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Maum Meditation, which was founded in South Korea in 1996 by Woo Myung, is a form of meditation that's built on the belief that most humans live in a false world and not the real, objective one. Practitioners say that becoming free of the false world is possible through meditation. There are eight stages of Maum Meditation, with the first seven aimed at conditioning people to reject the so-called false world and free their minds and souls to cross over to the "real" world.

The first of the eight levels of Maum Meditation is knowing that you're one with the universe. To practice this, a person must assume a comfortable meditation position; for many people, this means sitting cross-legged on a floor or mat. Practitioners must then visualize their physical bodies dying and seeing their souls float from their bodies off into space.

The second level of Maum Meditation is knowing there's no false mind, which means freeing yourself of all your earthly emotions and memories. To do this, practitioners visualize themselves in space near a black hole. They then mentally throw all the memories and emotions from throughout their lives into the hole, where they are consumed. Then the spiritual form itself is also thrown into the hole.

The third meditation level consists of more virtual destruction of the body's emotions and memories. In this stage, practitioners visualize putting all the things that define their lives on Earth, such as material possessions such as cars and houses, on a conveyor belt and let them ride along the belt until they fall into a pit of fire and are destroyed.

The fourth level of the meditation program consists of performing a simple physical act such as vacuuming, and starting to mentally associate that physical act with the virtual death of your own human body. Every time the household task is performed, it becomes an act of physical meditation that results in the virtual end of the person's physical form.

The fifth level, which is called "knowing the original foundation; knowing the mind and body of the universe," is similar to the fourth in that a minor physical task of the practitioner's choice, such as washing dishes, is used as a meditational metaphor for the virtual end of the physical form. The sixth and seventh levels are basically expanded versions of the fourth and fifth.

The final level, which is known in Maum Meditation as "working in the true world for the world," is reached when you have "escaped" and transcended the worldly way of thinking and acting. It's at this stage, practitioners say, that you have become enlightened and see the world as it actually is after the false picture of the world in your mind has been dispensed with.

About the Author

Mark Nero

Mark Nero has been a professional journalist since 1995 and has written for numerous publications within and outside the U.S. His work has appeared in "The Boston Globe," "San Diego Union-Tribune" and "Los Angeles Daily News" among others. Nero studied communications at San Diego State University.