tiltbillings wrote:Conceptual contemplation has its place, preferably with a skilled teacher when one is doing contemplations on the body and suffering. It is all too easy to get lost in a negative spaces.
Gently paying attention to the breath not only allows one to develop a level of concentration, but it also cultivates mindfulness. When the body becomes uncomfortable in a sitting position and when one mindfully attends to that without "comment," dukkha is laid bare in a way it never could be by conceptual contemplation.
Right on. I was not in any way suggesting that attending to the breath was not the way to go. It is an extremely beneficial method that I myself practice. Also, I didn't mean to make what I was describing sound like a practice that was purely
conceptual. I must have described it poorly.
My comment was more related to stressful situations during your daily life (work, family, driving, etc.) and how best to attend to emotional reactions (anger, fear, lust, etc.). For example, if I see someone not be courteous in a situation where they could have been, like not holding a door, it may make me angry. If I can remain with my attention focused the body, rather then thinking about what I just witnessed, I take notice of the tension in my body, the adrenaline that has been released, that my breath has quickened, then I attended to how my body feels because of it (pleasant, unpleasant or neutral - this case it is unpleasant), and then to the state that my mind is in (mind with anger). This is not necessarily done with any comments.
If I have been able to calmly and successfully attend to this I can more easily see what view has caused my anger. That view, in this example, would be that I was holding the belief (an attachment) that "no matter what, you should be courteous"...an impossible expectation of all people. It is a quality that few look to posses and is even frowned upon by many. Some may say, "why should I be courteous to a stranger? What did they do for me?" So then I ask myself "what is the benefit of this view that all
should be courteous?" "Is it causing me pain?" The answer should be yes. The reactions of anger are unwholesome kamma. But anger may still return the next time. But as this practice is successful over and over in situations of people not being courteous I become less and less emotionally sensitive and in turn less and less apt to have a angry reaction. I come to understand that not everyone wants to be courteous. And my anger or angry speech in some cases is not going to change that. Then I suffer less. That is how I have best come to learn about how my mind creates the dukkha.
I'm not looking to hijack this thread, but I have a related question that may help everyone. Where is the difference between satipatthana(mindfulness) and right effort? I know satipatthana is a method and that right effort is intended to be a quality of practice. Both are part of the noble eightfold path, and they have similar descriptions. Because in the process I described...I attended to the body, to the sensation (feeling), to state of mind, and then, if I stay calm enough, I attend to the view (thought/mind object). To clarify specifically what I mean in mind object contemplation; "he knows the mind, knows the mind object (my attachment to the belief) and the fetter that arises dependent on the two. He knows how the un-arisen fetter comes about, and he knows how the abandonment of an arisen fetter comes about, and he knows how the non-arising of the the abandon fetter comes about" Is that also right effort, in which I would be "striving to overcome evil unwholesome mental states that have arisen" or "preventing the arising of un-arisen evil unwholesome mental states?" Hopefully someone could clear this up. I have read a decent amount on mindfulness and "right effort" seems very straight forward. Just a bit confused. All quotes are from the Mahasatipatthana Sutta in the Digha Nikaya, the Maurice Walshe translation.
(***Edit (10 minutes later)- Perhaps my confusion is that the mind object contemplation in sattipatthana has to do with fetters and right effort has to do with states of mind? Mind object contemplations is considered more subtle and state of mind is considered more gross? Wow I'm exhausting myself...haha.***)
Regardless I have had enormous success with the practice. It has helped so much in preventing me from chasing the angry reactions. And even when anger does arise I immediately look to attend to the affect it is having the body rather then thinking about situation that caused it. It is then a bonus if I can see what view I have been holding that has caused the whole reaction to occur in the first place.
I would like to say, for the record, that I have not received any personal instruction. Its a process that pretty much started developing naturally and is being honed through practice and my extensive study of the suttas, commentaries and recorded lectures. I know some may have issue with this. Please know that I am not saying this to promote not seeking a proper teacher
. I plan to do so in time. Its just that no one knows me and I wanted it to be known.