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 leave home if you mentally leave everything behind. Therefore, before you begin your program, put your affairs in order as if you had three months to live.
Whatever you have done is past and not to be regretted. That which you have not yet done, let go of it and do not think about it. This is to be a practitioner of the Way. Having patience, one leaves the world to its own devices, and gain and loss do not arise from the self. – Bodhidharma’s Method of Quieting the Mind
The Perfections (Paramitas)
Knowledge comes through likeness. – Meister Eckhart
But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my path, because you are thinking not as God thinks but as human beings do.’ (Matthew 16:23)
Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect. (Matt. 5:48)
Self-realization is attained through the perfection of practices aimed at achieving as much identity with the Self, or God, as possible. The first list of practices is the Eightfold Path, which is the fourth Truth of the Four Noble Truths. Each of the eight paths was preceded by the word samyak, meaning perfected or accomplished.
The Pali canon (Theravada School) lists ten perfections, or paramitas:
Wisdom, insight (Prajna)
Patience, acceptance—to suffer ills without complaint (Ksanti)
Resolve, determination (Adhitthana)
Love or compassion (Metta or Karuna)
Equanimity, dispassion, detachment (Upekkha)
The Mahayana school includes a perfection not included on this list: dhyana, or meditation. Missing from both the Theravada and Mahayana lists is Right View, which is the first perfection of the Eightfold Path. This is most likely because meditating and listening to talks about the laws of reality, known as Dharma talks, are features of monastic life. However, most people have never listened to a Dharma talk or meditated, so I have included them in my list of practices, along with others, such as gratitude or thankfulness, that have proven to be very effective.
Ten practices for attaining an awakening:
Desiring happiness for others
Letting go of the ego
There must not be any negative thought in the mind. “Will it be possible for me to succeed?”—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)
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.” If you don’t believe that the world and everyone in it are illusions, this realization can be shattering. However, if you are prepared, if you know what to expect, you will merely slip into the experience of seeing the world as dream-like.
• Robert Lanka’s book, Biocentrism
• Dharma: the True Reality
• Dolores Cannon (2013): Between Death and Life. Ozark Mountain Publishing.
• The Only Planet of Choice (download pdf)
• The Lankavatara Sutra: Introduction
Practices 2-6 are performed beginning with week one
Every morning before you get up and every evening just before going to sleep, surrender control over your life to a greater power. For the reasoning behind this, read The question of will.
3. Praying that others may be happy
Every morning and evening, after surrendering control over your life, pray that others may find happiness. One version of this prayer is: “Just as I wish to be happy and free from suffering, so may all others.” Another version is, “May all beings be happy and free from suffering.” (https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel006.html)
Every morning and evening, after praying for others to find happiness, forgive others for the mistakes they have made in their ignorance. Then forgive yourself for the mistakes you have made in your ignorance. If you can’t forgive yourself, try Larry Crane’s guided release on regrets, at this page: https://www.releasetechnique.com/audios/.
“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 consider good, such as losing your job, and be grateful for that, too. (See Meister Eckhart on Acceptance)
“Morning Has Broken,” lyrics written in 1931 by Eleanor Farjeon and set to the Gaelic tune, Bunessan; performed by Orla Fallon
6. Envisioning success
At the end of your morning exercises, spend a few moments envisioning yourself feeling joyful at the end of the day because you have had an awakening. 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.
To sum up morning and evening exercises, every morning when waking up
1. Surrender control over your life to a higher power
2. Pray that others may be happy and free of suffering
3. Forgive others and yourself
4. Count your blessings
5. Envision success
Just before going to sleep, do all of the above except number five, envisioning success. After a few days you will find that you can get through these five practices quickly.
7. 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 dwelling on the past or future. You need to practice sitting meditation for at least one hour every day, because the transformations of your consciousness begin to occur after the first 40-45 minutes.
For one method, see The Four Foundations of Mindfulness. 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 again 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” each time the sensation of the breath flowing in and out of 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” each time the 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. (tingle, itch, cool air)
• Focus on the sensations of the rest of the face, again mentally saying “gone” when they cease.
