Guide to Sudden Enlightenment (excerpts)

Purification, Commitment, & Altruistic Intention

This work requires that you purify yourself, commit to breaking through all obstacles, & develop the sincere altruistic intention to help others also attain enlightenment & liberation in this life.

Purification means that before doing the exercises you should forget about all ill-feelings & throw away any grudges you might be holding. One easy way to do this is to visualize the person who you feel has harmed you the most in life & sincerely wish that person great happiness & freedom from all problems. It may also be helpful to go to a secluded forest (preferably one with streams & waterfalls) or to the sea shore & spend some time breathing in the clear, fresh air in a relaxed way, while "breathing out" the various harsh feelings you may have about events in the past, until you feel  lightness in your body & vivid clarity of mind.

Commitment means that you will give to this goal of attaining sudden enlightenment your utmost energy & will. You won't give up just because you run into difficulty or become anxious or distracted. Keep at it for as long as it takes, a little every single day -- but always with strength. "Put strength into it, abandon conceit." Some attain It all at once, others a little at a time. No matter how long it takes you, it is still "sudden enlightenment." One big satori, or a string of smaller ones are equally precious.

Altruistic Intention means that you will not hold your enlightenment selfishly but will find ways to share the delight & joy of it with others. This is of course not the same as forcing it on others or becoming a boring "spiritual person" who constantly talks about his or her own perfection.

(NOTE: The following direct inquiry & energetic exercises are based on the presumption that you have already managed to stabilize yourself in simple calm meditation, are capable of raising inner energy at any time day or night to attain heightened states of awareness at will, & can direct your attention forcefully at one point or hold it in a state of "great doubt" for a period of time equal to the burning of an incense stick [roughly 45 minutes]. Consult a classic manual such as Charles Luk's The Secrets of Chinese Meditation if you need special prompting on any of these points.)

Pointing to Objects and To Awareness of Objects

Point to an object. Now move your finger slowly back in an arc toward your eyes. At what point does the object stop and your seeing of it begin?

Reverse it. Point to your awareness and now move your finger slowly out until it points at an object of which you are aware. When did your awareness stop, and the object begin?

At your eyeballs? One inch inside them?

Where in all this are "you"?

Is the object really anything more than the instantaneous experience of seeing it (aka the awareness of it)?

And is that instantaneous experience of seeing it anything more than the brilliant appearing of the object in and AS your awareness?

Contemplate this profound mystery.


Look at Your Index Finger for 30 Seconds Straight Without Giving Rise To Any Thinking

Look at your index finger. Give rise to no thoughts at all for 30 seconds. Can you do it?

If you can manage it for just one or two seconds, you will see it with an almost magical clarity, there before you in space. Then the thinking will wash over you again & though you are still seeing the finger, your whole being is not awake to it.

If giving rise to thoughts can blind you to your own index finger, how much more so to the mountains, the rivers, the trees, the sun and moon and the starry sky?


Leaping Over: The 360 Degree Panorama

Here you are looking at my words and having various half-baked barely conscious reactions to them based on your habitual idea that you are a person with a mind somewhere in your body looking out of your eyes at "things" endowed with inherent existence.

But if you now shift your attention in a subtle way to focus on the glowing colors of your computer screen or the black on white of your book & then expand that to a clear sudden awareness of the 360 panorama of the room you're in, also the sounds & all other sensations, free of any thinking, what happens to "mind" or to "inherent existence" or to being a "person" then? Ah!

Leap in this way over all of your doubts to a 360 degree panoramic space that wipes out even the notion of time. The person who can achieve this gains startling new abilities effortlessly.

Such a sudden leap into "existential space" of pure awareness (as opposed to conceptualized, thinking-bounded space of ordinary dull ignorance) is equivalent to Dzogchen's "Leap-Over" (Thodgal) & it is pervaded by the energy (rtsal) of Clear-Light.

Attain this and then stabilize this in your everyday life!


Just Stilling Thoughts

"Just still the thoughts in your mind. It is good to do this right in the midst of disturbance. When you are working on this, penetrate the heights & the depths." -Yuanwu.

Can you find a way to practice this today? The second sentence makes it even more interesting.

Try starting up an intense series of thoughts about something emotional for you and then "still" them all at once, just like pouring cold water into boiling water.


Dropping Thought as You Grip a Sword

As soon as you grip your sword all thinking should vanish instantly like a snowflake on a blazing hot stove. This is a forceful yet subtle technique.

"The pine and bamboo draw a fresh breeze."

Every step is joyous, is it not?

In this state, what could possibly harm or offend You?


Investigating the Source of Names & Forms

Look deeply into the matter of whether or not there is any "thing" that is partless (not composed out of relations between other "things" & finally resolving into total inconceivability).

Clap your hands! Now try clapping with one hand! Everything is just like this.

If the evening wind doesn't blow, the pine tree doesn't make a booming sound at dusk. If wild geese don't fly over the lake, the lake doesn't reflect any wild geese on its surface. The same principle applies to everything.

Reality is instantaneous. It doesn't remain still for even one second. All appearances change more quickly than images in a dream.

Emptiness gives with one hand & takes with the other. Go ahead and try to snatch the pebble of clear Reality from either hand!


Cutting Through Solidity, As with a Sharp Cleaver

Sudden entry with a sharp cleaver is the same as Chod. Here one instantly enters the inconceivable state of the primordial Buddhas. In this there is no karma or rebirth, just pure & startling realization in a state of empty bliss.

What could ever concern you now? You have become an unconcerned person.

You walk swinging your arms into the dust of the marketplace. You sit in taverns drinking with the drunks. You watch puppet shows & laugh uproariously, clapping your hands along with the rest of the audience.

But none of the dust clings to you, any more than the shadows of trees cling to a stone wall, or the reflections of green willows cling to the brightness of the temple pond!


Counting Down from 108

Use one pointed meditation such as counting down from 108 to rid yourself of all thinking.
Then make consciousness finer & finer through sharp clear attention.
When you reach the finest pure & bright consciousness, shatter it with a sharp out breath.
This is the natural state of perpetual joyful amazement.


Change Your Life by Purifying Your Ki

Change your life by purifying your Ki.
Purify your Ki at the center of your body, in the Hara.
Make the Ki there empty clear immovable & dimly bright like space.
Make it like the kamiza, the divine area where gods appear & from which they radiate bliss, calm & spirited good-will.
This Ki has no precedents, no history, no past, no enmity, no worries -- it is just the Eternal Now.
This purified Ki or mind of pure awareness will then extend outward by itself & effortlessly transform all externals.
Such is how to become a person of Shibumi.


Calm Abiding in the Insubstantial

With the right training, resolve & perseverance at any time you can practice calm abiding in the insubstantial. This is also "the inconceivable state of the Buddhas." It resolves all problems instantly. Appearances are seen as empty & magical. There are no arguments, no designs, no desires and no worries. Everything is "just like this." What was all the sound & fury for? Other people strut a mental stage all day & night discoursing like idiots. You are simply here beyond all words & all thoughts, the pure straight body of reality.

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