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 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 Mon Dec 30, 2013 3:55 pm, edited 1 time 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.

:anjali:
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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

:anjali:
When this is, that is.
From the arising of this comes the arising of that.
When this isn't, that isn't.
From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that.
-SN 12.61

Ex nihilo nihil fit.

Peace,
James
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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!

:anjali:
When this is, that is.
From the arising of this comes the arising of that.
When this isn't, that isn't.
From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that.
-SN 12.61

Ex nihilo nihil fit.

Peace,
James
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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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