This talk provides an overview of the Fourth Foundation of Mindfulness, followed by a review of kamacchanda, sense desire, the first of the Five Hindrances. The review includes analysis of the traditional commentaries regarding sense desire plus additional contemporary neuroscientific research that validates the characteristics of sense desire and how to interrupt the actions of the hindrance. There is a Guided Sense Desire Contemplation posted and archive on the site that is intended to support this talk.
This is another in a series of reviews of the cetasikas, categories within which are found those factors that condition the mind. The topic for this talk focuses on three of the Unwholesome Particular Cetasikas: Desire, Wrong View and Conceit. Each of the cetasikas is reviewed regarding their characteristics described in classic Buddhist commentaries, along with how they associate with others of the unwholesome cetasikas to create distress and confusion in the mind–dukkha. Desire is described as the effect of Ignorance (The chief unwholesome cetasika) on pleasant feeling, which becomes craving. Wrong View, when combined with Delusion (synonymous with Ignorance), becomes clinging, and these two creates a false view–of an enduring, autonomous self. This manifests Conceit, which is the self-centeredness that is the result of craving and clinging, that is, dukkha. These conditions are described in the context of current social unrest and ecological irresponsibility, using contemporary psychological research and terminology. Antidotes for these mind conditioning functions are also suggested during the talk.
This training meditation cultivates clear awareness of the characteristics of desire: An initial pleasant feeling that, when not investigated wisely, quickly becomes craving and clinging–dukkha. During the recording there are intervals for cultivating mindfulness of breathing, then contemplating a state of mind that involves desire–a song melody, desired success in some project, etc., accompanied by investigation of how this experience changes the pattern of breathing, creates muscle tension and an insistent internal narrative that becomes enchanted with sustaining itself and the accompanying feeling. You are then invited to redirect attention back to the breath and investigate the changes in breathing patterns, muscle tension and the absence of a demanding narrative, along with the calmness and clarity that emerges with prolonged, alert attention to the sensation of breathing. This meditation is intended to accompany the talk entitled “The Unwholesomeness Of Desire, August 26, 2020”.
The talk explored the Fourth Foundation of Mindfulness, with specific emphasis on being mindful of what triggers sense desire, how it operates in the brain and what can be done to overcome this hindrance to mental clarity and tranquility.
This dialogue follows upon the previous week’s exploration of the hindrances, particularly sense desire. Peter described how MRI research shows that the more times a particular neural pathway is activated, the more enduring and “self-defining” it becomes. This was related to how much our consumer culture feeds unrelenting dissatisfaction and desire. Peter pointed out that hindrances not only interfere with meditation practice, but also disturb peace of mind and clarity during daily life routines. He also emphasized that spiritual enhancement is hindered when meditation practice is dominated by the intense mental preoccupations and energy turbulence arising from the action of the hindrances. This was followed by discussion of the impact that group members experience related to the hindrances.