2020-03-31: Sati (2 of 5) Recognition
11:29PM Jun 19, 2020
So this morning, I'll continue with my discussions of the faculty of mindfulness, a third of the five faculties. And, you know, I feel some ways I could probably talk about mindfulness for a very long time. And the same time, I don't quite know what mindfulness is, I've been doing it for 40 years. So I have a sense of the practice of it. But to narrow what mindfulness says down to a particular thing. I haven't really found that particularly useful. But we'll get to kind of as we go through these days, my kind of understanding of what the essence even so either have, or the potential full potential of mindfulness and but
As I said yesterday, I want to make a distinction between the faculty of mindfulness and the practice of mindfulness. And distinction could be, for example, the, the someone could tell you that they run. And that doesn't tell you much. Some human beings kind of run and it's just a capacity to run and they're running. That's nice. But if they tell you that they're training to run, if they're doing a training program for running, then you have idea that that is not just running. And now it comes with strengthening and speed exercises and, you know, running in a particular way, a whole program that's involved with what it means to train. So in the same way, mindfulness training mindfulness practice involves more than just mindfulness but the training of mindfulness The practice of mindfulness, its function is to strengthen mindfulness, to strengthen that capacity, the faculty of mindfulness, so it becomes strongly established. It used to be that the four foundations of mindfulness, were called the four foundations of mindfulness. Now the tendency is to call them, the four establishments of mindfulness, or my preference is to translate it as the four ways of establishing Sati. And so we have this practices that really kind of begin to establish and strengthen our capacity, to be aware to be attentive in a clear way, in the present moment.
And one of the key elements of that helps with this establishment, that is sometimes equated with mindfulness itself is recognition. There's minds capacity to compute Hand what's happening to know what's happening. So if I'm breathing, I can know, I'm breathing. Now I can go through much of the day, and not really pay attention by breath, and I'm breathing, but I don't really clearly know what that is breathing going on.
I could hear a sound and I could just kind of know it in passing and hardly pay any attention to it. Or I could know that's a sound. And I could really know it, there's a sound, I could recognize it, I can clearly comprehend that that's traffic sound or something. And so this ability to clearly recognize what something is.
And then there are two slightly different ways that this is said by the Buddha. One is 'sampajañña,' a Pali word, which usually translated as "clear comprehension." And then there's 'pajānāti,' which is "to know." Those two are kind of the key elements of the practice of mindfulness. And so, one of the as we cultivate this clear recognition of what's here, then our capacity for awareness begins to grow our capacity to stay in the present moment and be aware of what's happening. It's kind of like it creates momentum or grounds us or connects us in a stronger way.
The capacity to understand what's happening is not a complicated analytical thing, like all the causes and conditions are what's going on. But it's really the simple act of recognition. That is recognizing the specific city of what's happening the moment there's a clarity where things begin to stand out clearly, and we make distinctions.
I don't want to make this too analytical, but I will offer an example that if someone says to you, they're having a bad day. That is a very broad judgment of the day. And it kind of such a broad judgment that in a certain way, if that's how they're seeing the day, it's a self fulfilling prophecy. It's bad because that's what they that through their eyes through which they're seeing it. But that's a broad abstract concept. You know, we know what part of the day is bad.
And you know, you're talking with them, you're walking down the street, and it's a sunny day and a blue sky and peaceful setting. And, and you look around say, well, is this the bad part of the day? And they say, No, no, this isn't the bad part of the day. What's the bad part of the day? Oh, the bad part of the day is that I'm having a lot of trouble with my boss at work. Oh, does that boss come with you when you go home in the evening and no, no, but the thoughts of it do And so, by simple questions begin kind of separating out what's actually happening. Until the clearer and clearer we are moment by moment. We see that we don't tend to generalize these big statements like it's a bad day.
And at one point, his practice gets strong. In the moment, the direct experiences would might be, "Here, my mind now is having the thought, "This is a bad day."" And to see clearly recognize, oh, that's a thought, thought bad day. That puts it in a different context. It puts it as one of many different features of the present moment.
There's body sensations. There's what I see physically around me. There's emotions, there's other thoughts that are going on, all kinds of things are going on. And to see each things in this specificity, not the generalization the mind can make begins To certainly make us wiser to see what's going on and, and not to generalize not to have these judgments that get caught up. But also it starts to highlight slowly more and more, the value of staying clearly present, and really seeing the details of the moment as they arise as they appear. And as we do that, awareness, mindfulness gets established, we become clear and clear. And sometimes the, the language the concept of clarity, to see clearly to know clearly, is almost synonymous with the idea of being mindful.
