November 19, 2009
Venture Fourth Intensive Two
Thursday Morning

Keywords: levels of consciousness, chakras, prayer, vibrational frequency, mudras, access concentration, Visuddhi Magga, citta, 4 levels of enlightenment, Christian path, dzogchen, firewalking

Barbara: I was opening to Aaron and he suggested that I go through the process aloud so that others can hear...

(with pauses)

I offer this body for the highest good of all beings, with harm to none. I offer the use of this body... in the spirit of love. No one may use this body who does not come in that spirit of love, in service to all beings, and harmonious with the one known as Jeshua or Jesus.

I hear Aaron saying his thanks to me.

(Aaron; paraphrasing) I ask for the use of this body with love and for the highest good of all beings. I come into the body to offer service in harmony with the work of my brother Jeshua. I will cherish this body and return it without harm. I thank you for your willingness to share the body in this way.

Barbara: I feel his love and gratitude, and offer my gratitude also for the opportunity to serve in this way. I ask for the support of spirit, of all of your loving guides and whatever great Masters are here with us, of the Casa entities, of Jeshua. I ask for the Archangels of Light, Gabriel, Ariel, Raphael, and Michael, to surround this space and offer a light field to keep us safe as we work....With joy, gratitude and love. I consecrate this body to the Light. (body shakes as Aaron enters)

Aaron: I am Aaron. My blessings and love to you all. It is such a joy to be here with you again. This morning I'm going to try to produce a map for you. You've been reading Putting on the Mind of Christ.

Interesting, I just looked down at the book to get the precise title, but there's another book on top of it. One of you noticed that there's another book on top of it and yet I read the title, and you asked, "How did he read the title?" Well, I can see right through the book on top of it!

You've been reading this book that delineates, let's call it a "Christian" path, and many of you have a Buddhist background. Some of you have other backgrounds as well, Jewish, Hindu, so you're familiar with many paths. We're talking about one path with different labels.

If one of you told me you wanted to go home and I pulled out a map that said, "Go down this road until you see the big pine tree on your left; at that point turn right and follow that path," and another of you said, "I want to reach that pot of gold, not earthly treasure but spiritual treasure," and I said, "Here's a map." This second map said, "follow the curving road," and then, "When you come to the large rock on your right, turn down that path." Now one map is pointing out the rock on the right and one is pointing out the pine tree on the left. You turn at the same point but utilize different landmarks. There are just different labels. You're going to the same place.

Jim Marion delineates a path of consciousness that's conventionally known. Writers like Piaget delineate a very clear and well-known path. It's the path of the evolving human in one lifetime and of the evolving humanity through many lifetimes. The Buddha describes the same path in different terms. So I want to put this together for you and help you see what correlates to what in these different articulations..

We're going to talk about this, this morning and then we're largely going to lay it aside because I am not interested in your intellectual understanding so much as your experiential one. It's useful to have a map to have some sense of where you're going and where you've been. It gives you more confidence. But basically, I don't want you to be where you've been or where you're going but here in this room, in this moment, this NOW, wherever that may be. Whether you're still on the first path, whether you've reached the pine tree or the rock, whether you've made the turn, wherever you are, just be there.

Our work this weekend will lead you into different experiences of consciousness, both ordinary and non-ordinary. In non-ordinary consciousness you have the opportunity to observe ordinary consciousness from outside of it. So you're in a hot air balloon looking down on the path, getting still another perspective of the path, a bigger picture.

Please pull out this handout with the blue words on the top, State, Body, Stage, etc.

These states of consciousness and stages also relate to the chakras and the chart shows related tones and colors. Each state of consciousness consists of several stages, with overlaps. A specific "body" is most active with each state and stage.

Under "Stage," you'll see the words, magical and mythical consciousness as part of the Gross state and within the Etheric Body. Let us start there. We see a good example of magical consciousness in the child who has been told to leave the cookie jar alone but he pulls up a chair and climbs up on the counter, and reaches for the cookies jar. The lid falls out in his hand and crashes to the floor where it shatters. Hearing the noise, the parent comes; the child has quickly climbed off the chair. The parent says, "You were told not to go into the cookie jar." "Oh, I didn't do that. I was standing on the chair but somebody else came and knocked the cookie jar handle off the jar and knocked it to the floor." And the child really believes it. "I didn't do that."

Another example of magical consciousness, one that's painful, may happen if the child is angry, perhaps at a parent, and then the parent becomes sick. The child thinks, "I did that. That's my fault. It's because of my anger." So he thinks he has that power, that his anger has that power.

As he evolves and moves into rational consciousness, it becomes very clear, "If I lift the cookie jar lid and don't hold tight to it, and it drops, I'm responsible." "If I'm angry at somebody and they get sick it's because there are germs. My anger did not make them sick but I'm still responsible for my anger." So he develops are very clear rational consciousness.

In the beginning we are living largely within the etheric body, which is the physical body and its energetic outer layer. We're living from the base, sacral, and solar plexus chakras. As long as any of these chakras are not relatively open and clear, you are repeatedly pulled back to repeat the issues of those chakras. It's not just emotional karma that draws you back, but physically in the body you're pulled back, so you keep repeating the same issues that are based around those 3 lower chakras.

Gradually rational consciousness gives way to what we call vision logic consciousness. I remind you these are not my terms; these are traditional terminology. Vision logic consciousness is logical; it's rational, but it's also a bit visionary. So it takes it one step beyond the rational.

The child who felt his anger caused the parent's illness, that was magical consciousness. The rational level that says, "Of course, my anger cannot cause anybody else's illness, they contracted a bacteria or virus." Vision logic consciousness acknowledges they contracted a bacterial or virus but also the angry energy I've been pouring out at them helped to weaken their immune system. So in some way I have participated in their illness, and thus, I can participate in their healing also by offering love."

So vision logic consciousness takes understanding out of that which is seen by the everyday senses. The rational consciousness understands that there's no magic involved, but it sees only with the ordinary senses. Vision logic consciousness begins to see with the larger senses beyond the physical. It begins to envision the energetic connection. So it sees how its anger affected the person energetically and may have influenced the person's immune system. It understands that the person is still responsible himself or herself for the illness, that you cannot create illness in another, but you can offer the conditions out of which the other can create illness if he or she so chooses.

So it sees how it's interconnected energetically. The big shift here is that it's moved beyond the ordinary senses and into the non-ordinary senses. By "non-ordinary" I mean deeper inner seeing, hearing, clairvoyance, clairaudience. Not fully but beginning to connect at that level.

We're still at the gross state of consciousness. We have not yet moved to the subtle. Looking on your chart, see how there is a gross state of vision-logic consciousness and a subtle state of vision-logic consciousness. As we go through the stages, at the end of vision logic, we're moving into the subtle state of consciousness and from the etheric body into the low astral and then full astral body.

Next come the psychic and subtle stages of consciousness. The psychic state of consciousness, a step beyond vision logic, simply sees and hears more deeply. The heart is so open that it hears the cries of the world, and it is not afraid of those cries, yet it is pained by them and deeply drawn to serve in some way, to attend to those cries, whether they be of humans or fish or trees; there is aspiration to attend to the pain. The heart chakra is opening.

