Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Mindfulness in Meditation

Dhr. Seven, Pat Macpherson, Amber Larson, Wisdom Quarterly, partial wiki edit
Mindfulness is crucial, we all agree, but what is mindfulness? Just being "mindful"?
The Buddha was wide awake (oRi0n/flickr
Mindfulness (Pali sati, Sanskrit smṛti, "memory, recollection, awareness") is a spiritual and psychological faculty (indriya). According to the Buddha's teaching it is of vital importance along the path to enlightenment. 
It is, in fact, one of the Seven Factors of Enlightenment. "Right" mindfulness (sammā-sati) is the seventh factor or fold of the Noble Eightfold Path

Mindful meditation may also be traced back to the earlier Upanishads, which are part of sacred Brahminical scriptures prevalent in India at the time of the Buddha.*
Enlightenment (bodhi) is a state which has overcome greed (craving), hatred (aversion), and delusion (ignorance). These impediments, even if only temporarily (allowing a glimpse of nirvana, which entails stream entry) have been abandoned and are absent from the mind/heart.

Mindfulness is an attentive awareness of the true nature of things (the reality of the present moment even when beset by the illusions of being permanent, personal, or able to satisfy our desires). Mindfulness is an immediate an antidote to delusion. It is considered, in this sense, a spiritual power (bala).
Meditation with mudra (
This spiritual/mental faculty becomes a "power" when it is coupled with clear comprehension (sampajanna) of whatever is taking place.
The Buddha taught the establishment of four "foundations" of mindfulness (satipaṭṭhāna). These ar part of the insight meditation practices the Buddha taught in addition to the establishment of serenity.

Those pursuing enlightenment maintain as much as possible a calm awareness of (1) body, (2) sensations, (3) mind, and (4) phenomena (dharmas). 
The practice of mindfulness supports analysis (the breaking down or partitioning of things into their constituent parts) resulting in the arising of wisdom (paññā, prajñā). Self is anatta (not-self), an impersonal composite. Self is ever-changing, and that change can be discerned directly. A key innovation of the Buddha's teaching was that meditative absorption must be combined with liberating insight (vipassana) or insight practices to produce final wisdom.

The Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta (Smṛtyupasthāna Sūtra) is an early text dealing with the proper establishment of mindfulness the Buddha was referring to.
Mindfulness practice, as inherited from Buddhism, is now very successfully being employed in psychology and some self-help programs to alleviate a variety of mental and physical conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety, and in the prevention of relapse in depression and addiction. [See also mindfulness (psychology).] More
  • Mindfulness has a separate meaning of "recollection," with which its ordinary practice should not be confused. 
Mindful Christy Turlington (
Recollection or active-contemplation (anussati) is more about memory, remembering, turning, ratiocination, cogitating, scrutinizing, evaluating, thinking over, pensively considering or "rotating" a theme in mind, which is the actual meaning of the English word "meditation." 
The Buddhist word commonly translated as "meditation" is bhavana, which has the much broader meaning of cultivation, self development, or literally "bringing into being."
For example, one may recollect the qualities of the Buddha, features of the body, death and its inevitability (for those who do not, food one is about to eat, feelings (sensations), mind (conscious states), or mind-objects.
These are all fully defined practices, so no one need think that simply "thinking" about these is in any way practicing Buddhist mindfulness meditation.
Even if the Upanishads mention smrti, that would hardly constitute a pre-existing "mindfulness practice," which the Buddha blazed a trail to as part of the way to liberation. Everything, every ingredient, must have existed. The Buddha did not invent new things. Rather, he developed the perfections (paramitas) which enabled him to gain liberation with the capacity to teach his rediscovery.
Long before the Buddha, there had been other buddhas (supremely enlightened or enlightened-without-teaching). But no one was teaching, nor capable of successfully establishing the Dharma regarding the path to enlightenment, prior to the Buddha. When were the previous buddhas? They are prehistoric, and the Buddha mentioned many of them. Ages ago, epochs ago, aeons ago (and the various kinds of aeons or kalpas ago), there had been others to make this liberating discovery.
Meditators in other traditions were not becoming enlightened, as the Buddha later pointed out, for lack of realization or a viable teaching (dharma) to gain liberation. That is now available in the Dharma, the Buddha's teaching concerning enlightenment, which is technically called the Bodhi-pakkhiya-dhamma, a term translated as the "37 Requisites of Enlightenment."
  • *Miller, Fletcher, and Kabat-Zinn, 1995, "Three-year follow-up and clinical implications of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction intervention in the treatment of anxiety disorders."  General Hospital Psychiatry 17 (3): 192–200.

No comments: