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An Overview
The Practice of Virtue
The Development of Insight
Meditation Exercises

I am including this section at the suggestion of my friend Derek Rasmussen and it must be said I have given much thought to the wisdom of doing so. I have decided to include these exercises because I believe they can be a significant aid both in attainment of Path and in the removal of residual clinging after attainment.

One who is familiar with meditation will know there exists a stream of consciousness underneath the intentional mind and this is referred to in the ancient text as the bavangha-citta. In more recent texts it is referred to as the allia or collective consciousness and sometimes the essence of mind or luminous intelligence. This level of mind is a manifestation or result of previous karma. It is this stream of consciousness which is the base of our present personality or individuated self. This is the level of consciousness from which deep impulses of desire and grasping propel us into a new becoming. If we die on the physical plane, it is this consciousness that becomes the base for future becoming. With the realization of Path this level of consciousness is seen to be ‘the builder’ and never again are we subject to the blind building of formations. Before the attainment of Path we are always subject to the taints and insidious tendencies of previous karma.

The purpose of these exercises is to help us become aware of this level of consciousness. This can occur only when the complex of conflicting emotions, embedded in the bavangha-citta through various traumas in this life, are purified. If we have achieved this level of development it allows us to enter the bavangha-citta and reside in luminous consciousness without an object. This being so, we will have cleared at least this lifetime’s karmic proclivities. This cannot occur unless the complex of conflicting emotions have been stilled or pacified. This is the aim and purpose of these exercises.

Before we begin any work of introspection it is important to have a suitable environment that supports our work. The importance of this can not be emphasized too strongly. There are basic principles and if we follow them with reasonable intelligence we will ensure a safe and beneficial experience. The first and most important thing to remember is that we should be in a ‘natural’ environment. Oftentimes in the Suttas the Buddha would exhort his disciples to retreat to the forest, sit under a tree and set up mindfulness. This simple instruction is the key to all good practice. If we are not supported by nature or if we feel threatened by nature we do not have a strong enough connection to the bodily energies or life force to pursue any real meditative work.

So on a practical level, ideally this work should be carried out in a forest or protected area surrounded by nature. If this is not available a room in your home that has been set aside for meditative work should be used. It should have lots of natural light, fresh air, plants and natural materials such as wood with wool, cotton or other natural accessories. Your seat should be comfortable and one that encourages alertness.

When we begin this work we should focus on the present time and then gradually work towards early memories of our childhood. We should be aware of the emotional content and the gestalt or catharsis that occurs with the dredging of the memory and the dissolving of it into emptiness. We must learn to open our mind to the associations that occur in an elastic sense of time. For instance, we may have an image or memory from early childhood and this may trigger off associations in our present time frame. We should try to connect these two occurrences by understanding how various mental formations were caused by the initial imprint and result in the present state.
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The Five Precepts
Exercise 1 - Training the Mind to be Free of Killing
Practice mindfulness of breathing. In order to do this focus awareness on the nostrils and experience the air moving in and out of the body. When practiced long enough to establish a calm and clear state of mind, recollect an incident when you killed or injured another living creature. Focus the mind on the incident and try to recollect every detail associated with it. Be aware of the sensations in the body, feelings, states of mind, thoughts and perceptions. What ever spontaneously arises in the mind should be investigated until the recollection is extremely vivid in consciousness. Next, experience the creature’s suffering at the moment of their injury or death. Having explored this for some time, hold in mind both your experience of yourself and the creature you injured for as long as a vivid impression of it can be maintained. Trace how this action has affected your life. When this is very distinct in consciousness dissolve it into the clear light or void experience. If you are able through your meditative skill to reside in luminous consciousness without an object, you should do so. If you have not perfected your meditation to this degree, merely visualizing the scene with all of its physical sensations or emotions dissolving into light will be helpful. Conclude the meditation session by reviewing it and making brief notes of what occurred. When a full session has been completed (which will be at least 55 minutes), you should stand, embody a gesture of release and focus the mind with great intention to be free of this complex of suffering. Vow never to commit such an action with this intention again. After this go for an extended brisk walk and sense how every being has the right to fulfill their life energy.

Exercise 2 - Training the Mind to be Free of Stealing
Follow the instruction to establish calm through mindfulness of breathing. When calm is present, recollect an instance when you stole something. Divide the incident into three categories: the state of being and impulse to steal before the actual act, the state of being in the actual theft, and the state of being afterwards. In the first instance, recall as clearly as possible the first impulse that propelled you into the act of stealing. Be aware of bodily sensations, feelings, the quality of mind and any thoughts or images that occurred. Next, recollect the actual act of stealing. Again examine the body, feelings, states of mind and any images or thoughts that arose. Then focus on the state of being after the theft. Was there a sense of guilt or shame? Was there a sense of pleasure or pain? Recollect the feelings and thoughts of the person from whom you stole. Embody this as clearly as possible and sit with it for as long as a vivid impression can be maintained. After this, focus the mind on tracing how this action has affected your life. Then dissolve the entire complex into the clear light of emptiness. Conclude the meditation session by reviewing it and making brief notes of what occurred. At the end of a full session stand up, embody a gesture of release and focus the mind with great intention to be free of this complex of suffering. Vow never to commit such an action with this intention again. Afterward take a long walk in nature and be aware of all that surrounds you as a gift freely given.

Exercise 3 - Training the Mind to be Free of Sexual Exploitation
Establish calm through mindfulness of breathing. Once calm is established, an instance of sexual misconduct should be recollected. Remember the bodily experiences, the feelings, the states of mind and any thoughts or perceptions that were present. Recollect what it was that propelled the action. Next, focus on the act itself and try to experience what was occurring at the moment of misconduct. Review the sensations in the body, feelings, states of mind, thoughts and perceptions. Then focus on and experience the individual upon whom this act was perpetrated and make it as vivid and clear as possible. Sit with this experience for as long as a vivid impression of it can be maintained. After this, focus the mind on tracing how this action has affected your life. Then dissolve both the perpetrator and the victim into the clear light of emptiness. Conclude the meditation session by reviewing it and making brief notes of what occurred. At the end of a complete session stand up and embody a gesture of release and focus the mind with great intention to be free of this complex of suffering. Vow never to commit such an action with this intention again. Then go for an extended walk focusing and being aware of your sexuality as a wholesome part of nature.

Exercise 4 - Training the Mind to be Free of Deceit
Once again establish calm through mindfulness of breathing. When this has been achieved recollect an instance from the past when you have lied. Use the fourfold categorization of bodily sensations, feelings, states of mind and thoughts or images arising in consciousness. Try to remember the first impulse that propelled the lie. Then remember the actual act and the result of that act. Try to embody on a physical level what lying does to you, then experience the state of being of the person that was lied to. Sit with this experience for as long as a vivid impression of it can be maintained. Next, focus the mind on tracing how this action has affected your life. When this whole complex has become vivid in the mind, dissolve it into the clear light of emptiness. Conclude the meditation session by reviewing it and making brief notes of what occurred. Standing up after the practice, embody a gesture of release and focus the mind with great intention to be free of this complex of suffering. Vow never to commit such an action with this intention again. Then go for a long walk in nature and focus on the myriad truthful communications that are occurring in our environment.

Exercise 5 - Training the Mind to be Free of Intoxicants
Establish calm through mindfulness of breathing. Recollect an instance in which you indulged in intoxicants that resulted in unconscious and unaware behavior. Try to recollect the situation that prompted this. Use the fourfold method of classification that has been outlined earlier. Then recollect the act itself and remember the actual diminishing of awareness and control. Remember the bodily sensations, the feelings, the states of mind and any thoughts or perceptions that were present at the time. Then recollect the experience when clear faculties were regained, be aware of the bodily perceptions, the feelings that were present, the states of mind and any objects that arose in consciousness. Sit with this experience for as long as a vivid impression of it can be maintained. Then focus the mind on tracing how this action has affected your life. After this dissolve the whole complex into the clear light of emptiness. Conclude the meditation session by reviewing it and making brief notes of what occurred. When a full session of practice is finished, stand and embody a gesture of release and focus the mind with great intention to be free of this complex of suffering. Vow never to commit such an action with this intention again. Go for a good walk in nature and focus the mind on the natural clarity and distinct discrimination of your environment.
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Impulses That Lead to an Action
Ordinarily it is difficult to observe impulses in consciousness prior to an action, however, I have found a simple parlor game can do the trick. It takes two people to practice this exercise. The first person closes their eyes while the second person describes a simple object in the room that they are sitting in. The second person should give a simple description of the object and wait for the first person to name the object. If they cannot name the object from the first description they should be given a more detailed and second description. This continues for the third, fourth and fifth description. The first person who has their eyes closed should observe their mind during this process of trying to visualize the object being described. If we are aware during this process we will experience a particular energy present in the mind while it is searching for the identity of the object being described. This can be understood as a certain kind of angst or frustration that occurs because the mind is searching its memory banks. Then there is the moment of recognition, this can be defined as the ‘Ah Ha!’ moment. There is a release from tension and the joy of discovery. The next moment of consciousness is a discarding of the object as something known. With this simple game we begin to understand how the mind functions and how impulses arising in consciousness determine our state of being.
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The Three Unwholesome States
Exercise 6 - Freedom from Greed / Covetousness
Begin with a single meditation session to exploring covetousness or desire in the mind. Establish calm through mindfulness of breathing. When the bodily and mental formations are calm, bring to mind an object that you have had great desire for. Examine the body, feelings, states of mind and objects of mind that are associated with this experience. Try to recognize patterns of thought and behavior that have come into being due to the desire to possess this particular object. When the body-mind experience of desire or covetousness is vivid and pronounced, dissolve it into the clear light of emptiness. Conclude the meditation session by reviewing it and making brief notes of what occurred. Then stand up, embody a gesture of release and go for a walk focusing on all that is freely given to us.

Exercise 7 - Freedom from Hatred / Ill Will
Establish calm through mindfulness of breathing. Once you have achieved this, focus the mind on an instance where you had great hatred for another person. Try to conjure this state with all of its physical, emotional, mental and perceptual qualities. Let the body-mind go into the experience and surrender to the state for as long as necessary to truly embody it. Then pull back from the experience and look directly at the mind and see it as an objective phenomenon. Become ‘the watcher’ and observe yourself as you would a stranger across the street. Then dissolve the whole complex of bodily perceptions, feelings, states of mind and objects of mind into the clear light of emptiness. On emerging from this experience review the whole of what occurred and make brief notes. After this get up from the meditation session and embody a gesture of release. Go for a long walk and focus on the essential state of harmony and dispassion all around you.

Exercise 8 - Freedom from Delusion / Wrong View
As before, establish calm through mindfulness of breathing. Once you have achieved this, recall an instance from the past where you are certain you clung to a wrong view about the nature of what was occurring. It could be the mistaken interpretation of someone else’s actions, it could be ignorance about the laws of physics or it could be clinging to a religious belief. What is important in this exercise is that you remember an instance when you clung to a point of view that you identified with - in other words, you had an emotional attachment to this view. Once you have found a good example of this type of clinging you should try to embody as accurately as possible the feelings, the states of mind and the thought processes occurring at the time. Dredge up the struggle, then dissolve it into the clear light of emptiness. Then review the whole experience and make brief notes. Complete the session by standing and embodying a gesture of release. Go for a walk focusing on the mind’s natural ability to perceive things in a multidimensional way. Experience the freedom of not holding or clinging to any views.
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The Seven Illnesses and their Antidotes
In the next series of exercises we will explore how to free ourselves of the seven illnesses by degrees or stages. For instance in the first illness, lust, the antidote is coolness or virtue. We should ask the question: How can we go from a hot passionate state to a cool and serene state? The exercises that I propose in this section will lead us there - by degrees.

When we are working with lust in the sexual realm for instance, we must first clearly recognize this state as a hindrance to our unfoldment. This recognition is extremely important, because if it is not present strongly enough in the mind, the habitual state will always take precedence and we will become caught in what is referred to in the text as ‘repetition condition.’ Any state that is repetitive in our psychology should be seen as a complex of four factors. The first are bodily states, which are actual pathways in the body that have formed through habitual use and have become addictive. The life force always repeats this avenue of expression. Our task here is to change the pathway by degrees. The second area of observation is in regard to feelings. These are hormonal releases that have become habitual and addictive. The third area is states of mind. These can be identified by attitude, the quality of our perception, and how it changes in regard to the obsession. The fourth is the actual thought processes or objects of sense perception arising in the mind that trigger off certain repetitive responses. These are neural networks that have become used to certain repetitive patterns. Because of this it is important to use a strong willful mind to change them. Now let us return to the exercises.

