2020-04-02: Sati (4 of 5) Observing Change
11:28PM Jun 19, 2020
So I'll now continue with the five part series on the faculty, the divine Faculty of mindfulness of Sati. And this is the fourth of the five part series. And the first two days I talked about the kind of initiating mindfulness showing up, waking up to the present. And then that second day I talked about how mindfulness can include recognition, that clear recognition of what's happening in the moment. Both those can be momentary phenomenon. You can return to a moment of mindfulness, and that's valuable and then we get pulled away or involved in something and later, we can come back to a moment of mindfulness And then recognition also can be very powerful. And the more clearly and fully we recognize there's more freedom in the experience, but that also can be momentary or very brief.
The third aspect of mindfulness that comes along more strongly as mindfulness gets stronger, and the pool of thoughts in the world of lesson is mindfulness as observation. We're able to kind of sustain that perception and awareness of what's happening in the moment. And this observation is a phenomena that occurs if we can say it's in the present moment for sure. But it's sustained through time. And so we're beginning to develop a capacity for concentration for steadiness of kind of lingering and staying with the experience, and
it'd be kind of like observing the river going by just or just watching It flew by and we can sustain the attention it can be very relaxing, and even mesmerizing, I guess, absorbing, to just watch the river go by. And, and, and that's a sustained attention. That's, that's relaxing, nourishing settling can be very nice for people. So, as the mindfulness gets stronger, it takes the quality of observation and that's the Buddha's word for observation. To look towards, to watch after: 'anupassati' is the word.
One of the qualities of this observation is that as it gets stronger, it builds equanimity observation is very simple. Bullet just simply observes, observation doesn't interfere with phenomena doesn't need to judge it in and of itself. Just like watching absorbing the river going by loose and watching it go by without judging it or preferring a different river or, or trying to stop the river and flow a different way. It's just kind of allowing it to be. And, of course there are times in life when that kind of awareness is not appropriate. But it's also very powerful as a way of building up equanimity.
And the more we're reactive, more were judgmental, the more we're greedy or hateful or attached to things, the more helpful it is to cultivate greater and greater equanimity. And that's one of the functions of this observation factor of mindfulness. And equanimity is not just for its own sake. But so that we can start seeing the world in a clearer way. And certainly in the world, we're out in the world and people in society, we tend to be wiser if there's kind of tranquility and equanimity, as part of our engagement in our care and concern for the world.
When it comes to meditation practice, we're doing this withdrawal, stepping back and really settling into our experience. As we get more equanimous, we're also be less and less seeing the experience, through the filter of our ideas, our commentary, our judgments in the stories, the observation gets simpler and simpler.
Because the observation is happening through time, and because there's less and less overlay have stories ideas me myself in mind, what it means for me, what's happening, predictions of the future, just a willingness to kind of rest in the moment with the flow of experience, that we start seeing that flow better.
We start seeing things arising and passing, start seeing things coming and going, start seeing the change. And that change is not only the change of external phenomena we sense, but there's this wonderful interplay between the changing nature of what we noticing, and the changing nature of what's happening.
Attention generally doesn't stay fixated on one thing, but it also kind of moves and oscillates. And if you're following the breath, for example, if you're really attuned to the flow, the stream of breathing, there's all these different sensations that come into Play and why the mind settles on one sensation more than other, this inhalation it's aware of more the pushing of the diaphragm, then next exhalation a bit more the pushing of the chest. Lift sometimes it's aware of the more pressure other times it'll tightness.
And the mind itself attention itself kind of gently moves around and is in more or less set settled on the breathing. But it note it picks up different things. And so it kind of moves around. And so there's an inconstancy there's a changing flow of how what we noticed because of the mind gently kind of taking in different things. If you tune into pain, it's very interesting to tune into physical pain, because it's not too strange. It's not too, too difficult. And if you really pay attention to it, you might see this interplay between the sensations of pain being a little pixels of discomfort of tightness pooling and all that happening. And, and also the mind kind of moving around between those all pixelated, little pieces that go with it. When the concentration is really strong. The mindfulness doesn't pick up a solid mass of pain, but there's a dance of sensations going on.