• Focus on sensations on the crown of the head. Beginning with a square inch at 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.
• 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 when the mind wanders. 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. Instead, as soon as you notice that the mind has wandered, return to the task. Imagine you are a large tree branch floating down a river to the ocean, and don’t get entangled in the riverbank—just return to the middle of the river.
8. Cultivating love for everyone (Beginning of week four)
This practice is indispensable. I was in an awakening course with someone who thought she could skip this: she refused to love a priest who had offended her. She didn’t have an awakening during the course, so even though she thought she was punishing the priest, she only hurt herself.
First read Lester Levenson’s 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. Then replace them with love. (See Letting Go of the Ego for instructions.) Do this exercise until you feel only love for everyone on the list. If it helps, try to see people you dislike as little children, as actors playing a role, or simply backwards souls who don’t know any better.
Human love is what we think love is. Divine love is a constant, persistent acceptance of every being in the universe, fully, wholly, totally as the other being is, and loving them because they are the way they are. Divine love is allowing the other one to be the way the other one wants to be.
Divine love is seeing everyone equally. I think that is the test of how divine our love is: is it the same for every person we meet every day? Is our love for those who are opposing us as strong as our love is for those who are supporting us? Divine love is unconditional, and is for everyone alike. – Lester Levenson (https://youtu.be/vLOEgK-8EdQ)
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
Intelligence, knowledge, freedom from doubt and delusion, forgiveness, truthfulness, control of the senses, control of the mind, happiness and distress, birth, death, fear, fearlessness, nonviolence, equanimity, satisfaction, austerity, charity, fame and infamy—all these various qualities of living beings are created by Me alone. – Bhagavad Gita, Cp. 10
From the beginning our nature is pure. – Hui-neng
9. 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, 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
10. Acceptance (Beginning of week five)
There is acceptance of events and acceptance of people. Accept every event and every person exactly as they are right now without judgment. Try to see the perfection in everything.
“If you consider right to be right, there is something that is not right. If you consider wrong to be right, there is nothing that is not right.” – Bodhidharma
Things have no inherent qualities: they simply are. Whatever you perceive is a reflection of your own feelings. Therefore if you see something as imperfect, look for the imperfection within your mind: it is some desire or fear 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 reaction to identify and let go of the desire or fear that caused you to judge something out in the world as good or bad. (See the post Practicing Acceptance.)
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)
Cat Stevens: “Moonshadow”
A final word
Earth is a university and karma is our teacher. Your life span was determined before you were born, so don’t be on guard against death. You need to see yourself as a student and view every event as a lesson that was planned just for you and you alone. Never attempt to change anyone or anything, but instead be grateful for everything that comes your way. You were pre-destined to leave that job or drop out of school: there’s no way you could have avoided it. Give bad guys your own acting award for Best Villain and move on.
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The purpose of life and living is to make us realize the real wondrous and unlimited being that we are, that we have turned away from this infinity, and that we must now return home to that abode that was always awaiting us, always beckoning us to come back home. – Lester Levenson (Purpose)
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Every man is where he is by the law of his being; [his] thoughts have brought him there, and in the arrangement of his life there is no element of chance, but all is the result of a law which cannot err. As a progressive and evolving being, man is where he is that he may learn [so] that he may grow; and as he learns the spiritual lesson which any circumstance contains for him, it passes away and gives place to other circumstances. – James Allen (“As a Man Thinketh”; 1903)
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If the soul were able to know God wholly as the angels do, she would never have entered the body. If she could know God without the world, the world would not have been made for her sake. The world was created on her account for training . . . – Meister Eckhart (Walshe, Sermon Fifty-Two)
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For at the first, Wisdom will walk with him by crooked ways, and bring fear and dread upon him, and torment him with her discipline, until she may trust his soul and try him by her laws.
Then will she return unto him the straight way, and comfort him, and show him her secrets. – Ecclesiasticus
[End of Ten 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. (Lester Levenson, 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)