Mindfulness and awareness

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Mindfulness and awareness

Postby sundara » Wed Oct 07, 2009 8:28 pm

What's the difference between mindfulness and awareness?
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Re: Mindfulness and awareness

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Oct 07, 2009 10:14 pm

Greetings sundara,

Rather than worry about how poeple use the English words, the better question might be:
"What is sati?"
http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... s.htm#sati
Sati: 'awareness or mindfulness', is one of the 5 spiritual abilities and powers see: bala one of the 7 factors of enlightenment bojjhanga, and the 7th link of the 8-fold path magga, and is, in its widest sense, one of those mental properties inseparably associated with all kammically advantageous kusala and kamma-produced lofty sobhana consciousness Cf. Tab. II.. - For the 4 foundations of awareness or mindfulness see: foll.

It is arguable that sati is not something you can "just do". It is something that arises due to various factors, such as practising "paying attention to stuff". So when meditation teachers tell you to "be mindful" ("be sati-full" :tongue:), they actually mean to apply everyday "attention" or "awareness" to walking, or sensations, or breathing, etc, so that, in time, sati can arise.

Metta
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Re: Mindfulness and awareness

Postby christopher::: » Thu Oct 08, 2009 9:05 am

mikenz66 wrote:
It is arguable that sati is not something you can "just do". It is something that arises due to various factors, such as practising "paying attention to stuff". So when meditation teachers tell you to "be mindful" ("be sati-full" :tongue:), they actually mean to apply everyday "attention" or "awareness" to walking, or sensations, or breathing, etc, so that, in time, sati can arise.



Great explanation, Mike. Thanks for this.

:anjali:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Mindfulness and awareness

Postby AdvaitaJ » Fri Oct 09, 2009 1:05 am

sundara wrote:What's the difference between mindfulness and awareness?

Or, what's the difference between mindfulness and what is commonly meant by "self-awareness". Which begs the question, who are people who practice self-awareness really aware of?
:stirthepot:

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Re: Mindfulness and awareness

Postby jhana.achariya » Fri Oct 09, 2009 3:18 am

"What is sammasati? Sati means to bear in mind or bring to mind. Sati is the state of recollecting, the state of remembering, the state of non-fading, the state of non-forgetting. Sati means the sati that is a Spiritual Faculty, the sati that is a Spiritual Power, Sammasati, the Sati that is an Enlightenment Factor, that which is a Path Factor and that which is related to the Path. This is what is called sammasati."

Vbh.105, 286


:meditate:
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Re: Mindfulness and awareness

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Oct 09, 2009 3:49 am

Thanks jhana.achariya,

Such passages indicate that sati (mindfulness) is more than just a mundane awareness.
From the Satipatthana Sutta commentary:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... tml#deport
Gacchanto va gacchamiti pajanati = "When he is going (a bhikkhu) understands: 'I am going.'" In this matter of going, readily do dogs, jackals and the like, know when they move on that they are moving. But this instruction on the modes of deportment was not given concerning similar awareness, because awareness of that sort belonging to animals does not shed the belief in a living being, does not knock out the percept of a soul, and neither becomes a subject of meditation nor the development of the Arousing of Mindfulness.
...

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Re: Mindfulness and awareness

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Oct 09, 2009 6:40 am

mindfulness is
prolonged
intentional
awareness
from a mind free (to a great degree) from the five hindrances (ie- minimal disturbing discursive thoughts)
directed to an object(s) from the four foundations of mindfulness

A useful framework to thing about it:

sadda-->viriya-->sati-->samadhi-->panna-->vimutti

faith/confidence-->motivation to put in effort-->..into maintaining mindfulness->..which develops one-pointedness-->leads to insight-->leads to release/nibbana

with metta

RYB
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
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Re: Mindfulness and awareness

Postby puthujjana » Fri Oct 09, 2009 1:01 pm

mikenz66 wrote:It is arguable that sati is not something you can "just do". It is something that arises due to various factors, such as practising "paying attention to stuff". So when meditation teachers tell you to "be mindful" ("be sati-full" :tongue:), they actually mean to apply everyday "attention" or "awareness" to walking, or sensations, or breathing, etc, so that, in time, sati can arise.


