2021-09-05 Four Types of Clear Comprehension
6:19PM Sep 5, 2021
So Good day everyone. And I just finished yesterday teaching a week long retreat, on through zoom was online retreat, lovely to teach this with. Lovely to be part of it. And the theme of the retreat was the topic of clear comprehension, or clear recognition. And so I'd like to kind of follow continue with that theme, since it's kind of fresh in my mind in my heart. And it's an integral part of mindfulness practice. In fact, sometimes in the teachings of the Buddha, the word for mindfulness is Sati. And the word for clear comprehension, clear recognition, some ajaan, are treated as a compound Sati, some pajasa. And as you know, they're kind of maybe all part of the same, they're closely and intimately connected to each other, our capacity to be mindful, gives us or awakens or makes room for our capacity, then to know what's happening. And this ability to really know, not in some complicated way, but to really recognize what this is what's happening. This is what is, is a kind of superpower. It's that valuable, if that significant. Once we can stop, and clearly, we have to stop. And once we clearly recognize something that makes room for it to register for all kinds of other understandings to follow. There is less confusion. Sometimes there can be a clear kind of relaxation, Oh, now I understand what's happening. Oh, it's like that. The clear recognition of something that allows for sometimes the next step to occur The next thing to happen. But if we're fuzzy, if we're not really clear what's there, then we can't build on that or can grow from that or can't let it somehow register or be felt or be processed in some deep way. And the clear, we could know what we're feeling what's happening with us, what the impact has been on world events for us. All kinds of ways that they clear, recognized and clear knowing makes room for the heart to move on and open up and process in some way. And it's a great support for mindfulness practice. And, in fact, in the teachings of the Buddha, the primary function of clear recognition is in the teaching in the practice of mindfulness, and to practice clear recognition of, of all aspects of our life as we go through it. So that we stay close to always kind of being cognizant, always being conscious of what we're doing as we doing it. So other than Buddhist teachings, where if you're walking, clearly know that you're walking, if you're standing clearly know you're standing, and sitting down and clearly know you're standing. And it's so simplistic, this little instruction, that it can seem like you know, I'm more sophisticated, that I don't have to kind of slow down for anything just to recognize that I'm standing or sitting. But to remain close enough in with awareness to really track and be conscious of what you're doing, what you're doing as you your body, also what you're doing in your speech, or what you're doing just before you speak before, so you're conscious of what's coming. You start living a mindful life, but you also start living a life where you're more close to the place where you make choice about what to say what to do, and to stay that kind of close in and clearly recognizing the consciously conscious life is clearly important part of Buddhist spirituality. Now as the Buddhist tradition developed over the centuries, there developed an expansion of this idea of some vagina clearly recognized and clearly knowing that's where they listed four different things you can clearly know and and this I think of this as this is now a little bit stepping away from the clearly knowing breathing or clearly knowing standing or walking or clearly knowing how we feeling in them.
moment, it's a, it's a clear knowing of something that's definitely part of human life. But it's a little bit more higher order and a little bit more, a little bit more involved than the simple moment moment experience that sometimes happens in mindfulness meditation. So these four kinds of clear things to clearly know, something we're able to clearly know and, and clearly knowing it, we get so much benefit, and this is where it becomes kind of a superpower. So the first one is, clearly knowing the purpose of what we're doing. Clearly knowing the suitability, what's suitable to fulfill that purpose, clearly knowing how we get nourished from that, that it's called the pasture, the place where they cows go and eat gocara. How to clearly know how we get nourished by engaging in the purpose, what we're doing. And then the fourth one is clear comprehension of non delusion, clear comprehension, how to go forward without the overlay of projections and bias and fantasies and stories that make the whole thing so much more complicated. So too, and in many cities, and these can be understood these four, or they can be practiced as in the form of questions. What's the purpose of what you're doing right now? What's the purpose of why you're going to say what you're going to say? To ask to ask that question repeatedly, is, in all kinds of circumstances, begins bringing clarity to what drives us, what motivates us, also gives us an opportunity to adjust the purpose that we might have, you know, a, a simple answer right away. Sometimes, people who've been practicing some forms of Buddhism, like to, you ask them, what's the purpose, and they don't like to get into a complicated purpose. They just like the old, you know, why are you you know, what purpose? Are you going for a walk? And, you know, like, today, I went for a walk this morning, and someone's gonna stop me say, why are you going for a walk, and I could have could have said, I'm walking just to walk. But that's wasn't actually the case, I had another purpose in mind for the walk, the purpose was to begin thinking about this Dharma talk to give today. And so the purpose was thinking, and then put the talk. And so then what is sukha, it's a suitable wave to walk, if that would what's in mind? Well, I, when I think about my Dharma talk, I tend to walk a bit slower than I would, if I'm not doing something like that. So I knew that I was, you know, a slower pace. And, and it was also not to spend a lot of time looking around. And, and noticing a lot about the different things in my neighborhood, the big kind of walk and be attentive, but allow myself to kind of stay close to the kind of flow of thoughts about different ideas about this case, clear comprehension, and