Skillful Mindfulness: Mindfulness of Mental Objects IV

Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness (pp. 216-220)

Mindfulness of Mental Objects is the Fourth Foundation of Mindfulness.

Seven Factors of Enlightenment (Awakening)

This talk addresses the Seven Factors of Enlightenment:

  1. Mindfulness
  2. Investigation
  3. Effort
  4. Joy
  5. Contentment
  6. Concentration
  7. Equanimity

These factors are presented in this order because the development of each factor leads to the next.  It is a process that leads to peace and happiness.

As you cultivate your mindfulness (paying attention from moment to moment to what is), it becomes an established form of practice.  Your mental object of mindfulness becomes mindfulness.  You learn that with strong mindfulness, you investigate all phenomena to discover that they all share the same three characteristics (impermanence, dissatisfaction and selflessness).  Thus the mental object of mindfulness becomes investigation.  With investigation, you exert more effort and shift your mental object of mindfulness to energy.  With these three powerful factors in action, you feel joy which leads to contentment.  With contentment, restlessness disappears and you are able to cultivate powerful concentration.

When all of these six factors (mindfulness, investigation, effort, joy, contentment, and concentration) are experienced, you feel that your life is in harmony and balance. When this occurs, you are experiencing the seventh and final factor, equanimity.

By recognizing desire or aversion, you can apply process of the Seven Factors of Enlightenment starting with mindfulness.  The desire ends for things to be other than they are.  You don’t wish for permanence, satisfaction or for a self.  The Seven Factors of Enlightenment are then in alignment with the Four Noble Truths.

If you don’t choose mindfulness, you can head down the path of delusion which starts with craving, then clinging, then a self of self doing the clinging and finally suffering.

“When you develop skill in recognizing the onset of clinging, you gain the ability to follow a liberating chain of events moving from suffering to faith that you do not have to live in such a manner.  You feel the joy of relief from grasping, the tranquility that pervades the mind when it is not filled with wanting, and a dispassionate ease with life.”  –Moffitt, Dancing with Life, p.82 (footnote)

“We can achieve this goal within this life.  When we do, all suffering ceases.  All questions come to an end.  All anxiety, worry, fear, and tension disappear, never to return.  There is no craving, no clinging to anything.  We live in harmony, perfect balance.  All our senses are sharpened.  We still eat, drink, talk, and use our body and mind, but with full awareness, total mindfulness.  Our morality does not make us believe we are superior to others.  Our concentration does not make us praise ourselves and disparage others.  Our wisdom gives us perfect loving-friendliness, perfect compassion and perfect appreciative (sympathetic joy).  Enjoying perfect equanimity, we are never again troubled by life’s ups and downs.”  Page 220.

For each desire or aversion that arises, you can choose one of two paths:  The path of delusion (dependent origination) or the path of truth.  Which one will you choose? 

Reflection

  • Read this talk every day and reflect on it.
  • When a desire or aversion arises, try to recognize it and apply mindfulness.  Can you experience the factors along the path including joy and contentment leading to equanimity?
  • Remember the equanimity is not a permanent condition, you must keep practicing!

Meditation

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