Psychic consciousness for a positively polarized being is a strong step into awareness of the interconnections with all beings, and combines with the strong intention to service. So it's really the opening step that's necessary for taking on anything that's similar to a Bodhisattva vow or statement of intention to service. That statement of intention to service can be made at any level but earlier, it's much more a mundane statement of intention. "Oh I have a free morning and they say they need somebody to serve food at the food kitchen, I'll go down there." So one goes. That's coming from the gross level. But if the back hurts after half an hour serving the food, one says, "I need to leave now." This is the gross level.

The being that's more in the subtle level is moved not by the phone call that says, "We're short of service today, can you come?" but by the heart that says, "I think every Monday I'm going to go and help with the food kitchen, and I'll go whether or not it's convenient for me. I'll go whether or not my back hurts. I'll go out of love. And if my back hurts, I'll work skillfully with the back pain, offering that back pain out as a ground for compassion, feeling my back pain and the pain of the homeless that come to get food, feeling it as The Pain, not my pain or their pain."

So this is the shift into the subtle level of consciousness and into psychic consciousness. Still within the subtle stage of consciousness we move into astral and high astral bodies. I'm going through this quickly. You've all read about this in Jim Marion's book. The subtle stage of consciousness is open much more deeply to spirit, as many of you are beginning to open, hearing your guides clearing, knowing your power animals.

Part of what we did in the last intensive and what we're doing in this intensive is helping to support that shift in all of you from the gross to the subtle state of consciousness and from vision logic, where most of you were, through psychic and into subtle or beyond. So the experiences that we're hoping to provide here are to help support those shifts in consciousness, which all of you have intended or you would not have joined the program.

Then on the chart we move from subtle to causal state of consciousness and then beyond the causal. In stages of consciousness, we move from the subtle stage to the Christ/Buddha Consciousness and non-dual awareness. The causal body is predominant. As an aside, some of you have heard me say I am beyond the causal plane. You will see this on the chart as "resting in non-dual awareness." That is my constant perspective now.

This is a basic map of what is considered a Christian articulation of the path. Jim Marion says in the footnote on page 106, "The Christian path generally does not use a scientific method of meditation. I believe that all of these time frames can be shortened considerably were one to be used, especially if under the direct tutelage of an incarnate spiritual Master." You all have the opportunity to investigate that question as you practice formal meditation. So the Christian path generally uses prayer and reflection. Through prayer one raises one's vibrational frequency, moves into a very high vibration. That higher vibration influences each of the bodies.

Again we have a conflict in terminology; we have a body used in two ways on the sheet we're just looking at. You see etheric, low astral, high astral, and causal. I would prefer you to cross out the word "body" there and write in "level.1" I've left the term body because that's how Jim Marion refers to it, but when I speak of the bodies, I'm speaking of the physical, mental, emotional and spirit bodies. So for simplification, let's call these etheric, low astral, high astral, and causal levels. And let's use the term "body" as body.

Through prayer you raise the frequency vibration of each of these bodies. There's a real shift. You begin to vibrate at a higher level. Ideally it's all integrated and harmonious so that one body doesn't move too far ahead of the others in its vibrational frequency. That's the smoothest transition.

If one body lags behind the others, it causes pain – emotional pain, mental pain, physical pain. This is where work with the chakras can be so helpful because if, for example, there is strong emotional pain, as you move into a higher vibration, it's possible to ask which chakras are not fully open at this point and are blocking the high vibration, and to attend to the chakras. One might simply sing to them. One can ask one's guides for help. One can do vipassana sitting with the intention to see deeply into any chakra issues that remain, to gain insight, to heal.

One of the best sources of support that I know is the mudra meditation we'll do this afternoon. The basic mudra that we'll teach you is called "spiritual bathing mudra." It works with all of the chakras. There are 12 organ meridians in the body. It works with these basic organ meridians.

When we do this basic spiritual bathing mudra, we begin to see where there might be blockage, that certain chakras and certain meridians are open and others are closed. And then because the book has many different mudras to work with, with different meridians, we can go directly to a mudra that supports the opening of the specific meridian that's closed.

We're not trying to fix something, we're simply attending to it with love. It's like when you have a bruise, and you put ice on it. You're not trying to fix it; you're taking care of it. We'll talk more about this concept this afternoon when we begin the mudra meditation.

So Marion is correct, the Christian path does not offer a specific format of meditation, for the most part. It offers certain things like centering prayer, but nowhere to the degree that Buddhism does.

So here someone has turned right at the big tree, they're following the path, and we come along and say, "Well I have a different practice. Can you give me the map that's appropriate for me?" Now we have the map that says, "Turn right at the big rock."

On this map and path specific guidance is offered. Please take a look at the handout, Visuddhi Magga, The 16 Kinds of Knowledge, opened in sequence...

1. Knowledge of Delimitation of Mind and Matter

2. Knowledge of Discerning cause and Condition

3. Knowledge of Comprehension

4. Knowledge of Contemplation of Arising and Passing

5. Knowledge of Contemplation of Dissolution

6. Knowledge of Contemplation of Appearance as terror

7. Knowledge of Contemplation of Danger

8. Knowledge of Contemplation of Disenchantment

9. Knowledge of Desire for Deliverance

10. Knowledge of Contemplation of Reflection

11. Knowledge of Equanimity about Formations

12. Knowledge in Conformity with Truth

13. Knowledge of Change of Lineage

14. Knowledge of Path

15. Knowledge of Fruit

16. Knowledge of Reviewing

We start with Knowledge of Delimitation of Mind and Matter. This is a fancy way of talking about being present with the arising of mental and physical objects and seeing how they arise out of conditions and dissolve when the conditions are no longer present. Rupa, the form aggregate, and nama, the mental aggregate, arise and pass away according to conditions. We start to know what is mind and what is matter. We see that mind is mind and matter is matter. And yet there is a place where they come together because mind influences matter.

To begin with on this path, we develop a level of presence that we call "access concentration." I think you're all familiar with access concentration, at least what the term means, and most of you have experienced it. Access concentration begins to open in your practice when you learn to stay present with an object as it arises, to know if it's pleasant or unpleasant or neutral, to watch if any aversion arises or any grasping at the object, and to take that aversion or grasping as the new object.

In other words, you don't get caught up in a relationship with aversion or grasping or with stories about it, but you simply begin to see that based on this pleasant experience, some grasping has arisen. Based on that unpleasant experience, some aversion has arisen. It's just another object arisen out of conditions. It's impermanent; it's not self. So you don't have to get into any stories about it, you simply take it as an object and see how this also has arisen and will pass away. There's no energetic contraction around it; it simply has arisen, it will pass. This is still pre-access concentration, the ground out of which it comes.

The objects begin to come in turn, sometimes seeming fast, sometimes slow, each object arising out of conditions and passing away. And there's no energetic going out to any object; mind is firm, clear, steady, and able to be present with each object in turn openly, with an open heart. The sense of a self drops out. But there is still experience of objects. This is access concentration. This is the basis of what we might call the Buddhist path.

There's what we might call purification of view that arises with access concentration. This is simply seeing the object does not arise out of any self, it arises from conditions. So "right view" is what we would consider that clear seeing that things are simply arising and passing away, empty of self. Purification of view.

