Thu 18 Nov 2010
Mindfulness or sati is the first factor of enlightenment. Mindfulness is not a passive practice; rather it is an active tool of self-mastery.
Being aware and mindful of one’s actions, words and thoughts is central to Buddhist practice. The distinction between good and evil or bad can be made only when a Buddhist practices such mindfulness at every waking moment.
“Mindfulness” is the English translation of the Pali word sati. Sati is an activity. What ex-actly is that? There can be no precise answer, at least not in words, nevertheless, mindfulness can be experienced—rather easily—and it can be described in completely different terms than will be used here, and each description could still be correct.
Mindfulness is a subtle process that you are using at this very moment. When you first become aware of something, there is a fleeting instant of pure awareness just before you conceptualize the thing, before you identify it. That is a state of awareness.
Ordinarily, this state is short-lived. It is that flashing split second just as you focus your eyes on the thing, just as you focus your mind on the thing. It takes place just before you start thinking about it—before your mind says, “Oh, it’s a dog.” That flowing, soft-focused moment of pure awareness is mindfulness. In that brief flashing mind-moment you experience a thing as a un-thing. You experience a softly flowing moment of pure experience that is interlocked with the rest of reality, not separate from it.
To Be Continued…