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

Section 2: Residual Clinging

Removing Subtle Residual Clinging
When there has been the attainment of one of the Paths but not fruition, there is what can be termed ‘residual clinging.’ Once there is the fruition of Arahat there is no longer residual clinging. The attainment of Path can be described as a moment of intuitive insight into impermanence, suffering and not-self. This experience profoundly effects our stream of consciousness and forever transforms our life and nature. The reason for this is that the stream of consciousness, or what is termed in Pali the bavanga citta, has been purified of karmic defilements that cause blind becoming. However, the attainment of Path is not fruition -- just because we have this intuitive flash or insight does not mean we have perfected that level of consciousness. The fruit of one of the Paths is a state that arises as a result of this transformative experience. This fruit or fruition can occur many times throughout our life, whereas the moment of attainment only occurs once. The practice of removing subtle residual clinging is to ensure that many moments of fruition will continue in our life. We should try to remember that if we cling to a moment of insight as something that we possess, then we have defeated the whole purpose of our practice. The genuine practitioner should see their spiritual unfoldment after the attainment of one of the Paths as an ongoing perfecting. Unfoldment is infinite when Nibbana is the object.

Description of the Paths
Before exploring the next series of contemplations we should examine the four attainments. The four paths are referred to in the Pali language as Sotapanna Magga, Sakadagami Magga, Anagami Magga and Arahat Magga. In the case of the attainment of Sotapanna Magga we experience freedom from the first three hindrances or shackles that bind us to becoming in the sensuous sphere. The first of these is the belief in a permanent self, the second is skeptical doubt and the third is the belief that the practicing of mere rules and rituals will lead to awakening. The residual clinging in one who has attained this level of Path but not Fruition is in relationship to these hindrances. In the case of the attainment of the second Path, or Sakadagami Magga, we are nearly freed from the fourth and fifth hindrances, sensuous craving and ill will, but still have residual clinging because they have not been fully purified. In the case of the attainment of the third Path, or Anagami Magga, we become fully freed from the above mentioned five lower hindrances or shackles. In the case of the attainment of the fourth Path, or Arahat Magga, the residual clinging is in the realm of the higher defilements. These are craving for a fine material existence, craving for an immaterial existence, conceit, restlessness and ignorance. When Fruition is present one is freed of all defilements.

It is important to mention here that when the attainments occur in those who have taken the vows of the Bodhisattva, consciousness adverts to the vow at the moment of fruition. The attainment occurs but allows us to return to lower realms of becoming with knowledge of the attainment. In such individuals there is often a recall of previous lives and this usually occurs in early childhood when the conditioning of the present life has not yet obscured the previous one.

The ten fetters or shackles enumerated in the Abhidhamma and the Visuddhimagga are somewhat different from the above. In those texts they are listed as: sensuous craving, ill will, conceit, wrong views, skeptical doubt, clinging to mere rules and rituals, craving for existence, envy, stinginess and ignorance.
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27) Dispassion
The first contemplation after the attainment of Path is cultivated when there is the perception of delight. When we delight in anything in this life, for instance a kitten or a child, we should contemplate letting go of attachment caused by this feeling. This is necessary because if we cling to this delight it will lead us into states of loss and deprivation. The reality of existence is that all formations are unsatisfactory and hence suffering, if we become attached to formations due to delight in them then we are not in harmony with the suchness of what is. All of life is dispassion like the acorn that falls from the oak tree and becomes what it is meant to be. If we fulfill our potential we will realize the selfless and empty nature of all phenomena and by this enter into harmony with what is. If because of delight we cling to one aspect of existence then we are caught by the passion of preference and aversion. This contemplation brings about dispassion. And so abstaining from the perception of delight is virtue and using our energy to abandon the perception of delight is virtue. Activating our patience to not cling to the perception of delight is virtue. This mindful restraint from the perception of delight leads to the wisdom of non-transgression and dispassion.
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28) Fading Away
The next contemplation is on fading away when we encounter greed in consciousness. Greed is one of the three root defilements (the other two are hatred and delusion). Greed has the quality of clinging to the object of desire. So when we speak about fading away in the case of greed we first of all speak of not acting out physical desires. We train ourselves on the physical plane first, then we train ourselves on the energy plane with our speech and language. We don't use speech in a devious way to get what we want. When we come to the training of the mind, the idea is that as soon as the desire arises in consciousness we let go of it. The whole concept here has to do with relinquishment, letting go of clinging or desire. When we encounter it in the mind we let it fade away, we don't feed it. When we try to get rid of a state of mind, in a subtle way we are feeding it, - we are confirming its existence by doing so. If we don't feed it and don't try to get rid of it, it will fade away of its own accord. You might ask how does it simply disappear? It is because there is disinterest and noninvolvement that the state is said to fade away. As we practice in this way we gradually develop naked perception, the ability to look at ourselves as we are without attraction or aversion. If we try to make ourselves better, we just make a better self. If we reside in naked perception without effort, knowledge arises due to the fading away of previous states.

So virtue can be defined at this stage as abstaining from greed in action, speech and mind. We use our effort to be aware of greed as it arises in consciousness and become firm in our mindfulness and conviction that greed is an impediment to our development. By patiently restraining the mind to not act out or allow greed to dominate our being, we arrive at the wisdom of non-transgression and are freed of all the subtle or residual manifestations of greed.
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29) Cessation
In the next contemplation we cultivate the awareness of cessation whenever the perception of origination is present. All things and states arising from a cause have a cessation and it is our erroneous belief in their permanence that produces suffering. Because of this, as soon as we see something arising in consciousness, we should contemplate its cessation. This eventually leads to the awareness of the moments of perception. In other words, consciousness arises in discrete moments of awareness and if we perceive these then the sense of permanence disappears. It is only because the habitual mind clings to the perception of a continuum that we do not perceive the momentary arising. In developing dispassion we contemplate cessation and this allows us to let go of formations as soon as they arise. When we cling to habitual formations of the mind we build up a false sense that things endure and have an inherent nature. If we were to contemplate cessation as soon as the perception of origination arose, we would not have a false sense of the continuum of a self.

Virtue is defined as abstaining from the perception of origination in the sense that we prevent the mind from following the progression or continuation of the object. Using our effort we abandon the perception of origination - we divert the mind as soon as origination arises in consciousness. We do not allow the mind to automatically follow the pattern of origination, duration and cessation. When we are firm and patient, eventually the mind will automatically relinquish the perception of origination as soon as it arises. Using our mindfulness in this way we do not allow automatic and unconscious perceptions. Wisdom is non-transgression and is virtuous because it brings about liberation from the tenacious and habitual tendencies of the mind.
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30) Relinquishment
In this next contemplation as soon as grasping arises in consciousness we contemplate relinquishment. Clinging and grasping produce states of loss and deprivation. As long as we grasp and hold onto objects of the mind we perpetuate the unsatisfactory nature of existence. If we grasp at and cling to even good experiences they become an impediment to our development. We see that throughout this entire teaching the emphasis is on "letting go" of even good states; if a given exploration is a genuine part of our unfoldment we must learn to trust that it will arise again in a new and more meaningful way. If we follow this approach, life is understood as a spontaneous and interconnected arising, free of a structure imposed by a limited consciousness.

By abstaining from grasping at objects or states, the freedom of virtue is present. With our effort we abandon grasping and we do not perpetuate a false identity. When we are patient and firm we recognize grasping quickly and are able to dissolve it through the restraint of our mind. In this way the energy of mindfulness is produced and the wisdom of non-transgression leads to the realization of the spontaneous arising and passing away of all phenomena.
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