Exercise 9 - The Antidote for Lust
Before doing this exercise we must be very clear that our commitment is to become free of the obsessive pattern. If this is not an extremely strong motivation we will only reinforce the habitual pattern by repeating it and believing it cannot be changed. Conjure a state of lust based upon previous experiences. Allow this to manifest in the body-mind to the fullest degree possible. Maintain the energy in the body, but focus on using a different expression of it, for example movement, dance, or a verbal expression like singing. The energy could also be expressed through a mental formation such as the visualization of a deity.

If you have a lustful state that is not focused in sexuality and this is a major part of your psychology (such as the lust for power), you should focus with the firm determination to change this pattern. You should arouse in the body-mind the sensations, feelings and states of mind that come into being due to this activity. When you have aroused this state or created it within yourself you should then objectify the energy that is present. Name it so that it can be recognized independent of the activity. Then you should take this life energy and express it in some other form. You should explore this from the point of view of what is most accessible to you. For instance for some it may be expressed in mountain climbing, for others it may be expressed in speech or communication and others may express it in a mental formation such as computer programming. The key point is the recognition of the energy independent of the "habitual" activity.

As you progress in the transformation of your being you should gradually expand the expression to two or three other activities. In Western psychology this approach is called sublimation and in some ways that is a very good description of the process. To sublimate is to sublime or to take a raw crude energy form and transform it into a refined or wholesome form. We are achieving basic transformations in both our psychology and physiology. The first transformation is that we are breaking up old patterns that we have identified with a self; the second is that by the creation of new patterns that have a wholesome base, we get a glimpse into the empty nature of all patterning.

Exercise 10 - The Antidote for Ill Will
The antidote for ill will is loving-kindness. It must be recognized that the first person to be injured when you are in a state of hatred is yourself. So in the cultivation of loving-kindness you begin by first emanating it towards yourself. When you have hatred towards another person you experience yourself as separate, an embodiment of the conflict. First recognize this conflict and how it manifests in your body, in the feelings, in states of mind and finally how it manifests in thought processes or willful intentions.

In order to heal yourself from the illness of hatred you begin with the body. Lay down and permeate the body with a peach or rose-colored light. Begin with the feet and visualize the light slowly spreading through the body until it eventually reaches the crown of the head. Spend a good deal of time doing this and go through all of the details of your physiology and permeate it with the light of loving-kindness. The bodily state of tension should be transformed into a blissful state of happiness.

After spending sometime developing this practice you then should focus on feelings and try to identify the conflicting emotions associated with ill will. Once this has occurred, dissolve this conflict in the rose-glowing light of loving-kindness. It might be of benefit to focus this light in the abdomen and dissolve any conflicting emotions into a blissful state of happiness.

Next, identify states of mind that are associated with ill will or hatred. Try to find the state of mind that triggers hatred within. Identify the quality of mind that is present when thoughts of hatred are occurring. When you have recognized this state, focus it in the heart center and dissolve it into the peach or rose-colored light of loving-kindness. The mind state of hatred when dissolved should be transformed into a blissful state of happiness.

When the three previous stages have been developed it will be easy to recognize thoughts of ill will or aversion as they arise in consciousness. They must be identified quickly to halt their destructive nature. This recognition is important because it is the speed with which this occurs that determines your effectiveness in dissolving this state. Once a thought process has begun and gained momentum in the mind it is more difficult to deal with it. When a hateful thought is recognized it should be replaced with the thought of loving-kindness. For instance, when you have thoughts of hatred you could replace them with the thought ‘may all sentient beings be free of enmity, ill will and grief.’ It will be clear how proficient you become in the meditation by the speed with which you can do this. Focus on an area in the head behind the jaw and dissolve all thoughts of hatred into the peach or rose-colored light of loving-kindness. The thoughts of hatred should be transformed into a blissful state of happiness.

In the ancient texts the method of focusing on three types of persons is used in the development of loving-kindness. These three types are a dearly loved friend, a neutral person and a hostile person. In cultivating loving-kindness you should begin by frequently focusing on your dearly loved friend. It should be noted here that this is not necessarily your spouse or school friend because in those relationships you may not have a pure altruistic love. For this reason you focus on your spiritual guide or teacher. They should represent true altruism free of bias and ego preferences. Next you focus on a neutral person and try to elevate them to the level of a dearly loved friend. Finally, you focus on a person who is hostile towards you and elevate them to the level of a neutral person. In this process you try to develop all of your relationships using loving-kindness as the criteria of successful interaction. When you are attacked or in some way injured, you should maintain a state of loving-kindness and have an attitude of neutral detachment towards those who consider themselves your enemy.

Exercise 11 - The Antidote for Dullness
The antidote for dullness is the meditation on light. However, if you look at the illness in its broadest and most general sense you will see that there are many varying degrees of dullness. It can range from a slight heaviness in the body-mind to what has been diagnosed in modern times as depression. The first and most critical thing to do in relationship to dullness is to recognize it. This can be difficult, depending on how severe the state is. How can a dull person recognize they are dull? It is only by contrast that this can be understood. One good way to begin the process of recognition is when you are in a clear state with a light and buoyant mind, conjure up the state of dullness - you can do this through your body attitude. Try to find a posture that is the embodiment of dullness and then observe the feelings, the state of mind and thought processes. This will help you recognize the state of dullness when it occurs in the natural course of your life.

The key to changing this state is to change your metabolism. Currently in our culture it is fashionable to use drugs to achieve this and everything from coffee to cocaine is at our disposal. However, this momentary fix usually has very adverse side effects and certainly if you are attempting to be fully conscious, this can be your defeat. So how do you change your metabolism in a healthy and natural way? The first and most direct is to be involved with physical exercise in nature. When hiking on a path with dappled sunlight streaming through the trees, it is actually quite difficult to maintain a state of dullness. If you focus on your outer environment and in particular on the quality of reflected sunlight, you will see your state shift. When you let go of the conflicts of the mind, the body is able to regenerate and vitalize itself more quickly. You take the light that you perceive outside of yourself and bring it into your body. You can do this by focusing on light and lowering your eyelids until you see the light inside your body as clearly as the light outside. By going from the outward perception of light to the inward perception of light and doing this again and again, you will gradually transform the inward perception from one of darkness and heaviness to that of light and buoyancy.

So to reiterate, first exercise vigorously in nature. Second, focus on natural reflected external light. Third, practice bringing as much light into the body as there is outside. And finally fourth, if your environment does not allow you to fulfill this in an ideal way, you can focus on the thyroid and visualize a tiny red sphere.

Exercise 12 - The Antidote for Agitation
The antidote for agitation is to focus on an object until the mind’s kinetic energy is calmed. The recognition of this state is of course critical in order to apply the antidote. So how do you recognize agitation? You first see how it manifests in the body. Do you have a habit of allowing your energy to manifest in uncoordinated or unconscious movements? Calming the bodily formations is the first step in being free of agitation. The second step is to recognize agitation in your feelings and not allow them to be acted out in bodily movement. Third you recognize agitation in your state of mind. Here you must come to know what can be referred to as the colors of the mind and by using your focus you can bring about calm and serenity in your state. In the fourth step you must come to know the objects of mind. Here you observe the thought process, recognize what patterns produce agitation and then you focus on a wholesome object or thought process that produces the calm. If you are in a natural setting you could focus on earth and experience its solidity or you could focus on the breath and mentally recite, "As I breath in, may I calm the bodily formations, as I breath out, may I calm the bodily formations." Practice in this way for an extended period of time. Then focus on feelings and in the same way calm the feeling formations. Then focus on states of mind and finally focus on objects of mind or thought processes. It would be very beneficial to spend a good deal of time practicing observation of breathing as a means to establish calm. If you are in an environment where this is not possible you should then visualize a dark sphere descending from the throat center and sinking into the body to a point approximately four fingers below the navel. Generally speaking darker colors within the blue spectrum have a tendency to calm your metabolism.

Exercise 13 - The Antidote for Uncertainty
There are two forms of uncertainty. One should be seen as an illness and the other is a very heightened state of consciousness. When you look at uncertainty as an illness you become free of it by investigation and making sure that you have not misunderstood your instructions regarding the teaching. Asking questions and not being afraid to admit your uncertainties is the quickest way to dispel them. In North America this is sometimes difficult to do because of social conditioning. In the educational system if you do not know the right answer, you are often looked at as being stupid. In Dharma practice it is the complete reverse. You are encouraged to question and investigate the teaching on all levels. This questioning process, contrary to being a sign of stupidity, is the first dawn of intelligence. Therefore, in the beginning at least, you should not feel you are burdening your teacher by asking numerous questions. However, gradually as you begin to develop skill you will know how to ask the depth mind within your being to reveal truth. Eventually you must come to know, at least in principle, all of the laws of coming into being and passing away. By doing this you will elevate consciousness to a bright clarity that is able to reside in the uncertainty of the deep and profound questions of our existence.

Exercise 14 - The Antidote for Ignorance
When dealing with ignorance as an illness, knowledge is the antidote. Knowledge is the direct perception of truth and is understood in a three-stage process. First, there must be question or the desire to know; second, there must be direct realization; thirdly, there must be recognition of the process that has occurred. Of course the most important knowledge you can have is insight into the three characteristics. That is: direct knowledge of impermanence, direct knowledge of suffering and direct knowledge that an abiding self is nowhere to be found. Having said that, it is also implicit in the Buddha’s teaching that to cultivate a broad and open mind, well educated in many areas, is of great benefit to the unfoldment of human consciousness. Every means of eradicating ignorance through the development of knowledge should be used to cultivate the mind of enlightenment.

To create an exercise in written form that would demonstrate knowledge or freedom from ignorance is actually quite difficult. A story may help to explain this process. When Archimedes was struggling to discover the laws of displacement, he became engrossed in the question to the exclusion of everything else. In other words, his mind had focused upon a question with such intensity that he could not put it down until there was a resolution in the discovery of the answer. One day he stepped into his bath and the realization of displacement dawned. At that moment he leapt from the bath and ran naked down the street shouting, "Eureka! I have found it!" So first you have deep question that cannot be put aside, second, you have direct experience and third, you have a gestalt resolution. This is a living process - it is not something that merely takes place in the intellect.

A) In the antidote to ignorance you should first establish calm through mindfulness of breathing. You should practice for an extended period of time. When calm has been established, focus the mind on the question of time. Remember a past event that stands out in consciousness and ask the question: Does this event exist? In other words, apart from your memory of it in what sense can you say that it existed? Contemplate this for some time then change your focus to the present. Observe any moment of perception and look at the mind that is perceiving. Ask yourself the question: Does this moment exist apart from the mind that is perceiving it? After you have done this for an extended period of time focus on the future and ask yourself: Does the future exist? If so, how? Does it exist in any real sense apart from the mind that perceives it? Can you find the mind that is perceiving apart from the objects of perception? If so, what is it?

B) Establish calm through mindfulness of breathing for a period of three weeks, practicing eighteen hours each day. After each hour review what occurred during the meditation. After this time when mindfulness is very clear and bright, sit in meditation for only a five-minute period. Then review in great detail everything that took place within the five-minute period.

Exercise 15 - The Antidote for Boredom
The antidote for boredom is interest. Boredom only arises in a person when there is not immediate interest in their activities or environment. Because of this desires are created that manifest as fantasy. It is important to label this as a projected and disassociated appetite.

So how is this illness cured? The cure is simple, however, being brave enough to implement it is difficult. The root of all boredom originates in childhood when you were not allowed to follow your true interests. Because of this as an adult, boredom is a habit that is difficult to break. Deep down inside you believe that it is not possible to fulfill your true interest. Our North American culture has spawned whole generations that live in a twilight zone of boredom, frustration and depression. Television and movies, the inanity of popular culture, are offered up as remedies. This, some may say, has been created as an anesthetic to the pain experienced due to the lack of true fulfillment. Contrary to this, Buddha Dharma upholds true fulfillment in the sense that it supports the natural mind of question and investigation. This is easy to observe in any young child. It is expressed in the exploration of their environment through their senses. The exercise that I am putting forward here may seem strange to some, not least to the professional meditator.

What should be achieved is a digression to early childhood when these restrictions and inhibitions were put in place. In order to do this you must conjure an attitude of play. In other words, you set aside a period of time, say an hour a day, in which you explore through play. A good example of the power of this exercise to heal consciousness can be found in the autobiography of Carl Jung. Because of the crisis occurring in his life at the time, the only way that he could resolve the powerful forces at odds within his psyche was to set aside a time when he played building sand castles on a riverbank bordering his home.

