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. – Meister Eckhart
The Song of Angya describes the proper attitude of the young man who has left his home to become a monk. However, it isn’t necessary to go anywhere as long as you mentally leave everything behind. Therefore, before you begin your program, put your affairs in order as if you had three months to live.
Knowledge comes through likeness. – Meister Eckhart
Buddhism teaches perfections, or paramitas; these are effective means of attaining the realization that one is the Self by attaining as much identity with the Self as possible. The paramitas are called perfections after the Eightfold Path, because each one 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 path of the Eightfold Path. This is likely because meditating and listening to teaching about reality were essential features of monastic life.
Eleven practices for attaining an awakening:
- Right View
- Desiring happiness for others
- Surrendering your will
- Envisioning success
- Mindfulness meditation
- Loving everyone
- Letting go of the ego
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
• 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 Self-realization.” Say it with the utmost confidence, because the truth is that what you are seeking is what you are right now.
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)
3. Wishing others may be happy
After stating your goal, pray that others may attain their goals, whatever their goals are. 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 guilt and 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, such as an automobile accident or an injury, and feel gratitude for that, too. (See Meister Eckhart on Acceptance)
7. Envisioning success
At the end of your morning exercises, spend a few moments envisioning yourself joyful 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 success or failure 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.
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To sum up morning and evening exercises, every morning when waking up
- State your goal and pray that others will 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.
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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 indispensable. First read Lester Levenson’s talk on love here: Love is absolutely necessary.
Make a list of the people you have known, 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 then replace them with love. (See Letting Go of the Ego for instructions 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 the most convenient for you: Donate food or hygiene articles to an organization that helps the indigent; buy coffee for a stranger; give a sandwich to a street person; leave some coins on top of 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 subconscious mind 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 right now. What makes memories seem like real things are the strong feelings associated with them. To let go of a bad memory, you allow the feeling to come into your consciousness and observe it until it goes away on its own. Without the feeling, the memory loses all of its power.
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.
Again, see Letting go of the ego for the Release Technique. Once you master this technique, release negative feelings whenever you have a emotional reaction to anything.
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.
Whatever you perceive is a reflection of the feelings in your own mind. If you see anything as ugly or bad, that 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, and they are you. 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 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 caused you to judge something out in the world.
Question: I really couldn’t care less about politics or all these things that at one time seemed so important. Is that bad?
Lester: How does it feel?
Question: I haven’t analyzed the feeling. I’ve just seen that all these people think that what they’re doing is so important.
Lester: No, you are right. The higher you go, the more you see the perfection, and therefore the less you see problems. The more one sees problems, the lower one is.
Question: Well, I have the same problem he has, and I thought I was becoming indifferent.
Lester: Yes, you’re becoming indifferent to the negativity, and what’s wrong with that? If you want to help the world, help yourself grow, and you’ll do far more than you could by being involved in politics. The more you’re capable of loving, the more you’re helping the world. (Happiness is Free, 2001)
See the post Practicing Acceptance.
A final word
Your current life on Earth is nothing but a course of instruction for you alone. The length of the course, your lifetime, was determined before you were born. You need to see yourself as the student and view other people and events as your instructors. Do not attempt to change anyone or anything, but take whatever lesson they are offering you at this moment.
I saw that the source of all this energy, of all intelligence, was basically harmonious, and that harmony was the law of the universe. – Lester Levenson (2001)
[End of Eleven Practices]
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PRACTICAL METHODS THAT MAY BE USED DAILY
Square all with love.
Accept full responsibility for whatever happens to you. Your thinking is the cause, what happens is the effect.
Keep your focus on the real, which is changeless.
Attain the desireless state.
Attain the place where no one and no thing can disturb you.
Be a witness; be not the doer.
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.
See your Self in everyone and everything.
Develop a constant feeling of gratitude.
Grant others their beingness.
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. 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. (1998)
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Dwoskin, Hale and Levenson, Lester (2001). Happiness is Free. Sedona, Arizona: Sedona Training Associates.
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)