Thursday, September 29, 2016
MINDFULNESS IS NOT CONCENTRATION
The great Indian spiritual teacher J. Krishnamurti [pictured right] spoke a lot about mindfulness without hardly ever mentioning the word. Listen to these words from his wonderful book Freedom From the Known:
‘Attention is not the same thing as concentration. Concentration is exclusion; attention, which is total awareness, excludes nothing. It seems to me that most of us are not aware, not only of what we are talking about but of our environment, the colours around us, the people, the shape of the trees, the clouds, the movement of water.’
Concentration is fixed and focused in a particular moment. Mindfulness, on the other hand, is a moment-to-moment activity … from one moment to the next and then the next and then the next and so on.
Of course, we all need to concentrate from time to time on what we are doing. For example, we may be trying to balance a set of accounts or solve a legal or similar problem. We certainly need to concentrate when we’re engaged in any such activity. However, we do not need to concentrate as such each and every second of each and every minute of each and every hour of each and every day. What we need to do is to be attentive and aware of what’s happening in and around us.
A concentrated mind is anything but an attentive and aware mind. The concentrated mind excludes everything other than that the subject of your concentration. Awareness, on the other hand, is never exclusive. It is inclusive, universal and all-encompassing. Mindfulness — that is, bare (that is, diffused and unconcentrated) attention and choiceless (that is, non-judgmental and non-interpretative) awareness — is the direct, immediate and unmediated perception of ‘what is’ … as it actually happens from one moment to the next!
When we concentrate on something, we are totally blind, that is, inattentive, to all other things. Those other things quickly become the past without our ever having experienced them. Don’t let reality — that is, what happens from one moment to the next — die on you. Don’t experience it as a past event. Otherwise, you will instantly lose the immediacy, directness and actuality of the experience.
The Buddha advised us to observe and watch closely ... that is, mindfully ... whatever is occurring in time and space in the here-and-now, in the moment, from one moment to the next. Not only watch, but the Buddha went on to say, ‘and firmly and steadily pierce it.’
So, my friends, pierce the reality of each here-and-now moment-to-moment experience. Be attentive and aware. Only then can you say you are alive and no longer living in the past. Only then can you truly say you are living mindfully.