Tag Archives: mental-health

THE FOUNDATIONS OF MINDFULNESS

[Reference: 12 STEPS OF MINDFULNES]

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Buddha says in Satipatthana Sutta: The Foundations of Mindfulness

“This is the only way, monks, for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the destruction of suffering and grief, for reaching the right path, for the attainment of Nibbana, namely, the four foundations of mindfulness. What are the four?
“Herein (in this teaching) a monk lives contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, having overcome, in this world, covetousness and grief; he lives contemplating feelings in feelings, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, having overcome, in this world, covetousness and grief; he lives contemplating consciousness in consciousness, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, having overcome, in this world, covetousness and grief; he lives contemplating mental objects in mental objects, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, having overcome, in this world, covetousness and grief.

Here Buddha outlines the four foundations of mindfulness as follows:

  1. The body in the body
  2. Feelings in feelings
  3. Consciousness in consciousness
  4. Mental objects in mental objects

The prerequisite to mindfulness is the overcoming of covetousness and grief.

Through the above use of language, the Buddha implies the need to be totally immersed in the object one is observing and contemplating upon.

In other words, there should be no resistance to sensations, feelings, consciousness, ideas, thoughts, etc., that flow through the self, as one observes and contemplates.

Also see points 6, 7, and 8 of 12 STEPS OF MINDFULNES.

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INTRODUCTION TO KHTK

October 2, 2013: This essay has been superseded by:

What is KHTK?

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This is a set of essays that have come to be known by the acronym KHTK (from the phrase “Knowing How TKnow”). This is the first of the KHTK essays.

KHTK helps you answer the question, “Who am I?” Nobody can answer this question for you. You have to find this answer yourself.

KHTK is based on a system of looking and not on logic. Logic may help you figure out where to look, but the precise knowledge comes from looking.

KHTK is derived from the principle of Vipassana as rediscovered and described by Buddha. The word passana means to see with open eyes, in the ordinary way; but, the word vipassana means,

“Observe things as they are, not just as they seem to be.”

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Vipassana

Here is an excerpt on Vipassana from the link Vipassana Meditation.

“Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It was rediscovered by Gotama Buddha more than 2500 years ago and was taught by him as a universal remedy for universal ills.

“This non-sectarian technique aims for the total eradication of mental impurities and the resultant highest happiness of full liberation. Healing, not merely the curing of diseases, but the essential healing of human suffering, is its purpose.

“Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind. It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion.

“The scientific laws that operate one’s thoughts, feelings, judgments and sensations become clear. Through direct experience, the nature of how one grows or regresses, how one produces suffering or frees oneself from suffering is understood. Life becomes characterized by increased awareness, non-delusion, self-control and peace.”

Here is a success story from the use of these principles.

Doing Time Doing Vipassana

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KHTK

KHTK techniques may be described as ‘Looking to Know’. Looking is described here as using sense organs (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and the mind) to observe and experience what is there. Please note that mind is considered a sense organ, like the eye or the ear.

The purpose of KHTK is to enable a person to practice by oneself, the principles of Vipassana, which may be summed up as mindfulness – looking, observing, and contemplating on things as they are.

The recommended textbook is: What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula.

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Looking at Hallucinations

Hallucination

Looking is simply noticing what the perceptions provide in terms of sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, thought, feeling, etc. To learn to look is to learn to differentiate one thing from another. Looking is followed by a recognition of what is there.

It seems that the first level of differentiation would be in terms of senses. What is being perceived? Is it a sight, a sound, a smell, a taste, a touch, a thought or a feeling. However, a level before that might be, ‘Is it out there, or is it in the mind?’

Sometimes it is hard to make the differentiation, ‘Is it out there, or is it in the mind?’ This is especially so when nobody is around to confirm or deny it. Doubt may still persist even when somebody is around agreeing or disagreeing. Lately there have been many movies on this subject.

There is hallucination. Dictionary tells us that it is a sensory experience of something that does not exist outside the mind. The root meaning of the word ‘hallucination’ is ‘a wandering of the mind’.

Let me put this question out there,

“When the technique of ‘looking’ is applied to spot inconsistencies what happens to hallucinations?”

Or, maybe someone could provide an alternate question.

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The Second Noble Truth – The Arising of Dukkha

Second

Reference: Chapter 3, The Second Noble Truth: The Arising of Dukkha

At the core of dukkha is the idea of impermanence. It is the attachment to things that are inherently impermanent, which causes all suffering. When we look at things as they really are we come to realize the impermanent nature of things, and the futility of holding on to them. This awareness helps us replace fear and anxiety with peace and contentment.

