Copyright 2022 Sam Bartko, PhD
The Attainment of Level 3 Selfless Perception
This attainment is a much rarer attainment because not many people in modern practice are doing a practice where renunciation is valued. It seems to be the case that renunciation as an attitude is a required prerequisite for anyone looking to attain to the level 3 selfless perception. The deeper insights into non-self only come about when we investigate and fully disidentify from intention and agency. The SigmaTropic systematic practice develops conscious intentions and visualizations and these we learn are intimately interwoven into the fabric of “reality”. In the process of developing these visualization faculties, students perceive how intention and agency are constructed, in real time.
The meditator looking to attain level 3 will be advised to practice jhana and continue to notice dependent arising and cessation in the jhanas. The Formless Realms can start to become more accessible when a person attains the level 2 non-self attainment. These states allow the practitioner to see the basic building blocks of perception and see the way the mind takes a sense contact and manufactures a self-concept from it. The immaterial jhanas are a good way of seeing very subtle fabrications that underlie simple things like space and consciousness. We can see directly through our cessation and jhana practice how the mind is an impersonal process.
For a level 2 practitioner in the SigmaTropic system, the ideal conditions to attain the third level of awakening may look different for different people. A key shift at this stage, is the shift from the mind doing the meditation, to the mind automatically deconstructing reality. The same shift that occurs when moving from Stage I samatha to Stage II samatha. At stage II samatha, we seem to have ongoing mindful awareness to the degree that no conscious moment in the day is totally heedless or without presence.
Our mindfulness is starting to permeate our entire lives, and inevitably in that process the meditator will notice that their behavior and everything they do and events in their lives affect the events that happen while applying some meditation technique. There is a clear interrelated nature to everything we do- and this stage- to get mindfulness and presence to be a baseline default state, we have to gradually show the mind that there is no use in suffering and that craving and aversion are not necessary. It’s helpful to have a holistic perspective on it, and realize that everything we do affects the path, and we can frame everything we do in the context of the path, and when we have this view then everything becomes a practice. The only thing keeping the subject-object duality going is the craving and clinging to things. There is an effort and an engagement that is required to participate in suffering.
When we renounce the outside world and turn into our own perception and develop directly the qualities of mind that lead to awakening, then we can start to experience ourselves as interrelated to the process of everything else. Standing meditation can be quite helpful at this stage, to take advantage of the jhanic ability of the mind and provide an outlet for the energy. Each of the approaches mentioned below are a different way of engaging with intention, up to and including the key development to arrive at the later stages of awakening. We start to confront the direct fact that intentions may in fact be flawed unless we put our faith in a higher power or a higher order to things. This is why we try to develop a “Divine Pride” by envisioning the ideal figure we aim to embody.