Soul Meditation/Contemplation M35
There are conditions and there are states generated by those conditions. The conditions are a cause and the states generated by those conditions are a fruit or an effect. Conditions are those due to which fruits arise. This is the Law of Creation. This is the Law of Causation.
Because there is birth of this body, there is its aging and death. In this relationship, birth is the cause for death. Aging and death are the fruit of birth. In other words, there would have been no death if there was no birth. Thus, birth is a necessary condition for death. This conditionality is a reality. It is suchness. It does not change whether you believe in it or not; whether you agree with me or not; whether there is God or not. Such reality never had a beginning nor will have an end. It will always remain as it is irrespective of anything and everything. It is thus unconditional and supreme. Such reality is termed as the ultimate law of universe. The Law of Creation/Causation is therefore one of the ultimate laws of universe.
For an ordinary mind, it may appear simple and even stupid to talk about something as obvious as the relationship between birth and death. But it is not so. One will understand its profound implications only when one contemplates. In contemplation, one will realize that aging and death occurs primarily because there is birth. The suffering of aging and death of body is rooted in the fact that the body is born. So, for the eradication of aging and death, birth has to be eradicated. When one understands this way, one abandons all the mundane efforts of fighting the process of aging and death. One realizes that birth is the real culprit. One realizes that the effort should be dedicated to eradicating the birth and not to fighting the process of aging and death. Then the next question arises through contemplation: why there is birth in the first place? Why this body is born?
When questions arise in this way, do not think or try to find answer. Most importantly, do not simply attribute it to some higher authority out of some belief or superstition. Simply remain aware of the question and let go. If you do this, your spiritual intelligence (SQ) will be awakened. This intelligence is not your mundane basic intellect (IQ) but the purified intellect which is rooted in non-delusion and neutrality of mind.
As you contemplate on the question, “Why this body is born?’ you realize that the body is born due to becoming of karma and karmic processes. Here, karma is a term used to denote the bundle of sense desires – the mental/volitional formations; and, becoming is the fruit of those sense desires – the resultant Karma – the mental impressions.
Now the question arises, “what causes this becoming?” and “Why is there becoming?” As the contemplation continues, it becomes evident that becoming is there due to clinging to sense desires and due to firm grasping of sense desires. “Why there is this clinging?” There is clinging to sense desires because there is craving (present karma) for sense desires. “Why there is this craving?” There is craving because there is feeling. Feeling is a mental phenomenon which arises whenever there is a contact between mind and matter. Thus, we now know that craving arises because of feeling, and, feeling arises because of contact. “But why there is a contact?” There is contact because there is mind and matter. As long as there is mind and matter, there will be a contact between them. Now, “where do mind and matter come from?” and “Why there is mind and matter in the first place?” There is mind and matter because there is consciousness. As we already know, mind and matter do not arise without consciousness. “Where does this consciousness come from?” and “why there is consciousness?” It is there because there is past karma (stored-up volitional formations) of desire. Now the big question is, “Why there is desire?” It is there because of ignorance!
If one continues such contemplation, one will realize that the same cause-effect relationship remains valid not only for the birth of body but also for any human imperfection or any element of suffering or anything whatsoever for that matter.
(See Slide: The Wheel of Creation/Causation - The Cycle of Cause-Effect)
Note that the word “Birth” does not necessarily mean physical birth only. It also means the birth of anything and everything.
For example, if you contemplate on the question, “Why there is unhappiness?” you realize that unhappiness is born due to becoming of unfulfilled sense desires (karma and karmic processes). You realize that becoming (unhappy) is there due to clinging to those sense desires that cannot be fulfilled and due to firm grasping of those unfulfilled sense desires which result in mental formations or impressions of unhappiness. You also realize that there is clinging to those sense desires because there is craving for its fulfillment. Why there is this craving? There is craving because, in the past, there was a pleasant feeling which resulted from experiencing those sense desires. This pleasant feeling is a mental phenomenon which arises whenever there is a contact between mind and matter. Thus, you now realize that there is craving for happiness because of pleasant feeling, and, pleasant feeling arises because of contact with the world. When you try to find out why there is a contact in the first place, you realize that there is contact because there is mind (the greed to see, hear, smell, taste, touch, etc or the greed to experience) and matter (the senses and the objects of senses). Since you know that mind-matter cannot exist without consciousness, you begin to understand that there is greed and sensuality (mind and matter) because there is sense-consciousness rooted in greed and delusion (sense of self). When you try to find out where does this consciousness come from and why there is consciousness in the first place, you come to realize that it is there because there is a bundle of stored-up volitional formations of desire which are held together by the sense of self- the ego. Now, when you contemplate on the question why there is ego, you eventually realize that it is there because of not knowing the real nature of the phenomena of body-mind-consciousness (the ignorance), or, because of being deluded (lack of wisdom) about the real nature of things and phenomena, or, because of lack of intelligence.
The First Cause
(Please read above paragraphs first.)
Ignorance is at the root of causation. However, this does not mean it is the ultimate beginning or the first cause. There is no such thing as “first cause.” The process of causation is without an ultimate beginning or the first cause. It is more like a wheel of becoming, continuously rotating without the beginning. Ignorance is simply a ‘representative beginning’ for the purpose of explanation of the process. For understanding the process, it is simply taken as a starting point on the wheel of becoming.
