mindfulness: natural born activity?

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mindfulness: natural born activity?

Postby delora » Thu Oct 14, 2010 4:52 pm

hi there,

I have been reading a lot around mindfulness.. many websites, etc. And mindfulness is almost presented as if it is a new thing, something we are not naturally accustomed to? Just a few questions to clarify my understanding..

1. Am I right in thinking mindfulness IS a natural activity? One that all children possess?
2. Am I right in thinking that children are perhaps born with varying degrees of mindfuless? Also, their environment is likely to shape how mindful they become?
3. Am I right in thinking, that when people talk about our culture not being mindful, they are relating to modern living - tv, analytical thought, technology, general heedlessness, alcohol culture etc.

I made the mistake of listening to many dharma talks and many websites, all which present incomplete or very broad and ambiguous definitions of mindfulness. Currently working my way through B. Gunaratana's book and have a few articles by B. Thannissaro on the subject. It's nice to have something direct which elaborates on the topic.

Have also heard Thicht Naht Than is meant to be good, but that is on my 'to read'. Any other suggestions welcome.
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Re: mindfulness: natural born activity?

Postby Ytrog » Thu Oct 14, 2010 4:56 pm

I think that people have various hindrances in various degrees and that some are more restless or dull than others. Most of the things in point 3 aren't so helpful either.
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


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Re: mindfulness: natural born activity?

Postby Shonin » Thu Oct 14, 2010 6:37 pm

To answer this we need to clarify what is meant by 'mindfulness'. The way it is often used, and the way you are using it here includes a combination of things:

1. Awareness
2. Being aware from moment-to-moment
3. The intention and habit of being aware from moment-to-moment

Mindfulness is commonly used to refer to 2. and 3. although more precisely or more traditionally it refers only to the actual 'remembering to be aware' ie. 3.

1. Is universal of course for all sentient beings.
2. is something we all experience from early childhood. This is normally a spontaneous state which is dependent on past and present conditions.
3. is a practice and a habit that is developed. It is the ability to choose to be aware from moment to moment.

Having a goal-oriented 'going mode' is necessary to be able to function, as is the ability to put some of our functioning on 'auto pilot'. Developing mindfulness gives us the ability to choose which mode to be in.

It's perhaps easier for childer to fall into a state of being aware from moment to moment, because they have fewer responsibilities than adults. They have also had less time to pick up unhealthy conditioned habits that can lead to chronic stress and other problems in adults. 'Not being mindful' may be due to such conditioning, and there may be cultural and technological factors contributing to a possible increase in an inability to become aware from moment-to-moment.
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Re: mindfulness: natural born activity?

Postby beeblebrox » Thu Oct 14, 2010 6:39 pm

There's regular mindfulness, which I think anyone is capable of doing to some degree... this skill of course can be very helpful in keeping yourself focused, within an ordinary life and stuff like that.

Then there's sammā sati, "right mindfulness." This is a certain type of mindfulness that is aligned with Dhamma. It is nibbāna-oriented. It is centered in meditation, along with the removal of greed, hatred, and delusion, etc.

You want establish this mindfulness on the "body", "feeling", "mind", and then "dhammas" (according to the suttas). Why? I think it's because these four are the basic ways you can approach life... so it's good idea to establish mindfulness in these, one after another, so that you can remind yourself to continue your own work within each.

At least that's my own understanding, anyway.
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Re: mindfulness: natural born activity?

Postby Shonin » Thu Oct 14, 2010 6:49 pm

beeblebrox wrote:Then there's sammā sati, "right mindfulness." This is a certain type of mindfulness that is aligned with Dhamma. It is nibbāna-oriented. It is centered in meditation, along with the removal of greed, hatred, and delusion, etc.


How does one actually practice 'nibbana-orientated', 'greed-removing', 'hatred-removing' and 'delusion-removing' mindfulness?
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Re: mindfulness: natural born activity?

Postby beeblebrox » Thu Oct 14, 2010 6:54 pm

Shonin wrote:
beeblebrox wrote:Then there's sammā sati, "right mindfulness." This is a certain type of mindfulness that is aligned with Dhamma. It is nibbāna-oriented. It is centered in meditation, along with the removal of greed, hatred, and delusion, etc.


