Dharma - Merit - Meditation - Nectar - Liberation - Emptiness - Process - Awakening

 
 

Studies
in Buddhadharma


Guided Insight Meditations

meditations on self-emptiness


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"As the wise test gold by burning, cutting and rubbing it (on a piece of touchstone), so are You to accept my words after examining them and not merely out of regard for me." - Jñânasara-samuccaya, 31.

"All of these practices were taught
By the Mighty One for the sake of wisdom.
Therefore those who wish to pacify suffering
Should generate this wisdom."
Śântideva : A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life, IX:1.


Book I of the Manual on Buddhist Practices is subdivided in Preliminary, Foundational, Accumulative & Preparative Practices. These are based on the Sûtras.

  1. Preliminary : elementary practices, covering body, breath & mind ;

  2. Foundational : building the foundation to be able to quickly generate merit ;

  3. Accumulative : practices to ongoingly increase the accumulation of merit ;

  4. Preparative : realizing the conceptual mind approximating ultimate reality.

In Book II, practices based on the Tantras are discussed. These are the so-called "Finative Practices", activities actually realizing liberation & awakening on the basis of a non-conceptual mind of dual-union, directly prehending emptiness.

Each set of practices enduces a specific degree of calmness :

* Preliminary Practices : calmness ;
* Foundational Practices : deep calmness ;
* Accumulative Practices : deeper calmness ;
* Preparative Practices : insightful calmness ;
* Finative Practices : profound calmness.

These practice levels are consistent with the Five Paths of Kamalashila (ca. 700 - 750 CE) :

  1. Path of Accumulation ("Gate") : entered upon the spontaneous arising of the mind of enlightenment for all sentient beings (Bodhicitta), becoming a Bodhisattva who attained meditative equipoise (Calm Abiding), the practice of the Six Perfections causes the two baskets (of merit and wisdom) to be filled. By improving their method and wisdom, Bodhisattvas train in generating virtuous minds, the Four Immeasurables and the Six Perfections. Understanding of emptiness is enhanced by relying principally on the wisdoms arising from listening and reflecting.

    Self-cherishing is eliminated
    ;

  2. Path of Preparation ("Gate") : the primary focus here is attaining the best understanding of emptiness ("prajñâ"), and this by relying on the wisdom from Emptiness Meditation (Insight Meditation).

    Calm Abiding with emptiness as object of placement is practiced. "Superior seeing" is attained (calmness sharpening analysis and analysis deepening calmness).  On the basis of this "superior seeing", "special insight" realizes an exceedingly abstract conceptual insight into (and generic idea of) self-emptiness, the fundamental nature of all phenomena ; absence of inherent existence. Because it is conceptual and so not yet existence as it is ("yathâbhûtam", in accordance to what is), this idea rises immediately after the appearance, not yet simultaneously. But once achieved, this pinnacle of conceptual understanding or common wisdom is irreversible. This Path of Preparation is a stepping-stone to directly perceive ("see" or prehend) emptiness (on the Path of Seeing), for when the conceptual mind is truly convinced of the formal (logical), functional & critical rational grounds for the absence of inherent existence or substantiality (self-powered own-form or "self"), it has the power to identify the illusions of conventional reality, thereby generating the conceptual antidote for acquired (intellectual) self-grasping. At this point, conceptual "avidyâ", ignorance of ultimate truth because of acquired, intellectual delusion is over (but non-conceptual ignorance caused by innate delusions not) ;

    The Path of Preparation has four stages, called "Heat", "Peak", "Patience" & "Supreme Dharma" :

    1. Heat :
    the beginning of a very powerful enthusiasm to arrive at the best possible understanding of wisdom (
    "prajñâ"). This "fire" of conceptual wisdom is the approximative precursor of the unconditioned "gnosis" present on the Path of Seeing, this prehension or intuition of emptiness ("jñâna"). In meditative equipoise, a clear conceptual understanding of suchness is realized ;
    2. Peak : the culmination of this strong love of common wisdom is an intense conceptual mind grasping at the idea of emptiness, as if this mind mixes with emptiness itself, which is not the case. The virtuous roots cultivated will no longer be lost or cease. Conceptual understanding of suchness exponentially increases ;
    3. Patience : a special attitude towards Dharma in general and the idea of emptiness in particular is the case. Gross conceptual reification is gone, but subtle conceptual reifications remain, hindering a complete mixing of the mind with emptiness. Nevertheless, a refined experience of emptiness is the case. One is no longer reborn in the lower realms of "samsâra" ;
    4. Supreme Dharma : here mind and emptiness are nearly mixed for the emptiness of the idea of emptiness is understood, meaning all acquired self-grasping has nearly completely ceased (all but the idea of emptiness itself). The emptiness of objects still rises after their appearances. This is the highest existence of all ordinary Bodhisattva. All their experiences are supreme Dharma Paths of Preparation, and all worldly attributes necessary for the path are attained. Object & subject are relational, no longer consciously perceived as separate.

    Acquired self-grasping is totally eliminated
    ;
     

  3. Path of Seeing ("PÂRAGATE") : entered upon (a) an approximation of seeing emptiness through conceptual understanding and (b) the cessation of conceptualization hand in hand with being present in the actual moment, a direct experience of emptiness during meditative equipoise happens.
     

  4. Path of Meditation ("PÂRASAMGATE") : thanks to deeper Insight Meditations on the remaining perfections (ethics, patience, joyous effort, concentration, wisdom), the direct experience of the First Stage is deepened, stabilized & refined by way of the remaining levels. To eliminate the subtle & very subtle delusions (obscurations caused by innate self-grasping and obscurations hindering omniscience), the Bodhisattva has to train further (stages two to seven : thoroughly go, and stages eight to ten : bodhi). The experience of emptiness of the Hînayâna Arhat is identified with end of the Sixth Stage. The Seventh Stage offers the Bodhisattva a mind entering into absorption on emptiness and rising again in a finger snap. Only the obstructions to omniscience remain (to be dealt with on the Eight to Tenth Stage).  The Eight Stage Great Bodhisattva or Mahâsattva Bodhisattva equals Dhyâni Bodhisattvas, the emanations from enlightened beings and knows when his or her awakening will happen. In the Ninth, the wisdom of the Bodhisattva is complete. The Tenth Stage, the Bodhisattva actually enters Buddhahood.

    Innate self-grasping is totally eliminated, omniscience a fact
    ;
     

  5. Path of No More Learning ("BODHI") : this is the state of Buddhahood, the nondual simultaneous experience (prehension) of conventional & ultimate truth, of "samsâra" & "nirvâna", of compassion & wisdom ; luminous emptiness.

There are two types of Analytical Meditations : (1) discursive meditations on a variety of core themes of the Buddhadharma ("lamrim") and (2) Insight Meditations or Emptiness Meditations.

The present guided meditations are Insight Meditations.

The First Set of Insight Meditations are guided Analytical Meditations belonging to the stage of the Preparative Practices. The Path of Preparation ends with the conceptual (approximative) realization of self-emptiness (on the basis of a non-affirmative negation of inherent existence).

