FIVE STAGES OF MINDFULNESS: Toward and beyond spacious mind

Presented here is Mindfulness that has five stages
1. Mindfulness close up
2. Mindfulness with a little space
3. Mindfulness with bigger space
4. Great Spaciousness
5. Anchor

1. Mindfulness close up is immediate, here and now, non-judgemental awareness. It has three aspects.
1.1. Outer aspect
1.2. Inner aspect
1.3. Locus, orientation & benefit

1.1. Outer aspect means paying deliberate attention to what is around one in the here and now moment. This has two aspects.
1.1.1. Positive aspect: Notice the colour, form, smell, taste and texture of objects. Many exercises are possible: smell the flower, feel the stone in one's hand. Activities with one or more sense restricted so as to enhance the intensity of other senses.
1.1.2. Negative aspect: Inhibit judgement. No matter whether the object is beautiful or ugly, attractive or repulsive.

1.2. Inner aspect of mindfulness close up means paying attention to one's body. There are many possible protocols: - body scan, conscious breathing, tai chi type movement, deep relaxation through progressive muscle groups, etc.

1.3. Locus, orientation and benefit:
1.3.1. Benefit: This will be good, not bad, for physical health.
1.3.2. Orientation: All that exists is the present moment
1.3.3. Locus of practice: At this stage the practice is in one’s senses

2. Mindfulness with a little space means to create a gap between oneself and phenomena by paying attention to impermanence. It has three divisions:
2.1. Outer aspect
2.2. Inner aspect
2.3. Locus, orientation & benefit

2.1. Outer aspect of mindfulness with space means paying intelligent attention and noticing the arising and passing away of things. This has three aspects:
2.1.1. Noticing arising: new growth on plants, changing phases of the moon, freshness, change, novelty.
2.1.2. Noticing passing away: signs of wear and tear, decay, things wearing out, rubbish, holes in the road, even rocks are wearing away.

2.1.3. "Seeing deeply" - when you hold the cup, being aware that there was a man who made the cup and clay from the earth that it was made from and that one day the cup will be broken and return to the earth in pieces.

2.2. Inner aspect
2.2.1 Paying attention to samudaya – what comes up in oneself.
a) Noticing welling up of feelings and impulses, arrival of thoughts and images. Their appearance and disappearance.
b) The observation: this is not me, this is not myself, this is something passing through.

2.2.2 Noticing one's own impermanence, aging, decay.

2.2.3. Awareness of own unstable nature: how one can be full of something one minute and lose it the next. Forgetfulness. Error. Unreliability. Vulnerability. Impulsiveness.

2.3.  Locus, orientation and benefit:
2.3.1. Benefit: This will be good, not bad, for one’s mental health.
2.3.2. Orientation: At this stage all that exists is flow. There is no such thing as an isolated present moment. Everything is on a trajectory.
2.3.3. At this stage the practice starts in one's senses but moves naturally beyond them into the flow of time and space, like water running through your fingers.

3. Creating a bigger space. It has three aspects.
3.1. Outer aspect
3.2. Inner aspect
3.3. Locus, orientation & benefit

3.1. The outer aspect is noticing conditioned nature. This has two approaches:
3.1.1 Seeing the dependency of things: Things are not separate from the conditions that support them, but these conditions are often not immediately accessible to the senses. This is like Indra's Net or a hall of mirrors. Some methods: look at a plant and know that it cannot thrive if you pull it up and wonder at the miracle of germination, growth, flowering and fruiting; look around you in the city and appreciate, broadly, the wealth of history, tradition, myriads of workers, human spirit, complexity of civilisation; go to the ancestor shrine and talk to them.
3.1.2 Paying attention to the space between: Don't just be fixaed on things and their relationships, look also at the gaps, the empty places, empty times.  Practice waiting in expectation with no idea of what it is expectation of. Simple opennness.

3.2. the inner aspect is paying attention to the mysterious source of samudaya whence it comes and whither it goes - noticing the passage of changing feelings. Having a sense of the abyss of unconsciousness from which all creativity stems. and to which things return when we forget. There are two aspects:
3.2.1. Observing specifically: trying to sense the moment of birth – the statu nascendi – of each feeling or thought. tracing it back, sensing its mysterious origin.
3.2.2. Musing broadly in an appreciative manner about the hidden depth of the mind.