Underlying dukkha there is a thirst, which is bound with passionate greed; and which finds fresh delight now here and now there in sense-pleasures and in becoming this or that. But there is no first cause of dukkha. Even the thirst depends on sensation, which, in turn, depends on the contact of internal faculties with the external objects, and so on and so forth on the circle which is known as Conditioned Genesis. However, this ‘thirst’ has at its center the false idea of ‘self’ arising out of ignorance.

This ‘thirst’ is not only for sense-pleasures, wealth and power, but also for idea and ideals, views, opinions, theories, conceptions and beliefs. It is this thirst that keeps the existence there. Here we have the will to live, to re-exist, to continue, to become more and more. Here we have ‘mental volition’ or karma.

It is this striving forward by the way of good and bad actions that creates the root of existence and continuity. This is called karma (volitional action) that hankers after, and brings about that, which tends to be impermanent. Karma is part of the aggregate of mental formations (see THE STRUCTURE OF “I”). Thus, the cause, the germ, of the arising of dukkha (the five aggregates) is within dukkha itself, and not outside; and we must equally well remember that the cause, the germ, of the cessation of dukkha, of the destruction of dukkha, is also within dukkha itself, and not outside. It is karma, no matter how good or bad it is, that produces continuity. None of what continues is permanent.

‘Self’ that continues is also not permanent. It is the false idea that self is permanent, which contributes heavily to karma.

The theory of karma is the theory of cause and effect, of action and reaction; it is a natural law, which has nothing to do with the idea of justice or reward and punishment. Every volitional action produces its effects or results. If a good action produces good effects and a bad action produces bad effects, it is not justice, or reward, or punishment meted out by anybody or any power sitting in judgment on your action, but this is in virtue of its own nature, its own law.

It is important to understand that the effect of a volitional action may continue to manifest itself even in a life after death.  As explained in THE STRUCTURE OF “I”, it is a combination of physical and mental forces, or energies, that expresses itself as a being. The being manifests itself through a physical body. What we call death is the total non-functioning of the physical body. The physical and mental forces are still there even after body’s death; they are simply not being manifested. Underlying these forces and energies is this tremendous thirst that wants to continue. This thirst may then manifest itself through another body that is born.

Life is a combination of physical and mental energies, which is constantly changing. This combination does not remain the same for two consecutive moments. Every moment a combination is born, it decays and dies. It continues even after the body is no longer alive. The idea of a permanent, unchanging substance like Self or Soul is not required.

From “What Buddha taught”:

“When this physical body is no more capable of functioning, energies do not die with it, but continue to take some other shape or form, which we call another life. In a child all the physical, mental and intellectual faculties are tender and weak, but they have within them the potentiality of producing a full grown man.  Physical and mental energies which constitute the so-called being have within themselves the power to take a new form, and grow gradually and gather force to the full.

“As there is no permanent, unchanging substance, nothing passes from one moment to the next. So quite obviously, nothing permanent or unchanging can pass or transmigrate from one life to the next. It is a series that continues unbroken, but changes every moment. The series is, really speaking, nothing but movement. It is like a flame that burns through the night: it is not the same flame nor it is another. A child grows up to be a man of sixty. Certainly the man of sixty is not the same as the child of sixty years ago, nor is he another person. Similarly, a person who dies here and is reborn elsewhere is neither the same person, nor another (na ca so na ca aňňo). It is the continuity of the same series. The difference between death and birth is only a thought-moment: the last thought-moment in this life conditions the first thought-moment in the so-called next life, which, in fact, is the continuity of the same series. During this life itself, too, one thought-moment conditions the next thought-moment. So from the Buddhist point of view, the question of life after death is not a great mystery, and a Buddhist is never worried about this problem.

“As long as there is this ‘thirst’ to be and to become, the cycle of continuity (samsāra) goes on. It can stop only when its driving force, this ‘thirst’, is cut off through wisdom which sees Reality, Truth, Nirvāna.”

Thus, a fundamental inconsistency occurs when one considers oneself to be, ultimately, permanent and unchanging. It takes some understanding before one can come to terms with this inconsistency.

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INTRODUCTION TO KHTK (old)

October 2, 2013: This essay has been superseded by:

What is KHTK?

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This is a set of essays that have come to be known by the acronym KHTK (from the phrase “Knowing How To Know”). This is the first of the KHTK essays.

