24 Reasons for Choosing Listening as an Enlightening Practice

All roads lead to one. The source of enlightenment is luminescent and infinite. The light of enlightenment is reflected upon manifestations, the nature of which dies upon being lit. Mirages are built upon emptiness; thoughts of beings create terra firma; awareness makes for sentient beings. Emptiness amidst great enlightenment is but a bubble on the sea. The bubble pops and emptiness never existed, what false worldly manifestations are there?

From the easy to the difficult, all expedient practices lead you to the sagely, non-dualistic source. Among the 25 representative meditation practices described, one is the easiest and speediest for reaching awakening in the present lifetime and the world at present.

Here are the reasons for rejecting the other 24 types of practices, focusing only on the 25th, that of listening:

  1. It’s difficult to reach enlightenment through the object of form because thoughts reify form so that a novice practitioner cannot readily break down and break through such hardened particles.
  2. It’s difficult to reach enlightenment through the object of sound because voice and language are based on signification. One can never represent all.
  3. It’s difficult to reach enlightenment through the object of scent because fragrance evaporates. Since scent does not last, awareness of a scent cannot last.
  4. It’s difficult to reach enlightenment through the object of taste because awareness of different tastes is short-lived, just as flavors are short-lived.
  5. It’s difficult to reach enlightenment through the object of touch because tactile sensation can only be understood when a material object touches the body.
  6. It’s difficult to reach enlightenment through the object of thinking because thoughts are only shadows to the five more substantive objects. Ideations occur only as internal objects; when you focus your mind, thoughts are let go. It is difficult to stay with one thought, not to mention a thought associated with other objects.
  7. It’s difficult to reach enlightenment through the eye organ because eyes only see what is before them, not anything behind them.
  8. It’s difficult to reach enlightenment through the nose organ because between inhalation and exhalation is a pause, which leaves a gap in practice.
  9. It’s difficult to reach enlightenment through the tongue organ because an awareness of flavors only occurs when there is something to taste. When there is nothing to taste, there is no awareness in this regard.
  10. It’s difficult to reach enlightenment through the body organ because awareness is obscured without an object of touch. Awareness only occurs when the body organ and an object of touch are in contact.
  11. It’s difficult to reach enlightenment through the mind organ because the flurry of thoughts in your mind’s consciousness is stubbornly habitual and difficult to train. To advance in meditation is to be relieved of thoughts, leaving nothing to focus on en route to ultimate enlightenment.
  12. It’s difficult to reach enlightenment through the eye consciousness because consciousness occurs only when a sense object and a sense organ meet. The eye consciousness consists of differentiations among objects of form externally and the indiscriminating eye organ internally. The eye consciousness is not an entity but a function that acts upon the coming together of object, sense faculty, and consciousness.
  13. It’s difficult to reach enlightenment through the ear consciousness because this function of the brain usually cannot hear everything such as sounds in the farthest reaches of the universe. Bodhisattva Samantabhadra is an exception because of his past causal practices.
  14. It’s difficult to reach enlightenment through the nose consciousness because the nose consciousness has nothing to do with the skillful means of paying attention to the tip of the nose, which can only last so long.
  15. It’s difficult to reach enlightenment through the tongue consciousness because eloquence requires the brain and voice. Unlike Purnamaitreyaniputra’s power of eloquence from many incarnations, being eloquent by utilizing language for some time will not lead to enlightenment.
  16. It’s difficult to reach enlightenment through the body consciousness because precepts discipline the body and mind. The body consciousness cannot be the focus of a practice were the body nonexistent or one with all.
  17. It’s difficult to reach enlightenment through the mind consciousness because while Mahamaudgalyayana developed supernatural powers and recovered the shiny source of the mind, he did not get there by analyzing thoughts associated with other objects.
  18. It’s difficult to reach enlightenment through the earth element because flattening and filling earth is a conditional phenomenon, not exactly holy. Only in later stages where you even out the mind do you return to the source of sages.
  19. It’s difficult to reach enlightenment through the water element because this contemplation has to do with thinking. Any thought and any form of discrimination do not resonate with the source that just is.
  20. It’s difficult to reach enlightenment through the fire element because being weary of existence, including body and mind, is not true non-attachment. Not everyone is full of lust, so this practice would not be suitable for those with little or no desire.
  21. It’s difficult to reach enlightenment through the wind element because movement and stillness are integral to the cycle of impermanence, as opposed to that which is ultimately aware.
  22. It’s difficult to reach enlightenment through the emptiness element because a blurry obscuration devoid of awareness is the antithesis of enlightening clarity and alertness. This is a challenge likened to building a fire by drilling into ice.
  23. It’s difficult to reach enlightenment through the consciousness element because consciousness is like a brook that appears calm on the surface but its undercurrents rush to and fro with every thought. Consequently, any intentional contemplation of consciousness cannot be constant or steady.
  24. It’s difficult to reach enlightenment through the sense element because volition is ephemeral. While Mahasthamaprapta gathers in all six of his senses, he continues to be mindful of Amitabha Buddha. As with any continuation, pause is inevitable. While this practice may lead you to the Land of Ultimate Bliss afterlife, it is less likely for this practice to lead you to enlightenment in this life.

Listening by contemplating on the source of the ear organ is the recommended practice for this era because only sound can be heard through walls and all around. You can practice all hours of the day; even while you’re asleep or deep in a dream, you can hear sounds, including the sound of silence. The sound of silence is a sound with a source in you who hear. You first notice sounds in movement and stillness, then you realize that the object of sound neither comes into being nor ceases.

Instead of listening to the wisdom of others, why not listen to that which listens? Contemplate: who is it that listens? Listen until even listening ceases.

Once you reach the source of one sense faculty, you can repeat the process for the other five sense organs.

Once you realize that sights and sounds are but illusions, that you can listen without the obscuration of your senses, you touch a state of awareness that is pure and bright. The source shines throughout, lighting up the embodied emptiness too; everything in the world will seem but a dream. Like the power button to an electronic device, turning it on or off will determine whether all sense perceptions rest or stir up colorful illusions. Begin by turning off one sense faculty, so all senses remain unperturbed.

Avalokiteshvara is not the only one who awakened by listening, enlightening beings and Buddhas past and present have, and will.

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