The Second Set of Insight Meditations are guided Analytical Meditations belonging to the stage of the Finative Practices.

From the First Bhûmi onwards, in each moment of consciousness, a direct, uncontrived & unmediated cognizing of emptiness is at hand. During meditation, objects rise together with their emptiness. Two Emptinesses are at hand : self-emptiness & other-emptiness.

To say anything about ultimate reality (as on the Path of Preparation), self-emptiness uses a non-affirmative logic. Other-emptiness (on all higher Paths) affirms a radiant Buddha-nature inseparable from its properties.

In the First Set of guided meditations, the various components necessary to gradually arrive at the Right View are given. They are inspired by the tenets developed in the Great Exposition School, the Sûtra School, the Mind-Only School and the Middle Way School. They culminate in the Meditation on the Right View as found in the Prâsangika-Mâdhyamaka (or "Rangtong"), based on :

  • Nâgârjuna (2th CE) in Mûlamadhyamakakârikâ (A Fundamental Treatise on the Middle Way) & Shûnyatâsaptatikârikânâma (The Seventy Stanzas on Emptiness) ;

  • Chandrakîrti (ca. 600 – 650) in Mâdhyamakâvatâra (Entering the Middle Way) ;

  • Śântideva (8th CE) in his Bodhicharyâvatâra (A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life) &

  • Tsongkhapa (1357 - 1419) in The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, The Ocean of Reasoning and The Essence of Eloquence.

In the Second Set of guided meditations, Ati-Yoga instructions are given. This material is based on the tenets of the Mahâmadyamaka or Great Middle Way, teaching other-emptiness (or "Shentong") as found in :

  • Dolpopa (1292 - 1391) : Mountain Doctrine ;

  • Târanâtha (1576 - 1634) : The Essence of Other-Emptiness & Twenty-one Differences Regarding the Profound Meaning.

The Right View, the proposition affirming self-powered objects cannot be found, is put into practice by meditating on the Selflessness of Persons & Others and on Universal Interdependence. Also included in this Right View is the yoga affirming the existence of an actual & fully enlightened Buddha Within.

The author is in agreement with the non-partisan, "ecumenical" view explaining why philosophy only takes us as far as self-emptiness, eliminating inherent existence in a non-affirmative way.

On the basis of this best understanding (
"prajñâ") of wisdom (as in "rangtong" or "self-emptiness"), one can do no more than claim Buddha-nature is a potential to be actualized by meditations on the emptiness of the mind itself. To the pandit, the idea of an always existing Buddha-nature radiating enlightened properties is interpretative, not definitive. This is the correct conventional view of philosophers manipulating concepts.

Now moving beyond philosophy, the yogis confirm experientially, i.e. directly, by their own living wisdom (as in "shentong" or "other emptiness"), that our Buddha-nature is fully unfolded & fully endowed here & now, and so empty of anything other than itself, as prehended by a non-conceptual direct yogic perceiver able to end ignorance and thus suffering. This original, pure and primordial mind is not a self-existing, substantial entity, and can only be "pointed at" as in Ati-Yoga (cf. Book III : Mahâmudrâ, Other Emptiness, Dzogchen & Ch'an/Zen). This is the unmistaken view of yogis observing absolute nature (on the Paths of Seeing and Meditation).

In logic, philosophy is valid. In experience, yoga is.

"If two philosophers agree, one is not a philosopher. If two saints disagree, one is not a saint." - Tibetan saying

Operating Method

Before using these guided Insight Meditations, one best first reads the text of the meditation involved. Some of these call for simple tasks such as smelling rosewood oil, cutting paper or striking a bowl.

In terms of practice, these Analytical Meditations presuppose the realization of Calm Abiding (Jhâna Yoga). They do not manipulate the Vajra-body, are Sûtra-based or Ati-Yogic. To perfect Insight Meditation, the mind of "superior seeing" must be generated. This is a special mind generated by taking emptiness as the object of Calm Abiding and characterized by a synergy of calmness & analysis.

During superior seeing, the calmer the mind, the sharper the analysis and the more vivid the analysis, the calmer the mind. In this special mind, instead of hindering each other, calmness & analysis reinforce one another.


FIRST SET : Preparative Practices

meditations on self-emptiness

Preliminaries
Dedication
Great Exposition School Meditation
Sûtra School Meditation
Mind-Only School Meditation
Identity & Negation
Inherent Existence Meditation
Seven Steps Meditation
Meditation on the Selflessness of Persons & Others
Meditation on the Right View
Meditation on Unbounded Wholeness

SECOND SET : Finative Practices

meditations on other-emptiness

Great Imprint
Other Emptiness
Great Completion
Ch'an/Zen


PRELIMINARIES


These Guided Emptiness Meditations are always preceded by Preliminaries & always end with a Dedication. So let us first focus on these two blocks, opening & closing all meditations.

The Preliminaries are twofold : General Preliminaries and Preliminaries to Insight Meditation. The General Preliminaries are used to "open" all "lamrim" (Tib. "stages of the path") meditations (presenting the stages in the complete path to enlightenment). The Preliminaries to Insight Meditation invoke the Buddha of Wisdom and so exclusively precede Emptiness Meditation.


GENERAL PRELIMINARIES

Now relax and sit comfortably. Take a couple of deep nasal breaths. Attend your posture. Your back is straight, your chin slightly tucked in, and your tongue held against the beginning of the upper palate, with your lips slightly apart. Your teeth are not clenched. If you want, fold your hands four fingers below the navel, a little to the front, with elbows slightly out and your shoulders held up & back. Look down with half-closed eyes in the space in front of you. Do not gaze. Do not focus. Root yourself in the present moment. Take your time.

Let us begin by thinking about motivation. Why are we sitting here ? Why did we stop doing what we normally do, and decide to just sit down and practice meditation ? While sharing many activities with other sentient beings on this planet, like lying down, standing, sitting & walking, here we just sit and meditate. But why ? The common answer is : "To practice Dharma." In other words, to end the root of suffering : our ignorance and the clinging & aversion resulting from it. But to truly realize the end of this afflictive reactivity of our mind, practicing Dharma also means turning our mind away from bad habits, introducing this new activity of just sitting down to meditate.

How incredibly fortunate we are we didn't die last night, but again awoke in this precious human life, able to practice Dharma and offer happiness to others. Indeed, the purpose of this life of ours is to end our selfishness, to stop generating aversion & anger towards others and to cease blind desires. These automatic reflexes of our mind, this pushing away or pulling in, is what we intend to end here. That's why we stop, relax and sit down. The purpose of this human life of ours is to spread peace and happiness. And to be able to do so, we need to subdue the negative, afflictive, suffering mind. Remember how negative attitudes caused so much trouble in our lives, preventing us from achieving the goal of genuine, lasting happiness. This confined, narrow mind causes so many many problems for ourselves and others. Therefore think : "I will not follow my reactive mind any longer. Instead, I will turn my mind towards Dharma and start cherishing others."

