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There seem to be a lot of disagreements about the very basic term "mindfulness". Here is one of them.

Yesterday I listened to a talk, where it was it was said that if one achieve total concentration on an object, there is no mindfulness. This makes sense to me, as ALL attention is on the subject and none is left to be mindful of what is going on (it was also mentioned that there is no wisdom gained from this, as it is from the moving, momentary concentration in mindfulness that one makes realizations about the four noble truths). This is all in accordance with my understanding of the difference between concentration and mindfulness.

Then later at the evening I read an article by Ajahn Brahmavamso ("The quality of mindfulness") where he says that "with development, you can experience immovable mindfulness. The mindfulness that is on one thing entirely...The Buddha said this reaches its peak in the fourth Jhanas". I have read and heard a thousand other places that this is what he said about samadhi (concentration). And that one of Buddhas main contributions was the introduction of sati/mindfulness which among other things makes one aware of impermanence. How should "immovable mindfulness" ever give any realization of impermanence...immovable means permanent. He also says that "Once you know that type of mindfulness, then you know how ridiculous it is to think you can become Enlightened without Jhanas. Without such powerful mindfulness you can't get the powerful insights". To my knowledge Jhanas and one-pointedness (which I would call concentration) is not about insight. To my knowledge Buddha, before he found the path to (his) enlightenment, was taught meditation techniques which aimed towards being completely absorbed, but that he found that this did not bring him what he searched for. Isnt this one of the major points in buddhist teaching?

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There seem to be a lot of disagreements about the very basic term "mindfulness".

Yes.

Yesterday I listened to a talk, where it was it was said that if one achieve total concentration on an object, there is no mindfulness.

This is wrong. 'Mindfulness' means 'to remember'; 'to keep in mind', 'to not be forgetful or negligent'. Mindfulness is a factor or prerequisite of concentration. The goal of Buddhist meditation is to achieve total concentration on an appropriate object. Therefore, when there is total concentration on an object, there is also total mindfulness because the meditator does not forget their task, which is to concentrate on/be attentive of the object.

This makes sense to me, as ALL attention is on the subject and none is left to be mindful of what is going on

If all attention is not on the object, how can you know what is going on? For example, if you must babysit children but instead pay attention to the TV, how can you know what is going on with the children?

(it was also mentioned that there is no wisdom gained from this as it is from the moving, momentary concentration in mindfulness that one makes realizations about the four noble truths).

This is wrong. When then the mind remains unmoving on the breathing, the breathing calms & the mind feels peaceful. The wisdom that arises from this is the mind knows when it is free from craving & attachment (by being unmoving), the mind becomes peaceful. Therefore, the mind realises the four noble truths, namely, the giving up of craving & attachment by making the mind unmoving or empty leads to peace & the end of suffering.

In addition, when the mind remains unmoving on the breathing, it discerns the breathing is coming, going & changing; the mind discerns the body breathes rather than the 'self' breathes. Therefore, by remaining unmoving on the breathing, the mind gains the wisdom that the breathing is impermanent & not-self (anatta).

This is all in accordance with my understanding of the difference between concentration and mindfulness.

These views are not "understanding". In Buddhism, the word "understanding" means to know according to verified observed reality. These views are in accordance to your "ideas"or "views" rather than according to "understanding".

Then later at the evening I read an article by Ajahn Brahmavamso

In respect to meditation, AB should generally explains things correctly. If someone disagrees with AB about meditation, this should raise a red-flag of caution.

("The quality of mindfulness") where he says that "with development, you can experience immovable mindfulness.

Correct. The mind is always abiding in accordance with the Dhamma when it is mindful.

The mindfulness that is on one thing entirely...The Buddha said this reaches its peak in the fourth Jhanas".

I doubt mindfulness reaches its "peak" in the 4th jhana because the mindfulness of a 100% enlightened mind (Arahant) would be superior to the mindfulness of the 4th jhana of a 75% enlightened Non-Returner.

I would assume what occurs in the 4th jhana is mindfulness is the most "settled" & "unchallenged" it has been since the start of meditation because the pre-jhana hindrances & the 1st & 2nd jhana rapture that challenge the mind to lose mindfulness have been overcome.

