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Buddhadharma : Fall 2008
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly fall 2 0 08 56 separation or detachment, but is rather a sense of not being hooked by a desirable object or not pushing away a repugnant object. There in the middle, equidistant from each extreme, one encounters a sense of freedom that allows for greater intimacy with experience. It may seem paradoxical, but this system suggests we can take an attitude toward the objects of experience that is at the same time both equanimous and benevolent. Lovingkindness manifests as a deeply friendly intention toward another’s wellbeing, but it is not rooted in any selfish desire for gratification. Similarly, generosity co arising with equanimity indicates that a deep intention to give something valuable to another can manifest without a desire for reciprocal gain. Also engaged with all these mental factors are the twin “guardians of the world,” selfrespect (hiri, 30) and respect for others (ottappam, 31). I find these translations preferable to the more common “moral shame” and “moral dread,” for obvious reasons—such English words carry with them unfor tunate baggage that has no place in Buddhist psychology. The first of these constitutes an indwelling conscience, by means of which we know for ourselves whether or not an action we are doing or are going to do is appropriate. The second term is more of a social or interpersonal version of conscience. As mammals, I think we have adaptive instincts for empathy toward other members of the group and reflexively understand whether we are thinking, speaking, or acting within or outside the social norm. These two factors, selfrespect and respect for others, are called guardians because they are always operative in all wholesome states, while their opposites, lack of self respect (ahirikam, 15) and lack of respect for others (anottap- pam, 16), are present in every single unwholesome state. Next, we have faith (saddha, 28) always coarising with mindfulness. Every moment of mindfulness is also a moment of confidence or trust; it is not a shaky or tentative state of mind, and is the antithesis of unwholesome doubt (vicikiccha, 27). There remains only to consider a group of six associated factors, each referring to two mental factors (numbers 35–46). These terms can be taken almost as adjectives of mindfulness: tranquility, lightness, malleability, wieldiness, proficiency, and rectitude. Experientially, these qualities can serve as useful indicators to when true mindfulness is manifesting. If you are regarding an object of experience during meditation with any restlessness, for example, or with heaviness, or with rigidity, you can be sure that mindfulness is not present. By the same token, mindfulness is sure to be present when all six of these qualities arise together, each mutually supporting and defin ing one another. It is all at once a peaceful, buoyant, flexible, effective, capable, and upright state of mind. The Cultivation of Mindfulness With all that has been said, it may seem that mindfulness is a rare occurrence, arising only under the most exotic of condi tions. In fact, however, it is something we all experience, often in one context or another. The cultivation of mindfulness as a meditation practice entails coming to know it when we see it and learning how to develop it. The Pali word for devel opment is bhavana, which simply means “causing to be.” The core meditation text Discourse on the Establishment of Mindfulness (Satipatthana Sutta) offers simple instructions on how to do this: As mindfulness is internally present, one is aware: “Mindfulness is internally present in me.” As mindful ness is not internally present, one is aware: “Mindful ness is not internally present in me.” As the arising of unarisen mindfulness occurs, one is aware of that. As the arisen mindfulness is developed and brought to ful fillment, one is aware of that. (Majjhima Nikaya 10:42) In mindfulness meditation, we work to create the condi tions favorable to the arising of mindfulness, relaxing the body and the mind, focusing the attention carefully but gently on a particular aspect of experience, while producing suf ficient energy to remain alert without losing a sense of ease and tranquility. Under such conditions, properly sustained, mindfulness will emerge as if by some grace of the natural AlisonBrAdley Just as you can practice meditation without manifesting mindfulness, so too can you practice mindfulness all you want without cultivating wisdom.