To turn the mind and to facilitate this change of heart, we shall consider Four Thoughts, namely our precious human life, the nature of impermanence, the truth of suffering and the law of cause and effect.

Again turn your attention to the present moment. Mindfully take of few breaths. Clear your mind from thoughts.

First consider how incredibly fortunate we are with this precious human life of ours, endowed with freedom and riches.
This freedom means we do not exist as a hell-being, as a hungry ghost, as an animal, as a long-living god, or as a human in an uncivilized country, with wrong views, in an age without Buddhas or extremely retarded. Our personal riches are : our existence as a human being born in a civilized country, with complete senses, not having entered wrong views, with confidence in the Dharma. Our external riches are : being born where a Buddha has appeared, one who teaches the Dharma, one who's teaching continues to exist and with followers who practice it and who have compassion for others.

In this brief period we are on Earth, we do have the opportunity to choose a wholesome way of life. We are indeed able to abandon negative actions. How fortunate to be guided by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas ! How exceptional to be invited to board the Great Vehicle and train the mind of enlightenment for all sentient beings ; wishing not only to liberate ourselves from suffering, but also to awake all sentient beings without exclusion from confusion and suffering. All hell-beings, hungry ghosts, minerals, plants, animals, demi-gods and gods are incorporated in this compassionate thought encompassing all. This is the most wonderfull thought in the world ! Think how fortunated you are to be able to generate such a thought. So use your life in a meaningfull way ; cultivate compassion & wisdom and become a Buddha this life.

Secondly, recall how all things are impermanent. Even the Himalayas will eventually crumble, and not a single atom is motionless. Even frozen, matter jiggles, changes, transforms. Likewise, what we know, feel, want and think is not fixed. We learn every day. Every moment our body changes. Nothing escapes this beginningless and unending process of becoming. Every moment is a different moment. Every perspective is a unique moving vantage-point. Although our planet does not seem to move, it revolves with great speed around its axis and around the Sun. This star of ours and the galaxy of which it is part, travel with incredible speeds in the gigantic vastness of space. Because of this impermanence, our suffering may transform into happiness and at every point on our path we are able to accommodate a change for the better. Because of this impermanence, things are able to change their form & force. Our bodies, intentions, feelings, thoughts & states of consciousness are all impermanent. Not a single ever-fixed object can be found. We sat down to truly realize this. Without impermanence we would be stuck forever. But this is not the case. Never. A permanent heaven does not exist. Neither does a permanent hell.

In the third step, we recall suffering, ranging from acute pain to frustration and background dissatisfaction. We all suffer too much. If we seek happiness, we first need to accept our woes. Physical, mental, social, economical and environmental problems may be avoided or lessened. But even then, what we would like to be at hand often is not, and what we would prefer to be absent blazes in front of us. Even good conditions may turn sour and every climax is followed by a fall. Without changing our mind, the pervasive suffering of the outer world cannot be tackled. To cease suffering once and for all, we need to alter our mindset, our constant recalling, projecting & expecting. Indeed, replacing this object with that object will not bring about what we seek. It will not bring the final, irreversible cessation of suffering, this pervasive dissatisfaction & frustration ruling our lives, walling us in and giving us this feeling of being caged by outer causes & conditions.

Finally, remember the law of cause and effect. Every wholesome, white action will cause a wholesome, white result and every unwholesome, black deed is followed by more suffering. Perhaps the effect is postponed, and we are hit with the consequence after we forgot the reason. Let us pray we may be mindful of what we cause. Indeed, we are the cause of our own dissatisfaction. Nobody else is. We attract the suffering we find ourselves in. We should blame nothing or nobody. And this is very good news ! Let us generate very powerful wholesome causes and by doing so swiftly alter our situation for the better. Let us apply the law of action to our own benefit and to that of others. Infusing our mindstream with extremely strong white deeds will ripen white fruits and cause sleeping black seeds to never fruit.

As there is nothing more powerful than the truth of Dharma, we have no need for a convenant or a Saviour ! How fortunate we are to know Lord Buddha, his Dharma teachings and his community of Dharma practitioners. How fortunate to have a doctor, a medicine and a way to apply it. These Three Jewels have the extraordinary ability to stop us from generating more black deeds. So by the law of cause and effect we become the architect of our own lives, bringing about the mind seeking awakening to benefit all others.

Briefly reconsider these Four Thoughts turning the mind. Savour your precious human life. Be mindful of impermanence as well as the sorrows in your life, the things you want to change. Then rejoice in the natural law empowering you to alter your destiny yourself and this whenever you want. When you've done this, bring your mind again to the moment at hand.

Clear your mind and be aware of this moment, this here & now you always find yourself in. Root your mind in this. Be present in it. Stop wandering about. Relax. Take your time. Don't push anything.

To be succesfull in awakening the mind turned towards Dharma, we need to make it receptive, soft and open. Such a pliant mind is a precondition to accumulate compassion & wisdom, the two wings of the bird of awakening.

Remember how you are constantly surrounded by sentient beings visible & invisible. All distance is relative and there is more between heaven and Earth than meets the eye. The purpose of our meditation is to benefit each and everyone. Every sentient being without exception. Start by visualizing your mother on your left side, and then your father on your right side. Visualize you dear ones, your loved ones behind you. They are your support. Visualize your enemies in front of you, facing you. They are your challenges. Surrounding these, visualize all other sentient beings : all of Nature is around you, as well as all invisible beings, such as the tormented hell-beings underneath you, the miserly spirits everywhere around you and the resplendent deities above you. Remember all of them are suffering in one way or another.

Now visualize in front of you a beautiful natural setting, like a forest meadow. See and feel the Sun shining, sensualize beautiful trees and flowers everywhere around you. Smell their scent. Hear clean water in streams and waterfalls, forming ponds. In the center of this scene is a beautiful throne, on top of which is a Lotus, a Moon disk and a Sun disc. These symbolize the qualities in Buddha's omniscient mind, its boundless compassion and wisdom. On this soft throne, Buddha Shâkyamuni is seated in full lotus posture, wearing the saffron robes of a monk, in the "mudrâ" of Ratnasambhâva, the gesture of giving. With a compassioned face and gently smiling, he gazes on us and all sentient beings around us. His face is open and clear, with his blue-black hair all curled to the right and crowned by a top knot. Buddha is ready to give, and looks as if saying : "If you wish for enlightenment, I will guide you !"

Surrounding Lord Buddha are the great disciples, the Bodhisattvas, the great Arhats, the ordained monks and all lay disciples. In one voice they go for refuge to the Three Jewels, to the Buddha, to the Dharma and to the Sangha. Together with them, we too, who are suffering and have a deep wish for happiness, go for refuge to the Three Jewels.

Hear yourself saying : "Until I am enlightened, I go for refuge to the Buddha, our teacher. I go for refuge to the Dharma, his teaching. I go for refuge to the Sangha, the community of practitioners. I do so attaining liberation from cyclic existence, realizing awaking for the sake of all sentient beings. Indeed, I become a Buddha in order to benefit all sentient beings."

Slowly dissipate all visualizations and relax. Gently bring your mind to the present moment. Root your mind in what is happening right now.