Right view sees the three characteristics of conditioned experience, that it's not self, that it's impermanent, and how it leads to suffering. Then we arrive at that delimitation of mind and matter, knowing the object arose out of conditions. Whatever has the nature to arise has the nature to cease and is not me or mine. That's the clearest way I can express this.

So we've reviewed on your sheet up to Knowledge of Discerning Cause and Condition. Seeing that it arises out of conditions and passes away. Then Comprehending how this happens. Knowledge of comprehension of arising and passing. It all arises and passes.

I'm trying to decide how much detail to go into, here... Not to much. This is all available in traditional texts.

We begin to see that everything in the conditioned realm arises and passes. Everything. We start to see how the consciousness that notes arising and passing. Mundane consciousness is also a mundane object that arises and passes away. Attention moves from arising to dissolution. We start to see that this self is dissolving, and terror arises. "Will I annihilate myself? What will happen to me?" There's nothing to hold onto, everything is dissolving including the body and the ego.

At that point, when working with a skillful teacher, one is guided to take the terror also as an object, not to get caught up in the story of it, just to see that this also has arisen from conditions and is impermanent, is not self.

Gradually the experience of terror dissolves and then, interestingly, a different kind of fear comes because we see how easily we can get caught in taking things as solid, how appealing it is to hold on to the solid world. We see into the danger of formations, physical, emotional, mental, and our attachment to them. This is the contemplation of danger.

As we move through this, there's a stage Knowledge of Disenchantment. One starts to feel like nothing matters. If the whole conditioned realm is nothing but arising and passing objects, and there's nothing to be attached to, nothing matters. Relationships don't matter; the Earth doesn't matter; nothing matters. The meditator moves into a stage that often looks like depression.

This is the dark night of the senses, by a different name. That's all it is. You've arrived at it by a more specific path. The practitioner following the so-called Christian path has somewhat stumbled into it through their deep reflection and prayer. What's happened for the person on the Christian path--I'm going to drop off the term "so-called" but please insert it in your mind. I don't want to create a duality here. But the person who is doing this Christian practice – prayer and reflection – through prayer has raised the vibrational frequency of the bodies, come to a place where it's seeing itself, looking down on itself from far away, and thinks everything is dissolving in this mind and body. There's nothing but God. There's no self. Everything is dissolving.

And then comes to that stage of terror. Wanting to hold on to God and seeing, "I can't hold on to God because this self that's trying to hold on to God is dissolving." Then the dark night of the senses, everything is dissolving. There's nobody left to hold onto God.

The Christian then moves through that dark night and finds what we call unity consciousness. Mind moves into something beyond the conditioned consciousness, what the Buddhist might call pure awareness, which is able to feel its connection with the divine. So the being passes through the dark night of the senses in that way.

On the Buddhist path, from this contemplation of disenchantment, there's desire for deliverance. There's the strong aspiration to find the true path, to find freedom. Then follows, for the Buddhist, a long list of contemplation of reflection, reflection on different insights. This is from the book Visuddhi Magga. I'm going to simply read you this list, please don't try to take notes and note it all down.

The Contemplation of Impermanence abandons the perception of permanence.

The Contemplation of Suffering abandons the perception of pleasure.

The Contemplation of Non-self abandons the perception of self.

The Contemplation of Disenchantment abandons delighting.

The Contemplation of Fading Away abandons lust.

The Contemplation of Cessation abandons originating.

I'm not going to try to explain what these all mean now; as I said, it's taken from the well-known Buddhist commentary, Visuddhi Magga, the Path of Purification, which is a massive book. But these are commonly known reflections and I'd be happy to answer questions about their meaning. I don't think you need to go into them in detail.

The Contemplation of Relinquishment abandons grasping.

The Contemplation of Destruction abandons the perception of compactness.

The Contemplation of Passing Away abandons the accumulation of kamma.

The Contemplation of Change abandons the perception of stability.

The Contemplation of the Signless abandons the sign. That is, there's nothing to mark the way anymore.

The Contemplation of Desirelessness abandons desire.

The Contemplation of voidnesss abandons adherence to the notion of self.

The higher wisdom of insight into phenomena.

Correct knowledge and vision.

The Contemplation of Danger abandons adherence to attachment.

The Contemplation of Reflection abandons non-reflection. That's a hard one to explain.

The Contemplation of Turning Away abandons adherence due to bondage.

Then there are many more modes of reflection. The Visuddhi Magga has perhaps 30 or 40 pages about this. Within knowledge of reflection we contemplate some of these. Some meditators will follow more the path of impermanence, some of suffering, some of not-self. In other words, one of these becomes a vehicle for each of you. So for some, impermanence will be the major vehicle, for some, the emptiness of self will be, and some, the experience of suffering.

Finally, and this is akin to the ending of the dark night of senses, the Knowledge of Equanimity about Formations. There's no longer terror about formations or about seeming groundlessness. We've seen the voidness of everything in the conditioned realm. We have accepted that consciousness is also conditioned. We don't know where we are but we're content, and there's some equanimity just to rest in this place of not knowing.

The End of the Dark Night of the Senses. Jim Marion cites this as the place of the opening into subtle consciousness.

This is from Visuddhi Magga and I think I'll read it to you. The simile of the crow.

One sails aboard a ship. It seems they take with them what is known as a land-finding crow. When the ship gets blown off its course by gales and goes adrift with no land in sight, then they release the land-finding crow. It takes off from the masthead and after exploring all quarters, if it sees land it flies straight in the direction of it. If not, it returns and alights on the masthead.

So too if knowledge about equanimity sees nibbana, the state of peace as peaceful, it rejects all formation and enters into nibbana. If it does not see it, does not see equanimity with formations, equanimity with formations occurs again and again.

So we keep working with equanimity with formations until nibbana is in sight. We are passing through the dark night of the senses and into subtle consciousness.

Knowledge number 12, Knowledge in Conformity with Truth, is a coming together of all that preceded it. One keeps returning again and again to this equanimity. It is at this point that one of the gates, anatta, anicca, or dukkha, becomes predominant. There's a shift in view, one has explored all compounded things and found them to be impediments to freedom.

Up until now one has investigated all three of these characteristics of conditioned experience. Now one stays with one of them. This predominant characteristic depends on our spiritual inclination, and which characteristic predominates: faith, concentration, or wisdom.

Here is where we find the value of pure awareness practice. If you've only known consciousness and have worked with a practice that focuses on consciousness seeing an object, and seeing the dissolution of the object, then when consciousness dissolves, it's like falling off a cliff, there's nothing left. But if you've noted the awareness that holds consciousness itself as an object, and noted how awareness is not based on a self, then there's a much easier shift. Consciousness is a conditioned object and it dissolves but awareness remains. It was my consciousness and it's gone. It's not my awareness, it's just awareness.

There are a number of different Knowledges that arise here. I'm not going to list all of them. I don't want you to go too much into the intellectual part of this unless it calls to you, and Barbara can email you out this more detailed material if you're interested in it. We'll ask to have it pasted on the website so you can read it if you wish.2

But we come then to Change of Lineage Knowledge. This is the place where the meditator says, "Okay, the freedom I'm looking for is not to be found here in the conditioned realm. Where is it?"

You've heard Barbara and me speak of citta, or consciousness. The Pali word for consciousness is citta. There are citta of capable of holding mundane objects and citta that are capable of connecting with the supramundane. The citta or consciousness that's capable of hearing my voice now is different from the citta that's capable of hearing your guide speak. It's not coming through your physical ear, it's coming through the psychic or subtle level of consciousness.

