Handouts for Oct 29, 2011 SBI Study Group: Kimberley Snow
"The Four Application of Mindfullness"
B. Alan Wallace
NOTES FROM 2008 RETREAT HELD IN SB.
The Four Noble Truths and the distinction between mundane and genuine happiness
The contemplative science of the world of experience and the mind, versus the pursuit of a God’s-eye view of reality.
The integrated pursuits of ethics as the laboratory, mental balance (genuine happiness) as the technology, and the Four Applications of Mindfulness (understanding) as the science, with all three supporting each other.
I. The Four Applications of Mindfulness
A. Mindfulness of the body, feelings, mind, and phenomena
B. Buddha: “This is the direct path, monks, for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for overcoming pain and grief, for reaching the authentic path, for the realization of nirvana—namely the four applications of mindfulness.” Satipaṭṭhānasutta, 2.
1. A unified pursuit of virtue, genuine happiness, and knowledge
2. Contrast with the fragmented nature of these pursuits in the modern West
C. Buddha: “In the seen there is only the seen; in the heard, there is only the heard; in the sensed, there is only the sensed; in the cognized, there is only the cognized. Thus you should see that indeed there is no thing here; this Bāhiya, is how you should train yourself. Since, Bāhiya, there is for you in the seen, only the seen, in the heard, only the heard, in the sensed, only the sensed, in the cognized, only the cognized, and you see that there is no thing here, you will therefore see that indeed there is no thing there. As you see that there is no thing there, you will see that you are therefore located neither in the world of this, nor in the world of that, nor in any place between the two. This alone is the end of suffering.” Udāna I, 10.
1. Distinguish between real phenomena (with causal efficacy) that present themselves to us perceptually, as opposed to imaginary phenomena (without causal efficacy) that we conceptually project upon experience.
2. Contrast with scientific materialism, which claims only material phenomena and their emergent properties have causal efficacy. “If it’s only in your mind, it’s not real.”
3. The Buddhist phenomenological, not mechanistic, approach to understanding causality
D. Aim of Śrāvakayāna practice: achieve the cognitive balance of perceiving the aggregates as impermanent and unsatisfying, devoid of an autonomous self.
A. Aim of Mahāyāna practice: achieve the cognitive balance of perceiving the aggregates as dependently related events, devoid any inherent identity of their own.
I. Mindfulness of the Body
A. Mindfulness of Breathing as the preparation
1. “Just as in the last month of the hot season, when a mass of dust and dirt has swirled up, a great rain cloud out of season disperses it and quells it on the spot, so too concentration by mindfulness of breathing, when developed and cultivated, is peaceful and sublime, an ambrosial dwelling, and it disperses and quells on the spot evil unwholesome states whenever they arise.” Saṃyutta Nikāya V 321-2.
2. Buddha: “I thought of a time when my Sakyan father was working and I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree: quite secluded from sensual desires disengaged from unwholesome things I had entered upon and abode in the first meditative stabilization, which is accompanied by coarse and precise investigation, with well-being and bliss born of seclusion. I thought: ‘Might that be the way to enlightenment?” Then, following that memory, there came the recognition that this was the way to enlightenment.” (Majjhima Nikāya 36)
3. “Breathing in short, one is aware, ‘I breathe in short.’ Breathing out short, one is aware: ‘I breathe out short.’ Breathing in long, one is aware, ‘I breathe in long.’ Breathing out long, one is aware: ‘I breathe out long.’ ‘Attending to the whole body, I shall breathe in.’ Thus one trains oneself. ‘Attending to the whole body, I shall breathe out.’ Thus one trains. ‘Soothing the composite of the body, I shall breathe in.’ Thus one trains oneself. ‘Soothing the composite of the body, I shall breathe out.’ Thus one trains.” Ānāpānasati Sutta 18.
