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Generation stage practice

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Master, fellow cultivators, good afternoon!

Today is the fifth day of the Complete and Detailed Exposition on the True Buddha Tantric Dharma. Before I start, I would like to take some time to discuss two important stages in the practice of Tantric: Generation Stage practice and Completion Stage practice. In general, people who are of average faculties start with the Generation Stage practice. The completion Stage practice is taken up by people who are great Bodhisattvas and of superior faculties. The average practitioners start with the foundation practice pf the Generation Stage.

Generation Stage Practice

What is Generation stage practice? Generation stage practice is analogous to the pursuit of formal education in that it starts at the kindergarten level and progresses through grade school, junior high, high school, bachelor, master, and doctoral levels. Of course there are some individuals who are prodigies. At the age when other student are still in high school. These people of superior faculties are already enrolled in doctoral programs.

The people who do not follow a prescribed pathway of graduated practice, but begin by entering directly into doctoral programs, are geniuses. I consider myself far from being a genius. My brain is mediocre, and it definitely does not function like a computer. Therefore, since the age of twenty six (when I first embarked on the Generation Stage practice) till now (the age of forty eight), it has taken me more that twenty years of studying to finally arrive at the Completion Stage practice.

In the Generation Stage practice of the True Buddha Tantric Dharma or in Tantric cultivation in general, one has to first practice the Four Preliminary Practices which together are the cornerstone for all other Tantric practices. A new refuge student should practice the Four Preliminary Practices until a yogic response is achieved, before attempting the practice of guru Yoga. After achieving a yogic response in the guru Yoga, one may advance to the Personal Deity Yoga. When one succeeds in obtaining a yogic response in the Personal deity Yoga practice, one may move on to practice Fierce [[[Wrathful]]] Deity Yoga. After receiving a yogic response in the Fierce Deity Yoga, one then finally practices the Highest Tantra yoga and Great Perfection. When one reaches the level of highest Tantra Yoga, one arrives at the completion Stage. This is one structure of the graduated pathway of practice.

However, along the path from the level of Personal deity Yoga to that of the Fierce Deity Yoga, several other steps also exist. For example, one does not immediately embark on the practice of Fierce deity Yoga, even if one has achieved a yogic response in the Personal deity Yoga; one still has to build a foundation for the Fierce Deity Yoga.

I can illustrate this with my own experience and practices from the last twenty years. I first practiced the Four Preliminary Practices, then Guru Yoga, followed by the Personal Deity Yoga. When one attains a yogic response in the Personal deity Yoga, one has already attained Buddhahood, albeit “Buddhahood by Guidance.” I remarked several days ago that, as long as one is able to see in one’s mind the manifestation of the Personal deity when one close one’s eyes, there is assurance that one will obtain Buddhahood [when one dies]. At the moment of dying, when one’s closes one’s eyes, the Personal Deity will immediately manifest and guide one away. Under such circumstance, “Buddhahood by Guidance” is absolutely assured.

What advance practices is there the Personal Deity yoga? One needs to build a foundation for the Fierce Deity Yoga by starting with the Treasure Vase Breathing Exercise. Why is necessary to practice the Treasure Vase Breathing Exercise? Because it is the key to the building up of inner fire. A full and vigorous vital energy (chi) is conducive to the kindling of inner fire. If the inner fire is an elevator, then a full and vigorous vital energy (chi) that moves inside the body is the electrical source of energy behind the elevator. In other words, when one’s chi is full, one in possession of an electrical source that can maneuver the elevator along the middle channel. By dong the Treasure Vase Breathing Exercise, one’s chi becomes strengthened and one can start doing the inner fire practice. As soon as the inner fire is kindled and ascends along the middle subtle energy channel, it will open up the middle channel. This is the practice of opening up the middle channel.

What is the middle channel? It is the track between the root chakra and the crown chakra along which the elevator moves up and down. The chi is the electrical source for the elevator. After obtaining a full and vigorous chi with the Treasure Base breathing Exercise, one can practice the inner fire. If the inner fire is an elevator, what then is transported by the elevator? Light drops. What are light drops? Light drops are the crystallizations of the body’s essences know as ching, chi and shen. When the crystallizations of the body’s essences are transported upwards through the elevator, the middle channel will open up and one will perceive the Clear Light.

