The following is a summary of The Science of Enlightenment Session #9, by Shinzen Young. We are currently reviewing this series as a group in the Individuals Anonymous Facebook group, and you are encouraged to join if you have not done so already.
You may also purchase The Science of Enlightenment audiobook on Amazon, here.
Concentration has a central role in the mystical or enlightenment path all over the world. Concentration is a microscope which can be used to uncover the nature of our experience. The concept of vipassana meditation involves utilizing an object as the focus of attention, then infusing that concentration with mindfulness and equanimity. Once this is done, we get out of the way and let it be.
Catalyzing Insight and Purification With Mindfulness and Equanimity
By taking any aspect of experience and infusing it with mindfulness and equanimity, a process of insight and purification is catalyzed. A catalyst is something that increases the velocity of a reaction – it does not change the reaction. It simply speeds it up.
Everybody is involved in the path to enlightenment, whether they are aware of this or not. God, or nature, are pulling us towards this state. The difference between a mediator and a person who does not meditate is the speed at which this process is able to take place.
By infusing one’s meditation practice with mindfulness and equanimity, the insight and purification will take place much faster than it would have without the mindfulness and equanimity infusion. This does not change the meditation practice, it just dramatically speeds up a natural process of insight and purification, which is necessary on the path to the deeper understanding.
In doing this, one gains insight into a variety of life aspects, some of which may include:
- suffering = pain x resistance
- pleasure will have greater satisfaction if we don’t grasp onto the experience
- how the sense of self arises
- how to let go of the sense of self and how to experience a merging or uniting with another, or the source of the universe, or anything
- how the source of the universe functions
- the vibration and polarization which arises out of the very special ‘nothing’ which is the source of the universe
- how to have a healthy sense of individuality
- how to experience a merging with an object, on
- how the source of the universe functions,
By consistently infusing qualities of mindfulness and equanimity into the ordinary experience, these are some of the profound understandings which are likely to arise.
Removing the Influences that Limit Our Behaviour and Perception
Most growth modalities across the world including 19th-century psychotherapy and modern-day Scientology, and almost everything in-between share a fundamental model or paradigm. This paradigm sounds something like this.
We hold influences from the past that limit our behavior and perception in the present and our job is to somehow get rid of those influences.
Despite our best intentions on the surface of our consciousness, we tend to continue being pulled into the same grooves.
What most people experience is separateness, discomfort, etc… rather than understanding every feeling as the touch of the holy spirit. These influences that have created limitations are the only thing getting between the understanding of every sensation as being exactly that.
As purification runs its course, we eliminate these limitations. As a result, we find that our behavior improves, our lives improve, our attitude improves, and there are very deep benefits to be had as a result of this process, on every level.
Similar to how the insight process has many facets to it, so does purification. The deeper we allow the purification to run, the more sides of it we are able to experience. The purification is eliminating subconscious blockage.
Several Ways of Looking at the Purification Process
Theology/Christianity: Purification is the elimination of our sinfulness/that which separates us from God. This is based on the idea of Catharsis or theosis, which means to become like God by the elimination of the sin which separates us.
Buddhism: This is more of a moral model. Craving aversion and consciousness. Purification means removing something from the gold ore which is other than gold. Leaving only gold. Consciousness by nature is pure but these habits of craving aversion and unconsciousness lead to suffering. Purification in the Buddhist sense means the elimination of the craving of aversion and unconsciousness. The ore is refined and there is nothing but pure consciousness, the pure activity of the source.
Psychology: There are many memories and incomplete experiences and holdings stored in the unconscious. As we infuse the experience with mindfulness and equanimity, that goes down into the unconscious and gives it what is needed in the order it to metabolize those memories and experiences.
One of the primary differences between the Buddhism paradigm and the psychological paradigm is that in Buddhism it is not necessary to remember specific events. If during meditation, memories arise, they are infused with mindfulness and equanimity and this purifies this holding from the past. The Buddhist practice does not involve remembering things from the past. The clarity from infusing any experience with mindfulness and equanimity seeps down into the subconscious and the subconscious does this work on its own. The purification ‘trickles down’ into the subconscious and the subconscious handles this without our assistance.
