22 Sep 2012

Teaching: Continuing from Asanga’s Shravakabhumi, Alan gives the detailed explanation of the 4th thorough training by way of the 16 phases: 1) long breath, 2) short breath, 3) the whole body, 4) refining the bodily formation, 5) joy, 6) well-being, 7) formations of the mind, 8) wonderfully refining formations of the mind, 9) experiencing the mind, 10) bringing exception joy to the mind, 11) concentrating the mind, 12) liberating the mind, 13) impermanence, 14) eradication of obscurations, 15) freedom from attachment, 16) cessation of the aggregates. Each practice is appropriate at certain stages, and involves vipasyana knowing coupled with the in and out breaths. 

Alan outlines the 3 shamatha practices in healing the body and mind using different entry points: 1) mindfulness of breathing whereby we can watching healing via the body, 2) settling the mind whereby we can watch healing via the mind, and 3) awareness of awareness whereby we go straight to the center, without watching the body and mind sort themselves out.
Meditation: shamatha practice of choice with vipasyana.

1) Shamatha. Based on the shamatha practice of your choice, 

2) Vipasyana. When you’ve settled into the flow, use vipasyana to discern its nature. Know that the body, mind, or awareness is not self nor owned by the self. Experience body, mind, or awareness as it is.
Q1. Is it possible for technology to aid in the development of shamatha—e.g., neurological signatures of various states and using neural feedback especially in the beginning? Do you see any major issues?

Q2. In Asanga’s mindfulness of breathing, I have a question about the interim inhalation and exhalation. Does it feel like a pause? 

Q3. You mentioned discursive lamrim meditations as antidote for laxity/dullness. For those of us who aren’t familiar with the lamrim, what is the essence of Atisha’s advice? How does lamrim fit into a healthy diet of spiritual practices? Is the lamrim necessary?

Download (MP3 / 53 MB)


Summary: Alan made very brief comments about the first four stages that have already being discussed at session 48.

O la so! Just to touch in on the last section of the text that we are looking at, and by the way the text is now available, as the notes were previously. The text now is available [at] the front desk. You can either get it digitally or you can get a hard copy... just ask, and it’s polished. [sarcastically] It doesn’t have those awful mistakes, where Andre would definitely scold me. He saw all the mistakes in the earlier translations and he said, “Oh, I thought you were a good translator, oh, not so good.” I think I’ve cleaned them up, so now I’m not embarrassed if he sees them.

So, in the translation, I’m not going to read much back, but just that very brief summation, the last section we looked at, where he’s now enumerating, going through one point by one point. First one focusing on the inhalation or the exhalation, whether it’s long or short, you remember? When it’s long and the second one, it’s short, and the third one, observing the entire body, including the pores of the body. And then when the... and it did read...there was a typo in the last one, “when the inhalation and interim inhalation have ceased” and then it continues on. So now he’s talking about the refining, the wonderful refining, raptujamba, giving a total... Raptu means something quite wonderful, exceptional refinement, balancing, tuning of this bodily formation. One breathes in, one breathes out, and so those first four stages, those were out of the sixteen stages, stages pertaining to... shamatha.

Before jumping into the vipashyana section, [stages 5 to 16], I’d like to make a comment that I think might be helpful. (2:44) And that is, there are some people for whom coming from the outside in so to speak is really skillful means, that is: where are we going? We are going to the substrate consciousness everybody knows that by now, that’s what shamatha is, your coarse mind dissolves into subtle continuum of mental consciousness, with the five dhyana factors and all of that, so that’s our destination. And that is a matter of strategy, okay? So there is a strategy by means of which you really come in from the outside in, and that is through mindfulness of breathing, this full body awareness, right? And then with that quality of awareness and I’ve really now strongly emphasized the parallel between bringing in the quality of awareness to the space of the mind and watching the mind heal, bringing that same quality of mindfulness to the body and watching the body heal by way of its energetic system or call it the nervous system. But it’s really quite remarkable that just by bringing that quality of awareness that’s ease, loose and so forth and gradually enjoys the process that you actually are observing just the many, many imbalances, blockages and so forth in the body unraveling, dissolving just like in settling the mind but you’re coming from the outside in, so it’s physical, it’s physical, it’s energy within the body and then by the energy finding its balance, becoming refined, as he said wonderfully refined, coming from the outside in like in the yoga system, coming from the asanas. That’s really outside, that’s muscles and sinews and so forth and then coming into the prana system and then coming in culminating in samadhi of course.

