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Sunday, October 15, 2006

What Does it Mean to be Mindful?

What does it mean to be mindful? It means to be fully aware right here, concentrating on what is going on inside. . . . Mindfulness is not necessarily concentrating on an object. Being aware of confusion is also being mindful. If we have all kind of things coming at our senses--noises, people demanding this and that--we cannot concentrate on any one of them for very long. But we can be aware of the confusion, or the excitement, or the impingement; we can be aware of the reactions in our own minds. That is what we call being mindful.

--Ajahn Sumedho, in Teachings of a Buddhist Monk
from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book.

James: This is one of the best descriptions of mindfulness that I have read. It shows me that I shouldn't feel inadequate for feeling confusion. That I shouldn't feel that I'm not being mindful because I'm experiencing confusing emotions. That mindfulness isn't only for when we are experiencing "good" emotions and experiences. How wonderful this teaching!!

Experiencing confusion can be a constructive occurence when we embrace it with mindfulness. This is such a beautifully simple teaching and yet I have been seeing past it's simplicity for some time now. As usual I've been making it too hard. Seeing past the obvious not believing that it would be that simple to understand. There is a part of me that wants to make Buddhist teachings more esoteric then true wisdom, mindfulness and right view reveal. It's interesting how one can read all kinds of talks and teachings about a subject but not grasp its core until it is worded a certain way where it breaks through the snares of one's ego. One explanation may hit home for someone but not for someone else.

One has to experience the Dharma teachings for themselves to gain a testimony of right wisdom.

Then again I'm no expert on the Dharma nor Buddhism.

~Peace to all beings~

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theycallmemac said...

This is a great reminder that even when one's mind seems to be moving at a faster pace than they would want it is still possible to practice mindfulness if you stop trying to grasp at one mental state or thought and just become aware of all of these thoughts if only for a moment. I agree completely with you, James. Certain teachings are just the right thing for certain people at a certain moment and don't be discouraged if a certain teaching is not breaking through the ego exactly the way you hoped, there are other teachings that can. And maybe at another moment in time that certain teaching will be more enlightening.

"James" said...


Yeah, it's like a calming, reassuring hug and word that reminds us that things aren't as bad as they appear. :)

You're right, not being discouraged and being patient when things don't seem to make complete sense is vital in our practice. It's a form of faith if you will. Who says there is no such thing as faith in Buddhism??

wsoftheart said...

Greetings, I'm thrilled to have come across your blog (via another blog from the Radical Women of Color Bloggers network). I visited Deer Park Monastery this September and it was a very profound experience. Your blog then led me to the dharma casts that the monastics of Deer Park produce. I'm happy to be able to find these resources on the web as a way to help me continue my practice! Blessings to you. :)

theycallmemac said...

Aren't those dharma casts wonderful, wsoftheart? I forgot to thank you for turning me on to those as well, James. Thanks!

"James" said...


Blessings to you as well. I am happy to bring the Deer Park DharmaCasts to you. I would like to visit Deer Park at some point myself.


They ARE're very welcome friend. I bow to the Buddha within you.

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