Let us end these preliminaries with the Seven Limbs Prayer.

1. "Respectfully I prostrate body, speech and mind." Visualize how the countless bodies of your own past lives prostrate to the Triple Gem.
2. "Offerings I make in this world and the invisible worlds." Consider every type of offering, actual and imagined. See yourself presenting these to the Buddha.
3. "I confess my wrong deeds from lifetimes without number." Completely open your heart, and without hidding your faults, show them to Buddha with a sense of regret.
4. "I rejoice in the countless virtues manifest in this world." Remember all the great Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and there noble deeds. Also rejoice, from the depth of heart, in the striving of all ordinary being for merit & virtue.
5. "I implore the enlightened ones not to abandon this world." Imagine, with palms together at your heart, you are kneeling in front of Buddha, making heartfelt requests to him for not leaving the world in darkness. May Lord Buddha remain as our guide.
6. "I turn the wheel of Dharma for all sentient beings." Realize not a single sentient being is left out. May cyclic existence end for all.
7. "May all sentient beings benefit !" Through the merits thus created, compassion & wisdom ripen and all beings attain Buddhahood.

Let us generate the mind of enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings :

May all mother sentient beings enjoy happiness and the causes of happiness. Feel this joy.
May all mother sentient beings be free from suffering and the cause of suffering. Feel this love your wish.
May all mother sentient beings realize the greatest happiness, freedom from suffering. Resolve to act to benefit others.
May all mother sentient beings abide in equanimity, free from attachment to loved ones and free from hatred of foes. Send all good intentions to both your loved ones and your enemies.

End all visualizations, thoughts, intentions, feelings. Be here & now. Be aware of attending this moment. Take your time. Relax. Never push your mind.


PRELIMINARIES TO INSIGHT MEDITATION

We are about to investigate the nature of reality.

Only a calm, pliant & compassionate mind is able to successfully investigate reality. Here we ask : what is existence ? What is truly there ? We probe into what is at hand and investigate the two kind of objects appearing to us : all objects of sense, as well as all mental events. In this way, we discover the five consciousnessess of sense, smell, taste, sight, hearing and touch. These are rooted in the body and its form. We also discover the singular field of consciousness, filled with intentions, feelings, thoughts & sentience. What is the reality of all of this ? Does what appears to us appear as it truly exists, unconcealing its ultimate, absolute, genuine nature ? Or is there deception, like things not appearing as they indeed are ? Is what we know valid ? How do we know this ? Is it mistaken ? These are the questions posed in Insight Meditation. Here we ask : What is the nature of reality ? Keeping our mind always calm, relaxed, open, supple, sharp and alert we analyze reality. All of this on the basis of constant mindfulness. When excitation happens, we stop investigating and relax again, returning to mere calmness. When dullness happens, we sharpen the mind, intensely investigating the nature of what is at hand. Only a mind trained enough to stay calm during analysis pierces the veil of reality.

Of all the Buddhas of the Ten Directions, Mañjushrî, the Buddha of the Wisdom of all the Buddhas, is the Lord teaching the wisdom realizing emptiness in a way appropriate to each of our minds. So let us dedicate a short prayer to him and recite his mantra twenty-one times. Visualize Mañjushrî on a throne in front of you, seated on a Lotus topped with a Sun disk, symbolizing wisdom. He radiates and compassionately looks down on us, ready to teach.

Homage to Protector Mañjushrî !
Homage to the Buddha of the Wisdom of all the Buddhas !
Homage to him who knows, with the purity of Vajrasattva, how all appearing objects are empty of substance while full of dependent-arisings.
Enlighten my intelligence !
May we gain insight into the wisdom of Lord Buddha
and all texts explaining it.

Let us recite Mañjushrî's mantra twenty-one times : OM AH RA PA TSA NA DHI

Visualize a blue letter HUM at the heart of Mañjushrî radiating brilliant blue rays of light touching all those who sit in front of him. Imagine a row of lineage holders of all the tenet systems on wisdom. They too radiate, but are in deep meditation. They are our teachers, helping us to understand the different ways this wisdom realizing emptiness is taught. With deep respect & humility we request them to teach us and assist us, so we too may understand the philosophical schools, their tenets and different paths to wisdom.

Let us again recite the wisdom mantra twenty-one times : OM AH RA PA TSA NA DHI

Now let all visualizations fade. Clear your mind. Relax. Go home to the present moment. Be present and alert. Take your time.


DEDICATION


Let us dedicate the merits collected during this meditation.

Without loss, we offer all and everything giving rise to our clinging and aversion. We pray to accept them Lord Buddha and extend your blessings, so we may be liberated from the Three Poisons of blind desire, hatred & ignorance.

We dedicate the merits collected during this meditation to the Field of Accumulated Merit.
May all sentient beings benefit.
May all sentient beings recognize their Buddha-nature and find true peace.

OM MANI PADME HUM (3x)03


GREAT EXPOSITION SCHOOL MEDITATION


Preliminaries.

Let us now turn our mind to the Great Exposition School and meditate on the heart of its teaching on emptiness, namely the realization all compounded objects depend on their parts and are impermanent.

Recall how all appearing objects are either based on the five senses or on the mind. They are either sensate objects or mental objects.

Let us first consider the senses and its five objects ; first smell, then taste, sight, hearing and finally the sense of touch.

Hold a flask of rosewood oil underneath your nostrils. Apprehend the smell of roses. Intensely inhale this scent. When you remove the flask, attend how this scent slowly fades away.

Try to catch the last impression of the odor. Not turning to memory, try to find the original intensity of the scent. Then ask yourself : can someone attending the dissolution of any property detected by the nose still apprehend the original intensity of the scent. Can you ?

Now mentally recall the scent. Only a concentrated will is able to do this and sensitize it. Stop concentrating on the memory of the scent. Take note how it dissolves or disappears when this concentration drops away.

Now meditate : sensed & sensitized smells are composed of parts and are impermanent. Take your time to realize this. If necessary, go over the experience again. Be truly aware of the fact the physical scent and its mental recollection are dependent of their parts and that their apprehension is evanescent, depending on the stimuli present.

Relax for a moment.

Put a very small amount of salt on your tongue. Be aware of the salty taste, of the bits and pieces of salt in your mouth. Quite rapidly, apprehend the dissolution of the taste of salt.

Try to catch the last impression of the taste. Then try to find (but not in memory) the original salty taste. Ask yourself : can someone attending the dissolution of any property detected by the tastebuds still apprehend the original intensity of the taste. Can you ?

When the last trace of salt is gone, recall the salty sensation. Only a concentrated will is able to maintain this recollection. Stop concentrating on the memory. It dissolves and disappears. Can the original mental recollection be savored ?

Now meditate : sensed & sensitized tastes are composed of parts and are impermanent. Take your time. Be truly aware of the fact the physical taste and its mental recollection eventually fade away.

Relax for a moment.

Look at a small piece of paper. Analyze it and apprehend it as a single piece. Take your time. Slowly and attentively tear it into a set of smaller pieces. Precisely when is the image of the single piece of paper lost ?