To return to the illness of boredom, if you trace the bodily state present while you are playing you will see that there is a simple happiness present. This is true in the feelings, in the states of mind and in your thought processes. If you reconnect with this experience you will then naturally see how to cope with the complex situations that arise in adult life. What you have to overcome is the inhibitions that you have around play and natural interest. Once this is allowed to express itself in your being, you will find ways to cope with the frustrations and sometimes deadening and repetitive actions required by your social circumstances. You will also learn to protect the mind of natural interest - rather than turning it off because it appears to be inconvenient in your adult life.

Developing Jhana
For the serious practitioner there are many meditative exercises in the Suttas given to help us achieve jhana. Rather than present those in this section, what I think would be more helpful to the Westerner would be to present a basic practice that could be the foundation for developing many of the varied techniques given by the Buddha. This approach is a combination of two very important and essential tools for liberation. The first are the four foundations of mindfulness, which are proclaimed in the Satipatthana Sutta. The second is mindfulness of breathing as proclaimed in the Anapanasati Sutta. Lucid and definitive commentaries on these Suttas can be found in ‘Body, Speech and Mind’ and ‘The Breath of Awakening’ by Namgyal Rinpoche. You should study and familiarize yourself with these two books and use them as the cornerstone for all of your explorations in the meditative life.

For instance, in a given session you may practice mindfulness of breathing to establish the first jhana and then focus on a kasina to establish the second and higher jhanas. Upon emerging from the absorption and reviewing your meditative experience you can apply the four foundations of mindfulness as a method of analyzing what occurred. Because insight is critical to the attainment of Path and complete freedom from the defilements, you should reflect upon emerging from any meditative absorption on the three characteristics of anicca, dukkha and anatta. All jhanic absorptions are impermanent and in a way ‘suffering’ because they are subject to loss. If you understand the experience correctly you will know there was no one who attained jhana, there was no inherent self in the experience and that the experience was just one of many that flow in the continuum of being. In this way you do not cling to any experience.

Defining our Approach
In the Buddha’s dispensation, the attainment of jhana is considered to be abiding in a blissful here and now. In other words, the attainment of jhana in and of itself does not produce awakening. However, having said that it should be noted that there are many Suttas in which the Buddha encourages his followers to cultivate higher consciousness through the attainment of jhana. The danger of jhana is that, having attained a momentary glimpse into higher consciousness, the practitioner may believe that they have achieved a lasting state of spiritual development. The benefit of jhana is that the practitioner is able to get a glimpse of higher consciousness and thus be inspired to go beyond the barriers and attain Path realization. The Buddha has said that those who have attained jhana are very near unto Nibbana. My task with these exercises is to demystify the jhanic process for the Westerner. This in no way suggests that you should not strive for a formal practice in which you discipline your mind in a systematic and deliberate way. It is critical that you strive for attainment and work within a structure of the practices taught by the Buddha if you wish to have mastery over the mind and be able at will to enter the higher states of consciousness. As practitioners in the West you will be more likely to achieve this if you recognize the nature of jhana in your ordinary life.
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How to Attain Jhana
Eliminating the Five Hindrances
There are four ways of overcoming any unwholesome formations in the mind. The first is to ponder on how self-destructive they are. The second is to ignore them - in other words, don’t feed the negativity. The third is to remove the source or cause of the unwholesome formation. The fourth way is by confronting the unwholesome formation in meditation and with teeth clenched and tongue pressed against the palate, restrain, subdue and beat down the unwholesome mind with the good mind.

Sensuous Desire
In order to establish jhana or access concentration it is necessary for you to comprehend that the five hindrances must be abandoned and discursive thinking and thought conception established. The first hindrance to abandon is sensuous desire; you cannot enter into jhana or any higher state of consciousness while sensuous desire is dominating your mind. Sensuous desire propels you to fulfill your cravings in sense gratification and because of this the energy of the mind is scattered and resists your effort to focus it.

If you apply the four different methods to free yourself from unwholesome thoughts and use them to overcome sensuous desire, you would first ponder how sensuous desire has limited and crippled your natural ability to unfold. The second approach is to ignore the mind-state. For instance when sensuous desire arises in the mind you observe it as a phenomenon, something that does not belong to you. You do not feed it or engage in it. The third approach is to find what provokes sensuous desire in your being. In order to remove the cause you have to recognize what stimuli provokes sensuous desire and then remove it from your environment and thought processes. In the fourth approach when you meet sensuous desire in the meditative process, you recognize it immediately as the enemy; press the tongue against the palate, open the eyes with a fierce gaze and with the good mind destroy, suppress, beat down and banish sensuous desire from your consciousness.

Ill Will
The second hindrance is ill will. As long as the mind is occupied with hatred or petty aversions to others you will not be able to focus the mind clearly on any given object. When you apply the four methods of overcoming the hindrances to ill will, ponder how you are the first to be injured when there are thoughts of ill will in your mind. Next whenever ill will arises, observe the thought as though it was a stranger across the street. Let the thought shrivel and die because it is not being fed. In the third approach you should investigate and know the formations in your conditioning that cause you to project hatred onto others and you should not associate with those who provoke hatred. In the fourth approach when you meet ill will in the meditative process, you must recognize it immediately as the enemy; press the tongue against the palate, open the eyes with a fierce gaze and with the good mind destroy, suppress, beat down and banish ill will from your consciousness.

Sloth and lethargy are a hindrance to the attainment of jhana, because in order for you to have power and concentration of mind you must have activated your energy and heightened your focus. In other words, the state of jhana is diametrically opposed to a slothful lethargic state. The mind is extremely alert and focused and this can only come about through willful intention. First you contemplate and ponder how sloth has robbed you of fulfilling your potential and how if it is allowed to grow will produce a weak, dependent and helpless individual. In the second approach you clearly recognize sloth as a hindrance and ignore those impulses when they arise in consciousness. For instance, you may predetermine a schedule of rising early and getting on with your work. You view sloth and torpor as though it were a stranger to be driven from your personality. In the third approach you find what produces sloth and lethargy in your being. For instance, if you linger in bed due to the warmth and coziness of the mattress perhaps you should sleep on the floor or on a hard surface. In the fourth approach, when you meet sloth and lethargy in the meditative process, you must recognize it immediately as the enemy; press the tongue against the palate, open the eyes with a fierce gaze and with the good mind destroy, suppress, beat down and banish sloth and lethargy from your consciousness.

Restlessness and Worry
States of restlessness and worry are a hindrance to the attainment of jhana because in such states when you try to focus the mind, it veers away from the object. You must realize in the training of your mind that there are pathways and patterns that have become habitual. In the first approach you ponder how destructive restlessness and worry are. You see that your energy is consumed by running on the cyclic treadmill of restlessness and worry. Recognize restlessness and worry as useless occurrences in the mind that subvert wholesome intention. In the second approach you recognize when restlessness and worry arise and view them as though they were states belonging to someone else. You do not become engaged nor pulled into the thoughts of restlessness and worry. In the third approach you recognize what stimuli produce the habitual state of restlessness and worry and remove the stimuli from your being and environment. In the fourth approach, when you meet restlessness and worry in the meditative process, you must recognize it immediately as the enemy; press the tongue against the palate, open the eyes with a fierce gaze and with the good mind destroy, suppress, beat down and banish restlessness and worry from your consciousness.

Skeptical Doubt
When you deal with skeptical doubt as a hindrance to the attainment of jhana, you first must recognize it in your mind and label it as a hindrance. Then you should ponder how destructive skeptical doubt is - because of skeptical doubt you do not have sufficient energy to focus the mind on a given object, attain jhana and be free of doubt. Ponder how skeptical doubt has robbed you of your ability to be involved in life in a meaningful way. In the second approach when skeptical doubt arises in the mind you should ignore it. View skeptical doubt like you would monkeys chattering and arguing with one another in the zoo. See how pathetic and ridiculous this attitude is. In the third approach you remove the source of skeptical doubt through investigation of the Dharma. You study and become sure of the subject you wish to learn. You remove skepticism with the wisdom of the teaching. In the fourth approach when you meet skeptical doubt in the meditative process, you must recognize it immediately as the enemy; press the tongue against the palate, open the eyes with a fierce gaze and with the good mind destroy, suppress, beat down and banish skeptical doubt from your consciousness.
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The Development of Concentration
Through the Cultivation of the Beautiful

Exercise 16 - The First Jhana
Thought Conception and Discursive Thinking

Having discussed the five hindrances to the attainment of jhana we can now look at the primary characteristics of the jhanas themselves. The first is that thought conception is extremely clear and does not resist your willful intention. Every thought that arises is crystal clear and focused. The mind does not wander, nor is there the dispersion of the mind created by secondary thought processes. Discursive thinking means that you can focus the mind on a single object and investigate it from many points of view. The mind is malleable, bright and extremely agile in its ability to probe and investigate the object.

For the Westerner, probably the easiest way to establish access or the first jhana is to become engrossed in a good book. If you watch the mind when this is occurring you will gradually be able to recognize the factors of jhana. For instance, you cannot maintain focus if there is something niggling at you and preventing you from letting go into the experience that the book is describing. If you are continually critical and skeptical you are not really interested in the book. If your mind is occupied with many other things, such as concerns about what you are going to do later on in the day, you can’t really enjoy the book. If you are falling asleep you lose your focus and there is no longer an alive interest. If you have a state of anger present you may attempt to focus on the book, however, even if it is normally an interesting subject, unless you get rid of your anger (at least temporarily) you can’t focus. When sensuous desire is present, eventually the mind becomes distracted and focuses on sense gratification. It is obvious that these five hindrances prevent clear thought conception, the ability to focus and the ability to engage in questioning thought.

When you attain the first jhana in formal meditation, because you are focusing on an object of mind and not on a book or a preprogrammed thought conception, the hindrances may be far more formidable. Also, the energy of the body-mind is greatly increased and it takes an extreme effort of will to prevent the mind from engaging in habitual and unconscious thought patterns.

Exercise 17 - The Second Jhana
Rapture and Joy

There are two aspects to the development of the second jhana. The first is that you must abandon thought conception and discursive thinking, the second is that you augment and bring to the fore rapture and joy. In keeping with my original intention to make the understanding of jhana more accessible to the Western practitioner, I will try to define it in ways that we have commonly experienced.

This experience originally occurred for me while listening to music. The first prerequisite, freedom from thought conception and discursive thinking, was a wonderful release. The ability to experience the music wholeheartedly without discursive thought, imparted a tremendous sense of freedom. The mind and body could experience the music directly and there was no sense of an observer. It is as though the mind and body were being played as an instrument. When a being is clear without the distraction of discursive thinking, their senses become heightened and the mind is able to hold in awareness very complex melodic and structural elements of time that give a whole experience of the musical composition. This probably occurs more frequently with composers and musicians than in those who have not trained themselves to be aware of such nuances. However, the freedom from thought conception and discursive thinking and the wonderful ensuing pervasion of rapture and joy is unmistakable. There are many other types of activities that can produce this state. One student of mine said she experienced such a state while skiing down a mountain. The point is, once you have a sense of the freedom and bliss that is present in the second jhana, you are more likely to strive for it. You will know that you are capable of attaining it in the direct observation of your mind-body in meditation.

Exercise 18 - The Third Jhana
Cultivating Equanimity

The development of the third jhana has two aspects; the first aspect is to let go of rapture and joy and the second is to cultivate equanimity. Rapture and joy have engaged qualities, they are very thrilling and ecstatic and are easy for the Westerner to recognize as positive states. Conceptually it is not difficult to explain rapture and joy as something desirable and something to strive for. Westerners, however, seem to find it quite difficult to understand equanimity as something important in the religious life and something to strive for. I think the main reason for this is that the average Westerner sees positive states as being active rather than passive. Equanimity is detachment from volitional desire.

So how do I explain this state so that it will be easily recognized? Let’s go back to our musician who is playing a piece of music and entering into the second jhana free from thought conception and pervaded with rapture and joy. For him to develop a consistent ability to perform this piece of music, rapture and joy will become an impediment. The reason for this is that the cool detachment of equanimity is able to see more clearly the many nuances of the piece of music.

Now let’s look at the skier racing down the hill. Maybe the first time the skier takes a particularly difficult slope it will produce this ecstatic rapture and joy. However, as the skier develops their skill the rapture and joy subsides due to familiarity and the only way they can develop further is if they focus on technique and master that particular activity. It becomes evident that in order to master something and bring it to its highest level in any discipline, equanimity is critical.