There is just a process of causation or creation. There is just this phenomenon. There is just this law of the universe. There is no first cause behind the creation. Whether there is God or not, the process of causation will not change. The laws of universe are supreme. They have always existed without the beginning and they will never cease to exist.
You might be wondering whether I am saying that there is no God.
No. I am neither saying there is God nor I am saying there is no God. What I am saying is that the ultimate truth, the supreme reality is the “Laws of the Universe.”
You might also be wondering: Isn’t there anything before ignorance? What is the cause of ignorance?
There is a cause for ignorance. Birth and subsequent aging, suffering, misery of dying, etc are the causes of ignorance. Thus, ignorance eventually results in birth (of body or suffering), and this birth and suffering generates ignorance. This is the cycle of misery.
How to break free from this cycle of misery?
In order to break this cycle of misery, purification of intellect and the development of wisdom is necessary. SOUL Meditations and Contemplations are the means for achieving. Please explore my upcoing book:
in 2010-11 for details on various meditations and contemplations.
Multiple Causes and Multiple Fruits
There is no first cause means there is no creator, no single source or originator. There is no such thing as ‘First’ beginning in creation. It is the mind that dwells in the subjects of ‘beginning’ and ‘end’ because it relishes time. Beginning is just a ‘concept.’ It is not a reality (as we have discussed earlier in Chapter ).
Can we locate the beginning on the surface of a wheel? Or, can we show where the surface of the earth begins? No. We cannot. The beginning is where ‘we’ begin. Beginning is just a ‘starting point’ chosen by us for the investigation. Thus, ignorance is just a starting point for the investigation of the wheel of causation. Ignorance is chosen as a starting point because it stands out, because it ‘represents’ a beginning for most of the people who are ignorant about their true nature.
Karma arises out of ignorance. This does not mean ignorance is the only cause for karma. There are many other causes such as consciousness, mentality-materiality, craving, external objects, etc that generate karma. However, ignorance is ‘chosen’ as a cause for the purpose of explanation because it is a ‘root-cause,’ because it is a basic factor in the generation of karma, because it is the most obvious condition for the arising of karma.
A tree grows from a seed. The seed is like the root-cause. However, only seed-condition will not bring forth the tree. Along with it, you will need soil-condition, temperature-condition, and nutriment-condition for the sprouting and growth of the tree. Although seed is the most obvious cause, it needs presence, assistance, support, and proximity of soil, temperature, and nutrition for sprouting. Thus, seed is not the only cause of a tree. It is the combination of multiple causes (seed, soil, temperature, nutrition) which results in the generation of a tree. The grown up tree does not give only one fruit but many. Thus, there are multiple causes giving multiple fruits.
Based on our limited discussion of the Law of Causation/Creation, the bottom-line is this:
1.There is no first cause because nothing arises without conditions. 2.Cause is a condition and fruit is a conditionally arisen state (which is also a condition). 3.There is neither a single cause nor a single fruit arising from that cause. 4.There are multiple fruits arising from multiple causes. 5.All existence is conditions or states arisen out of those conditions. 6.All conditions or arisen states are phenomena. 7.All phenomena are interconnected through conditionality. 8.All phenomena are interdependent and occur relative to each other. 9.There is this conditionality, interconnectedness, interdependence, and relativity. In creation, in our existence, there is no absoluteness, no supreme authority, no ‘belongingness’, no ownership, no lordship.
Not knowing this (items 1 through 9 listed above), we are confused about ourselves and the world we live in. We imagine a creator who made us and the world. Or, we imagine that it is us who own the karma. We imagine that it is us who feel. We imagine that it is us who act and cause fruition. We imagine that it is us who carry this body and leave it when we die and carry another body after death. We imagine about fate and destiny. All this imagination is ignorance. It is bound with ego. It is blinding. It brings only suffering. The history of the human world is the best evidence of this.
Understanding Ego and Soul
There are three primary types of ego. The ego that gives rise to fear of loss, fear of death is called the ‘childish ego.’ It needs support and security to survive.
Some people think that there is an ‘individual SOUL’, an entity which lives for eternity. Why they think this way? They want to exist forever, that is why. They crave living. They are attached to ‘being.’ They are afraid of death. Their ego is so enormous that it extends to eternity. This is the ‘Soulful ego.’
Others think that there is no ‘individual SOUL.’ They think that everything dies when the body dies. They think that ‘I’ dies when body dies. They think, by death everything will be annihilated and then there will be peace. Why these people think this way? They dislike existence; that is why. They crave non-living. They are attached to non-becoming. They are afraid of living. Their ego is infinitely self-centered. This is the ‘Soulless ego.’
There is no peace as long as there is childish ego, Soulful ego, or Soulless ego. The one who sees things as they are is the one who really knows the SOUL. The one who sees himself and others as a bundle of matter-mind-consciousness really knows ‘egolessness.’ Such a seer enjoys real peace and happiness because he understands SOUL.