How does one actually practice 'nibbana-orientated', 'greed-removing', 'hatred-removing' and 'delusion-removing' mindfulness?

Just simply: "This is greed, I better work on that." "I feel like some ill-will is coming on, I should contemplate that." "I might be deluded here, so I should think twice." Etc. :)
Last edited by beeblebrox on Thu Oct 14, 2010 6:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: mindfulness: natural born activity?

Postby bodom » Thu Oct 14, 2010 6:55 pm

How does one actually practice 'nibbana-orientated', 'greed-removing', 'hatred-removing' and 'delusion-removing' mindfulness?


Why by practicing satipatthana of course.

The only way that leads to the attainment of purity, to the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, to the end of pain and grief, to the entering upon the right path and the realization of Nibbaana, is by the `Four Foundations of Mindfulness'. And which are these four? Herein the disciple dwells in contemplation of the Body, in contemplation of Feeling, in contemplation of the Mind, in contemplation of the Mind-Objects; ardent, clearly comprehending them and mindful, after putting away worldly greed and grief. - DN 22


:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: mindfulness: natural born activity?

Postby Individual » Thu Oct 14, 2010 7:00 pm

delora wrote:hi there,

I have been reading a lot around mindfulness.. many websites, etc. And mindfulness is almost presented as if it is a new thing, something we are not naturally accustomed to? Just a few questions to clarify my understanding..

1. Am I right in thinking mindfulness IS a natural activity? One that all children possess?
2. Am I right in thinking that children are perhaps born with varying degrees of mindfuless? Also, their environment is likely to shape how mindful they become?
3. Am I right in thinking, that when people talk about our culture not being mindful, they are relating to modern living - tv, analytical thought, technology, general heedlessness, alcohol culture etc.

I made the mistake of listening to many dharma talks and many websites, all which present incomplete or very broad and ambiguous definitions of mindfulness. Currently working my way through B. Gunaratana's book and have a few articles by B. Thannissaro on the subject. It's nice to have something direct which elaborates on the topic.

Have also heard Thicht Naht Than is meant to be good, but that is on my 'to read'. Any other suggestions welcome.

Take these two pictures:
Image

Image

And apply them to everything you do.

Do you really need to read so much to understand something so basic?

Shonin wrote:
beeblebrox wrote:Then there's sammā sati, "right mindfulness." This is a certain type of mindfulness that is aligned with Dhamma. It is nibbāna-oriented. It is centered in meditation, along with the removal of greed, hatred, and delusion, etc.


How does one actually practice 'nibbana-orientated', 'greed-removing', 'hatred-removing' and 'delusion-removing' mindfulness?

By being mindful of Nibbana, greed, hate, and delusion.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
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Re: mindfulness: natural born activity?

Postby Sobeh » Thu Oct 14, 2010 7:04 pm

Also, romanticizing childhood is a thorough mistake - brains aren't fully developed until well into the teenage years, and I'm thinking this is a good reason why ordination can only occur at 20 (19) or later. The idea that mindfulness, or other wholesome traits, are somehow latent and then lost is ad hoc reasoning.
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Re: mindfulness: natural born activity?

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Oct 15, 2010 4:30 am

I think the confusion arises because the word mindfulness is used in various ways in Buddhist circles.

Mindfulness is a natural capacity of mind to be present and remember to continue to be present to ones day to day experiences. I think this natural for us but through our over complication of our lives, understanding it through a conceptual framework we create to describe it, and obsession with the past and future we lose much of this natural capacity.

The word Mindfulness is also used as a name for various meditation or day to day exersises designed used to enhance our ability to be mindful, to get us back to the natural state of mindfulness.

So you'll hear the exersises themselves described as mindfulness, but I don't think this is correct, Mindfulness is the quality of mind these exersises are designed to develop.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: mindfulness: natural born activity?

Postby Hanzze » Fri Oct 15, 2010 5:18 am

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: mindfulness: natural born activity?