Mechanical paradigm: The six senses have a kind of viscosity to them. Honey flows slower on a cold day and it has greater viscosity when this is the case. Viscosity is a type of self-interference in the flow of the six senses. Its a kind of friction. This is what causes our vision to congeal to give the impression that something is solid. It takes aspects of our experience to create something which we are able to perceive. By infusing any aspect of the experience with mindfulness and equanimity, the flow of the senses becomes more like steam. Steam is solid matter which is no longer congealed. It has almost zero viscosity.
Realogy is the study of how things flow in nature.
What it means to be spiritual is to not have any internal viscosity – which allows life to flow freely vs experiencing the constant viscosity which we normally do.
Mindfulness and Equanimity – Powerful Tools to Optimize Life and Uncover the Truth
The paradigm is we take ordinary experience and infuse it with mindfulness and equanimity.
Mindfulness is applying the concentration to be aware of everything that makes up that experience, in terms of the six senses.
Equanimity means having a radical, hands-off experience in terms of subjective experience. This does not mean indifference to objective events. Equanimity means non-interference with the natural flow pattern of the senses. It can be looked at as an internal passivity so we can use that extra energy to actually be more effective.
Mr. Young tells a story of a situation in which he got into a heated argument with his teacher. For some reason, he found himself smiling. He meditated and realized his body was full of pleasurable sensation.
Anger happens after enlightenment, but the anger sensations are experienced like a message that purifies and vitalizes them.
There is a great difference between somebody who is experiencing the fluidity of anger vs somebody who is experiencing the suffering of anger.
This is something that only the great masters are generally capable of being able to do. Anger is still experienced in its entirety, it is just not experienced with the suffering.
Ordinary experience is infused with mindfulness and equanimity. Once the insight and purification reach a critical mass, every experience is experienced completely. At this point, every experience is experienced the same as any other experience.
This allows one to have absolute complete experience. A complete experience is just the experience of a small piece of the universe. When it is experienced completely, it links to the entire universe. It also links to the source of the universe at the same time.
Freedom means having the capacity to have complete experience when it is appropriate to do so.
A frog is happy because it is able to live in two worlds. It lives on land and in water and it can switch environments as often as it pleases. It is free.
Human beings are also meant to be able to go under the water of oneness, to experience the fluidity, and also to be able to come out and experience the solidity of normal experience.
The problem is we forgot how to get back to experiencing the fluid.
A liberated person is like the frog. They are able to appreciate the congealing and the sense of a separate self, then they can go back into the oneness whenever they would like.
This can be achieved by applying mindfulness and equanimity to any aspect of the experience, and by doing so with consistency.
This is a theory. And according to the scientific model, it is actually a theory. The Science of Enlightenment is the theory based on the nature of the liberated being and the process which is taken for them to reach that place.
A good scientific model has simplicity, generality, and power – according to Einstein. This theory lives up to the requirements of what Einstein set forth as requirements for having a scientific model.
The Obstacle of Teaching a Process of Enlightenment
So, where do we start?
There are a wide variety of teachings. Many teachers won’t give you anything more than the theory. They won’t tell you to do anything, or sensitize you to benchmarks or challenges which may be experienced along the way. There are a number of reasons for this. This is a legitimate orientation which a teacher might take – and it is a bit extreme.
If you give people more than just the theory, they get caught up in what you are saying and looking for the things which you are preparing them to experience. One is damned if one does, one is damned if one doesn’t.
As a result of systematic instruction, all kinds of problems arise.
If there is no instruction, the students are lost and have a challenge making progress. The students make discussion groups in order to talk about the teacher and this is ultimately how they learn.
If the water is too clean, the fish cannot live there. If you are too concerned with students getting caught up in the process being taught, then it makes it impossible for students to start. They can’t live there.
A technique involves picking an object and describing a process.
Choosing the Object of Your Meditation and a Technique
Here are three possible techniques which can be used. The object of each of these will be all sensations of the body.
- Picking an object of meditation – any and all feelings and sensations of the body, and accepting the way it feels at any moment
- Systematically sweep the awareness throughout the body, either scanning the entire body at once or in segments
- Let the awareness float wherever it wants to go, but be aware of where the awareness is going at all times.
Historically, students have been given one of these techniques and they follow this for 20-30 years over and over until they finally get it. Just choose one technique, and that is all you need.
Stick to one and do it consistently.
You will receive insight and purification along the way, to support your journey.