(See slide: Psychological and philosophical framework for understanding Ego and Soul)
Practice following meditations/contemplations to understand ego and soul.
Soul Meditation/Contemplation M36
Seeing the Body As It Is
While sitting in a comfortable posture and experiencing the happiness of serenity, begin with an intention: “I will now discern the true nature of body; I will now see things as they are.” Then contemplate like this:
“I am now sitting in a comfortable posture and experiencing happiness of serenity. What is sitting in this posture and what is breathing? It is a body. This body feels like a solid lump of matter. It feels hard in some places and soft in others. I know that earth feels hard/soft and rigid. So, I will understand this hardness and rigidity of body as the Earth element.”
“The body is a continuous lump of matter. It seems to be holding itself together as cohesive matter does. Since I know that water is cohesive, I will understand cohesivity of the body as the Water element.”
“The body feels warm. Since I know that warmth/heat comes from fire, I will understand bodily warmth as the Fire element.”
“The body is breathing. I can feel the air that is moving as it is breathing. I can also feel the heart is beating. I can also see distention in the body. Since I know that air moves and distends, I will understand bodily movements and distention as the Air element.”
“Using this basic understanding let me now evaluate the body thoroughly.”
“The body is made of head, brain, eyes, ears, nose, tongue, mouth, face, neck, chest, heart, stomach, kidneys, liver, intestines, hands, feet, skin, nails, etc. which are, in turn, made of flesh, muscles, tendons, bones, ligaments, cells, etc. These organs or parts are hard or smooth and possess some rigidity. So, they are predominantly made of Earth elements. This whole body, from top to bottom, is thus a bundle of Earth element.”
“Can I change this Earth element? Can I make it the way I want it? Do I have absolute control over it?
“No. I cannot change its qualities of hardness and softness to qualities of fluidity or temperature or movement. I cannot change its function of providing foundation and support to function of providing cohesivity or ripening or motion. I cannot change its manifestation of ‘receiving’ to manifestation of cohesion or conveyance. That means I am not the owner of this Earth element. It is really not mine. It is now obvious that Earth element is a material phenomenon devoid of any owner or master.”
“Then, why am I identifying with it?”
“Since I am feeling the hardness, softness and rigidity, I am identifying with it and perceiving it as my body. I must understand that feeling and perception are really just feeling and perception – two distinct mental phenomena. Let me be not misled by them.”
“It is now clear to me that the body is made of Earth element; and, I am now aware that it is the Earth element providing foundation and support to the body.”
“There is blood, fatty oils, sweat, tears, urine, acids, etc in the body. These are fluids of the body. They are watery and cohesive. So, they are predominantly made of Water elements. This whole body, from top to bottom, is thus filled with Water element.”
“Can I change this Water element? Can I make it the way I want it? Do I have absolute control over it?
“No. I cannot change its qualities of fluidity and cohesive-ness to qualities of hardness and softness or temperature or movement. I cannot change its function of providing cohesivity to function of providing foundation and support or ripening or motion. I cannot change its manifestation of cohesion or fluidity to manifestation of ‘receiving’ or conveyance. That means I am not the owner of this Water element. It is really not mine. It is now obvious that Earth element is a material phenomenon devoid of any owner or master.”
“Then, why am I identifying with it?”
“Since I am feeling (inferring) the cohesiveness, I am identifying with it and perceiving it as my body. I must understand that feeling and perception are really just feeling and perception – two distinct mental phenomena. Let me be not misled by them.”
“It is now clear to me that the body is made of Water element; and, I am now aware that it is the Water element keeping the body as a whole by holding all the co-existing elements together.”
“There is warmth in the body. I also feel this burning sensation in the stomach. Whenever I eat something, it goes to the stomach and gets digested. The food seems to get burnt up inside the stomach. When I blow the air out of my mouth, it is warm. When the body falls sick, it is hot! There is so much heat inside the whole body. This whole body, from top to bottom, is thus imbued with Fire element.”
“Can I change this Fire element? Can I make it the way I want it? Do I have absolute control over it?”
“No. I cannot change its qualities of temperature to qualities of hardness/softness or cohesive-ness or movement. I cannot change its function of maturing, ripening, or burning to function of providing foundation or support or motion. I cannot change its manifestation of heat/cold to manifestation of ‘receiving’ or cohesion or conveyance. That means I am not the owner of this Fire element. It is really not mine. It is now obvious that Fire element is a material phenomenon devoid of any owner or master.”
“Then, why am I identifying with it?”
“Since I am feeling (inferring) the warmth and experiencing aging, I am identifying with it and perceiving it as my body. I must understand that feeling and perception are really just feeling and perception – two distinct mental phenomena. Let me be not misled by them.”
“It is now clear to me that the body is made of Fire element; and, I am now aware that it is the Fire element that is maturing and ripening, digesting and providing warmth to the body.”
"There is movement of stomach while I breathe. I feel the air coming out of this body as I breathe out. There is this in-breath and out-breath. I feel the force of air coming out of the body when I sneeze. Now and then, I feel the movement of air inside the belly. When I belch, I feel air coming out of the body. Moreover, there is movement in the hands, feet, neck, eyes, fingers, stomach, etc. There are also bowel movements. So many fluids are also moving throughout the body. It seems there is motion and movement happening throughout the body. There is also this distension in the body. This whole body, from top to bottom, is thus permeated with Air element.”