(4:34) Well similarly here we’re working by way of explicitly with the breath hyphen the prana system and by wonderfully refining this, because of this intimate interrelationship between prana and mind, by doing that you are wonderfully refining your mind by the power of wonderfully refining the bodily formation, specifically the prana system, and so it’s really kind of a physiological approach to samadhi. And there, it leads you right to shamatha as he says, right?

So if your body is a rather pleasant neighborhood, we’re hanging out in the body, being present with the body and all the sensations, all the population of your body, it’s kind of a nice place to hang out and you enjoy the practice and you love this soothing quality of it, the restful quality of it. You kind of like it and you’re starting with a nice neighborhood. Then why not? It’s good, right? And then by that, kind of there arises this momentum, and it comes into the mind, the mind settles in its natural state and when the mind settles in the natural state of course that means the mind dissolves, and it dissolves into the substrate consciousness. So there’s one strategy if you are starting out with a nice neighborhood, why not hang out there, got a good body, feels nice place to hang out, good, why not?

(5:40) Now some bodily neighborhoods are not that nice but the mind might be quite good, the space of your mind and the events coming up and so forth, maybe not too brutal, maybe not, you know, really dark part of town, in which case then you can let your primary practice be settling the mind in its natural state, disengaging, to the best of your ability, all of your attention from the physical entirely, I mean the whole physical world but of course your whole physical body as well. Just say, “Not now!” And you are really directing it away from all five sensory fields, very much including your body, and you’re focusing just on the space of the mind, doing the same practice And then you get to watch the show, you get to watch your mind heal, you get the front row seat of how with that quality of awareness, the many blockages, the knots, the tightnesses and so forth, the afflictions, the obscurations gradually settle, settle, settle, evaporate and you watch your whole mind dissolve into, that is, that space dissolves into the substrate and your mind dissolving into the substrate consciousness.

(6:50) So, by so doing you don’t have to practice mindfulness of breathing for one second. Padmasambhava never mentioned mindfulness of breathing, Lerab Lingpa never mentioned, Dudjom Lingpa never mentioned mindfulness of breathing, so you don’t have to practice any mindfulness of breathing at all, otherwise they would have said, “Oh this is one more thing that’s indispensable.” They don’t say that, right? So you don’t have to get to the mind by way of the prana, by settling the mind in its natural state that’s going to not only lead you into the substrate consciousness but that’s going to definitely necessarily, have the impact on your prana system that it gets balanced and your whole body system will get balanced because there’s just no way you can achieve shamatha with the mind and not with the body, because the whole system, an integrated system, all has to settle and that’s why you have this whole pliancy, the suppleness of body and mind taking place when you achieve shamatha but nobody achieves half of shamatha.You just get the pliancy and all of that and the bliss just in the mind but oh the body is a torturous, you know, dead end... not possible. But you can have that all implicitly, all that taken care of in the body by settling the mind in its natural state, okay? So two avenues, they’re very complementary.