I remember speaking about equanimity at a Unitarian Universalist Church function and one woman simply could not understand how equanimity and detachment could be of benefit. For her, love and compassion were the most important things. The only way I could explain it was to make it very personal to her. I asked her if she had children, she replied that she did and that she loved them very much. Then I asked her, "If one of your children needed a surgeon with great skill to perform an operation to save her life, would you choose yourself if you were a surgeon (as the mother with deep love and emotional attachment) to perform the procedure, or would you choose a surgeon who is in a calm state of equanimity?" She pondered it and realized that equanimity has great value in producing an objective clarity. In terms of the religious life, it is easy to understand why the Buddha would say, "Happy lives the man of equanimity and attentive mind."

So to return to the jhanic process… We cultivate equanimity because rapture and joy are crude and experienced as disturbances that should be overcome.

Exercise 19 - The Fourth Jhana
In the fourth jhana equanimity is brought to complete fruition due to abandoning all pleasure-pain. Here you abandon pleasure and pain because they produce the roller coaster of desire and aversion. The Buddha has said that to be conjoined with what one does not want is suffering. To be separated from what one wants is suffering. Suffering is implicit in pleasure and pain. To explain this in Western terms is somewhat difficult because of our belief that pleasure is the only gratification in life. However, as we have pointed out before, there is satisfaction in mastery. The completeness of equanimity is the determining factor. When you experience this in meditation you are relieved of all striving and there is the sense of putting a great burden down. It is as though your effort to live a meaningful life has reached completion and is no longer necessary. An exercise that may help you achieve this state or recognize it, is to view everything you encounter as being perfect and needing no alteration or improvement. Another is whenever pleasure manifests, you view it with detachment and do not cling to it. Whenever pain occurs you view it with detachment and do not have aversion to it.

All of the previous four jhanas can be attained through the meditations on the ten kasinas. The jhana factors arise in this order:
1. Freedom from the five hindrances and the establishment of thought conception and discursive thinking.
2. Freedom from thought conception and discursive thinking and the establishment of rapture and joy.
3. Freedom from rapture and joy and the cultivation of equanimity.
4. Freedom from all pleasure and pain and the realization of equanimity. The fifth jhana is established through the formless absorptions.

Exercise 20 - Boundless Space
A) In the classical development of boundless space you first establish concentration on bounded space. This is achieved by meditating on a hoop, or thin bamboo circle, the diameter of four fingers and a hand span. First establish mindfulness through the breathing meditation and then focus on the hoop. It should be hanging approximately four feet before you in front of a neutral background. Focus on the space that the hoop surrounds until a bubble or sphere appears in the mind’s eye. This then becomes the basis or nimita for establishing the experience of boundless space. On emerging from the fifth jhana of boundless space you then should review the meditation using the four foundations of mindfulness.

B) Another less traditional exercise is to find a clearing in nature. This can be an open field or a rock outcropping on a hill or mountaintop. It must be fairly flat without any large protrusions. Lie on your back and spread your arms and legs to delineate a circle. All twigs and stones should be removed from this circle. Wait until nightfall when there is good visibility and lie on your back looking up at the stars. Orientate your head to face towards the Pleiades or the North Star. Lying with your legs and arms fully extended you should gaze at open space and the stars and establish calm through breathing in starlight. When the mind and body are completely still, you then should enter into the absorption of boundless space. As I have said previously the other jhana factors will arise in an orderly fashion but your main focus is to be on boundless space.

Exercise 21 - Boundless Consciousness
A) The traditional method to establishment boundless consciousness is the use of the light kasina. This is achieved through reflecting a circle of light on a plain neutral-colored wall surface. The diameter of the circle should be four fingers plus a hand span and the distance from it should be approximately four feet. Gazing at this disc of light you should try to enter into the sphere of boundless consciousness. You may recite the word ‘alokha’ or the word ‘light’. Once the nimita is established in consciousness you focus on it until the jhana factors appear and there is full absorption into boundless consciousness.

B) Another method is to focus on natural reflected light. For example, while walking through a forest, focus on the shafts of light streaming through the trees. This method can also be practiced while observing the sunset or watching rain clouds moving across the horizon. The focal point can be anywhere there are shafts of natural light.

C) Another method is to enter into union and experience other forms of consciousness. You might begin with your pet cat or dog. Focus the mind on the other being and try to experience directly their mind state. When this has been established extend it to others in a gradually widening circle. The idea is to move in categories of what is most familiar to you. After you have focused on sentient life for a period of time, then you should try the so-called ‘inanimate’ world. Begin with the most familiar ­ this might be your favorite chair, house or spot in the mountains ­ and try to open or expand your consciousness so you directly experience the chosen object. This should be done until there is a direct experience of boundless consciousness.

Exercise 22 - Emptiness
In the first stage of the classical meditation on emptiness, emptiness is experienced as an absence. In the previous work there was the realization of the all pervasiveness of consciousness - this was all-inclusive. In the first realization of emptiness you experience absence or total exclusion. In other words there are no forms, sounds, tastes, smells and no mind perceiving nor mind-created objects. However, the more advanced understanding of emptiness is all-inclusive. That is, you realize the very processes, states and objects as having an empty nature. So it should be understood as being both exclusive and inclusive.

To a great extent the realization of emptiness is dependent upon the previous absorption on boundless consciousness. If you are weak in your realization of boundless consciousness, you will not be able to cultivate the realization of emptiness very effectively. If you have the ability to pervade and experience other sentient life with your consciousness, the realization of emptiness will emerge quickly and will be easily understood.

There are two methods or approaches you can take to cultivate this new awareness. In the first you understand from your own experience that different sentient beings have different experiences of reality or the phenomenal world. You should reason or know for yourself that no experience in and of itself is definitive. The way a fly sees - a kaleidoscope of multifaceted images - is in no way inferior to human sight. In this way, a dog’s sense of smell or a cat’s hearing, if known directly, will be understood as having distinct advantages to the corresponding human sense. You begin to explore your sense perceptions and remove conceptual formations that limit you to human chauvinism - believing that only your perceptions are valid. If you do not have direct perception of other sentient life you can use physical aids to help to dispel your conceptual limitations. The first is to take a multifaceted crystal or a multi-mirrored kaleidoscope in which the visual perception is broken into many segments. Try to imagine what it would be like to experience the world solely from this perspective. Another way is to walk around with a magnifying glass and shift your visual fields of perception every few minutes. Try to break down the habitual perception of the body as being a certain size. In this way at certain times you may experience your body to be as tiny as a mustard seed or as large as a mountain. Shifting your fields of perception helps to break down your conceptually stagnant view of yourself.

I read of one experiment that might be helpful in opening you up to a better understanding of the functioning of mind. In this particular instance the experimenter used a pair of glasses which inverted the visual image. In other words, when he looked through these glasses everything appeared to be upside down. Over a period of days his mind went through a severe struggle and then adjusted to the perception so that everything appeared right side up. When he took the glasses off everything appeared upside down again. This perception continued until his mind made the adjustment again. The purpose of these exercises is to break down the views of yourself and your surroundings that have been created by habitual patterns.

The second method of establishing the realization of emptiness is more contemplative. You should understand from your sense perceptions that there is no one view that should be considered truth or ultimate in any way. Now you approach it from the point of view of the mind that is perceiving. In this way you contemplate that there is no object, state or process that has an inherent nature. For instance, if you were an ant climbing over a rock you would experience the rock in a certain way. If you are a human viewing the rock at your feet you experience the rock differently. If you project your mind into outer space and view the rock as a satellite might you experience the rock in a totally different way. If you put the rock under a microscope you experience it differently again. The point that you should try to understand very clearly is that the rock does not have an inherent nature. It is not inherently big or small. You can also undertake experiments to demonstrate that the rock in not inherently hard or soft. In relation to a piece of wood it may be hard, but in relation to a piece of steel it may be soft. The rock is relative in its nature and you should approach this from every possible experience of the rock until you come to know for sure that the rock does not have an inherent nature. In this way you should explore many objects until you are firmly convinced that they do not have an inherent nature.

Next we come to understanding a given state of being. At one moment a state of anger may be defined as unwholesome - if you shift the circumstances that same state of anger may not be defined as such. For instance, if you are angry with someone because they have insulted you, the state of anger has a particular quality due to the situation out of which it arose. In another instance you may be angry at seeing a child deliberately injure a cat, however, the quality of mind is different due to the circumstances. It is clear that the state of anger does not have an inherent nature. In this way you should go through all the various states of consciousness and realize their empty nature.

Next is the examination of processes. No process or method of growth and unfoldment is inherently good or bad. Good and bad are determined by causality and in the relative view this is absolutely true. However, from the ultimate view of emptiness, this is not so. If a person is able to experience a process directly as not having an inherent nature, then the method or process by which that realization has come about is good. Even the realization of Nibbana or the highest attainment does not have an inherent nature and this fact is fundamental to the experience itself. The method by which you have cultivated a wholesome life may have value in that it functioned as a raft to take you to the other shore or the realization of emptiness. But it would be foolish after the attainment of that realization to cling to the raft or carry it around with you when it no longer has a function. In this way you should strip away all conceptual views and become free of seeing them as having an inherent nature. No object, no state or process has a self or an abiding reality.

Exercise 23 - Neither Perception nor Non-perception
Before attempting to give an exercise that would allow the average Westerner to at least have a concept of this state, I would like first to give it a technical definition. The state of ‘neither perception nor non-perception’ is fundamentally a body or energy experience. The body-mind is in an extremely heightened state. Consciousness with all the perceptions is experienced as a momentary arising, then an absence and another momentary arising. This is happening in very rapid succession. It is not possible to have this experience unless one has had a direct experience of emptiness as an absence.

Having said that let us now turn our attention to finding a way of representing this state conceptually. As a young person I once went to a modern dance performance where the dancer was wearing white leotards and the backdrop of the stage was a black velvet curtain. A strobe light was focused on the dancer so the image of the dancer appeared to arise and then pass away. The body moving through space was composed of singular images that had the sense of being frozen in time. If you examine this example it is clear that it does not fully represent the experience of ‘neither perception nor non-perception’ because it is limited solely to a visual phenomena. However, it gives a sense of what is experienced in this state.

So how can we begin to approach this realization with an exercise? One way would be to take a bicycle wheel and put black cardboard on every other space between the spokes. The result would be a wheel composed of long black triangles with an open space between each one. If you were to sit in meditation with the wheel slowly turning in front of your visual field of perception, you would see an image, a black space, and another image. If you focus on the image - say the wheel in front of a branch moving in the wind - you would have a good visual representation of the state. Provoking the depth mind into having a direct experience with the use of a meditative device can manifest in the realization of the state ‘neither perception or non-perception.’

The Three Characteristics
Before beginning the exercises on insight a few words should be said about the Buddha’s teaching in general. Neither the ascetic practices nor the jhana process are essential for enlightenment. The only thing that is indispensable for enlightenment is insight. Having said that, the development of one or more ascetic practices and the development of the jhanic process can be a great aid in the cultivation of insight. In this section on exercises I have given only a general approach that might be helpful for a Westerner. In actual practice a skillful teacher will help the aspirant by directing them to develop their practice according to their particular proclivities of consciousness.

I would like to reiterate that there are differing views in relationship to the type of practice that we would cultivate and this is determined by our motivation. For instance, when we categorize the teaching as having three vehicles the first being the lesser vehicle, the second being the great vehicle and the third being the diamond vehicle, they correspond to the three types of motivation. In the first we as aspirants would think, "May I attain liberation through a direct insight into the nature of reality as expounded by the Awakened One." In the second we would think, "May I realize the omniscience of a Buddha so that I may help all sentient beings." In the third we would think, "For the sake of all sentient beings may I quickly attain omniscience."

Even for a neophyte to the teaching, it is clear that the development of insight is essential to all three vehicles. However, the path and type of meditation prescribed for the different types of individuals may be radically different. In the development of insight, depending on our motivation, the attainment of samadhi and jhana are of greater or lesser importance.
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The Development of Insight
Exercise 24 - Impermanence
Any contemplation or exercise that is developed to have insight into impermanence fundamentally must deal with time. To understand time in relationship to our psyche, our body and the phenomenal world is of critical importance to the attainment of liberation. We must answer these questions: What is time? How do we record or perceive it? Is it an ultimate reality? Does the past exist in any real sense? Does the future exist in any real sense? What is the present? The exercises are an attempt to help the practitioner come to some understanding of these questions.