So in the training of mindfulness, one of the things we're doing is training ourselves to begin to recognize the specificities of the moment, not to dig in and dig underneath and do archeological digs. To see what's going on, but just to begin seeing what's happening in the moment, and it could be as simple as looking around where you are in the room or outside, and just identifying individual things. I'm seeing a chair over there, I'm seeing a shelf over there, a door light switch.
And that, even though it's kind of mundane and maybe not, doesn't seem very spiritual, to kind of look around and see identify, for some states of mind, that's phenomenally useful. In fact, some therapists will do that exercise with people who are really caught up in their fear and their anxiety in their ideation, they'll actually ask them to look around just name what they see in the room. And it's going to kind of grounding, it's settling, it begins creating the minds capacity to start being clear on what's going on.
And it might be you know, seeing Silly to do that in a room. But when we close our eyes and meditation, we're doing the same thing. We're not sitting here thinking, you know, I'm having a bad meditation, I'm having a good meditation or whatever we're say, I'm a bad meditator, I'm a good meditator. These generalizations actually keep us removed from a direct experience, and interfere with our ability to establish mindfulness, establish awareness of the present moment.
But if we can start recognizing the little bit that you know the details of the moment in a relaxed, open way and not searching or striving so much, but just noticing the simplicity of the in breath, and the out breath, instead of saying, Oh, I'm having a bad breath, and breathing in a bad way. That's abstract, but "Oh the inhalation is like this. The exhalation is like this. The weight of my bottom against my cushion is like this,. The sound of the traffic is like this."
And so one of the ways this is done that is optional, but there's a long tradition of doing this is using mental notes, little labels, and this is a beautiful art to learn. It takes a while to learn it. It's awkward at first some people protest too too quickly and say it just makes their mind busy. But it's kind of like riding a bicycle that you know, at first it's wobbly and you fall off and it's awkward takes a lot of energy. But once you learn to ride the bike, it goes really smooth and easy. And then you lift your hands off the handlebar and look, look I can draw, I can bike without even holding the handlebar.
So the same thing as we get if we give ourselves time to learn the art of mental noting and know how it works best for us our way because we've tried different ways. Then the very simple thing of just Recognize Oh in breath, out breath, hearing pressure thinking warmth, contentment that these very simple you know, to make them so light, really quiet. One way that I like to, to my mental noting I don't always do it but sometimes I find it phenomenally helpful very useful and I kind of love doing it to make it really a light touch. I will imagine I'm used to doing the mental noting. And, and if I imagine I'm doing it rather than doing it in the minds, you know, the minds whisper in the mind, then it's almost like it's almost no energy involved in using a mental note. It's kind of like little floats through like a you know, like, you know, like imagine like a vision or something and, but it keeps me connected.
So we don't have to To use mental noting, we don't have to do this. But it's a way of kind of getting a hang of the clarity, the specificity to really connect to what's the direct experience, as opposed to the abstract concepts of the experience. And as practice settles down, down, down, we are. It's a natural thing as the mind becomes clearer and clearer to begin seeing more and more details of phenomena.
It's kind of like you know, you've had a really good nap, your wake up in the afternoon, you're very clear. And everything seems kind of clear and precise and pristine, because of the state of the mind. So as we can kind of cultivate this ability to clearly recognize the moment this this this. Then awareness grows, mindfulness grows, the ability to stay clear, moment by moment becomes stronger and stronger. So recognition is a some people see it as Same as mindfulness. on treating it's a little bit different than mindfulness. But it's a partner to mindfulness. It's an integral part of mindfulness training. And, and that's an important part of this whole Faculty of mindfulness that we're growing and developing. So, so that's a second day.
And we have three more days on the faculty of mindfulness. And I'm very much looking forward to the chance of sharing these ideas with you. And so I want to thank you, and and I hope that you're well.
I see someone says transmission was intermittent throughout. I've been told that YouTube and the internet is just packed these days with, you know, everyone at home, doing video in video conferencing watching movies, so the system is quite burdened. And so that's maybe why in your neighborhood that it's, you know, maybe intermittent, I don't know. But what you can try to do is reduce the resolution in which your YouTube videos are coming in. So until tomorrow, thank you all very much.