“Can I change this Air element? Can I make it the way I want it? Do I have absolute control over it?”
“No. I cannot change its qualities of movement to qualities of hardness/softness or cohesive-ness or temperature. I cannot change its function of motion to function of maturing or ripening or burning or providing foundation or support. I cannot change its manifestation of conveyance or transportation to manifestation of heat/cold or ‘receiving’ or cohesion. That means I am not the owner of this Air element. It is really not mine. It is now obvious that Air element is a material phenomenon devoid of any owner or master.”
“Then, why am I identifying with it?”
“Since I am feeling the movements and experiencing the motion, I am identifying with it and perceiving it as my body. I must understand that feeling and perception are really just feeling and perception – two distinct mental phenomena. Let me be not misled by them.”
“It is now clear to me that the body is made of Air element; and, I am now aware that it is the Air element distending and causing motion in and of the body.”
“Let me now contemplate to see if there anything else in the body besides the four elements.”
“Oh, what is this cavity of the nose through which this breath is moving? There is space in the cavity. The cavity ‘is’ the space. There is also cavity in the ear. All joints also must be having cavities. The hearth, arteries, and veins are filled with blood. That means there are cavities there which are filled. There are so many cavities in the body, however, I cannot feel or experience them the way I can experience all the four elements. That means the cavities, the space, must exist relative to something. It is obvious that the cavities, the space, exist because the organs exist and I now know that the organs exist because of the Earth, Water, Fire, and Air elements. Thus, cavities or space appear to have been derived from the four elements. This is then the Space element. It is thus derived from the presence of the four essential elements. It really exists in relation to these four elements.”
“Can I change this Space element? Can I make it the way I want it? Do I have absolute control over it?”
“No. I cannot change its qualities of voidness and delimiting to qualities of hardness/softness or cohesive-ness or temperature or movement. I cannot change its function of displaying boundaries of matter and making them distinct to function of maturing or ripening or burning or providing foundation or support or motion. I cannot change its manifestation of gaps, apertures, and cavities to manifestation of conveyance or transportation or heat/cold or ‘receiving’ or cohesion. That means I am not the owner of this Space element. It is really not mine. It is now obvious that Space element is a material phenomenon devoid of any owner or master.”
“Then, why am I identifying with it?”
“Since I am feeling (noticing) the cavities and seeing/experiencing delimitation or boundaries of various body parts, I am identifying with it and perceiving it as my body. I must understand that feeling and perception are really just feeling and perception – two distinct mental phenomena. Let me be not misled by them.”
“It is now clear to me that the body is made of Space element; and, I am now aware that it is the Space element delimiting the body and displaying it as body.”
“Let me now see if there is anything else in the body besides the five elements.”
(There are a total of 28 material elements that the body is made of. Therefore this meditation is extensive and can not be accomodated here in its entirity. Please continue your contemplation as follows:)
“I now understand that body is really just a bundle of various material phenomena. I now understand that body comes into existence because these material elements come into existence, which, in turn, originate from stored-up karma. However, this conglomeration of material elements (the body) cannot arise by itself. It has to arise with mind and consciousness. So, what is that consciousness which brings this body into existence in dependence of the stored-up karma?”
“I know that the first moment of existence of body (conception) is born out of linking with the stored-up karma. This linking must be the arising of rebirth-linking-consciousness which is rooted in the stored-up karma. Thus, I now know that this body comes into existence due to the arising of rebirth-linking-consciousness and not due to me or due to an individual-SOUL.”
“But, how does the body continue to occur and exist?”
“It continues to occur because the consciousness continues to occur and the stored-up Karma provides the fuel for the continuity of this occurrence.”
“But, how does this body develops form, becomes ‘present’ relative to the world, and grows?”
“It takes form, becomes ‘present’ and grows because of temperature and nutriment provided by the womb of physical mother and the womb of mother-nature. In this way, the four essential elements that arise out of karma are consolidated by consciousness, temperature and nutriment. Thus, body is born, it occurs, it becomes present, grows, and consolidates due to karma, consciousness, temperature, and nutriment and manifests as the body through the life-span. It is now clear to me that there is no being or entity which does any of this. There is no ‘I’ in any of it. There is no outside creator behind it.”
“This body decays and eventually dies because whatever takes birth must die. This is the supreme law. I cannot do anything about body’s decay. I cannot do anything about the certainty of its death. There is no way to change it. There is no control over it. It happens on its own accord.”
“This body, this materiality, is thus utterly devoid of any owner or any fixed-being. I am now convinced that I am neither this body, nor the body is mine. There is really just this phenomenon of body and there is just this awareness of it. That’s all there is.”
“I now see ‘body as body,’ the way it really is.”
Soul Meditation/Contemplation M37
Seeing the Mind As It Is
At the end of M36 above, begin contemplating as follows:
“I have learned that mind is also nothing but a bundle of mental elements such as Feeling, Perception, Sensation, Volition, etc. These mental elements, in turn, are simply various mental phenomena having their own intrinsic nature. Let me now try to understand this further through contemplation.”
