A Look at Awakening and
the Two-Part Formula
Until now the world has not known a way that would help anyone get awakened. Various teachers and traditions have offered a wide range of practices for this single purpose but very few of them actually do the job, especially within a realistic time frame and effort. I know from my own experience and from the accounts of many others that with most techniques that are said to produce awakening, only a marginal group manages to do that while for most techniques simply don't work.
The two-part formula is not a new invention. Despite of me having come up with it, I did not invent it. I merely remembered it from my previous life. The two-part formula has been taught as a preliminary exercise within some lineages of Tibetan dzogchen. Also some forms of buddhist meditation and advaita have a lot of resemblance with it, yet aren't exactly like it. Traditionally this practice would be called semdzin, which means to see or to hold the natural state (tib. semnyid). This technique has actually been practiced and used for many hundreds of years inside Tibet and before that on areas where dzogchen was taught, but because it has been guarded by the vow of secrecy, it has only been taught to few inside the tradition. I am happy and humbled to be able to help others through offering this teaching. I am well aware that the world really needs it. I have heard over and over how people have struggled with various teachings that have been said to lead to awakening, without it ever arriving even after decades of practice. I find that very unfortunate.
I have kept statistics since people started to ask me to be guided. Now when 95 people have undertaken the guidance, 93 of them ahve awoken by using it in 5 days of average. This means that 98% of those who sincerely tried it awoke. The age of these people range from 20-75 years. The group includes both men and women, from highly schooled academics and doctors to common workers from many countries. Among this group of people there were many who had never practiced meditation before. On the other hand there were many who had done extensive meditation training. The shortest duration of guidance was 6 hours and the longest was 5 weeks of continuous exchange. 9 people awakened while they were preparing for the guidance. Not getting a desired result in two cases was caused by the lack of expertise of the guide, yours truly, during the guidances early on.
For all these reasons I think that the two-part formula is suited for all kinds of people, whether spiritually, philosophically or scientifically orientated. The two-part formula doesn't belong to any religion nor does the result of awakening pertain to a particular group of people. It is applicable by anyone who suffer of the dilemma of existence. It is universal.
I've been told by people that the simplicity and directness of the two-part formula became too obvious for them after the insight but before that no one ever came to think of joining the two modes of the formula. It is indeed interesting how people in the seeking mode never come to think of joining the two modes. When one begins to think about it 1. first recognising open awareness, especially behind one's eyes and 2. then comparing open awareness with the I-thought by bringing it up by thought. The term self-delusion is widely used term and still techniques where one brings back the I-thought by thinking it are very rare. The self which means our sense of me-ness or I-ness exists largely as thought. If he have no thought at all in our minds, we don't have an existential problem either. Therefore, the logical conclusion is to bring back the I-thought repeatedly and simply be aware of it, until it looses it's meaning, the charge stored in it. The two-part formula is a simple little technique that really is the selfing mechanism itself.
As it has been described in the dialogues of this book, when awakening happens, people tell how all of a sudden they feel freer, clearer, more peaceful, more creative, more relaxed, more healthy, less stressed and so on. Awakened people say that the shift brought them all the good things, so to speak. With awakening the investment that we have put into our self which creates our sense of me-ness, becomes deflated. With awakening, the self that is like a balloon is purposefully emptied of stale air.
In buddhism this is called an insight into the empty nature of the mind. Emptiness (skt. sunyata) or no-self (skt. anatman, p. anatta) refer to the selfless nature of any mind phenomena. It means that once we have the realisation, we no longer believe that we, ”me” or ”you”, exist as an entity, and the entityness, belief in the solidity of ourselves becomes deflated. Before the insight it is common for people to believe in the concept that they actually exist as entities that live inside their bodies. If people are asked to find where their mes are located at, people always end up pointing their fingers to their heads. Without noticing it we gain the belief that there would be this small being, me, inside our heads looking out from our eyes, listening through our ears, thinking through our brains and living through our bodies. But once we start considering this belief of there being some kind of a small being or entity inside our head, the belief begins to seem absurd.