A) The first exercise is to go to a place where one can perceive archeological change and upheavals. For instance, in North America a very good location for this exercise would be the Grand Canyon. Put aside several days to explore this exercise. You can either walk from the rim to the bottom of the canyon or travel down the river in an inflatable raft. What you should focus on during this period of time is how the earth has changed over the great span of time in which it has existed. Find a place where you can distinctly see the strata, sit and reflect on the great spans of time in which the earth has gone through its changes. Then ask yourself these questions: Has the earth ever existed in the past? Has the earth ever existed in the future? What is the nature of the present in which the earth exists? Is there ever a time when the earth does not change?

B) The second exercise is much simpler but nonetheless can have a profound effect. Set a period of time aside where you can be undisturbed in a tranquil environment. Practice the observation of breath while walking and sitting. After several days when a deep calm has been established, sit in front of a window where light is streaming into the room. Light a stick of incense and observe the smoke as it curls and swirls through the sunlight. Using the power of samadhi attain jhana, and upon emerging from the jhana pose the question: What is change?

C) Another exercise is to find a place in nature secluded and away from the disturbance of people. Try to find a place where a waterfall cascades in front of a cave. Make yourself comfortable in the cave and observe the water as it is falling. If possible find a place where the light is coming through the waterfall. While seated on a comfortable mat or cushion set up mindfulness through meditation on the breath. When a deep level of calm is present focus on the water falling in front of you. At first let it be a general awareness, then gradually refine and intensify the concentration to the point where you can see the individual droplets. Then try to hold in the mind’s eye a frozen frame of the waterfall. On emerging from the jhana ask: What is the nature of change? What is time in the mind?

Exercise 25 - Suffering
In the Buddha’s teaching one definition of suffering is that suffering is to be conjoined with what one does not want and to be separated from what one wants. On the physical level there seems to be an instinctual tendency, and I believe this is the basis of the survival of organisms - to react with aversion to pain. In other words, when your hand touches a hot plate there is an immediate instinctual reaction to pull it away. This is obviously a very necessary and important instinct for survival. However, when this instinct is related to non-threatening situations, it is an impediment to direct knowledge and insight. For instance, when you are sitting in meditation and there is a pain in the body, very often your suffering is a desire to get away from it. In other words, if you do not resist the pain but instead open up to the experience of it, there is a deeper relaxation and the pain very often disappears. Pain and suffering most often is a mental phenomenon. When this instinctual aversion extends into the realms of the feelings, states of mind and objects of mind, we have the full range of human suffering. It is our instinctual aversion to suffering that propels us into actions that are motivated by a sense of separateness and self concern.

A) For the Westerner perhaps the best way to understand suffering on a universal level is the study of history. It becomes clear with even a cursory glance that the history of the human being and our evolution over the centuries is a bloody grief-stricken procession. So in this contemplation we should focus the mind on our parents, then onto their parents and finally in our mind’s eye, try to extend this pyramid as far back as possible. If we were to extend it back 20 generations it would be clear that we would be related to thousands of people. All of these individuals struggled to procure food, shelter and clothing to nurture their children - and because of this we exist as we do today. In your mind’s eye create a pyramid of corpses that extend back into the distant past with ourselves at the apex. Contemplate how we will become part of this pyramid and that the only freedom from old age, death and decay is the mind of awakening.

B) Sit in meditation and set up mindfulness through observation of the breath. When a deep state of calm is present visualize a translucent white tube in the shape of a shepherd’s hook extending from between the eyebrows to the crown of the head and then down through the body to the base of the spine. Breathe in visualizing a black steel ball bearing rise up this tube to the point between the eyebrows. Then exhale visualizing the ball bearing rising to the top of the head and then falling with a rattle to the base of the spine. Practice in this way for a period of five minutes in a fifty-five minute session. Gradually extend the amount of time spent visualizing in this way. After each meditation session review what occurred using the four categories of body, feelings, states of mind and objects of mind.

C) Sit in meditation and set up mindfulness through observation of the breath. When there is a reasonable level of calm present focus on a discomfort or pain in the body, consciously embrace the pain and do not resist the experience. After practicing in this way for sometime repeat the procedure using painful feelings. Review in your memory feelings of a painful nature. When they are present allow them to dissolve so that the conflict inherent in them is no longer present. Practice in this way for an extended period of time until you have trained yourself to not resist painful feelings. Next you should work with states of mind. If you review past states you will see that there are some that you instinctively resist or shy away from. Embrace these states of mind until the conflict inherent in them dissolves. After having practiced for sometime you should extend this meditation to objects of mind. That is, when a particularly painful thought process is present you should not resist it or try to get away from it but simply allow the thought to be present and let it dissolve of its own accord. After practicing in this way for sometime you should then observe the causal relations between bodily pain, painful feelings, painful states of mind and painful thought processes. Notice how one of the four may trigger off the other three. Practice in this way until you recognize and know suffering and pain to be your friend and teacher.

Exercise 26 - Not-Self
When working on the contemplation of not-self, different types of individuals will experience this state in different ways. For instance, the greed type may experience it in a total ‘letting go’. The hate type may experience it through a total opening up in a state of love. The delusional type may experience it through the awareness of the total interconnected nature of all phenomena. The faith type, the analytic type and the wisdom type will also correspond to these general principles. Their difference will be in relation to their positive proclivity. For instance, the faith type may experience a total letting go of all attachment to the wholesome object in which they have faith. The analytic type may experience their mind expanding to an infinite number of quanta and by doing so experience the boundless. The wisdom type may focus on the absolute perfection of every mundane moment of consciousness and in doing so realize the empty nature of the body and all physical phenomena.

As you can well imagine, this presents certain difficulties in the creation of any exercises.

A) The first exercise I will describe is for one whose proclivity is analysis. In this exercise you focus the mind in a methodical and deliberate way on every component of the physical body. An anatomy book can be used as a means to keep the meditational exercise well organized. Begin with the head and ask yourself: Do the hairs of my head constitute a self? Is there anywhere within the structure of these hairs a self to be found? When the hairs are cut off is there a loss of self? If a geneticist were to take one of my hairs, remove the genetic information and then clone a new human being from that information would I then have two selves? Next, investigate the skin of your head, the skull, the brain and all of the senses in the same way. After analyzing each of these ask the same question: In any of these components can a self be found? For instance, most Westerners experience the ego or a sense of self as residing in the brain. Approach it in a simple and empirical way. If you had an operation in which the corpus callosum was cut so that the two hemispheres of the brain were divided would you have two selves? If the brain was damaged and you suffered long-term memory loss is there no longer a sense of self? Go through all the various mental illnesses and imagine that they have befallen you. Is there a sense of self lost or gained? Does this sense of self have any absolute permanency? Is this self totally dependent on the functioning of the brain? Gradually continue your analysis of the body mind in this way. Remember the purpose of this exercise is to induce a gestalt or realization of the selfless nature of the body and hence all physical phenomena.

B) The next exercise is for one who is orientated towards jhana or meditative absorption. You should sit in meditation and set up mindfulness through observation of the breath. Establish access jhana and enter into the first jhana. Whilst in this state a good friend or your teacher should drop a feather in your field of vision. Focus on the movement of the feather and observe the mind. This also can be done with a red silk scarf.

C) Go on an extended hike into the wilderness. Find a cliff where you can look out over a large expanse or vista facing either east or west. If facing east you should observe the sunrise. If facing west you should observe the sunset. Standing on the edge of the cliff, perform deep pranayama breathing. Begin with a complete exhalation, and then as you breathe in slowly raise your arms above your head to the count of eight heartbeats. Your hands should come together above your head. In this posture hold the breath for another count of eight and then slowly exhale. As you are doing so let your hands gently descend to the sides of your body. At the end of the eighth count your hands should rest beside your thighs. Repeat this until there is a deep calm present in your being then sit on a comfortable cushion, or if you prefer, remain standing. Then focus the mind on the visual perception and ask yourself: Does anything in this perception exist apart from the mind that is perceiving it? Next focus on sound and ask yourself: Does anything in this perception exist separate from the mind that is perceiving it? Then focus on the sense of smell, breath in slowly and examine every odor that comes into consciousness and ask yourself: Does anything exist in this perception apart from the mind that is perceiving it? Next, pick up a blade of grass or a pebble and put it in your mouth and taste it. Focus the mind on the sense of taste and ask yourself: Does anything exist in this perception apart from the mind that is perceiving it? Next focus on your sense of touch, feel the movement of air around your body, feel your clothing touching your skin, feel your feet touching the ground or your buttocks sitting on the cushion. Ask yourself the question: Does anything exist in this perception apart from the mind that is perceiving it? Then sitting or standing by the cliff watch the sunrise or sunset, experience the whole of your being and your surrounding as a manifestation of mind without boundary.

D) For the next exercise it is important to have a good Dharma friend. Sit on a comfortable mat with your friend in front of you. Your friend should be knowledgeable about your personal idiosyncrasies and some of the major occurrences in your life. Then they should embody as best as they are able a negative view towards you and your personality structure. After sitting for a time this good friend should verbally abuse you using trigger words that they know provoke you. Practice in this way for a period of a half-hour. While this is occurring observe your bodily formations and note any changes that occur due to this verbal assault. Observe the feeling formations. When certain abusive phrases are expressed do you react to them? If so what is the reaction? Observe the states of mind. What state of mind arises with one particular phrase or word? Does it change with different phrases? Then observe your thought processes. Are you propelled involuntarily into certain reactions? After the half-hour period sit quietly for another half-hour and observe any further reactions to what has occurred. This exercise is a study of our attachment to our personality or persona. It should be treated with respect and not used as an ego game. It is said in the ancient texts that when one perfects this exercise they should be able to dissolve any formation of consciousness within three breaths.
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Removing Subtle Residual Clinging
Exercise 27 - Dispassion
A) The first contemplation after the attainment of Path is to cultivate dispassion. Dispassion should not be understood as a state of indifference but rather the equanimity of equality. In other words, if you were to have dispassion without having cultivated altruism it may lead to a form of hedonic indifference. So let’s examine this dispassion from a base of loving-kindness. If you observe the life around you and emanate a state of loving-kindness towards others you will understand the proper manifestation of dispassion. For instance, begin with a bird in your backyard. When you emanate love towards the bird what happens when it eats a worm? Because you love the bird do you not love the worm? When a cat stealthily stalks into your backyard do you all of a sudden hate the cat when it pounces on the bird? It should be obvious from this exercise that equanimity towards all formations is necessary to emanate loving-kindness towards all living beings equally. All beings that have not experienced the interdependent and mutual support of the many life forms in existence believe that to maintain their existence they must do so at the expense of others. For this reason dispassion can only properly be cultivated after the attainment of Path.

B) Look into your own consciousness and begin by finding an animal you can identify with that produces delight. Whatever life form it may be, observe how it comes into being and passes away. Try to examine the experience from the point of view of the creature you are observing. Each life form that is in existence undergoes a primal suffering that is unique to its form. If you observe with your mind’s eye the suffering inherent in that given life form you will have dispassion rather than delight. You will also have the basis for true compassion because without understanding the inherent suffering of a given individual, compassion is distorted by your concepts. You can organize this particular meditation by using an encyclopedia of animals. In other words read about an animal that you identify with and in the mind’s eye try to experience the life of that animal and understand its suffering. Eventually you can work with human beings but begin with individuals that are removed from you. For instance, start with historical figures and slowly work towards individuals who are close to you such as a sibling or parent.

C) After having practiced Exercise B for sometime you should then be on the alert for anytime your mind delights in a particular formation or living being. As soon as this delight arises you should name it, and recognize it as a form of enslavement. You should recollect how all formations are unsatisfactory and hence suffering.

D) This exercise can only be practiced by those who have direct knowledge and perception of radiant beings. You should focus on and contemplate how such beings may live in great bliss for long periods of time. Then you should focus on and try to experience and understand the tremendous suffering that exists in such beings when that formation comes to an end.

Exercise 28 - Fading Away
A) You should sit in meditation and establish calm through the observation of the breath. When there is a deep state of calm is present recollect an object, state or person whom you have had the desire to possess and enjoy. Sit with this memory and try as much as possible to provoke the bodily sensations, feelings, mind states and objects of mind associated with that state. When this is vividly present in consciousness engender a total detachment to what is occurring and observe the state fade away. Repeat this over and over again until there is truly a disinterest in that particular formation. To organize your meditation session begin with inanimate objects, move to animate objects and eventually other human beings.

