This talk focuses on the Second of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, Vedanupassana, Mindfulness of Feelings. The Buddhist view of feelings isn’t just about emotions; more emphasis is placed on affect, the potency or impulsive urgency associated with any moment of experience. When unskillfully managed and conditioned by clinging, affect manifests as craving, that is, for pleasant experience to arise and continue or for unpleasant feeling to be avoided or gotten rid of. Peter described some of the important neural brain structures associated with affect and cognition, emphasizing that affect is the “driver” of cognition, as suggested by traditional Buddhist doctrine and current neuroscientific research. This makes mindfulness of feelings a crucial skill to develop, that is, to perceive feelings as just mental phenomena, not a self, not “my feelings”. Modern research demonstrates that mindfulness of breathing meditation develops areas of the brain that function to regulate the degree of reactivity to affect, thereby interrupting craving and clinging.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: Understanding Feelings
Next week’s talk will focus on a review of paticca samuppada, dependent origination, a key concept of Buddhism describing how the selfing process operates and demonstrating the crucial role mindfulness of feelings plays in the process of Awakening. Peter will explain a different view of this concept that he calls contingent provisional emergence, which combines traditional Buddhist views with a contemporary complexity theory of personality organization.