Apportion your meditation session as follows:
• rest with the breath for 1/3 of your meditation time,
• do the following contemplations for 1/3-1/2 your practice session,
• gain rest with the breath for the balance of your session.
The hell realm is about anger and hate, fire and ice. The only way you know to connect with anything is to oppose it. No joy, no humor, no pleasure, no human warmth of any kind. You are utterly alone, against everything, and everything is against you.
The hot hells describe the subjective experience of anger. Anger is like fire, every cell a ball of raging incandescent flame. Anger is like a red hot spear, piercing your whole body. Anger is like red hot rocks, tumbling down on you and carrying you down to the depths of hell. When anger takes hold, anything and everything is a threat, to be struck down, killed, demolished and destroyed. You have no friends. You have no allies. You trust no one. You would like to reduce the whole world to a mass of black cinders, quietly smoking in a hellish ruddy glow, and then stand glowering in the smoldering ruins. But it is usually the world that destroys you, and you end up fighting the same battles over and over again, to no avail.
The cold hells describe the subjective experience of hate—cold, hard, unremitting. Hate freezes you from the inside out. Your heart is ice. You cannot let even a ray of sunshine in. Anything different, anything new, is a threat, because it requires you to move. Even the slightest movement, whether in your heart, in your body, or in how you view the world, is excruciatingly difficult, and painful beyond endurance.
During the day, take opposition as your attention alarm. Every time you say no, directly or indirectly, every time you take an oppositional stance, no matter how justified, check your body, heart and mind. What happens in your body? What feelings arise? What stories run?
Next 6 days: alternate between hell realm and titan realm
Continue to do the hell realm meditation. The titan realm and the hell realm are both based in anger. As a titan, you are angry at those who you deem to be better than you. As a hell being, you are angry at everything. During your meditation period, recall occasions when you were angry, for either reason, and rest in the experience of that anger.
During the day, for the first day, go about your life as a hell being. Everybody is out to get you. Don’t trust anyone. Take everything anyone says or does as an attack, even if it’s just a friendly greeting. Notice the effect this posture has on you, on how you relate to people, on how you see others, and, conversely, how they relate to you.
The next day, go about your life as a titan. Notice where others are better than you, whether in athletic ability or artistic talent, good looks or popularity, money or status, fame or good fortune. You want to be better than them! That you are not infuriates you. Notice what the envy does to you and to how you relate to others.
Again, alternate one day as a hell being, one day as a titan for the six days.
Next 6 days: alternate between hell realm and god realm
In your regular meditation sessions, continue to explore what it is like to be in hell, to be consumed by anger and hate. Notice how you experience time when you are angry. When you lose your temper, you destroy the world in a flash, but the anger keeps coming back, again and again. It seems to go on forever. With hate, time passes slowly as you sit cold and alone, unable to move, hating the world around.
During the day, on day one, go about your life as a hell being. You are either seething, sitting on a volcano about to erupt and send streams of molten lava that burns everything in its path, or frozen, in hatred, unwilling and unable to change the implacable hatred you direct at everything around you. How quickly does the day go by?
The next day, go about your life as a god. You are so far above it all that there is no conflict in your life. If anything like conflict arises, you rise above it. It’s beneath you to engage it.
Both the gods and hell beings are completely consumed by their emotional reactions. Gods are self-absorbed to the exclusion of external awareness, whether the absorption is in their own pleasure or in the serenity of extraordinary states of stillness. Hell beings are absorbed by their environment, to the exclusion of any internal awareness.
Alternate one day hell being, one day god for six days.
Next 6 days: alternation between hell realm and human realm
In your practice sessions, continue to explore the hell realm, how you see and experience life when you are possessed by anger and hate. From time to time, imagine that you do not encounter any opposition. Neither the other beings around you nor the environment fight back. There is no one to fight, nothing to battle. What happens now?
During the day, go about your life as a hell being, angry at everything, blaming everyone and everything around you for any difficulties you have in your live, seething inside at the injustice of it all. The next day, go about your life as a human, focusing on what you want or what you want to do. Savor the enjoyment when you are able to bring it about.
For the six days, alternate one day as a hell being, one day as a human.
Remaining days of the month: awakening in the hell realm
In the hungry ghost realm, Buddha, the possibility of waking up, takes the form of the Lord of Death, the ruler of the hell realms. He is the arbiter of karma, and the mirror he holds reflects to all beings the consequences of how they have lived their lives.
Again enter the hell realm. Let anger or hate consume you. Everyone you encounter is a threat. Everything in the environment is a source of pain. You react to the threats, the aggression, the hostility all around you with anger that rages in every cell in your body. Rest in that experience. Rest so deeply that you are able to be in that experience and be at peace. Then look at what is angry. Look at what hates. There is a shift, and in that shift you touch a knowing that anger cannot touch. Rest in that knowing as the anger continues to rage in you. That knowing becomes a light, crystal clear in its intensity. It permeates your body, all the anger in you, and the whole realm of hell outside you, with all the aggressive creatures and hostile elements in the environment. Everything and everyone dissolve into that light and you rest there.
Dissolve the hell realm into light two or three times, and then rest in the light.
During the day, pay attention to how you speak. One of the best ways to know when anger is rising in you is to listen to your voice when you speak as if you were listening to another person. You are immediately aware when an edge has crept into your voice, or a tone of sarcasm, or a dead tone, indicating that you have shut down. As soon as you are aware of anger rising in you, ask these three questions:
• What am I opposing in this situation?
• Do I have to oppose it?
• Is opposing called for at all right now?
These questions break the enchantment of the hell realm. The first question puts you in touch with the oppositional posture. The second question reveals if it is an emotional reaction, as it almost always is. The third questions whether opposition, and anger, are relevant to the situation at hand. With these three questions, you step out of the hell realm into a greater awareness and freedom.