This week I would like to focus on a teaching from the Satipatthana Sutta, perhaps “the” fundamental discourse on the practice of mindfulness. The practice of Satipatthana meditation itself centers on the cultivation of one simple mental process that is available to all of us at any moment, which is mindful awareness. It is simply the capacity for paying attention to the content of our experience as it becomes manifest in the present. It is through the cultivation of this capacity that our unconscious tendencies become conscious, and we discover a preexisting awareness and interconnectedness to life that can change everything about how we perceive the world and how we live our lives.
The Buddha described four applications or “foundations” of mindfulness that when practiced diligently allow for the direct seeing of the causes of our sorrow and provide the insight for our awakening. These foundations are classically given as:
1. Mindfulness of the Body (kayanupassana)
2. Mindfulness of feeling tones (vedananupassana)
3. Mindfulness of State of Mind (cittanupassana)
4. Mindfulness of Phenomenon ( dhammanupassana)
In tomorrow’s dharma talk, I will focus on the third foundation of mindfulness, mindfulness of mind sates, or citta. The word citta in pali is sometimes translated as “mind” but it is much more than that. It might best be described as the mind – heart, since it includes all of the emotions as well as thoughts, perceptions and cognition. What we call the mind is actually an ever changing kaleidoscope of phenomenon in which thoughts, perceptions and emotions arise, due to conditions both present and in our past, persist for a while and then pass away.
Mindfulness of the mind, in a nutshell, consists of observing our thoughts and emotions so that harmful tendencies toward desire, hatred and ignorance, the so called three poisons, do not have an opportunity to manifest as action. These harmful tendencies hide within our minds until they get activated by outside circumstances. As we get to know these mind states better, they are less likely to get triggered by external conditions. For example, a person who insults us does not make us so angry anymore.
As the sutta says:
As rain gets into an ill-thatched house, so carving gets into an untrained mind. As rain does not get into a well-thatched house, so craving does not get into a well-trained mind.
Some of the questions we will explore together are, 1. How does mindfulness of citta help us cultivate a mind that is not helplessly battered around by the ever changing currents of life? 2. How can we gain insight into our mental and emotional tendencies in such a way as to eradicate the hindrances that block us from finding true happiness and freedom?
GENEROSITY, UPCOMING OFFERINGS & EVENTS:
Generosity for Nepal: Thanks to many of your generous contributions, NVIM’s Nepal Disaster Relief Fund has raised over $2,600. The money we’ve raised will be used to help recovery efforts and provide capital to local organizations involved in the long-term rebuilding process. To donate, please click on the following link: https://goo.gl/drMNsv
On-Going Thursday Morning Silent Meditation: For those interested in supporting their daily practice, we invite you to join NVIM on Thursday mornings for silent meditation. This 30 minute meditation will begin promptly at 9:00am and is a wonderful opportunity to nurture your practice in an intimate and supportive setting.
RESOURCES FOR BEGINNING MEDITATORS
Beginning June 22, Insight Meditation Center, a Bay Area meditation center guided by meditation teacher Gil Fronsdal, will be accepting registration for a 5-week Online Introduction to Mindfulness Course which will take place July 19 – August 29. All IMC offerings are donation-based. You may learn more at: