What is Mindfulness?

Article By Ajahn Sucitto

The term ‘mindfulness’ has become a buzz-word in recent years. We hear of mindfulness being used in many ways to increase calm, to rectify attention disorders and to offer emotional stability. It is employed in a number of ways: Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Childbirth, Mindfulness for Sports people, Mindfulness for Businessmen, and Mindfulness in the Military. A calm collected emotional state and a clear present-moment attention can have many applications to improve how a human being functions, and mindfulness is commonly understood to provide just that. In terms of its popularity (in the West at least) it has outgrown, and often doesn’t even acknowledge, its ancient Buddhist parent with all her religious views. Understandably so: recent accounts of Buddhist fundamentalist attacks on Muslims in Burma and Sri Lanka offer a deeply disappointing view of how even Buddhism can get swamped by views.

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Monkeys, Parrots and Contemplative Thought

Article by Ajahn Sucitto

For the current three-month retreat this year, we have a lot of people who are quite new (less than five years’ experience) to meditation, and so I thought it would be good to go back to some basics. And of course in doing that, looked more fully into an area that I’d never adequately explored myself. The area is thought, or what I’m calling ‘contemplative thought’. For most people (I suppose) who enter Buddha-Dhamma through ‘meditation’ – i.e. sit up straight, close your eyes, focus on the breath – thinking is configured as a constant distraction, a mad monkey that one has to repeatedly drag down to the ground and tether. It’s either that or the restless parrot of obsessive thought; a presence that sits on your shoulder and chirps on and on while you’re trying to be quiet. Best kill these creatures altogether, and rely on the soundless angel of non-conceptual awareness to carry you to nibbāna, right? Well, that’s not the approach of the Buddha.

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Evening Sitting by Ajahn Chah

From The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah – Single Volume, 2011, p. 37.

I would like to ask you about your practice. You have all been practising meditaton here, but are you sure about the practice yet? Ask yourselves, are you confident about the practice yet? These days there are all sorts of meditation teachers around, both monks and lay teachers, and I’m afraid it will cause you to be full of doubts and uncertainty about what you are doing. This is why I am asking. As far as Buddhist practice is concerned, there is really nothing greater or higher than these teachings of the Buddha which you have been practising with here. If you have a clear understanding of them, it will give rise to an absolutely firm and unwavering peace in your heart and mind

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