KHTK operates on the same principles as those of Vipassana meditation. The principles of Vipassana meditation were first introduced in the discourses of Buddha 2600 years ago. The entire focus of Vipassana is on Looking. Looking is the use of sense organs (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind) to observe and experience what is there.

Vipassana helps people to take control of their lives and channel them towards their own good and the good of others. KHTK re-introduces these principles of Looking in a form that is more suitable for modern audience.

Here is a success story from the use of these principles.

Doing Time Doing Vipassana

This knowledge is free. It is for the use of all.

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KHTK principles

One wants answers to alleviate one’s suffering. There is simply too much going on. One is confused about day to day situations. Anxiety and fear set in. One is constantly searching one’s mind for answers without much success. This is the very condition that Buddha addressed 2600 years ago.

When there is an immediate response in the mind to looking, there is satisfaction and one moves on. But, when there is no response, anxiety may take over, and one may find it difficult to move on. The immediate reaction is to start searching the mind for an explanation. This degenerates into a never-ending “figure-figure.”

A better thing to do is to stop this “figure-figure,” and just keep some attention in the area of interest while going about one’s daily routine. As one waits patiently without searching, digging, expecting, figuring, etc., the mental fog, ultimately lifts and brings to view long suppressed material followed by realizations. Sometimes things may take days to sort themselves out before the realization appears.

The relief comes from looking patiently and not from searching the mind anxiously and trying to be in control. Actually, hectic digging into the mind for explanations has occasionally driven people toward madness.

It is looking, and not “figure-figure,” that leads one to answers.

It is completely safe to look at any area of the mind for as long as necessary, provided one does not start digging into the mind for explanations.

Here are some observations about the process of looking at mind naturally without trying to control it.

(1) When a person looks at an area of the mind, the mind starts to un-stack, or unwind, itself. As the top layer comes fully into awareness it dissolves, giving way to the next layer. And so it continues.

(2) These layers are connected by significance in a certain order. A person is much less likely to be overwhelmed if these layers are brought into awareness and dissolved in the order they are presented by the mind.

(3) This natural process of un-stacking, or unwinding, is interrupted when one anxiously starts to ask questions and search for explanations.

(4) One exposes oneself to overwhelm only when one interferes with the natural order in which the mind wants to un-stack, or unwind, itself.

A person who is routinely digging into his mind searching for explanations is definitely exposing himself, or herself,  to harm. One will do oneself a big favor by learning to look and letting the mind unwind itself.

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Some definitions

Looking is the use of sense organs (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind) to observe and experience what is there.

Observation is the activity of receiving knowledge of the outside world through the senses.

Experience is observation of some thing or some event gained through close involvement in, or personal exposure to, that thing or event.

Please note that the mind is defined here as a sense organ and not as a computing machine.

When one focuses on looking and lets the data come in, the realizations are instantaneous.

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From What Buddha Taught:

“A word about what is meant by the term ‘Mind’ (manas) in Buddhist philosophy may be useful here. It should clearly be understood that mind is not spirit as opposed to matter. It should always be remembered that Buddhism does not recognize a spirit opposed to matter, as is accepted by most other systems of philosophies and religions. Mind is only a faculty or organ (indriya) like the eye or the ear. It can be controlled and developed like any other faculty, and the Buddha speaks quite often of the value of controlling and disciplining these six faculties. The difference between the eye and the mind as faculties is that the former senses the world of colours and visible forms, while the latter senses the world of ideas and thoughts and mental objects. We experience different fields of the world with different senses. We cannot hear colours, but we can see them. Nor can we see sounds, but we can hear them. Thus with our five physical sense-organs – eye, ear, nose, tongue, body-we experience only the world of visible forms, sound, odours, tastes and tangible objects. But these represent only a part of the world, not the whole. What of ideas and thoughts? They are also a part of the world. But they cannot be sensed, they cannot be conceived by the faculty of the eye, ear, nose, tongue or body. Yet they can be conceived by another faculty, which is mind. Now ideas and thoughts are not independent of the world experienced by these five physical sense faculties. In fact they depend on, and are conditioned by, physical experiences. Hence a person born blind cannot have ideas of colour, except through the analogy of sounds or some other things experienced through his other faculties. Ideas and thoughts which form a part of the world are thus produced and conditioned by physical experiences and are conceived by the mind. Hence mind (manas) is considered a sense faculty or organ (indriya), like the eye or the ear.”

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