Week 30: MINDFULNESS The first of 7 Factors of Awakening

This week Joseph’s instruction from the Sutta begins the greater exploration of the 7 Factors of Awakening, mindfulness being the first. He tells us that these factors are unique to the Buddha’s teaching. According to the Buddha, “there is no single thing that when developed…leads to the complete destruction of suffering.”  The 7 Factors of Awakening are described as “antihindrances” because they counteract the forces in the mind that keep us from delusion and keep our minds from getting “frozen”. They incline the mind toward freedom. Of all these, Joseph tells us that mindfulness is the key factor, that it “primes the pump” for the other expressions of mindfulness to arise. Joseph then explains how it is that we can know when mindfulness is present in us by noting its four qualities: the stability of our awareness of  present moment experience; our presence of mind; remembering; and wisdom (seeing things as they are).  In the lecture, Joseph broadens the concept of the quality of remembering, spending a bit of time on the “guardians of the world”, moral fear and moral dread, helping us to understand how to use these to free us from unskillful acts. Joseph completes tonight’s lecture with an explanation of bare attention and clear comprehension as applications of mindfulness associated with wisdom.

QUESTIONS:

1. Calling to mind the 4 expressions of mindfulness, how do you experience the presence or absence of mindfulness?

2.  Recognizing that we may use alternate terminology, how do you respond to the concepts moral fear and moral shame, the 2 “guardians of the world”?

3.  What is your relationship with multi-tasking in light of mindfulness practice?

4.  How do you apply bare attention to the demands of our fast-paced world?

PRACTICES:

1. Bring bare attention to a daily activity, such as showering, driving or drinking your tea: just shower; just drive; just drink your tea. Note your experience. Write a haiku to share next week.

2. If you become unsure of a pending action, apply Joseph’s guidance on clear comprehension, seeing things precisely and accurately from all sides, broadening your focus. 

3.  CONTEMPLATE: “Awareness is not enough. It must be a springboard for investigation.”