50 Meditation States You Must Let Go (Part IV: Volition)

The primary objectives for sharing these strange and fascinating possible meditation states are twofold. One, so that more people know about the experiences in deepening practice. Two, so that more people know not to be led astray by their experiences as their practice deepens.

IV. Volition

When your thought aggregate dissolves, your thinking ceases so that there is perpetual clarity and stillness whether you are asleep or awake; like the sky on a sunny day. With no more crude habits or shadowy objectifications interfering with your contemplation, you come and go without a trace; everything is as clear to you as reflections in a mirror.

The volition aggregate engenders birth and death, the root of which is not visible to you until the earlier three aggregates recede. Now that the form, feeling, and thought aggregates have evaporated for you, you discern that volition is the basis of generation. And that fountainhead is like the mirage of heat haze.

Using the metaphor of water too, thought aggregate is comparable to large, wild waves, volition aggregate mild froths, consciousness aggregate waveless ripples, and the source of actuality is represented by still waters. When your inherent nature’s refracting light quits, the fundamental stillness of your essence is like a calm body of water. Once the volition aggregate ends, you can transcend the turbidities of beings and contemplate their cause, which is subtle intent.

Any of the following ten conjectures may occur when thought aggregate rests but volition aggregate remains active. During single-pointed meditation, you obstruct yourself by entertaining strange hypotheses such as these:

  1. There is no cause, and nothing more to or beyond the beginning or end of our existence: a hypothesis misinterprets impermanence in view that there is nothing more beyond a limited span of time, hence all that is within this specific time period is impermanent.A. There is no cause to the start of our existence because for as long as 80,000 eons but no more, all beings have come into being then ceased to be. Your understanding is that all beings throughout these 80,000 eons have come into existence without cause.You become heretical with your claim. You become deluded and cannot find your way to enlightenment.B. There is no cause to the end of our existence. Things are the way they are because that’s the way they’ve always been. People give birth to people, and have always done so. Crows are and have always been black and doves likewise white. There was not the causal act of coloring crows and never the bleaching of doves. No intervention and no change, hence no cause can be said to have led to these phenomena.

    You claim, “Since I don’t see enlightenment, how can there be such a thing as enlightenment?”

    You become heretical with your claim. You become deluded and cannot find your way to enlightenment.

  2. There is eternalism: a hypothesis misinterprets permanence in view of all that continues within a limited span of time.A. The mind is constant because for 20,000 eons, the cycle of birth and death has been perpetual.B. The Four Elements of earth, water, fire, and wind are constant because they have always been material to the birth and death of all beings throughout 40,000 eons.C. The Eighth Consciousness (the storehouse consciousness or ālaya-vijñāna) is constant because it accepts through the Seventh Consciousness all sense data interacting with the six senses. By training the Eighth Consciousness, you can observe that all beings cycle through continually for 80,000 eons. Hence you assume that which observes is perpetual.

    D. The vanquishing of thought is constant. You assume that thinking disappears, hence biological functions do not continue to operate. You assume that which gives rise and ends thinking now ends forever, hence conceptual principles neither rise nor cease. You assume all this to be lasting.

  3. There is impermanence and there is permanence. Commentators refer to these as the four absurd assertions about self and other, lands, body and mind, neither self nor other.A. You presume that the wondrous, bright mind pervades all places, hence it is the ultimate spiritual self. Such unmoving nature of self is permanent while the birth and death of all beings within are impermanent.B. In contemplating all lands everywhere, you presume those places that you see deteriorating are impermanent and those places that you don’t see deteriorating are permanent.C. In observing your mind closely, you presume that its essence is everywhere and immobile, hence the inherent essence is permanent. You also presume that the inherent essence results in the body’s birth and death, hence impermanent.

    D. With the dissolution of your form, feeling, and thought aggregates, you presume they are impermanent. You presume the volition aggregate to be perpetual because its flow continues for you.

  4. Commentators refer to these as the four boundaries for the three periods of time, beings seen and heard, self and others, birth and death. The supposition here is that in the dichotomies of boundary vs. boundlessness, impermanence vs. permanence, the latter of each polarity is always better.A. You surmise that the source of volition flows unceasingly, all that is in the past has gone and all those yet to be seen of the future are bounded whereas mind that continues nonstop through it all is boundless.B. As you contemplate 80,000 eons in time, you surmise that you do not see or hear beings before then, hence times are unbounded where beings are unseen and unheard, and times are bounded where beings exist.C. You presume that the self knows all, hence its essence is boundless. All beings manifest in the self’s knowing. The self used to not know the essence of knowing in others, which leads you to surmise that other’s mind is boundless but essence bounded.

    D. Your volition aggregate continues to exhaust itself, to the point that you infer that each being’s mind is half coming into being and half ceasing to be, and all things in the world are half bounded and half boundless.

