Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby starter » Mon Dec 30, 2013 5:53 am

Greetings!

I'm wondering if the following method of practicing the 7th path factor (right mindfulness) is in accordance with the Satipatthana Sutta:

http://www.buddhismaustralia.org/mahasi.htm

"In the Satipatthana Sutta the method, how to practise Insight Meditation is explained in detail. It is divided into Four Main Divisions, namely,

(1) Contemplation on Body, "i.e Mindfulness of Bodily Activities", such as, Walking, Standing, Sitting, etc.,

I would add the contemplations on the breathing, the four elements of the body, the repulsiveness of the living body (bodily parts), and the decay of the dead body (the nine charnel ground contemplations). And these contemplation involves comparisons and reflections (instead of only labeling) such as: ‘This body too is of the same nature, it will be like that, it is not exempt from that fate.’

(2) Contemplation of Feelings, i. e., Mindfulness of Feelings, such as, Pleasant, Unpleasant, Neutral, etc.,

I would add ... of two groups of feelings -- mental and bodily: presence or absence. And such contemplation also involves comparisons and reflections such as:

"In this way he abides contemplating feelings as feelings internally, or he abides contemplating feelings as feelings externally, or he abides contemplating feelings as feelings both internally and externally." [such contemplations lead to the penetration that all bodies/feelings/mind states/Dhammas have the same nature of anicca]

(3) Contemplation of Mind, i.e., "Mindfulness of Thoughts, such as, Thinking, Reflecting", etc.,

I would instead contemplate the presence or absence of greed, hatred, or delusion, and other [i]states of mind such as being collected/focused or scattered/distracted, exalted or unexalted, broad/surpassed or narrow/unsurpassed, concentrated or unconcentrated, liberated or unliberated. Contemplation of these mind states are quite different from just labeling "thinking, reflecting, ...".

and

(4) Contemplation of "Mind-object, i.e., such as, Mindfulness of Seeing, Hearing, Touching, etc."

I would rather translate the 4th mindfulness as mindfulness of Dhammas (the nature of things taught by the Buddha), and the contemplation starts from the five hindrances (because only hindrance free mind can see the truth):

"And how does a bhikkhu abide contemplating Dhammas as Dhammas in terms of the five hindrances? Here, there being sensual desire in him, a bhikkhu understands: ‘There is sensual desire in me’; or there being no sensual desire in him, he understands: ‘There is no sensual desire in me’; and he also understands how there comes to be the arising of unarisen sensual desire, and how there comes to be the abandoning of arisen sensual desire, and how there comes to be the future non-arising of abandoned sensual desire.’

Then the contemplation proceeds with the five aggregates, the six bases, the seven enlightenment factors, and the four Noble Truths. Each contemplation involves examining, reflecting, investigating, ..., instead of merely labeling "seeing, hearing, ...", which still belongs to bodily activities to my understanding.


Welcome your input. Metta to all and happy new year!
Last edited by starter on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:35 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Dec 30, 2013 6:02 am

I agree that the description of the third satipatthana seems poorly translated. I tend to think of that as more like "mood" or "state of mind", which goes along with the instruction in the sutta.

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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby Mkoll » Mon Dec 30, 2013 6:23 am

Dear starter,

I don't have any experience with the Mahasi method of meditation but it seems to work well for many people. I'm sure it can work if you're eager to try it and know a skilled teacher or spiritual friend who's experienced with the method.

Another way to practice Right Mindfulness that is relatively simple in theory is via Ānāpānasati which fulfills all four foundations of mindfulness via different ways of mindfulness of breathing.

"Mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit, of great benefit. Mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, brings the four frames of reference to their culmination. The four frames of reference, when developed & pursued, bring the seven factors for awakening to their culmination. The seven factors for awakening, when developed & pursued, bring clear knowing & release to their culmination.
-MN 118

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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby starter » Mon Dec 30, 2013 4:06 pm

Hello Mike and Mkoll,

Thanks for your input. I tend to believe that Ānāpānasati which fulfills all four mindfulness via different ways of mindfulness of breathing should be practiced only after the establishment of the 4 foundations of mindfulness (satipatthana), which is probably why MN 10 was taught very early but MN 118 was at the very end. Without establishing the 4 foundations of mindfulness and gaining an understanding of the nature of body, feeling, mind states, and Dhammas (the nature of things as taught by the Buddha), I'm afraid Ānāpānasati alone won't fulfill the 7th path factor, right mindfulness.

May all of us much progress in our Dhamma practice and much peace in the coming new year!

Metta to all!

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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby Mkoll » Mon Dec 30, 2013 5:35 pm

starter wrote:I tend to believe that Ānāpānasati which fulfills all four mindfulness via different ways of mindfulness of breathing should be practiced only after the establishment of the 4 foundations of mindfulness (satipatthana), which is probably why MN 10 was taught very early but MN 118 was at the very end.


Dear starter,

I respect you and your view however I don't think that what you wrote above, and I underlined and bolded, is true. If it isn't true, it can't be used for justification.

We can't say why the suttas are in the order they are in or who put them in that order. The Buddha certainly didn't put them in that order: they were written down hundreds of years after he died!

In conclusion, I will cite one paragraph from Ven. Bodhi in his introduction to The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikāya:

There is also no particular pedagogical sequence in the suttas, no unfolding development of thought. Thus while different suttas illuminate each other and one will fill in ideas merely suggested by another, virtually any sutta may be taken up for individual study and will be found comprehensible on its own. Of course, the study of the entire compilation will naturally yield the richest harvest of understanding.
page 19-20, 3rd edition

Metta to you as well!

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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby EmptyCittas1by1 » Sat Jan 11, 2014 11:38 pm

The right way to practice right mindfulness is to be mindful of everything which occurs in your immediate experience, rather than being only conceptually mindful. The things in the Satipatthana sutta are things you need to understand. In our ignorant nature, we really only have a conceptual or dull understanding of what the breath even is. But the more we practice mindfulness of breathing, the more we understand what it is. It sounds so simple, but we really don't know what breathing really is because we haven't developed mindfulness of breathing to the point where we gain insight. It's just like how we have a intellectual understanding that all things are impermanent. It seems so simple and obvious, but we don't understand it at all. If we did, we wouldn't cling to things.

You're supposed to be mindful every second of the day. Obviously you cannot practice mindfulness of breathing all day. But you can be mindful of sitting, walking, etc. When greed/hate/delusion arises, you shift your mindfulness from the body towards that. But since we're ignorant, we really don't know what "greed" or "hatred" or "delusion" is really like. We only have an idea of it. So when we experience an unwholesome thought, we direct our awareness towards it in a balanced manner (not slack, not forced), without a preconceived notion of what it is. We don't understand what it is until we gain insight by being mindful of it as it comes and goes. This is how you would gain insight into that thought's nature. There will be no "greed", only its impermanent nature and its inclination towards future suffering. The thought itself can be described as greed, but this is only a way to differentiate it from other thoughts. It only has the nature of impermanence, suffering, and not-self. But even those things are empty. This makes me wonder: is Zen really Theravadin Buddhism without the conceptualization of things? They practice mindfulness all the time... anyway:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

This sutta really tells us that mindfulness is the path. The "concentration" part of the threefold training is what really sets the ball rolling.

"One makes an effort for the abandoning of wrong view & for entering into right view: This is one's right effort. One is mindful to abandon wrong view & to enter & remain in right view: This is one's right mindfulness. Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort, & right mindfulness — run & circle around right view."

"One makes an effort for the abandoning of wrong action & for entering into right action: This is one's right effort. One is mindful to abandon wrong action & to enter & remain in right action: This is one's right mindfulness. Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort, & right mindfulness — run & circle around right action."

When one practices mindfulness, one is developing the whole entire transcendent eightfold path at every moment. Mindfulness brings insight (right view), insight leads to understanding that all is suffering, so it leads to renunciation (right intention). Mindfulness prevents unwholesome actions and brings wholesome ones (right action). Mindfulness prevents unwholesome speech and only brings wholesome speech (right speech). And so on. Read the sutta to find out more about the real aspects of the path.