“I was able to discern the Earth element due to feeling of hardness and softness of body, the Fire element due to feeling of heat or coolness of body, and the Air element due to the feeling of distention and motion in the body. Thus, the phenomena of materiality became evident to me because of feeling.”
“I also know that hardness feels unpleasant and softness feels pleasant; pain feels unpleasant and coolness feels pleasant. What is this pleasantness and unpleasantness? Why it is experienced as pleasant or unpleasant?”
“Hardness or softness, heat or coolness, is a bodily sensation. These bodily sensations are rooted in four essential material elements and in material sensitivities that cannot feel by themselves. These bodily sensations must be then an ‘object’ of ‘feeling’ and this object must be ‘experienced’ as pleasant or unpleasant. This ‘experience’ of pleasantness or unpleasantness is what the element of ‘Feeling’ must be. This element of Feeling is experienced as pleasant or unpleasant because it itself is a phenomenon that has a characteristic of being felt. It is a mental phenomenon which ‘feels.” Let me then understand this mental phenomenon which ‘feels’ as the element of Feeling.”
“But, why to consider Feeling as mental and not as material?”
"Feeling is an experience. This phenomenon of ‘experience’ is not a material phenomenon because matter is devoid of experiencing. Therefore, ‘Feeling’ cannot be a material phenomenon. Also, Feeling cannot be harmed or battered or distorted the way matter can be. Feeling does not decay the way matter does. Moreover, Feeling ‘measures’ the object by ‘bending’ itself onto the object, which is a characteristic of the mind. Thus, Feeling is not material but mental.”
“Is it me who feels?”
“I know that when there is pleasant feeling, I like it. I want to experience it longer. I want it to last forever. But, can I make it last forever? No. I cannot."
"I know that when there is unpleasant feeling, I dislike it. I want to stop it immediately. But, can I stop it immediately? No. I cannot."
"These feelings come and go on their own accord. There is no absolute control over them. I cannot change them or make them the way I want. Therefore, the element of ‘Feeling’ does not belong to me. ‘Feeling’ is really just a ‘mental phenomenon.”
“When there is anger, grief, sorrow, I do not feel good. When there is joy or happiness, I feel good. I cannot change this law of feeling. I cannot make myself feel good while I am angry. I cannot make myself feel bad when there is joy. Anger, grief, sorrow generate only bad feeling. Joy or happiness generates only good feeling. I do not have control over this law. I cannot make it the way I want. Therefore, I am neither ‘feeling’ nor the one who ‘feels.’ Feeling is really just a mental phenomenon.”
“May be this feeling itself is my ‘self.’ May be it is what ‘I’ am.
“No. Because, if it is the ‘self’ then, is ‘unpleasant feeling’ the ‘self’ or ‘pleasant feeling’ the ‘self?’ This is not possible because there cannot be two different ‘self.’ I also understand that both pleasant and unpleasant feelings do not occur at the same time. Thus, it is clear that I am neither the ‘Feeling’ nor the one who feels. Feeling feels!”
“It is now clear to me that mind is made up of the element of Feeling; and, I am now aware that it is this element (and not ‘I’) that provides the mind its ability to feel.
“I now know that pleasantness and unpleasantness are feelings. But, how do I know it is ‘pleasant or unpleasant?”
“I know it is so because I must be interpreting it as pleasant or unpleasant. I must be knowing it as pleasant or unpleasant by ‘marking’ it as pleasant or unpleasant. When similar feeling occurs again, I know it is pleasant or unpleasant because of the mark I have made before. Because of this mark, I perceive it as pleasant or unpleasant. So, I will understand this phenomenon of interpretation or perceiving as the element of ‘Perception.’
“Why name it perception?”
“Because it perceives, it distinguishes, it recognizes, it identifies, etc.” A person sees a piece of rope in the dark and interprets it as a snake. This is perception. A blind person touches elephant’s tail and interprets like this: “An elephant is like a broom.” This is perception. An ignorant person sees the body form, hears sound, smells odor, tastes flavor, feels the touch, feels the feelings and interprets like this: “I am the one who sees, hears, smells, tastes, and feels.” This is perception. It is so, because, through earlier contemplations, it has become clear that there is neither ‘I’ in the body nor in seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, or feeling.”
“The perception of an ignorant person changes after the development of wisdom. Perceptions evolve. Thus, perception is not a fixed entity. It is then certain that ‘perception’ is a phenomenon. This phenomenon of ‘perception’ is obviously subtler than the phenomenon of ‘feeling,’ and since ‘feeling’ is a mental phenomenon, perception should also be a mental phenomenon.”
“But why mental? Why not something else?”
“It is ‘mental’ because it ‘measures’ the object by ‘bending’ itself onto the object. When an ignorant person deals with an angry person, the angry person is perceived as a threat. The angry person is perceived as unpleasant and irritating. The angry person is perceived as an enemy. Such unwholesome perceptions result in animosity and hatred. A wise person or an experienced meditator, on the other hand, does not perceive an angry person as a threat or as an enemy. The angry person is perceived as diseased and sick needing help. Such wholesome perceptions result in the arousal of compassion. Thus, there are unwholesome perceptions and wholesome perceptions. Perceptions that are neither of the two are indeterminate perceptions.”