  5. Commentators refer to these as the four misleading propositions about eight presuppositions, nonexistence, existence, existence and nonexistence.A. In observing the source of change, you refer to transition as change and continuation as perpetuity, that which is seen is birth and that which is unseen is death, the cause of unceasing essence to be an increase and pause of continuance to be a decrease, each birth as existence and each death as nonexistence. When someone requests teachings from you, you respond by saying, “I am now both birth and death, existence and nonexistence, increase and decrease.” You misinform so your audience lose their way.B. You detect that the mind is nowhere. Given your realization founded on nonexistence, you respond with nothing except for one word, “Nonexistence” when others pose questions.C. You detect that the mind is everywhere. Given your realization founded on existence, you respond with nothing except for one word, “Existence” when others pose questions.

    D. You detect that the mind is nowhere and everywhere. Given your realization founded on nonexistence and existence, you respond with nothing except, “Both nonexistence and existence” when others pose questions. To you, existence is like ice, equivalent to nonexistence like water. Also to you, nonexistence is like water, unequal to existence like ice.

  6. Form remains after death. Seeing the endless of flow that is volition aggregation, you allege that there is form after death. (Commentators refer to these as the 66 Existent Forms. For someone who reaches the realization of no more coming into being, that person would understand that the core of birth is death. There is no form and only void before birth, so how can there be form after death?)A. In maintaining the body consistently, you contend that form is self. In seeing the perfected self pervading and embodying all lands, you contend that form is in you. In utilizing the form before you, you contend that form belongs to you. In following the continuous flow of volition, you contend that you are in form, which is volition here.B. You conclude that affliction and enlightenment are two parallel tracks that never intersect.
  7. Form is no more after death. Seeing the endless of flow that is volition aggregate, you allege that the aggregates of form, feeling, and thought are also endless. Being formless in their endlessness, you presume that volition aggregate and all phenomena must be formless too. Commentators refer to these as the Eight Formlessnesses.A. You see that form ceases without cause. As you contemplate its extinction, your mind is nowhere attached; hence you realize that your feelings discontinue. With the dissipation of the essence of aggregates, you are like a log with no feeling or thinking but only biology.If you cannot even grasp the mind’s form in this aggregate when you are in meditative absorption and see that there is no form to grasp in any of the four aggregates experienced so far, how can there be form after death?B. You suspect that nirvana and cause and effect are all empty labels, thus subscribing to there being annihilation after death.
  8. Seeing that your volition aggregate has not vanished, but the substantive form for the aggregates form, feeling, and thought has gone, you deduce that both existence and nonexistence are void. The aggregate that exists is existent and the aggregates that no longer exist are nonexistent. Furthermore, the nonexistence of the no longer existent aggregates devastates the existence of the existent volition aggregate, and the existence of the volition aggregate devastates the nonexistence of the other three aggregates. Hence existence is not existence and nonexistence is not nonexistence. Commentators refer to these as the Eight Negations.A. You see existence as nonexistence in form, feeling, and thought aggregates, for they are in the process of deterioration. It’s similar to viewing a bright object at night, the object also appears dark. You witness that nonexistence is existence in the flow of volition in that from this state of stirring aggregates, even the vanished aggregates appear to stir as if they exist. It’s comparable to observing the shadows of a still object in moving water, the object also appears to move. So both existence and nonexistence are disrupted.You infer from these Eight Negations of form about the four aggregates that there is form and formlessness after death.B. Given that all phenomena are ephemeral, you develop the insight that there is neither existence nor nonexistence with such illusory uncertainty.
  9. Seeing that the volition aggregate dies in body, desire, suffering, bliss, or renunciation at seven locations (the Four Cosmological Continents, the Six Desire Realms, the First Dhyana Heaven, the Second Dhyana Heaven, the Third Dhyana Heaven, the Fourth Dhyana Heaven, and the Four Realms of Emptiness) like water without a fountainhead that becomes parched nearby such as in the human realm or far away such as the summit of a distant realm. (Commentators refer to these as the Seven Annihilationist Theories.)
  10. Seeing that the volition aggregate comes into being with every intention unceasingly, you understand there to be some core that never dies; it manifests in nirvana without waiting for extinction. You presume that these five possible results can be experienced in one’s lifetime: A. Transforming into a Buddha in the Desire Realm upon seeing perfect illumination as your adulation grows. B. Experiencing no sadness in the First Dhyana Heaven. C. Experiencing no misery in the Second Dhyana Heaven. D. Experiencing utmost joy in the Third Dhyana Heaven. E. Experiencing the ceasing of both misery and bliss in the Fourth Dhyana Heaven, for you will never undergo the cycle of birth and death again.You mistake the relatively peaceful and pure experiences in lower realms to be the unconditioned. Commentators refer to these as the 15 Manifestations in Nirvana, five for each of the Five Aggregates.