2022-05-23 The Five Faculties
7:23AM May 24, 2022
Good evening. In what I'd like to talk about his one of the foundational teachings in our have trouble hearing, you will turn it up a little bit louder. So let's see now is that going to be loud enough, we also have here is hearing system devices that might help right now. Okay. So I'd like to talk about one of the foundational you can call it teachings of our insight tradition. But I want to teach about one of the fundamental set of qualities that we activate. When we do mindfulness practice. There are qualities that get activated in anything we do in our lives, that just that just many things get activated. But these are kind of universal in some way. And so they're useful both for our practice that we do meditation or mindfulness in life. And they're also useful for any activity we do, to try to figure out a wiser way or a more satisfying way to do to engage in them. And these are five kinds of inner gets activated, wood comes alive. And they come alive in different proportions, different levels of proportions to each other. And depending on how they come into balance, and what is strong and what is weak, they can affect a how we do things or how we engage in what we do in our life and, and how the meditation unfolds. So these are good five qualities that are quite useful, I think, to memorize for yourself, learn what they are, and then have them as a reference point. So that after what first it might feel like somewhat artificial to memorize this and think about them, but over time, it becomes kind of second nature to do it. It's kind of like riding a bicycle, the first time you ride a bicycle as a, as a kid, perhaps it is awkward. And you know, so many things to take care of, you know, you have to have handlebars in one way and the pedal the same time, keep your balance and, and figure out where the brakes are. And, you know, it's a lot to figure out. But after you do it a few times, at some point, maybe it's really second nature to do it. And all the little things that seem so complicated at first, begin working together in harmony. And at some point, you take your hands off the handlebar and say, hey, look, you know, hands free pedaling, because you have everything lined up just right and the speed and everything. So these five qualities then that we want to learn and then make them second nature is tracking them is the what's called the Five faculties. It's five. And they are faith. And there's other English words to use for that. Engagement, the effort we put into the what we're doing attention or mindfulness itself. Concentration, the real ability to really focus on what we're aware of. And then insight or discernment, the ability to be wise about what we see and what our experiences to be discerning about the experience. So you know, I think that if you ride a bicycle, for example, if you if you know how to ride a bike, and you're going to ride a bicycle from here to Monterey, you would, without even thinking about it, these five faculties would come into play for you. You first you probably wouldn't take that trip that far unless you had some faith that you can do it some confidence you can do it. And that confidence is probably necessary because if you don't have the confidence that doubt doubting of your ability to get down there is probably going to undermine you. Sometimes doubt becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. I can't do it, it's too hard. And the very that very mindset drains us and interferes with us. And it's sometimes becomes true almost because of that mindset.
But there has to be some confidence and maybe the confidence is not very strong at first, but then after you've gone 20 miles or so far say Oh, I can do this. So you make it up over the Santa Cruz Mountains down to their side, then you have a lot of confidence then it's like okay, now I think I can do it. And then it's a whole different feeling to go biking if you're if you're confident and then you have to engage. And you have to figure out how to engage. Depending on the slope and the terrain that you're in, you see the hill coming up in front of you. And you realize, okay, I need to kind of maybe pedal a bit harder now and get some momentum going up the hill. Or I need to slow down because I had to kind of catch my breath to really be ready for going up that hill, and you get to the top of the hill and you Coast out still downhill, then you don't need to apply any effort anymore. And then you'd naturally know Okay, now, all I have to do is use gravity and our coasts down, just make sure I don't go too fast. So you kind of are moderating and monitoring your energy levels as you go. And then you got to be mindful when you're biking like this, there's a lot of traffic and cars and dangers on the road and potholes and dogs come running out and whatever it goes on. And now, you can't really slip up. In fact, some people are probably have a higher level of mindfulness spiking a trip like that, than they do when they meditate. Because the consequences are so serious if you don't pay attention. And the feedback is very quick. And like I did when I was 14, and I was biking along and I was just biking, minding my own business until I ran smack into the back of a parked car. With people inside the car. I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing, he just biking along Look, I don't know where I was looking at it. And so there has to be some mindfulness, some attention. And then sometimes your biking, you need to stay focus, really focus not just mindful, but focus, the mindful sometimes you really need to pay attention carefully to the terrain that potholes and bumps in the rocks. And sometimes you have to stay focused on the traffic and what's going on. And you have to really kind of zero in on what you're doing and how you're doing it in a kind of very kind of sometimes detailed, focused, concentrated way. If there's a lot of traffic that's going on, you have to really navigate it carefully, you're probably not going to think about how you, you know what was that problem I had on my taxes in April, you know, you're probably not going to think about, you know, what am I going to have for dinner today or whatever it is, those things fall away because of the need to stay focused here. And then sometimes you get up in a wide open road where there's no cars, and it's feels very relaxed and, and there, you might let your mind roam a little bit and then you're not so focused. And then you have to have a lot of discernment with your bike ride the bike, you have to kind of know, I'll make all kinds of micro decisions as you go along about exactly where the tires go, and the road and how fast and slow you go and where you fit on the road and when to slow down and when to go speed up. And there's a lot of little decisions made some of them which are about sustaining your effort for the long trip, using an not exhausting yourself to pivot to going, you know, figuring out how to go and as slow and steady space pays. So you get to the to the end and a long trip. So so this is this suggests that this comes into play and something as mundane as riding a bicycle, you can do the exercise at almost anything you do. If you decide to bake bread, or cook something at home, in the kitchen, those five in some degree come into play. They come into play when we meditate.
