Friday, June 8, 2012

Taking Proper Note

During formal mindfulness practice, one needs to take proper note of all that is happening in the mind, and particularly the hindrances, or else, the hindrances will keep standing in the way of inner peace. From Thanissaro Bhikkhu's Wings of Awakening:
There are cases where a foolish, inexperienced, unskillful monk remains focused on the body in & of itself—ardent, alert, & mindful—putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. As he remains thus focused on the body in & of itself, his mind does not become concentrated, his defilements [Comm: the five Hindrances] are not abandoned. He does not take note of that fact [does not pick up on that theme]. He remains focused on feelings in & of themselves... the mind in & of itself... mental qualities in & of themselves—ardent, alert, & mindful—putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. As he remains thus focused on mental qualities in & of themselves, his mind does not become concentrated, his defilements are not abandoned. He does not take note of that fact. As a result, he is not rewarded with a pleasant abiding here & now, nor with mindfulness & alertness. Why is that? Because the foolish, inexperienced, unskillful monk does not take note of his own mind [does not pick up on the theme of his own mind]  
[. . .]
In the same way, there are cases where a wise, experienced, skillful monk remains focused on the body in & of itself... feelings in & of themselves... the mind in & of itself... mental qualities in & of themselves—ardent, alert, & mindful—putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. As he remains thus focused on mental qualities in & of themselves, his mind becomes concentrated, his defilements are abandoned. He takes note of that fact. As a result, he is rewarded with a pleasant abiding here & now, together with mindfulness & alertness. Why is that? Because the wise, experienced, skillful monk picks up on the theme of his own mind.
SN 47:8
Sitting earlier, it became clear how my mind had become polluted with a string of angry thoughts. Sitting, I had the opportunity of feeling the heat, the unsettling, the constriction, the agitation in body and mind both. And I knew to focus on the anger itself, not its object. There was nothing to be done about the other person's behavior. I had tried before, to no avail. No, the only way lied within, in abandoning the raging train, and watching it go by instead. 

Of course, this is not easy. Hours later, I can still see the anger inside for the hindrance that it is. And I am still very much in the train . . . One needs to be patient with these things! 

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