Postby Ben » Fri Oct 15, 2010 5:35 am

Hanzze wrote:pure is the mind of a child - how much developed it may be.


Hmmm....
I would have to disagree with you on that one Hanzze.
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Re: mindfulness: natural born activity?

Postby Hanzze » Fri Oct 15, 2010 5:38 am

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: mindfulness: natural born activity?

Postby Shonin » Fri Oct 15, 2010 5:42 am

Individual wrote:How does one actually practice 'nibbana-orientated', 'greed-removing', 'hatred-removing' and 'delusion-removing' mindfulness?

By being mindful of Nibbana, greed, hate, and delusion.[/quote]

But what does that mean?

Do you mean sitting and thinking about these? Do you mean taking extra care to notice them? How does one be mindful of nibbana when one has never experienced it? Remembering that they exist? I don't think that this is the sort of mindful awareness that we're talking about here.
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Re: mindfulness: natural born activity?

Postby Shonin » Fri Oct 15, 2010 5:51 am

bodom wrote:
How does one actually practice 'nibbana-orientated', 'greed-removing', 'hatred-removing' and 'delusion-removing' mindfulness?


Why by practicing satipatthana of course.


Right. But, I was wondering what Beeblebrox meant by making a distinction between 'regular mindfulness' and 'right mindfulness' . Mindfulness of body, feelings, mind, mental objects is really just the same in secular mindfulness programs as in Buddhist meditation.

beeblebrox wrote:There's regular mindfulness, which I think anyone is capable of doing to some degree... this skill of course can be very helpful in keeping yourself focused, within an ordinary life and stuff like that.

Then there's sammā sati, "right mindfulness." This is a certain type of mindfulness that is aligned with Dhamma. It is nibbāna-oriented. It is centered in meditation, along with the removal of greed, hatred, and delusion, etc.


Perhaps by the former, he was referring to some kind of concentration focussing techniques for sport and so on?
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Re: mindfulness: natural born activity?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:18 am

Shonin wrote:Right. But, I was wondering what Beeblebrox meant by making a distinction between 'regular mindfulness' and 'right mindfulness' . Mindfulness of body, feelings, mind, mental objects is really just the same in secular mindfulness programs as in Buddhist meditation?


Interesting question. Perhaps the purpose of developing mindfulness is different. So in a Buddhist context mindfulness is a basis for insight, whereas in programs like MBSR mindfulness is a basis for stress reduction?

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Re: mindfulness: natural born activity?

Postby Shonin » Fri Oct 15, 2010 12:25 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
Shonin wrote:Right. But, I was wondering what Beeblebrox meant by making a distinction between 'regular mindfulness' and 'right mindfulness' . Mindfulness of body, feelings, mind, mental objects is really just the same in secular mindfulness programs as in Buddhist meditation?


Interesting question. Perhaps the purpose of developing mindfulness is different. So in a Buddhist context mindfulness is a basis for insight, whereas in programs like MBSR mindfulness is a basis for stress reduction?


We can 'intend' all we like. But what insight arises from the practice, arises from the actual practice that we are doing - which in both cases is essentially the same as far as I'm aware.

In MBSR and MBCT, stress is reduced, depression averted etc in large part due to the insight that arises (whether expressed in exactly Buddhist terms or not). Unless the practice is different why should we expect the insight to be any less or different?

I take it you're not implying that people practicing Buddhist mindfulness sit and 'try to have insights', 'try to experience nibbana' etc and that people doing mindfulness meditation in MBSR sit and 'try to have less stress'? If they did, then it's not really mindfulness. The only intention that I'm aware of in mindfulness meditation is the intention to pay attention to one's experiences in a non-reactive manner.
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Re: mindfulness: natural born activity?

Postby beeblebrox » Fri Oct 15, 2010 1:49 pm

Shonin wrote:
beeblebrox wrote:There's regular mindfulness, which I think anyone is capable of doing to some degree... this skill of course can be very helpful in keeping yourself focused, within an ordinary life and stuff like that.

