THE PRACTICE IN BRIEF
Those who practice the Dhamma should train themselves to understand in the following stages:
The training which is easy to learn gives immediate results and is suitable for every time, every place, for people of every age and either sex, is to study in the school of this body – a fathom long, a cubit wide and a span thick – with its perceiving mind in charge. This body has many things, ranging from the crude to the subtle, which are well worth knowing.
The steps of the training:
1. To begin with, know that the body is composed of various physical properties, the major ones being the properties of earth, water, fire and wind; the minor ones being the aspects which adhere to the major ones: things like colour, smell, shape, etc.
- These properties are unstable (inconstant), stressful and full of filth. If you look into them deeply. you will see that there is no substance to them at all. They are simply impersonal conditions, with nothing worth calling “me” or “mine”. When you can clearly perceive the body in these terms, you will be able to let go of any clinging or attachment to it as an entity, your self, someone else, this or that.
2. The second step is to deal with mental phenomena (feelings, perceptions, thought-formations and consciousness).
- Focus on keeping track of the truth that these are characterized by arising, persisting and then disbanding. In other words, their nature is to arise and disband, arise and disband, repeatedly. When you investigate to see this truth, you will be able to let go of your attachments to mental phenomena as entities, as your self, someone else, this or that.
3. Training on the level of practice doesn’t simply mean studying, listening or reading. You have to practice so as to see clearly with your own mind in the following steps:
a. Start out by brushing aside all external concerns and turn to look inside at your own mind until you can know in what ways it is clear or murky, calm or unsettled. The way to do this is to have mindfulness and self-awareness in charge as you keep aware of the body and mind, until you have trained the mind to stay firmly in a state of normalcy.
b. Once the mind can stay in a state of normalcy, you will see mental formations or preoccupations in their natural state of arising and disbanding. The mind will be empty, neutral and still – neither pleased nor displeased
– and will see physical and mental phenomena as they arise and disband naturally, of their own accord.
c. When the knowledge that there is no self to any of these things becomes thoroughly clear, you will meet with something that lies further inside, beyond all suffering and stress, free from the cycles of change – deathless – free from birth as well as death, since all things that take birth must by nature age, grow ill and die.
d. When you see this truth clearly, the mind will be empty, not holding onto anything. It won’t even assume itself to be a mind or anything at all. I.e. it won’t latch onto itself as being anything of any sort. All that remains is a pure condition of Dhamma.
e. Those who see this pure condition of Dhamma in full clarity are bound to grow disenchanted with the repeated sufferings of life. When they know the truth of the world and the Dhamma throughout, they will see the results clearly, right in the present, that there exists that which lies beyond all suffering. They will know this without having to ask or take it on faith from anyone, for the Dhamma is paccattam, i.e. something really to be known for oneself. Those who have see this truth within themselves will attest to it always.