“This ‘perception’; is it me? Is it my ‘self’ who perceives?”
“No; because, perception is not a fixed entity. It changes as it evolves. Perceptions vary. Thus, perception must be really just a mental phenomenon.”
“It is now clear to me that mind is made up of the element of Perception; and, I am now aware that it is this element (and not ‘I’) that provides the mind its ability to perceive."
“I am able to interpret a pleasant feeling as ‘pleasant’ because of the ‘mark of pleasantness.’ There is this ‘sign’ of pleasantness in the feeling which allows me to perceive it as ‘pleasant.’ So, my interpretation, my perception must be based on some ‘memory.’ What is this ‘mark’, ‘sign’, ‘memory?’ Where did this memory of pleasantness come from?”
“It must have come from the ‘contact’ between mind and matter. This ‘contact’ has the characteristics of ‘touching’ because of which consciousness impinges the mind-matter and together manifest as one formation, as an impression. When the same mind-matter is again in ‘contact’ with consciousness, this formation, this impression arises automatically. This contact, this impression, this formation, I will understand as a ‘Sensation’ – a mental formation. It is a formation, because it has the characteristics of structuring or forming a formation. It has the characteristics of forming a quality. It has the function of building up, gathering, and accumulating like the memory. It manifests as interfering or intervening in terms of a mark or a sign or a memory or a sensation. ”
“This sensation or contact; is it me? Is it my ‘self’ who is having a contact?”
“No, because now I know that it is really just a phenomenon of mental formation. It changes and varies as it evolves. Moreover, no sensation lasts forever. Whatever sensation arises eventually passes away. Thus, sensation or contact is not a fixed or permanent entity but just a mental phenomenon.”
“It is now clear to me that mind is made up of the element of Sensation; and, I am now aware that it is this element (and not ‘I’) which provides the mind its ability to touch or sense the world."
“Right now, I am contemplating on the nature of mind. Why I am doing this?”
“I am doing this, because, there is ‘willingness’ to do it. But, what is this willingness?”
“It is that which has the characteristics of forming a quality of action. So, I will understand it as ‘volition’- a mental formation.”
“While I am contemplating, there are so many mental phenomena taking place. However, they are all involved in this one effort of contemplation. Where is this organization and coordination coming from?”
“It must be coming from volition. Volition is manifesting as this coordinated contemplating action. It is making all the mental phenomena to do the same task as it is doing itself, thereby forming a definite quality of action. Therefore, I will understand ‘volition’ as that mental phenomenon which is responsible for giving a particular quality to mental action. I know that ‘karma’ means a mental action that has a quality. So, I will understand volition as a seed of ‘karmic action’ or simply as karma.”
“This contemplation is becoming stronger as I am continuing it, which means, volition is resulting in further volition. It must be accumulating in some way. I will understand this phenomenon of accumulation as ‘volitional formations’ or as ‘stored-up karma.”
“When a greedy person sees a wallet on the street, he has the volition to steal. The same greedy person if becomes wise and sees the same wallet, he has the volition to search for the owner of the wallet. Volition to steal is unwholesome and the volition to help is the wholesome volition. Thus, there are unwholesome and wholesome volitions. Volition that is neither of the two is an indeterminate volition.”
“This ‘volition/karma’; is it me? Is it my ‘self’ who wills?”
“No, because, if it is the ‘self’ then, is ‘unwholesome volition/karma’ the ‘self” or ‘wholesome/volition karma’ the ‘self?’ This is not possible because there cannot be different ‘self.’ I also understand that both unwholesome and wholesome volition/karma do not occur at the same time. Thus, I am not the ‘volition/karma.’ Volition or karma is really just a mental phenomenon of forming a quality of action.’’
“I know that when there is wholesome volition, there is always a good feeling associated with it. When there is unwholesome volition, there is always unpleasant feeling associated with it due to fear, shame, anger, greed, etc. Is it possible for me to generate good feelings even when I have unwholesome volition? Can I steal the wallet while feeling happy, content, honorable, and proud? No. I cannot. Moreover, the volition comes and goes on its own accord. There is no absolute control over it. I cannot make it the way I want it. Therefore, ‘volition’ is not ‘mine.’ It does not belong to me. I am not the one who ‘wills’ or who has volition. ‘Volition’ is really just a mental phenomenon.”
"If not volition, then, maybe I am the volitional formations – the stored-up karma.”
“No. That is not possible because karma changes. Karma evolves. Karma varies. Karma is not a fixed entity. In case of an enlightened master, it is emptied. Therefore, I am neither volition nor present karma nor volitional formations nor stored-up karma. There is really nothing else but just this mental phenomenon of volition.”
“It is now clear to me that mind is made up of the element of Volition; and, I am now aware that it is this element (and not ‘I’) which provides the mind its ability to organize, coordinate and act qualitatively.”