What is the practice which follows the opening of the middle channel? One works on opening up the (middle) five chakras or energy centers in the body. When the heart chakra opens up, the Bliss Body of Buddhahood is established. When the throat chakra opens up, the Emanation Body of the Buddhahood is established. After the three bodies of Buddhahood are thus established, one goes on to establish the Five Fierce Deities in five chakras – this is the Fierce deity Yoga practice. When one succeeds in the practice of the Fierce Deity Yoga, one can proceed to the next level of highest Tantra Yoga.

The structure of my practice is as follows: the Four Preliminary Practices the Guru Yoga, the Personal deity Yoga, the Treasure Vase Breathing Exercise, the opening of the middle channel, the opening of the five chakras, the Highest Tantra Yoga, and Great Protection. When one reaches the level of the Highest Tantra Yoga and Great perfection, one arrives at the Completion Stage practice. These are the staged of spiritual cultivation.

A student has requested that I discuss the Four Preliminary Practices (which include the Vajrasattvas Practice) and the guru Yoga. Actually I have already discussed three of the four Preliminary Practices: the Great Homage, the Mandala Offering, and the Fourfold Refuge. What remains is the Vajrasattva Practice. The liturgy of the Vajrasattva Practice and that of the basic Tantric Dharma which I have been teaching are nearly identical. There are only minor differences. What are these differences? The mudra, mantra, and visualization are different.

If you carefully study this teaching which I am now giving on the complete and detailed exposition of the basic true Buddha Tantric Dharma and, if you can understand it in detail, you will be able to draw inferences from this teaching which will enable you to practice a complete Vajrasattva Practice. Does everyone know wherein lie the differences among the Vajrasattva Practice, the Guru Yoga, and the Personal Deity Yoga? What about the mudra, mantra, and visualization? Hen you watch carefully the video tapes of this teaching of the complete and detailed exposition of the basic Tantric Dharma, you will be able to draw many inferences from them. Actually, in terms of external practices, no Tantric practices deviate from the Four Preliminary Practices, mudra, mantra, visualization, entering into Samadhi, exiting from Samadhi, recitation of other mantras, and dedication of merits. In a while I will discuss the steps following emergence from Samadhi.

If one gives some careful thought to the teaching I am now giving on the practice of Tantric Dharma, one should realize that the four Preliminary Practices consist of the three Preliminary Practices and the Vajrasattvas Practice. When the Guru Yoga and Body Offering are added to the Four Preliminary Practices, they become the Six Preliminary Practices in Tantra. If one continues to practice the Personal deity Yoga and perfects it, resulting in a yogic response, Buddhahood is certain. If one can’t attain Buddhahood this way, one can come after me! In fact, there won’t be just the guru, one’s Personal Deity alsi will come to give one guidance, bringing one to the Personal deity’s pure Land! If, after practicing the True Buddha Tantric Dharma in a continuum of mindfulness, one still does not attain Buddhahood, and no Buddhas and Bodhisattvas come to lead one away [at the time one’s death], one can go to complain to the Yama King at the Hell real to lead one away. That way, Buddhahood is still certain. [audience applause].

I am making this bold statement: as ling as one practices according to this liturgy of the true Buddha Tantric Dharma, one will certainly receive yogic response. Consider this, the Scriptural schools generally only teach one to do chanting and that alone is supposed to result in the manifestation of Amitabha and “Buddhahood by Guidance”. There are, in our practice, so many more elements besides chanting, such as the mudra, mantra, visualization, Samadhi (stability) – almost every single one of these elements can assure one of Buddhahood. In this world, it is no longer common for one to encounter a teacher who can give such a lucid explanation of this profound, precise, and effective Tantric Buddhist Dharma!

Of course there are many knowledgeable Tibetan Tulkus who give teachings, but many of their students only learn of the Four Preliminary Practices after seven or eight years of tutelage. Reflects on what you are learning today from this series of teachings – a complete Tantric Dharma that enables one to reach deeply into transcendental realm. This complete liturgy is the fruit of more than twenty years of painstaking labor. I am sharing with everyone the keys of what I have learned in my own practices. Such as Dharma should be well cherished. As long as one carefully practices this Dharma, everyone will be able to meet with me again in Sukhavati. [audience applause].

