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Transformation of elements from reactivity to pristine awareness

I've been working with the elemental reaction chains and the dakinis for a few months now, per the instructions in Ken McLeod's Wake Up to Your Life.

I'm finding the work to be difficult along many dimensions. Particularly challenging are the dakini meditations in which the element transforms from from reaction to presence.

One of the challenges is just understanding how the reaction chains transform into pristine awareness (the table on 227 maps this in detail). Maybe "understanding" is the problem? 

Some of the transformations are more intuitive to me than others. For example, I can see how air – the quality of effective action – manifests as falling (total helplessness) in its deformation, or as being torn apart (runaway action) in its reformation. Or how fire - the quality of effective knowing – manifests as a featureless desert (nothing to know) in its deformation, or as being burned out (know-it-all) in its reformation. 

But with others, I struggle to make the connection. Water has the quality of clarity. What is the connection between clarity and a tidal wave? Is it that turbulent water makes things opaque? What about being frozen? Is it that striving for perfect clarity requires absolute stillness (a kind of death?) Am I stretching the imagery past its usefulness? Are the elements in their pristine state even meant to connect with their ordinary state? Understanding these connection seems essential for letting the dakinis do their work.

I've attached my personal "cheat sheet" which is how I've repurposed things to make more sense to me.

Thanks for any guidance.

RE: Transformation of elements from reactivity to pristine awareness
1/20/20 4:54 PM as a reply to Demoxenos.
I have much less experience with this than you, so take this with a cup of salt or two, but I have been thinking that tidal waves are about priorities, that is, knowing when it's time for this and when it's time for that, if that makes any sense. That there's a time and a place for everything. But it can also be avoidance or evasiveness, escapism, or it can cover things up. EDIT: or lay things bare. And you can drown in it, being too overwhelmed to see clearly. And sure, if the water is too turbulent, you can't see clearly in it either. On the other hand, if there is no movement in it at all, ever, there will be ecological imbalance and death.

Doesn't ice make the water more earth-y? I mean, since it makes it solid and unflexible. That makes it brittle rather than cohesive. Also, it is negative fire element because of the cold, isn't it? 

RE: Transformation of elements from reactivity to pristine awareness
1/21/20 3:16 PM as a reply to Demoxenos.
I find the transcripts of Ken's talks really illuminating on his approach to this topic. Here's the one on the water dakini:

The main thrust of the thing is that the energy is just the energy, but our inability to digest it, our reaction to it, is what causes it to manifest in a deformed or reformed way. So, as he explains in this talk, water is always clarity, but this extreme clarity can make us uncomfortable to be around. We feel naked. In our efforts to avoid this revealing clarity, we try to diffuse it, distract from it, drown in stimuli; if this tactic fails, we feel frozen, since we've exhausted everywhere we thought we could go. The problem isn't in the energy. That's the same clarity it's always been. The problem is how we react to it.

The kicker is, if you look directly at your reaction, it runs off of the same exact clarity, once you peel away that outer layer of conditioned response.

He describes it more clearly (heh):
"And as you touch that fear, there is a surge, that's like, gotta dissipate this energy, get it out of here. So you start to wriggle away from it, or deflect it, or try and do something. But as your efforts become more and more extreme you find you’ve run out of room, you can’t do any more. And you feel frozen and you can’t avoid it.

So now you try even harder to evade, deflect.

So these are the components of the water reaction. And let yourself feel all of them, all of them at the same time. And you’re aware of the elixir pouring into your body. And imagine light shining from the water center. And it illumines your body and it illumines all of these reactions. So they become clearer, more vivid for you. And eventually they become so bright that they just become energy, they become light themselves."