And so to be able to recognize them, their presence in us when we meditate, allows us to make to be discerning and to adjust and, and, and adjust what's happening to create the conditions that are optimal for us to for the mind to be able to stay present and grounded here and now and not wandering off a lot. So a confidence that needs to be faith in what we're doing. There have confidence in our ability to do it. And that's the the faith that paying attention to the present moment is valuable. It's not automatic, is many people discover when they sit down to meditate when they realize their mind has all kinds of other things in mind to do. And there is a certain compulsion to think or kinds of thoughts, to be preoccupied with all kinds of emotions and feelings. And the pool into that world is so strong, that sometimes people never knew that that was the case when you sweat about their ordinary life. It's only when doing something like meditation we try to try to not be lost in thought and preoccupation. We can realize the strength of it. And I think it's probably fair to say that it represents that something not you consciously but something in your system has a lot of faith. In reviewing the past, in planning the future, faith in the value of going off into fantasies of all kinds of has a lot of faith in churning resentments and bitterness, a lot of faith in kind of churning and staying kind of connected and kind of feeding anxiety. We wouldn't normally think we have faith in those. But if an anthropologist from Mars came in study human beings, and they were able to kind of see what goes on in their minds, they say, wow, these people worship, anxiety, you know, wow. You know, there's, there's no requirement to be anxious all the time. They just like love at the embassy, they just have this wonderful thing about anxiety. And it's amazing, and these are those people who are there. But there's also those people that have a lot of anger, and they must have, like, you know, and they had this altar, you know, they had this monitor, that's like the altar for anchor, they listened to politicians, you know, that they really believe that its value. And what we're doing in Buddhist practice is, as we do it, over time, our value system begins to shift. And our value systems tends to shift to being more ethical, more honest, more kind, and more compassionate. And more, not because we have to, but because we start feeling and recognizing within us that these things are, aren't just feel better, these things feel right, these feel less stressful, they feel more productive of having a good heart. And so it just kind of comes up a natural thing over time, the meditators tend to become more ethical, their values change. But that change of value represents a change of where faith is faith of where a trust or confidence is. At some point, we start getting more and more confident, in the value of being present, being attentive to what's happening in the present moment. It's not obvious to a lot of people. That wasn't to me, when my mother told me repeatedly growing up, Gil, pay attention. And when I became a meditation teacher, because partly was a karma of not listening to my mother. And, you know, I didn't did hardly knew what she was talking about, or was I certainly wasn't interested in her, her instructions to me, as I walked might across the carpet, or something. And so the So to begin, valuing the beauty, the wonder, the richness, of heightened sense of attentiveness to what's happening here, and now, it becomes so marvelous, this confidence in attention, that it becomes more wondrous, more valuable, to feel connected to awareness than it is to anything that awareness knows.
