FROM MINDFULNESS TO HEARTFULNESS, Part 3 - Wonderful Awe

In Part One we stopped to take a look at mindfulness and in Part Two we found many different ways of understanding what mindfulness is.

We considered different forms of consciousness that can be considered mindful. What, however, of yet other forms of consciousness such as sleep or day dreaming? Are they mindful? What is not mindful? And among the things that are not mindful, are there any that are really never ever useful? We certainly could not do without sleep and eliminating day dreaming completely would not only be extremely difficult but also unwise. It is the root of much creativity.

Much of the modern attachment to the idea of mindfulness seems to flow from an over-valuation of conscious awareness at the expense of unconscious process, yet in the whole economy of the mind, unconscious process is by far the greater and more essential part, conscious awareness being, as it were, only the tip of the iceberg showing above the water line. Trying to expand consciousness in this sense of conscious awareness is attempting the impossible, like trying to get the iceberg to ride higher in the water.

Actually if a new part of the iceberg comes into view some other part disappears beneath the waves. There is a natural limit to what one can hold in awareness and turning attention to one thing throws other things into darkness. Much of the stress relieving effect of simple mindfulness exercises is due to this fact. They distract attention away from worries and anxieties. The worrying realities are still there, but no longer in awareness, at least for the period of the exercise. Such periods of rest from anxiety are certainly valuable, but they do not constitute a deep solution.

Actually the deep mind functions pretty well without our interference. What we have to learn is not so much how to control it as how to trust it and cherish it. It remains dark to our consciousness, and if we want conscious deliberate control, this can seem problematic, but, in fact, the deep mind is already looking after us and doing a good job.

When we considered mindfulness as mind fullness, we were considering the spiritual practice of filling the mind with good things, but we can also consider what the mind is already full of. Spiritual practice can well begin with some kind of stocktake. When we attempt this, however, we realise that our minds seem bottomless, containing many more things than we shall ever be able to access at will, yet which can be triggered by adventitious circumstances or events. We can never know ourselves completely and we are often taken by surprise as memories surface, emotions arise, and ideas come into the mind as we respond to the concatenation of daily life occurrences.

In the same way as we can never completely plumb the depth of our inner space, so we can never know the full extent of outer space either. We live in a universe of wonders that stretches well beyond our horizon Walk out at night and look at the stars. One naturally responds to the vastness and beauty. Somehow it is reflected deeply within ourselves. We feed the deep mind better by opening ourselves to the vast mystery, than by holding the reins too tightly. When we exhaust ourselves, Nature refreshes us,

The over-emphasis upon conscious awareness is a craving for control. Much of life is ayatana – uncontrollable - and that is not bad. Whilest it is true that we have great resources of will and wit, it is also just as true that we are vulnerable and weak, tiny mortal beings facing of a vast and mysterious cosmos, both outer and inner.

We learn some self-control, but of far greater importance is the capacity to wonder and marvel at the immensity of the mystery. This wonderment can fill the mind and spirit and underpins the whole of our spiritual life. When we stop and stare, we do so in awe. When we see deeply, it is to see the wonder of things. When we are in the flow, it is a wonderful thing in itself. When one's mind is full of perennial wisdom, the ground of that wisdom is surely such a capacity for awe. This is the original mind that effaces the artificially constructed self.

So there are many diverse forms of mindfulness, yet permeating them all is the sense of awe that is the root of all religious experience. I will talk further about how one particular way in which this sense of awe has been spelt out in Buddhism teaching in the next section.

To be continued

Views: 94

Replies to This Discussion

Thank you for these reflections Dharmavidya

We are beings to live passionately, with no time to waste...It is true that many of our passions are wayward and blind but , at the same time, we are invited "to trust and cherish" this life as it is.

I am always looking for some sort of control, but much of my existance inhabits the unknown

Thank you Nati - and thank you for your translations.

"De nada" Dharmavidya.

For me,it is an honour to have this opportunity. Really, it is a pleasure because, in fact, what I am receiving in doing these little translations is much more than that I am doing

Namo Amida Bu

RSS

ITZI Conference 2017

Blog Posts

Nembutsu Question

Posted by Dayamay Dunsby on April 20, 2018 at 8:22 1 Comment

I found this in a book that I'm reading. It has challenged my current "understanding" of the Nembutsu. I tend to think of the name itself as salvation and the bridge to the Pure Land...

"...Nembutsu is not a means to gain salvation but a reflection of it. Shinran acknowledges there is nembutsu without true entrusting because he lived in an environment where nembutsu was recited for benefits and merit. By itself it cannot produce true entrusting. Nevertheless, they are inseparable as…

Continue

Shinran and Ippen

Posted by Dayamay Dunsby on April 16, 2018 at 8:00 0 Comments

On Saturday evening our regular study group met on Skype where we looked at and discussed material from "No Abode", a beautiful book about the life of Ippen, ancient Japanese Purland master and "The Essential Shinran" which documents the life of Shinran Shonin, one of Honen's most famous disciples. We had a very stimulating discussion which I enjoyed greatly. We will be meeting again on Saturday 19th May at 9pm British time. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to join us.…

Continue

Buddhism Day

Posted by Andrew Ralph Cheffings on March 28, 2018 at 15:46 1 Comment

I wasn't getting as much done as I intended to or 'needed' to in my previous mode of moving between lots of different activities, so I decided to devote one day a week to a particular activity, and this week I'm doing a Buddhism day. I've finally managed to get started on Vow 22, then I did some online research and catching up with mostly Buddhist emails, then I wrote a dharma talk. I plan to do a service run-through later. It's certainly easier for me to get things done this way. Namo Amida…

Continue

REMEMBERING SAIKO SENSEI

Posted by David Brazier on March 19, 2018 at 21:43 1 Comment

Today is the fourteenth anniversary of the death of Gisho Saiko. Sensei Saiko was the founder of Shinshu Counselling. He wrote a number of books and presented his ideas at international conferences as well as through his university and Buddhist organisations in Japan. He referred to my work in his books and when I visited Japan a few months before his death, he took on to invite me to a number of gatherings and hosted my wife and I in royal fashion. He was enthusiastic that I should play a…

Continue

© 2018   Created by David Brazier.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service