And I hope that if you do that you're not in too much pain because that that doesn't work maybe. But, so, so what are the movements of as his observation factor of mindfulness gets deeper and deeper, is that we switch away the mind switches, from the, from the storyline, the idea line, the concept line, the thinking about things, to observing the changing flow of phenomena. It isn't so much that we're looking for change and looking for how everything's changing and in constant and arising and passing. It's more like we just keep settling and observing and being and allowing the observation allowing the recognition to become stronger and settling in and relaxing into the present moment.
A lot of what mindfulness is, is relaxing and opening and allowing the natural functioning of attention to operate in observe in a simpler and simpler way. And so then to go, go deeper, and and then we start seeing the the impermanent, the changing nature of phenomena.
Some people wonder, "Why do that? Why is that important?"y, It might be that the concerns we have in our life are big and important and need to be addressed. And it could feel almost like a betrayal to what's important in life, to step away from it and do this very simple. rudimentary kind of resting in the changing flow of sensations and perceptions, they rise and pass where, after a while, there's not even any clear sense of body and eat time or you know, things in the world. It's just this flow of sensations. That can't be that can't be any good.
Certainly there are times when the world needs us and it's more important to be taken care of what's going on around us. But as I said, at the end of this meditation, very common
human process that's used in all kinds of areas, very secular, ordinary, daily life areas, in spiritual areas and ritual, that this is an a kind of an integral part of human life. The idea there are times of stepping away Followed by time just stepping in times of withdrawal, and times of return. And in meditation is like that. It's a time of stepping away from everyday life, so that we can return in a different way. And the different way that Buddhism gives most emphasis to, is to return with freedom, or we're not clinging and attached to things, where there's an ease and openness and a happiness settledness, and a greater capacity for hearts qualities, a greater capacity to care for the world and have compassion, have empathy, have kindness, friendliness, have appreciation to have delight for the goodness around us.
To come back to the world that way. It really helps if we can let go of preoccupations, like go over the things that we get caught in that stand between us and this open awareness of The world and presence in the world. And so one of the ways that Buddhism does that is through mindfulness practice and meditation. Each of these steps that I talked about, involve some letting go.
So just the initial initiating mindfulness of the moment, or letting go of something to wake up for that moment, the take the time to clearly recognize what's happening is that's a different activity of the mind than just going along with business as usual in the mind, keep thinking. It is letting go for a moment of what's ordinarily happening, happening, to step back and recognize what's happening. To settle back and observe, we're letting go of what again, pulls us away and it's a deeper letting go that needs to happen to really be able to stay in the flow of observation of the moment.
As we start seeing and being in The river of life, the flow the stream of things appearing and disappearing and coming and going and changing. At this very much deeper primary, fundamental layer of our experiential life. It becomes clear and clear that clinging to that doesn't work, that trying to block it and resist it doesn't work. And that and that it, excuse me.
That clinging to it doesn't work blocking it doesn't work. That that what most works a bit because it doesn't work because it's suffering, to really feel the stress the tension involved in the wanting and the pulling away and the desiring and the conceit and in the planning and all the things that we do is becomes more and more evident as we as with the flow of arising and passing is observed and we're settling back in it and it turns out that it's a very effective way to begin letting go of some of the deepest places of holding that we have.
And, and we let go deeply. So that I would think I hope, so that we can come back to the world with open hands with an open heart and an open mind that, that this process of mindfulness and meditation is one that we're here to benefit the world. And I think that that's a natural process. I think it's a natural to want to benefit the world, if we've done the deep inner work of freeing ourselves.
So then we'll have one more short talk tomorrow, kind of final talk on mindfulness. And I'm enjoying giving these talks. I hope that they're nice for you and supportive for you. I very much appreciate to have the chance to be with you. Thank you.