Stages of the Path (Part 2)

25 minutes
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So taking a look at this map. Now, the first thing you'll notice is that there's the meditator chasing the elephant. Now the elephant is black to start off with down the bottom, because that's where we start stage one is down the bottom, and he becomes more and more white as he goes up the path. Now the black elephant represents our mind. And at the start, our mind is covered in ignorance, or we don't know our mind. And it's also being led by black monkey, which is the restlessness of restlessness of the mind.

And what we want is more and more clarity, we need to understand the mind more and more. This is done through the process of meditation, and we are the meditator. So maybe that you could consider that like our conscious mind, or our mind that wants to become clear and achieved. Meditation deep meditation. Now this meditator is the monk in this case, because obviously this is a Tibetan drawing. So as the monk is the meditator, he has two tools at his disposal.

And I've talked about those tools before. One is a rope, which is the rope of mindfulness. So this is our, you know, most important tool than the one we spend nearly all the time working on. And the second he's holding up is a kind of a hook. So I guess it's a hook that the MMA hoots use to control their elephants. But in this case, this hook represents insight that is understanding of the mind or looking at the mind actually peering into find out what is going on in the mind.

So that's our insight or our awareness. And we are chasing this elephant which is at this point, totally out of control. Just running a mucking is over environment. And we need to try to capture and tame this elephant with these two tools at our disposal. And he's being led by the very naughty monkey, which is destruction. So this is stage one.

Now, at stage one, of course, when we begin to meditate, we've spent most of our life up into this point, focusing on what's going on out there in our environment, in our relationships, at our job at our sport, whatever we do, we're focusing on the external world. But when we meditate, you know, for the first time, we are actually sitting down and looking internally to the mind. And one of the things we notice is when we try to bring our mind to the meditation object. At first, it's like, we can't even spend more than about 10% of the time on a meditation object, and the rest of the time. Mind is totally different. instructed, how out of control are we in this mind.

So this is where we see that we have an out of control mind. Now, the thing I like about this map is it also goes into the benefits of each and every stage, because there is a wisdom at each and every stage. And the wisdom of the first stage is fairly sobering, that our mind is a little out of control. And I guess it's no wonder that we are having so many stresses and anxieties and problems in a lot when we realize how out of control our mind is, but also when we think about it, every single person around us also has a mind which is completely highly distracted and out of control and being run by the various negative emotions or emotions in general. And this destructive mind which goes from feeling To place. So we also learn to have a little bit of compassion for what's out there in the external world and the people around us.

At least we have taken the initiative to try and understand and bring our mind under control. So we call this first stage of meditation, the stage of orientation, because we're trying to orient our mind to bring him on back to the meditation object and keep it on the meditation object. Let's fragment size, the breath. Now as we do this, we gradually start to see the patterns in the mind, we start to see how destructive it is and get an understanding perhaps, of some of the reasons why it might be so destructive. We listen to teachings, like I'm doing now to understand a little bit of the mind and that will eventually bring us to stage two which we Repeated orientation. Now at the stage of repeated orientation, were trying a lot harder.

And some of the other things that you'll see on the diagram for example of the flames. Now the flames of the fire that you see on this diagram represent the amount of effort that we have to use to bring our mind to the meditation object. And of course, the first we have to use a lot of effort to bring our mind to the object. And in fact, in some of these paintings, not on this one, but on some, you'll see that it's stage two, we're using even more effort the files are actually larger stage to the large than they are at stage one because in stage two, we have decided we were going to get this thing we got to put in the effort and really try hard to beat this distraction and get out of mind into a more calm, meditative state. So this is repeated orientation.

And we're trying to bring our mind back again and again and again from distraction to the meditation object. But it seems like the more we try, the more the mind gets distracted. And we get frustrated at this. And the reason is, is because as we get frustrated at try to bring the mind back again and again, that aversion that negative emotion actually stirs up the mind and makes it harder to concentrate. And so stage two, the lesson is really, too, as well as bringing the mind back is to not get worried or not get disturbed when the mind loses track and gets distracted. So you sort of get to the stage where is the minds wandered off again, bring it back to the meditation object again, and the more we can stay calm, no matter how much times the mind leaves the meditation object, the easy way to find it is to bring the mind quickly back to the meditation object, and the karma will become.

And that really solidifies us in stage two and brings us eventually to stage three. But in stage two, we are learning a lot. For a start, we're finding it easier to work with a boy because we've been sitting for longer we often pushing ourselves in space to to sit longer and longer. And we start to realize that the distractions come from very much from the mind. So if you hear an external noise, for example, then at first we blame the noise. But as we learn to have less aversion to being distracted by noise, we realized that it's that aversion, which is the main reason grab distraction and the noise just comes and goes and we can come back To the meditation object.

