Week 4: Concentration)

THE COLLECTED NATURE OF MIND

To quickly review, last week we took a closer look at Sati (Mindfulness) and its wide variety of qualities and manifestations. Our discussion touched on a few key "pearls of wisdom" and explored the relationship and distinctions between the heart and mind. 

Week 4 continues our deep investigation of the Satipatthana Sutta. We complete the introduction of the four qualities of Sati;  ardency, clear knowing, mindfulness, and freedom from desire and discontent (concentration).   In his talk,  Joseph introduces us to concentration as founded on the continued presence of mindfulness. We are given the image of concentration as a combination of relaxation and precision, a balance of Directed (one pointed) and Undirected awareness.  Joseph encourages us with the statement, "When we're concentrated sense pleasures have very little allure," and touches on the concepts of a joy that arises free of desire.  He also warns us that the lack of respect for concentration is the root of the lack of dharma in the world. Joseph closes the talk by exploring body awareness in great detail, and fruits of the practice.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: 

Have you had a personal experience of concentration/samadhi? Thoughts/Feelings/Qualities?

Tonight we were given quite a few suggested practices for cultivating concentration. Was there a common theme among them? And if so what was it?

In the talk Joseph mentioned that "lack of concentration" was at the root of the lack of Dharma in the world. What do you think he meant by this?

SUGGESTED AT HOME PRACTICES:

1. As you move about, see if you can move from a more superficial awareness (knowledge of movement) to a more intimate awareness of the feeling of moving itself.  Try the 6 part walking (lift, move, swing, lowering, placing, stepping/pressing).

2. Awareness of intention:  See how many intentions you can be aware of in an allotted time span.

3. Vow hour (or 5-15 mins). See what happens when you make the vow to not move.