In the 1st jhana, rapture "tempts" to mind to attach to & become infatuated with it and mindfulness must work in a very subtle manner to ensure the mind does not attach to & become infatuated with the rapture of the 1st jhana.

Therefore, in the 4th jhana, the mindfulness is pure & untroubled. It can completely rest, knowing its work has been perfectly done.

I would suggest this is what is meant by the statement "mindfulness reaches its peak in the 4th jhana". In the 4th jhana, mindfulness stands on the dais & has won the gold medal due to defeating all of its competitors & foes.

I have read and heard a thousand other places that this is what he said about samadhi (concentration).

The 4th jhana is described in the suttas:

With the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous disappearance of joy and grief, I entered upon and abided in the fourth jhāna, which has neither-pain-nor-pleasure and purity of mindfulness due to equanimity. MN 4


And then, with the abandoning of pleasure and pain—as with the earlier disappearance of elation and distress—the monk enters & remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity and mindfulness, neither-pleasure-nor-pain. His earlier perception of a refined truth of equanimity ceases, and on that occasion there is a perception of a refined truth of neither pleasure nor pain. On that occasion he is one who is percipient of a refined truth of neither pleasure nor pain. And thus it is that with training one perception arises and with training another perception ceases. DN 4


~~~

And that one of Buddhas main contributions was the introduction of sati/mindfulness which among other things makes one aware of impermanence.

This is not completely correct. Mindfulness is not awareness or observation. Mindfulness means 'to remember'. Mindfulness remembers to meditate without craving & attachment. When the mind is free from craving & attachment, it can naturally observe impermanence.

Before the Buddha, meditators had craving for & attachment to wrong concentration. They would keep suppressing down their mind to destroy whatever object was in the mind. Therefore, they were unable to observe impermanence clearly because they were attached to the goal of keeping the mind suppressed.

How should "immovable mindfulness" ever give any realization of impermanence...immovable means permanent.

If the mind is permanently mindful, it is permanently without unwholesome states & hindrance, i.e. permanently pure. By being permanently pure, it can observe the impermanence phenomena, such as the impermanence breathing, impermanent body, impermanent feelings, impermanent peceptions & impermanent sense consciousness. Whenever there are (wholesome) thoughts, it can also observe the impermanent thoughts.

As I have explained, 'right concentration' in Buddhism is to use mindfulness to keep the mind free from craving. Therefore, while the mind will be 'unmoving', it will be open, flexible (sensitive) & clear.

Where as when there is 'wrong concentration', while the mind is also unmoving, it is rigid, forced & suppressed because it meditating with craving rather than letting go.

In SN 48.10, the Buddha clearly states jhana is attained by making "letting go" the meditation object. Please read this quote:

As for samadhi, an empty mind is the supreme samadhi, the supremely focused firmness of mind. The straining and striving sort of samadhi isn't the real thing and the samadhi which aims at anything other than non-clinging to the five khandas is micchasamadhi (wrong or perverted samadhi). You should be aware that there is both micchasamadhi and sammasamadhi (right or correct samadhi). Only the mind that is empty of grasping at and clinging to 'I' and 'mine' can have the true and perfect stability of sammasamadhi. One who has an empty mind has correct samadhi


He also says that "Once you know that type of mindfulness, then you know how ridiculous it is to think you can become Enlightened without Jhanas.

This is not completely correct. While jhanas are certainly necessary for 100% enlightenment, believing you must attain jhana before any enlightenment can occur is wrong understanding & a hindrance. A Stream-Enterer is 25% enlightened but has not yet reached jhana.

Without such powerful mindfulness you can't get the powerful insights".

True. But without less yet powerful insights, you can't get jhana. Therefore, the Dhammapada states, somewhere:

There is no jhana without wisdom & no wisdom without jhana.


To my knowledge Jhanas and one-pointedness (which I would call concentration) is not about insight.

In Buddhism, "knowledge" ("nanna") is again synonymous with insight. You are again expressing an idea or view here rather than "knowledge".

Jhanas & one-pointedness are about insight, as written in many suttas, such as AN 9.36 & MN 111:

I tell you, the ending of the mental fermentations depends on the first jhana.’ Thus it has been said. In reference to what was it said? There is the case where a monk, secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities, enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. He regards whatever phenomena there that are connected with form, feeling, perception, fabrications, & consciousness, as inconstant, unsatisfactory, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a disintegration, an emptiness, not-self. He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: ‘This is peace, this is exquisite—the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Nibbana.’

