In Buddhism, mindfulness is one of the key tools for enlightenment. Yet the understanding of mindfulness in the worldly context may differ to those thinking in the spiritual sense. Some people claim they’re sometimes unmindful but is this really true? And what exactly does mindfulness mean? Why do we need to have it? And how can we evaluate if the mindfulness we possess is a right sort?
Theoretically, mindfulness is the state of being awake and realizing or being aware of one’s surroundings. If we recognize mindfulness in its natural condition, it moves along with intention. If we intend to be happy, we need to drive our mindfulness forward to reach the point of happiness.
Practically, mindfulness is with us every single second around the clock and it never goes away from us. As long as we’re alive, it’s always with us. For example, when we walk across a bridge, we’re aware enough not to walk and fall down because we behold the situation with mindfulness. Whatever we do, we normally possess a certain amount of mindfulness hence it’s not possible for someone to say that he/she is unmindful.
Some people may question the above example and might say that it’s a question of instinct not to fall down off the bridge. But what’s the difference between mindfulness and instinct? Mindfulness consists of wisdom which can’t be found in instinct; an animal lives by its instinct but is unable to develop its wisdom. Or when we drive a car and suddenly brake, how did we realize how to do it if we had never learnt how to drive before? Hence, mindfulness is normally moving together with the intention to reach a goal of any action. That is a reason why we must develop our mindfulness to have it with us more and more to avoid a state of less mindfulness that consequently leads to unwholesome and harmful actions.
“Mindfulness is normally moving together with
the intention to reach a goal of any action.”
It is worth noticing that mindfulness stems from a fear from the natural fact that our lives are impermanent and that conditions don’t remain forever – they keep changing every minute. When we realize that life is never stable, we seek a solution to get out of this vicious cycle. That’s why dhamma practice is an answer. If we have the right view of the impermanence of life, we will be naturally be attracted to dhamma practice without force or the feeling of oppression to do so. Hence the right mindfulness will be natural and not a pretext. We will have a goal of our dhamma practice and take action to reach it by, for instant, being willing to wake up every morning to practice dhamma ourselves without laziness since we realize what the natural truth of life is. Hence, dhamma practice achieves the right mindfulness to ensure that we can live with both happiness and suffering to finally reach the ultimate wisdom (enlightenment) and supreme state of liberation (Nirvana).
By Chantawong Suphattakalyanee Meditation Centre,
Haadyai, Songkhla, Thailand
Background of Chantawong Suphattakalyanee Meditation Center
Bhikkhuni (Buddhist nun) Orawan Maneeratanachot or Mae Chee Ning is currently a meditation instructor with the right attitude, technique and methods to inspire all interested laypeople to be able to profoundly practice meditation. Her teaching at Chantawong Suphattakalyanee Meditation Centre focuses on breathing meditation (Anapanasati). The centre welcomes all priests, and practitioners who are interested in learning the practical methods of breathing meditation. The first branch of the meditation centre has been established in Haadyai, Songkhla Province with the objective to disseminate breathing meditation (Anapanasati), discovered by our Lord Buddha, to place in Buddhists’ hearts accordingly.
“We realize what the
natural truth of life is”