The Wholesome Mind Conditioners Part 1 March 13 2019

The presentation title of this talk is “Starving the Demons, Feeding the Angels”, as part of the Anapanasati Sutta focused on “calming the mind conditioners”.    Peter mentioned that during the first years of his vipassana practice he was “warding off the demons” and then began “feeding the angels”, that is, the wholesome mind conditioners.  This discussion covers the first of the Wholesome Cetasikas: Confidence, Mindfulness, Moral Shame, Fear of Blame, Non-Attachment, Non-Aversion and Equanimity.  These mind conditioners combine with the Universal Cetasikas: Feelings, Perceptions, Contact, Volition, Concentration, Vitality and Attention in every moment of self-organizing processes.  They are often combined with the Occasional Cetasikas: Bringing attention to a focal point, Sustaining attention, Determination, Energy, Enthusiasm and Zeal.

Peter reviewed these mind conditioning factors, emphasizing that the ability to mindfully note the presence of them clearly as details of perception increases the ability to deconstruct the Wrong View of an enduring and autonomous self; the practice of vipassana incorporates these conditioners at high levels of insight, manifesting as liberation from dukkha, distress and confusion.

This was followed by discussion regarding how to use mindfulness of breathing practice to facilitate this investigation.

Here are the notes prepared for this discussion:  WHOLESOME-MIND-CONDITIONERS

Next week’s discussion will explore the “Beautiful Pairs” of cetasikas, which are not universal and manifest as the result of increasingly activating the Universal Wholesome Cetasikas to a high level of functioning.  Peter regards them as the results of intensive and persistent application of mindfulness meditation, most likely experienced first on a one-week or longer residential retreat.



The Universal Mind Conditioners February 13 2019

This is the first of a series of discussions describing the cetasikas, those factors that condition the selfing process.  In the context of the Anapanasati Sutta, investigating and calming the mind conditioners are two of the sixteen stages in the process of Awakening and are preceded by breath awareness that relaxes the body and calms the mind, reviewed in previous discussions.  This talk reviews the first 13 cetasikas.  They are termed “Universal” and “Occasional” mind conditioners, which are considered as ethically neutral or malleable in their function, meaning that their self-manifestation depends upon whether they are accompanied by Wholesome or Unwholesome cetasikas.  The Universal cetasikas participate in every moment of self-formation, and the Occasional cetasikas occur predominantly but not always, and are conditioned by internal mental processes.  The cetasikas were described in detail and this was followed by general discussion regarding how they can be mindfully recognized and “calmed” through the practice of mindfulness of breathing.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Factors That Condition The Mind

Next week’s discussion will focus on the first of the Unwholesome Mind Conditioners which appear in every moment of distress and confusion (Buddhism terms this experience as dukkha).


Calming The Mental Formations February 6 2019

The last several talks investigated how the cultivation of anapanasati, mindfulness of breathing, creates the mental and emotional circumstances allowing for the onset of vipassana practice, that is, the ongoing observation of the ever-changing mental processes that constitute what we call a “self”.  The identification with this emergent “selfing” process creates distress and confusion, as the fabrication process cannot reliably reflect the most appropriate understanding of and response to ever-changing life circumstances.  During this talk, Peter describe the cetasikas conceptual structure as a way to understand the selfing process as made up through the action of sankharas (mental conditioning factors), which are “stored” through the combined manifestation of multiple elements stored in various cetasikas.  This explanation was followed by discussion among those attending to clarify the concepts, in preparation for more detailed discussions of the cetasikas in the following weeks.

Here are the notes prepared for this discussion:  Calming The Mental Formations

Next week’s discussions will cover the beginning cetasikas categories of Universal Cetasikas and Occasional Cetasikas.