The Four Preliminary Oractices refer to the Great Homage, Mandala Offering, Fourfold Refuge, and Vajrasattva Practice. The liturgy of the Vajrasattva Practice follows that of the basic True Buddha Tantric Dharma, differing only in its own version of mantra, mudra, and visualization. It is the same with the liturgy of the Guru Yoga Practice. The Vajrasattva and Guru Yoga are two extremely important practices.

One should note that the Vajrasattva Practice is a superb purification and repentance yoga, a great yoga for realizing the nature of emptiness, and also a wonderful yoga for remedying deficiencies. The Guru Yoga, on the other hand, is a great yoga of affirmation, to bring forth rebirth in the Pure Land . It is a supplication for the power of reliance from the guru. When one achieves yogic union with one’s guru, one will never fall aside from the path. Why it this so? Because the guru himself has not fallen aside from the path! I have not yet deviated from the path, and, if a student has already turned his or her back on the path, it is very clear that he or she has not experienced yogic union with the guru, isn’t it? If, through the practices, one’s mind has become one with the guru, one will not turn back from the path, as I myself have not done so!

If someone were to verbally abuse me or even beat me to death, it would not affect my determination to stay on the path. If one loses the will to continue on the path, it indicates that one has not attained a spiritual union with the guru. How can student who has attained a spiritual union with the guru deviate from the path? “When the guru partakes of sweet potatoes, one also partakes of sweet potatoes!” [spoken in Taiwanese dialect] The guru has attained Buddhahood, so will one attain Buddhahood when one achieves spiritual union with the guru! The guru has become the Flower Light Self-Mastery Buddha. One should therefore ask oneself if one has attained the “Flower and Light” or not? Has one attained self-mastery? If one gets upset, loses appetite and sleep over criticism from others, one has not yet achieved self-mastery!

Someone approached a Zen master and asked him, “Have you been working hard lately on your spiritual cultivation?” The Zen master replied, “I have been practicing very hard. I eat and I sleep.” Well, one might ask, if eating and sleeping are cultivation, then isn’t every human being in the world also doing spiritual cultivation? The Zen master explained, “I don’t eat and sleep the way ordinary peopled do. I eat majestically. My appetite is good and I digest my food well. I pay total attention to the moment that I am eating.”

Do not think that one cannot be majestic when one is eating. Although I do not have the best etiquette in the world, as I sometimes just pick up my bowl and slurp the soup down, my mind is completely in a state of majestic mindfulness when I am doing that. [audience laughter] I eat well every meal. Would I act like a spoiled child by refusing to eat lunch or dinner because of, say, bad dishes, bad mood, or stomachache? No. I have a good appetite and eat big portions at every meal. What distinguishes this normal activity of eating as a spiritual practice is that it is totally integrated with a majestic state of mindful stability.

When I sleep, I sleep very deeply and never suffer from insomnia. As soon as I lie down, I transform myself into a firm vajra. In my sleep, I practice the “Sleep Light” and radiate a red light with envelopes me like a canopy. With protection from the vajra, the demons will not take advantage while one is sleep. This way, one can sleep very deeply and wake up with vibrant energy the next morning.

I practice “non-outflow” even when I am asleep. This is not simple at all! Although I was married in the past and have a son and a daughter, I have been celibate for the last six to seven years. This is tantamount to a renewal of or reverting to the state of being a virgin. [audience laughter]

I have arrived at this point that I can retain the chi so that there is no outflow on the physical or subtle level, day or night.

With this practice of “non-outflow” of chi, the body spontaneously emits light. I practice even when I am sleeping and, instead of being led by my dreams, I am in conscious control of my own dreams. Without practice, one is not aware that one is dreaming when one dreams. At night, all kinds of grasping can take place in one’s dreams – the boyfriend comes, the girlfriend comes – what happen next? We can only borrow a theatrical device from the Taiwanese puppet show: dong, dong, dong, the sounding of the gong three times, signaling that one is “finished”. [audience laughter]

It is more important to practice at night that at daytime. Because at night, when one sleeps, one will be led astray by the dreams if one is not aware that one is dreaming. Under such circumstances, it is very easy to lose one’s essences. Once one losses one’s essences, one’s previous efforts in cultivation go down to drain. When one gets out of the bed, one is dizzy and completely enervated. What kind of spiritual cultivation is that? Maybe one should stay as an ordinary person. It is easier that way. It is quite difficult to be a sage. Image one is a holy monk during the daytime, able to attract a large audience when lecturing on the sutras but, at night, one has lustful dreams. Would that be acceptable?