The citta are grossly categorized as kuttara and lokuttara, mundane and supramundane citta. They are not stretched out linearly but are simultaneous. If you went out on the lake today and looked down, you might be able to see maybe a foot down into the water, but there are ripples and perhaps the wind has blown up some turbulence from the bottom.

If the water was very clear on a very clear day, you'd be able to see through the water all the way down to the bottom. The bottom is always there. The bottom doesn't go anywhere. The clear water is always there and sometimes there's sediment mixed in with it. That doesn't mean the clear water isn't there. The lokuttara citta are always open but sometimes there's enough sediment, as illusion of self, that you can't see.

As the vibrational frequency of the various bodies becomes higher, there's clearer seeing. As there's clearer seeing, the vibrational frequency becomes higher. Circular.

What happens in Change of Lineage Knowledge is that there's a realization that the mundane path will not bring you to liberation. There's nothing I can do, I cannot push this, I cannot force this, I cannot create it. I still must give effort, skillful effort, to my practice, but as long as I'm trying to work from a place of self, I can't do it. It's only when I move past that self, resting in awareness, resting in this vast openness, in purity of being that the lokuttara citta open, that I can connect to the direct experience of the Unconditioned.

Then Knowledge of Path is the direct experience of the Unconditioned. I'm being brief. Here the knowledge of fruit is reviewing, what are the fruits of this experience? And reviewing it. I'll talk more about that later.

Within the Christian path, after the dark night of the senses, as subtle consciousness opens, we could put that as a parallel to the opening of the lokuttara citta. But there's still a small sense of self trying to get somewhere or achieve something. There's unity consciousness and it can be profound, blissful, truly life-changing, but finally there's despair because even from this place of unity consciousness I still am not free, and I sense I am not free. So the dark night of the soul is in a sense that awareness, "I cannot do it." Even unity consciousness is insufficient because it still depends on a God out there and me to be united with it. Even if we come together and there's unity consciousness, there's still something. Part of the dark night of the soul is the awareness, "I have to let go even of that something, even of God. I have to let go of everything." And there's no I to do it; how do we continue?

As we move through the dark night of the soul, finally there is the shift to non-dual consciousness. We might equate that with the direct experience of the Unconditioned. The map becomes a bit more complex because there are described in the Buddhist literature 4 experiences, 4 levels of enlightenment.

The stream-entry level is the level beyond unity consciousness; it's the level that first sees the possibility of the Unconditioned but has just a taste of it. It's not stable. So we come back into the unity consciousness level; we come back into a level that still has a sense of a self here and a something out there, although they're not seen as separated and although we understand that they are simply constructs of the mind. We're still not stable in that level of thinking.

When we move into the once-returner experience, there's more stability. The vibrational frequency is rising. There is greater ability for presence with the non-dual experience. For the once-returner, there may be what is called cessation experience. This rarely happens with stream entry, although it can, but rarely. Cessation experience is where everything seems to cease-- all arising and dissolution ceases. You're far beyond any experience of a body or a separate self. But everything ceases and there's stillness.

The once-returner, if he or she experiences that, has just a brief moment of that experience, not at all stable, and says, "What was that?" And they come out of it.

The non-returner moves into that experience again; it just keeps cycling. There may be years between the cycles. You touch the experience and then you spend weeks, months, years, coming to a readiness for stability in that experience, and then you move into the non-returner experience, where finally instead of saying, "What was that?" you say, "Ah, I'm home," when you review it. Within this experience there's no thought, "Ah, I'm home," for there's no thought. But the cessation experience is much more stable for the non-returner.

At each level, stream entry, once-returner, and non-returner, when you move into the reviewing consciousness there's awareness of work that needs to be done. The places where what you perceived, what you fully understood, you are not able to fully bring forth in the world because the old conditioning; the old unwholesome conditioning is still there. So there's a strong impetus to do the work to clean up what needs to be cleaned up.

You come back often to sila practice at that point, carefully watching the speech and the intentions and actions, aware that everything must be cleaned up. As you do that kind of clean up--I don't mean to say as you do it, as love does it--the ability to rest in that newest level becomes more and more firm.

At this point when there is complete dissolution of everything and yet awareness, non-dual awareness rests fully with the Unconditioned, no separation of awareness and Unconditioned, nothing separate, non-dual consciousness, everything has ceased arising and dissolving. And if things seem to arise and dissolve again in the future from a more mundane consciousness level, one simply looks at that as the play of the mind. One recognizes that in the ultimate sense nothing is ever arising and dissolving and yet it seems like sometimes it rains and sometimes the sun comes out. We don't deny the mundane world at all; we simply know it completely as the outplay of conditions and we attend to it. So this is the experience of the non-returner.

I want you to take these terms "once returner" and "non-returner" very lightly. The once returner may still return 3, 4, 10 times. The non-returner, if the non-returner is able to do all the work within that lifetime, to resolve everything that it sees from that non-returner experience, in other words to resolve all the karma and habit energies, then it will not be pulled to return. But if it has not been able to do that then it will return.

Barbara had a very profound experience some years ago. A dear friend who was a meditation master in Sri Lanka, a true soul mate on the path; together had seen much of their shared karmic history and how the work each was doing now with their own sanghas in their own respective countries was very parallel, how they were each having to clean up very similar karma from their past lives in which they had been close friends.

So Barbara received a message after her friend died, "Finish it. Finish it for me." How does one finish it for another? These were his final words to her "Finish it. Finish it for me." What he was saying was that he recognized that he was a non-returner, yet there was still some karma that he had not fully resolved, and that through her work she could resolve it for both of them. You can resolve it for another. How?

We go beyond self and other when we work with deep forgiveness for the ways we have done harm to others and forgiveness for those who have harmed us. When we work skillfully and sincerely to resolve every piece of karma that's still there, but with humility knowing we're never going to get it all and that's okay.

It's really the power of the intention that purifies the karma, the love behind it. As humans you're never going to get it perfect. Anger sometimes arises. It's the power of the intention. And as you purify negative impulse for yourself and hold others in your heart, you purify that negative energy for the whole world. You purify hatred for the whole world, you purify fear and greed throughout the whole world. This is the power that one has when one reaches that level even of once-returner, but certainly of non-returner.

The person on the Christian-labeled path at this point who has been through a unity experience will now move into a deep experience of non-duality which is no different than the experience of the Unconditioned. The path drops the labels there. The direct experience of the Unconditioned is the direct experience of the Unconditioned, it doesn't matter what religious path or spiritual path one is following.

So this is by way of a map. I've wanted you to read Putting on the Mind of Christ because I think it's very useful for you in two ways. First, many of you come from a Christian background and it will help you to understand how to put together your background and your present path. And second, it's very useful to read about this in a different articulation.

In the next intensive we're going to spend at least 2, possibly more days working with pure awareness meditation, dzogchen, stabilizing pure awareness, deepening the ability to rest in pure awareness.

Dzogchen is taught at 3 levels called view, meditation, and action. We want to stabilize pure awareness or rigpa first at the view, seeing rigpa, seeing pure awareness, then stabilizing it at the meditation level and asking how we bring it out into the world. And this is essential to our Venture Fourth work, that your work in the world comes from this place of pure awareness and not from the ego.

