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A take on mindful living instead of happiness

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran

I’ve been considering happiness often recently, and so I asked my father what he thought of it.

He said, it wasn’t something he chased. Instead he watched events come and go, paying especial attention to the silences between, staying as the observer, ignoring both the pursuit of happiness and the avoidance of suffering.

To me that was interesting, it seemed there were some quite Buddhist elements to that world view. It calls to mind the Buddha’s one line summary of his teaching, that nothing whatever should be clung to. It is a mindful approach, looking at the contents of the mind and letting go of things when their time is up.

But I think you can go a step further. While being truly mindful you can examine the negative mind states you get into, and find their roots, which often lead to the three poisons. Looking deeply can free you to a certain extent from these - for example I sometimes feel a stab of jealousy while observing people driving flash cars. Looking carefully I deconstructed that to a root of desire (for the car), and a measure of ill-will (for the driver), as well as a small helping of regret and self-pity. Deconstructing these things can lead you to freedom from them, not necessarily from the negative emotions themselves but from the ‘second arrow’ effect of them.

I think that is the point of the Noble Eightfold Path, that it is not enough to merely not cling to things, but to truly find freedom you have to bring a certain ‘rightness’ to aspects of view, intention, living, meditation and concentration. Part of that process is understanding the negative, bringing light and clarity to those aspects of the self which are shrouded in avoidance and ignorance.

DavidsilverShoshinSnakeskin

Comments

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited January 19

    @Kerome said:
    But I think you can go a step further. While being truly mindful you can examine the negative mind states you get into, and find their roots, which often lead to the three poisons. Looking deeply can free you to a certain extent from these - for example I sometimes feel a stab of jealousy while observing people driving flash cars. Looking carefully I deconstructed that to a root of desire (for the car), and a measure of ill-will (for the driver), as well as a small helping of regret and self-pity. Deconstructing these things can lead you to freedom from them, not necessarily from the negative emotions themselves but from the ‘second arrow’ effect of them.

    Exactly, it's noticing how and why stuff arises, associations, reactions, etc. That's really the point of mindfulness, to develop some insight. But I think it needs to be done consistently over a period of time, otherwise the lessons are quickly forgotten and the old habitual responses kick in again.

    lobsterSnakeskin
  • If you're into TNH, check out "A day of Mindfulness", page 27 in "The Miracle of Mindfulness"
    https://terebess.hu/zen/mesterek/Thich Nhat Hanh - The Miracle of Mindfulness.pdf

    Kerome
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    Great insight!

    It leads me to ponder again how it's possible to have a happiness without an opposite in dukkha.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    It’s always tempting to think in dualities, such as a happiness and an opposite in dukkha. But I think that is just a tendency of the mind, it is probably not an exact opposite. If I remember my Tibetan Buddhism correctly, there were only 4 positive mind states and something like 41 negative ones.

    It always leads me to think of Tseng’can the Third Zen Patriarch and his poem the Xin Xin Ming.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 19

    I think the only true opposite of happiness is no happiness. I don't think no happiness must imply dukkha unless we don't understand duality for what it is.

    To me, duality itself is a tool of exploration and not a bad thing.

    Kerome
  • He said, it wasn’t something he chased. Instead he watched events come and go, paying especial attention to the silences between, staying as the observer, ignoring both the pursuit of happiness and the avoidance of suffering.

    <3

    We have to be honest and realistic about where we are.

    For example regular meditators know the benefits. Regular mindful practitioners know the benefits etc. Armchair dharmaists? Not so much ...

    It is important initially to focus on study, sila, practice for benefits, including happiness. Whatever works for us.

    It takes a very determined, perhaps strong willed person to just be single mindly mindful and undistracted. It can be done. Depends on the individual ...

    I like the term, 'mindful living' that @Kerome uses. It makes Buddhism an inclusive Way of life, rather than a hobby and is closer to the rapid progress possible to the Sangha.

    We do have a plan! We always did ... B)

    silverKeromeDavid
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    I think to an extent we all attempt to practice wholesome mindful living (even when not consciously attempting to... :) ) however old habits tend to die hard, habits that have been woven into the fabric of ones existence...

    Making it easy for the mind to become charmed by it's own thoughts...These mind charming thoughts absorb awareness, by sucking the life out of it, hence why one becomes what one thinks without realising it...

    However from what I gather Awareness also has the ability to de-charm the mind...