Definitely not! One has to practice the Sleep Light, Dream Mahamudra, and The Armor Protectionelements found only in Tantric Practice and not in the Scriptural schools. Therefore, a good sleep, a good digestion, and assimilation of meals are indications that one is a skillful practitioner. In Tantric practice, one practices both day and night, throughout everyday life. When one attain self-mastery and freedom from the interferences of demonic forces, when one sees through the illusion and let’s go of the grasping of the ego that is Ichiban. [[[Japanese]] for number one!] From this complete and detailed exposition of the Tantric Dharma, one can draw inferences to do practices on the Vajrasattva and Guru Yoga.

Everyone should have now a velar understanding of the Generation Stage pathway. In this teaching, I have used the Amithaba Yogas as illustrations, and I hope everyone can use this example to make inferences for other practices. What is the training for beginning refuge students? The Four Preliminary Practices (Great Homage, Fourfold Refuge, Mandala Offering, and Vajrasattva Practice) followed by the Guru Yoga and Personal deity. Buddhahood is certain when one perfects the Personal Deity Yoga and attains yogic union with one’s Personal deity. Next, one practices the Treasure Vase Breathing Exercise, the cultivation of inner fire and light drops, the opening in the middle channel, the opening of the five chakras, the Fierce Deity Practices, the Highest Tantra, and the Great Perfection. Does everyone understand this?

Completion Stage Practice

Next I shall discuss the Completion Stage Practice. What is the next Completion Stage Practice? It is the highest level of practice for mature students who are in the equivalent of the doctoral program. In fact, Zen Buddhism is a Completion Stage practice. Unlike ordinary people, a person with superior faculties and sharp wisdom is able to “cut through” right at the beginning of the Completion Stage practice. For example, Bodhidharma, the first Zen patriarch, was able to “cut through.” When Hui K’o, who later became the second Zen patriarch, paid Bodhidharma a visit, he was asked by Bodhidharma, “Why have you come here?” Hui K’o replied, “I would like to have my mind pacified.” Bodhidharma the said, “Fetch me your mind and I will pacify it for you.” Hui K’o asked Bodhidharma, “How do I find my mind? I can’t find my mind.” Bodhidharma the answered, “I have already pacified your mind for you.” This is a Zen koan. Hui K’o was an extremely sharp and clever person. As soon as he heard Bodhidharma’s reply that he had already pacified his mind for him, he was instantaneously enlightened. This realization is Great PerfectionInstantaneous Enlightenment.

After hearing this koan, are you able to attain Enlightenment? If you can, you are a Buddha! As long as one hears this koan and is able to penetrate deeply into its meaning, one immediately understands the Buddhadharma. Therefore, the crux of the matter is whether one is able to penetrate the koan and understand it. The second Zen patriarch Hui K’o was able to attain Instantaneous Enlightenment as soon as he heard Boddhidharma telling him that his mind already had been pacified.

There is this other koan. Zen Master Te Shan wrote a book, Commentaries in the Diamond Sutra, which offered a very clear explanation on the Diamond Sutra. Master Te Shan felt that he had already understood the main idea of the Diamond Sutra. Therefore, carrying the book, which was quite a thick one, in a package on the end of a pole, he went on the road to challenge those who were devious and heretical. He arrived at a snack shop and met an old woman who was selling tien-hsin (dimsum or pastries). The old woman asked him, “Reverend, what is that on the end of the pole?”

He replied, “That is the Diamond Sutra and its commentaries. I am someone who understands the meaning of the Diamond Sutra”. This old woman who decided to test him and said “Let me ask you a question. If you can answer it, you shall have the tien-hsin free of charge. If you can’t answer it, you will have to leave without tasting any of the tien shin”. Master Te Shan agreed to this. The old woman the asked, “In the Diamond Sutra, it is said that the hsin (mind) of the past is unattainable, the hsin (mind) of the present is unattainable, the hsin (mind) of the future is unattainable. Please tell me what kind of tien-hsin you are going to order from me?” Right away, Master Te Shan was stumped and could not reply. As none of the three minds (hsin) was attainable, what kind of tien-hsin was he going to order from her? Unable to reply, he felt embarrassed.