how to do it, no way that is nourishing. And so if I'm worried about the talk, or if I'm so pulled into the world of the thoughts and the ideas, then I'm not nourished by it. But if I take my time, walk slow, I did walk slowly, and stay connected to my body as I walked in by to my kind of inner experience, as I walked in, as I thought about it, then there's a way in which that thinking, kind of was in harmony with something within that it was actually very pleasant and enjoyable to, to do this, and then I wasn't deluded about what I was doing. I was very consciously aware of what I was doing. I had chosen what I was going to do. And I was engaged in that choice. And, and it felt kind of, like it was a clarity and simplicity to what I was doing, that I felt also was kind of nourishing and satisfying. So that's going through so this these four kinds of clear comprehension can be used in all kinds of circumstances in life. And, and sometimes we do something for one purpose. And, and if we reflect what's the purpose of doing it, we realize that actually there's a higher purpose we could do this for if I realize it's time for me to to cook for my family,
So the purpose is to cook for my family. Well, that's nice. But if I reflect and ask myself that question for what purpose Are you cooking, then I can say, Well, I'm cooking for my family. But I'd like to offer offer foods, my family that nourishing for mind and body, I'd like to be able to offer it with love. And then I orient myself to the cooking in a different way than if it just to get the cooking over. So I can go on to other things. So, so and to live a purposeful life is actually one of the orientations for doing Buddhist practice, in Buddhism and for doing Buddhist practice, there's many purposes for why people do it. And but it helps to have a clarity of what that purpose is. If we're vague about doing Buddhist practice, if we're doing because we have a general idea, it's a good idea, we might still do it and might still benefit from it. But there isn't such clarity, about how we engage how to do it in a way that supports the purpose. There isn't a clarity to understanding the purpose, and then prioritizing that with other purposes that we have. There are many good things to do in the world. But it's hard to do all of them, in fact, is spread outside itself, then we don't do anything really well. And so for example, in the case of Buddhist practice, if this is a high enough priority in a person's life, and they know that, then then they can easily hopefully organize their priorities, in terms of what they mostly engage in. Some people don't people Buddhist practice is the Dharma life is the most central thing in their life. And so then, it makes sense, if it's that central, to really give yourself over to it, to give time for it, and not spend a lot of other time doing other things. And so you never get to the practice itself. So this is not a requirement to do this is not like meant to be in an obligation. But to ask ourselves the question, what is the purpose that I want to live my life for? What's the intention? What What was the organizing principle I have? If there's clarity around that, then we can put ourselves behind it. But then how do we put ourselves behind and how do we engage in the purpose we do. And for that, it's good to reflect on to contemplate suitability, to clear comprehension, and what's suitable. So it could be that your dedication is to meditate every morning for an hour. But maybe you have new kids at home. And it simply is not possible to do that. And you keep trying to do it. And it just becomes frustrating and resent resent making to do that. So this idea of, of that the purpose of living a Buddhist life means you have to meditate for an hour every day, when their circumstances allow for it usually means that it's not suitable to do it that way. Maybe what's suitable is to engage in the domestic life of caring for kids, by bringing in mindfulness to that, or bring in generosity, care, compassion to it, to really infuse the activities you have to do with the practice rather than having a practice be something separate. Or it might be that the way to practice what is suitable for this body and bind. Some people some of us have physical conditions, health issues are something that maybe we have to adjust how we practice. Sometimes we have had a difficult life and the difficult emotions that persist from that means that what's suitable to mindfulness is to do it gently, very gently, with maybe a lot of self compassion. Someone else who has a mind that drifts off into fantasy really easily, and spend an ordinate amount of time developing the habit of fantasy. They don't need gentleness maybe and compassion, maybe they need is a certain definitiveness can now I'm going to practice and for them, maybe practicing definitively every hour, you know, for an hour every day, is really what they need in order to really begin breaking the habit of always being in fantasy. So these are simple examples. But the idea that to take stock of our conditions, and to begin appreciating what supports me, what's a helpful way for me
and this way, we become our own teacher. And really, we need to become a On teacher, because that's the direction we're going in this practice. And having a clear sense of purpose is part of this task. And then having this question of what is suitable, and what's suitable, given the conditions around me, if you know again, if a neighbor has need, maybe it's not really suitable to practice freedom and compassion and presence, by sitting in meditation, ignoring the neighbor, it probably might do actually be more undermining a practice to hold something at bay like that, just so I can take care of my own practice. Maybe as a practice is supported more by letting go of my practice, and caring for the neighbor. So what is suitable here? What is the question? And then the next thing is to consider where do I get nourished from this? Where is the pasture to end? And the Buddha was very clear, he always had an answer for this. And this maybe is not a little bit surprised for some of you? The answer is in the four foundations of mindfulness, the answer is found in being mindful of our embodied experience. Being mindful of the feeling tones of feelings of experience, being mindful of, of the mind, states we have the feelings, the attitudes we have, and being mindful of the inner mental process