We all know that being mindful all day can be difficult, maybe even impossible in places like our jobs. But it's one of the most (if not the most) important parts of the path. There's a reason why Ajahn Chah put a lot of emphasis on it. His Biography on youtube and his Dhamma talks are great motivators. Check em out :twothumbsup:
"Eat little! Sleep little! Speak little! Whatever it may be of worldly habit, lessen them, go against their power. Don't just do as you like, don't indulge in your thought. Stop this slavish following. You must constantly go against the stream of ignorance. This is called "Discipline." When you discipline your heart, it becomes very dissatisfied and begins to struggle. It becomes restricted and oppressed. When the heart is prevented from doing what it wants to do, it starts wandering and struggling. Suffering becomes apparent to us."

— Ajahn Chah
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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby starter » Fri Jun 20, 2014 12:48 am

Hello friends,

Thanks for all your input. I read SN 47 today, and glad to find a collection of suttas on Satipaṭṭhāna. After pondering about SN 47, I realized how to

saṃyutta nikāya 47
connected discourses on the establishments of mindfulness

8. The Cook

i. The incompetent cook

“Bhikkhus, suppose a foolish, incompetent, unskilful cook were to present a king or a royal minister with various kinds of curries: sour, bitter, pungent, sweet, sharp, mild, salty, bland.

“That foolish, incompetent, unskilful cook does not pick up the sign of his own master: ‘Today this curry pleased my master, or he reached for this one, or he took a lot of this one, or he spoke in praise of this one; or the sour curry pleased my master today, or he reached for the sour one, or he took a lot of the sour one, or he spoke in praise of the sour one; or the bitter curry … or the pungent curry … or the sweet curry … or the sharp curry … or the mild curry … or the salty curry … or the bland curry pleased my master … or he spoke in praise of the bland one.’

“That foolish, incompetent, unskilful cook does not gain gifts of clothing, wages, and bonuses. For what reason? Because that foolish, incompetent, unskilful cook does not pick up the sign of his own master.

“So too, bhikkhus, here some foolish, incompetent, unskilful bhikkhu dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. While he dwells contemplating the body in the body, his mind does not become concentrated, his corruptions are not abandoned, he does not pick up that sign. He dwells contemplating feelings in feelings … mind in mind … phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. While he dwells contemplating phenomena in phenomena, his mind does not become concentrated, his corruptions are not abandoned, he does not pick up that sign.

“That foolish, incompetent, unskilful bhikkhu does not gain pleasant dwellings in this very life, nor does he gain mindfulness and clear comprehension. For what reason? Because, bhikkhus, that foolish, incompetent, unskilful bhikkhu does not pick up the sign of his own mind [BT: he does not take note of his own mind].

ii. The competent cook

“Suppose, bhikkhus, a wise, competent, skilful cook were to present a king or a royal minister with various kinds of curries: sour, bitter, pungent, sweet, sharp, mild, salty, bland.

“That wise, competent, skilful cook picks up the sign of his own master: ‘Today this curry pleased my master … or he spoke in praise of the bland one.’

“That wise, competent, skilful cook gains gifts of clothing, wages, and bonuses. For what reason? Because that wise, competent, skilful cook picks up the sign of his own master.

“So too, bhikkhus, here some wise, competent, skilful bhikkhu dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. While he dwells contemplating the body in the body, his mind becomes concentrated, his corruptions are abandoned, he picks up that sign. He dwells contemplating feelings in feelings … mind in mind … phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. While he dwells contemplating phenomena in phenomena, his mind becomes concentrated, his corruptions are abandoned, he picks up that sign.

“That wise, competent, skilful bhikkhu gains pleasant dwellings in this very life, and he gains mindfulness and clear comprehension. For what reason? Because, bhikkhus, that wise, competent, skilful bhikkhu picks up the sign of his own mind.” [takes note of his own mind]

[Mainly from http://suttacentral.net/en/sn47.8, with minor changes.]

What I learned from this sutta is that we should be observant/mindful of our own mind and clearly comprehend our mind states, so that mindfulness and clear comprehension can be cultivated and developed, and right effort can be exerted.

