Welcome admin !

It is currently Fri Jul 28, 2017 5:57 pm
Pathway:  Board index General Buddhist Discussion Theravadan Buddhism

Being Mindful of Mind-States

Discussion of Theravada Buddhism in the light of Zen.

Being Mindful of Mind-States

Postby christopher::: on Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:22 am

I've recently been working with this dharma talk by a Theravadan teacher, concerning mind-states and mindfulness of how they are created, what they consist of. I shared it the other day in the Genpo roshi Big Mind discussion, but thought it might be interesting to discuss this approach, on its own. The insights seem to relate directly to Zen Practice, imo. It's been very helpful to me recently, in coming to understand some thought and behavior patterns in my own life. I'm sharing this in hope the talk may be of interest to others...

Here's the first part of the talk, which I uploaded to youtube:



I took some notes (below) to try and clarify the points made here, because sometimes Ajahn Sucitto used terms (like feeling) in more then one way. Also, while he talked of "feelings" first he later said they are triggered by perceptions, so here they are again with a bit more detail, and reordered, putting perceptions first.


Mind-States are made up of 3 factors

1) Perception- We take in information from our environment and interprete its meaning, to us- friendly/unfriendly, safe/threatening, important/unimportant, etc...

2) Feelings- Once we have arrived at a perception of meaning feelings are triggered, chemical rush of emotions such as pleasure, displeasure, desire, lust, fear, anger, sadness, joy, etc.

3) Response Patterns - Our feelings and perceptions then activate response patterns, what to do, how to react and respond to the situation. Flight or fight, argue, engage directly, turn away, ignore, go lie down, hug, scream, walk out the door, etc... These are patterns of behavior which first arise in the mind and then activate our actions in the world.


He then goes on in the rest of the talk to speak about how meditating helps us to develop a more detached awareness which can then observe these patterns and learn to *not* react, not act in knee-jerk ways, recognizing also how a sense of an individual isolated self is created by these factors.

I've heard Zen teachers say things like this, also a similar approach is taken now with certain approaches in psychology, such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, which Shonin, PeterB and others have discussed, elsewhere.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_ ... al_therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (or cognitive behavioral therapies or CBT) is a psychotherapeutic approach, a talking therapy, that aims to solve problems concerning dysfunctional emotions, behaviors and cognitions through a goal-oriented, systematic procedure. The title is used in diverse ways to designate behavior therapy, cognitive therapy, and to refer to therapy based upon a combination of basic behavioral and cognitive research.



and, even closer to the dharma...


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindfulnes ... ve_therapy

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is psychological therapy which blends features of cognitive therapy with mindfulness techniques of Buddhism. MBCT involves accepting thoughts and feelings without judgement rather than trying to push them out of consciousness, with a goal of correcting cognitive distortions. MBCT was founded by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams and John Teasdale, who based MBCT on a program developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn called mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), which was adapted for use with major depressive disorder. The aim of MBCT is not directly to relaxation or happiness in themselves, but rather, a "freedom from the tendency to get drawn into automatic reactions to thoughts, feelings, and events". MBCT programs usually consist of eight-weekly two hour classes with weekly assignments to be done outside of session. The aim of the program is to enhance awareness so clients are able to respond to things instead of react to them.



:Namaste:
::::: Buddha Nature: Heart of the Dharma :::: Tao & Zen (Facebook page) ::::
"You are the sky. Everything else, it’s just the weather.” ~Pema Chodron
User avatar
christopher:::
Founding Member
 
Posts: 5208
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 1:25 am
Location: Fukuoka, Japan

Re: Being Mindful of Mind-States

Postby chicka-Dee on Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:38 pm

Personally, I find that working with mind states is very helpful, to a point. Then I need to be wary of going overboard, and using this to detach from my experience to too great a degree. When I'm getting wrapped up and I see this, it's helpful to stand back and take a detached view, try and break down what is happening and examine patterns, but then the opposite can start to happen where I push away and start to lose interest in life in general. I think I've sort of found that doing this for awhile can help when things are really sticky, but I need to be careful not to generalize this too much to everything in my experience. Finding the middle ground is tricky for me sometimes. I suppose once we get familiar with it we can then use it as a tool when it is needed.