Catch the moment the beginning of a rip arises. Then scatter these pieces of paper. Try to find (but not in memory) the original sensation of a single piece of paper. Can someone seeing scattered pieces of paper still apprehend the original, single piece ? Can you ?

Visualize the original single piece. Mentally subdivide it. Only a concentrated will is able to maintain the single image as well as the image of the pieces. These two never occur together. Either the single piece is visualized or the pieces are imagined. Stop concentrating. All dissolves and disappears. Can anything be seen ?

Now meditate : sensed & sensitized visual objects are composed of parts and impermanent.

Strike a bowl. Carefully apprehend the sound. As soon as possible attend the gradual dissolution of the sound and observe how it slowly faints. Try to catch the last vibration. Next try to find (but not in memory) the original sound. Can someone attending the dissolution of a sound apprehend the original vibration ? Can you ?

Now strike the bowl in your mind. Only a concentrated will is able to maintain the original mental sound. Stop concentrating and it dissolves and disappears. Can anything be heard ?

Now meditate : sensed & sensitized sounds are composed of parts and impermanent.

With your hands in the mudrâ of meditation, press your right thumb somewhat against the left. Be aware of the original pressure as acute as possible, and, after some time, release the right thumb and apprehend how the pressure ceases. Take you time.

Try to attend the last sensation of extra pressure on the left thumb. Then try to find (but not in memory) the original pressure. Can someone attending the end of a pressure apprehend the original pressure ? Can you ?

Mentally recall the pressure of the right thumb on the left. Only a concentrated will maintains this recollection. Stop concentrating and all dissolves and disappears. Is the original mental recollection of this pressure still present to the mind ?

Now meditate : sensed & sensitized touch is composed of parts and its pressures impermanent.

Let all visualizations & thoughts fade away. Again return your attention to the moment at hand and root your awareness in it. Relax for a moment.

Let us now consider the mind.

Try to want something, feel something or think something without being aware of it. Is this possible ? Note how without consciousness or sentient awareness, there would not be someone acting, feeling or thinking. In any experience, the first person perspective is always present.

Turn your attention to the field of consciousness and all the various sensate & mental objects constantly appearing in it. Apprehend how consciousness is a stream of moments of consciousness rapidly succeeding one another. Note how the continuum of consciousness, this sense of unity, is a collection of these instants of consciousness. They merely blend and succeed each other so rapidly without the sense of unity being lost.

Now meditate : All compounded phenomena depend on their parts. All sensate & mental phenomena are compounded phenomena consisting of parts. The whole of conventional reality is a compounded phenomenon depending on the collections of its parts. One cannot, in a single mind, simultaneously know both the collection and the parts of a given compound. The mind is imputed upon volition, affection, thought & sentience. Without mind, the latter cannot be found.

Relax and silence the mind. Root it in the now.

Dedication.


SÛTRA SCHOOL MEDITATION


Preliminaries

Let us now turn our mind to the Sûtra School and meditate on the heart of its teaching on emptiness, namely the momentary existence of what exists, the difference between direct yogic perception and conceptual consciousness and the non-functionality of what is deemed permanent.

Find the stream of consciousness, be aware how objects of consciousness change from moment to moment. Be aware of this impermanence.

Now meditate : every moment of consciousness is followed by another moment of consciousness. Consciousness is a stream of instances and so momentary.

Focus on a particular sensate object in front of you or a mental object like a feeling, a thought or a state of will. Witness how the appearance of an object almost immediately is followed by its name or label. In this way, find the conceptual mind, attributing a mental object, a name or label to what appears.

Now meditate : by giving a name to what appears, the appearance is squeezed into the generalizing measure of the label. By doing so, the specifics of the object are removed. Turning an object into a single instance of a concept is making it smaller. Realize that by naming something, we impoverish what appears. Experiment by giving objects a label. Be mindful how our conceptual mind limits the variety of what appears by non-appearing generalities. By naming, our conceptual mind makes the banality of what exist occur. This is the activity of conceptual consciousness.

Go home to the present moment. Settle in the here & now. Do not move to past thoughts. Do no go to future happenings. Remain here and do not simulate what happens in the minds of others. Try to hold this state of mind.

Now meditate : by totally observing what is at hand, eliminating all measurement, by resting in the present moment, the rich variety of details characterizing the objects of mind is not limited. By allowing all things to just be what they are, by postponing naming them, the specificity of how they exist reveals itself. This is the activity of direct yogic perceivers.

Relax for a moment.

Visualize a bicycle. Think of it as permanent, unchanging, always identical with its own-form or "bicycleness". Now ask yourself : can this bicycle move at all ?  Next visualize the parts of the bicycle. Reflect on all the parts, probe into their physical nature and recall these parts constantly change, in fact, there is no unchanging, permanent part of the bicycle. So now ask yourself : if the parts of the bicycle are impermanent, how can the bicycle be permanent ? Can a permanent object be found ? And if so, can it work or do something ?

Relax and silence the mind. Root it in the now.

Dedication.


MIND-ONLY SCHOOL MEDITATION


Preliminaries.

Let us now turn to the Mind-Only School, the School of the Yogis, and meditate on a selection of its teachings on emptiness, namely the realization object & subject co-arise, conventional reality is other-powered and yogic perceivers end the false ideation causing ignorance fueling suffering.

Recall how all appearing objects are either based on the five senses or on the mind.

Let us first consider the senses and its five objects ; first smell, then taste, sight, hearing and finally the sense of touch.

Hold a flask of rosewood oil underneath you nostrils. Apprehend the smell of roses. Intensely inhale this scent. Now try to divorce the sense of self, the "you" actually smelling this object from the experience. Is there a smell without the consciousness of smell ? Take note of the arising, abiding and ceasing of the smell. Be aware of the name you give to the smell.

Meditate : a smell cannot be identified without a subject actually smelling. This subject is a nose-consciousness. The objects of nose-consciousness are impermanent. The name given to these objects makes permanent what is fundamentally impermanent. Go over this again. Take your time.

Place a very small amout of salt on your tongue and apprehend this taste as sharp as possible. Now try to divorce the sense of self, the "you" actually tasting this object
from the experience. Is there a taste without a consciousness of taste ? Take note of the arising, abiding and ceasing of the taste. Be aware of the name you give to the taste.

Meditate : a taste cannot be identified without a subject actually tasting. This subject is a tongue-consciousness. The objects of tongue-consciousness are impermanent. The name given to these objects makes permanent what is fundamentally impermanent. Consider this with care. Don't rush.

Look at a small piece of paper and apprehend it as clear as possible. Now try to divorce the sense of self, the "you" actually seeing this object
from the experience. Is anything seen without a consciousness of sight. Take note of the arising, abiding and ceasing of what is seen, of the variability of the light. Be aware of the name you give to what is seen.

Meditate : nothing can be seen without a subject actually seeing. This is an eye-consciousness. The objects of eye-consciousness are impermanent. The name given to these objects makes permanent what is fundamentally impermanent. Stay with these ideas for some time and relax into them.