We also will work with the second level of dzogchen. The first level is called trekchod, cutting through. The level where we cut through the ordinary mind and rest more stably in awareness. Then hopefully for all of you to some degree, for some of you will go deeper than others, once awareness is strong, we work with the light practices which are part of the purification.

We've been talking about working with the chakras and raising the body vibration frequency, and how this purifies, how this releases negativity, how this releases contraction.

The dzogchen light practices, togyal practices, have the same effect. I don't want to go too much into this now, just a preview of what's to come. So this will be our focus at the next intensive. We'll continue to work with chakras, with energy. We'll work more with vipassana and looking at the distinction between pure awareness and access concentration to make sure that's clear for you, assisting those who do not have stable access concentration to move more fully into that. This will be our focus at the next intensive.

There's so much I could say to you here. This is a basic map. I'm sure there are questions. I think what's most important is to recognize that you can let all of this intellectual material go. None of it is important. It's just background.

Many of you will find it helpful to have a map. That's okay. Some of you like to look at the map and go a short way and look at the map again and say, "Where am I now? Where am I going?" That helps you feel safe. Others say, "I'll stuff the map in the backpack, let's just walk." As long as you're walking in a skillful way, that's just fine. I'd prefer you not get too lost, so if you're feeling lost, please let me know and I can give you some pointers. But don't be too attached to the map.

The most important thing is your loving intention. Equally important is the weekly work you are doing with these character traits. I've reviewed the segment about purification. What we're really doing with this weekly work is moving through these purifications, each of you getting a better picture of where you're stuck, where you're stuck in certain kinds of habit energies, where you're stuck with the ego, so that you can move through in a skillful way. Because we want the vibrational frequency to raise harmoniously in each of the bodies.

If there is a lot of emotional backlog, it needs to be attended to, if there's a lot of karma around emotions. If there's a lot of physical backlog, that will be attended to. Some of you have reported to me, I would not say so much moving through strong illness as moving through various physical catalysts which seem to last a short time and then pass. You're purifying karma in the body and releasing it because of the power of the work you're doing. And where there is karma in the body, it will come forth. It's coming forth to be released. I think Marion says something about that in his book. I don't know the page but he addresses that.

So we're trying to keep this whole evolution of consciousness relatively gentle, at least manageable and balanced, and invite you to keep moving up into this higher and higher consciousness, using vipassana practice as a support toward liberation.

Your questions are welcomed.

(participants harder to hear, may not be entirely accurate)

Q: The summer I was 13 I had periods of no self. They were terrifying. Do you have any ideas about what caused them and what they were about?

Aaron: Each of you is an old soul and in past lives you have been somewhat stable at levels of no-self. Each of you came into the incarnation with the intention to evolve further and be of service to the world, two very compatible intentions.

As old souls you also came in with the basic intention to do this in a wholesome way, not to grasp at evolution but to hold it stable. So for you, and probably for many of you, something came up, certain conditions, that began to open those old memories and experiences and yet there was at some level awareness, "I'm not ready for this." And the wholesome drawing back, re-grounding yourself into everyday life. Knowing, "When I'm ready I'll come back to it." The experience when you're ready is far different than the experience before you're ready.

Picture yourself having practiced tightrope walking on a wire stretched a foot above the ground, until you felt very proficient at it. Then the wire is raised to 4 feet above the ground but there was soft sawdust under you. You walk until you feel proficient at that. Then a safety net is placed under you and you move up to 12 feet above the ground with a net under you, until you feel proficient at that. Then you walk over a chasm between two cliffs. It's still a bit frightening but you know, "I've walked this; I know how to do it."

Picture the difference of that example and being led to the top of a cliff and told, , "You've done this before in a past lifetime. You know how to do it. Why don't you just walk across?" So the intention is a very wholesome one, the intention for growth, for expansion, and the intention to do it in a manageable and wholesome way.

So now you're all practicing walking on that tightrope stretched over the safety net and we're not going to send you out over any chasms until you on your own say, "I'm ready for this. I know I can walk this without falling off." If there's any doubt whatsoever, then don't do it.

I see my brother D here who has firewalked, I wonder if any others of you have done fire walking? Okay? Can some of you tell about that experience?

D: So to set the scene, I went to this firewalk and they had, they probably used a cord of wood which they piled into kind of a small wall, if you will. I'd say it was about 10 to 12 feet long. And we ignited it and let it burn until the wood itself broke down into coal and we had this nice walkway.

I've walked the fire dozens of times and when you're standing there and the fire is right in front of you and you can feel the heat, the heat gets your attention! You have to center yourself in this place that is a balance between recognizing that you might get burned, and some people do, and you may not. But you're willing to walk. And the balance for that statement, for that intention, is the knowledge that either way you're fine.

I come back to that experience many times because of that level of recognition of, whatever happens, you're safe, I mean even if you get burned you're safe. And somehow when you're in that correct balance, you don't get burned. And I don't know how to explain it, obviously, beyond that point. But it's very interesting because, I mean you're walking on a 10 to 12 foot walkway; it's hot coal. How hot is it? It's a couple thousand degrees or so. And some people will walk with stocking and nothing will happen with the stockings and they'll take them off and drop them over the fire and they'll burst into flame before you can <> the fire. So this is real.

But the other interesting thing is that some people do get burns and what they suggest that you look is that you look at where you actually got burned because you don't get burned on your entire foot, you just get little spots here and there. There's supposed to be a correlation between those areas in reflexology and something that's going on in yourself.

Q: Do you run or walk?

D: You do either, I've walked it many times over several events and my goal had always been to not run, to walk and to walk slowly, and not only that but to get to the point that I get them over the fire and I stop, I stop. I stand there. I just walk half way and then stop. And I've done it. Not too many times but I've done it I think 3 or 4 times.

Q: How long do you stand there?

D: I'll stand there for a few seconds. And then I just keep walking.

Q: What do you do to prepare your consciousness to not get burned, there has to be something...

D: When I've done it it was always part of a half-day workshop where we break wood as well, so... (back and forth with Q, can't hear) you can take arrows and break them against your soft spot, I don't know what it's called, you put the sharp spot there, and someone will hold it on the other side, and you walk forward, and the thing just snaps.

Q: I saw the Shaolin warriors <inaudible> (about them lying on a bed of nails with a concrete block on them that was broken on them) What do they do, that's what I'm trying to figure out, maybe Aaron (knows)... but I wonder if Aaron can explain what people do to their consciousness to be able to do these things that would kill anybody else.

Aaron: You are unlimited. I've done the fire walking and lay down in the middle, laid the whole body down.

D: I have heard people do that. I have not tried it.

Aaron: There was once when I did that, walked across half way, laid down for about a minute or two, laying in the middle, stood back up, walked back across, and then burned my hand a half an hour later preparing food.

This relates to the power of intention. One brings forth the intention not to be harmed, remembering that the body content is largely water. When I had done fire walking, one of the preparations for me was to make sure the body was well-hydrated and to call forth, to work with the elements, working with the water and fire elements, bringing them into a balance in the body so that I quieted the fire element in the body to some degree and brought forth the water element, fully filling the various cellular tissues with water. And also working with the fire in which I walked or lay, bringing forth the water element in that fire. And simply holding it all with love.