    I guess by becoming more aware of what's going on the 'rising then passing away' of phenomena (including ones thoughts) ...leads to a more contented, satisfying outlook on what one calls life...One could even call it "Happiness" (if one is that way inclined) :)

    lobster
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @lobster said:

    @kerome said:
    (My father) said, it wasn’t something he chased. Instead he watched events come and go, paying especial attention to the silences between, staying as the observer, ignoring both the pursuit of happiness and the avoidance of suffering.

    <3

    We have to be honest and realistic about where we are.

    Yeah my dad is a bit of a character. He watches quite a lot of sport and sometimes exclaims things like “ouch! that was an awful shot, I knew he was rubbish”, when a tennis player he is rooting for - he always chooses sides - makes an unforced error. So not always very mindful behaviour. And when I point this out, he makes a quick joke about it.

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited January 20

    @lobster said:> It takes a very determined, perhaps strong willed person to just be single mindly mindful and undistracted. It can be done.

    Like most things, it gets easier with practice. Obviously you start where you are, and build up. Life becomes much more interesting when you are really paying attention and noticing.

    @Kerome said:If I remember my Tibetan Buddhism correctly, there were only 4 positive mind states and something like 41 negative ones.

    Only 41?! Sheer luxury!

    ShoshinSnakeskin
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:
    If you're into TNH, check out "A day of Mindfulness", page 27 in "The Miracle of Mindfulness"
    https://terebess.hu/zen/mesterek/Thich Nhat Hanh - The Miracle of Mindfulness.pdf

    Thanks for this, I’ve downloaded it onto my iPad and am reading the whole thing, good stuff!

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @lobster said:
    It is important initially to focus on study, sila, practice for benefits, including happiness. Whatever works for us.

    It takes a very determined, perhaps strong willed person to just be single mindedly mindful and undistracted. It can be done. Depends on the individual ...

    A human being’s experience of moment-to-moment life is quite complicated, it’s more than just the senses, it is all that arises in the mind. Feelings, thoughts, memories, all these fall within the scope of awareness.

    I often consider that attention is like a series of lenses: a central core that points at the thing to be focused on, an area of sharp focus on one thing, a diffuse focus on several wider areas. Sometimes flitting between things, sometimes stable and direct on one thing. Mindful living seems to be about keeping a stable focus on the body in the present moment, it is a difficult thing not to drift away into the other areas of mind.

    Even just walking is a challenge not to drift into automatism. I really enjoy Thich Nhat Hanh’s approach, I saw a video of his mindful walk with a thousand participants in Barcelona which was a beautiful expression of togetherness and focus.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    If one monitors one's emotional reactions to certain thought patterns ie 'feelings', after awhile, awareness will stop the thought from feeding the emotional reaction and vice versa ie, the emotional reaction feeding the thought pattern...the vicious cycle

    It's okay to think (after all it's what we do constantly) however we need to get into the 'habit' of

    ...By constantly questioning the thought one is thinking, especially when strong emotions & feelings are involved...

    Meditation from what I gather provides one with a platform from which to obtain experiential understanding ( experiencing the thought without a thinker) and once this happens, one will (with practice) begin to monitors one's thought patterns 24/7/365 (during work rest & play...which includes when out walking) for any bad apples that might spoil the bunch :)

    Most importantly DON'T OVER THINK...It's not good for one's health and mental well being :)

    I guess mindful living will involve not being attached to one's thoughts...

    Well this is what "I" think (my thoughts)...But....

    "I am just a thought that thinks I am thinking I am just a thought" (....pattern)

    Snakeskin
  • JaySonJaySon Florida Veteran

    Your Dad's practice reminds me of Ajahn Chah's teachings. You should check them out if you haven't. You'll be blown away by the similarities.

    Kerome
  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran

    Nowadays I'll take Mindful Living over Happiness any day - even if it does remind me regularly how shitty a lot of people are.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    I find the more mindful I am the happier I am also. I find that in order to rightly choose happiness instead of pursuing it I have to work at being ever more mindful.

    If I choose happiness without working on my mindfulness I am liable to forget I've chosen happiness at times I need to remember most.

    JeffreySnakeskinSocairlobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited February 4

    As we are mostly aware, we can take the thinking away and the body reminds us of our existence.

    Where in the body are we happy? Where is the silence of the lambs body? Do we listen to our silences or are we only mindful to the trumpets and noisy arisings? Where is our quiet ... stillness ... peace ...

    Good post from @Shoshin, mindful mind, mindful emotions and mindful posture. Gently does it.

    Iz plan!

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