One must know that the Completion Stage practice s comprised of “sudden methods” that require one to instantaneously “cut through” delusions. The Generation Stage practice consists of “gradual methods” wherein one advances gradually through different levels until one is able to “cut through”. The Completion Stage practice in Tantric Buddhism is in fact Zen! In this “formless Tantric practice,” one has to “instantaneously cut through” to attain Buddhahood and liberation. Without this immediate “cutting through”, there is no liberation.

Bodhidharma told Hui K’o, “Fetch me your hsin (mind) and I will pacify it for you”. To which Hui K’o replied that he could not find his mind. That is the right answer! There is fundamentally no separate existence of the mind. One has to instantaneously sever this delusion of the mind’s separate existence and enter directly into the true nature of the mind. What is the mind anyway? It does not exist. When one is in the state of no-mind, one attains liberation. If one still has awareness of the mind, one cannot attain liberation. If Master Te Shan were to answer the old woman, his answer should be: “No-hsin!” If none of the three minds is attainable, what kind of mind can one have? The answer is “no-mind”. Now that all you have found out what the answer is, all of you have attained Buddhahood! (audience laughter).

Treckcho, Togal

The answer of “no-mind” is very simple, but can one carry out this state of “no-mind” in practice? In the Completion Stage practices known as Tibetan terms as “Trekcho” and “Togal”, one is required to immediately and instantaneously “cut through” the veils of the ordinary mind, enter directly into the nature of mind and rest in the state of spontaneous, perfect accomplishment. What is the state spontaneous, perfect accomplishment? It is the state wherein one in endowed with miraculous powers-the state of self-mastery and freedom.

n the Completion Stage practices, there are just “cutting through” and “spontaneous, perfect accomplishment” (Trekcho and Togal) – the practices of Dzogchen (Great Perfection). A person with great wisdom, as soon as he or she hears of “cutting through” will immediately cut through all defilements which are associated with the ordinary mind and transmute from the level of ordinary beings to the level of sages. When one cuts through the ordinary mind and is released from its limitations and grasping, one is immediately transmuted into holy being. Sometimes, however, someone might appear to have achieved severance, but actually still be connected.

A student came to tell me, “Grand Master, I have already cut through the ordinary mind.” I said, “Very Good!” I thought, she must be a person of supreme root quality. But she continued, “But my mother is still sick!” Has she really cut through the habitual tendencies of attachment and aversion? No! In another day she again came to see me, “Grand Master, I am able to cut through the delusion.” Very good. But she went on to say, “I was reprimanded by my boss yesterday, and I lost a night’s sleep over it.” To cut through delusion, directly and thoroughly, one must be completely naked. By being naked do I mean to strip away all one’s clothing and become totally nude? Do I mean strip dancing, or being what Americans call “topless” and the Japanese term “sidolibu”? (audience laughter) I am not asking you to go watch topless dancing or to show yourself off by streaking. I am asking you to rest in the nakedness of the innermost essence, where there is only luminosity and not a trace of defilement. In that naked awareness, you are totally liberated from the delusion of thoughts and emotions.

Therefore, in Vajrayana of Tantric Buddhism, the Dharmakaya Buddh (Dharma Body) is portrayed without a stitch of clothing: the Sambhogakaya Buddha (Bliss Body) os portrayed as half dressed, like the image of Buddha Shakyamuni with the right shoulder exposed; and the Nirmanakaya Buddha (Emanation Body) is portrayed as fully dressed, like the Grand Master, who is dressed from top to bottom. In winter, I even cover myself up in long underwear and socks. The complete lack of clothing of the Dharma Body symbolizes a total naked awareness, the total ablation of ordinary mind. When delusion is “cut through”, one will instantaneously realize the state of self-masteru wherein all potentials and power exist in spontaneous perfection. This is the Completion Stage practice for individuals of supreme wisdom and root quality who has reached a high level of development.

The fact of matter is, one may start at the Generation Stage practice but, when one keeps on practicing and ultimately reaches stage of the Completion Stage, there will come one flashing moment when true “cutting through” and “spontaneous, perfect accomplishment” will occur.

