Buddhism and Meditation

Life With Full Attention – Week 5


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Yesterday the Milton Keynes Triratna Buddhist Group met up and practiced Mindfulness of Breathing meditation. After a tea break we continued with our Life with Full Attention Course. Here are the notes from the meeting:

 

Life with full attention -Week 5 – Bringing the teachings (Dhammas) to mind

 

Virtues and strengths – “We experience a special kind of pleasure when we do something that brings us into contact with our virtues and strengths”.

Compare the vedana we get from drinking a  nice cup of coffee or tea with comforting a friend in a time of need.

Martin Seligman calls this ‘authentic happiness’ as it is qualitatively superior to ordinary pleasure.

 

Dhamma – Meaning ‘teaching’ or ‘truth’

 

Dhammas -’being aware of our experience in the light of what we have already learnt – bringing the teachings to mind’.

 

Mindfulness of dhammas – becoming aware that when we act out of positive states of mind we become happier, more connected, and expansive. Whereas negative states make us feel isolated, constricted, unhappy.

 

Requires us to do 3 things:

- notice the state of mind we are in
- create a gap of honest self reflection
- decide how best to act by bringing to mind the teachings that lead to authentic happiness

 

Buddhist ethics are natural

- Negative states cause pain to us and to others.
- Positive states make us and others happy.

 

Buddhist ethics are volitional

- how mental states motivate our actions not how any culture or society views our actions.

 

Buddhist ethics are about practicing to become a Buddha

- Meaning we are making an effort to release ourselves from conditioned existence – to become free from pain and ultimately happy.
- We are not expected to suddenly become enlightened or be overwhelmed by the task; remember-’a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’. Any positive actions we take are worthwhile and a step in the right direction.
 

Mindfulness and imagination

- Mindfulness is an act of imagination – our capacity to see deeper, further and in new ways
- A mindful person is imaginatively alive and imagines the consequences of their actions
- Unethical actions are failures of imagination - our actions have consequences and affect others

 

The Four forces (or Right Efforts) - a microscopic view; cultivating mindfulness of  dhammas from moment to moment

1/ Eradicating already arisen unskilful mental states. By noticing citta (our states of mind); dropping beneath citta into verdana and not relating to uncomfortable verdana; and bringing mindfulness to the body as an antidote to toxic mind.

 
2/ Preventingthe arising of as yet un-risen unskilful mental states. By enjoying positive states of mind!; watch for early warning signs of bad moods; and taking evasive action before we spiral into negativity.

 
3/ Cultivatingthe arising of as yet un-risen skilful mental states. Practicing life with full attention!- mindfulness of the body and verdana; not taking inner narratives too seriously; and bringing to mind the teachings in the moment we need them.

 
4/ Maintaining already arisen skilful mental states. By dwelling in the positive, creative, energetic, aware states of mind! – without becoming intoxicated by it.

 

Remember, we are all learning a craft and it takes time, application and patience to master it. We need to be kind/ not overly critical with ourselves whilst remembering we need to make an effort to be able to make progress.

 

5th practice week

- Keep up what is working for you from previous weeks – consider the four forces in relation to your practice.
- Make an ‘ethical inventory’ of your life – you might want to consider:  Do I take the not given? Drinking habits (effects on my mind & on others). Relationship to Sex (healthy or neurotic). Can I be kinder?
- Consider a personal precept for the week.
- Remember to contact your mindfulness buddy and to keep up the journal.