B) After having practiced the previous exercise for sometime be very alert to impulses of greed in your daily life. Whenever desire or greed for an object arises, immediately label the state. When you have done this you should use your meditative experience to quickly let the state of greed fade away.

Exercise 29 - Cessation
The first thing you must do in contemplating cessation is to recognize origination. In other words, any state or process that has arisen from a cause has a cessation. The mind is the most rapidly changing phenomena in existence. The question is how can you study the mind in this process of change?

A) The first exercise is to demonstrate how difficult it is for the mind to remain focused on a single object for an extended period. Sit in meditation and establish calm through mindfulness of breathing. Then focus on a mundane object such as a cup and try to exclude everything else from the mind. The purpose of this exercise is not to attain jhana but to observe the resistance of the mind to focus on a single object.

B) The second exercise requires that you have a good Dharma friend to work with you in a mind game. Close your eyes and listen while your friend verbally describes something in the room. Concentrate and try to visualize what is being described. As this process unfolds observe the struggle in the mind as it becomes possessed by the desire to recognize the object. Then experience the release in the mind when it finally recognizes it. The point of the exercise is to learn how to observe the mind and its functioning.

C) Next you should observe how states of mind have an arising, a duration and a cessation. The state of mind lasts for a longer period of time than objects of mind or thought processes. But you must develop clarity as to the arising of a state of mind. In other words, if you are in a state of anger and you do not know when it first arose in consciousness, you are definitely lagging far behind in your awareness. Most people, even neophytes to the practice of awareness, know when a state of anger has arisen in the mind. You should approach states of mind from two different directions. The first is to recognize when it arises, the second is to recognize that it cannot be maintained indefinitely, or that it passes away. When you recognize these two aspects of states of mind you should begin the exercise or contemplation of cessation. In other words, as soon a state of mind arises you should contemplate its cessation. The same exercise is developed with the observation of feelings. In other words, when ever a feeling whether pleasurable, unpleasurable or neutral arises you should contemplate its cessation. For instance, if a sensorial perception produces a pleasurable feeling, as soon as you recognize it you should contemplate its cessation. Practice in this way until feelings are clearly defined in consciousness and you recognize their arising, their duration and their cessation.

D) Focus on the bodily formations and be aware of changes in the body. Recognize the sense perceptions beginning with touch, then taste, then smell, then hearing and finally sight. Recognize that all sense perceptions are dependent upon contact. When you explore touch and try to focus on a particular moment of sense perception you realize that this perception is a pulsation. In other words, if for instance you are touching the arm of a chair you do not experience the sense of touch as a continuum but as a momentary arising. You should explore all of the sense perceptions in this way. As soon as you have an experience arising from one of the sense perceptions you should contemplate its cessation.

When these exercises are practiced properly it becomes eminently clear that the whole of your experience in this life is an illusory changing mosaic of the mind.

Exercise 30 - Relinquishment
A) Sit in meditation and establish calm through mindfulness of breathing. Then begin the exercise by conjuring a memory of something you had clung to as a child but no longer have any interest in. This might have been a teddy bear or a favorite piece of clothing. Then try to embody the feelings and mind states associated with the object that you clung to. When this is vividly present you then should practice relinquishment, letting go, or not clinging to the object.

B) Next recollect something that you clung and grasped at but in a more recent time frame and practice the same method as described in A. Try to feel the relinquishment in a bodily sense.

C) Next contemplate and bring to mind any object, state or process to which you cling at the present time and practice relinquishment, letting go of the clinging on all levels of your being. In the ancient texts it is stated that when the meditator enters Naroda Samapadhi, they relinquish or let go of the breathing process itself. In other words, clinging and grasping to life occurs on a systemic level and in its deepest sense is not a conscious or volitional action. This, of course, is the consummate or ultimate goal of relinquishment.
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Removing Clinging to the External World
Exercise 31 - Destruction
A) To begin this exercise you should focus on a natural phenomenon such as a mountain. In your mind’s eye you should contemplate how the mountain came into being, then you should focus on its destruction and visualize a cataclysmic event that destroys the mountain.

B) Next you should find a hill or mountain from which you can observe a town. Then you should sit on a comfortable mat and in your mind’s eye visualize the arising of the town, how the town came to be. Then you should visualize or contemplate the destruction of the town through a natural catastrophe. In this way you should focus on the process of objects coming into being and then being destroyed.

C) You should then contemplate the birth of a child and in your mind’s eye contemplate the destruction of that life. Use whatever imagery spontaneously arises, however try to make it as vivid and real in consciousness as possible.

D) Find a place where you can watch a small waterfall. It is important to be able to focus clearly on the arising of the bubbles as the water falls. Focus on each individual bubble. Focus on its coming into being and then its destruction. All of these exercises are to impress upon consciousness how fragile, unstable and subject to destruction all physical formations are.

Exercise 32 - Clinging to Karma
A) In this exercise it is best to have from 10 to 15 participants. You need a large enough room so that everyone can sit in a circle facing the center. Then begin by having one person tell a story for about one to three minutes. It can be a story about their life or it can be an imaginary life, it can be fantastic, logical or illogical. At the end of this time the person to their right should continue the story in any way they see fit. Continue in this way around the circle two or three times. At the end of this time all of the participants should sit in meditation and reflect on this process.

B) Since the purpose of these exercises is to help you understand the ephemeral nature of karma it might be helpful for you to take up the study of the history of science. Of course you could do the same thing with a different subject but when we look at the history of science we will see certain parallels and anachronisms of consciousness. For instance, the discovery of refrigeration came about accidentally by someone who was looking for a cure for malaria. Needless to say they were not able to cure malaria by creating an air-conditioned room. However, this experiment led to air-conditioning, refrigeration and a whole host of new developments. The discovery process in science seems to have a life of its own that leads us where we will not to go.

C) Another fascinating area of study, which is a direct manifestation or creation of the mind, is language. It may be helpful to read and study a word-origins dictionary. Through this study you can see how one word evolves in meaning over time and sometimes actually assumes the reverse of the original meaning. You can see how consciousness evolves through the laws of association, develops a window into karma and how it manifests from lifetime to lifetime.

D) In order to understand or appreciate the omniscience of Buddha mind an analogy may be helpful. Imagine a mountain on which there was a large snowfield and from this a small stream was flowing. The enlightened mind has the ability to place a rock in the stream and redirect the flow of the water so that when it reaches to bottom of the mountain it is according to their intention. In other words, by setting in motion certain impulses of karma, or turning the wheel of the law, the Buddha has manifested innumerable forms or paths to awakening in this eon.

Exercise 33 - Overcoming the Perception of Enduring
In our modern day understanding of the physical universe we have many tools to help us develop a deep experience of reality that was not present at the time of the ancients. For instance, it was only through a mind creation or one of the psychic powers that an ancient could see the coming into being and passing away of a mountain. Through our study of plate tectonics and our examination of rock formations on the different continents we can actually map what the planet looked like millions of years ago. Through our study of astronomy we have come to understand that the objects we perceive in the heavens may no longer exist and for an observer on earth a nonexistent star may still be seen for millions of years. These views of the universe were not available to the ancient mind except through the psychic powers. Now every ordinary university student is familiar with such concepts. The problem for us in modern times is how we can make this a real and functional experience in our lives ­ not just an intellectual understanding.

A) Study plate tectonics and then take a trip down the Grand Canyon and observe the rock formations that have been made visible over the millenium.

B) Study the process by which geologists are able to identify where a grain of sand came from through its composition and markings. Then go to the foot of a glacier and physically experience what the glacier is doing.

C) Study astronomy and in particular the theory of black holes. Then find an open field in the country or wilderness area where you are as far away from the lights of civilization as possible. Lay spread-eagle on the ground in a circle you have cleared which is a little bit larger than the circumference of your body. It must be a clear night and it is preferable that only a sliver of a moon be present. Your objective is to have direct sensorial experience of outer space and the stars and planets moving in space. Try to observe for as long as you can this phenomenon. Even if you fall asleep, return to the focus of your meditation when you awaken. Try to experience directly the movement of the plant earth underneath your body.

D) I believe all modern day Dharma practitioners should immerse themselves in as many sensorial experiences of their environment as possible and cultivate a broad education in the physical sciences. These are indispensable tools for the modern day practitioner. There are many disadvantages for the modern day practitioner of Dharma, however, there are also many advantages and the vast amount of knowledge available to us now is one of them.

Exercise 34 - Clinging to the Sign
Obviously one must become familiar with the nature of the sign before one can overcome clinging to it. As we progress on the path of meditation and contemplation there are signs which arise in consciousness as a result. If we cling to these signs as though they represented a static state that we had attained, of course, we will have strayed from the path of realization. There are two phrases spoken by the Buddha that may help us to understand this process of clinging. The first quote is: "I too use concepts but I am not fooled thereby." The second is: "In the seeing there is just the seeing, in the hearing there is just the hearing, in the tasting there is just the tasting, etc." If we look at these two quotes we see that there is a conceptual reality that most people live by. This creates the erroneous view that objects have an inherent nature; that there is an absolute reality that an object possesses. We should understand that this conceptual awareness is not merely intellectual ideas about an object. It is a far deeper reality than that. Our very survival as an organism is dependent upon it.

Several short analogies may help us understand this. Suppose a child is crawling on the floor and there happens to be a red-hot poker close to him. The child may be completely unaware of the danger in his situation. When the child places his hand on the red-hot poker he becomes acutely aware of pain. In the second analogy, an adult seeing the red-hot poker has conceptual knowledge due to previous experience and with a certain amount of fear places the same poker out of harm’s way. In the third analogy, a craftsman glass blower picks up the red-hot poker with an asbestos glove and confidently puts it into a furnace to gather molten glass. In each of these examples we have a different level of understanding or experience of reality. When we speak about transcending the sign we mean we must first have a full understanding of this conceptual reality but not be caught in this reality or confined by it as may be the case with our second and third examples. Very often we live almost exclusively in our conceptual reality. Most people that sit down to a meal may taste only the first mouthful - after that their mind is busy in ten other directions and they do not experience the taste of the food. In our previous analogies, the adult and the craftsman are engrossed and function according to their conceptual reality; they may have lost the awareness of pure perception that the baby still had. The enlightened mind embodies all three levels. In other words, it does not live in the conceptual reality but it is certainly not unaware of it; it has transcended it. These conceptual values are only meaningful within the context of the human experience. We should understand that they are not ultimate or meaningful outside the context of that experience.

In the ancient teaching reality is divided into four proclivities of matter that we experience as the contrast between hardness and softness, fluidity and cohesion, motion and the resistance to motion, hot and cold. The relative nature of contrasting principles also extends into the realms of ethics and social behavior. There is no object, no process nor state of being that has an ultimate or inherent nature.

A) Spend seven days in the practice of anapanasati or mindfulness of breathing, using the two postures of walking and sitting. This should be a fairly rigorous practice beginning with seventeen or eighteen hours a day. At the end of this time you should sit in meditation and a good Dharma friend is to help you by exposing you to sensorial experiences of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. In the first exercise you should sit gazing at a blank or neutral-colored wall. Your good friend should drop a red silk scarf so that it passes your visual field of perception. As this occurs you should be aware of and remember the first impulse or sign that arises in consciousness. This can also be done with a feather. Next you should focus on your hearing. Your friend should take a hollow wooden block and strike it with a mallet once on the right side of the room, once in back of you and once on the left side of the room. Striking a metal gong will also work. You should be aware of the first impulse or sign that arises in consciousness. Next you should focus on the sense of smell. Closing your eyes your friend should light an incense stick and allow the smoke to travel into your nostrils. You should be aware of and remember the first impulse or the sign that arises in consciousness. Next your friend should light a wooden match, let it burn for a moment then extinguish it. They should then hold the burnt match under your nose so that you can smell it. You should be aware and remember the first impulse or sign that arises in consciousness. Next you should focus on your sense of taste. Your good friend should place a small amount of white sugar on your tongue and you should then hold this in your mouth. You should be aware of the first impulse or sign that arises in consciousness. Then clear the palate and your friend should place a drop of vinegar on your tongue. Be aware of the first impression or sign that arises in consciousness. Next you should focus on your sense of touch. Holding out your left hand, palm facing up, your good friend should strike the left hand with the flat of a wooden ruler. The same should be repeated for the right hand. You should be aware and remember the first impulse or sign that arises in consciousness.

