2-7- Four Foundations of Mindfulness

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22] “Monks, that is how mindfulness of breathing is developed and cultivated so that it is of great fruit and great benefit.

Fulfillment of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness

Observation of Body (Kāyanupassana)

23] “And how, Monks, does mindfulness of breathing, developed and cultivated, fulfill the Four Foundations of Mindfulness?

24] “Monks, on whatever occasion a monk, breathing in long, understands: ‘I breathe in long’, or breathing out long, understands: ‘I breathe out long’; breathing in short, understands: ‘I breathe in short’; or breathing out short, understands: ‘I breathe out short’.

The phrase “on whatever occasion” is very interesting and has far reaching implications. “On whatever occasion” does not mean only while sitting in meditation, but all of the time.

During your daily activities, when mind becomes heavy and full of thoughts, as you notice it, simply let go of the thoughts, calm and relax the tightness in your head, feel mind expand and become tranquil, and then smile and go back to the breath, relax, and smile for one or two breaths. This will help you greatly in calming mind and it will improve your mindfulness during your daily activities.

The more you smile during your daily activities, the better your mindfulness becomes. This is definitely a practical way to practice your daily activities and improve your awareness of states of consciousness. Every time you do this during your daily activities, it brings a kind of awareness and perspective into your life. It becomes easier to see the three characteristics of existence of impermanence, suffering, and the impersonal nature of everything, even while you are working or playing.

The statement “on whatever occasion” extends into your Walking Meditation as well. Instead of putting mind’s attention onto your feet (as some meditation teachers recommend), you can still keep your attention on observing mind, and relaxing on the in-breath and the out-breath, while walking. This is mindfulness of body and can even extend into other activities.

Mindfulness of mind objects is a very important aspect to be aware of and is much easier to watch than the physical body. It is easy to tell when mind is tight and tense. If you only have a little time, you can release the mental hold of whatever you are thinking about, relax the tightness in the head, then smile, and come back to the breath and relaxing for one or two breaths.

Remember the first and second verses in the Dhammapada: “Mind is the forerunner of all (wholesome and unwholesome) states; mind is chief; mind made are they.”

Everything follows mind, be it happiness or suffering. By trying to follow all the movements of the body, you cannot see mind clearly enough to realize the tightness caused by that movement.

Becoming aware of mind and all of its movements and tendencies to tighten was what the Buddha intended, when he said “On any occasion”.

“He trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in experiencing the whole body’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out experiencing the whole body’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in tranquilizing the bodily formation’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out tranquilizing the bodily formation’.

“On that occasion a monk abides observing the body as a body, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. I say that this is a certain body among the bodies, namely, in-breathing and out-breathing. That is why on that occasion a monk abides observing the body as a body, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world.

The statements about experiencing the whole body and the tranquilizing of the bodily formation has already been discussed. Thus, we won’t repeat that section here.

“Observing the body as a body” is self-explanatory about the breath. Being “ardent” means “working hard”, or “being ever alert”. “Fully aware, and mindful”, this pertains to the alertness of mind when it is in the jhānas (meditation stages of understanding) as well as during daily activities.

When you are in the “Tranquil Wisdom Insight Jhānas”, you are definitely very aware of what is happening around you and your mindfulness is sharp and clear. You are able to observe all mind states, feelings, sensations, or distractions as well as the jhānafactors when they arise in mind, i.e. joy, happiness, equanimity, stillness of mind, calm composure of mind etc.

“Having put away covetousness and grief for the world” means mind has gone beyond the simple liking and disliking of distractions, emotions, painful feeling, pleasant feeling, happy feeling, and the thinking about them. It means to let go of attachment to things (craving and clinging) which cause suffering to arise.

The rest of the paragraph is just repeating that the breath meditation is part of mindfulness of breathing, and that it conforms with the First Foundation of Mindfulness of the Body.

25] “Monks, on whatever occasion a monk trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in experiencing joy’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out experiencing joy; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in experiencing happiness’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out experiencing happiness’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in experiencing the mental formation’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out experiencing the mental formation’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in tranquilizing the mental formation’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out tranquilizing the mental formation’.

This is again a repetition of the previous section, and thus we shall continue without further delay.

Observation of Feeling (Vedanānupassana)

“On that occasion a monk abides observing feeling as feeling, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. I say that this is a certain feeling among feelings, namely, giving close attention to the in-breathing and out-breathing. That is why on that occasion a monk abides observing feeling as feeling, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world.