I find that taking in teachings like this can make things seem almost clinical -- the detachment, examination and such. But when it comes to actually putting it into practice, there is much more heart involved than these teachings can make it seem, when we get it "in the middle". Of course too much heart can mean sentimentality and not enough equanimity, and too little heart brings a lack of joy. I guess I'm seeing the brahma viharas as important as being active in this process.
User avatar
chicka-Dee
 
Posts: 1496
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2009 3:26 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Being Mindful of Mind-States

Postby christopher::: on Thu Dec 02, 2010 12:43 am

hi Dee,

Absolutely! This approach isn't a "stand alone" and needs to be balanced with compassion, equanimity, metta, humor... With Vipassana this is one of 4 areas for practitioners to be mindful, as taught by the Buddha, leading to insight and liberation. A number of Zen teachers also use this approach, most notably Gil Fronsdal and Thich Nhat Hanh...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satipatthana_Sutta

In this sutta, the Buddha identifies four references for establishing mindfulness (satipatthana): body, sensations (or feelings), mind (or consciousness) and mental contents.


Nice video here on the great Theravadan master Ajahn Chah and the Thai Forest tradition. Ajahn Chah was Ajahn Sucitto's teacher...



:Namaste:
::::: Buddha Nature: Heart of the Dharma :::: Tao & Zen (Facebook page) ::::
"You are the sky. Everything else, it’s just the weather.” ~Pema Chodron
User avatar
christopher:::
Founding Member
 
Posts: 5208
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 1:25 am
Location: Fukuoka, Japan

Re: Being Mindful of Mind-States

Postby chicka-Dee on Fri Dec 03, 2010 3:54 am

christopher::: wrote:Absolutely! This approach isn't a "stand alone" and needs to be balanced with compassion, equanimity, metta, humor...


Yes, humor! :lol2: When I take this all too seriously, I can seriously drive myself crazy. :PP: That's when I need someone to smack me on the head. Instead of a zen teacher, I have two pint size boys to do this for me. And while I don't live in a forest (though I'd love to!), I have a truck and trailler to take me there, often, in the summer. Finding what works for us to keep us in balance is sooo important.

But I also find I need to keep practicing. Meditation, mindfulness, yoga, looking deeper, reflection, solitude, quietness, in-touch-ness with the center of being-ness.

And then I can enter into the world, with it, instead of against it.

Image

But these are just thoughts. Quite different from the non verbal experience of it.

christopher::: wrote:He then goes on in the rest of the talk to speak about how meditating helps us to develop a more detached awareness which can then observe these patterns and learn to *not* react, not act in knee-jerk ways, recognizing also how a sense of an individual isolated self is created by these factors.


When I first would look at mind states, and the idea of being detached and not reacting, I find I tended to do the opposite of being overinvolved, and push experiences away, still holding them separate from myself. But I've found that "detachment" doesn't mean what I though about it. It seems more of an embracing of what is, and not taking it so personal, yet opening to what the experience has to offer. Difficult to talk about! But a sense of ease comes with it.

Some moments are like this. As far as memory goes. :)
User avatar
chicka-Dee
 
Posts: 1496
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2009 3:26 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Being Mindful of Mind-States

Postby christopher::: on Thu Dec 09, 2010 2:02 am

chicka-Dee wrote:
christopher::: wrote:He then goes on in the rest of the talk to speak about how meditating helps us to develop a more detached awareness which can then observe these patterns and learn to *not* react, not act in knee-jerk ways, recognizing also how a sense of an individual isolated self is created by these factors.


When I first would look at mind states, and the idea of being detached and not reacting, I find I tended to do the opposite of being overinvolved, and push experiences away, still holding them separate from myself. But I've found that "detachment" doesn't mean what I though about it. It seems more of an embracing of what is, and not taking it so personal, yet opening to what the experience has to offer. Difficult to talk about! But a sense of ease comes with it.



:Namaste:
::::: Buddha Nature: Heart of the Dharma :::: Tao & Zen (Facebook page) ::::
"You are the sky. Everything else, it’s just the weather.” ~Pema Chodron
User avatar
christopher:::
Founding Member
 
Posts: 5208
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 1:25 am
Location: Fukuoka, Japan

Re: Being Mindful of Mind-States

Postby christopher::: on Thu Jan 06, 2011 1:22 pm



Also worth watching!

:)
::::: Buddha Nature: Heart of the Dharma :::: Tao & Zen (Facebook page) ::::
"You are the sky. Everything else, it’s just the weather.” ~Pema Chodron
User avatar
christopher:::
Founding Member
 
Posts: 5208
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 1:25 am
Location: Fukuoka, Japan

Re: Being Mindful of Mind-States

Postby Anders on Thu Jan 06, 2011 4:38 pm

I think it is a very good method of practise and I've learned a lot from it myself but it also needs to be recognised that this is somewhat different from classic Zen practise. Vipassana is more concerned with examining the particulars of one's experience, whereas Zen practise is more focused at the more non-objectified and non-analytical nature of experience itself.