(8:40) Now some of you may find even my mind is not a very nice neighborhood. Number one, they may be just boring. But number two, it may be really a place that you don’t want to hang out with, because, you know, “I’ve already seen enough.” You know, there are some movies, I mean I have seen some movies where after I’ve watched fifteen minutes I know I have no interest how this turns out one way or another. [laughter] “You lost me at hello.” [laughs] You know? Just the opposite of the old movies. Jerry Maguire movie, wasn’t it? “You lost me at hello.” You know? I just watched it start and I said, “This is going to be a lousy movie” Yep, you’re living down to the promise, you know? In which case, if you find out that even your mind is not really a neighborhood you want to hang out in, for whatever reason, then you really don’t, this is the message here, you really don’t have to be present for the mind to heal, that is you can be focusing on the body and the mind heals, right? Mindfulness of breathing... You can focus on the mind and watch the mind heal or you can just bypass the whole system. Whatever’s happening in this life, this particular unique configuration of body and mind... not interested. It’s really a short story anyway, and why should I get all that interested, I’ve had so many lifetimes before and this is only one more. So... and it’s short and I don’t even know how short, so don’t expect it to really engage my interest all that much because it’s so short. Let me attend to something that has some staying power, something that goes deeper and so just by going into awareness of awareness on a relative level you’ve gone now to your core. It’s by nature blissful, you don’t need to fix it, it can’t be fixed. So it’s this facsimile of rigpa, it’s not rigpa. But there’s nothing you can add or subtract to rigpa to make it bad or worse. And likewise your substrate consciousness is what it is, it is by nature when it’s clearly unveiled, it is by nature blissful, luminous and non-conceptual. That’s just how it is, right?

So if you just focus there, in that stillness, that serenity, the luminosity all the more if you can begin to enjoy it, that’s enough, you’ve gone right to the core and by staying right there your mind will heal. And by staying right there the whole energy system of the body will sort itself out and you don’t need to watch, it doesn’t need you as a witness. It will take care of itself. So we have really three options there and I mean of course there are many others techniques as well but these three are all legitimate, they all work, they’ve all proven themselves. Science, modern science, it’s still kind of experimental days. It’s only been around for four hundred years. So how’s it going to work out? Well, don’t quite know yet. You know. But this, oh this, this is three or four times the history of western science. This is old science. This is really old science.

(11:08) So I think It’s good to know that we have these options, each one is available to all of us and of course then we can do combinations, that works, combinations are fine. But any one of the three cannot be over emphasized, any one of the three is a standalone. It’s quite sufficient. It will do all the work, coming in from the body, coming in by way of the mind or just coming in by way of the center and staying there. So this final one, this awareness of awareness it’s not Vajrayana, I mean it’s straight Sutrayana practice, no initiations, no empowerments, no nothing like that, but it really has a kind of the taste of Vajrayana in the sense that one of the core characteristics of Vajrayana as a whole, just generically is [in Tibetan 10:57]. You take the fruition, the culmination of the path as your path, right? So it’s like you’re reaching a long arm out into the future and saying, “Where’s my Buddhahood? Oh, there it is.” You pick it up with the tweezers and then you say, “I’ll take that right now, thank you.” And you take your future Buddhahood and you make that your path right now. It’s taking the fruition as the path, right? So, I won’t elaborate on that, there are so many great Vajrayana masters in the world today, they don’t need my commentary.

(12:17) But this little practice here, shamatha without a sign, awareness of awareness, it’s saying, you know, I’ve already got a substrate consciousness and even though it may not be all that evident right now, with its bliss and all of that, nevertheless it’s there and it’s not only that I’ll realize it one day in the future but it’s already there right now so I’m going to take my tweezers and I’m just going to take the fruition as my path, thank you very much. And I’m not going to add or subtract anything from it, I’m just going to take the characteristics of the substrate consciousness and that’s going to be my path. And so I’m going to do my best approximation of resting in the substrate consciousness from the beginning and then let the substrate consciousness simply unveil itself until shamatha rises up to meet me. The great big beautiful fish of shamatha comes. Swallow me. Okay? So it’s quite elegant in its simplicity, okay?

O la so! Let’s go back to the text. We finished the first four phases of the shamatha phase, now we move into vipashyana and I’ll move very quickly here because this is again more sowing seeds for the future. They’ll germinate in their own good time. So Asanga continues here:

5. Thus, if one who diligently practices mindfulness of the inhalation and exhalation. if such a person attains the first or second dhyāna, at that time, inhaling while authentically experiencing joy, This is the priti, the enjoyment. one practices noting the inhalation while authentically experiencing joy.

