“The far side of mindfulness is ‘ego death’ in both the Vipassana and the Jungian sense. It is a liberation that breaks the living tension of samsara. For most the liberation is ephemeral and practitioners practice over a lifetime of study, to prolong the liberation, one day to break free of samsara altogether. Permanent ego death is the precursor to enlightenment. Nirvana is the enlightenment-state in permanent separation from the shackles of samsara.”

Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche (1930–2002)

Here’s an angle on mindful meditation – Vipassana, Jungian ‘ego death’, the practice of manifesting Buddhist non-dualism, transcending the Maya.

Mahayana Buddhism, advaya, Dzogchen: it’s difficult to source useful information about techniques and even more troublesome pinning down cogent reports on the ‘ego death’ state. Language is not designed to describe transcendent phenomena, falling quickly to cliche and words too associated with woo-woo to be objectively useful.

Younger mindfulness practitioners are too busy on the road to be committed to teaching. It’s a difficult, unpredictable current that sweeps aspiring Buddhists along, and this makes their journey all-engrossing.

Old experts often have a vested interest in not sharing, in plain English, the truth about the end of the path to enlightenment. Teaching falls to a few precious (but over-worked) masters, all of whom prefer to take on apprentices and teach face to face, over long undisturbed periods of time.


Meet X. “Hello X”

X is a human being. X is a under a vow of silence.

X doesn’t know or care much about gender or race or superficial material things.

X has been studying mindfulness for years but recently, having reached the age of majority, decided to take his daily aesthetic practice full-time.

X is commited to following the long and winding path of enlightenment.

X hopes but won’t presume that the path of enlightenment leads to Nirvana.


X begins with meditation practice seven times a day.

X uses the canonical hours to mark his seven meditations.

  • Lauds at dawn
  • Prime at sunrise
  • Terce at mid-morning
  • Sext at midday
  • None in the mid-afternoon
  • Vespers at sunset
  • Compline at night – just before bed


X learns the techniques of Mindfulness, a gateway to Vipassana.

X is sincere and focused.

X builds the mindset of an observer.

X hones the ability to “step back” from the moment, to see the impermanence of feelings.

X realizes everything arises to pass away – and thus not be a slave to things; or to time.

X understands the happy is as ephemeral as the miserable. All things pass.

X realizes being a slave to pleasure is as much a slave as being a slave to depression.*

X perceives the illusion of the self.

X reaches a point of ego death akin to sublime psychedelic experience.

X practices for years, until it trains the techniques into the sub-conscious.

Practices X Followed

  • cultivate bodhichitta
  • practicing vajrasattva
  • years spent on mandala
  • following strictures of kusali offerings
  • daily yoga for health of body, circulation, and pranayama

What Mastery of the Practices Did For X

  • “conscious experience is some level of blissful awareness of voidness”
  • samadhi – observing the primal, pure void
  • all the way to fill it with color
  • seeing the psychedelic tree of creation
  • (maybe chatting to some machine elves)


X no longer spends days riding a rollercoaster of feelings, out of control.

X is no longer bound to material acquisition.

X is not lost in the ego of personal ambition.

X moves through the world with equanimity.

X could become a monk, teaching others how to travel the path of meditation.

X is no longer at the mercy of anxiety, panic, depression, anger, obsessive-compulsive disorder, desperation (to impress others, to defeat others, etc).

X is no longer an egomaniac.

X is released from the prison of the self.

X achieves all of this without use of drugs.

Sounds like a success, no?

Not quite.


This is the rub.

It’s useful to be on the path, but reaching the destination – the goal of mindful meditation – is not only an ego-death but the death of authentic creativity.

Without the volition, the creativity is pretending, making it (for others) but without the compulsion; even though the compulsion is egomaniac and unevolved.

Release from the prison of the self is only meaningful if it’s parole. The permanent release is a self-annihilation. This is creative suicide.
It’s euthanasia to the animal idiot within.

Liberation from the animal idiot within sounds desirable but everything that matters to you, about yourself – creativity included – originates with the animal idiot. It’s the well-spring of compulsion.

Life is that animal idiot volition, parsed by your neurotic imperfect but incredible brain, expressed in and through the conditions of your current limbic experience.


We’re ephemeral beings, with imaginations and identity that may as well be infinite, since our capacity to encompass all that’s in our brains (present and future) is defined (i.e. limited) by our brains.

{It’s like perceiving infinity. Imagination says that’s all fine and dandy, but I’m thinking infinity squared. Oh, says the prefrontal cortex, that’s what I’m perceiving too. Fuck you, says imagination, I’m on infinity to the power of infinity already.}

[anyone who still talks about hating this, or lusting for that, or using the ‘we’ when talking about the world, or being emotionally swept along by the world and calling it ‘we’ … that person is on the path still. So keep playing kids]


What ends? rainbow body. At the moment of death. The ultimate for Tibetans. It’s just the pineal dumb, psychedelic overwhelms to cushion your poor brain from the last second’s panic. It’s the mercy of the universe which is even more surprising as the universe doesn’t/can’t care.

The universe or evolution or our poor selfless brain or maybe the released prisoners of the mind, the enlightened machine elves, giving the poor worn-out self (identity) a final epidural, to cushion the dissolution into oblivion. It would otherwise be terrifying.

* this is a recipe for being the most boring person in the world, to yourself most of all.

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