We've been talking about what to do for Intensive #4. Perhaps we should have a fire walk here, perhaps we should invite somebody who is capable to teach this. Dottie, how do you feel about having a fire walking day?

Dottie: We often have the fire down there with groups and we have jumped the fire.

Aaron: I will ask Barbara to consider it.

Q: ...In what way does the intention to walk on fire preserve the health of your body, how is that <something love?> and how is it not ostentatious?

Aaron: It could be either; it depends where it's coming from.

Q: Will it work one way and not the other?

Aaron: It could be both. If as we were sitting here there was a neighbor passing by in a canoe and the canoe flipped and we saw him screaming, "Help!" and one or several of you rushed off to save him, part of the intention would be a very loving intention to help somebody who was in trouble, and there might also be a small intention that says, "Oh, people will be patting me on the back," and both intentions can be there at the same time.

If one acknowledges the showing-off intention and works with it and releases it before one walks, then you're fine. If one doesn't acknowledge it, then you'll probably get burned.

Q: Maybe "showing off" was too extreme...

Aaron: The ego's intention: when is it pure intention and when is it ego? Both will be there. It's an opportunity to see how the ego comes through, to say to the ego, "Hello, have tea," and put it aside and not get caught up with it but return to the pure intention.

Q: So pure intention could be simply to expand your limits.

Aaron: Correct. To move beyond any sense of limits. To know that, to truly know with physical evidence, "I am unlimited."

I'd like to hear from N or J if you'd like to describe your fire walking experience, if you have anything to add to what D said.

Q: I did it one time, actually I did it twice, quite awhile ago. It was in the context similar to what you're saying of a rather expanded period, a workshop kind of thing. I have no idea how I did it. I just felt comfortable and confident that I could do it and I just slowly walked 12 or 13 feet across these coals with no problem.

And since then there have been times when I've been camping or something and I've reached into the fire and arranged it and not gotten burned. And other times when I went to do that, "Whoa!" I couldn't do it. So it is some state of consciousness that we can access, and sometimes I can/can't.

Aaron: Would you like to add something?

Q: I've done fire walking twice and the first time that I did a fire walking it was a full day, and we spent probably half the day, it was in, I won't say Christian but it was almost a Christian context, we spent half the day praying and chanting. And the point was to realize we are unlimited in nature. So that by the time we got to the edge of the coals, I had this experience of the fear, it's very visceral when you see the hot burning coals and you've watched this mountain of wood burn down all afternoon.

So it was a very interesting state of dual consciousness or awareness of the fear arising, the doubt, and then just setting my intention to rest in my unlimited nature. And from standing in that place, that knowing that in that place I could not perform, and then walking it. And it was very powerful, and we did have people who got burned. So it is really fascinating. But that was the gift for me, to learn that I could step into that place consciously, step into that place of my unlimited nature and with wholesome intention take action. And it was mind-blowing at the end! It was really an incredible experience.

Aaron: I'm curious. How many of you would have any interest in doing this in our Intensive #4? Is there any interest? If we set it up with a professional leader, is there any interest?

Q: This would help us along our path, right?

Aaron: It would help you to know your unlimitedness, to resolve doubts about your unlimitedness. It would help you to better understand how to work with fear and even when there is fear, not to be caught up in the story of fear but simply to release it, and to know a deeper truth right there with the fear. It would help you to better understand the elements in your body and how to keep them balanced.

It would depend upon finding a both competent facilitator and one who speaks my language, so to speak. For example, we wouldn't want to do it as an N expressed within a Christian context with much Christian prayer so much as in a more balanced context. If we were to do it, of course nobody would be forced to walk and there would be no shame not to walk. We're simply exploring at this point how best to use our time for Intensive #4, and one day could be used this way; it's just one possibility.

D: Of the many things that I've done and experience, the fire walk is still a very, I think a very pivotal experience in my life. At least that's the testimony I can give on that one. You can build up to it with things like breaking wood or breaking arrows, so those are, they still get your attention but they're not as strong. It's part of the reason why, at least the workshops I've done, that was the first stage.

Q: How would a fire walk be helpful to someone who got burned?

Aaron: I think there's some growth seen in considering the possibility one might get burned and as D said, knowing at a certain level it's okay either way. Stepping beyond fear even if you do ultimately get burned.

The one who gets burned, and I have been burned fire walking, for me the experience led me to look more deeply at the places of fear, holding, and separation, and to do the inner work to release those. When I consider myself separate from the fire, I'm much more likely to be burned by it than when I consider myself and the fire was one.

Also for those who might wonder this, I've found in my experience of this, although one might think one can be severely burned, need to be hospitalized, that doesn't happen. Even the ones who get burned are just small surface burns, not very deep severe burns.

Q: Are these activities like fire walking similar to the stories you've talked about Yeshua in your lifetime with him of making fire or walking on water, or things of that nature, bringing out your ability to do these seemingly impossible things?

Aaron: Related, but more accessible to the multitudes.

I want to know how many of you are completely abhorrent of the idea? Is there anyone who feels, "No way!" A few. Would those of you who feel that way feel uncomfortable observing others? (Q: No...) Is there anyone who would feel, "I just can't be there and watch it." Is there anyone who would feel ashamed not to be able to participate? (No)

I have a feeling Barbara would not choose to walk. Barbara has a very strong memory not fully resolved of a being dying by fire in a past life.

So we'll consider this as one possibility, as Barbara and I have looked together at the possibilities for Venture Fourth Intensive #4. Sunnyside has later rejected this idea.

Barbara and I had thought about Intensive #4 as doing some kind of small level vision quest. Of course we're not going to send you out alone in the woods for 48 hours, but time spent in silence, not just doing vipassana but deeply looking, connected with your spirit guides and so forth, and looking deeply at the question, "What is my life about? Where am I taking my life? Am I doing what I need to do to take my life where it needs to go? What will support me? What gets in the way?"

We had considered the possibility to invite Heather to come back to do additional journeying, supporting such a vision quest but she is unavailable. Nothing is set is stone yet and we may decide to go into a completely different direction for the intensive.

You have some anxieties about my proposal. I will be glad to hear them. We won't talk more about them right now. As I said, nothing is set in stone, and I want to wait until after this intensive is over before I really form any picture of where we most need to go next summer.

Q: I have not done or observe anyone else doing fire walking. I've read about it. However, one workshop that I did had the breaking of wood, 2x4's, blocks of wood, and I participated in that and broke the wood. I still don't know how.

There was one person, however, who broke his wrist when he went to break the wood. And about 2 years later I ran into him and discovered that he was very bitter about the situation and blamed the people who had us do that.

But an interesting thing came out-- it turns out, he made a statement to me about what the primary teacher was teaching. And it was very clear from his statement that he had completely misinterpreted the teachings. And that made me wonder if that tendency in him, because he was also showing negativity, if that tendency in him to be negative as well as to misinterpret, and because he misinterpreted it, to judge the teacher, that perhaps that put him in a different state of imbalance, which is really the reason he broke his wrist. I'm asking the question.

Aaron: There are several components to this. The imbalance is one. Each being is responsible for their own experience, and yet just as one does not invite a 3 year old to stand on a chair and scramble eggs because one knows the 3 year old is not really capable of that yet, doesn't fully understand how hot the frying pan can be, one does not invite somebody who one knows is not prepared.