So if I, you know, if I look at the bell, I can get preoccupied with a bell and think about it and all kinds of things. But it's actually quite wonderous that I have the ability to see the bell, to understand this is about to recognize, and the very fact of being conscious is a miracle. It's amazing that we should, you know, end up in a universe where we're the recipients of this very rich capacity for consciousness. And it's a point to have to value staying in this close, connected to present moment consciousness, because of how rich and wonderful and what emerges from that world. So over time, having confidence in the practice, this is valuable to do. So when you sit down to meditate, you're less likely to wander off in thought, you're less likely to doubt yourself, and your abilities and the value of what you're doing. And then meditation does involve engagement, putting an effort of some kind, even if the effort is that dedicated origin to effort to stay relaxed. And I say it that way, because many people soonish to talk about it effort. People kind of feel discouraged or feel upset or feel like oh, no, this meditation is a lot of work. It's a lot of play. It's a lot of it should be delightful. And to learn how to engage with our attention with the present moment, in a way that does not feel like work. That feels enlivening, that feels kind of good like this. Oh, this is this is a good effort to make. I feel clearer in the process. I feel more relaxed in the process. I feel more refreshed from it all. So what kind of effort what kind of engagement allows us to feel that one of the ways is to engage with a certain kind of wholeheartedness in the practice, where there is not no complacency, and no resistance, no kind of no resistance to it. And not that easy to do. But when the mind wants to do so many other things besides being present, and we come back to the present moment, come back to the breath over and over again. There can be discouragement. Wow, this is hard, I can't do it. Not realizing that it's the very effort, the very effort we made to come back and wake up again. And again, that begins lighting a spark inside allow somebody to grow and develop 10,000 times we have to bring our mind back and wake up again. And then slowly, something begins to shift and change. To make an effort, which the effort does not feel stressful, it doesn't feel punitive. Some people when the mind wanders off in thought, pound spec, jerk their mind back. Some people, it's like they're playing Whack a Mole with their mind, you know, to come back. And there's, it's almost really harsh the way people practice. That kind of effort is not helpful. But to make an effort, that is an effort that, like if you're biking all the way to Monterey, you want to take your time and create an egg, by ride the bike in a way that sustains your effort over time. So with meditation, how do you engage, that's not too hard, not too forceful, not too complacent. But something that has the spark of clarity in it. A clarity, which doesn't feel like it's work, but feels like it's almost a natural expression of our capacity to be present. And then mindfulness is the key of this. This has the capacity, not just to be aware and attentive to the present moment, but to have heightened clarity of the present moment. So we can recognize in some kind of detail or some greater clarity, what is actually happening here. Some people meditate doing mindfulness practice, and they're kind of soothing and soothing themselves into kind of a complacent, relaxed, calm, but dull, calm, but cloudy state, and they might be improved.
Might feel good, because it's more relaxed and how they are, we're in a stress life. But in the long term that doesn't really sustain the practice and doesn't lead the kind of through to the greater benefits of this mindfulness practice. We're looking for how to bring some clarity to the present moment. And I love the expression to wake up through what we're waking up to experience to be awake to what is happening. And why one of the reasons I like the word awake, is that awake is kind of like opening the windows of the attention. And then allowing the sights and sounds and smells to come in. Being mindful for some people interpret that's work, we have now stare at things and kind of try to pierce what's going on. To be awake is just to be available with clarity and attention. And so to start cultivating a capacity for attentiveness to the present moment, in a way that feels nourishing feel supportive. Then there's concentration, a unification of the mind, it's kind of means that you're now you're focused on what you're doing in the moment. And so for meditation, maybe start organizing yourself to be really focused on being present for the breath, being present with your whole body. And so to really begin zeroing in kind of focusing, but not like a laser, but rather as someone who's gathering together everything and bringing it all together, all of who you are in. It's more like this too is included as I be with the breath. This to this too is part of it. There's no outside, but everything that is included for the purposes of kind of holding the breathing whatever you're focusing on. So to really stay and then part of concentration is sustaining the attention continuously through time continuity of attention, just stay here, stay here, stay here. All these first four qualities, then support our capacity to be discerning to become wise about what's happening, to recognize that when we're how we're practicing, is creating too much stress, too much strain that doesn't work, to recognize when we're being too complacent and letting our mind drift off into thought too much. And just, you know, you know, just, you know, just comforting ourselves with fantasies about food or something. To be discerning about what we do with our discomforts in the body. Rather than struggling, we may sitting there with spirit not used to sitting in meditation posture, parts of your body might start aching and hurting. And what is it useful to do? People who know how to do it might find it useful to bring their mindfulness to the pain as opposed to ignoring it. Other people might say, given how