Week 51 - Right Effort, Mindfulness & Concentration

Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration are considered the concentration part of the Eightfold Path (Chapters 43 and 44).

Right Effort has four essential activities:

1.   To prevent the arising of latent defilements. Joseph emphasizes how important this is, stating, “one of the most radical, far-reaching, and challenging statements of the Buddha is his statement that as long as there is attachment to the pleasant and aversion to the unpleasant, liberation is impossible.”

2.   To abandon unwholesome states which have arisen. Joseph offers five techniques for dispelling distracting and unwholesome mind states.

3.   To arouse wholesome states not yet arisen. These wholesome states are also known as the seven factors of awakening.

4.   To maintain and strengthen wholesome states already arisen. Relying on information from research, Joseph says, “we don’t have to be a spiritual genius; we just have to put in the time.”

Right Mindfulness is the essential key to practice. It is the quality of awareness often described as “bare attention”.

Right Concentration – the characteristic of concentration is undistractedness – “it is this steadfastness of mind that makes it possible for wisdom to arise”.

“Concentration has as its final goal the uprooting of defilements, the coming to the end of suffering.”

QUESTIONS

1.   What actions do you take in your practice in support of preventing the arising of latent defilements?

2.   What actions do you take in your practice to assist in abandoning unwholesome states that have arisen?

3.   What actions do you take in your practice to arouse wholesome states not yet arisen?

4.   What actions do you take in your practice to maintain and strengthen wholesome states already arisen?

5.   Can you name an instance where right mindfulness helped you overcome “black lab consciousness?”

6.   Can you name an instance where right concentration has helped see past your own interpretations toward seeing things as they really are?

PRACTICES

1.   In the week ahead see if you can notice and name each of the following in your life: a choice you may make to prevent cultivation of destructive emotions, a moment where you consciously chose to release unwholesome states, a conscious choice you make to arouse wholesome states, and any actions you make to cultivate wholesome states.  Note and name the feelings that arise at each one of these junctures. 

2.   Over the next week track the number of times you wake up to find yourself caught in mindlessness.  What specific feelings are associated with that exact moment of noticing you were lost in thought?

3.   During the course of the next week try to notice if and how concentration serves your practice.

4.   Bonus Question: Please share any thoughts and feelings you have about this year-long study on the blog below.  Feel free to include any of your thoughts and feelings regarding the realization of Nibbana as well.