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Buddhadharma : Fall 2018
56 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER'S QUARTERLY in this kind of meditation practice, it cannot get rid of the seeds of mental afflictions. The afflictions arise again because these yogis have not first abandoned grasping at the self. Until they have accus- tomed themselves to a direct realization of emptiness and uprooted ignorance, the necessary causes and conditions will gather together and ripen into a manifestation of the egotistic view, giving rise to the other mental afflictions. This leads to the creation of karma and to further rebirth in samsara. The last line of the sutra mentions Udraka as an example. He was a non-Buddhist yogi who spent so many years in meditation that he accomplished all four concentrations of the form realm and the first three absorptions of the formless realm up to and including the level of nothingness. The mental afflictions on these seven levels no longer arose within his mental continuum, and those afflictions on the highest level of the formless realm, the peak of samsaric exis- tence, are so very subtle that the meditator almost appears to be an arhat. At this point Udraka no longer experienced any noticeable attachment, hatred, or other affliction, so he thought that he had achieved liberation from samsara. During the time it had taken him to achieve this level, Udraka’s hair had grown very long. One day he awoke from his meditation and found that his hair had been eaten away by mice. This disturbed him. Seeing that his mind was agitated, he realized that mental afflictions were still present in his mental continuum. This made him angry. The karma of anger later caused him to fall into a lower rebirth. This story shows that Udraka’s con- centration was limited to the mundane level, indicated by the final phrase “up to this level” in the preceding verse, without touching the supramundane. opposite | the artist with The Oracle PHOTONINAHUH