discomfort I have, I think it's better if I mindfully move and change my posture and not not continue with the pain. Or some people say I move every time I'm uncomfortable. That's what I do my whole life, I think would be wise just to learn what's going on for me when I'm always moving at every discomfort. Let me see if I can develop some patience. Let me try to understand myself better. What's operating when I move and shift every little discomfort I have, might discover you have a lot of aversion or a lot of fear that's operating. And so the discernment part is to understand what's going on to know how to make adjustments in the meditation. So you're more likely to wake be awake, more likely to be present in a useful way. It's looking at the other four qualities and saying, Do I need to call upon my faith in this practice? Do I need to engage a little bit more wholeheartedly here is more attentiveness needed is more focus and continuity of attention to what's needed here. And,
and by asking those questions, you know, and being wise, then with time you become your own teacher. Just like if you buy from hitter Monterey, and you do that regularly, after a while you become your own coach, who's you know what you need to do in order to sustain that journey, a trip. So over time, you begin becoming wiser and wiser about what's needed at any given time you sit down to meditate, every day, you're going to be a little bit different. Every day, your life experiences are going to affect you in different ways. And sometimes you're gonna sit down and be agitated, sometimes you're going to be sit down and be tired, sometimes you're going to be sit down, and be overwhelmed by things, all kinds of things will come along in this human life of ours. And as you start to having a sense of how to check in with yourself around these five qualities, you can kind of begin understanding how to shift and change these qualities and adjust them to match the circumstances you're in. If you are really tired, you might say I need to put more energy in here to second quality. If you feel overwhelmed, maybe that concentration factor is the most helpful thing because it kind of settles things down to just keep your focus on a simple thing like breathing. It's a classic thing to do when people are anxious is to take deep breaths, there's something about the being massaged by the rhythm of breathing in and out, that can be very calming. So maneuver well maybe getting calm is what's needed. If we're really discouraged, maybe try to remind yourself of the fate your fate or think about what's inspiring, that might inspire your meditation practice. So a life of discernment, that we engage in this process ourselves. And then the wonderful result of that is that at some point in meditation, you become your own teacher. And that's kind of the goal, to get to learn how to be so you can, you can use meditation as a as a support for no matter what happens in your life. And if you engage in this process of meditation now, you'll be ready for a time when there's a crisis. To be able to meditation can help you and it's a great challenge. If you wait until the crisis to meditate, you won't get as much benefit. So what I talked about today, these five qualities might seem a lot of work. But if you just practice sincerely, your meditation, I'm guaranteed that over a year or two or something, this will become second nature without knowing what they are. However, knowing what these are, are these five qualities is not meant to make you busy. Now, you know, every time you go, you go the measuring sticks and seeing how what am I doing here, but rather, it's a little reference point that's there in the back of your mind. And so you kind of time to time no more likely to notice how this is working. And, and just kind of let it be a gentle support, periodic support to find your way as you go about meditate meditating in a calm, relaxed way. You can consider, okay, I'm a little bit imbalanced this way and will balance this way. I may make a small adjustment here, more energy here, more calm here, or concentration. Maybe I should be more discerning. Maybe I'm sitting here a little bit too passive. Not really engaged with what's going on. Let me see if I can try to understand it better what I'm feeling and what's needed here in this situation. So five faculties fee, engagement, mindfulness, concentration, or calm and discernment. Sometimes they call the it's called the wisdom. So those are my thoughts this evening. Do you have any, you want to ask any questions or clarifications or about these five.
So I think now I hear it. So I think of myself as a beginning meditator. And I'm happy with that. One of the teachers I listened to describe, I don't know if you'd say consciousness, or whatever's happening when you're meditating. But it's kind of like a puppy. You know, this. And I liked that imagery. So I kind of just watch my puppy, do its thing, and just, you know, come back to the breath and the present moment, but I feel a little I don't know the right words for it. Allegiant, just kind of a a lightness to playfulness to call, they have a plus beating. attitude
towards nice, beautiful. The way I've heard the puppy analogy is, is you're training the puppy, but you're not punitive to the puppy for not listening, you have to be very patient and over and over the repetition. And you do it in a kind way and a maybe playful way. And, and so, you know, just take your be very patient, do it over and over again and, and have a kind of a Yeah,
and I guess I feel like not trying to train my puppy. I'm just watching at this point. Yeah,
that's fine. And then the training part comes when you feel that you spent enough time drifting off and maybe maybe there's a way of having a little bit more ability to stay grounded in the present moment. So at some point, it's not just appreciating the play of the puppy, but it's also trying to help the puppy not always poop in the house.
Like, I like the analogy of seeing your mind as a puppy.
Okay, well, thank you. Then if you have any. You do have questions you don't ask publicly. You're welcome. I'll be here a little bit. And wonderful to be here with you and thank you