Now this authentically, it’s [in Tibetan 12:52] . I think it’s a really good translation. I’m kind of attached to it. [in Tibetan 12:57] You’re authentically experiencing joy. What does that mean? With none of the junk piled on top of it, my joy, I, it’s permanent, oh, uh, uh, uh. No, just taking it straight. Just there it is, you are authentically experiencing it as it is with no additions. This is naked joy arising through the practice of shamatha. It’s one of the dhyanas factors of course. So,

one practices noting the inhalation while authentically experiencing joy. If one authentically experiences joy while exhaling, one practices noting that one authentically experiences joy while exhaling.

So now we are moving into shamatha territory but again it’s reminiscent. Here we are way down at the bottom of the pyramid, Sravakayana, right, with those Hinayana people, right? And yet we’re finding these reflections of, way up there in the stage of completion, the union of bliss and emptiness, right? Bliss and emptiness- whoa! That’s way up there. You’re doing facsimiles of stage of generation, stage of completion. You’re getting the real deal, as the energy is coming into the central channel, you have the four blisses coming up. And it’s all about the union of bliss and emptiness. Well, what’s he doing here? This is not Vajrayana. This is Sravakayana. Nevertheless you are authentically experiencing the joy, you are experiencing egoless joy, joy devoid of self, pure unadulterated... whew! Straight joy and you’re realizing it with wisdom. So there it is, it’s bliss and it’s wisdom. It’s bliss and emptiness of a self, emptiness of delusion as you breathe in and breathe out so it’s kind like this nice, luxurious flow of in breath, out breath and in the meantime you are mining the wisdom of your own mind by actually realizing the nature of the joy or the bliss that’s coming up, okay?

Now we move on. Six. That was stage five out of sixteen. We just did five.

6. If one attains the third dhyāna, which is devoid of joy,

And that’s why? Because it’s gone too subtle. Joy has still got a real buzz to it. You know? But the sukkha, the well-being is subtler. It’s more like a field rather than the sharpness of bliss or joy. So the third dhyana, you’ve moved you’ve transcended to a subtler level so it’s now transcended the roughness, the coarseness of joy but it is still embracing the dhyana factor of sukkha or wellbeing.

If one attains the third dhyana, which is devoid of joy, at that time, inhaling, I have to add, I just see something, one more little typo. at that time, inhaling, authentically experiencing wellbeing, one practices noting the inhalation while authentically, I should probably send this out again. experiencing wellbeing. If one authentically experiences wellbeing while exhaling, one practices noting that one authentically experiences wellbeing while exhaling.

It’s a lot of words but the meaning is very simple and that is: as you are going all the way to the third dhyana you’re applying your wisdom, the viphasyana is right there probing into the very nature of the dhyana factors themselves. So while joy is still present, you realize its nature, empty of self, when joy is vanished because you’ve gone to a subtler dimension, wellbeing is there, sukkha is still there and you then authentically experience it without delusion, without grasping, without clinging, without the ahamkara, the I-maker. Then we move on.

7-8. Beyond the third dhyāna there is no practice of mindfulness of breathing. For a very good reason, there’s no breathing. Fourth dhyana - breathing ceased, right? thus such states are declared and identified as being beyond the third dhyāna. That’s really the demarcation, okay? Now if, while authentically experiencing joy or wellbeing, due to a lapse of mindfulness there arise such thoughts as “I exist. There is my self. I will exist. I will not exist. I will have form. I will not have form. I will or will not have discernment.” or “I will neither have nor lack discernment.” If any such thoughts arise then the volitional discerning factor has been agitated by confusion So it’s bringing up old imprints. and one’s agitated thoughts manifest and are formed together with the arising of craving. Immediately upon their arising, one ascertains them with intelligence,

or prajna. So you see it’s coming up I mean it’s so similar to settling the mind in its natural state. You see the grunge arising but rather than being cognitively fused with it, you view it with the eyes of wisdom. Here really probing or gaining insight into them by way of prajna or vipashyana.