Now in some situations, a workshop is open to everybody and the facilitator does not know the people. To my thinking that's irresponsible. I would not attend or support such a workshop. The facilitator must know the people who are involved and be able to discuss with them their readiness to do what they undertake to do.

On another level, this is certainly a karmic happening for him and perhaps was a necessary part of his growth. Perhaps he needed to break his wrist to bring up this anger, to see how uncomfortable that anger was for him, to finally move past it and to accept responsibility for his choices. Perhaps it was a painful but useful catalyst. We can't know that. At some level he chose to break his wrist. We don't know why. But one does not invite the possibility needlessly.

So I would suggest that a facilitator for such an event ideally interview people ahead of time, at least to that degree, get to know them and any who are likely to be harmed by what they're trying to do.

It's 12 o'clock. I know there are more questions. We'll have more time to talk. I'd like to hear more questions about the map I presented this morning, give you a chance to integrate and absorb that a bit and then we'll have more time to talk about it.

With that map I basically want to steer you back to your vipassana practice and the vipassana practice as the heart of everything that you're choosing to do here.

Q: You mentioned how in one of the stages, the psychic stage, one can begin hearing their guides but it is not with the ears. I know that what I hear is not with my ears. When I hear you or other guides I know it is not with my ears, but I do label it hearing.

Aaron: Yes, but it's hearing on the subtle level. You're not hearing with your ears, it's clairaudience. It involves hearing thought, it involves energy rather than sound waves hitting the ear.

Q: Just a curiosity, is the brain hearing?

Aaron: It's a different process because with mundane hearing, the sound waves enter the ears, the nerves pick up and transmit the sound to the brain. Here, yes, the brain is involved but it's not hearing sound, it's hearing energy. We call it hearing because that's the sense it's closest to it; you're not smelling it so much as hearing it. It comes in as an audio effect.

Q: And on that level, when physicists talk about energy, they talk about a wave. My sense, this comes from a conversation that I had with a friend that asked me to define energy in the spiritual context. And I don't perceive it in the same way. I don't think of it as a wave. Am I correct?

Aaron: It really is the same but your body perceives it, just as you are not really hearing the sound through your ear. You're not feeling the energy through your body as you would if I touched you, but the body is still picking up something. It's coming through not the body but your energetic body is being touched by this energy.

Hold your hand up. (Aaron reaches his hand a few inches from Q's hand) Can you feel it? But it's not touch. It's still waves and particles and so forth.

Q: So can that be detected, found with instruments?

Aaron: I have no idea, I am not a scientist.

Q2: Yes, I just read a book about that.

Aaron: Discuss it on your own; let us end here. When you come back we will introduce mudra meditation, talk about it, and then practice it. So if you take these folders with you, please make sure you bring them back after lunch. There's no need to bring them with you; just make sure they're here.

(session ends)

Purification of view: ditthi-visuddhi (pronounced ditty):The Insight Knowledges:

The list starts with knowledge of Del. of Mind and Matter. This is not one of the insight knowledges but a preliminary knowledge.

The 10 insight knowledges are #s 3 through 12 above. Know. of Comprehension through Conformity Knowledge. These ten have their foundation in Purification of View and Purification of Doubt, which in turn are founded on the first two purifications (the roots).

1. Knowledge of Delimitation of Mind and Body (nama-rupa):

a. Rupa- form aggregate

b. nama - the four mental aggregates.

a. Access concentration: Insight into mind and matter needs access concentration. during which the hindrances are quiet or under control. (not suppressed; see above) What is access concentration? (discussion)

b. purification of view refers to recognition of the impermanent and selfless nature of the aggregates of form, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness.

c. Three characteristics: Right view does not take the aggregates as self , but sees the three characteristics of conditioned experience, anatta, anicca, dukkha, in all of the aggregates. (discussion)

d. delimitation: knowing what is mind and what is matter.

-a sting to the skin is matter; That which perceives the sting and knows it as unpleasant is mind.

-breath is matter; awareness of breath is mind.

e. 16 kinds of knowledge, opened in sequence: These are the knowledges which we'll be exploring, and from which Purifications they arise.

1. Knowledge of Delimitation of Mind and Matter

2. Knowledge of Discerning cause and Condition

3. Knowledge of Comprehension

4. Knowledge of Contemplation of Arising and Passing

5. Knowledge of Contemplation of Dissolution

6. Knowledge of Contemplation of Appearance as terror

7. Knowledge of Contemplation of Danger

8. Knowledge of Contemplation of Disenchantment

9. Knowledge of Desire for Deliverance

10. Knowledge of Contemplation of Reflection

11. Knowledge of Equanimity about Formations

12. Knowledge in Conformity with Truth

13. Knowledge of Change of Lineage

14. Knowledge of Path

15. Knowledge of Fruit

16. Knowledge of Reviewing

f. abandoning by substitution of opposites: like abandoning darkness at night by means of a light; abandoning anger by means of metta, etc. This is one tool with which we work with this succession of knowledges.

g. Mature Purification Of View: with the completion of the first two purifications (of virtue and mind) and the entering into view, , the first knowledge arises (Delimitation of Mind and Matter). When this knowledge is mature, purification of view is completed.

h. the Insight Knowledges: Knowledge of Del. of Mind and Matter is not one of the insight knowledges but a preliminary knowledge. The 10 insight knowledges are #s 3 through 12 above. Know. of Comprehension through Conformity Knowledge. These ten have their foundation in Purification of View and Purification of Doubt, which in turn are founded on the first two purifications (the roots).

i. mature Knowledge of del. of Mind and Matter: At first this knowledge is limited to the med. subject. It's considered complete when it ouches everything.

Purification by Overcoming Doubt

Visuddhi Magga puts the next three knowledges under a further purification. Mahasi Sayadaw puts them under "doubt". Thus, not all systems/ texts list them in the same relationship. The precise way/ place of listing isn't too important here. Remember, they're circular and all interrelate.

2. Knowledge by Discerning Conditionality:

This is the primary area of insight which dispels doubt. In VM it's not listed as a Knowledge, just an insight, whatever has the nature to arise has the nature to cease and is not "self." One sees the dependently arisen nature of the 5 aggregates.

Mahasi Sayadaw puts the next two knowledges under Purification. of Doubt. VM puts them under Purification by Knowledge and Vision of what is Path and what is not Path, and Purification. by knowledge and vision of the Way.

a. Knowledge and Vision...: The next three purifications are written as Knowledge and vision..., Vision because of deeper penetration into dhamma because of the first 4 purifications.

Purification by Knowledge and Vision of what is Path and what is not Path,

3. Knowledge by Comprehension: a deeper understanding of the three characteristics in all conditioned experience.

a. This knowledge follows Purification. by Overcoming doubt (is a fruit of...) and serves as ground for Knowledge of Arising and Passing Away, which Knowledge occurs in 2 phases, undeveloped and mature.

b. This insight really occurs between Purifications 4 and 5.

c. The undeveloped phase: In this phase, phenomena called ten imperfections of insight may arise. These are experiences and mind states which may lead us to stray from a mindful path, lost in bliss, or light.

illumination (obhasa) / knowledge (nana) / rapturous delight (pitti) / calmness (passaddhi) / bliss (sukha) / faith (adhimokkha) / energy (paggaha) / assurance (upatthana) / equanimity (upekkha) / attachment (nikanti)

Some of these are wonderful in themselves; the point is to not become lost in them, attach to them, nor take them as signs that we're enlightened.

