During the discussion of January 10, 2018 “Understanding Karma”, the importance of cetana, intention, was mentioned. This talk elaborates on cetana, which is one of the “universal mind conditioners” that function in every moment of consciousness. Peter quoted excerpts from Van Gorkam’s book “Cetasikas” describing the coordinating and motivating function of intention in the formation of each moment of selfing. The relationship between intention and the Buddhist doctrine of dependent origination was also described. These understandings were aligned with an excerpt from Siegel’s “The Mindful Brain” regarding the neuroscientific research on intention that supports the traditional Buddhist view. Ways to cultivate mindful intention were discussed associated with the practice of mindfulness of breathing.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: UNDERSTANDING INTENTION
Next week’s topic will be understanding the practical benefits of cultivating virtue, a core aspect of the Noble Eightfold Path, from a psychological as well as spiritual perspective.
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This evening’s meeting focused on the crucial role cetana, the Pali word translated as intention or volition, plays in the ongoing process of self-state organization. Cetana is a “universal mind conditioner”, functioning in each moment of self-state organization to coordinate the various conditioning factors involved in the process. Intention operates through the each of the “six sense bases”, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, body sensations and cognitive processes. Using the concept developed in the book “The Mind Illuminated”, Peter described how intention shapes the perceptual processes in each of the sense bases; the most potent of the products of the various sense bases will be further processed by emotionally charged memory associations and will emerge into consciousness. The benefit of cultivating the intention to mindfully and persistently investigate the sensation of breathing is the manifestation of samadhi/passadhi, a flow of conscious awareness that is stable and tranquil. This unifies the sense bases and produces the conditions most effective for the practice of vipassana, that is, insight into the conditioned nature of personal experience, liberating the mind from distress and confusion.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: THE IMPORTANCE OF INTENTION
There will not be a posted dharma dialogue next week because of the one week residential meditation retreat. On February 22, participants in the retreat will review their retreat experiences for posting on the website.
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This talk continues to explore the functioning of the cetasikas, the categories of factors that condition the mind. The focus this week in on the “Universal Cetasikas”, that is, the cetasikas that cooperate in the formation of a self in every moment of consciousness: Contact, Volition, Concentration, Vitality and Attention. The remaining universal cetasikas, Feeling and Perception, were discussed in depth during the last talk, September 14. Peter emphasized that these conditioners align and cooperate with other cetasikas, whether they are wholesome or unwholesome in their function.
The explanations were followed by group discussion to clarify the functions and application of the cetasikas during the process of awakening.
Here are the notes prepared for this week’s talk: universal-conditioning-functions.
Additionally, here is the .doc file listing the 52 cetasikas in total: CETASIKAS POSTER
Next week’s talk will function on the group of cetasikas called “Occasional” or “Particular” cetasikas, which may or may not be included in a moment of self-state organization.