RE: Transformation of elements from reactivity to pristine awareness
1/21/20 6:40 PM as a reply to Matthew.
Neat to see ken McLeod dakinis discussed on dho, and great reply by Matthew!

basically water sees clearly...but when the clairity gets too intense there is a squirming away and if the intensity becomes too much, we get overwhelmed by it like getting hit by a tidal wave. When that happens we know squirming away won't work so we just freeze,become ridged, just frozen and bracing ourself for the impact. 

obviously when so overwhelmed the clarity is gone, we are trapped by the pattern. 

RE: Transformation of elements from reactivity to pristine awareness
1/26/20 7:23 PM as a reply to Demoxenos.
Thanks all for the thoughtful comments and wow! I missed that little dropdown on the Unfettered Mind page and didn't realize there are 10 talks. A major source of information, thank you for pointing to it. 

One of the exercises in those talks (not in the books) that I'm playing with now is doing the meditation from the dakini's perspective, and rejoining my own body after the reaction chain transforms into awareness. I'm finding it to be a helpful shift in perspective.

FWIW I'm working with quite a bit of terror in my practice right now (it shows up as a pretty harmlessly racing heart until I start to do the elements and these dakinis). So part of my interest in understanding this transformation is rooted in seeking to escape the terror.

The irony isn't lost on me that crystal, the dakini of "clarity of non-thought of mind itself" is the one that feels most alien. And that in my transformation practice itself there's a lot of evading the terror, and seeking its dissolution from the outside. The talks are helping me realize that's not the path, but geez it's hard not to see this terror as a sort of "final obstacle" and invest it with a lot of energy.

RE: Transformation of elements from reactivity to pristine awareness
1/27/20 5:45 AM as a reply to Demoxenos.
Yeah, the neat thing is that all the elements have a particular slant on how we get terrified.

So terror can be a feeling of instability (earth), overwhelmed (water), intensity (fire), activity (air), or confusion/chaos (void). The five elements provide a structured framework for going into the experience and really feeling it in order to understand it. 

It's also interesting that in 5 elements the goal isn't to get rid of the terror and replace it with some kind of certainty... but rather have the energy of awareness be strong enough that it can be the terror without triggering a reactive coping mechanism.

When we develop the capacity to be with experience fully, there is no need to change anything. That's important to understand/feel. So terror can come and go, no big deal, not a problem. "Ah, THIS is terror, interesting!"

The idealized "end states" can be expressed in different ways. The amber facetted jewel of earth is the ability to see the many different experience as facets of awareness, to be naturally balanced, to know without judgement. That's KMcL's translation. The Aro Ter tradition simply translates the end state as equanimity and generousity. So when people are freaked about the absence of form, they start getting territorial and try to fill up the emptiness/hollowness feeling. So basically the "grabbing" for something stable due to non-equanimity is dropped and the ability to be generous and give with equanimity is possible even in the midst of the "earthquake". 

For what it's worth, many times an apparent reactive pattern will reveal a more subtle and pervasive reactive pattern underneath. I spent a lot of time looking at air, covering up uncomfortableness with lots of activity, only to notice that fire, the instinct to intensify things when things were intense, was underneath and sort of a seed that grew into air for me.

Lots of good stuff can be uncovered using the 5 element ideas as a frame to investigate experience.


RE: Transformation of elements from reactivity to pristine awareness
3/20/20 12:27 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Just jumping back in here to say thanks for the reminder of what the goal isn't... x-posting from my log:

More practice needed but it felt like a step change in progress. I think more concentration helped, as has a shift in orientation toward terror. I think there are a bunch of mistakes around dealing with terror, all of which I've made:

• avoiding feelings of terror
• thinking of terror as a sort of boss battle before awakening
• thinking of terror as somehow supreme, "that-which-cannot-be-endured"

It does seem like terror can be included just like anything else. I've also come to treat terror a little like a barking dog, chained to a fence, starving, outside a ramshackle home. The barking is very loud but the dog itself is of little interest. Get closer and there will just be more barking. The dog is desperate, or protecting something maybe. 

It still seems unbelievable to me at times that terror is not privileged among all the feelings.

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