In every case of bending, stretching or other activity, there arises a series of intending or willing minds, on account of which there occur in the hands and legs a series of physical activities, such as stiffening (or being hard), bending, stretching, or moving to and fro. These activities come up against other physical elements like the nerve tissue, and on every occasion of collision between the physical activities and sensitive qualities, there arises touch, consciousness, which feels or knows the sensation of touch. It is, therefore, clear that physical activities are the predominating factors in these cases. It is necessary to notice these predominating factors. Otherwise there arises the wrong viewing of these activities in the form “I or I am bending, or I am stretching, or moving my hands or my legs.” This practice of noting as “Bending, stretching, moving” is being carried out for the purpose of removing such a wrong view.
As regards thoughts and imagination, it may be mentioned that depending on the mind base there arise a series of mental activities, such as thinking and imagining, or to speak in a general sense, a series of mental activities arise depending on this state. In reality each case is a composition of matter and mind, mind base or body is matter, while thinking and imagining are mind. In order to be able to notice matter and mind clearly, it should be noted as thinking and imagining in each case. After having carried out the practice in the manner indicated above for a time, there may be an improvement in concentration. One will notice that the mind no longer wanders about but remains fixed to which it is directed. At the same time the power of noticing has considerably developed. On every occasion of noting the individual notices only two processes of matter and mind. A dual set of object and mind, which makes note of the object is thus coming into existence.
Again on proceeding further with the practice of contemplation for some time, one notices that nothing remains permanent but everything is in a state of flux. New things arise each time, each of them are noted as they arise. They then vanish to immediately give rise to another which is again noted and vanishes. Thus the process of arising and vanishing goes on, which clearly shows that nothing is permanent. One is therefore convinced that “Things are not permanent” because it is noticed that they arise and vanish at every time of noting. This is an Insight into Impermanence (aniccanupassana–nana).
Then one is also convinced that arising and vanishing are not desirable. This is Insight into Suffering (dukkhanupassana–nana). Besides, one usually experiences many painful sensations in the body, such as tiredness, pain and aches. At the time of noting these sensations the individual usually feels that the body is a collection of sufferings. This is also an Insight into Suffering. Then at every time of noting it is found that elements of matter and mind occur according to their respective nature and conditioning, and not according to one’s wish. One is therefore convinced that they are elements which are not governable and are not of a person or living entity. This is Insight into the Absence of a Self (anattanupassana–nana). On having fully acquired this knowledge of Impermanence, Suffering, Absence of Self (anicca, dukkha, anatta), the maturity of Spiritual Knowledge of the Path and Spiritual Knowledge of its Fruition (magga nana and phala nana) takes place and Nirvana is realized. By realizing Nirvana in the first stage, one is freed from the round of rebirth and an unhappy life. Everyone should therefore, endeavor to reach the first stage as a minimum measure.