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PLEASE TAKE THIS EXPLANATION AS A GUIDE, signaling the way forward, and not as a lesson to be memorized verbatim. I am always reluctant to be very specific for fear that my students will take my words literally and thus prejudge the nature of the truth that they are seeking. My words, taken as they are, will not enlighten you. Only mindful awareness, firmly anchored in the present moment, leads directly to the truth. Never presuppose the truth. Don’t speculate or theorize about meditation practice. And don’t mistakenly appropriate the knowledge you gain from reading this exposition, assuming that in doing so you understand the true nature of body and mind. Only clear and direct insight guided by mindfulness, investigated with wisdom, and pursued with diligence will penetrate that truth.


At this level of practice, the body is completely internalized and the power of sexual attraction is broken. To move forward to the next step, you must use the meditation technique, that brought you to this point, as a training exercise. The aim here is to train mindfulness and wisdom to be even quicker, sharper and more precise in dealing with the very elusive and subtle nature of mental phenomena.

Place the repulsive image of the body in front of you as usual and watch as it retracts into the mind. Then place the image back in front of you and start again, observing carefully how the image merges into the mind. Do this exercise repeatedly until the mind becomes very skilled at it. Once proficiency is achieved, the image will ebb away as soon as the mind focuses on it and merge with the knowing presence inside. Upon reaching the stage where one clearly understands the basic principles underlying sexual attraction, the next step is to train the mind with this purely mental exercise. Sexual attraction is no longer a problem—it has been cut off for good. There is no way that it can reappear as before. But, although most of it has been eliminated, it has yet to be completely destroyed. A small portion still remains: like bits of dross or patches of rust adhering to the mind.


At the stage where external perceptions merge totally with the citta’s own inner image, we can say that at least fifty percent of the investigation of kamaraga has been successfully completed. The final, most advanced stage of the path of practice has been reached. The subtle portion of sensual desire that remains must be gradually eliminated, using the training exercise mentioned above. Relentlessly refining the contemplation and the mental absorption of asubha images will increase wisdom’s skill level. As wisdom’s proficiency strengthens, a higher and higher percentage of sexual attraction is totally destroyed. As wisdom’s mastery gathers pace, so too does the speed at which the images recede into the mind. Eventually, as soon as one focuses on it, an image will rush into the mind, merge with it and simply vanish. With constant practice, the speed at which this occurs will rapidly increase. At the highest level of skillfulness, the image will vanish the moment it’s absorbed into the mind. This investigative technique is fundamental to progress in the final stage of the path, the stage where a vanquished kamaraga is in full retreat. Soon every vestige of it will be destroyed.


Once the meditator attains the final stage, once the real source of ugliness and beauty is seen with crystal clarity, kamaraga will never rear its head again. Its hold over the mind has been broken—and this condition is irreversible.

Notwithstanding that, further work is still needed to destroy all traces of sensual desire. The task is time consuming. This part of the investigation is complex and somewhat chaotic with images of the body arising and vanishing at a furious pace. The most intense effort is required to root out every last vestige of kamaraga. But the meditator knows instinctively what to do at this stage. So, the investigation quickly develops its own natural momentum without prompting from anyone.


Mindfulness and wisdom are habitual—they work in unison with extraordinary speed and agility. By the time that these investigations reach their dénouement, no sooner does an image of the body appear than it vanishes instantly. It doesn’t matter whether these images merge into the citta or not, their appearance and disappearance is all that is known. Arising and passing images happen so quickly that perceptions of external and internal are no longer relevant. In the end, images flutter on and off, appearing and disappearing from awareness so rapidly that their forms are no longer sustainable. After each disappearance, the citta experiences a profound emptiness—emptiness of imagery, emptiness of form. An extremely refined awareness stands out within the citta. As each new image flashes on and disappears, the mind feels the resulting emptiness more profoundly. Due to its subtle and manifest strength at this stage, the citta’s knowing nature completely dominates. Finally, images created in the mind cease to appear altogether—only emptiness remains. In this void the citta’s essential knowing nature prevails, exclusively and incomparably. With the cessation of all body-images created by the mind comes the total annihilation of kamaraga. Contemplation of the body has reached closure.


Finally realizing that all form is intrinsically empty—empty of personality, empty of distinctive qualities such as beauty and ugliness—the meditator sees the immense harm caused by kamaraga. This ruinous defilement spreads its noxious poison everywhere. It corrodes human relationships and agitates the whole world, distorting people’s thoughts and emotions, causing anxiety, restlessness and constant discontent. Nothing else has such a disquieting effect on people’s lives. It is the most destructive force on earth. When kamaraga is totally eliminated, the entire world appears empty. The force that ignites fires which consume people’s hearts, and fans flames that ravage human society is vanquished and buried. The fire of sexual attraction is extinguished for good—nothing remains to torment the heart. With kamaraga quenched, Nibbana appears imminent and close at hand.


Kamaraga conceals everything, blinding us to all aspects of the truth. Thus, when kamaraga is finally destroyed, we have an unobstructed view of magga, phala, and Nibbana—they are now well within reach.


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