This training meditation reviews the fundamental application of attention called vitakka and its accompanying mind conditioning factor vicara, which maintains focused attention. The practice involves intentionally aiming attention at the beginning of the in-breath and then sustaining that attention for the duration of the in-breath, then repeating this routine for the out-breath. The persistence of a determined intention to maintain this routine is encouraged periodically during the meditation. When attention is inevitably drawn away, the practice involves repeating the vitakka/vicara in order to interrupt the potential for the distraction to become a hindrance, returning attention to the breathing process again. As practice matures, vitakka/vicara become “blended”, manifesting as one of the 7 Awakening Factors, Investigation of Mental Phenomena.
One of the key factors involved in the process of Awakening is Dhamma Vicaya, translated as Investigation Of Mental Phenomena. It is the second of the Seven Awakening Factors, and the cultivation of this factor is described in the Satipatthana Sutta, the Four Foundations Of Mindfulness Discourse. Peter explained that the cultivation of this factor begins with the fundamental instructions for mindfulness of breathing practice, that is, intentionally bringing attention to the beginning of the inbreath (vitakka in Pali), then sustaining awareness for the duration of the inbreath (vicara ‘vee-chah-rah’, in Pali). The development of this process continues as one notes the arising of a hindrance and redirects attention back to the breath. When attention stabilizes on breath awareness unencumbered by the hindrances, the maturation of Dhamma Vicaya is attained, and this is a key element in the practice of vipassana, the goal of which is the liberation of the mind from dukkha.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: Investigating The Mind
There is mention of the cetasikas in this talk, so the cetasikas chart is reposted here: CETASIKAS POSTER
During this talk, the exploration of the 52 cetasikas, categories that condition how the mind creates a self continues. The focus is the Universal Cetasikas, that is mind conditioning categories that occasionally coordinate with the Universal Cetasikas. These occasional cetasikas are vitakka, (aiming attention at a mind object), vicara, (sustained attention regarding a mind object), adhimokkha, (conviction or determination regarding a mind object’s formation), viriya (energy or persistence regarding the emerging mind object formation), piti, (enthusiasm regarding the emerging mind object formation) and chanda, (will to do, that is, the activating of the emerging mind object formation).
These mind conditioners co-operate with the Universal Cetasikas; these combinations are then aligned either with unwholesome cetasikas (producing dukkha, that is, confusion and distress) or wholesome cetasikas (producing liberation from dukkha).
Peter talked about how the simple practice of mindfulness of breathing supports liberation because mindfulness (a wholesome mind conditioner), when combined with vitakka, vicara and viriya supports deeper insights into how self-state organization is manifested, in the moment of becoming a self.
This was followed by discussion by the other meditators regarding how this understanding of self-organization processes is of benefit for dedicated meditators.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: the-occasional-cetasikas
This is a guided meditation to accompany the next posting on training the mind to be agile and accurate.
During this talk, Peter read passages of the Anapanasati Sutta, the discourse on the practice of mindfulness of breathing. The passages referred to provide training for cultivating vitakka and vicara, aiming attention at the breath and sustaining that awareness. With practice, awareness of the sensation of breathing becomes more intimate and persistent, setting the circumstances that support the practice of vipassana, insight into the characteristics of impermanence, non-self and the consequences of craving and clinging.