B) Sit in meditation and establish calm through mindfulness of breathing and then establish jhana meditating upon the earth kasina. On emerging from the absorption, practice insight on the sign as not having an inherent nature. Repeat this with the four elements: space, consciousness, emptiness and neither perception nor non-perception. In your daily activity you should avoid clinging to any signs that arise in consciousness.

Exercise 35 - Desire
Desire as a form of suffering can manifest in many different ways. The obvious suffering of unwholesome desires can be seen when we are engaged by them and are blindly driven to loss and deprivation. The unwholesome imprisons us by stunting our growth and warping our views so that we are incapable of entering a state of true happiness. Wholesome desires lead us to greater and greater freedom so that we can fulfill our highest potential as human beings. However, all desire whether unwholesome or wholesome, is the basis or cause of becoming an identity separate from the universal flow. In these next exercises we contemplate the desireless - freedom from all desire - so that we can experience totality.

Sit in meditation and set up mindfulness through observation of the breath. When there is a deep state of calm present, remember a childhood desire. Focus on this desire until it is embodied, see how the desire manifests in the body, feelings, states of mind and objects of mind. Then imagine this desire being fulfilled. Try to sense how this affects the four aspects of your being. Observe the whole of the phenomena, the arising of desire and its fulfillment, as a complex of imprisonment. Over a period of a week go into the same desire devoting many sessions of meditation to it. Observe how the body, feelings, states of mind and objects of mind are influenced by it. Contemplate how this process affects your brain chemistry, hormones and life force. Watch how certain patterns are created over and over again and observe how they have affected you throughout your life.

Exercise 36 - Clinging to a Point of View
All points of view, because they have the bias of identity and separation, cannot be a reflection of totality. The purpose to the next exercise is to free us from clinging to a point of view, however correct it may be in the relative realm.

Find a good Dharma friend who is at approximately a similar level of development as yourself. Define a period of time in which you will engage in debate. Establish a philosophical point of view of the teaching and life. Your friend should take the opposing view. You begin by stating your view as concisely as possible after which your friend should challenge that point of view and poke as many holes in it as they possibly can. Next both of you should go back and forth in rapid succession, challenging and criticizing the other person’s point of view. After an hour or so you should take a break and take a walk, making sure not to discuss any views. After a period of time you should return to the place of your previous debate and you should reverse roles. Your friend should assume the same views you had earlier and begin with an opening statement. Then you should challenge those views. Continue with the exercise as previously described criticizing each other’s view.

Exercise 37 - Higher States of Understanding
In the West it is difficult to approach this subject without arousing extreme skepticism or extreme gullibility. It seems that due to the development of science and the rational mind, people have extreme skepticism about psychic powers. People who do not have skepticism usually are in rebellion against rationalism and have very little interest in developing an empirical approach to the cultivation of the psychic powers. In fact in the ancient teachings these powers are referred to as super knowledges or higher states of understanding. The purpose for cultivating these higher understandings is to enable us to have correct knowledge and vision. In the Buddha’s teaching these states are cultivated, certainly not as the primary focus of the religious life, but instead as aids to help us realize our full potential as human beings. There are two things that are essential to the development of higher understanding, the first is concentration or samadhi and the second is flexibility and malleability of mind. For the full development of the psychic powers one should practice the kasinas in an orderly fashion. What I will present here is simply some exercises that will help the Western practitioner develop a sense of how these powers can manifest in their lives.

A) The first exercise is to help develop the ‘mind-made’ or astral body. Before you go to sleep you should focus the mind with great energy on the wish to become fully conscious in the dream state. After you have fallen asleep you should try to look at your body from outside of it. This is rather like drawing the mind-made body out of a sheath, which is the physical body. This can happen in different ways for different people. In this exercise you will try to exit the body through the crown of the head. When you are outside of the body you should focus on the hands and try to see your hands as clearly as possible. Then try to see aspects of the room, then try to leave the room. Slowly extend your range of mastery until eventually you can travel around the planet and explore other celestial bodies.

B) The second exercise is to help develop the divine ear. Here you begin by focusing on and developing an acute awareness of sound and the spacing of sound. Westerners who play a musical instrument may experience this more readily, however you must learn to extend this to the natural sounds of your environment. Where there is form there is sound. All forms are on some level an expression of vibration and can be understood or experienced as a manifestation of sound.

Begin by sitting in meditation and establishing mindfulness by observation of the breath. Place a drum in front of you and when you have established a sufficient level of calm you should drop a pebble on the drum skin. Try to focus very clearly on the sound and the spaces between the sound. Do this many times until you have become acutely aware of the sounds and their relationship. Next you should listen to the wind blowing through the trees or the waves on the seashore until you gradually open up the internal experience of sound. As you unfold this new sense perception it will open you to other worlds and dimensions.

C) In the third exercise you will develop the ability to know directly another person’s mind. You should first understand that the mind as embodied in an organism expresses itself in that form. We in the West call this ‘body language’. How a person stands or sits, the stoop of their shoulders, the jut of their jaw, the smile lines around their mouth and eyes, their hand motions, and the way they walk are all an expression of mind. Thought patterns and states of mind have become embodied. The bridge between the mind and the body is the breath. In this exercise you and a good Dharma friend should sit opposite one another and establish calm through observing your breath. When calm has been established, look at your Dharma friend and try to synchronize your breathing with your friend’s. Then both of you should try to experience directly each other’s mind. Perfect this exercise over an extended period of time and gradually try to experience the minds of others around you.

D) In the fourth exercise you will develop the divine eye. I think the most practical and enjoyable way to explore this area of human potential is the study of history. However, as you study you should mentally try to create the happenings that are being described. Then if possible you should travel to the areas on the planet that you have read about. Choose areas of history that you find most interesting, because some you will have a greater affinity for than others. Interest should be your guide. For instance if you are interested in the Mayan civilization, read about it and do as much research as you can. Then visit the many Mayan ruins in Central America. Try to find a quiet and secluded pension to stay in. Go to visit the ruins very early in the morning when there is no one there, or go at night when they aren’t open to the public. Spend the middle part of your day in meditative seclusion and meditate on natural or reflected light. Later while you sleep, try visiting this same place with your astral body. Take extensive notes on the various things that occur during this time of exploration.

E) In the fifth exercise we focus on the memory of previous lives. In order for the average Westerner to explore previous lifetimes with any degree of consistent and rational clarity they first must free themselves from the conflicting emotions and psychic disturbances of this lifetime. The way to do this is through a process of regression. In other words, you set aside a period of time in a safe and supportive environment where you can regress back through the stages of childhood. It can be helpful for you to do so assisted by a good Dharma friend. Your organism, including your memory patterns, functions in an orderly structure. If you can be free of ego identification for a time and learn to study yourself objectively, you eventually can read your body-mind like you would read a good novel.

You begin your regression by sitting in contemplation and remembering a year ago. You should review the highlights of that period of time. Then you should go back five years, ten years and then finally focus on your early childhood. Memories both pleasurable and unpleasurable will naturally arise that created your present psychophysical state. As you revert further and further into your childhood you should try to embody these stages of development in the present time as much as possible. Your room should be dimly lit and you should try to remember and re-experience the bodily states, feelings, states of mind and mental phenomena. At the end of each day you can take extensive notes, however, during the day try to focus on the non-verbal awareness of being. You should pay particular attention to the memories and experiences surrounding your primary body functions. Eating and breast-feeding are very important to remember and bring to conscious understanding. Then focus on urination and defecation. This work of reflection is extremely important because these early experiences are what determine whether you are obsessive or hysteric and many other primary structural components to your psyche.

Gradually in this way you regress back until you come to various stages of the womb experience. Generally there are five stages to this experience. In reverse order they are the crown experience, the channel or crushing experience, the waiting experience, the oceanic experience and finally the moment of conception. At this time you should focus on the rebirth-linking sign, the nimita that has propelled you into this incarnation. Then you should reflect upon and try to remember the summation sign of the previous lifetime. Gradually in this way you should try to recollect previous lifetimes. There will be, due to previous karma, some individuals who will find this easy to do. Others may find it quite difficult. However, in Western society it seems that we have been able to develop techniques and knowledge that are very helpful in this process. I recommend three references to aid in this study. The first is Namgyal Rinpoche’s book The Womb, Karma and Transcendence. The second is The Primal Scream by Arthur Janov and the third is the work of Stanislav Grof.

Exercise 38 - Knowledge and Vision
A) In this section there are nine contemplations. You begin by sitting in meditation and establishing mindfulness through observation of the breath. When a deep calm is present you focus on the rise and fall of the breath. You may actually mentally use the words ‘rising’ as you breath in and ‘falling’ as you breathe out. Your consciousness rises in the body with the in-breath and falls with the out-breath. You notice how the in-breath is preceded by a desire to be, and you notice how at the end of the out-breath there is a letting go. You should focus on this process of volitional coming into being and passing away. Contemplate how this is occurring in the psychophysical phenomena called yourself. In this contemplation there are many stages. Examples of the types of experiences one will have are as follows. One experience is the sense of being raised to heaven and plunged to earth. The second is sometimes called ‘the bundle of doubt’ and focuses like a dark mass in the forehead. The third is the experience of the density of matter or the feeling of being embodied in flesh. The fourth experience is of sparkles and fifth is the experience of luminosity.

B) In the next contemplation you focus on the dissolution of formations. Here, due to this focus, certain experiences will arise. You may for instance experience your body dissolving. Because you are focused on dissolution you become acutely aware of letting go on all levels of your being. For example, on the bodily level this might produce diarrhea, boils and other occurrences in the body. In the perception of your feelings, you become acutely aware of how they cannot be grasped or held onto. Great weeping and sadness may occur at this time. You feel as though you are letting go of everything. You also may experience great happiness and laughter or you may alternate between the two. States of mind are experienced to arise and pass away without volitional intention. Whenever you go to examine them they disappear. If you continue to focus on dissolution in this way you perceive objects of mind arise and pass away instantaneously. They cannot be grasped and they are continually moving.

C) In the next contemplation you focus on terror. Terror arises when there is full awareness of there being no way to control this process, that karmic proclivities determine your becoming and circumstances determine what proclivities are allowed to manifest. You become aware of, as one poet put it, "…the animal soup of time."

D) In this contemplation you focus on misery. You focus here on the burden of becoming and the enslavement due to karma. You realize that all forms of becoming have this imprisonment and misery. As this contemplation progresses you will see directly how all formations are misery.

E) In this contemplation you focus on aversion. You cultivate the awareness of aversion to the misery of formations. You may have aversion to food at this stage, towards the smells of your body. There could even arise a sense of paranoia about our environment.

F) In this contemplation you focus on and cultivate the desire for deliverance. You recognize fully the suffering of being in form and there arises in consciousness a profound desire for deliverance. This desire arises from aversion to the body and from aversion to desires provoked by bodily formations.

G) In this contemplation you focus on the nature of karma and formations. Unless you have perception of previous lifetimes it will be very difficult for you to understand resultant states arising from distant past actions. However, as purification occurs you begin to see the results of your actions far more quickly. By reviewing your life and your various interactions with others you see karma as it manifests. It is this contemplation of causality that is critical if you wish to be free.

H) The development of equanimity is the next stage and it naturally follows a true understanding of karma. All karmic formations are an imprisonment. There is no good becoming anywhere. When you give up all desire for becoming you reside in equanimity to all formations arising from a cause.

I) At this stage your depth mind understands directly the truth of suffering, the truth of the path leading to the cessation of suffering and the truth of cessation. When the depth of your being resides in freedom due to the understanding of suchness, knowing reality as it truly is without the veils of ignorance, there arises true knowledge and true freedom.

These contemplations are critical if you wish to live a life that is in conformity with the Law and you must remember that it is only when you reside in this freedom that you can be truly compassionate to those caught in the infinite cycle of blind becoming. A being who is caught in the pit of suffering cannot pull someone else out. Only one who is free from the pit of clinging to becoming can lift someone else free.

Exercise 39 - Danger in Formations
Your first exercise to help you develop this contemplation will focus on levels of becoming that are accessible to you. In other words, because not all practitioners will have the ability to examine previous lifetimes, it will be difficult for them to have direct insight into seeing the danger of formations. However, if you look at the animal world it is more likely you will see the suffering of a particular formation. You should contemplate that once consciousness has manifested in a particular form it undergoes the suffering of that form and this occurs on all levels.