4. Buddhaghosa: Once you have achieved the actual state of the first stabilization, samādhi can be sustained “for a whole night and a whole day, just as a healthy man, after rising from his seat, could stand a whole day.” The Path of Purification, 126
5. The Buddha declared that with the achievement of the first meditative stabilization, one is for the first time temporarily freed from five types of obstructions, or hindrances, that disrupt the balance of the mind: (1) sensual craving, (2) malice, (3) laxity and dullness, (4) excitation and anxiety, and (5) uncertainty. (Majjhima Nikāya I, 294–95)
6. The Buddha likens śamatha to a great warrior and vipaśyanā to a wise minister. [Saṃyutta Nikāya IV 194-195]
7. Buddha: “So long as these five hindrances are not abandoned one considers himself as indebted, sick, in bonds, enslaved and lost in a desert track.” Sāmaññaphala Sutta (Dīgha Nikāya I 73)
1. Vimuttiimagga: the standing and walking postures are particularly suitable for lustful natured personalities, while sitting and reclining are more appropriate for anger natured personalities. [Ehara, N.R.M. (et al. tr.) 1995 (1961): The Path of Freedom (Vimuttimagga), Kandy: BPS, 61]
2. Buddhaghosa: whichever posture is effective for developing concentration is the one to be adopted. Visuddhimagga 128
A. “One dwells observing the body as the body internally, or one dwells observing the body as the body externally, or one dwells observing the body as the body both internally and externally.” Satipaṭṭhānasutta, 5.
1. The Vibhaṅga explains “internally and externally” as entailing an understanding of the contemplated object as such, without considering it as part of one’s own subject experience or that of others.
2. “Again, monks, he reviews this same body, however it is placed, however disposed, as consisting of elements thus: ‘in this body there are the earth element, the water element, the fire
element, and the air element.’”
3. The inclusion of the four elements in this practice suggests that “the body” may include all manifestations of the four elements, internally and externally.
4. This is followed by instructions on the practice of introspection throughout the day, focused especially on one’s body and physical activities.
5. Observe, instead of identifying with, the factors of emergence and dissolution of bodily experiences.
6. Observe the body as the body, the feelings as the feelings, etc., not confusing these phenomena for other things that they are not. Specifically, it is important not to confuse our own individual feelings, mental states, or ideas for intersubjective phenomena with others.
7. Buddha had in mind when he declared, “it is in this fathom-long body with its perceptions and its mind that I describe the world, the origin of the world, the cessation of the world, and the way leading to the cessation of the world.” Saṃyutta Nikāya II 36
B. The meditation
1. Begin with mindfulness of breathing and proceed to inspecting the four elements, tour the five physical sense fields, and inspect the three signs of existence.
2. The reasons for deconstructing the five sense fields: do any of them overlap?
3. Are any of the five types of appearances stable, inherently pleasurable, or inherently “mine” (merely by agreement or by grasping?)
From: The Discourse Summaries of S.N. Goenka
Perhaps a traumatic event, such as the death of someone near or dear, forces one to face the hard fact of impermanence, and one starts to develop wisdom, to see the futility of striving after worldly goods and quarrelling with others. But soon the old habit of egotism reasserts itself, and the wisdom fades, because it was not based on direct, personal experience. One has not experienced the reality of impermanence within oneself.
Everything is ephemeral, arising and passing away every moment‑‑anicca; but the rapidity and continuity of the process create the illusion of permanence. The flame of a candle and the light of an electric lamp are both changing constantly. If by one's senses one can detect the process of change, as is possible in the case of the candle flame, then one can emerge from the illusion. But when, as in the case of the electric light, the change is so rapid and continuous that one's senses cannot detect it, then the illusion is far more difficult to break. One may be able to detect the constant change in a flowing river, but how is one to understand that the man who bathes in that river is also changing every moment?
The only way to break the illusion is to learn to explore within oneself, and to experience the reality of one's own physical and mental structure. This is what Siddhattha Gotama did to become a Buddha. Leaving aside all preconceptions, he examined himself to discover the true nature of the physical and mental structure. Starting from the level of superficial, apparent reality, he penetrated to the subtlest level, and he found that the entire physical structure, the entire material world, is composed of subatomic particles, called in Pali attha kalapa And he discovered that each such particle consists of the four elements‑earth, water, fire, air‑and their subsidiary characteristics. These particles, he found, are the basic building blocks of matter, and they are themselves constantly arising and passing away, with great rapidity‑trillions of times within a second. In reality there is no solidity in the material world; it is nothing but combustion and vibrations. Modern scientists have confirmed the findings of the Buddha, and have proved by experiment that the entire material universe is composed of subatomic particles which rapidly arise and pass away. However, these scientists have not become liberated from all misery, because their wisdom is only intellectual. Unlike the Buddha, they have not experienced truth directly, within themselves. When one experiences personally the reality of one's own impermanence, only then does one start to come out of misery.