So we begin to say that a lot of the distractions are in our mind. Now, this has parallels also in life. Because as we say that distractions in the mind, so too, we begin to think to ourselves, of all the problems that we have learned a lot, how much of it is created in the mind and how much of it is real. And we start to get an insight that our problems are only made into mountains because we're labeling them as mountains. And maybe those problems really are quite small, and we can work through them fairly easily. So this begins to show you that as you meditate, you get insights into how to stay calm in the rest of life, as well.

So we start to see that aversion causes thoughts and that by reducing aversion than the distractions, reducing what you can become Karma. And we can eventually get to stage three, which we call repaired orientation. Now the difference between stage two and stage three is that we are able to keep our mind on the meditation object for at least 50% of the time. So now rather than trying to bring our mind back time and time again, what we're doing is we're repairing any lapses in concentration on the object. So for about 5060 70% of the time, we can actually maintain our awareness of the breath as it goes in and out, for example, and then we get distracted for a small amount of time. And we bring our mind back.

And you can see here, but for the first time, the elephant is actually looking around the meditator saying, you know, do want to really knowing me, and in fact, he's becoming more what the whole head What in the whole head of the monkey is white also, and for the first time, the meditator has been able to get the rope of mindfulness around the neck of the elephant. So that shows that for greater than 50% of the time the meditator is incarnate in control of the mind as opposed to in stage one and two, when the mind is effectively out of control. And the meditator cannot decide where the mind should focus it, the mind decides where it will go and any numbers own decision. So the other thing about stage three you'll notice is there's a little rabbit it might be difficult to see, but on the back of the elephant, there's a small rabbit and this indicates subtle dullness.

Now as you can put more than 50% of your mind or your concentration, you know you're spending it on the breath. For example, what happens is, even though we can actually concentrate on the breath, when not over dullness and distraction, yet, the mind can sort of get sleepy and you can feel lethargic and dull, even though the mind is staying on the meditation object. Or another thing is you can actually have subtle thoughts going on, you can be thinking about what a good lunch you're going to prepare in the background, while most of your mind is still focused on the meditation object like the breath. So this is represented by what we call subtle dullness, where you still have dullness or destruction, but it doesn't tap your attention away from the meditation object like gross dullness and gross distraction. And so that's stage three. Now as we know to stage three, we are getting more and more understanding that all distractions are internal, that there's nothing out there that is really causing us problems.

It is all mind made. So even in a bad situation, if you can keep yourself into a positive state of mind, you can still feel calm and happy. Even though bad things are going on in your life, you begin to be able to transform the way you look at the world. So whereas a person might be, say, shouting at you, or whatever, you can start to feel a little bit of compassion that maybe these people can help us. Well, maybe In fact, there's a lesson in it for us. Well, maybe it's a good chance to practice patience with someone who's more out of control than us for example.

Either way, by looking at it from different angles, you're able to maintain a level of calmness around destructions and problems in your life that you You haven't been able to up until this point. So you start to see difficulties in a new light. And with this kind of befriending of distractions and befriending of problems, then a new level of calmness begins to begins to seep into your mind, so to speak. And that leads us to stage four. So as we practice, we get better and better, better and better at keeping our mind away from distraction and on the meditation object. And this is where we call close orientation.

So now we're getting at 90% of our time, most of our time was spending on the meditation object, and we're getting close to the mind being pacified, which I'll talk about in a moment. So at this point, even though our mind stays on the meditation object, we are still prone to subtle excitement or subtle dullness these subtle levels of the mind. Wondering either getting too sleepy or getting too excited. And we need to increase the intensity of our meditation practice so that we can quickly get rid of any dullness or distraction when we see it. And one actual tip here is up until this point, we've been trying to lengthen the meditation practice maybe from 10 minutes to half an hour to one hour, etc. and here we actually practice shortening the length of time, but we're dealing with subtle levels of dullness.

And so we're getting rid of that rabbit that is rotting the elephant's back. But as you can see, there is more water on the elephant, the legs are white, and the meditator is getting closer and closer to the elephant. Now, in stage five, there's a big turnaround from stage four to stage five isn't Big development. And we call this the change from orientation or creating calmness into pacification of the mind, where we actually start to see distractions and problems in our life cycle philosophically, that not only do they not disturb us, we actually they actually create calmness in our mind, we can concentrate on pretty much anything. And the reason is, because we're starting to see this idea. And the idea that all problems in our life are projected by our mind that these are the, you know, subjects of the advanced module of meditation, and we're going to be talking about it in detail in the advanced module.

But nevertheless, just to give you an understanding at stage five were indeed becoming a very Good meditator at this point in time, and we are actually being able to convert distractions into something which causes us to become more meditative rather than less. So now, we've got very little problems because when the meditation is going well, it's going well, and when we're being distracted, and problems are arising, that also helps us strengthen our meditation practice. So here we call it subdued orientation. So the mind is becoming subdued. Because the meditator is now as you see in front of the elephant, so no big change. And the elephant isn't really using his mind mindful rope of mindfulness much anymore because he's subdued the elephant so much that it's beginning to become tame and he's just striking the nose of the elephant with his hook of insight.

