Posts Tagged ‘self-knowledge’

What is mindfulness?

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

It strikes me that the spiritual journey is a turning inward of consciousness. This is why so much emphasis is put on knowing oneself because to know who one is requires consciousness to be turned inward. And that’s the same as sitting in silence, i.e. not being distracted by thoughts, feelings or bodily sensations. The advice is the same. Just different ways of describing the same process.

Counting the breath, meditation on an object are all techniques that build up the concentration, but that same concentration can come out of an intense inquiry into the nature of oneself.

And so it seems to me that Soto Zen and Rinzai Zen are essentially the same. Sitting on one’s mat in still awareness is the same as enquiring “Who am I?” I think it’s no co-incidence that Hui Neng, in my opinion the founder of Zen, asked his first student “What was your original nature before you were born?” You have to sit quietly for an answer don’t you.

It’s the same as the Christian injunction to “Be still and know that I am God.” And Dolano’s advice that you must love meditation is basically saying that you must love being still.

Christ pointed to the kingdom of heaven being within. Isn’t that such a major hint. Buddha pointed to the fullness of the seeming void. And more recently Ramana and Krishnamurti both pointed to the inquiry into one’s own nature.

And then to carry this stillness, call it spaciousness if you will beyond meditation and into one’s outer life. It strikes me that’s what mindfulness is.

Some teachers point to the idea that the practise of mindfulness in meditation leads to mindfulness in one’s life. If mindfulness and stillness are the same then we’re saying even in action be still.

And that carries the conversation back to that teaching in the Bhagavad Gita

He who can see inaction in action, and action in inaction is the wisest among men. He is a saint, even though he still acts.

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