“Cutting through” and “spontaneous, perfect accomplishment” are the states realized in Great Perfection have transmitted by Padmasambhava. This was also what the great adept Marpa was learning from Naropa when he traveled to India to seek teachings on the Ganges Mahamudra. There is a mode of Mahamudra in Kagyu called Sutra Mahamudra which is still a Generation Stage practice. The Ganges Mahamudra (also known as Essence Mahamudra), the Great Perfection, and Zen are all instantaneous methods and Completion Stage practices. Do you all now understand the distinction between Generation and Completion Stage practices in the Buddhist Tantra? IO have also discussed the Four Preliminary Practices, Vajrasatva Practice, and Guru Yoga, so everyone should have a lucid understanding of the development of the stages in cultivation.

When I finish with the teaching of the “external practices” I shall start on “the internal practices”, which consist of the training of chi, channels, and light drops, and how to attain “Buddhahood in the present life”. After that, I will teach the “esoteric practices” which are at the fourth level of empowerments: Mahamudra and Highest Tantra Yoga. This will lead to the “inner esoteric practices” wherein I will explain Great Perfection in deeper level. In the future I will teach all these practices in Rainbow villa. But, in reality, as long as one practices the Personal Deity Yoga until yogic response is obtained, one will attain Buddhahood. In other words, as long as one perfects the external practices, one will attain Buddhahood. This “Buddhahood by guidance” is more subtle, but gives more assurances, than the recitation method of the Pure Land school.

Tomorrow is the last day of teaching. Since some of you have thought that today is the last day and planned to leave later tonight or tomorrow morning, today I shall give those students the empowerment of Wealth Deities of the Five Directions and the Personal Deity Yoga.

Tomorrow is a session for questions and answers. If you have any questions, you may ask them tomorrow. People who are staying behind for tomorrow’s session will receive the empowerments for the Wealth Deities of the Five Directions and the Personal Deity Yoga after the session. If you have requests for other empowerments, let me know, and I shall perform them for you tomorrow.

Today is the fifth day of this teaching, and, over the past four days, I have covered the Prologue and the Main Body. Today I discuss the Epilogue. A complete tantra consists of Prologue, Main Body and Epilogue.

Emerging from Samadhi

After entering into Samadhi, one eventually emerges from Samadhi. When one is ready to emerge from Samadhi, the visualization steps of the "entering of the Personal deity into self" are reversed. First one's body or the Personal deity contracts to a miniature size and rests on the lotus in one's heart chakra. Next, the Personal deity transforms into a dot of light and travels along the middle channel to the crown. At the top of the crown, this dot of light transforms back into the Personal Deity. After this, the Personal deity moves forward and turns around to once again stand facing one. This is the exit of Personal Deity from oneself. The Personal deity that is sitting in the middle of one's heart emerges and re-enters the spiritual realm. This is the exit of the Personal Deity from one's body into the spiritual realm. So, following the entering of the Personal deity into oneself is the exiting of the Personal deity from oneself. At this point one emerges from Samadhi.

Chanting other Heart Mantras

After emerging from Samadhi, the next step is the recitation of the principal Heart Mantras - "Om, a-mee deh-wah, she," "Om, ma-nee pad-mee, hum," "Om, po-lah-moh lin toh-lin, so-ha,' 'Om, ha ha ha wei-sa-moh-deh, so-ha," "Om, dzu-le dzu-lee zhun-the, so-ha," "Om, Jam-bah-lah chah-lan chah-nah-yeh, so-ha," "Om ah hum, be-dza, guru, peh-ma, sih-dee, hum sed," "Oh ah hum, gu-ru-bei, a-ho-sa-sa-ma-ha, lian-sheng shih-dee hum," "Deh-yah-tah, om, beh, kah-dze-yah, beh-kah-dze-yah, ma-ha beh-kah-dze-yah, la-dza-sah-mo-kyah-doh-yah, so-ha."

The main reason behind chanting the mantras of these eight principal Personal Deities of the True Buddha School is to pray for a stronger affinity between oneself and the eight Personal Deities. Through affinities with these eight Personal deities, one develops affinities with all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Mahasattvas in all times and spaces. This also symbolizes that one regards all deities equally. Each of these mantras can be recited once, three times, or seven times, depending on how much time one has at the moment.