Make you stranger • 12 April 2010

We did four hours of dzogchen with Shinzen today. Dialing in to the world-soul on my decrepit MotoRAZR. Kind of steampunk.

Other instruction I’ve received in antimeditation—mahamudra, “choiceless awareness”… they’re all going after the same insanely beautiful, left-brainy receptivity—wind up spacing you way out. Melt you down on your zafu in to a boundless, peaceful, primordial blob. Hi, I came all this way to make myself jellyfish? Feels nice, but disorienting and nonreplicable.

I suppose that spacey instruction could work, were concentration superstrong from years of practice, or at least primed from days in retreat. It any case, of course Shinzen’s guidance for becoming a bliss-blob is razr-sharp.

Let what happens happen. As soon as the intention arises to do anything, drop that intention.

Sometimes this doesn’t lead to the void, but directly away from it—directly in to shallow unmitigated chaos. The most lifelike sexual fantasy I’ve ever experienced was through dropping the intention to meditate, sitting there in a room full of sophisticated meditators. This is not a complaint. (I did feel a bit paranoid and guilty, that afternoon, once I recovered self-awareness.) And no wonder – dzogchen privileges lizard brain, teaches you to learn to turn off the upstart impulses of seeking, doing, wanting to let nature turn the wheels of consciousness. Something that feels sort of protozoa-primitive and highly evolved at the same time.

Anyway, perhaps since it was dzogchen day, Shinzen amid apologies took us on a few tangents. At the end of a particularly wonderful one (which I grabbed this laptop to transcribe) he said this:

I’m aware that as I get older, I am becoming weirder and weirder. That which does not kill us makes us stranger.

How beautiful that quaffing nothingness, or bending existence, or whatever mystical shit it is he does has not made him harsh, or cool, or intentionally distant, or vague. Or sanctimonious. What does it say about a practice when it does make one increasingly closed, distant, knowing, cool? Shinzen is weird, taking spontaneous riffs that sometimes make no sense to us, but it seems a modern-zen effort to say what he can. Not intent on projecting a self, but not protecting one either.

What the heck. Here's a little goldmine.

Weeping tree, me.