Shakyamuni Buddha says in the Bahiya Sutta:
In the seen, there is only the seen,
in the heard, there is only the heard,
in the sensed, there is only the sensed,
in the cognized, there is only the cognized.
Thus you should see that
indeed there is no thing here.
in the heard, there is only the heard,
in the sensed, there is only the sensed,
in the cognized, there is only the cognized.
Thus you should see that
indeed there is no thing here.
If we listen to a sound, there is no me or I listening the sound, there is only hearing of the sound. If we look at an object, there is no me or I looking at the object, there is only seeig of the object. When we see, hear, think and live through our entityness, we inevitable become deluded and cannot experience things just as they are. Our self causes us to push and pull. Once we have deconstructed of our entityness, we are able to see, hear, think and live directly without the self twisting and falsely interpreting everything that we come to meet.
As the dialogues testify, one's life becomes freer, healthier and more spacious with awakening. The buddhist term ”emptiness” is a bit misleading but what the emptiness means is absence of selves, in whatever form they come. And once we start taking chunks of emptiness, start having glimpses and shifts of the natural state (tib. rigpa), we automatically feel freer and more natural which is just what we have beenwanting and looking for all along.
Ideal circumstances for awakening
In my analysis I have come up with five key factors that create an ideal situation for anyone to wake up.
- The teacher is awakened and knows exactly what it is and how it happens.
- He has clarity and skills to convey it through exact verbal pointers.
- He has particular techniques that are succinctly meant for generating awakening.
- There is enough one-on-one exchange between the teacher and the student so that the processing can be finished quickly.
- The student has recognised that his problems are essentially caused by self-delusion. Therefore he is motivated to go through the process.
The opposite of these five key factors are:
- The teacher does not exactly understand what awakening is or how it happens, even if he himself is awakened.
- He doesn't have clarity and skillfulness to convey it through exact verbal pointers.
- He does not know distinct techniques for generating awakening. In fact his techniques might be completely irrelevant or only vaguely relevant.
- There is not enough one-on-one exchange between the teacher and the student which is why getting to the result is needlessly delayed.
- The student doesn't have correct motivation, no real need for awakening.
I have had discussions with many teachers and practitioners from many traditions. When hearing about issues that hinder the understanding of the students or the teachers I am often reminded how fields of secular education are passed to students. For example. If we consider the above five points in the case of learning mathematics in school, we can be certain that the education system quarantees these key points. However, in spiritual education (skt. dharma), this rarely is the case. When one starts to think about it, this doesn't become as a surprise to anyone who has spent a decade or more in the dharma scene. It is absolutely certain that the old traditions have a lot to improve in their old ways.
Comments from the awakened
Here are some comments from people who got awakened by the two-part formula. These comments have been given by them one year or more after their awakening event.
Question: What awakening has meant for you? What kind of change has it made in your life?
Answer: Awakening is the most impressive and profound change in my life. There is no longer a need to imagine me being this or that. I have no need to seek explanations and relief from books, or to take treatments. I have no need to forcibly alter the ways of thinking in any way, either. There is no need to grasp at self-importance or in some way define what I am, what I like and what I don't like. It is enough to be. There is no need to seek anything. There is a natural distance to emotions, thoughts and events that formerly created a chaos in my mind. Being calm has increased in my life and the extremes from the height of blissful happiness to gloom and depression has evened out.
Answer: Awakening has brought clarity to my life. Meditation is easier. I feel more relaxed. Inner peace has increased. I understand the things happening around me better. Acceptance and tolerance have increased. I am able to notice the happenings around me in more detail as if my ability to be mindful has come better. It feels as if the state of meditation is switched on all the time.
Answer: Awakening has removed the constant and never ending search for the truth. Awakening has brought more humour, relaxation, patience, courage and also a sense of responsibility and compassion towards others.