that are operating in our relationship to our experience. And, and what this does, is that it brings our attention close in. This is where the idea of being grounded and rooted here and our direct experience, and realizing here is where we get nourished. Sometimes we want other people to make us happy, other people to provide us with what we need other situations, experiences. And they certainly can be supportive and helpful and wonderful sometimes. But to depend on the external world, to depend on certain kind of stimuli, alcohol, drugs, food, in order to kind of feel spiritually nourished, is kind of a dead end. And the remarkable thing is that the very, it's just a remarkable thing that if we practice mindfulness to stay close into our experience, our mindful experience is generative, of a sense of nourishment, a sense of well being, that's where we find our centeredness or peace or happiness even. And, and so the very system that gets nourished is a system that generates the nourishment. And this is a remarkable kind of, kind of system, where, through mindfulness, this very psychophysical system that we are part of generates the sense of well being that nourishes the system itself. So it's self generating in a certain way, as opposed to, again, needing something outside. So the clear comprehension of the nourishment of the pasture, in the Buddhist teaching, is to stay close to mindfulness, stay grounded here, don't lose yourself, stay conscious of your lived experience, as you go about doing what you're doing. So you can stay. So then you can just one thing you can notice when you get stressed, when you get exhausted when you get tired. And then you don't just push keep pushing yourself that way. But you also, you can recognize that did not only by avoiding stress, but by being relaxed with what you do, there's a deeper inner well being that can come as well. And then the clear recognition of non delusion. Some people think it's a little hard to recognize delusion, non delusion. But when we stay close to the four foundations of mindfulness, where we stay close to our experience in our some degree of calm or settledness, then the mindfulness is strong. We can watch the arising of thoughts, and most illusions, our ideas or thoughts that we that are created by the mind. And if we stay close enough to watch thoughts arise, watch ideas and projections arise. Then we can start seeing Oh, it's not inheriting the situation that I'm, this is how it is. It is just the way I'm seeing it this way. I'm interpreting it.
And sometimes without ability, we can see it clearly. There's a fantasy. Clearly, I'm deluded here. I've had to say MIT as you know, 1000 times, and is never proved to be true. And, and so maybe I should stop thinking thinking it. But to watch thoughts arise, and have the mindfulness to see it. The, it's the watching the mindfulness itself, which is the non delusion. And to begin appreciating that there is a place of clarity of witnessing, that in and of itself sees clearly. And in that clarity, it's not prior to the filters through which we see. And that's where non delusion is. And that's a place that's very close to non clinging, non reactivity. So to, to learn this place of non delusion, and have that support us. And it's very closely related to this idea of that this whole enterprise begins with, of clear recognition, clear, knowing, clear knowing, as a lot to do with clarity, simplicity, not all these layers and veils, of ideas and interpretation, and to learn this idea to relax and soften and quiet. And to see the simplicity of the moment allows us then to have clear comprehension. So some of this clear, comprehension is very simple. These four different categories. And some of it comes from a contemplative life, a life of being reflective and thoughtful, and a Buddhist life. Buddhist spirituality is not just a life, of mindful attention to the moment, what's going on. It's also a life where we tend spend time, quality time thinking about our life reflecting about our life, reflecting about purpose of particular things we do, reflecting on the purpose of our life itself. Why we do you know, what, what do we want to dedicate our life to what's most important for us? Today, this week, this year, this lifetime, to spend time staying close and reflective in a calm, relaxed, contemplative, kind of spirit, kind of spiritual kind of way to reflect about suitability, what's the most useful way to accomplish this purpose? Given the causes and conditions around me, how do I approach this? How do I do this, so I'm nourished by it, when we're nourished by it, then we're able also to support other people better. We actually have more resources within to live for the benefit and welfare of others, if we are nourished. And then to practice non delusion. Where is the delusion? Where's the non delusion? Where are the projections? Where are the agendas? Where are the expectations? What are the associations I have I bring with me from the past that may be cloud The, the water to really kind of look and see and what's happening here. So a contempt a life of contemplative reflection about. And these are four things that are useful to contemplate. And one of the things you could do is he you know, you can journal about it, you can go for walks and think about these things, figure out where you can have quality time. And for some people, this quality reflection can happen in conversation with friends, talking about purpose, exploring it, discussing it. And you know, suitability and all this. And it is a kind of superpower. Because once you're clear about purpose, and you really have you know, this is really what you want to do, then you can organize other things, organize your life yourself, get this is what I'm going to do, I'm going to do it wholeheartedly, even if it's just cooking a meal, if that's the purpose, and your purpose is to do it. And to do it in a suitable supportive way to do it in a way that's nourishing. Maybe you just want to give yourself over to just cooking when you're cooking and for the purpose that you have. Or maybe it's for what's really important for how your life energy what you want to do with your life. To get make it a priority to really know what that is and get behind it is a superpower so much can be done. Behind a clear sense of purpose. So thank you very much and
and may you this next week, reflect Little data on the value of clear comprehension