That said, the thai forest tradition does teach a form of the latter as well and in Chinese Buddhism it is not unusual to start with standard vipashyana as well.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"
--- Gandavyuha Sutra
User avatar
Anders
 
Posts: 1552
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 11:58 pm

Re: Being Mindful of Mind-States

Postby chicka-Dee on Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:20 pm

Thanks for posting this, Chris, I'm watching it right now. :)

The funny thing is, the Ayya (Buddhist nun, of Bhante Gunaratana's tradition) that led the retreats I've attended recommended Ajahn Brahm's teachings to me on the first retreat I ever attended (two years ago) when I had a private consultation with her. The other thing she said to me that stands out is:

Remember, it's not just about sitting on a cushion, it's about your whole life.

:Namaste:
User avatar
chicka-Dee
 
Posts: 1496
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2009 3:26 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Being Mindful of Mind-States

Postby chicka-Dee on Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:58 pm

christopher::: wrote:

Also worth watching!

:)


Yes, I just have to say, well worth watching.

:Namaste:
User avatar
chicka-Dee
 
Posts: 1496
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2009 3:26 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Being Mindful of Mind-States

Postby christopher::: on Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:23 pm

chicka-Dee wrote:
Yes, I just have to say, well worth watching.

:Namaste:


:Namaste:

Anders Honore wrote:I think it is a very good method of practise and I've learned a lot from it myself but it also needs to be recognised that this is somewhat different from classic Zen practise. Vipassana is more concerned with examining the particulars of one's experience, whereas Zen practise is more focused at the more non-objectified and non-analytical nature of experience itself.

That said, the thai forest tradition does teach a form of the latter as well and in Chinese Buddhism it is not unusual to start with standard vipashyana as well.


Hi Anders. Also with Vietnamese Zen, at least as Thich Nhat Hanh teaches it, these two approaches are taught together. I've posted these Theravadan Vipassana teachings in part because they seem to relate to other recent discussions here about anger, sexual misconduct, unethical practices by Zen adepts, etc...

My own view is that if a Zen practitioner is struggling with certain habits of mind or behavior then this approach can be very helpful. Intensive sitting on it's own and experience with non-objectified awareness won't help one untangle these knots if some mindful observation of the mind states themselves isn't also attempted.

That is the method Buddha taught, as well, these two approaches together, no?

:)
::::: Buddha Nature: Heart of the Dharma :::: Tao & Zen (Facebook page) ::::
"You are the sky. Everything else, it’s just the weather.” ~Pema Chodron
User avatar
christopher:::
Founding Member
 
Posts: 5208
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 1:25 am
Location: Fukuoka, Japan

Re: Being Mindful of Mind-States

Postby Anders on Fri Jan 07, 2011 1:57 pm

christopher::: wrote:Hi Anders. Also with Vietnamese Zen, at least as Thich Nhat Hanh teaches it, these two approaches are taught together. I've posted these Theravadan Vipassana teachings in part because they seem to relate to other recent discussions here about anger, sexual misconduct, unethical practices by Zen adepts, etc...

My own view is that if a Zen practitioner is struggling with certain habits of mind or behavior then this approach can be very helpful. Intensive sitting on it's own and experience with non-objectified awareness won't help one untangle these knots if some mindful observation of the mind states themselves isn't also attempted.

That is the method Buddha taught, as well, these two approaches together, no?

:)


I think you may be conflating the non-analytical practise in Zen (which is essentially prajnaparamita) with Shamatha/calming meditation, which are the two approaches the Buddha taught together, like the two wings of a bird in flight. But actually, if we're to look at Buddhist practises in a hierarchical structure (I am not saying this is necessarily the best way to look at them though), Zen practise sits above regular shamatha & vipashyana (or is considered the higher levels of it) because there is no distinction between the two in this practise and it includes both insight and calming.

In the case of struggling with unskilful habits of mind and behaviour, these are all supposed to melt away through the correct application of this practise. If that doesn't happen, I think, in traditional Mahayana, one would look to deficiencies in the other paramitas for the cause, moreso than looking to analytical insight meditation for the answer. That is to say, such a person is most likely lacking in qualities like generosity, goodwill and Dhyana. Here's a bit from Nagarjuna that might also be relevant to said topic:

The Uncultured Rustic Discovers Salt

Nāgārjuna’s Preamble

Furthermore, a person who contemplates true emptiness has first gone through an incalculable amount of giving, upholding of precepts, and dhyāna absorption. His mind is soft and pliant and his fetters are but scant. Afterwards, he gains [the realization of] true emptiness. In the case of [one who clings to] erroneous views, there have been none of these endeavors. He simply wishes to seize upon emptiness by resort to erroneous thoughts associated with speculations and discriminations.