Then there's sammā sati, "right mindfulness." This is a certain type of mindfulness that is aligned with Dhamma. It is nibbāna-oriented. It is centered in meditation, along with the removal of greed, hatred, and delusion, etc.


Perhaps by the former, he was referring to some kind of concentration focussing techniques for sport and so on?


Yes, that is something like what I meant. When I said "nibbāna-oriented" I don't mean you try to bring that "state" around with the mindfulness... just that you've set your goal to nibbāna, to get to the other shore. Your mindfulness is inclined (or oriented) in that direction.

You do this by investigating the Buddha's Dhamma; trying to understand what it means; studying which states might be conductive to this practice, and then cultivate those; perform meditation practices so that you'll be settled enough to do that; etc. You remember to do that through mindfulness.

The regular mindfulness is still rooted in this world (and also maybe to other worlds, i.e., deva-worlds). It's also based on a self. It isn't the "nibbāna" or the unbinding type of mindfulness. It also might be based on the wrong motivation, e.g., a sniper also uses regular mindfulness... which however highly developed that might be (even to the point of it being like a diamond), will not lead to the nibbāna.

Just stuff like that. Also, just in case you misunderstood this... when I say "right mindfulness," I don't mean to imply that the other kind is wrong. It has nothing to do with the truth or the falsity. It's just proper orientation.
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Re: mindfulness: natural born activity?

Postby Shonin » Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:08 pm

beeblebrox wrote:Yes, that is something like what I meant. When I said "nibbāna-oriented" I don't mean you try to bring that "state" around with the mindfulness... just that you've set your goal to nibbāna, to get to the other shore. Your mindfulness is inclined (or oriented) in that direction.


One of the fundamental points of mindful awareness meditation as used in MBSR and MBCT and I assume insight meditation/ satipatthana where there techniques come from is that the practice itself is not goal oriented. We're paying attention to what we are actually experiencing right now rather than trying to change our experience or even move it in any particular direction.

beeblebrox wrote:You do this by investigating the Buddha's Dhamma; trying to understand what it means; studying which states might be conductive to this practice, and then cultivate those; perform meditation practices so that you'll be settled enough to do that; etc. You remember to do that through mindfulness.


Ah, but this is a different meaning of mindfulness from what I'm talking about and what the OP was about. Reminding oneself how wonderfully tranquil Nibbana must be (for example) is quite different from mindful awareness.

beeblebrox wrote:The regular mindfulness is still rooted in this world (and also maybe to other worlds, i.e., deva-worlds). It's also based on a self. It isn't the "nibbāna" or the unbinding type of mindfulness. It also might be based on the wrong motivation, e.g., a sniper also uses regular mindfulness... which however highly developed that might be (even to the point of it being like a diamond), will not lead to the nibbāna.


I think that if you believe that a Buddhist practicing mindfulness in order to get to Nibbana is not rooted in the world and not based on self then you are kidding yourself. I don't think there's a justification for a clear division between 'worldly' and 'Buddhist' mindfulness on that basis. It comes across just as a value judgement. However, there is a real difference between the practice of mindful awareness and concentration and I agree that concentration by itself probably doesn't lead to 'unbinding'.

beeblebrox wrote:Just stuff like that. Also, just in case you misunderstood this... when I say "right mindfulness," I don't mean to imply that the other kind is wrong. It has nothing to do with the truth or the falsity. It's just proper orientation.


:) You mean 'proper' as opposed to 'improper'? Sounds like another value judgement.
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Re: mindfulness: natural born activity?

Postby beeblebrox » Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:14 pm

For some reason you seem to insist on reading all my posts in just the wrong way. :tongue: In this thread, and that another thread about earthquakes.

Whatever you've said above is none of the implications I've been making. I never said that you should imagine nibbāna as something. It's a cessation of dukkha. You don't imagine what that cessation is like... you just use that as a benchmark to compare your own current experience against. When they align, then there you are... Nibbāna.

So, the mindfulness is not based on a goal? What are you being mindful for? Seems fuzzy to me.

I'm not trying to do any value judgments here... just trying to show that there are things that are oriented towards the Dhamma practice, and things that aren't. It's that simple.
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