This is from the Satipaṭṭhana Sutta and further explains about how the meditator becomes more alert through mindfulness of feeling:

32] “And how, Monks, does a monk abide observing feeling as feeling? Here, when feeling a pleasant feeling, he understands: ‘I feel a pleasant feeling’; when feeling a painful feeling, he understands: ‘I feel a painful feeling’; when feeling a neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling, he understands: ‘I feel a neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling.’ When feeling a worldly pleasant feeling, he understands: ‘I feel a worldly pleasant feeling’; when feeling an unworldly pleasant feeling, he understands: ‘I feel an unworldly pleasant feeling’; when feeling a worldly painful feeling, he understands: ‘I feel a worldly painful feeling’; when feeling an unworldly painful feeling, he understands: ‘I feel an unworldly painful feeling’; when feeling a worldly neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling, he understands: ‘I feel a worldly neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling’; when feeling an unworldly neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling, he understands: ‘I feel an unworldly neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling’.

A “worldly feeling” describes whatever feeling that arises at any of the sense doors (that is the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, or mind). An “unworldly pleasant feeling” is when a meditator is in any one of the jhānas (which includes all of the rūpa, or material, and arūpa, or immaterial, jhānas). When you are experiencing a worldly painful feeling this means that you are experiencing a painful feeling at one of the sense doors. For example when you stub your toe a worldly painful feeling arises.

An “unworldly painful feeling” is a meditation pain. You can identify a meditation pain because when you get up and walk, the pain goes away. However, a real physical pain does not go away when you get up to walk. It is important to change your position for sitting if physical pains arise so that you do not hurt your body.

When you feel a “worldly neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling”, this is a neutral feeling that you have indifference to and the tendency to ignore, and this leads you to not being mindful at that time.

An “unworldly neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling” is when you are in any of the jhānas and experience equanimity.

This describes all kinds of feeling (i.e. pleasant, painful, or neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling). This is how you get to experience the different stages of meditation. If you stop being attentive to the breath and relaxing, your meditation progress stops as well. The importance of staying with the breath and relaxing cannot be understated. This is how the “Second Foundation of Mindfulness of the Feeling” is fulfilled.

26] “Monks, on whatever occasion a monk trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in experiencing mind’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out experiencing mind’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in gladdening mind’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out gladdening mind’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in stilling mind’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out stilling mind’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in liberating mind’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out liberating mind’.

Again this next part is from the Satipaṭṭhana Sutta and discusses many aspects of the jhānas.

Observation of Mind (Cittānupassana)

34] “And how, Monks, does a monk abide observing mind as mind? Here a monk understands mind affected by lust as mind affected by lust, and mind unaffected by lust as mind unaffected by lust. He understands mind affected by hate as mind affected by hate, and mind unaffected by hate as mind unaffected by hate. He understands mind affected by delusion as mind affected by delusion, and mind unaffected by delusion as mind unaffected by delusion.

A “mind affected by lust, hate, and delusion” actually means a mind affected by craving. Craving is the “I like it” (lust mind) or the “I don’t like it” (hatred mind), and delusion is taking whatever arises as being ours personally (this is “me”). So, lust, hatred, and delusion are always referring to the craving mind.

He understands contracted mind as contracted mind,

A contracted mind is a mind that has sloth and torpor in it,

and distracted mind as distracted mind.

A distracted mind is a mind that has restlessness or anxiety in it.

He understands exalted mind as exalted mind, and unexalted mind as unexalted mind.

An exalted mind is a mind that experiences one of the rūpa or material jhānas.

He understands surpassed mind as surpassed mind, and unsurpassed mind as unsurpassed mind.

A surpassed mind is a mind that can get into any of the arūpa or immaterial realms—that is the Realm of Infinite Space, the Realm of Infinite Consciousness, the Realm of Nothingness, and the Realm of Neither Perception nor Non-Perception.

He understands collected mind as collected mind, and uncollected mind as uncollected mind. He understands liberated mind as liberated mind, and unliberated mind as unliberated mind.

These last two sentences are pretty much self explanatory.

“On that occasion a monk abides observing mind as mind, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. I do not say that there is development of mindfulness of breathing and relaxing for one who is forgetful, who is not fully aware. That is why on that occasion a monk abides observing mind as mind, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world.

The statement, “I do not say there is development of mindfulness of breathing and relaxing for one who is forgetful, who is not fully aware” is one of the strongest statements made in the Ānāpānasati Sutta. The function of mindfulness is to remember.

To remember what? To remember to observe how mind’s attention moves from one thing to another, then relax the tightness caused by that movement, and to always come back to the meditation object with joyful interest and clear comprehension.

When you are in the “Tranquil Wisdom Insight Jhānas” (meditation stages of understanding) your mind becomes extraordinarily clear, bright, and alert. As you go deeper and deeper along the path, more profound states of mind present themselves. Mindfulness and full awareness becomes so refined that even the slightest movement of mind’s attention can be observed and 6R’ed, let go of, and relaxed into. Mind becomes clear, more expanded, and spacious, free from tension, and the breath and relaxing becomes clearer and easier to watch.

Your mind’s attention begins to be unwavering, and mind develops more composure than ever before. This particular part of the foundations of mindfulness describes how to notice when mind is experiencing each of the stages of jhāna from the materialjhānas (rūpa jhānas) all the way up and through the immaterial jhānas (arūpa jhānas). This is how the “Third Foundation of Mindfulness of Mind” is fulfilled.