As the understanding of anicca develops within oneself, another aspect of wisdom arises: anatta, no 'I,' no ,mine.' Within the physical and mental structure, there is nothing that lasts more than a moment, nothing that one can identify as an unchanging self or soul. If something is indeed 'mine,' then one must be able to possess it) to control it, but in fact one has no mastery even over one's body: it keeps changing, decaying, regardless of one's wishes.
Then the third aspect of wisdom develops: dukkha, suffering. If one tries to possess and hold on to something that is changing beyond one's control, then one is bound to create misery for oneself. Commonly, one identifies suffering with unpleasant sensory experiences, but pleasant ones can equally be causes of misery, if one develops attachment to them, because they are equally impermanent. Attachment to what is ephemeral is certain to result in suffering.
. . .
that particular sense: contact of the eye with a vision, of the ear with a sound, of the nose with an odor, of the tongue with a taste, of the body with something tangible, of the mind with a thought or an imagination. As soon as there is a contact, a sensation is bound to arise, pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral.
And what is the reason for this contact? Obviously, the entire universe is full of sense objects. So long as the six senses—the five physical ones, together with the mind—are functioning, they are bound to encounter their respective objects. And why do these sense organs exist? It is clear that they are inseparable parts of the flow of mind and matter; they arise as soon as life begins. And why does the life flow, the flow of mind and matter, occur? Because of the flow of consciousness, from moment to moment, from one life to the next. And why this flow of consciousness? He found that it arises because of the sankhara the mental reactions. Every reaction gives a push to the flow of consciousness; the flow continues because of the impetus given to it by reactions. And why do reactions occur? He saw that they arise because of ignorance. One does not know what one is doing, does not know how one is reacting, and therefore one keeps generating sankhara. So long as there is ignorance, suffering will remain.
The source of the process of suffering, the deepest cause, is ignorance. From ignorance starts the chain of events by which one generates mountains of misery for oneself. If ignorance can be eradicated, suffering will be eradicated.
How can one accomplish this? How can one break the chain? The flow of life, of mind and matter, has already begun. Committing suicide will not solve the problem; it will only create fresh misery. Nor can one destroy the senses without destroying oneself So long as the senses exist' contact is bound to occur with their respective objects, and whenever there is a contact, a sensation is bound to arise within the body.
Now here, at the link of sensation, one can break the Chain. Previously, every sensation gave rise to a reaction of liking or disliking, w which developed into great craving or aversion, great misery. But now, instead of reacting to sensation, you are learning just to observe equanimously, understanding, "This will also change." In this way sensation gives rise only to wisdom, to the understanding of anicca. One stops the turning of the wheel of suffering and starts rotating it in the direction, towards liberation.
Any moment in which one does not generate a new sankhara one of the old ones will arise on the surface of the mind, and along with it a sensation will start within the body. If one remains equanimous, it passes away and another old reaction arises in Its place. One continues to remain equanimous to physical sensations and the old sankhara continue to arise and pass away, one after another. If out of ignorance one reacts to sensations, then one multiplies the sankhara multiplies one's misery. But if one develops wisdom and does not react to sensations, then one after another the sankhara are eradicated, misery is eradicated.
The entire path is a way to come out of misery. By practicing, you will find that you stop tying new knots, and that the old ones are automatically untied. Gradually you will progress towards a stage in which all sankhara leading to new birth, and therefore to new suffering, have been eradicated: the stage of total liberation, full enlightenment.
To start the work, it is not necessary that one should first believe in past lives and future lives. In practicing Vipassana, the present is most important. Here in the present life, one keeps generating sankhara keeps making oneself miserable. Here and now one must break this habit and start coming out of misery. If you practice, certainly a day will come when you will be able to say that you have eradicated all the old sankhara have stopped generating any new ones, and so have freed yourself from all suffering.
Every mental reaction is a seed which give a fruit, and everything that one experiences in life is a fruit, a result one’s own actions, that is, one’s sankhara, past or present.
One begins by learning to observe without reacting. Examine the pain that you experience objectively, as if it is someone else’s pain. Inspect it like a scientist who observes an experiment in his laboratory. When you fail, try again. Keep trying, and you will find that gradually you are coming out of suffering. . . . .
For meditation, see Alan Wallace’s Body Scan MP3
To see the shamatha diagram of the Nine States of Shamatha please read the pdf. notes.
|Oct 29th Study Group Notes.doc||4.57 MB|