(There are a total of 52 mental elements that the mind is made of. Therefore this meditation is extensive and can not be accomodated here in its entirity. Please continue your contemplation as follows:)
“I now understand that mind is really just a bundle of mental phenomena of feeling, perception, contact, volition, attention, mental life, greed, hatred, delusion, etc. I will understand this conglomeration of various mental phenomena as the mind and not as something that exists as a single fixed entity or as something that belongs to me. This mind, this mentality, is thus utterly devoid of any owner or any fixed-being. I am now convinced that I am neither this mind, nor the mind is mine. There is really just this phenomenon of mind and there is just this awareness of it. That’s all there is.”
“I now see ‘mind as mind,’ the way it really is.”
Soul Meditation/Contemplation M38
Seeing Consciousness As It Is
At the end of M37 above, begin contemplating as follows:
“What is this awareness which remains at the end of each contemplation that I went through so far?”
“It is the experiential ‘knowingness.’ It is the experiential ‘cognition.’ It is the knowingness or cognition that: ‘This is earth element,’ ‘This is water element,’ ‘This is fire element,’ ‘This is air element,’ ‘This is body as body,’ This is body as it is.’ It is that cognition, that knowingness that ‘These are material phenomena.’ It is the knowingness or cognition that: ‘This is feeling,’ This is perception,’ ‘This is contact,’ ‘This is volition,’ 'This is ‘mind as mind,’ This is mind as it is.’ It is that cognition, that knowingness that: ‘These are mental phenomena.’ This awareness, this experiential knowingness, this experiential cognition is the phenomenon of consciousness.”
“May be, this awareness, this consciousness, is what who I really am! This consciousness, this awareness, has always been there, right from the beginning of this contemplation until now. So, maybe it is me who is aware?”
“I guess I am still somehow trying to cling to something!"
“I wonder why there has to be so much craving for the ‘self?’ Why there has to be even so much craving for the ‘non-self? Let me just let-go of this ‘craving’ itself! Let me just let-go of this search! Let everything be as it is. Let it just be……”
“Oh! Now I understand! This clinging-ness itself is a consciousness and it is this consciousness that perceives itself as ‘I’ because it is deluded. So, this ‘I-ness’ is really none other than the deluded-consciousness.”
“But then who is the one who is aware?"
“It is the awareness itself that is aware!"
“The awareness of body as body (and not my body), the awareness of mind as mind (and not my mind); this awareness is a pure-consciousness! It is the consciousness which is conscious that it is consciousness!”
“Let such consciousness be understood as pure understanding, pure wisdom, and pure awareness.”
Soul Meditation/Contemplation M39
Seeing Soul As It Is
Continue above contemplation (M38) as follows:
“Abiding in this pure awareness is egolessness (soul-abiding) because it is the pure awareness of body as body – a material phenomenon; the pure awareness of mind as mind – a mental phenomenon; the pure awareness of body-mind as body-mind; the pure awareness of consciousness as consciousness. It is egolessness because it is the pure awareness that body-mind-consciousness is just a bundle of phenomena and that there is no ‘I’ or ‘self’ in it. Let such egolessness be known as SOUL-awareness because it is the awareness that there exist only these phenomena of body-mind-consciousness (the SOUL) and nothing else.”
"I now understand that there is no self; no person; no being; no fixed entity; no personal creator that exists in this world.” There is only soul - an impersonal pheonmenon of body-mind-consciousnes."
Awakening simply means eradicating beliefs, superstition, and suspicion; purifying the views; and developing higher intelligence so that the mind becomes prone to enlightenment. Awakening can be understood as 'the process of purification and perfection of the intellect.' It is also considered as 'the process of the development of spiritual vision.'
Begin the awakening process by first exploring the phenomenon of belief, superstition, and suspicion. Then, eradicate beliefs, superstition, and suspicion by practicing specific meditations described below.
What is Superstition
Superstition interprets unjustifiably and wrongly. It is that which looks at something unwisely. It is wrong viewing and wrongly interpreting the nature of things. For example, we often interpret human life as perfect, pleasurable, pious, and sinless, despite obvious human suffering and imperfection. We do so because we are not willing to face the reality, the bitter truth of human imperfection. Many people further solidify their superstitiousness by wrongly interpreting this view of human imperfections as negativity or pessimism. Such people simply do not have a strong inclination for wisdom or for attaining perfection. By evading the reality we run the risk of arousing further superstitiousness.
Some people assume that there are gods and some imagine there are no gods. Some imagine that there is only one. Some speculate that God and self are one, eternal, infinite, permanent being. Some philosophies hold that self and the world are different, eternal and continuous, contracting and expanding ceaselessly. Some think that the world is finite. Others think it is infinite. Some rationalize that body and soul are one. Some say body and soul are different. Some reason that mind or consciousness is the real self or soul.
Some theorize that the self and world came into existence by chance. Some swear by the presumption that the self is nothing but a bundle of matter (created by father and mother), which vanishes after death. Some theorize that the soul is separate from the body and does not die when the body dies. Some interpret that the self is boundless space, infinite consciousness, and so on.