For instance, lets review the life of a common pet in North America. Puppies appear to be full of happiness and play, however, on the physical level they are subject to starvation, they are subject to injury and they are subject to being abandoned. On the feeling level they undergo the cyclic occurrence of pleasurable and unpleasurable feelings, they have fear - and this is not just the fear of physical injury. They can have fears arising from a harsh voice or being rejected by their master and of course they can have the fear of being devoured or destroyed in some other way. It is clear that states of mind arise in dogs outside of their conscious control. They are driven by primal instincts into various states that may be either beneficial or injurious to them. Lastly, in the objects of mind, it is clear that dogs do not have the capability of being detached and observant of the data entering their mind. They are dominated by the sense of smell. When smell arises it produces an automatic reaction and this is also true of the other senses. They are trapped in the physiology of being a dog and there are times when it will be apparent when they are conscious of their limitations and suffer from that awareness. Dogs, like human beings, become attached to others and can become extremely devoted to their master. I know of instances where a dog has starved itself to death because of the loss of their master. And of course like every other creature, dogs suffer from growing old, from illnesses, from injuries and finally from the process of dying. Because dogs live a relatively short life span it is possible for you to observe this process with several pets in your lifetime.

What you are observing are the laws that govern all formations of becoming. These laws apply to the human being whether they are great scientists or street laborers. These laws also apply to more highly developed beings such as radiant beings, or what we might call angels. The longer a formation exists, the harder it is for you to understand the suffering inherent in that form. In this way you should reflect on how all formations have suffering inherently present in them.

Exercise 40 - Reflection
In the development of insight over a period of time, you may experience a clear mind relatively free of obstruction. The gross defilements of greed, hatred and delusion may have subsided, however, you may still be possessed by a linear view of time. You also may have a linear view of causality in a karmic sense. Although these views suffice in training the mind to be free of the gross hindrances, they do not help you develop a multidimensional view of yourself and the supportive circumstances around you. In order for a particular karmic formation to manifest many factors come into play. What you are attempting to do with these exercises is to open up a multidimensional view of yourself so that you can begin to reflect on a given situation from many different points of reference. Obviously any physical representation you may have of this multidimensional view of yourself is merely that - a representation. However, when certain symbols are meditated upon they can often provoke the real experience. You can either visualize these exercises or if you are not so skilled you can create physical representations of them.

A) For first exercise you should acquire and then use a small mirror kaleidoscope that breaks up the images of your surroundings. Try to break up your perception of the physical world.

B) Create a mirrored cube. You can do this to the degree your finances will allow. Obviously if it is quite large it will be better because you can sit in it. If this is the case you should sit on a plexiglass cube so that you are situated in the middle of the larger cube. Because the mirrors are all at right angles you should be able to see your reflection receding infinitely in all directions. There will have to be enough light in the cube so that a clear representation can be seen. If you are more limited in your finances you can construct a one-foot cube out of mirrors. With clear silicon caulking secure all the edges together except for one panel. This pane of glass should only have one of the edges siliconed so that it functions as a door. Before you put the door in place scrape away a small window on the back of the mirror so that you can look into the box. Remember to have the mirrors facing inward. Then place a small crystal cube in the middle of the box and on top of that place a crystal ball. The clear silicon should allow enough light to enter the cube so that you can look in it and see the many reflections. When you do this you can see that the crystal ball is reflected infinitely in the six directions and the six directions are infinitely reflected in the sphere. If you look in the crystal ball you see the lines of light of the cube reflected in smaller and smaller increments. If you look into the mirrored surfaces you will see the crystal ball reflected infinitely. A variation on this is to place a tiny golden Buddha on top of the cube. Meditate upon the multidimensional aspect of the mind and allow the images from this experiment to penetrate deeply into consciousness.

C) Find a series of five embroidery hoops beginning with ten inches in diameter and decreasing in equal increments to about three inches in diameter. Hang them so that they form a tunnel. Before you hang the last three-inch hoop create a cross of clear fishing line in the center of the hoop. Then carefully secure a tiny golden Buddha in the center using the crossed fishing lines as support. Hang the last hoop so that there is a tunnel effect with the Buddha sitting at the end of the tunnel. Sit and meditate on this image. After working with one or more of the kasinas given, reflect upon any given moment of your life and try to see it from many different perspectives. Do this until the mind opens and you can reflect upon what is occurring with a multidimensional perspective.

Exercise 41 - Bondage
For the next contemplation you prepare yourself by setting up mindfulness through observation of breathing. When a clear state of calm is present you reflect upon your life and the patterns in it, however, the emphasis of your focus is directed towards any formation that has produced bondage in your being. It is very important that you do not merely focus on unwholesome elements of your life. Any pattern whether wholesome or unwholesome can become a form of bondage. When you choose to involve yourself in one activity, good or bad, there are thousands of other activities that you have chosen not to do. In our society many people are of the illusion that if they had money, power and fame they would be happy. This of course is quite an immature view. You must focus in this contemplation on how through your choices and desires you have produced a state of bondage or imprisonment. To build an identity is to create a prison. If you had wholesome proclivities of consciousness you may have created a relatively attractive prison. Nonetheless, inevitably there will arise a time when this prison becomes intolerable. So in this contemplation you focus on bondage that has arisen due to volitional impulses of becoming.

A) You first focus on the body. You observe how due to your environment, social conditioning and diet, your physiology has developed certain abilities and certain disabilities. You should dispel the illusion that a different, i.e. better body, would not be bondage. Recognize that your metabolism and your environment create a bodily form not necessarily in accordance with your desires. Recognize how bodily formations produce pleasurable and unpleasurable feelings. It can produce states of mind that are caught in patterns that are habitual and finally the body can give rise to objects of mind that are distorted. When there is illness in the body this can provoke certain feelings, states of mind and objects of mind. A meal that you have eaten affects feelings, states of mind and objects of mind. Study this process and observe how unawareness of causality will always produce a state of bondage.

B) Next you focus on the feelings. The Buddha has defined suffering as being conjoined with what you do not want and being separated from what you want. Due to suffering there arises unpleasant feelings. This can be caused by physical formations, by states of mind or objects of mind. The desire for pleasurable feelings can be the cause of unpleasurable feelings. You should observe the complex of pleasurable and unpleasurable feelings as being the cause of volitional actions that perpetuate bondage.

C) Now you focus on states of mind. A state of mind comes into being and passes away due to causes beyond your volitional control. Or rather they are out of your control to the degree to which you are unaware of them. If you hit your finger with a hammer and you have not fully purified the mind, this may set in motion many states of mind that you had no intention of bringing into being. You should reflect on how states of mind can arise due to an excess of adrenaline in the body. This can occur due to fear. For instance, you may see a snake on your path and find out later it was in fact only a coiled piece of rope, however, due to an excess of adrenaline produced because of the initial fear, certain automatic states of mind may have already been brought into being. Focus on how states of mind arise in automatic and predictable sequences due to bodily perceptions, feelings, previous states of mind and objects of mind.

D) Finally you focus on objects of mind. You should experiment with different objects of mind. If you have developed the power of samadhi it will be of great benefit to your study. Begin by focusing on a crystal, attain one of the levels of jhana and see how this affects the body, the feelings and states of mind.

   i) Focus on a crystal bowl filled with water. Place it so that natural light is passing through it and focus upon it to the exclusion of everything else until one of the jhanas have been attained. Emerge from the jhana and observe how it affects the body, the feelings and the states of mind.

   ii) Next focus on a candle flame to the exclusion of everything else. When one of the jhanas is attained, emerge from that state and observe how it has affected your body, feelings and states of mind.

   iii) Now focus on heat shimmering off a radiator to the exclusion of everything else. When one of the jhanas is attained, emerge from it and again review what has occurred in the body, feelings and states of mind.

Gradually become aware of how the perception of certain objects shapes you in different ways. When you study the mind in this way you will see how habitual or repetitive objects of mind have affected you. Review your life and try to find the significant objects of mind that have affected you and produced bondage. Recognize when there is no awareness and conscious understanding of the affect that certain objects produce, we are in bondage due to this ignorance.
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The Stages of the Path
Before considering the first stage of Holiness it is important for you to understand as best as you are able the experience which establishes it in consciousness. The first stage of Holiness occurs through the initial experience of Nibbana. The literal translation of Nibbana is extinction and this is very often described as the extinction of a fire. In other words, like a raging fire consumes its fuel, so too there is nothing left to fuel the defilements. The experience of Nibbana is to come to know that which is not associated with the arising of formations due to the defilements and hence it is called the unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, unformed. It is stated in the text that if there was not this uncreated, there could not come into being the created. Out of this emptiness, forms arise and out of the forms realization of emptiness comes into being. It is this experience of the original mind of purity, empty and devoid of all qualities, that gives you your first glimpse of freedom. This moment of freedom is the summation of innumerable lifetimes of struggle and suffering. It is when you experience this freedom that you understand the nature of suffering. That all suffering is created by craving, that the extinction of craving results in this freedom and that you have traveled the path to come to this realization. Because of this you enter the stream of consciousness of the Awakened Ones and no longer believe in a separate self. Your skeptical doubt is eradicated forever and you know for sure that this liberation is not attained from merely following blindly the rules and rituals of conventional society.

It is said in the ancient texts: "Suffering is, but no one who suffers. Nibbana is, but no one who attains it. The Path is, but no one who travels it."

Exercise 42
The First Stage

A) There are two levels in each of the four attainments. The first is the initial experience and the second the fruit or the result of that experience. Freedom or Nibbana is the object and will be experienced once with each level of consciousness. However, the result of this can be experienced many times. The first fetter to fall with the realization of Nibbana is personality belief.

   i) Set a period of time aside where you and a good friend can devote your whole focus of mind on exploring the nature of personality belief. Set up mindfulness through observation of the breath until there is a deep state of calm. Spend a day or so to establish this openness. Then sit across from your friend. They should have profound insight, not just in the stages of the Path, but into your personal history and psychic structure. This person should then challenge you by insulting and berating you. You should observe your own being and see how this is affecting you on the bodily level. What are the tensions, involuntary movements or desires to move?

   ii) On the feeling level what is happening? What is taking place in your being in response to these challenges?

   iii) Then observe states of mind and see if these have changed. Is there a calm evenness present or are you provoked and experience energy shifts that are volatile?

   iv) Next observe objects of mind. What thoughts are present when you are insulted? Practice in this way for a period of an hour and then continue with the cultivation of calm.

Your friend should observe your reactions and see which challenges seem to provoke you. Explore more intensively those challenges you are most sensitive to.

   v) Next your friend should spontaneously intercept you on a path or while you are washing dishes. The object is to catch you in a moment of unawareness when you are not defended. Under those circumstances your friend should challenge you and berate you. You should observe your being and see if you cling to defending a self.

   vi) Next your friend should choose a moment when you are in a gathering and berate and insult you in front of others. After each of these instances you should sit in calm clarity observing the breath and watch to see if you have been affected. Studying in this way over time, you will become free from clinging to a self.

B) The second fetter to fall is skeptical doubt. Again a good friend should challenge you to see if you have true confidence in your experience of Nibbana or freedom. Examine any doubts in your being to see if your experience of Nibbana was genuine. Examine yourself over time and ask yourself: Am I merely clinging to a view? See if there is a genuine and unshakable confidence in the Path.

C) The third fetter to fall in the realization to Nibbana is attachment to mere rules and rituals. Again your good friend should challenge you to see if you are attached to habitual patterns of behavior, to conventional views of ethics and morality, and to see if you are attached to religious rituals. They should do this in a way that demonstrates the true freedom of the teaching. Your friend should be skillful in pointing out areas in which there is clinging, attachment or aversion.

The Second Stage
In cultivating insight into the second stage or attainment you continue with the same approach as the first. However, by this time you should have confidence in the Path and your good friend who is guiding you. The fourth and fifth fetters, sensuous craving and ill will, are diminished at this stage. Your friend should observe your behavior, point out your particular patterns and should provoke you in a way that gives you an opportunity to see these defilements in stark relief.

The Third Stage
In the realization of the third stage or level of attainment you become completely freed of the five lower fetters that I have already mentioned. Here your friend should be very skillful in challenging your experience. You by now have a firm understanding and genuine experience of the teaching. You welcome the interaction of those who have higher realization and you cherish opportunities that might enlighten you further about the nature of suffering and the path to emancipation.

b>The Fourth Stage
As you approach this level of realization you are no longer dependent upon a teacher to point out the Path to freedom. You have become freed of the lower five fetters and must focus now on freedom from the five higher fetters. These are craving for a fine material existence, craving for immaterial existence, conceit, restlessness and ignorance. Through the extinction of all clinging and freedom from the defilements you live the life of deliverance. You discover for yourself the unbounded, the unborn, the unmanifest, freedom - Nibbana.
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