Answer: I've stopped complaining. Satisfaction has increased. Everything I have in my life is enough and good. If there is some resistance, unpleasant feelings or even anger, the first thing that comes to mind is not that this nasty thing has to go away. Instead, this emotion may be calmly looked at, and seen from where and how it arises and how it ceases. There are no instant reactions as before, mental phenomena can merely be witnessed. It is a great relief that nothing is so serious or personal anymore. If one has lived 30 years feeling guilty and shameful, the dropping of that load is an immense relief. Awakening has made my life straightforward, natural, even easy. Meeting people has become easier as the inner voice is no longer judging myself or the other person. The other person may have his or her space. A need to control things has decreased. Acceptance and trust to life and people has increased.
Answer: After awakening, the inner peace and stability are apparet in my daily life.
Answer: Awakening has put the whole spiritual path into a proper context. In many ways it has brought lightness and clarity to my being. It is easier to experience and accept everything that arises in my experience as there is no longer a personal connection to it. There are still many sensations that make my being feel difficult and personal but they become accepted more easily. Life is what it is. If there is an embarrassing situation, for example, which previously would have felt shameful, it doesn't feel as strong anymore. Instead circumstances like this just make me smile. Old fears and all the thoughts in connection to them do arise but these are also seen as natural bubbling of the mind and they don't create despair. Seen from the outside, I may appear slightly absent but nevertheless I am not, it's just that there is no hurry anymore. In overall I'd say that my actions are more uninhibited and creative. Being with people is more direct.
Answer: Awakening was a moment among other moments but what makes it special is that it was an entry point to spiritual path. Through it I have been able to live my life more in a state of truthfulness where the conditioned thoughts don't colorize the direct experience. This means everything.
Comment: The two-part formula is too good to be true, except it really is true! This is so wonderful. The distinction between the subject-self and the object-self is such an important distinction to make, something I never understood until I came across the book. It's really crucial to awakening. I spent 18 years working with the object-self doing vipassana which would have knock on effects on weakening the subject-self, but left it still alive and kicking, whereas after two weeks looking at the subject-self I finally woke up! I feel so grateful for this - it's been life changing for me. I don't think there are many teachers out there that understand the subject versus object self distinction. In terms of Buddhism in general, this really is ground breaking stuff. It is a blessing that awakening can be generated so soon with the two part formula (2PF). It literally takes most practitioners years to awaken with traditional practices, whether theravada or mahayana buddhism. So much of the struggle of the practitioner working with the self, and the paradox of practice is circumvented by generating awakening so early. That's why I'm so enthusiastic about the 2PF. That tool could be employed to great use in so many other schools of buddhism, since awakening is pretty much a universal goal for all dharma practitioners. A massive boost.
Comment: Awakening is still very rare, all across the world and pretty much in every tradition of buddhism. The two-part formula has literally cracked the code of awakening, something that as far as I know has never been done before.
by Kim Katami and Karl Eikrem
Within the various schools of buddhism that considers awakening by different terms such as stream entry, kensho (jap.) or satori, awakening is relatively well defined. However, when stepping outside buddhism, awakening gets a wide variety of meanings that from the buddhist point of view can be entirely irrelevant. The way how awakening is defined in this book comes from buddhism which clearly is the strongest, most reliable and systematic of all the religions and philosophies of the world on the topic of mind training.
One of the problems that the authors have come across while making the two-part formula public is that quite often it is met with great suspicion and disbelief. Initial suspicion has sometimes been mentioned by people who have later taken the guidance. The main reason why people might initially have such reactions lie in the present spiritual culture of the world that in it's history hasn't had a reliable way of generating awakening. When this stubbornly rooted belief is combined with all kinds of associations that one may have of the meaning of awakening, instead of pragmatical understanding, in some cases it seems to be enough for shutting themselves inside a barrier of denial. This denial is often supported by orthodox religious beliefs. However, if we honestly look at the condition of the human mind that has had the assistance of all the main religions for many hundreds of years, it really becomes evident that we have nothing to loose and everything to gain. As an attempt for understanding this scepticism, the authors have talked to several people who have undertaken the guided awakening process and asked them to share their experiences with us.