So, Immediately upon their arising, one ascertains them with intelligence, and not dwelling in them, That’s the cognitive fusion. not dwelling in them one abandons them, dispels them, and removes them. Okay, so there’s the real vipashyana edge. You’re seeing into their nature. Then one authentically experiences mental formations and inhaling, upon wonderfully refining mental formations, one practices noting the inhalation upon refining mental formations. Then one authentically experiences mental formations and exhaling, upon wonderfully refining mental formations, one practices noting the exhalation upon refining mental formations.

So again this ongoing sense of just bringing wisdom right there into the dhyanas factors. Then nine.

9. Even if one does not attain the actual first, second and third dhyānas, one certainly attains the adequate access [in Tibetan] one certainly attains the adequate access to the first dhyāna.

I found that quite interesting. I haven’t seen that term for a long time. [in Tibetan] means there’s nothing it can’t do. In other words, the first dhyana, very good if you’ve achieved the actual first dhyana, but what he’s saying very explicitly here is even if you don’t fully achieve the first dhyana, if you achieve just the access to the first dhyana, which we’re all calling shamatha, in the Tibetan tradition, yeah, that’s shamatha, access to the first dhyana. He says that there’s nothing that that’s incapable of. In terms of samadhi, that’s enough. Now you can bring in vipashyana, bodhichitta, everything else you like. But that really is enough. If you would like to have more than enough, then okay, go for it. Actual first dhyana, second dhyana, third dhyana and so forth, but he says, even if you have not achieved the first, second and third dhyanas, this access of the first dhyana, that’s sufficient, that’s adequate.

Relying upon that this access of the first dhyana or simply shamatha. Relying upon that, one examines what arises in terms of one’s own mind: the presence or absence of attachment, of hatred, or of delusion, collected or scattered attention, depression or elation, excited or unexcited, calmed or uncalmed, evenly settled or unsettled, well cultivated or poorly cultivated attention, the mind liberated or the mind unliberated.

So there it is. All of this sounds quite remarkably familiar, because again the embryonic form of this is settling the mind in its natural state, right? Observing the space of the mind and observing all of these events, evasion, depression, excitement, non-excitement and so forth, but without the cognitive fusion with them. This is settling the mind in its natural state but it’s stepped fully over into the realm of vipashyana. So there it is.

Thus it is said: One authentically experiences the mind, and when one inhales, one practices noting that one authentically experiences the mind and the inhalation. One authentically experiences the mind, and when one exhales, one practices noting that one authentically experiences the mind and the exhalation.

In other words you’re gaining vipashyana style insight into the nature of your own mind, including the mental afflictions arising but also their absence. So that’s nine, now we go to ten.

10. When, upon authentically gaining inner calm, the mind is veiled by obscurations of dullness and drowsiness, one presents it with one or another uplifting object, or inspiring object, one causes the mind to apprehend it, so really focus on it and inspires and gladdens the mind.

This is an interesting point. You can say, “Oh, well wait a minute. Haven’t you achieved shamatha? That should be no problem.” But in fact they come back. It’s all like a spiral. I’ve seen this in the Vajra Essence, really clearly, as he covers the entire path there including stage of generation and completion. But focusing just on three, the achievement of shamatha, the achievement of vipashyana (insight into emptiness) and then going into the realization of rigpa and for each one of these he speaks of these having to move through the nyam and the nyam even after you’ve achieved shamatha when you’re really moving into vipashyana territory, as you’ve dredged your psyche, moving from the surface level of your psyche down to the substrate consciousness, that brings up a lot of stuff, a lot. You think, “Whoa, I didn’t know it’d be that much.” But when you go into vipashyana you’re dredging deeper than your psyche and so it brings up deeper stuff, from a deeper level than shamatha and it’s bringing it up. Stuff like as he said right here, dullness, drowsiness and so forth, right? And lo and behold, the same thing happens when you, having realized emptiness and having realized shamatha you move into threkchö [the break through], once again he speaks of these nyam coming up. Whoa! You think it would be all smooth sailing by now. Well no, now what you’re doing is you’re dredging samsara from its depths. You’re not just dredging your psyche, all the way down to the ground of samsara you’re dredging it from its depths and you have to do that just as you need to dredge your psyche from its depths to get down to what is beneath it, the substrate consciousness, well now you need to dredge samsara down to its depths so you can see what’s beneath that. That’s rigpa, which is equally the ground from which both samsara and nirvana manifest. And so this is a recurrence but it’s not just the same old, same old, "Oh, gee I guess I’ve no longer achieved shamatha, no you’ve achieved shamatha, but there’s this spiraling motion of going dredging deeper, the purification taking place on a deeper, deeper, deeper level.