Strike a bowl, apprehending the sound when it is struck. Divorce the sense of self, the "you" actually hearing this object
from the experience. Is anything heard without a consciousness of hearing ? Take note of the arising, abiding and ceasing of what is heard. Be aware of the name you give to the sound.

Meditate : nothing can be heard without a subject actually hearing. This is an ear-consciousness. The objects of ear-consciousness are impermanent. The name given to these objects makes permanent what is fundamentally impermanent. Go over this again. Take your time.

In the mudrâ of meditation, press you right thumb against the left. Try to divorce the "you" actually touching this object
from the experience. Is there a touch without a consciousness of this touch ? Take note of the arising, abiding & ceasing of what is felt. Be aware of the name you give to this touch.

Meditate : nothing can be touched without a subject actually touching. This is a skin-consciousness. Each and every object of the five senses has its apprehending subject. The objects of skin-consciousness are impermanent. The name given to these objects makes permanent what is fundamentally impermanent. Take your time to be aware of all of this. Meditate attentively.

Smelling implies nose-consciousness. Tasting implies tongue-consciousness. Sight implies eye-consciousness. Hearing implies ear-consciousness. Touch implies skin-consciousness. The objects of the senses are all impermanent. The name given to them by consciousness tries to fixate what is constantly under the sway of large and/or minute changes. These labels are merely conventional and do not represent the absolute, ultimate, genuine, unmistaken nature of the objects upon which they are superimposed.

Let us now consider the mind.

Sensualize yourself in a dark room with a huge coiled object lying a meter away and hear someone you trust pointing to the object and fearfully shouting : "Beware ! There is a snake !" Feel the fear in this voice. Take note of your own. Take your time to simulate this. Next, hear the same voice whisper : "It is merely a thick piece of rope."  The whole thing was a joke ! Now imagine the lights being turned on so you see the rope. Reflect how these afflictive states of mind, with their fear and thoughts of danger, are gone when the truth about the matter at hand (in this case the supposed snake being a rope) dawns.

Meditate : suffering is caused by being ignorant of the ultimate nature of phenomena. The end of ignorance is also the end of suffering.

Look into your stream of consciousness. Take note of the various mental objects appearing. Volitions, feelings, thoughts and the awareness of these. Be aware how, from moment to moment, these objects change and are replaced by other objects.

Meditate : just as the objects of our senses change moment by moment, so do objects of mind change. When these objects are named, they conform to independency & separateness. The deluded conceptual mind operates a false ideation turning mere words into things, imputing a permanent nature to fundamentally impermanent, process-based phenomena.

Now release all thoughts. Return to calmness & mindfulness. Be aware of the present moment and try not to move your mind away from it. Refuse the infiltration of the past, invoking memory. Refuse the infiltration of the future, invoking expectation. Do not enter other people's minds to simulate conversations with them, nor reflect on the contents of the mind of other sentient beings. Do not move away from where your are seated. Be aware of the here and the now. Merely observing what happens, return to this when it gets lost. Rest in this mindfulness of what is at hand right now and right here.

Meditate : the ultimate object of mind has no labels, is present as a simple, open & clear pure awareness knowing ultimate reality, just existing amongst things as they are.

Now release all thoughts. Return to calmness & mindfulness.

Dedication.


IDENTITY & NEGATION MEDITATION


Preliminaries.

Let us now turn to the Middle Way School and prepare the ground for their Right View on emptiness. The first point is the logic of identity and negation.

Visualize a white rose and a red geranium next to it. Reflect how the white rose has an identity defined by its color, shape, scent, freshness and other properties. Because of this identity based on these properties, it differs in identity from the red geranium. When both are visualized, no third flower can be identified, for such a flower is absent.

Meditate : an object is identified by its name & properties and objects with different properties are not alike. If only two different objects are given, then no third object can be identified.

Clear your mind and settle in mindfulness. Attend the moment.

Visualize a table upon which some white sand is spread. See how you wipe off all the sand from the table with your hand. Reflect that by negating all, nothing is left. Clearly understand how this absolute negation negates all, leaving room for nothing else. No choice is left. Take your time to realize this.

Clear your mind an settle in mindfulness. Attend the moment.

Again visualize the table, as well as the white sand on top of it. From top to bottom, draw a line in the middle of the table, dividing the sand. Visualize wipping off with your left hand all the sand on the left side of the line. Reflect that by removing the left side, the right side remains. Suppose you had removed all the sand on the right side of the line, then only the left side would have remained. Clearly understand how a relative negation negates something, but by doing so affirms another thing.

Where in an absolute negation nothing is left, the relative negation leaves us with a choice. Again take your time to realize this.

Now release all thoughts. Return to calmness & mindfulness.

Dedication.


INHERENT EXISTENCE MEDITATION


Preliminaries.

Preparing the ground for the Right View on emptiness, the second point is knowing what is to be removed for ignorance to cease, namely the false idea objects exist from their own side, in a permanent & self-existent way.

Let us again consider sensate objects.

Visualize how you stimilate each sense. See a big thing, hear a sustained tone, smell an intense odor, taste a strong flavor, feel a slap on your face. Have you each time identified the object, and been aware of how it appears cut-off and separate from your being conscious of it ? As long as it lasts, apprehend its independent, isolated and enduring appearance. Now reflect : the object to be negated is not what appears, but what needs to be negated is the sense of it being cut-off, isolated, permanent, enduring and existing from its own side, independent.

Now meditate : sensate objects do appear as existing from their own side, with self-powered properties inhering in them. This sense of inherent existence is the object to be negated, nothing else. This delusion is the correct object of negation. By totally eliminating inherent existence, nothing else is affirmed. The whole set of substantial objects merely vanishes, no enduring substances remain. Objects merely appear as dependent-arisings, not fixed entities.

Now consider mental objects.

Find four examples of intense mental objects of volition, feeling, thought & sentience, such as a decisive decision, a strong emotion, a compelling thought and a clear sense of self-awareness. Each time take note how the mental object at hand reinforces your own sense of abiding selfhood, existential presence and existence from your own side. In the first place for yourself. Reflect the object to be negated is not the appearing mental state itself, but merely the false sense of self-existing selfhood it feeds.

Now meditate : mental objects do reinforce our sense of inherently existing selfhood, so that not what is experienced, but "I" experiencing this-or-that object comes to the fore. This sense of an enduring selfhood is the object to be negated, nothing else. This sense is the correct object of negation. This we eliminate non-affirmatively !

Clear your mind and settle in mindfulness. Relax your mind & body. Go home to the now, the here.

Let us recapitulate what has been gained.

The mind, the subject of experience, is an object-possessor. Every experience is the consciousness of something. This is the attended object. The subject of experience, the apprehending consciousness, possesses only two kinds of objects, namely sensate objects depending on the five senses and mental objects depending on the volitional, affective, cognitive & sentient activities of the mind itself. Beside these, no other objects appear to it.

Around the age of 12, the conceptual mind becomes fully operational. To identify sensate & mental objects, they are named. This is a label or logical identity. This identity and the functions these objects perform go hand in hand. Label and function are the two valid ways to conventionally define objects. Nothing else is needed.

