Every creature seeks to become like God. If there were no search for God, the heavens themselves would not be revolving. If God were not in everything, nature would not function nor would desire be in anything.
All things speak God. All creatures have a call to return whence they flowed forth. All their life and being is a calling and a hurrying back to what they came out of. – Meister Eckhart (Walshe, Sermon Twenty Two)
The Song of Angya describes the proper attitude of the young man who has left his home to become a monk. This was a life-decision–youngsters didn’t leave home with a mind to return if being a monk didn’t suit them. Many people leave home to seek answers, although they may not know at the time what they are looking for. But what matters is mentally leaving everything behind. Therefore, before you begin your program, you should put your affairs in order, just as if you had three months left to live.
Knowledge comes through likeness. – Meister Eckhart
Buddhism teaches perfections, or paramitas, which are effective means of attaining union with the Self by being as like the Self as possible. Union comes through likeness, or identity. The paramitas are called perfections after the Eightfold Path, because each of the eight paths was preceded by the word samyak, meaning perfected or complete. The Pali canon lists ten perfections:
- Giving (Dana)
- Morality (Sila)
- Renunciation (Nekkhamma)
- Wisdom (Prajna)
- Zeal (Viraya)
- Patience, Acceptance — to suffer ills without complaint (Ksanti)
- Resolution (Adhitthana)
- Love or compassion (Metta or Karuna)
- Equanimity, dispassion, detachment (Upekkha)
The Mahayana school includes one perfection which is not on this list: dhyana, or meditation. Also missing from both lists is Right View, the first of the Eightfold Path. Evidently the masters didn’t feel it was necessary to include meditation and Right View because meditating and listening to teaching were an essential part of monastic life.
Combining the above perfections with the simple exercises given in the Finder’s Course, I have drawn up the following list:
Eleven practices for attaining an awakening:
- Right View (Eightfold Path)
- Commitment (Resolution)
- Desiring happiness for others (Giving)
- Surrendering your will (Renunciation)
- Forgiveness (Compassion, Acceptance, Renunciation)
- Gratitude (Renunciation)
- Envisioning success (Resolution)
- Mindfulness meditation (Dhyana)
- Loving everyone (Compassion)
- Letting go of the ego (Renunciation)
- Acceptance (Patience and Equanimity)
1. Right View (Before beginning your program)
“There are two causes, two conditions for the arising of Right View: the testimony of another, and proper reflection.” When one doesn’t believe in the illusory nature of the world, this realization can be shattering. If you know what to expect, however, you will merely slip into the experience of seeing the world as dream-like.
• Robert Lanka’s book, Biocentrism
• Listen to talks by Lester Levenson (Keys to the Ultimate Freedom I) (Keys to the Ultimate Freedom Part II) (Youtube)
• Dharma: the True Reality
• Alexandra David-Neel’s The Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects (Secret-Oral-Teachings)
• Watch the movie, “Solaris”
• The Lankavatara Sutra: Introduction
• Read “Why did holographic bullets work?”
• Watch “Real-Life Holodeck”
2. Commitment (Practices 2-7 are performed beginning with week one)
There must not be any negative thought in the mind. “Will it be possible for me to do?” –such a question must not arise in the mind, and whenever there is such a question, it means you will not be successful in your mission. Your thinking should always be positive: “Yes, I must be successful.” There must not be any question regarding your success. Lord Shiva said, “The first factor for attaining success is the firm determination that I must be successful.” (Shrii Shrii Anandamurti)
Write down your goal in your own words and set a term for attaining it–no longer than three months. Every morning as soon as you wake up, and every evening just before going to sleep, state your goal as an accomplished fact, e.g., “I am awakened” or “I have attained oneness.” Say it with the utmost confidence, because the truth is that you are awakened; you never really left home.
“Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be [given] you” (Mark 11:24).
Here is an example of a monk who vowed to attain enlightenment quickly:
54 Firmly Vow to Awaken
Chan Master Lingyuan Qing, when he was first studying with Master Huanglong Xin, participated in question-and-answer along with the rest of the sangha. He didn’t know what was going on and had not a clue. At night he would make a vow before the buddhas: “I will exhaust my body and life in order to be able to give the Dharma. I vow to quickly attain understanding!” Later he was reading the Sayings of Xuansha; tired, he sat facing a wall. He then got up and began walking meditation. As he walked he promptly lost a shoe. When he bent down to pick it up, suddenly he had a great awakening. (The Chan Whip Anthology, p. 140)
• One-time exercise: Write out a brief program for your memorial service or funeral.
3. Wishing happiness for others
After stating your goal, pray that others may attain their goals, whatever their goals may be. One variation on this prayer is: “Just as I wish to be happy and free from suffering, so may that being.” Another variation is, “May all beings be happy and free from suffering!” (https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel006.html)
4. Surrendering your will
After stating your goal and praying for others to attain theirs, surrender control over your life to a greater power. (For the reasoning behind this, read The question of will)
After surrendering your will, forgive others for the mistakes they have made in their ignorance, and then forgive yourself for the mistakes you have made in your ignorance. If you can’t forgive yourself, see Letting go of the ego and learn how to let go of shame. If you still can’t forgive yourself, read Karma: The Eastern doctrine of sin.
