“MEDITAZIONE CAMMINATA”

“MEDITAZIONE CAMMINATA”

PRESENTATION OF THE ITALIAN BOOK ABOUT WALKING MEDITATION AT A FAIR IN BRESCIA / LOMBARDY

A nice afternoon at an extremely interesting fair about mindful living yesterday in Chiari / Brescia – and some walking meditation in brilliant Italian spring sunshine together with a group of interested people. What else can you ask for?

Great fun. Thanks to everyone involved and see you next year!

CONTEMPLATION OF PHENOMENA

CONTEMPLATION OF PHENOMENA

Article by BHIKKHU BODHI on e-buddhism.com

“In the context of the fourth foundation of mindfulness, the multivalent word dhamma (here intended in the plural) has two interconnected meanings, as the account in the sutta shows. One meaning is cetasikas, the mental factors, which are now attended to in their own right apart from their role as colouring the state of mind, as was done in the previous contemplation. The other meaning is the elements of actuality, the ultimate constituents of experience as structured in the Buddha’s teaching.To convey both senses we render dhamma as “phenomena,” for lack of a better alternative. But when we do so this should not be taken to imply the existence of some noumenon or substance behind the phenomena.The point of the Buddha’s teaching of anatta, egolessness, is that the basic constituents of actuality are bare phenomena (suddha-dhamma) occurring without any noumenal support.

The sutta section on the contemplation of phenomena is divided into five sub-sections, each devoted to a different set of phenomena: the five hindrances, the five aggregates, the six inner and outer sense bases, the seven factors of enlightenment, and the Four Noble Truths. Among these, the five hindrances and the seven enlightenment factors are dhamma in the narrower sense of mental factors, the others are dhamma in the broader sense of constituents of actuality. (In the third section, however, on the sense bases, there is a reference to the fetters that arise through the senses; these can also be included among the mental factors.) In the present chapter we shall deal briefly only with the two groups that may be regarded as dhamma in the sense of mental factors. We already touched on both of these in relation to right effort (Chapter V); now we shall consider them in specific connection with the practice of right mindfulness. We shall discuss the other types of dhamma — the five aggregates and the six senses — in the final chapter, in relation to the development of wisdom.

The five hindrances and seven factors of enlightenment require special attention because they are the principal impediments and aids to liberation. The hindrances — sensual desire, ill will, dullness and drowsiness, restlessness and worry, and doubt — generally become manifest in an early stage of practice, soon after the initial expectations and gross disturbances subside and the subtle tendencies find the opportunity to surface. Whenever one of the hindrances crops up, its presence should be noted; then, when it fades away, a note should be made of its disappearance. To ensure that the hindrances are kept under control an element of comprehension is needed: we have to understand how the hindrances arise, how they can be removed, and how they can be prevented from arising in the future.
A similar mode of contemplation is to be applied to the seven factors of enlightenment: mindfulness, investigation, energy, rapture, tranquillity, concentration, and equanimity. When any one of these factors arises, its presence should be noted. Then, after noting its presence, one has to investigate to discover how it arises and how it can be matured. When they first spring up, the enlightenment factors are weak, but with consistent cultivation they accumulate strength. Mindfulness initiates the contemplative process. When it becomes well-established, it arouses investigation, the probing quality of intelligence. Investigation in turn calls forth energy, energy gives rise to rapture, rapture leads to tranquillity, tranquillity to one-pointed concentration, and concentration to equanimity. Thus the whole evolving course of practice leading to enlightenment begins with mindfulness, which remains throughout as the regulating power ensuring that the mind is clear, cognizant, and balanced.”

STEP BY STEP

STEP BY STEP

“If we succeed more and more to transform our daily ways and paths into meditative ways and paths we will see in a completely natural way more and more solutions to get out of a live intangled in so many activities, jobs, hobbies and commitments in order to find our way into a life in which we do effortlessly the things that are good for ourselves and for the people around us.

At that point it’ll be no longer necessary to change and re-organise many aspects of our lives to be able to meditate. At that point meditation can come to us – but before we must stop to look so hard for something outside ourselves which will make us definitely happy when we can eventually find it.