When an object has been identified, it can be negated in two ways. Either the process of negation makes the object vanish without positing anything else, or negating something implies affirming something else. The first kind of negation is an absolute negation, excluding all choice. The second kind of negation is a relative negation, including a choice.

Emptiness Meditation negates without affirming anything, radically excluding the object of negation.

Now what is the correct object of negation ? Although name & functionality are the sole conventional identifiers of any object, in dependence upon attending an object, there arises the sense the object exists as a substance. Then, observed identity & function are grasped as inhering in the object, making it exist from its own side, independent & isolated from the object-possessor, the conscious subject of experience. The attended object, with its identity & function, is then turned into an attributed object. This means that on top of label & function, a sense of inherent, substantial existence is superimposed on it.

Emptiness Meditation wants to know whether this superimposition is mistaken or not. It inquires whether it is indeed the case the attended object is also attributed. Whether besides its label & function, inherent existing objects exist.

Insight Meditation does so by way of ultimate analysis, asking whether the appearing objects do appear as they ultimately are ? The appearance of objects is never a problem, except if they are turned into essences & substances.

Inherent existence is the correct object of negation.

Now release all thoughts. Return to calmness & mindfulness.

Dedication.


SEVEN STEPS MEDITATION


Preliminaries.

Preparing the ground for the Right View on emptiness, the third point is the way to analyse objects. As example, let us take a bicycle. Any other sensate or mental object may be scrutinized in the same way.

Visualize a bicycle. Apprehend its name, namely "bicycle", as well as its function : driving you around. Take your time to visualize this clearly.

When the bicycle has been clearly apprehended as a single whole, focus on its larger parts : the wheels, the driving gear, the brakes, the chain, the steering-wheel ... Next, apprehend the smaller parts : the spokes of the wheels, the bell, the various bolts and all the rest of it holding it together. Take your time.

Ultimate analysis asks whether a substantial object, in this case the essence of the bicycle or its "bicycleness" can be found ? To find such a substance means to be able to identify it. Given substances are supposed to be self-identical, inherently existing from their own side and therefore isolated & independent, identifying such a firm & enduring object should not be difficult, for such an object should clearly stand out.

Now suppose the bicycle is indeed such a substantial object, independent & isolated, with properties inhering in it.

Analyze this supposed substantial bicycle in the following seven steps.

1. First step : if this bicycle were identical with its parts, then the wheels or any other part would also be a bicycle, or possess "bicycleness", which is not the case for the parts cannot work as the bicycle does. The bicycle is not identical with its parts ;
2. Second step : if the bicycle were different than its parts, the when taking it apart, the bicycle should be found, which is not the case. The bicycle is not different than its parts ;
3. Third step : if the bicycle would depend on its parts, then it would be different than its parts. But as it cannot be different as its parts, it cannot depend upon them. The bicycle does not depend on its parts ;
4. Fourth step : if the bicycle exists underneath the parts, then one should be able to find it without the parts, which is not the case. The bicycle is not a substrate upon which its parts depend ;
5. Fifth step : if the bicycle possesses its parts as objects other than itself, then the bicycle and its parts would be found separately, yet they are not. The bicycle does not possess its parts ;
6. Sixth step : if the bicycle would be the mere collection of its parts, then it would exist even if the bicycle lies in pieces, which is not the case. The bicycle cannot be merely the collection of its parts ;
7. Seventh step : if the bicycle is the shape of its parts, then is it the shape of the individual parts or the shape of the collection ? If it is the shape of the collection, then the bicycle is a shape not different from the shape of the parts prior to their being assembled. This is not the case, for the heap of its parts is not the bicycle. But if it is the shape of the individual parts, then any change in one of the parts, changing the shape of the collection, would change the bicycle. This is not the case, for changing parts and thus changing the shape does not make us attribute a different name and function. The bicycle is not the shape of its parts.

What is the essence or "bicycleness" of this bicycle ? It cannot be found.

Now meditate : a substantial object identical with its parts, different than its parts, depending on its parts, underlying underneath its parts, possessing its parts, being the collection of its parts or being the shape of its parts cannot be found. As all logical possibilities are exhausted, the thesis the bicycle is a substantial object possessing "bicycleness" only leads to absurd consequences.

What has been found is a functional object imputed on the basis of its parts. All sensate & mental objects are like the bicycle. They are not found to exist from their own side, but are imputed by the observing mind on the basis of their parts.

Now release all thoughts. Return to calmness & mindfulness.

Dedication.


MEDITATION ON THE SELFLESSNESS OF PERSONS & OTHERS


Preliminaries.

Having prepared the ground, let us, before meditating on the Right View, apply the Four Points Analysis on the selflessness of persons and on the selflessness of others. These Four Points are the heart of the Seven Points Analysis.

On the side of the subject, let us investigate the absence of substantial persons. Next, on the side of the object, let us probe to realize the absence of substantial others.

Let us first turn to the selflessness of persons, the lack of inhering selfhood.

The first point is to target the correct object of negation, in this case the substantial sense of selfhood, the "I-ness" of the person. If such an ontic sense of identity exists, it must be outstanding and so easy to find. We observe change everywhere. When looking for it, one must therefore be able to quickly identify such a permanent, cut-off, separate and existentially auto-sufficient sense of identity. It must be as outstanding as were the planets & stars to the ancients.

The second point is to ask whether this permanent, singular "I" is identical with its multiple parts, be they physical (originating from our body) or mental (originating from our volitions, affects, thoughts and states of consciousness).

Relax. Try to find the separate self. Suppose this self is indeed identical with its parts. Then there would be a body-I and a mind-I, a multiplicity of "I's" conflicting with the obvious singularity of the self.

Suppose body & mind are one, singular entity. In that case designating a self would be superfluous, but we do it all the time. No appellation of the word "I" would be necessary, but how to reconcile this with postulating such an outstanding, substantial self ?
 
Suppose the self is the collection of the body & the mind. But such a "collection" is never found. Take away the components. Can the collection be found ? Clearly not. The substantial self is not found to be identical with its parts.

The third point is to ask whether the permanent self is distinct from its parts ? So let us set body & mind aside and ask if something is left over pointing to this substantial self. Besides body and mind, nothing is found. The substantial self is not found to be distinct from the aggregates.

The fourth point brings the above points together. If a substantial self exists, it should have been easily found. But such a self is not found to be identical nor distinct from body & mind. A substantial self was not found.

Now meditate : the self is merely a logical and functional phenomenon designated on the basis of body & mind. This self allows consciousness to receive a name and be a referent of itself when attending the process of the unique mind-stream to which it belongs. Without this self, there is no first-person perspective. A substantial self is found to be non-existent.

Release all thoughts, relax and go home to the present moment. Be aware.

Let us now investigate the selflessness of others.

The first point is searching for permanent, self-sufficient objects existing from their own side. Let us use the classical example of a table.

