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Buddhadharma : Spri 2007
buddhadharma| 47 |spring 2007 desires are unskillful. to note an intention gives us the time to acknowledge it as either wholesome or unwholesome. It gives us the opportunity to let go of those intentions that we discern as leading to dissatisfaction and empower those that will lead to contentment, such as the desire to meditate. our discernment is rooted in the understanding of kamma (karma). the buddha calls kamma the will (cetana). Will is the power to take something out of the realm of the potential and to actualize it. to realize an intention, we have to empower it. If we stand up and note our intention to walk, the foot will move, because will has translated that intention into an action, committing an act of kamma. When repeated, these actions create our habits. What we consider to be our personal- ity is only a collection of habits that are driving us to our destiny. that is why noting intentions is such an essential component of progress toward liberation. the technique of noting, then, is a contrivance we use to begin to train the attention to stay on the presenting object and, more importantly, to trick the intellect into coming to a full stop. all that conceptual thinking is distorting the way the intuitive mind sees. Intellect knows only by way of categories, memory, and concepts. When we halt that process of conceiving and keep perception in its simplest form at the point of contact, this intui- tive intelligence sees everything again as a child but with a meditator’s understanding. because we have primed that intelligence to observe the three characteristics, it can liberate itself from the delusion of mistaken identity and its possession of the psychophysical organism. this body, this heart, this mind, is not me, not mine, and do not in themselves constitute a self. Going Slowly In the Discourse on How to Establish Mindful- ness, the buddha discusses mindfully doing such things as looking, dressing, grooming, eating, and so on. Performing these actions slowly and delib- erately sharpens our attentiveness and makes “the way things are” easier to perceive, much like slow- ing down a film. as we slow down a film, we see things we don’t usually see, like the flick of a frog’s tongue as it catches a fly. In the same way, the more we slow down movement, the more easily we perceive how the body, heart, and mind interact. Progress of Insight the mahasi vipassana technique has the power to guide a meditator through the classic stages of the insight knowledges (vipassana ñana). these are the insights that lead to the first direct experience of nibbana, known as stream-entry (sotapanna). In the theravada system, the whole process is repeated four times to attain the path and fruit of the once-returner (sakadagami), the non-returner (anagami), and the arahat, or enlightened being. mahasi explains this process in clear detail in his book The Progress of Insight. The technique of noting is a contrivance we use to train the attention to stay on the presenting object and trick the intellect into coming to a full stop. Untitled no. 19, 2003 Chlorophyll print and resin CourTeSyofTHearTiSTandHaineSGallery,SanfranCiSCo