The following is a summary of The Science of Enlightenment Session #4, by Shinzen Young. We are currently reviewing this series as a group on 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.
Session 4, Relaxation and Reality. This session outlines the significance and process of applying mindfulness and equanimity. One is able to reach a state of well-being, independent of circumstance. This direct experience of enlightenment is what it is all about. Mindfulness and equanimity is the ticket.
Key Takeaways from This Session
Observation through mindfulness and equanimity is essential in having a direct enlightenment experience.
There is a fundamental wave-like structure behind all sensation and experience. There is no distinction in this wave.
The process started out meditating on the fundamental forces of the universe. As a result of this practice, one experiences being these fundamental forces. To the extent in which one becomes those forces, suffering is eliminated. Happiness can be, regardless of circumstance.
Developing Mindfulness and Equanimity Through Relaxation and Concentration
Some of the recommended initial objects of concentration include:
All sensations available here and now
Activities such as cleaning the house or working
Sensations of the body during relaxation. This is the recommendation, as it creates an immediate positive feedback loop. The pleasurable senses associated with relaxation are immediate positive feedback.
Mr. Young calls the practice of using the body’s sensations, ‘Global Relaxation’.
Steps for global relaxation:
- Get in a comfortable, upright seated position.
- Loosen the shoulders, arms, and rest of the body.
- Loosen the jaw, creating space between teeth. This will create a sensation of relaxation which should spread throughout the body.
- When stronger sensations of various phenomena arise – do your best to ignore them. Use these sensations as a reminder to bring the focus back to the sensations of the body.
This act of bringing the focus back will strengthen your concentration abilities. There is no ‘spacing out’ involved in this process. In fact, it is actually the opposite.
Equanimity is a state of non-interference with the natural flow of the senses. There are two kinds of equanimity discussed:
- Equanimity of the mind – when we are not judging.
- Equanimity of the body – remaining relaxed, regardless of what circumstance is arising.
As you apply mindfulness and equanimity to life, a process of purification unfolds. Most people experience a dramatic improvement in all areas of life. This is due to the deep mind reprogramming which is taking place through this process.
Ask yourself if the sensations are changing. Hone in on the specific qualities of the sensations. How are the sensations shaped? What kind of movement qualities do the sensations have?
Whether the sensations are still or moving, expanding or contracting, pay attention. Apply equanimity. Allow what is, to be.
You will likely notice that the sensations are of a wave-like nature. This is the impermanence attribute of experience. It becomes clear that everything is of a wave-like nature. Experience has the capacity to go beyond thoughts and feelings by viewing this wave-nature with equanimity. This non-conditional state beyond thoughts and feelings is enlightenment.
Mindfulness is the ‘Magnifying Glass’ of Experience
In the 1800’s discussing germ or virus theory would have lead to ridicule or worse. By making a suggestion that challenges worldviews in a way that is not understood, people become defensive and even aggressive.
It was not until the development of the magnifying glass, that a shift was able to take place. The truth was always true, but there was no way to perceive it before. The same situation applies to the nature of reality.
When it comes to experience, mindfulness is the magnifying glass through which sensations can be examined. The wave-nature of experience comes into full view when one is able to apply mindfulness and equanimity to their experience. Mindfulness is an ‘internal microscope’ through which a variety of magnification levels are possible.
Mindfulness magnifies. Equanimity clarifies.
When the feelings that give us a sense of self are examined, it becomes clear that these are also of a wave-like nature. In every level of magnification, there are common features of sensation. These features are movement and change.
This vibratory quality is the common thread which runs through all senses, creating an integrated human. Upon further examination, the illusion of a distinction in this wave falls apart. There is no distinction to be made between the waves that give you a sense of ‘I’ and the waves that make up this text on your screen.
There is no fundamental distinction between these waves – there is a single unified unit of vibration.
Transitioning from Subject/Object Duality to Nonduality Through Relaxation
As concentration abilities increase and equanimity continue to be applied, a shift takes place. The idea that there are individual components making up a larger, complete picture can be seen through. It may still appear as if there are individual components from time to time, but there is a difference now. Thoughts and feelings are now understood within their illusionary context.
It also becomes clear that this entire process is bringing one directly in touch with the fundamental molding forces of the universe. It becomes clear that the sensations creating the sense of ‘I’ as a doer/meditator/experiencer is made up of body sensations. These body sensations are the same as the waves that make up the experience itself.
Perceiver = Perceived
Knower = Known
Moving along, the separate sense of self-disappears and is replaced by a ‘figure-ground reversal’. When the process started, one was meditating on the fundamental molding forces of nature. Now one becomes these fundamental forces. One already was these fundamental forces, but it was impossible to see before the tools were available to see clearly.
To the extent that one becomes these fundamental forces, suffering is completely eliminated and immortality is understood. ‘It’ never dies. In fact, ‘it’ is life and death itself. That is the True nature of Self.
It all begins with strengthening the concentration, mindfulness, and equanimity muscles. As a result, a state which exists independent of circumstance is had. And given the choice, most would prefer to only live for one day knowing the Truth versus an entire lifetime living behind the illusion.
In my personal experience, understanding the illusion of self is much more easily digested if one chooses to participate in a community in which awareness is supported and encouraged. There was a tremendous feeling of groundlessness which began to sink in initially, and without others to support that you have not lost your marbles, the road can get a little bumpy. Be sure to join us in the IA Facebook group to participate in group mindfulness and awakening discussion – set up specifically for this reason.
Also, if the road does feel a bit bumpy, remember these 2 things:
- It’s not supposed to be so serious. Life is Love and fun. Attachment is what makes it appear otherwise.
- Everything is always and will always be happening here and now. Try to prevent your brain from dwelling on other imaginary times and places.