A conscious rock?
Levels within levels within levels of development....this is about the concept of "One Taste" in Mahamudra / Dzogchen.
Starting from the rocks
Many years ago I read "One Taste" by Ken Wilber. That is a diary type of book, one of the readable Ken Wilber works. It fascinated me, although I had no clue about what he was speaking when he described his meditative experiences. I had had none at the time, so how could I other than conceptualize?
The one thing I remember most intensely are his somewhat humorous impersonations of hypothetical verbalizations of consciousness at different levels of development.
They started from the consciousness of rock and ended with an evolved human´s consciousness, if I remember correctly. I am sure Wilber would cringe....
I think the rock went something like "Crunch crunch" - there was more about eternity, but I can´t remember it.
A conscious rock? Why not? Some years after this work, Donald Hoffman came out with his book "The Case Against Reality", where he posits that consciousness is present at the level of the individual atom. Just a bit simpler. And, Donald Hoffman is a mathematician and converses with the Dalai Lama.
Anyway, that is why I already had at least a conceptual idea what "One Taste" might be when I attended my first Mahamudra retreat.
In short, "One Taste" corresponds to a stage, where whatever mental event arises and passes, it is seen/experienced as having the same "substance" as every other event.
In a somewhat horrifying example, love would have the same taste as hate. There is a kind of neutralisation, a lack of reactivity, or a "holy indifference" (Rob Burbea). A loss of the Self with attractions and aversions.
Both love and hate - like everything else such as boredom, hunger, the memory of this morning´s breakfast, the fleeting thought of today´s pending yearly performance appraisal are of One Taste - all is emerging, arising in the same way from the ground of awareness as its manifestation. Or, as Sam Harris likes to say, as a modification of consciousness.
Some people actually experience this as an ontological shock, as loss of life energy, and need therapeutical assistance to recover love to their family. Ok, this is a particularly gruesome extreme example of what some people may call "The Dark Night of the Soul". Some people such as the meditation teachers Culadasa, Shinzen Young and Michael Taft find this idea anything from ridiculous to a toxic meme.
One Taste, where one experiences many things in a more neutral way, is a conceptually a pretty advanced level of meditation. Even if a 6-day retreat was sufficient to evoke it on the fifth day, at least, a glimpse of it. A taste of One Taste.
Levels of One Taste
So, today I learned in passing that "One Taste" in the "Pointing out the Great Way" method has three levels: Ocean-Wave, Automatic Emptiness; and Non-Meditation.
So, this is about Buddhist refinement....
The first level of one tastes overall is ocean waves practice.. The second level is what we call this practice automatic emptiness. And a third is moving into non-meditation (DiPerna 2022)
Here they are. The links are to my own posts about the topic.
One Taste Level
Description of the experience
This is the view where you take on the perceptual position of BEING the ocean watching its own waves.
This is where you are in a view where all mental events are recognised (sealed) as "empty" (ie as a construct, a fabrication, an appearance) as soon as they arise. At this very point of arising, they are recognised as such and "automatically" dissolve, without "grabbing" the mind into reactivity.
This is the level where you have stopped using ANY (or nearly any) meditative strategies or tactics, eg to make things happen or prevent them from happenin
Burbea, R. (2015). Seeing That Frees: Meditations on Emptiness and Dependent Arising (English Edition). Hermes Amāra. https://www.amazon.de/dp/B00SI7PQD8
This book is praised by Michael Taft, one of the best contemporary teachers, in is "Best meditation books of 2020"
Culasasa (John Yates), [Culadasa]. (2021, January 29). Culadasa discusses meditation and the ‘Dark Night’: What it is, what it isn’t, and how to avoid it [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved 14 September 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjBXtI1Q2as&feature=youtu.be
Diperna 2022.09.14, D. (n.d.). Pointing Out the Great Way Living Meditation 2022.09.14 Dusting di Perna.
Hoffman, D. (2020). The Case Against Reality: How Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes. In No Title. Penguin.
Wilber, K. (1999, January 19). One Taste (1st ed.). Shambhala. https://www.amazon.de/One-Taste-Reflections-Integral-Spirituality/dp/1570625476