3.3. Locus, orientation & benefit
3.3.1. Benefit: This will be good, not bad, for one’s spiritual health.
3.3.2. Orientation: At this stage all that exists is vast space and long duration.
3.3.3. Locus: At this stage the practice is in one's intuitive feeling for the working of the cosmos.

4. Great spaciousness. This is the beginning of a genuinely religious consciousness, going beyond empirical space and time. Allowing a pervasive, semi-conscious sense of awe, and ready acceptance, to pervade one's experience of life. It has two aspects.
4.1. Marvelling.
4.2. Locus, orientation & benefit

4.1. The marvellous aspect of great spaciousness is mystical union: there is now no inner and outer because one has become the dark side of the mirror. There is a sense of sacredness or of the Tao or karma endlessly churning. Sit on a rock on the shore and watch the waves in endless yet never exactly repeating movement, or watch the clouds in the sky in the same way, perhaps lying in a summer meadow looking up into the endless blue. Let the mind be a mirror. Do the clouds reflect my mind or does my mind reflect the clouds? It does not matter. Simply a dance is going on. This requires a sense of sacredness and awe. You can use whatever spiritual language works for you - the Unborn, That-which-is, the Sacred, the breath of God – it is the experience that counts. If you like psychology, you can think of this as archetypal experience and merging with the collective unconscious.

4.2. Locus, orientation & benefit
Benefit: This will simply be good, not bad.
Orientation: All that exists is the vastness of infinite mind.
Locus: At this stage one is in the hands of the gods.

5. Anchor. The final stage is to cement the practice with an anchor. This has two subsections:
5.1. Name as anchor
5.2. Locus, orientation & benefit

5.1. The Name: A name anchors one to the practice. This anchor is a name for the infinite compassion that we call upon. In reality the true name is a fathomless mystery, but we call it Amida, which means measureless. Other traditions have other names – that does not matter – it is just a translation problem. Adopting the use of a name anchors one to the practice. One should say the name as often as possible – Namo Amida Bu. Thus, when something good happens: Namo Amida Bu. Something bad happens: Namo Amida Bu. Nothing happens: Namo Amida Bu. Namo means i call on or I rely upon. Bu is short for Buddha, implying that the Nameless is infinitely wise, kind and gracious. So say the name with a sense of being held, protected, supported, benefitted. This has 3 aspects:
5.1.1. Actually saying the words and making doing so into a habit.
5.1.2. Being aware of oneself as a limited and vulnerable being.
5.1.3. Gratitude & great acceptance.

5.2. Locus, orientation & benefit
5.2.1. Benefit: This is beyond good and bad. Now one can dwell at ease, just as you are, in settled faith.
5.2.2. Orientation: Only the Name is real and true: everything needful is symbolised therein with no need to know anything clever about it.
5.2.3. By this time the practice is in one’s heart.

General Comments
The overall direction of this practice is from sharp controlled consciousness through pervasive, semi-conscious wonderment to, finally, a sense of complete assurance in the marrow of one’s bones that is barely conscious at all. At the final stage, all one has to do is say the name and know that all will be well.

"To study Buddhism is to study the self, to study the self is to forget the self. This forgetting is confirmed by the appearance of manifold Dharma."

If you are interested in personal benefit, then start at stage one and work your way through as far as you want to go. If you are only interested in enlightenment, salvation and liberation, then you can just start at stage five and bring the other bits in later if you feel like it. Your deeper mind already knows what is needed and what it needs is simply to be trusted. Namo Amida Bu.

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Replies to This Discussion

Thank you. this is a lovely clear tool to help me refind focus in difficult times and to offer when working with others. Namo Amida Bu

I usually hate lists but this is beautifully elegantly clear. I can see exactly the point where I trip up: 5.2.2

Any remedy?

Namo Amida Butsu

exceptionally clear and useful. This contribution keeps together many views on such a fundamental topic (see in particular A. Chah's three levels of mindfulness: mechanistic, clear knowing and wisdom) and offers an extraordinary chance for grasping the essence of Amidism.  

Thank you. Namo Amida Bu


Thank you Dharmavidya

Namo Amida Bu



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