This guided mindfulness of breathing meditation suggests a variety of tactics for cultivating mindful awareness of intention, the mind conditioning factor that coordinates every moment of self-organization in preparation for action. Meditators are invited to notice quickly and as precisely as possible the beginning of the in-breath and out-breath to establish stability of attention. Further suggestions bring attention to noting the intention associated with noting changes in physical sensations, alternating with noting the intentions associated with various mental formations such as alertness vs. dullness, stability vs. distractions, etc. This meditation is intended to accompany the talk entitled “Right Lifestyle In Trying Times”, which covers the cetasikas of Right Action and Right Livelihood.
HOW MIND CONDITIONERS WORK
THE UNIVERSAL AND OCCASIONAL CETASIKAS
In exploring the section of the Anapanasati Sutta related to training oneself to be “…sensitive to mental fabrication…calming mental fabrication”, there’s benefit in understanding the nature of the factors that fabricate each moment of self-awareness. These fabrications emerge from the categories of conditioning factors called cetasikas. The meaning of the term is “that which is associated with the mind”. This term is a kind of categorical listing of what are called sankharas, a term synonymous with karma. Both are derived from the word karoti, which means “to do”. If you imagine the cetasikas to be just the conditioners, then the “action potential” is karma. For me, the basic value of the cetasika “system” is to “deconstruct” the notion of a separate, enduring self.
This talk continues the exploration of the Anapanasati Sutta. The topic this week is “…sensitive to the mind fabrications…calming the mind fabrications”, regarding the cetasikas, the categorically listed functions of the mind. Specific attention was given to the universal cetasikas, involved in every moment of cognition, and the particular or occasional cetasikas, which may or may not be involved. Peter emphasized that these functions were developed over the centuries after the historical Buddha as part of the Abhidhamma, the “higher teachings” of Buddhist psychology. They can be somewhat dry as a focus of study; their value is in “deconstructing” the belief in a separate, enduring self or soul.
This was followed by general discussion of how training awareness to discern the emerging formations increases the functional competency of the seven awakening factors, particularly “investigation of mental phenomena”.
Next week’s discussion will review the 14 “unwholesome mind conditioners”.
This is a continuation of a discussion last week about the importance of each generation diving deeply into subjective experience via meditation practice to revitalize the liberating qualities of the Buddha’s teaching. Last week’s discussion involved the importance of clear awareness of emerging mind states in the cultivation of wisdom. This week’s exploration focused on how important benevolent intention is in evaluating what clear awareness reveals. Intention, cetana in Pali, organizes the different mental functions, preparatory to action. When clear awareness isn’t in play, the likelihood of suffering significantly increases, because intention is allied with desire or ill-will and aversion.