In the second point we ask : Is the substantial table identical with its parts ? If so, then there are as many tables as there are parts, which is absurd. There is only a single table with multiple parts. As soon as the table is broken down and only splinters and some nails remain, the designation "table" is no longer valid and replaced by a contextual description of scattered pieces of wood & nails.

Perhaps the table is the collection of its parts. But where is this "collection" ? It cannot be observed as such. Take away the parts, and this "collection" can nowhere be found. The table is not found to be identical with its parts.

In the third point we ask : Is the tableness of the table distinct from its parts ? If so, then when we eliminate all its parts, this substance or essence should immediately stand out. But this is not the case. We should find the own-form of the table, but this tableness cannot be found. The table is not found to be distinct from its parts.

The fourth point concludes : a table instantiated as a substance, deemed to exist from its own side, cannot be found to exist identical or different than its parts. So the proposition claiming such a substantial table exists cannot be established.

Now meditate : because the substantial other cannot be found to be identical with or distinct from its parts, others do not exist inherently, as a substance fixed "out there". Intrinsically, others are logical & functional phenomena, allowing consciousness to name others and so efficiently distinguish the unique dependent-arisings which arise. A substantial other is found to be non-existent.

Now release all thoughts. Return to calmness & mindfulness. Be aware of the present moment and try not to move your mind away from it.

Dedication


MEDITATION ON THE RIGHT VIEW


Preliminaries.

The wisdom realizing emptiness is the most outstanding feature of the Buddhadharma. All practices serve its realization. It directly prehends the emptiness of each and every object and apprehends and so the total network of relationships connecting each and every object with every other object in existence.

"I praise the perfect Buddha,
the Supreme Philosopher,
who taught us relativity ;
free of cessation and creation,
without annihilation and permanence,
with no coming and no going,
not a unity, nor a plurality,
fabrications quieted, the supreme bliss !"

The Right View teaches how objects are empty of substantial nature, but full of interdependences. Reality is not substance-based, but process-based. No substance can be found. The Gods, yes, even the Buddhas lack self-nature.

In our previous meditations, we realized how the mind, the subject of experience, is an object-possessor conscious of the object it attends. This subject only apprehends two kinds of objects, namely sensate objects, depending on the five senses, and mental objects, depending on the volitional, affective, cognitive & sentient activities of the mind itself. Beside these, no other objects appear.

As soon as the conceptual mind is fully operational, sensate & mental objects are identified by name & function. To  define objects, these are the only two valid conventional ways. Science & philosophy need nothing else.

Although name & function are the sole conventional identifiers of any object, in dependence upon attending an object, there arises this mistaken sense of the object truly existing from its own, possessing a substance, an objectness or thingness. This sense is like attributing independent & isolated existence to the object, a substantial existence it is deemed to possess from its own side, separate from the subject of experience. Then the object is no longer merely attended, but also attributed, or overlayed with a false ideation. At this point, the knower is mistaken about the ultimate nature of what appears.

Emptiness Meditation, by way of ultimate analysis, inquires to know whether this attribution of substance-nature is mistaken or not. Our analytical meditation on the possible existence of a substantial sensate object like a bicycle concluded such an inherently existing object cannot be found. Likewise, no essential, self-powered person could be identified.

So as long as an object appears as existing from its own side, unrelated to the apprehending subject, it does not appear as it truly exists, absolutely exists, but conceals its ultimate nature. Such an object is illusionary, or measured-out in a way conforming to conventional reality and its science of conventional truths, thereby stripping away details from what appears from its transient uniqueness. Now when an object does appear as it ultimately exist, not concealing its true nature, then, as in the prehension of the Buddhas, the attended object is indeed ultimate.

Let us now meditate on the Right View, the first step in the twelvefold chain of dependent origination.

1. Emptiness is the absence of inherent existence, nothing more. Therefore, all objects, be they sensate or mental are unsubstantial, and so lack an essential, permanent nature or thingness.
2. All objects, lacking substance, are merely dependent-arisings.
3. All objects, devoid of any substantial, self-sufficient ground, depend on determinations & conditions existing outside of them. They are therefore other-powered by all other dependent-arisings.
4. Although objects lack substantial self-sufficient ground, dependent origination is not mere absence or lack of something. When the false attribution is removed, the attending remains, and this is nothing less than the vast interconnected network of determinations and conditions of which every object is part.
5. Emptiness, or lack of substantial ground, is not a universal substance of objects. Emptiness is merely the ultimate property of each and every appearing object. Lacking substance is not a ground, but a property empty of inherent existence. This is the emptiness of emptiness.
6. All objects, existing as dependent originations, are either contaminated or uncontaminated. Sentient beings are contaminated dependent-arisings, and so deluded by ignorance. Buddhas are uncontaminated dependent-arisings and so awake in wisdom.
7. Simultaneously, Buddhas, from their own side, know ultimate reality as space-like, empty of inherent existence, and, from the side of sentient beings, conventionality as illusion-like, not appearing as it truly is. For Buddhas, both ultimate & conventional properties of objects rise simultaneously.

Repeat these point over and over again until a genuine sense of the Right View is realized.

Now release all thoughts. Return to calmness & mindfulness.

Dedication.


MEDITATION ON UNBOUNDED WHOLENESS


Preliminaries

We know objects are empty of substantial nature and full of interdependences. Reality is not substance-based, but process-based. No substance was found. Reality is a full-emptiness.

But what do we find when substantial overlay is removed ? When false ideation is gone, the unbounded wholeness of interdependent energy, information & consciousness shines through.

Reflect how the world is material, informational & sentient.

Find the material universe. Visualize the Earth, then the Solar System, the Milky Way, with its 100 billion stars, and the 100 billion galaxies surrounding it. Find this gigantic universe in all directions surrounding you ;

Reflect : about 14 billion years ago, this exceedingly vast realm was exceedingly small
. Back then, this vast whole was a singularity ;

Meditate : by sharing the same origin, all material things in the world are efficiently & functionally interconnected.


Find the informational universe. Reflect : the architectures or forms of material things share logical & mathematical properties. A variety of information becomes possible thanks to the communication of operational code ;

Meditate : by sharing the same operational code, all informational things in the world are interdefined and so communicate. Every element is informed by the whole and the whole informs every element.

Find the sentient universe, the realm of users & conscious choice. Reflect : all sentient beings here & now in the world presently attend sensate & mental objects. These multiple streams of consciousness are so many expressions of the same intentional activity, this "prise de conscience" of what is at hand here & now ;

Meditate : by sharing an interconnected and interdependent world, all sentient beings are always together and walk together on the path. There are no outsiders, not ever those who choose to be so.

Now release all thoughts. Return to calmness & mindfulness.

Dedication.


 
 

© Wim van den Dungen, Antwerp - 2017
philo@sofiatopia.org l Acknowledgments l SiteMap l Bibliography

Mistakes are due to my own ignorance and not to the Buddhadharma.
May all who encounter the Dharma accumulate compassion & wisdom.
May sentient beings recognize their Buddha-nature and find true peace.

 

initiated : 10 X 2014 - last update : 20 III 2017 - version n°1