We, Westerners, who are breathing the culture of popularized mindfulness, tend to overlook some of the necessary steps before and after mindfulness. I am thankful for Leigh's teachings on the gradual training that is to be undertaken by one fully committed to the spiritual path. I asked Leigh about the current mindfulness-based movement. Here was is answer:
The modern mindfulness movement is just a way to enhance your life. The question to ask ourselves [as raised by Tibetan master] is rather, "Do you want high quality samsara, or liberation?" Mindfulness as practiced by most Westerners can be a gateway drug to liberation. And one needs to also recognize its limitations.
Leigh based his talk on the 'The Fruit of the Contemplative Life' Sutta. Summarized below are the gradual steps (as translated by me in plain English):
1. Leading a moral life:
Following the 5 precepts of not killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct, and wrong speech. Practicing right speech, right livelihood, right action
2. Guarding the senses:
Being aware of sense contact experience and not letting it get out of hand, not letting grasping do a number on us.
3. Practicing mindfulness:
Noticing what we do in our activities and various postures, including change points: sitting, walking, standing, brushing our teeth, driving, etc. Being aware of our body, our breath, our mind states.
Being satisfied with little in the material world. This includes moderation in eating.
5. Abandoning the hindrances:
Noticing, and setting aside the 5 hindrances of craving for sensual pleasures, ill will and anger, doubt about the practice, dullness of mind, and remorse and restlessness.
6. Cultivating meditative absorptions:
Starting with the first four jhanas, and also possibly adding next four (or five). Developing one-pointed access concentration leading to altered states of consciousness and increased clarity of mind.
7. Insight knowledge:
Seeing the world as it truly is.
Freeing ourselves from the prison of our ego-driven mind. This is what is meant by emptiness.
A clear path, that can be undertaken by all, as long as the will is there, and also the presence of a skilled teacher, one who has already taken and mastered the various steps.