In Part 2 we were enlightened in regard to how changing our perspective on attachment can give us insight into how we view ourselves.
In Part 3 we will learn the difference between the observer who practices Samatha meditation and the stable observer who practices Jhana.
By observing how your mind and body function in a natural state is an important component of mindfulness. The beginning of self-awareness is viewing without judgment the difference between a wholesome and unwholesome mind:
Wholesome = giving, moral and meditative. Unwholesome = greedy, angry and deluded.
The observation of viewing shoes and experiencing greed and having an empty thought such as “I need those shoes” is the development of the observing ego. Also, by becoming aware that we are lost in thought and not present in the moment is beneficial in developing mindfulness.
Practicing mindfulness means observing the wholesome states of mind such as not feeling angry or greedy and being present and conscious. This practice can help us to acknowledge our strengths such as staying calm when all others are losing their cool. This includes being less reactive to conflict with your spouse, coworker or boss.
Samatha meditations are highly focused for calmness and are intentional but not focused on seeing reality. This would include focusing on a mantra, a candle or a guided imagery.
Vispapsana mindfulness is automatic and sees the true characteristics of physical and mental phenomena arise. This sounds just awesome to me.
The Stable Observer:
Jhana – When we come out of a deep meditation the stable observer is not lost but can be sustained for up to a week. The body that moves around will appear to the mind as observed and not who we really are. This is in opposition to everything that I have been focused on for years which is the mind and body are one entity. Now we will see the body and mind as two separate parts.
Wisdom in Buddhism is achieved by knowing that in reality all phenomena are temporary, complete and not the self. Through self-awareness we understand that we are not our body. The body is a collection of elements and not who you are. How different is this from what our society is focused on today? This does not mean that we do not work for a healthy body. I could possibly rationalize that my body is not me and reach for the potato chips. Uh Uh.
In Western philosophy wisdom is achieved through experience and education. In Buddhism, the correct concentration allows the truth to be seen and this is considered wisdom. Once achieving wisdom in Buddhism we can observe anger and greed without attachment.
For those who are not skilled in practicing deep meditation the stable observer (separation of mind and body) can still be achieved. However, it will arise for just a moment at a time and that is why this type of correct concentration is called momentary concentration.
Since it would be difficult for most of us to achieve the stable observer we can attain just being the observer for shorter periods of time. An example would be by observing the mind wondering off to think and then coming back to the mantra or object of attention such as a candle. Jack Kornfield likens this to training a puppy. The puppy wonders off and with training comes back again. With practice the mind will develop longer periods of concentration. Although, we may still not be stable observers our practice will be improved.
(From: The Buddhist Way to Peace of Mind by Venerable Pramote Pamojjo)
In Buddhist Mindfulness Part 4 we will observe how not only is the body not our identity but neither is the mind and that includes feelings. Feelings are generated by the Amygdala that is in two parts, one in each hemisphere, located behind the temporal lobe. This is a limbic system structure. Sorry to say those heartfelt feelings really don’t come from the heart.