27] “Monks, on whatever occasion a monk trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in observing impermanence and relaxing’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out observing impermanence and relaxing’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in observing fading away and relaxing’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out observing fading away and relaxing’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in observing cessation’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out observing cessation’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in observing relinquishment’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out observing relinquishment’.

This is referring to the immaterial jhānas (arūpa jhānas, or meditation stages of understanding) again and how you experience the attainment of the supra-mundane Nibbāna.

This sutta teaches you how to reach all of the meditation stages and how to attain the highest bliss through the seeing and understanding of all the links of Dependent Origination and the Four Noble Truths, through the fulfillment of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, and through the balancing of the Seven Awakening Factors.

Now, again we will go the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta, which talks about the Fourth Foundation of Mindfulness. This particular section has five different parts and explains how the entire foundation actually works.

Observation of Mind Objects (Dhammanupassana)

The Five Hindrances in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta:

36] “And how, Monks, does a monk abide observing mind-objects as mind-objects? Here a monk abides observing mind-objects as mind-objects in terms of the Five Hindrances. And how does a monk abide observing mind-objects as mind objects in terms of the Five Hindrances? Here, there being sensual desire in him, he understands: ‘There is sensual desire in me’; or there being no sensual desire in him, he understands: ‘There is no sensual desire in me’; and he also understands how there comes to be the arising of the unarisen sensual desire, and how there comes to be the abandoning of the arisen sensual desire, and how there comes to be the future non-arising of the abandoned sensual desire.

You understand that your mindfulness has faded away and that the unarisen hindrance of sensual desire has arisen. So, when your mindfulness becomes weak and disappears, then this hindrance will arise. This happens because you have lost keen interest in your meditation object.

“How there comes to be the abandoning of the arisen (hindrance of) sensual desire” is by remembering to use the 6R’s. That is,Recognizing that mind is distracted, Releasing or letting go and not keeping your attention on that hindrance, Relaxing the tightness in your head caused by that distraction, Re-Smiling to bring up a wholesome object, Returning to your meditation object, and Repeating this same cycle if needed while using your meditation object for as long as possible—this is the 6R’s.

“How there comes to be the future non-arising of the abandoned (hindrance of) sensual desire.” This happens by taking a strong interest in your meditation object, which may be the breath or Loving-Kindness depending on your choice of meditation.

Here, there being aversion in him… Here, there being sloth and torpor in him… Here, there being restlessness and remorse in him… Here, there being doubt in him…

No matter what hindrance arises, you use the 6R’s to let the hindrance be and to bring your attention back to your object of meditation.

The Five Aggregates in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta:

38] “Again, Monks, a monk abides observing mind-objects as mind-objects in terms of the Five Aggregates affected by craving and clinging.

There are many different ways to translate about the five aggregates—one translator translates it as the “clinging aggregates”, which is very misleading because it implies that the aggregates always have clinging attached to them. This is not always true. Another translator calls it the “five aggregates affected by clinging”. Again, this may be misleading because it places too much emphasis on just the clinging and doesn’t give the cause of the clinging.

When the author gives a Dhamma talk, sometimes when he comes across the aggregates he says “the aggregates may or may not be affected by craving and clinging depending on one’s mindfulness at the time”. Of course this is a little awkward to put in a book. So, it is used the way it is above. The words craving and clinging need to be mentioned with the five aggregates because this seems to be the best way to remind the meditator that this is a part of a process and is linked to the direct knowledge and experience of Dependent Origination.

Continuing from the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta:

“And how, Monks, does a monk abide observing mind-objects as mind-objects in terms of the Five Aggregates affected by craving and clinging? Here a monk understands: ‘Such is material form, such its origin, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origin, such its disappearance; such is perception, such its origin, such its disappearance; such are thoughts (formations), such their origin, such their disappearance; such is consciousness, such its origin, such its disappearance.’

Continuing from the Ānāpānasati Sutta:

“On that occasion a monk abides observing mind-objects as mind-objects, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. Having seen with wisdom the abandoning of covetousness and grief, he closely looks on with equanimity. That is why on that occasion a monk abides observing mind-objects as mind-objects, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world.

When you experience the higher jhānas (meditation stages of understanding), your mind develops a finer and finer balance in it.

You then experience the “abandoning of covetousness and grief, he closely looks on with equanimity”. You see clearly how tricky mind truly is, and you keep a sense of equanimity in it, even though some unpleasant things may arise. The true balance of meditation is learned when you go into the immaterial realms of mind. This is when there is a real letting go of mental concepts and attachments. Mind develops such a beautiful equanimity that even when the most unpleasant feeling arises, mind will accept it without being disturbed. This is how the Fourth Foundation of Mindfulness of Mind-Objects is fulfilled.

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