(24:49) This is why after you’ve realized rigpa, it’s really intense; after you’ve realized rigpa, and you are now really fully accomplished and prepared, a suitable vessel for the practice of thogyal, the direct crossing over, lo and behold, there’s another whole set, another whole domain of purificatory practices called ruschen isolating or differentiating samsara from nirvana and now you’re doing the deepest dredging possible by doing that dredging. Now, my goodness you’re a vidhyadhara. You think, “Oh now I just cruise in, It just sails smoothly, you know?” Not so smoothly.The ruschen is really important, deepest purification, the final purification before you go the final leg of the journey into the thogyal and you come to the end of that one and then you’ve fully manifested all the qualities of the Buddha mind, right? But way, way up there even there, there are things to purify. It just goes [to a] deeper, deeper, deeper level.

So here it is, he’s talking about you’ve gained inner calm and yet still the mind may be veiled by obscurations of dullness and drowsiness so then you apply antidotes, you inspire, you uplift it.

Thus it is said: When one gladdens the mind and breathes in, one practices noting that one gladdens the mind and the inhalation. When one gladdens the mind and breathes out, one practices noting that one gladdens the mind and the exhalation.

In other words you’re still balancing your mind but it’s in a much deeper level now, really deep existential level.

Moving to eleven:

11. When one clearly sees that the mind has been veiled by the obscuration of either excitation or anxiety Oh, there’s one of the five ... That’s one of the five obscurations. Son of a gun! What are you doing here? Oh, the dullness and drowsiness, that was another... You’re still...? You’re like a rash! But then you might recall of course when you’ve achieved the first dhyana or even all the way to the fourth dhyana, have you eradicated any of the five obscurations? Nope, they’ve just gone dormant. But now you’re eradicating them with the blade of vipashyana one by one. You’re pulling them up by their roots. So this is the last you’ll see of them. We’re well into vipashyana territory now. So you’ve subdued them, you’ve [caused] them to go dormant by achieving access to the first dhyana or the first dhyana itself, but now with the blade of vipashyana we’re really going in and cutting them off. But when you see that the mind is obscured by either excitation or anxiety when one forcefully grasps the object, this too should be familiar, that when do they come? When we are grasping too firmly, excitation and anxiety come. You recall that. When you don’t grasp firmly enough then you fall into laxity and dullness. So when you see this,

one presents it (the mind) with one or another uplifting object. One solely draws the mind inward, calms it, and concentrates it. Thus it is said: “When one concentrates the mind and breathes in, one practices noting that one concentrates the mind and the inhalation. When one concentrates the mind and breathes out, one practices noting that one concentrates the mind and the exhalation.” Still doing tiny little fixes here.

So there it is. But now this purification is not simply subduing. You’re getting there now and really purifying. That’s eleven out of sixteen. We’re getting close. This is twelve.

12. When one has fully devoted the mind to this practice, cultivated it and engaged in it repeatedly, as a result, the obscuration of the source of suffering is removed, Now we’re getting right down to the level of craving and delusion. the obscuration of the source of suffering is removed and the mind is purified of obscurations.

Okay, going right down to the absolute core here.

Thus it is said: “When the mind is liberated when one breathes in, one practices noting the mind’s liberation and the inhalation. When the mind is liberated and one breathes out, one practices noting the mind’s liberation and the exhalation. Now very deep. But we go deeper. Thirteen out of sixteen coming up.

13. One must eliminate the remaining propensities of obstacles to the path of liberation from obscurations. In order to do so, one accurately recognizes the impermanence of formations and by realizing the path.