Can it really be that simple?
Karl: When I encountered the method, I experienced some kind of instant recognition of the validity of the method and the authenticity in the eyes of those who had supposedly awakened. Still, the question whether it really could be that simple, lingered with me subtly all through the guidance. A friend of mine, MN (Case 10), told me that she simply could not believe that awakening could be so simple. She was taught, she said, that either awakening happened spontaneously to people enduring immense suffering, or gradually through long term meditation practice.
N wrote me: Everything I had read or heard about awakening previously was that it required years of strenuous yoga, kundalini practice, meditation, breathing practices and so on. And then one day, if you were lucky, POP, you would get self-realization. A simple method of self-inquiry seemed at odds with that.
This confusion can be easily explained. Engaging in practices means that we begin to do or perform some exercises that we believe at some point will do the job of illuminating our sense of self. However, when we are in the mode of seeking this always to brings about a seeker, a subject, me who seeks. The two-part formula deals directly, and exclusively with the sense of being a seeker or me, the subject for the person to see through it and have the epiphany that all seeking is futile because we do not exist the way we think we do. We may assume that our existential confusion can be resolved by dualistic means but that is actually impossible because the sense of self that seeks or engages in practices is merely an illusion. For this reason inquiry into the nature of the self, is the most direct way to go.
Often people with long histories in spiritual practice seem to be most sceptical to the point of not even doing research. T when explaining his initial scepticism, pointed to his years of meditation as a possible reason for it, mentioning that his practice had, ”not made promises of speedy awakening”. Soon after awakening, he says, the amazement whether it really can be that simple, lingered in his mind.
Another form of scepticism is self-doubt. Some people worry that perhaps their egos are too strong or too weak for the process, or maybe they aren't spiritual enough. P wrote she did not think the formula would work for her because she felt she had too many problems. After having gone through the process, she admited that in the end it wasn't really that complicated.
The presented statistics while indicating scientifically how well the two-part formula works, does seem to have side-effects. In some cases they seem to have lead to increased scepticism, that of scepticism to the authenticity of the statistics themselves. For people who cannot see the basic logic of the technique, the high success rate seems to tell them that is it too good to be true and therefore is not true.
In the instructions it is said: Before you read on, I have a request for you: Drop all pre-assumptions you have of awakening and spirituality. Forget that you ever practiced meditation, read spiritual books or received spiritual teachings. This is an essential requirement. Have a totally open mind. If you can do that, then read on.
H wrote: When I first contacted Kim, I really did not even know what it was all about. I did not have any experience of meditation or spiritual development, nor did I know about the dual nature of mind. I mostly felt curious about the process and what was to come, it was diving head first. I did not have a chance to doubt my ability, as I kind of did not really know what I was doing. After awakening I was really happy to have stumbled on these valuable teachings.
N wrote: Looking back on my experiences I would say that I was wrong about what to expect – there was no great mystical experience. No trumpets and lights, no chorus of angels, no heavens opening up. It is all very ordinary, but in a profound way. It is a shift in awareness; the first step toward clarity of wakefulness. The change is a significant one in that you are suddenly free of yourself. You get a chance to deal with experience mindfully and vividly without habituated self-referencing obscuring the directness and crispness of the direct experience. In that ordinariness you discover how extraordinary life really is, this precious chance to be alive and breathing.
F reported: Afterwards the prejudices and thoughts about awakening are seen as fear of the unknown. Also the word ”awakening” itself raised prejudice in my mind. I thought it concerned only some very special, spiritually oriented people, who keep themselves higher than others. This thought has turned upside down. Awakened people are tolerant and they don’t need to bring themselves up. It feels so great that an ordinary person like me, with normal daily routines, with family and work, can be awakened. And every day I’m so happy of the change the awakening has brought.
This is an exceprt from Kim Katami's to be published book, Awake!
Guidance to Awakening: http://www.en.openheart.fi/101
How to become awakened: http://www.en.openheart.fi/113