The Two-Part Formula (2PF) is a simple and effective method for bringing about permanent awakening. Awakening in this context means the dropping off of the illusion of self. The method is all about being aware of one’s sense of self and observing it systematically. Applying the 2PF can be likened to the way a scientist carries out a careful examination. It’s about examining the mind, looking into one’s own psychology in a particular way.
When you really immerse yourself in applying the 2PF, it brings about awakening. Awakening happens on the level of your mind and is a permanent state or shift, not a temporal experience. Once the spell of “I” is seen through, the illusion loses its power and this represents an experiential shift in one’s life. It’s about illuminating the most significant cause of dissatisfaction from one’s mindstream. Overall awakening is a central theme in all authentic spiritual traditions.
Even though the 2PF is easy to apply in practice, it is useful to have one-on-one contact with an awakened person who understands the process first-hand. This is because they can provide helpful pointers, and guide you should you go astray. Also, the majority of authentic dharma teachers should be able to tell you if awakening has happened or not. That being said, when awakening happens, it dissolves the problem. Thus, one simple indication of awakening is that you no longer need to seek or find anything because the seeker itself has dissolved.
Before you read on, please drop all preassumptions you may have concerning awakening and spirituality in general. Forget that you ever practiced meditation, read books on spirituality, or received spiritual teachings. Have a totally open mind, so that you may start fresh and without baggage. This is essential.
First, sit down and relax thoroughly. Take a comfortable seat with eyes open or closed. Then, scan through your body with attention and release tensions from anywhere you notice them. Scanning the body means that you look, feel, and listen into the body space as if using a flashlight in a dark room. When a particular tension is found and is allowed to release, pay close attention to what is found in the area of the released tension. Look closely. What you find is mere open space. After you notice this, move on to the next tension, release it, and again notice the open space in the place of the former tension. After you have done this for several minutes with focus and attention, what happens is that the individual spots of open space connect to each other, revealing a greater sense of open space. Notice and enjoy that spaciousness. Marinate in it for several minutes. This mode is called the “I-less mode” because there is no “me” or “you” in this space. As you experience the spaciousness, see if “me” or “I” can be found anywhere in it. Check whether “I” is there or not. Check left and right. Check front and back. Check up and down. Check the center as well. Can you find the sense of “me-ness” in this spacious mind? If you cannot find it, the recognition of the I-less mode is correct. If you are not sure, then do the exercise again and look with more sharpness. In this mode, when you listen to a sound or look at some external object in front of you, there is no “hearer” or “seer” but only “hearing” and “seeing”. It is important to recognize this selfless mode well. It is not difficult, you just need to apply some attention and relax properly.
Say to yourself: “I, I, I”, “me, me, me” or “mine, mine, mine”, out loud or silently. Say it with conviction, so that you mean it. Repeat the affirmation two or three times and then for a moment, wait for sensations to arise. How does it feel? Do you feel some tensions arising? Do you feel a sense of lack of freedom when you reinforce the I-though? How does the I-thought feel? You have consciously brought up the sense of “me-ness” and are now consciously experiencing how this sense of “me” feels. Perhaps for the first time in your life. The subject, “me”, now becomes an object that can be observed and studied. Make a note of how “me-ness” feels in your body, in the chest and the head. Pick the strongest of the sensations and observe it more closely, like a scientist examining an organism under a microscope. Don’t change anything, just observe with great interest and curiosity. Consciously look and feel the sensation and by simply experiencing it, make observations about it. What is the I-thought? Does it have a shape? What’s the size of it? Where is it located? Is this experience of me-ness the truth of you? Is it the real you or not? Look carefully and make observations. After some time, the I-sensations disappear. If at that point you still feel calm and not agitated you can do another set of affirmations. If, on the other hand, you feel a bit restless, look into that restlessness to find out what’s causing it. When these sensations eventually subside the spaciousness again becomes revealed, and so you go back again to the first step.
The idea is that you keep comparing the two modes until the sense of me-ness permanently wears out. At some point when the affirmation no longer sticks, and, no matter how intensely you say it, just echoes into empty space, awakening has likely taken place. At this point, you can feel a special kind of openness and elation, lightness and unobstructedness, as compared to before.
When practicing the 2PF, it is best to sit down and process the two modes silently, one, two, or three times a day for 20-30 minutes per sitting. These sitting sessions are essential, along with processing during everyday activities. During activities, whatever they may be, simply make note of how the two modes alternate. Also, when we are around other people, the “I” can come up unexpectedly and strongly because we are used to reacting to other people from our sense of “I”. Make use of these moments to look into the self or “I” with awareness.
The first mode of the formula demonstrates that when tensions are thoroughly released, the landscape of our mind changes. Thoughts disappear, emotions settle, and an openness like a cloudless sky becomes revealed in your mind. The eyes see and the ears hear, but the “I”, “me”, or “experiencer” is not there. There’s no “owner” of experience in direct perception. There is only a spacious state of mind, an inner space. You have to recognize this yourself. Anyone can do it. Even a short glimpse of a second or two into that spaciousness gives you something to work with. It doesn’t have to be perfectly spacious and clear all the time. Just do your best. The selfless, spacious mind can be briefly recognized in any situation, whether in silence or during activities, whether alone or among other people. Take this spaciousness just as it is. All questions dissolve in that space if you just relax enough. Don’t add anything to this state.
If you look for a self, a “me”, from the spacious mind, can you find it? If you find some sensation in your body-mind, look and investigate what it is. If the assumption is that your self, your sense of “me-ness” is a real or constant being, a stable entity, surely you should be able to find it somewhere. But is it there all the time? “Me” or “I” cannot be found in any other way except as a thought in your mind, one that comes and goes according to likes and dislikes. When your mind is clear and peaceful, “you” are not there.
In the second mode, the sense of self is purposefully reinforced. We use these affirmations so that we can become aware of the sense of “I” in a very specific manner. If you look into your sense of self you will come to know that the “I” is actually a bundle of thoughts, emotions, and impressions, squeezed into a kind of knot. This knot has formed over time through many different situations and experiences since birth, and it is this very knot we imagine ourselves to be. We have created ourselves, and by so doing, have gone astray. We have left our true abode, so to speak. We have assumed that these feelings, thoughts, and experiences are our “self”, our “me”.
When applying the formula, we have to examine if the feeling of self is a solid, immutable, and stable entity. Is the self something that is a stable, permanent element, one that is always there? Simply examine the feeling of self. Look directly at its center, its core.
These are the steps of the Two-Part Formula. It’s necessary to apply the two modes thoroughly and bring awareness to that subconscious “thing” that we call our “self”. Eventually, if you apply the formula correctly, a shift will occur. All of a sudden it is like the sky becoming bright and clear after a long spell of rain. All of a sudden, your mind becomes bright, and being becomes effortless. Even the physical body itself may feel elated and healthy.