Only When There Is No More Distracting Thought Will Ignorance Appear

As mentioned earlier, thoughts can be divided into coarse thoughts, subtle thoughts, and subtler attachments. After coarse wandering thoughts disappear, you may think there are no more thoughts. However, if you calm your mind further, you will discover subtler thoughts and mental distractions. By penetrating layer by layer, as you progress to a state where there are no more distractions, not even the slightest ones, ignorance will appear.

There are several layers of ignorance: first is the attachment to “self in person”; when penetrated, the attachment to “self in phenomena” will appear; when the attachment to “self in phenomena” is penetrated, the fundamental ignorance will appear. Those with sharp faculties can penetrate the fundamental ignorance and get enlightened, but that is a later story.

Of course, when the fundamental ignorance appears, you need guidance from your spiritual mentor or an enlightened being. If your afflictive obscurations, karmic obstacles, and cognitive obscurations are heavy, like an iron plate, then no matter how much I strike it, it will be useless. If your afflictive and cognitive obscurations have become as thin as window paper through long-term practice, leaving only the final layer of ignorance, then at that point, with a little guidance from me, you can easily penetrate it. After the final layer of ignorance is eradicated, your true nature will appear.

Therefore, the entire process of our meditation is about allowing thoughts to gradually slow down, making the gaps between them more and more apparent. Only after the gaps have become apparent can we penetrate the ignorance. If there is no gap, you won’t be able to see the ignorance at all. All you see are afflictions and scattered thoughts, whether coarse or subtle. In such a state, you cannot see any gap or ignorance at all. Hence, only when there are no more scattered thoughts will the attachment to “self in person” and “self in phenomena” appear.

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