Metta to all!
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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat Jun 21, 2014 8:27 am

mikenz66 wrote:I agree that the description of the third satipatthana seems poorly translated. I tend to think of that as more like "mood" or "state of mind", which goes along with the instruction in the sutta.


I agree. From a practical point of view I think the 5 hindrances are a useful starting point for the 3rd frame of reference.
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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby starter » Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:37 am

Spiny Norman wrote: From a practical point of view I think the 5 hindrances are a useful starting point for the 3rd frame of reference.


Hi do you mean the 5 hindrances are a useful starting point for the 4th frame of reference?
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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jun 22, 2014 5:31 am

Awareness of the hindrances seems to be there in the third satipatthana (mind state/mood) (greed, hatred, delusion, etc).
suttacentral.net/en/mn10#m15
Here a bhikkhu understands mind affected by lust as mind affected by lust, and mind unaffected by lust as mind unaffected by lust. He understands mind affected by hate as mind affected by hate, and mind unaffected by hate as mind unaffected by hate. He understands mind affected by delusion as mind affected by delusion, and mind unaffected by delusion as mind unaffected by delusion. ...


The difference in the fourth satipatthana is the understanding of how to deal with them:
http://suttacentral.net/en/mn10#m15
Here, there being sensual desire in him, a bhikkhu understands: ‘There is sensual desire in me’; or there being no sensual desire in him, he understands: ‘There is no sensual desire in me’; and he also understands how there comes to be the arising of unarisen sensual desire, and how there comes to be the abandoning of arisen sensual desire, and how there comes to be the future non-arising of abandoned sensual desire.’

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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Jun 23, 2014 8:51 am

starter wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote: From a practical point of view I think the 5 hindrances are a useful starting point for the 3rd frame of reference.


Hi do you mean the 5 hindrances are a useful starting point for the 4th frame of reference?
:anjali:


Mind states ( 3rd frame ) are made up of mental objects ( 4th frame ). Like what we see is made up of colour and shape.

So for example if the hindrance of sensual desire is present then we could observe a mind with sensual desire. Obviously there would be other mental objects present in such a mind state, but sensual desire is likely to be dominant. And the inclusion of the hindrances in the 4th frame suggests that the presence / absence of the hindrances is an important thing to notice.
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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby starter » Wed Jun 25, 2014 2:19 am

Hi Mike and Spiny Norman,

Thanks for the input. I tend to think that the following sutta about the 3rd frame of mindfulness teaches us to categorize the mind states into the presence and absence of greed/hate/delusion (in addition to the other states of the mind as summarized above), when practicing the establishing of the mindfulness of mind states. I'd rather start with the last three of the ten unwholesome deeds (unrighteous greed/covetousness, ill will, and wrong view -- plus cruelty/harmfulness) instead of starting with the presence/absence of the five hindrances.

suttacentral.net/en/mn10#m15
"Here a bhikkhu understands mind affected by lust as mind affected by lust, and mind unaffected by lust as mind unaffected by lust. He understands mind affected by hate as mind affected by hate, and mind unaffected by hate as mind unaffected by hate. He understands mind affected by delusion as mind affected by delusion, and mind unaffected by delusion as mind unaffected by delusion..."

I prefer to translate the 4th frame of reference into "the nature of things taught by the Buddha" (which specifically refer to the systematic training on the five hindrances, the five aggregates, the six bases, the seven enlightenment factors, and the four Noble Truths), instead of "mind objects" (which can be anything and doesn't capture the important systematic training here).

Just my two cents. Metta to all!

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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Jun 26, 2014 3:14 pm

starter wrote:I prefer to translate the 4th frame of reference into "the nature of things taught by the Buddha" (which specifically refer to the systematic training on the five hindrances, the five aggregates, the six bases, the seven enlightenment factors, and the four Noble Truths), instead of "mind objects" (which can be anything and doesn't capture the important systematic training here).


I agree. Personally I think the 4th frame is best understood as a set of guidelines or frameworks for dhamma vicaya, ie the investigation of experience.
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