In all these ways, due to superstitiousness, some people speculate about the past, the future, and the nature of things. Such people presume, assume, suppose, believe, imagine, and wrongly interpret. They do so primarily due to lack of inclination for understanding ultimate reality. They do so due to lack of willingness to experientially realize the truth, due to lack of willingness to face reality, which in most cases includes harsh and unpleasant insights because it illuminates our imperfections. This is how the mental element of superstitiousness functions.
Superstitiousness generally manifests as mental rigidity, attachment to religious rites and rituals, conceit, strong beliefs, blind faith, fanaticism, extremism, and martyrdom. We must counteract it by becoming open-minded, non-resistant, and flexible. We must weaken it by developing the habit of meditation and contemplation, which should involve mindfulness, non-reaction, wise attention, rightful interpretation, and prudent justification. Most importantly, in order to eradicate superstitiousness it is necessary to generate the inclination to go beyond mere thought and experientially understand reality. It is also necessary to continuously relinquish spiritual experiences, not to get attached to them, or carried away by them, to continue to penetrate further and further and avoid interpreting limited spiritual experiences as ultimate realities.
Superstitiousness is a monster of unwholesomeness because our inherent tendency to cling to the sense of separate self is directly underlain by it. It is rooted in our greed to exist as a separate entity. Therefore it strengthens delusion and weakens the mental capacity for wisdom. It is by far the most blameworthy element in the generation of mental rust, rigidity, and perversion. It is by far the most reprehensible mental phenomenon, because of which there is endless conceptual proliferation and the consequent generation of rites and rituals, mythology, orthodoxies, philosophies, theories, -isms, and so on. Hence, it should be considered as a giant poisonous weed that has to be rooted out.
Without the eradication of superstitiousness, the process of mental purification cannot really begin. A large portion of this book is dedicated to providing tools for eradicating superstitiousness.
When superstitiousness is absent, it is easy to understand that nothing exists above and beyond phenomenality and conditionality. It is also easy to look at all experiences (including spiritual illuminations, awakenings, birth, death, and so on) as mere phenomena of body-mind-consciousness that arise and cease. It is so because through meditative experience you realize that there is no separate self, no power, no fixed entity that can control, suppress, or change the impermanent nature of all phenomena.
If you no longer vacillate about this impermanent and impersonal nature of reality, you will no longer evade the truth. You won’t be shaken any by imperfection, sin, uncertainty, or unknowingness, and thus you will have abandoned superstitiousness.
What is Suspicion
The element of suspicion does not diagnose and lacks the will to find an answer. It is uncertain about everything. It does not trust, believe, or accept anything. It lacks the will to think things through, so it does not give wise attention to matters of doubt but simply doubts “negatively.” It has the nature of skepticism, agnosticism, non-belief, and non-faith.
If superstitiousness is wrong viewing, we could say that suspicion is “non-viewing.” Superstitiousness results in the formation of a wrong theory about the nature of things. Suspicion, on the other hand, results in “no theory” altogether. It results in the lack of decisiveness and lack of definiteness. It makes us waver and vacillate, and causes us to change camps. Because suspicion cannot think through things, it makes the mind uncertain about what is good, bad, wholesome, unwholesome, virtuous, vice-ridden, and so on. It makes the mind wish not for an answer but to remain uncertain and doubtful about everything.
Doubt, as in intellectual curiosity, is necessary for intellectual development. Unless we doubt, how can we evaluate anything critically? But suspicion is not same as mere doubt. Suspicion is negative doubt rather mere doubt. In this sense, suspicion is always unwholesome. It literally paralyzes our thinking ability and therefore hinders intellectual development.
Since suspicion is negatively skeptical about everything, it is entirely different from doubting, which involves reasoning and critical analysis. Since suspicion is characterized by the lack of will to think things through, it doesn’t encourage reasoning or critical thinking like doubting can. We need to clearly understand the subtle differences between suspicion and doubt so that we can refrain from being suspicious and give the benefit of doubt to any person, situation, or issue that we are dealing with.
People who are superstitious tend to become suspicious. Superstitiousness makes us believe in something without giving it wise attention. So, whenever we are dealing with something that we do not believe in, we become suspicious. In other words, believing in something automatically makes us suspicious of things that we do not believe in.
If you have already developed strong spiritual or religious beliefs, then you may become suspicious about what I am posting on this website. You may not be able to develop confidence in the contents of this website no matter how persuasively I state my case. If you are suspicious, you may never develop enough trust in what I have discussed, no matter how compelling or realistic it may be. If, on the other hand, you give wise attention to this material and remain meditative in your consideration process, then you would not become suspicious. You might remain doubtful and critical, but not suspicious. You might not agree with something, but you would not automatically disagree either. Instead, you would investigate to try to understand and your suspicious nature would transform into investigative nature.
It is better for us to give the benefit of doubt to new ideas than to become suspicious. It is better to remain attentive, investigative, and meditative than to doubt negatively. Otherwise, superstitiousness and suspicion and can pull us down and fetter us to the lowest form of human existence, a life dominated by ignorance and blinded by delusion. As long as superstitiousness and suspicion are present, we cannot develop the special elements of thinking and thoughtfulness, which are raw material for meditative and contemplative practices.
for eradicating superstition and suspicion
purifying the intellect