The Third Foundation of Mindfulness, cittanupassana, is a contemplation of the various ways consciousness reflects subjective experience; the goal of this contemplation is to realize that the mind is impersonal, not a self. This review also includes discussion of contemporary scientific concepts such as complexity theory, which validate the concepts about how the mind operates that were developed millennia ago by Buddhist practitioners.
The topic for this Dharma talk is the Third Foundation of Mindfulness, Cittanupassana. During this review, the appropriate section of the discourse is described in more detail regarding various states of mind that can be known through well-developed mindful investigation with the understanding that what is observed is a phenomenon of nature, not an enduring/autonomous self. Contemporary neuropsychological insights are also reviewed, such as complexity theory, chaos theory and the strange attractor concept, which, although derived from mathematics and physics, are also applicable to how consciousness operates. There is a “Guided Mindfulness of Mind Contemplation” recording posted and archived that is intended to accompany this talk.
This talk was preceded by the “Guided Mindfulness of the Mind Meditation”, which can be found in the Audio section of the website. The focus of this talk is a review of the Third Foundation of Mindfulness, Cittanupassana (chee-tah-noo-pah-suh-nah), Mindfulness of the Mind. Peter read a quote from the Satipatthana Sutta regarding the characteristics of this contemplation, which is to be mindful as to whether the mind is afflicted or not by desire, aversion or ignorance. The contemplation also investigates whether awareness is expansive and inclusive or contracted and exclusive, alert or dull, calm or restless, and the transient and impersonal nature of the mind. Peter related these characteristics and functions to contemporary psychological research investigates where the brain is activated as cognition occurs, noting that as the cognitive process develops, prior life experience overrides current stimulus input and fabricates a self. He reviewed what the teacher and author Culadasa calls “Introspective Metacognitive Awareness”, the ability to be mindful of the broad ranges of awareness that vipassana investigates without becoming identified with one aspect of the flow of experience as being an enduring and autonomous self. This was related to the value of being able to track personal reactivity in regards to the stressors present during the pandemic. The review was followed by discussion among those attending the Zoom meeting regarding the talk.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: Cultivating A Wise Mind
This meditation focuses attention on the Third Foundation of Mindfulness, Cittanupassana (chee-tah-noo-pah-suh-nah), Mindfulness of the Mind. The guided meditation builds attention through mindfulness of the body/breathing and mindfulness of feelings, the first two of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. Peter then invited meditators to engage the contemplations mentioned in the Satipatthana Sutta for the Third Foundation, that is, whether or not the mind is afflicted with desire, aversion or delusion, whether the scope of mindful awareness is expanded or contracted, alert or dull.
Following this guided meditation is a posted Dharma talk recording entitled “Cultivating A Wise Mind” that relates the Third Foundation of Mindfulness to what the teacher/author Culadasa calls “Introspective Metacognitive Awareness”, the ability to maintain a primary focus of attention on the sensation of breathing with a more expansive peripheral awareness of the transient and impersonal elements of the mind’s function. This meditation supports the practice of vipassana and has applications for coping with the stresses of the pandemic.
The Third Foundation Of Mindfuilness is Cittanupassana, Mindfulness Of The Mind. During this talk, Peter explained how the traditional understandings of cittanupassana foster the process of Awakening. The mind is the receptive characteristic of human experience, and the “tone” of the mind can be affected by various conditions such as desire or aversion. The cultivation of mindfulness clarifies the reflective quality of awareness in ways that provide greater stress resilience and sets the conditions for the practice of vipassana, the function of which is to reveal directly the three characteristics of human reality: impermanence, the absence of an enduring and autonomous self and the distress and confusion that comes about due to craving and clinging. The participants in the meeting then discussed how they understand the nature and function of cittanupassana.