Annihilation of Appearances (Practice)

Annihilate appearances to nullify disturbances of mind

This meditation practice has a requirement that one understand & have practiced stabilizing meditations (such as Shamata.)  To start, the mind must be open and ready.  Limited scope identification (ego or body/mind identification) needs to be set aside for the moment.

Resting The Mind

After breath or deity meditation, one brings to mind appearances of things, and how they all tend to relate to the lack of self-existence.  The non-self, non-thing, lack of self-existence in others is analyzed and from this intellectual pondering we remember the inherent lack of existing nature in any specific thing.

This is the remembrance of Emptiness.

Disturbing the Waters

From the restful state, a strong feeling is produced: ANGER, HATE, DESIRE (anything that is strong and equally disturbing in nature to the peace of mind.)  The point is not to bring up an issue that will pull you to the past or worries for the future.  Instead you pull up the strong emotion and feel it out.

We need to ask questions of the emotion:

  • Where did it come from?
  • Where does it reside?
  • Where is it?
  • Is it inside?
  • Is it outside of us?
  • Does it have a nature?
  • What does it depend on?
  • Does it have shape or color?

Looking at the thought directly it becomes invisible.  As though it was pacified or never existed.

In my personal situation, when I attempt such a thing, I feel as though these feelings or thoughts drift in and out and I can’t find their location, because they are unreal.

Cycling Thoughts

Once one thought is completed in this fashion, another is found and analyzed in the same fashion. The next thought might be hatred towards someone.  Or it could be anger towards a situation. Perhaps pride is our next thought to handle.  Desire is one that should also be dealt with.

As each is observed and the watcher (“Wisdom of Discriminating Awareness”) contemplates the questions above with each, it should in time nullify and annihilate them.  It is the burning of self to ash.  Like the evanescent heat after a fire, nothing remains of the solidified self nature.

The Role of Mindfulness

Up to now what has been described is a form meditation exercise.  However, as one moves throughout the day, if they remain mindful of their thoughts they can practice this throughout the day.  Perhaps one becomes agitated as they get in an elevator at work.  Or maybe they are feeling desire for someone walking by.

If mindful the aspirant can catch the thought and began to ask “where did you come from?” and so forth.  Our formal meditation can be similarly turned into a regular daily (moment by moment) practice.

Emptiness

This means that all the phenomena of samsara and all the phenomena of nirvana arise from the mind. For that reason, when we realize the mind’s nature, we will naturally understand the nature of all that appears.

Thrangu. Essentials of Mahamudra: Looking Directly at the Mind (p. 132). Wisdom Publications. Kindle Edition.

If these mental activities do not exist spatially, or dwell within or outside, then they really do not exist at all.  They vanish when observed & contemplated by the watcher.  Life lessons can be gained by the practice, to the point where one becomes aware of the emptiness of mind and thought.

Sensory Annihilation

At a more advanced level (once the above has been practiced throughly) the aspirant can then move on to the appearance of our physical (and psychic) senses.   Taste, Touch, Smell, Sight, Hearing and psychic sense can similarly be analyzed.

The sound of a dog barking can be reasoned from a mind stabilized (Shamata) with the same questions:

  • Where did it come from?
  • Where does it reside?
  • Where is it?
  • Is it inside?
  • Is it outside of us?
  • Does it have a nature?
  • What does it depend on?
  • Does it have shape or color?

While the aspirant might discover that all phenomena are products of mind, from forces of latent predispositions (or karmic imprints), reasoned analysis guides the aspirant to the understanding that none of it exists.

Sounds of dogs barking are aspects of mind… mind that presents the sound, inflection and change over time.  As the mental perception (in this example, a sound) is broken down into more and more pieces, the object is brought to a point of something that is no longer reducible. Now, pondering this irreducible thing we realize  that it doesn’t exist at all.

Both the object & the mind appreciating or holding the object are themselves empty.  Neither the object, nor the mind witnessing it are self-existence.

Suffering & Delight

As a final burning, we can move from the work of the senses, to the work of feelings.  Some things will feel wonderful and delightful, while other things bring us pain and suffering.  These too can be analyzed as described above.

Similar in result, these objects of pain and suffering are also empty of self-existence.

Through this process, emptiness experienced directly may result.