Okay, so a deeper, more penetrating realization of emptiness, of impermanence.

Thus it is said: “When one observes impermanence and breathes in, one practices noting that one observes impermanence and the inhalation. When one observes impermanence and breathes out, one practices noting that one observes impermanence and the exhalation.”

Thus, on the basis of the first, second or third dhyāna or adequate dhyāna You know what that is, access to the first dhyana. one engages in shamatha.

So all of those generically, first, second and third dhyanas, fourth dhyana for that matter, but the access, the adequate access to the dhyana - in those ways one practices or engages in shamatha.

Now by observing impermanence one engages in vipashyanā. Such a person’s mind, being thoroughly cultivated in shamatha and vipashyanā, is liberated from afflictive propensities in the domains.

The domains for the Tibetan speakers is ying. Don’t know a better translation. Maybe there is one, but in the domains. Okay, well what are the domains? Well then he says,

14-16. What are the domains? Ah, thank you. This is now very, very high practice so if you even have just a conceptual inkling, that’ll be enough for now, the seeds, and we get back to our practice.

What are the domains. They are the domains of elimination, of detachment, and of cessation. Due to the elimination of obscurations to be overcome by the path of seeing in terms of all formations, there is the domain of elimination. So that first domain is associated with path of seeing. Due to the elimination of obscurations to be overcome by the path of meditation in terms of all mental formations, there is the path of detachment. Okay, so there we have a link there with the path of meditation. Due to the cessation of all aggregates, there is the domain of cessation. He doesn’t say so, but that has to be associated with the path of no more training, the fifth path. Focusing one’s attention on the three domains in peace, wellbeing, and freedom from illness, one cultivates shamatha and vipashyanā. By devotion to such practice, by its cultivation and repeated practice, the mind is liberated from the remaining obscurations to be overcome on the path of meditation. So now we’re almost finished. Thus it is said: “When one observes elimination, detachment, and cessation and breathes in, one practices noting the observation of cessation and the inhalation. When one observes elimination, detachment and cessation and breathes out, one practices noting the observation of cessation and the exhalation.”

Thus, upon dispelling the mental afflictions to be eliminated on the path of seeing and of meditation, one becomes an arhat, whose defilements have been exhausted. Now there is nothing further to do. One has completed the various aspects of the practice. Such a person is said to be thoroughly trained by way of the sixteen aspects. Whatever is included in these five thorough trainings is called “mindfulness of the in- and out-breath.”

If an individual who tends to rumination, who is totally involved in that, caught up in his internal issues, and is distracted, if such a person really applies himself to this practice, that person’s disturbing ruminations will cease, very swiftly his mind will remain totally on the object, and true delight will authentically arise in the mind. That is the fivefold, purifying meditative object for individuals who tend to rumination.

That’s it, okay?

So the seeds are planted, hopefully helpful. And let’s return to our practice. You have your own practice.


(34:45) Settle your body, speech and mind in their natural states.

(35:58) And now each of these three routes, these three paths to the substrate consciousness by way of the body, by way of the mind or by way of awareness itself which when unveiled, manifests as the substrate consciousness, by any of these three avenues they all lead to a state of clarity, to inner stillness which is the platform for exploring the very nature of reality, for gaining immediate profoundly transformative and liberating experience, realization of emptiness, gaining through your own experience, direct realization. What are the true causes of genuine happiness, where does it come from? And you will know. And what are the true causes of suffering, what is the true source of suffering? And you will know. And you will know that this body, this mind, and awareness itself are neither a self nor are they owned by a self.

We can throw off the shackles of such conceptual projections and experience the body, the mind and awareness as they are, free of additions, nakedly. So choose your own avenue, by way of the body, the mind or awareness. And when you settle in, when you come to something at least approximating, a state of flow then closely apply mindfulness with discerning wisdom, intelligence, ascertain the nature of that which you’re experiencing.

And let’s continue practicing now in silence.

Transcribed by Rafael Carlos Giusti
Revised by Mark Montgomery
Final edition by Rafael Carlos Giusti


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