This purification regards these "imperfections" and sees they are not Path. Attachment to them is not Path. Continued mental noting IS Path. Don't get lost!

4. Immature Knowledge of Arising and Passing Away - The immature phase of this knowledge ends when one has moved through the imperfections of insight by mental noting. As the mature phase opens, we move into the next purification.

As the imperfections of insight arise and we merely note their arising and passing, not caught in them as "good" nor in any way (but knowing them as pleasant if this is the case), we open into the mature phase. The knowledge becomes matured by our work with the imperfections of insight.

Purification by Knowledge and Vision of the Way: as we know what is not path, we develop certainty about what is Path. Matthew Flickstein's description of these knowledges is very clear. I'll read some here from his not yet published book.

These knowledges may be passed through slowly, or in a flash, just a few moments. there is no "right" way. It's important thought to persevere at this stage, to give a lot of time to sitting with the whole process.

4. mature Knowledge of Arising and Passing Away

We begin to see how everything in the conditioned realm arises and passes. Not only do sensations and thoughts pass, but the consciousness which notes these arising and passing also passes.

5. Knowledge of Contemplation of Dissolution

Attention moves from arising to dissolution. Everything dissolves

6. Knowledge of Contemplation of Appearance as terror

Terror about this dissolution. Nothing to hold on to.

7. Knowledge of Contemplation of Danger

We begin to see the danger , how easily we could get caught back into taking anything as solid, see into the danger of formations and our attachments to them.

8. Knowledge of Contemplation of Disenchantment

Disenchantment with everything, the conditioned realm, practice, - everything is seen as part of the process of becoming, and an obstacle to freedom.

9. Knowledge of Desire for Deliverance

Deep aspiration arises to continue the path and find freedom.

10. Knowledge of Contemplation of Reflection

Reflection on:

the 18 principal insights:

1. The contemplation of impermanence: abandons the perception of permanence.

2. The contemplation of suffering: abandons the perception of pleasure.

3. The contemplation of non-self: abandons the perception of self.

4. The contemplation of disenchantment: abandons delighting.

5. The contemplation of fading away: abandons lust.

6. The contemplation of cessation: abandons originating.

7. The contemplation of relinquishment: abandons grasping.

8. The contemplation of destruction: abandons the perception of compactness.

9. The contemplation of passing away: abandons the accumulation (of kamma).

10. The contemplation of change: abandons the perception of stability.

11. The contemplation of the signless: abandons the sign.

12. The contemplation of desirelessness: abandons desire.

13. The contemplation of voidness: abandons adherence to the notion of self.

14. The higher wisdom of insight into phenomena.

15. Correct knowledge and vision.

16. The contemplation of danger: abandons adherence due to attachment.

17. The contemplation of reflection: abandons non-reflection.

18. The contemplation of turning away: abandons adherence due to bondage.

The forty modes of Reflection:

10 about impermanence: impermanent/ disintegrating/ fickle/ perishable/ unenduring/ subject to change/ having no core/ to be annihilated/ formed/ subject to death

25 about suffering

painful/ a disease/ a boil/ a dart/ a calamity/ an affliction/ a plague/ a disaster / a terror/ a menace/ no protection/ no shelter/ no refuge/ a danger/ the root of calamity/ murderous/ subject to cankers/ Mara's bait/ subject to birth/ subject to aging/ to illness/ to sorrow/ to lamentation/ to despair/ to defilement.

5 about not-self:

alien/ empty/ vain/ void/ not-self

Within Knowledge of Reflection we contemplate some of these. Some meditators will follow more the path of impermanence, some the path of suffering, some of not self.

The reflection opens out to equanimity.

11. Knowledge of Equanimity about Formations

There is no longer terror about formations or about seeming groundlessness since we have seen into the voidness of everything on the conditioned realm.

a. insight leading into emergence:

1, Visuddhi Magga, XXI, 65, Simile of the Crow: "When sailors board a ship, it seems, they take with them what is known a land-finding crow. When the ship gets blown off its course by gales and goes adrift with no land in sight, then they release the land-finding crow. It takes off from the mast head and, after exploring all quarters, if it sees land, it flies straight in the direction of it; if not it returns and alights on the mast head. So too, if knowledge of equanimity about formations sees nibbana, the state of peace, as peaceful, it rejects all formations and enters only into nibbana. If it does not see it, it (equanimity with formations) occurs again and again with formations as its object."

12. Knowledge in Conformity with Truth

This is a coming together of all that preceded it.

a. One keeps coming back again and again to this equanimity. At this point, one of the gates becomes predominant, anatta, anicca or dukha.

b. There is a shift in view. One has investigated all compounded things and found them all to be impediments to freedom.

1. everything compounded rests on suffering; nibbana is free from suffering, etc. Seeing that freedom is not here, it must be there. Like looking for something inside a room until one is absolutely certain it doesn't exist in the room; only then will one look elsewhere. When we see "it's not here", we go elsewhere.

2. Up until now one has investigated all 3 characteristics of conditioned experience. Now one becomes predominant and we stay with it. The predominant characteristic depends on our spiritual inclination and which characteristic predominates - faith, concentration or wisdom.

3. Value of pure awareness practice here. Easier to "find" if we have some clue what we're looking for, or opening to.

4. I'll share my own experiences with this procession of insights.

(insert some journal here if it can be found)

Purification by Knowledge and Vision: consists of the knowledge of the four supramundane paths. These knowledges follow each emersion into the Unconditioned

13. Change of Lineage Knowledge

With Change of Lineage Knowledge, the mind lets go of formations as object and takes nibbana as object. At this stage there may have arisen a "sign", (nimatta) . Consciousness abandons that sign and turns to the signless. (Mindfulness does this; noting must continue). This is the, " "it's not here";go elsewhere."

In VM, XXII, 6, there is a simile of a man swinging across a stream on a rope. You let go of one shore and incline toward the other. Here one inclines toward nibbana.

14. Path Knowledge:

a. four functions:

1. penetrates the truth of suffering by full understanding

2. penetrates the truth of the origin of suffering by abandoning it.

3. penetrates the truth of Path by developing it.

4. penetrates the truth of cessation of suffering by realizing it.

b. four supramundane paths, traversed one at a time: Each arises only once. Each defeats certain defilements. They are moved through in sequence.

1. stream entry (sotapanna) - Breaks down the defilements of personality view, doubt and clinging to ritual.

2. Once returner (sakadagami) - does not eradicate any defilements but reduces the roots of greed, hatred and delusion.

3. Non-returner (anagami) - eradicates sensual desire and aversion.

4. Arahant , free from all defilements.

15. Fruition Knowledge:

a. understand the freedom that has been opened to. Path knowledge opens only at the moment of experience, but fruition knowledge may be re-entered.

16. Reviewing Knowledge:

a. reviews the path, its fruition, defilements abandoned and those remaining, and Nibbana. When it happened, cognizing mind was absent. Now that mind comes back in and reviews the process.