Story: The Uncultured Rustic Discovers Salt
This is comparable to the man of rural origins who had never before seen salt. He happened to observe a man of noble status flavoring various meat and vegetable dishes with salt before eating them. He asked, “Why is it that you do that?”

The other man replied, “It is because this salt is able to make everything taste delectable.”

This man thought, “If salt is able to cause everything to taste delectable, its own flavor must be even more delicious.” He then foolishly scooped up salt, filled his mouth, and swallowed it. The intensity of the saltiness injured his mouth whereupon he said, “Why did you claim that salt is able to make for delectability?”

The man of noble background said, “You fool. With something like this, you must carefully calculate how much to mix in to cause [the food] to be delectable. How could you even contemplate just eating salt by itself?”

Concluding Exegesis Discussion
One deficient in wisdom hears of the emptiness gateway to liberation but fails to also cultivate all manner of meritorious qualities.

He wishes only to realize emptiness. This is tantamount to the cutting off one’s roots of goodness by resorting to erroneous views.

Principles such as these illustrate what is meant by the gateway of emptiness. If one enters into these three gateways [of emptiness, signlessness, and wishlessness], then he will realize that the principles contained in the Dharma of the Buddha are not mutually contradictory. The origin of one’s ability to realize this concept is just the power of prajñāpāramitā. As a result, one has no hang-ups or obstructions with respect to any dharma.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"
--- Gandavyuha Sutra
User avatar
Anders
 
Posts: 1552
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 11:58 pm

Re: Being Mindful of Mind-States

Postby Shonin on Fri Jan 07, 2011 2:06 pm

To observe aversion, judgement, reactions etc as impermanent mental phenomena occurring in the present moment is to engage with reality and see it clearly instead of identifying with such states as ourselves or as reality. A very beneficial practice in my opinion.
The Victorious Ones have announced that emptiness is the relinquishing of all views. Those who are possessed of the view of emptiness are said to be incorrigible.
- Nagarjuna
User avatar
Shonin
 
Posts: 3443
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2009 9:21 pm
Location: UK

Re: Being Mindful of Mind-States

Postby christopher::: on Sat Jan 22, 2011 9:54 am

Anders Honore wrote:
In the case of struggling with unskilful habits of mind and behaviour, these are all supposed to melt away through the correct application of this practise. If that doesn't happen, I think, in traditional Mahayana, one would look to deficiencies in the other paramitas for the cause, moreso than looking to analytical insight meditation for the answer. That is to say, such a person is most likely lacking in qualities like generosity, goodwill and Dhyana.


Well, I think whatever leads to transformation and change- greater compassion and generosity- should be considered optimal- even if its not the usual path.

Shonin wrote:To observe aversion, judgement, reactions etc as impermanent mental phenomena occurring in the present moment is to engage with reality and see it clearly instead of identifying with such states as ourselves or as reality. A very beneficial practice in my opinion.


Yes, I think so too.

BTW, excerpt from another Dharma talk that i found to be very helpful and insightful. This is by the Insight Meditation teacher Joseph Goldstein...



:)
::::: Buddha Nature: Heart of the Dharma :::: Tao & Zen (Facebook page) ::::
"You are the sky. Everything else, it’s just the weather.” ~Pema Chodron
User avatar
christopher:::
Founding Member
 
Posts: 5208
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 1:25 am
Location: Fukuoka, Japan

Re: Being Mindful of Mind-States

Postby chicka-Dee on Wed May 25, 2011 8:01 pm

Shonin wrote:To observe aversion, judgement, reactions etc as impermanent mental phenomena occurring in the present moment is to engage with reality and see it clearly instead of identifying with such states as ourselves or as reality. A very beneficial practice in my opinion.


Very beneficial, and important in order to free ourselves.

Something I wrote recently: When we can really give freedom to what ever is happening, we are free ourselves. We free ourselves by freeing "all else".

Working with not getting caught up in our own reactions to what is happening, and not getting caught up in other's reactions, either. A very challenging, yet infinitely rewarding practice. Letting the moment go -- so simple. Yet so very challenging. As we progress with awareness practices, this starts to become our more natural state.

This is freedom. :)
User avatar
chicka-Dee
 
Posts: 1496
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2009 3:26 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Being Mindful of Mind-States

Postby flaneur on Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:50 pm

thanks for this posting. helpful
"any hussar who is not dead by the age of thirty is a blackguard."
"be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
User avatar
flaneur
 
Posts: 15
Joined: Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:39 pm
Location: bozo on the bus


Return to Theravadan Buddhism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron
 
RocketTheme Joomla Templates

Who is online

In total there is 1 user online :: 0 registered, 0 hidden and 1 guest (based on users active over the past 5 minutes)
Most users ever online was 157 on Mon Sep 19, 2016 8:44 am

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest