Continuing a review of the Noble Eightfold Path, this talk focuses on Right Effort, emphasizing the importance of avoiding or letting go of unwholesome mind states and supporting the arising and fulfillment of wholesome mind states. The teacher for this talk is Lezlie Laws. The next talk will begin an extensive review of Right Mindfulness, focusing on the first element of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, Mindfulness of Breathing Meditation.
This talk is part of a series reviewing the Four Noble Truths. Right Effort is an important element of the Noble Eightfold Path and can be understood as a process of channeling the energy of attention away from unwholesome self-states towards wholesome self-states. The cooperation among the first three of the Seven Awakening Factors–Mindfulness, Investigation of Mental Phenomena and Energy, as Right Effort–is essential for fulfilling one’s potential for Awakening, and this talk discusses their interactions. Various characteristics of Right Effort are also included in the review. There is a guided meditation posted in the Audio archives of this website entitled “Guided Channeling Right Effort Meditation”, which is intended to provide supplementary support for the contents of this talk.
Here are the notes prepared for the talk: Reviewing Right Effort
In this talk, the awakening factor of energy/effort is described. Peter talked of how the universe is essentially energy, and that the sense of separation that humans struggle with is a profound, fundamental error of thinking. He described that energy is distributed throughout the body in the form of glucose, as fuel for the cells. In the brain, the activities of the mind can be observed through modern technologies such as the fMRI machine. This research shows that energy “pools” in areas of heightened neural activity. The mental dysfunctions called hindrances grow stronger when “fed” glucose. The same feeding occurs as the hindrances are diminished. In this way, mental formations can be compared to muscles, which grow stronger when exercised. Peter suggested that the struggles occurring during meditation practice are mistakenly attributed to mindfulness of breathing; in reality, mindful investigation of mental phenomena reveals that the struggle comes from how the hindrances are “energy dumps”, and that the experience of mindfulness of breathing without the hindrances is a much more “efficient” use of energy.
Here is a copy of the notes prepared for this week’s talk: ENERGY AWAKENING FACTOR
Next week’s talk will focus on the next awakening factor, Joy.
This dialogue initiates several discussions of the practice of Right Effort on the Eightfold Path. During this talk, Peter described the classical rendering of the Four Noble Efforts, placed into the context of 21st century neuroscience. He quoted the statements of Dr. Dan Siegal, who describes the importance of integrating different neural pathways-emotional, cognitive and behavioral-in the process of transforming “energy into information”. Peter then described the characteristics of the five hindrances of classical Buddhist teachings in the context of neural “dys-integration” as a way to understand the nature of suffering. Next week’s planned dialogue focuses on revisiting the Buddhist precepts with contemporary terms such as “commitment”.
Continuing with the theme of relating the teachings that can be understood and applied in our current era, Peter noted that current psychological research on characteristics of wisdom relate easily to the classical Buddhist doctrines of Wholesome Understanding and Wholesome Intentions (which he terms Clear Awareness and Benevolent Intention).
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