CD’s and DVD’s and read a book of his talks. Some of that was key for me at that stage of my growth. Mukti was here recently but sadly I couldn’t go.

      No, I’ve not written about Franklin Jones. I read a bit of his stuff way back and a couple of years ago read a bit about the many personas he has had at different points. Don’t know enough to suggest what that’s about. For the most part, I’ve focused on a few core teachers that resonated for me at the time. Read some bits here and there of others. The blog is more what’s had my attention recently.

      I studied a bit of astrology way back, then a bit of jotish more recently. Jotish is much more predictive but more fussy to learn. I’ve found both useful at certain points to get a feel for the current energy. Usually use pro jotishi’s now but use some western for myself. Like the current Uranus transit of Pisces. As I’ve comment here elsewhere if you understand that the world is a projection of consciousness then anything in it is a reflection of that. If we were to do a systematic study of traffic patterns or falling leaves, we would find the same embedded intelligence as the planetary patterns. Lines on the hand, bumps on the head, and so on.

      In some ways though, that is the pattern of the dream so I’m finding it less and less relevant. Though occasionally when there’s something important taking place, it shows up distinctly in the life. Hard to ignore that (laughs).
      Funny thing though – even when you know the future, it’s still a surprise.

  7. Bob



    Yes, I would say that some writing about what this situation actually is, can be helpful. Do you also conduct teaching/learning events before groups and (so called)individuals?

    Though I had been reading about Buddhism and many other spiritual paths since 1960, my first physical teacher was Trungpa Rinpoche whom I met in late 1973 in Chicago. For me, being in his presence brought the mind to a halt. His way of teaching to groups through talks and through books (Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism is a good one) and one on one, seemed to connect. Meeting him face to face in “interviews” was the most powerful catalyst (darshan) for me. I am not sure how many of his students are, or have realized there true natures or are at what levels. They have senior teachers called Acharyas but of course that does not mean they are realized. Shambhala community is getting quite large and now CTR’s son the Sakyong is the head teacher, I have studied under him also. The Tibetans tend not to empower people too much outside of their own mileau, though Rinpoche did have the westerner Osel Tendzin(Tom Rich) as his Regent who died of Aids. I knew the Regent also and felt he had strong bodicitta. My more recent teacher whom I met in the early 90s was Kobun Chino Roshi who passed in 2002. He never would allow any books to be published so you had to meet him face to face or hear a tape which was not always so clear, to receive his teaching. He helped me in ways I did not know I even needed, being a stubborn old man, already. At some point we just need to be with the obvious, which is looking at itself.

    I have heard that Jotish was more predictive but by the time I heard that I had lost interest in a “future”. The Uranus transit and that Pluto heading into Capricorn is interesting too. Yes, I agree, once you see what this “place” actually is, you can read tree bark and hair styles. Consciousness is a word that points to a world and yet it doesn’t have a finger. Nothing seems to occur. In a very early memory of a reflection I had when I was perhaps two of three I thought: “…why did I come back here?” It seemed then that I had a choice, now I don’t know that I did.

    I am now this morning, off to a prison here in Michigan to teach meditation to inmates. They are in a place where, if they want to they can work on waking up. Some are even grateful for being there because it stopped their pathological trajectory. Just the same, it is a kind of “hell realm” and is a hard and violent place.



  8. Kris

    Yes, i have a sense that the ego is not a ‘thing’.
    The sense of self feels more like a web of impersonal ideas and concepts. Within this web there is a contraction that pulls these ideas together into a seemingly solid entity.
    So, to use a metaphor, it is like the ‘I’ is the spider at the centre of a web. But the form of the spider is actually constructed from the web itself, only seeming like a real entity because of the contraction of the web.
    It is not unlike an atom whose existence is presumed to be solid and fundamental until it is examined a little closer and found to be empty space.
    Does that make sense??

  9. Davidya

    Hi Kris
    Perfect sense. It seems you see it very clearly. That web or mesh I’ve written about a few times. It has a kind of false causality to it as well, extending back for a very long time. This is the mesh that creates the impression of time and separate lives.

    When you release a node of contraction or gripping, that part of the web collapses.

    The griping though is deeper that what I would call the ego mental construct. The web is the construct but that sense of constriction is the fear driven identity beneath it that creates the emotional energy drivers that fuel the construct.

    The construct works the same way as the rest of the dream of the world. Its kind of a localized variable. But its not run on an unlimited energy source.

  10. Davidya

    Hi Bob
    I taught meditation and concepts some 25 years ago. My original studies were more Vedanta. Used to give talks on the Bhagavad Gita.

    It’s interesting to consider – some groups I’ve seen are open about peoples progress. Isha told us how many of her teachers were awake and how many in Unity. She pointed to the one I’d met as being an example of the later. Other groups are the reverse, not wanting I suppose to reengage the person and ‘I am’ concepts. One I recall had regular experience group discussions until you reached a certain point, then you were asked not to talk about them at all. It was as if you were not supposed to do well. 😉

    I enjoyed a formal teaching early on but later have come to prefer teachers who have stepped out of the box of their formal tradition, like Adyashanti. I learned much from the deep traditions but it was sometimes hard to find the wheat in all the cultural underpinnings.

    It’s also very interesting how much the personality and individual experience of the teacher is reflected in their teachings. When I was writing my book, I had 2 teachers who were both saying they had done the same and realized how pointless it was.(laughs) For myself, I found it was part of my own process and helped it along. I now feel somewhat the same as they.

    Yes, it’s been well put – heaven and hell are not someplace else but lived right here on earth. Satyam Nadeen wrote of his awakening in prison. Fortunately, not the path I’ve chosen. (laughs)

    Thanks again for the feedback and glad to hear you are doing this work. You never know what may become of it. I’ve heard interviews with 2 others who woke in the can as well.

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