Hej Mike,

does this "everyday attention", which gives rise to sati, simply mean something like "to-know-what-you're-doing-while-you-are-doing-it"?
Is this sufficient?

with metta
:anjali:
"Once you understand anatta, then the burden of life is gone. You’ll be at peace with the world. When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness and we can truly be happy."
- Ajahn Chah
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Re: Mindfulness and awareness

Postby chownah » Fri Oct 09, 2009 2:30 pm

It could be that mindfulness and awareness are really the same thing only with different intensity, accuracy, and precision....sort of like the difference between a knife and a scalpel......

I would encourage people to practice awareness....and then try to keep them interested in refining it......
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Re: Mindfulness and awareness

Postby wtp » Fri Oct 09, 2009 6:24 pm

Like many Pali terms, "sati" has a variety of meanings in different contexts. It is based upon the root meaning or memory, or recollection, and is often used that way in the suttas; but it also has more specalised meanings in the Pali cannon when used in a doctrinal sense.

In Ajahn Sujato's "History of Mindfulness" he says there are two types of Sati (or at least that is what I got from my reading of this work).

The first is what is done when being mindful of daily activities such as eating and the four postures (lying, sitting, standing, walking) - this is often described in the discourses on the gradual training method. The second is done during meditation before jhana (not necessarily in the same session) and includes the body contemplation of the 32 body parts, the vedana (feeling) contemplation of the 3 types of feeling, the citta (mind) contemplation of the states of mind, the dhamma contemplation of the 5 hindrances and the contemplation of the 7 enlightenment factors. These are of course the four satipatthanas (foundations or focuses of mindfulness).

It is probably fair to say that Ajahn Sujato's view does not completely correspond with mainstream Theravada, at least as I understand it.

And it might be worth adding that "awareness" is usually used for the Pali word "vinnana", also often tranlated as "conciousness". This is one of the four aspects of mind the others being feeling (vedana); perception (sanna) and mental constructs (sankhara). In English of course "awareness" and "mindfulness" may mean similar things.

Even though it can be confusing for beginners, this difficulty in tranlation is why some teachers prefer to keep doctrinal terms in the Pali.
.
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Re: Mindfulness and awareness

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Oct 09, 2009 7:31 pm

Hi puthujjana,
puthujjana wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:It is arguable that sati is not something you can "just do". It is something that arises due to various factors, such as practising "paying attention to stuff". So when meditation teachers tell you to "be mindful" ("be sati-full" :tongue:), they actually mean to apply everyday "attention" or "awareness" to walking, or sensations, or breathing, etc, so that, in time, sati can arise.

Hej Mike,
does this "everyday attention", which gives rise to sati, simply mean something like "to-know-what-you're-doing-while-you-are-doing-it"?
Is this sufficient?

As I understand it, that's the instruction of many teachers. Some would say that some level of concentration is also necessary.

See also Bhikkhu Pesala's comments in this thread: viewtopic.php?f=17&t=1151

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Re: Mindfulness and awareness

Postby christopher::: » Sat Oct 17, 2009 10:30 am

concentration, equanimity & patience, motivation...
as rowyourboat described...

rowyourboat wrote:
A useful framework to thing about it:

sadda-->viriya-->sati-->samadhi-->panna-->vimutti

faith/confidence-->motivation to put in effort-->..into maintaining mindfulness->..which develops one-pointedness-->leads to insight-->leads to release/nibbana


I do wonder though, like slowly chipping away at a stone to reveal a beautiful statue's shape, in practice might it look more like this?

faith/confidence--> motivation to put in effort-->..into maintaining mindfulness->..which develops one-pointedness-->leads to insight--> faith/confidence-->motivation to put in effort-->..into maintaining mindfulness->..which develops one-pointedness-->leads to insight--> faith/confidence-->motivation to put in effort-->..into maintaining mindfulness->..which develops one-pointedness-->leads to insight-->leads to greater faith/confidence--> greater motivation to put in effort-->.. into maintaining mindfulness->.. which develops one-pointedness-->leads to greater insight--> more faith/confidence--> continuous motivation to put in effort-->..into maintaining mindfulness->..which develops greater one-pointedness--> leads to additional insight--> deeper faith/confidence--> motivation to put in effort-->.. into maintaining mindfulness->..which develops one-pointedness further -->leads to even MORE insight--->

etc...

--> leading eventually to release/nibbana?

:juggling: :heart:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Mindfulness and awareness

Postby catmoon » Sat Oct 17, 2009 5:44 pm

A mindfulness thought:

For most of my life I had a strong aversion to ritual.

A while ago I bought a Buddha. (Google Kamakura Buddha to see)

I put in a good place. There it sat.

Something was missing.

Soon there were some candles, some water offerings, incense and such. That felt better. It seemed a
Buddha should be honored a bit, even one made of stone.

In a short time, I had a ritual adapted from many different practices. It was very simple, but as I daily changed the water offerings, lit a bit of incense and so on I found myself noticing dust on things, not wanted to spill things, taking my time and getting things right. I was steadily eliminating disharmony from my shrine practice. The bowls were clean. The whole area was clean. The Buddha was dusted.

After doing this shrine practice each day, I noticed that I was changed. I would see grubby spots around the apartment, notice disorder and the signs of carelessness all around me. I started tidying up. This was not onerous it just seemed that there were things that needed to be done.

Then I saw it. The ritual was done mindfully, and the mindfullness was extending beyond the ritual.
There was a real, practical value in having a little ritual in my life.

My aversion to ritual is still there, but it is no longer absolute.
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Re: Mindfulness and awareness

Postby puthujjana » Mon Oct 19, 2009 10:04 am

mikenz66 wrote:As I understand it, that's the instruction of many teachers. Some would say that some level of concentration is also necessary.

See also Bhikkhu Pesala's comments in this thread: viewtopic.php?f=17&t=1151


Thank you very much Mike.

I noticed in the last weeks that I had misunderstood what is meant by mindfulness. I wasn't just aware, but instead I focused strongly.
That created a lot of tension, which (after some time) turned into sloth and torpor...

with metta
:anjali:
"Once you understand anatta, then the burden of life is gone. You’ll be at peace with the world. When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness and we can truly be happy."
- Ajahn Chah
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Re: Mindfulness and awareness

Postby christopher::: » Mon Nov 02, 2009 6:01 am

I like your sig line, puthujjana.

"If you can learn to make the mind still, it will be the greatest help to the world."
- Ajahn Chah

:anjali:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Mindfulness and awareness

Postby christopher::: » Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:44 am

jhana.achariya wrote:
"What is sammasati? Sati means to bear in mind or bring to mind. Sati is the state of recollecting, the state of remembering, the state of non-fading, the state of non-forgetting. Sati means the sati that is a Spiritual Faculty, the sati that is a Spiritual Power, Sammasati, the Sati that is an Enlightenment Factor, that which is a Path Factor and that which is related to the Path. This is what is called sammasati."

Vbh.105, 286


:meditate:


Re-reading this quote, it seems that a key aspect of mindfulness is the act of wisely choosing what we focus our attention upon. So, its the giving of attention to objects of meditation in the moment, as well as the actual act of bringing the mind to focus on the foundations, to stay aware (mindful) of what we are thinking or doing moment to moment, to not get caught up or lost in samsaric wanderings.

To be aware of our motivations and activities each moment, keeping the mind from wandering in the direction of unwholesome thoughts and activities.

Does that sound right?

:smile:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Mindfulness and awareness

Postby Alex123 » Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:49 pm

AdvaitaJ wrote:
sundara wrote:What's the difference between mindfulness and awareness?

Or, what's the difference between mindfulness and what is commonly meant by "self-awareness". Which begs the question, who are people who practice self-awareness really aware of?
:stirthepot:

AdvaitaJ



This is what I understand about "awareness". One knows that such and such a process* is occuring right now.
There are "two layers" so to speak, knowing of process of knowing something. Maybe an imperfect word could be "self-reflexion" (but without any atta!).
It is not the usual and common unreflective awareness. All, even animals can see, hear, smell, taste, touch and have basic mental processess. But they do not understand what process is occuring right now.


*process (at 6 sense doors) = seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, cognizing & etc.



In the begining it may merely be sanna (perception) or attention. Eventually sati arises.


IMHO,

With metta,

Alex
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