“Once in this very place I said God likes forgiving big sins more than small ones; the bigger they are, the more gladly and quickly He forgives them.” – Meister Eckhart (Walshe Vol. I, Sermon Forty)
“That which has been is now; and that which is to be has already been; and God required that which is past to happen.” (Eccl. 3:15)
Every morning and evening, after you have practiced forgiveness, name out loud a few things you are grateful for. Then name something that you wouldn’t ordinarily be grateful for–an automobile accident or a back injury–and feel gratitude for that, too. (See Meister Eckhart on Acceptance)
• One-time exercise: Write a letter to someone expressing your gratitude for the kindness the person has shown you. You don’t have to send it: you must also learn to stop seeking the approval of others.
7. Envisioning success
At the end of your morning exercises, spend a few moments envisioning yourself joyfully celebrating at the end of the day because you have attained your goal. (A neighbor had told me about a time she levitated, so I envisioned myself levitating.) Then don’t think about it for the rest of the day.
• One-time exercise: watch this interview of one of the first six graduates of the Finder’s Course: https://youtu.be/v7bXukRfYmU.
To sum up morning and evening exercises, every morning when waking up
- State your goal as accomplished and pray that others may also attain their goals
- Pray that others may be happy and free of suffering
- Surrender your will to a higher power
- Forgive others and yourself
- Count your blessings
- Envision success
Just before going to sleep, do all of the above except the last one, envisioning success. These six practices can be done very quickly.
8. Mindfulness meditation (Beginning of week two of your program)
Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose non-judgmentally in the present moment as if your life depended on it. – Jon Kabat Zinn
Find a mindfulness technique that works for you. Mindfulness is key to self-realization, because the ego is never in the present moment–it is always in the past or future. Practice sitting meditation for at least one hour every day, because the transformations of your consciousness occur only after the first 40-45 minutes.
For one method, see The Four Foundations of Mindfulness; this post includes recordings of guided meditations by Bhikku Analayo. Another method is taught by Eckhart Tolle. Or you can practice each one of the following exercises for two to three days, and then move on to the next one.
• Start by counting your breaths (five in, five out) until you have mastered it–a few days.
• Without counting, observe your breathing, mentally saying “gone” at the very end of each inhalation and then at the end of each exhalation. Do this for a few days.
• Focus on the sensation of the breath entering and exiting just the opening of the nostrils. Mentally say “gone” whenever the sensation of the breath flowing past the opening ceases. Do this for another few days.
• Focus on the sensations of the breath inside of the nose and the sinuses. Mentally say “gone” whenever any sensation ceases. Do this for a few days.
• Focus on the sensation of the breath as it touches the skin beneath the nostrils (above the lip). Say “gone” when a sensation ceases.
• Focus on the sensations felt on the skin on the outside of the nose, noting when each sensation begins and saying “gone” when it ceases.
• Focus on the sensations of the face, again mentally saying “gone” when they stop.
• Focus on sensations on the crown of the head. Beginning with the very top, wait until you feel a sensation. Then slowly proceed downward, square-inch by square-inch, in concentric rings. This is only for the crown of the head.
• Scan every square inch of your body beginning with the top of the head and moving down in concentric rings, inch by inch. Stay on each section until you feel a sensation then quickly move on. (It is fine to cheat by pinching or tapping the spot.) if you don’t finish the entire body in an hour, pick up where you left off the next day.
• Scan the entire body in a slow, fluid motion starting from the top of the head and moving down to the toes, like a medical scan.
• Scan the entire body from the top of the head to the toes, but this time feel the sensations both inside and outside. (By this time you should be able to feel an energetic sensation at will.)
Note: The mind has two modes: “default” and “task.” The default mode is wandering. When you notice that the mind has wandered, that’s perfectly normal; simply return to the task. In Buddhism this practice is called “non-dwelling” or “non-attachment”; don’t dwell on the idle thought but just return to the task just as soon as you notice that the mind has wandered.
9. Cultivating love for everyone (Beginning of week four)
This practice is extremely important, indispensable. First read the short story of Lester Levenson’s enlightenment here: http://www.presentlove.com/lester-levenson/ . You should also read his talk on love here: Love is absolutely necessary.
Make a list of everyone you know, beginning with the people you dislike the most. Every day, set aside twenty or thirty minutes. Go down this list and release your negative feelings about each person, and replace them with love. See Letting Go of the Ego for instruction on releasing. Do this exercise until you feel only love for everyone on the list.
Just as a thing made of gold ever has the nature of gold, so also a being born of Brahman has always the nature of Brahman. – Adi Shankara
• One-time exercise in giving: After you have started the love exercise, perform five acts of charity all in one day. The following are only suggestions, and you should do whatever is easiest for you: Donate money, food or hygiene articles to a homeless shelter; buy coffee for a security guard; give a sandwich to a street person; leave some coins on a clothes washing machine; send someone a greeting card; call or visit someone who lives alone; buy a book or a toy and give it to a child you don’t know.
10. Letting go of the ego (Beginning of week four)
We repress bad memories in the unconscious like junk we have shoved into the attic. They serve no purpose but only make us miserable and block us from experiencing the joy of living today. What makes them seem like real things are strong emotions that the mind has attached to them. To let go of bad memories, you simply allow the feeling to come up to the surface and observe it until it goes away on its own. Without the feeling, the memory loses its power to disturb you.
See Letting go of the ego for the Release Technique taught by Lester Levenson, and let go of all of your bad memories one by one.
Letting go of negative feelings should be practiced constantly. Again, see Letting go of the ego for the Release Technique. Whenever you have an emotional reaction to anything, release the feeling.
How to see the ego? Every time there is a reaction to anyone or anything that reaction is ego-motivated. Look within for the ego motivation, and when you see it, let go of it. Each time an ego motivation is seen, the ego is weakened. To see ego motivation is to feel it, not just see it intellectually. The more something hurts, the more involved the ego is. – Lester Levenson
11. Acceptance (Beginning of week five)
Accept everything and everyone exactly as they are right now without judgment. All beings and all things are nothing but myriad reflections of the one Self, which is perfect. All things arise from it and all return to it.
Whatever you perceive is a reflection of your feelings in the mirror that is your mind. If you see anything as ugly or bad, that perception of ugliness or wrongness is only in your own mind. Apart from your mind, things have no inherent qualities: they simply are; what’s more, they are in their essence all the same. Therefore, seek the imperfection within your mind that caused you to perceive imperfection without; it is some desire or fear that you are holding on to, such as pride or shame, wanting approval or fearing disapproval, wanting control or fearing a lack of control, wanting superiority or fearing inferiority. Use your emotional reaction to identify and let go of the desire or fear that causes you to judge.
See the post: Practicing Acceptance.
A final word
Your current life on Earth is nothing but a course of instruction for you. The length of the course, your lifetime, was determined before you were even born. You need to regard yourself as the only student, and regard all people and events as your instructors. Do not attempt to instruct others or change events, but accept them and take whatever lesson they are offering you at the moment. If people treat you ill it is for your benefit. They don’t understand why they they feel compelled to do it even though it feels wrong to them. So have compassion for them just as you would have compassion for a policeman who is obliged to do things that go against his nature.
[End of Eleven Practices]
* * *
Lester Levenson: (1998) PRACTICAL METHODS THAT MAY BE USED DAILY
There are only two laws that need be known to cover all correct behavior.
• One should have a feeling of harmlessness toward all beings.
• That which is mutual is correct.
By following only these two rules one will be guided correctly in all situations, and will be aided in one’s growth.
Square all with love.
Accept full responsibility for whatever happens to you. By taking full responsibility and seeking the cause in your thinking, you will find the initiating cause and eliminate it.
Discriminate between the real, which is changeless, and the unreal, which changes.
Attain the desireless state.
Attain the place where no one and no thing can disturb you.
Be a witness, unaffected, assuming the place where you should be.
Consciousness is perfect, and when one sees that, one only sees perfection.
Do not try to correct a problem. Behold the real perfection underlying everything.
There’s nothing out there but your consciousness.
Only that which is within can be seen without. When we see imperfection without, we should look within. If you don’t like something in the world out there, change yourself.
Thinking is cause, what happens is effect.
See your Self in everyone and everything.
Develop a constant feeling of gratitude.
Grant others their beingness.
Get quiet; concentrate your mind on one question.
Daily, let go of the ego.
Take no thought for the ego, only for your Self.
Let the ego go its way and know that it is not the real you, your Self. Just keep knowing that you are not it. Eventually, it not being recognized, it will recede!
Practice loving those who oppose you; be grateful to them for providing you with an opportunity for growth.
Reactions or disturbing thoughts are gifts, so be grateful for them. Seize them as opportunities for growth by seeking their source and letting go of more of the ego.
Introspection brings up the subconscious and makes it conscious, allowing us to change it.
Focus on the positive, eliminate the negative.
We are here and now a fully realized being telling ourselves that we are not, saying, “I need this,” “I need that,” “I am limited by this,” “I am limited by that.” All we need to do is to stop feeling that we are limited and start being the unlimited Being that we really are.
Levenson, Lester (1998). The Ultimate Truth. Sherman Oaks, California: Lawrence Crane Enterprises, Inc. (https://www.scribd.com/doc/17260101/Lester-Levenson-Ultimate-Truth-Part-1-2-3-52-Pages)
Ashida Kim. Zen Koans. From the Shaseki-shu (Collection of Stone and Sand), written late in the thirteenth century by the Japanese Zen teacher Muju, and from anecdotes of Zen monks taken from various books published in Japan around the turn of the 20th century. (http://www.ashidakim.com/zenkoans/zenindex.html)