So he's just learning more and more during each meditation session, which brings more and more clarity, ie more and more lightness to the elephant, so that he understands the mind more and more. And it becomes more and more pacified, and more and more subdued. He's becoming a master of meditation. At this point, he's totally over laziness. And he's meditating, you know, even outside of formal meditation. He's meditating while he's on the bus or whatever.

And at this stage, you know, if you get to stage five, you'll see very large changes in your life, you'll no longer be motivated by many of the things like greed or whatever that drive. Most people day to day, you might find you want to change career into something a little bit more useful. So this is a really good stage to get to as we start to pacify our mind and the other side of the difference. Between stage four and stage five, is it stage four, we can get away from distraction. But we can't transform, we can stop distractions, but keeping our mind totally on the meditation object. But when we think about the nice do disturb us, whereas in stage five, even when we think about distractions or bad things that are in our life, they actually don't disturb our meditation practice.

So now let's go to stage six, this is called pacified orientation. So here our mind is really totally pacified. So much so that the minute meditator doesn't even need to look at the elephant anymore. You can say the monkey is behind the monkey there is still movement in the mind, is he still there? That subtle dullness and subtle distraction have completely gone so the rabbit has disappeared. And the meditator is now looking out into his environment for ways to learn to get better.

In fact, the mind is so subdued at this point, that very little in the meditators experience causes many problems. And in fact, the meditator has to go out looking for problems. You know why, you know, he at this stage, it's great if you find some difficult people or some horrible situations, in order to practice being even more calm in those difficult situations, so that he can further pacify his or her mind. And then that leads us on to stage seven, which is called Total pacification. And, you know, this is really some of the greatest meditators. If you met a person on stage seven, you would almost feel the energy of his or her peacefulness.

We're really working with the most subtle movements of the Mind is getting very close to complete calmness. And he's using every opportunity he can to work with obstacles and transform them into qualities of mind. He's totally unperturbed at this point. So you can bring any sort of distraction in to view of the meditator and it won't disturb him or her at any point, is unperturbed in his meditation and has incredible flexibility. So he can think of problems from all different angles. And he finds a way to look at any problem in a way which gives him more resources.

And more calmness of mind is basically met, even in sleep, they're meditating. So they're meditating all the time, even when a person's sleep, they go into a state of meditation on stage seven. So here the meditator is saying goodbye to the monkey. So it's time to get rid of distraction and restlessness sorry once and for all. And there's only a small amount of darkness on the elephant. So he's just discovering those last few remnants to totally understand the mind.

And that this leads us to stage eight, which we call karma biting, where he totally understands he or she understands the mind completely. And it's a completely time animal and there's no problems whatsoever for someone who reaches this stage stage eight, in the nine stages of meditation. The only difference between here and stage nine is there still some subtle movement in the mind, and like ripples on a pond, it's just really a matter of time, before the mind comes to complete rest. And finally, at stage nine, there, there is what we call one pointed meditation. Where the meditator can focus on the meditation object, and no other thoughts come to the mind until he or she decides to get up and do something else. So this is complete meditation.

And this is where people can supposedly meditate for days or even months on and in accounting, the highest point of meditation you can achieve. And then because this is a diagram from a Buddhist tradition, we have the the meditator go riding on his mind, to Nirvana in this case, and then coming back to try to help and teach other beings with a with a sword and with lots of flames and lots of effort to help others. Now, just for completeness of this diagram, you'll also notice this and other symbols going up the path. The first, the red one, slide one is is is cloth. which represents the sense of touch. So these these represent the five senses.

Because at the beginning, a beginner meditator is dealing a lot with the body and pains in the body. And so the sense of physical feeling is the biggest distraction that the meditator is working with. And then further up the path, there's a fruit which represents taste, a conscious shell, which has perfume in it, which represents smell. So tastes and smells can be a distraction for the meditator at early stages, but by about stage three, we are getting over the worry of small pains our body has settled down, it's usually sitting for longer periods quite well. You're not so much worried about food or smells that come your way, but still sounds very distracted. So you Stage three and stage four sounds which in this case is symbolized by two symbols, like symbols that you claim together.

Cause to cause us distraction, and then the most sensitive part is our sight. And that's represented by Mira, liapis stage six, and so or even seven. And so the eyesight is a very distractive nerve. And so if something happens out the corner of your eye, your mind necessarily just goes to it and gets distracted by that. And so that sense is not overcome until about stage seven on the path. So guys, that's just for your completeness in the diagram.

I hope you enjoyed that explanation of the nine stages of meditation, and even more, so I hope that it really inspires you that there is a path it's actually a wealth truck. path to advance in your meditation practice. And it's absolutely worthwhile to tread that path and to become better, a better meditator. So hope you enjoyed that discussion of the stages of meditation.

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