Friday, November 8, 2013


In his final admonition to his disciples, the Buddha had this to say:

‘Subject to change are all component things. Strive on with mindfulness.’

As I’ve often said, mindfulness takes meditation---the practice of being knowingly fully present in the now---and applies it to one’s whole day, indeed one’s whole life. Mindfulness is not something one does for a certain specified period of time each day, although there is value in doing that as well. It is not something that relies upon or even presupposes so-called ‘supernatural’ views of reality. It is not something the goal of which is to ascend to some so-called ‘transcendental’ state or level of existence. It is not about concentration or stilling the mind. It is not about believing 'this' or 'that'---as if the holding of certain beliefs would make any difference in your life. Rather, it is about being fully awake, whilst exercising constant vigilance.

The Buddha spoke of ‘right’ mindfulness---‘right’ in the sense of avoiding misdirected attention, ‘right’ in the sense of not allowing oneself to be deflected or moved from one’s post of wakefulness and watchfulness, and ‘right’ in the sense of avoiding the tendency to pause, stop, judge, and analyse the moment-to-moment content of our experience.

In his wonderful book The Spectrum of Buddhism: Writings of Piyadassi, the Venerable Mahathera Piyadassi [pictured left], who was one of Sri Lanka’s greatest monks and Buddhist scholars, writes that ‘this right mindfulness should be applied to each and every act one does.’ He goes on to say:

‘In all his movements the meditator is expected to be mindful. Whether he walks, stands or sits, whether he speaks, keeps silent, eats, drinks or answers the calls of nature---in these and in all other activities he should be mindful and wide awake. “Mindfulness, O monks, I declare, is essential in all things everywhere.”’

Strive on with mindfulness. 

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