It’s about loosening the grip, it’s about permitting life to simply happen, it’s about becoming part of the big flow without opposing ourselves too often against the stream with a big NO in our heads, a no based on countless thoughts and ideas which only wear us out, make us tired and weak and give us very little – also on a purely materialistic level.”

Translated excerpt from: (c) 2014: “Gehmeditation im Alltag” (Walking Meditation in Everyday Life) by Volker Winkler, published by Windpferd Verlag; translation here: Volker Winkler

www.walkingmeditation.ch

YOUR LIFE IS THE RIGHT PLACE FOR LIBERATION

YOUR LIFE IS THE RIGHT PLACE FOR LIBERATION

It’s completely okay to practice yoga in a nice yoga practice centre. It’s good to do walking meditation in a romantic forest. That’s not a problem. The problem might be on the other side of the same thought. If I am somehow convinced that certain places are particularly suitable for mindfulness and awakening other places probably are absolutely not suitable for that. So the work meeting in my company will probably never be a place for spiritual practice and neither the road in front of my house with the dangerous pedestrian crossing. This means that unpleasant images, sounds, smells, feelings and thoughts are enough to chase away mindfulness and attention which must be placed elsewhere in suitable spaces where I’m not troubled any more by any of those unpleasant impulses in order to finally find the right place for my liberation from all suffering and illusion.

That’s simply not the case. Your daily life is the right place for your liberation from suffering and illusion and nothing else. And your life simply happens in nice, ugly and the neutral places. Mindfulness is the instrument to understand where I am and what my mind is currently doing. Liberation doesn’t take place in a nice meditation centre. And liberation doesn’t take place in ugly places. Liberation starts to develop when I’m not influenced any more by being in a nice or ugly place. Liberation includes the insight that “nice” or “ugly” are changeable ideas in my mind and that the ant at my feet has a completely different opinion of this place. And rightly so.

Start down this path. It is a path of joy

Start down this path. It is a path of joy

Our mind can operate in two ways – with a narrative focus or with an experiencial focus. Our habitual mode of operation is with the narrative focus – meaning that we are constantly telling ourselves stories ABOUT what we are currently experiencing. We are barely aware of what we are actually experiencing in the moment, being instead preoccupied with the story about it. We are not living our life, we are living in a confused story ABOUT our life.

The narrative focus works as an uninterrupted stream of thoughts, which bears almost no relation to concentrated, focused thinking. It consists of endless repetitions, daydreams, indistinct wishes and fears, fragments, half sentences, memories, strange murmurs and other such mental rubbish. This narrative of mental rubbish has far more power over us than we acknowledge – it produces our self image, our “ego”, a thought construction which actually does not correspond to reality.

This “ego” knows exactly that it is an extremely fragile thought construction, liable to break apart at any moment. For this reason it is fearful – fearful of collapse, fearful of being dismantled by reality. That is the reason why we often feel fear, without knowing what we are actually afraid of. The fear is a malaise arising from an insane thought form within us, a malaise that we mistakenly take as being part of ourselves. It is a tragic fallacy, from which many never find their way out of in their lifetimes.

There is one, and exactly one, way out: The experience based focus, which offers a direct access to reality. Mindfulness, and walking in mindfulness as an example, is the key. In this way we recognize the reality behind the thoughts. We recognize the world, and life itself in its beauty and wonderful possibilities. All the latent fear appears all of the sudden as sick and unnecessary. That is the path. That is the path away from the insanity of the ego within us and towards reality, towards being, towards life. At the beginning, this path always requires a bit of effort from us, since the ego (the uncontrolled thoughts within us) does not want to be dismantled and struggles – as always using thoughts – against this way out, against awareness, against reality. Once we start down this path, however, it becomes a true pleasure, a deep joy, an indispensable part of our day, compared with which all other seems grey and helpless.

Hence – start down this path. If you are already on the path, walk down it more often, and with greater determination. It is a path of joy – what can speak against it?