When yogis understand the conditionality of all movements, and that these movements are not created by any authority or any god, then they will understand that they are created by intention. They will understand that intention is the condition for the movement to occur.
Thus the relationship of conditioning and conditioned, of cause and effect, is understood. On the basis of this understanding, yogis can remove doubt about nama and rupa by understanding that nama and rupa do not arise without conditions.
With the clear understanding of the conditionality of things, and with the transcendence of doubt about nama and rupa, a yogi is said to reach the stage of a "lesser sotapanna. "
A sotapanna is a "stream-enterer," a person who has reached the first stage of enlightenment. A "lesser sotapanna" is not a true stream-enterer but is said to be assured of rebirth in a happy realm of existence, such as in the realms of human beings and devas.
That is, a lesser sotapanna cannot be reborn in one of the four woeful states, in one of the hells or animal realms. This state of lesser sotapanna can be reached just by practicing walking meditation, just by paying close attention to the movements involved in a step. This is the great benefit of practicing walking meditation.
This stage is not easy to reach, but once yogis reach it, they can be assured that they will be reborn in a happy state, unless, of course, they fall from that stage.
When yogis comprehend mind and matter arising and disappearing at every moment, then they will come to comprehend the impermanence of the processes of lifting the foot, and they will also comprehend the impermanence of the awareness of that lifting.
The occurrence of disappearing after arising is a mark or characteristic by which we understand that something is impermanent. If we want to determine whether something is impermanent or permanent, we must try to see, through the power of meditation, whether or not that thing is subject to the process of coming into being and then disappearing.
If our meditation is powerful enough to enable us to see the arising and disappearing of phenomena, then we can decide that the phenomena observed are impermanent.
In this way, yogis observe that there is the lifting movement and awareness of that movement, and then that sequence disappears, giving way to the pushing forward movement and the awareness of pushing forward.
These movements simply arise and disappear, arise and disappear, and this process yogis can comprehend by themselves — they do not have to accept this on trust from any external authority, nor do they have to believe in the report of another person.
When yogis comprehend that mind and matter arise and disappear, they understand that mind and matter are impermanent. When they see that they are impermanent, they next understand that they are unsatisfactory because they are always oppressed by constant arising and disappearing.
After comprehending impermanence and the unsatisfactory nature of things, they observe that there can be no mastery over these things; that is, yogis realize that there is no self or soul within that can order them to be permanent. Things just arise and disappear according to natural law.
By comprehending this, yogis comprehend the third characteristic of conditioned phenomena, the characteristic of anatta, the characteristic that things have no self. One of the meanings of anatta is no mastery — meaning that nothing, no entity, no soul, no power, has mastery over the nature of things.
Thus, by this time, yogis have comprehended the three characteristics of all conditioned phenomena: impermanence, suffering, and the non-self nature of things — in Pali, anicca, dukkha, and anatta.
Yogis can comprehend these three characteristics by observing closely the mere lifting of the foot and the awareness of the lifting of the foot. By paying close attention to the movements, they see things arising and disappearing, and consequently they see for themselves the impermanent, unsatisfactory, and non-self nature of all conditioned phenomena.
Now let us examine in more detail the movements of walking meditation. Suppose one were to take a moving picture of the lifting of the foot. Suppose further that the lifting of the foot takes one second, and let us say that the camera can take thirty-six frames per second.
After taking the picture, if we were to look at the separate frames, we would realize that within what we thought was one lifting movement, there are actually thirty-six movements.
The image in each frame is slightly different from the images in the other frames, though the difference will usually be so slight that we can barely notice it. But what if the camera could take one thousand frames per second?
Then there would be one thousand movements in just one lifting movement, although the movements would be almost impossible to differentiate. If the camera could take one million frames per second — which may be impossible now, but someday may happen — then there would be one million movements in what we thought to be only one movement.(continued)
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