While in the jhanas, there is not the 100% insight of seeing manic impermanence in every moment, there is lots of insight in the jhanas, particularly into the unsatisfactoriness of rapture (which is very liberating) and into the entire not-self process of jhana.

To my knowledge Buddha, before he found the path to (his) enlightenment, was taught meditation techniques which aimed towards being completely absorbed, but that he found that this did not bring him what he searched for.

These techniques were 'wrong concentration' or 'wrong absorption', as I explained, because they were based in craving for & attachment to a certain state of non-thinking or quiet.

Isnt this one of the major points in buddhist teaching?

No.

The scriptures state after his failure, Gotama remembered back to when he was a child under the rose-apple tree, where he spontaneously entered into the 1st jhana. He remembered this occurred spontaneously, i.e., due to non-attachment & non-craving. Therefore, Gotama realised this non-attachment was the way to enlightenment (rather than attaching to the suppressed annihilated mind of wrong concentration/wrong absorption).

I considered: ‘I recall that when my father the Sakyan was occupied, while I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, I entered upon and abided in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion. Could that be the path to enlightenment?’ Then, following on that memory, came the realisation: ‘That is indeed the path to enlightenment.’ MN 36

In conclusion, the teachers that teach against concentration do so because they have either never reached concentration or, otherwise, have achieved wrong concentration rather than right concentration.

MN 117 explains these right & wrong factors.

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When one gets absorbed, focused, or mindful in anything, no matter what the object is, the mental factor called “ekagghatha” takes over and make the mind latched on to it. Being mindful depends on the situation. The kind of mindfulness one has when driving a car is different from the mindfulness when reading a book, and the mindfulness needed to attain a jhana is different from those two.

The jhana that one comes to by using the breath only would not help in walking this Path. As you correctly pointed out Buddha figured this out, and managed to break through and achieve Nibbhana. Just by focusing the mind on the breath, one can achieve only a mundane type of jhana. Also trying to be mindful by doing “walking meditation” by saying “lifting the foot”, “putting it down” would only get you to this lower level mundane jhanas.

The higher levels of Jhana that furthers the Noble Eightfold Path are achieved by supermundane “ekagghatha” that one comes to by coming to upacara samadhi. When listening to a Dhamma discourse or reading about a Dhamma concept one can get to this type of mindfulness.

When contemplating on bad consequences of mind-made pleasures, willingly giving up by comprehending their bad outcomes one is able to come to the higher levels of Jhana.

If one’s intention is to walk this Path, the focus should be something related to Nibbana. It could be a Dhamma concept or Nibbana itself. Focusing on the peacefulness of discarding sense pleasures can be done only when one comprehends the true meaning of anicca, dukkha, anatta. By being mindful the correct way, one can come to samma sati.

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Your concentration can be on a concept in which case it is concentration without insight. Also you can concentrate on the ultimate realities in which case it is concentration with insight. Using the later you can reach Jhana also.

To have wise attention your mind should be in touch with the universal characteristics or free from the corruptions of insight (Vipallasa).

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Mindfulness is attention of wholesome and unwholesome activities in day to day activities with your wisdom (Panna). Mindfulness is movable from attention of one activity to another depending on the cause of the activity and its effect. When the cause of the activity ceases its effect ceases too. This would clearly explain in Dependent Origination of Buddha’s teaching

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By definition, something which is immovable cannot change. Therefore there is no such thing, as there is no thing which is not subject to change. Were you to truly have immovable mindfulness, your mind would cease to be able to be unmindful. But since there is no such thing as a mind which is not subject to change, this is not possible. Technically, when we talk about enlightenment, the texts describe it as permanent, which implies permanent mindfulness, but this is not that stage - this is still the stage of the Jhanas, which is not permanent. By looking at the context, you can see that the Ajahn merely means "strong, not interruptable by insubstantial means". I believe it is merely a use of language which appears objective but is actually subjective.

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