Thursday, August 15, 2013


Dr Ian Ellis-Jones of Melbourne, shares some of his favourite quotations that pertain, directly or indirectly, to Mindfulness and/or Mindfulness Meditation ... as well as to such matters as calmness of mind, silence, tranquility and equanimity:

Let's begin with Webster's Dictionary, which defines mindfulness as "the trait of staying aware (paying close attention to) your responsibilities and/or being present in the moment." Not a bad start ... for a dictionary definition.

Now, let's consider the views of some leading contemporary Theravāda Buddhist authorities. Nyanaponika Thera defines, or  perhaps more accurately describes, Mindfulness as “a kind of attentiveness that … is good, skilful or right (kusala)”. According to Bhikkhu Bodhi Mindfulness is “focused awareness applied to immediate experience in both its subjective and objective factors”. Thānissaro Bhikkhu sees Mindfulness as “the ability to keep something in mind”. Finally, in the words of Ñāṇavīra Thera Mindfulness is “general recollectedness, not being scatterbrained,” and he links it with “reflexion”, that is, knowing what one knows or does as one knows or does it.

J. Krishnamurti used to point out that Mindfulness is a lifelong inquiry into what it means to be present, and to stay present, in the present moment ... with choiceless awareness and bare attention ... and with curiosity (but not credulity). Krishnamurti said, "Learning is movement from moment to moment."

I also love the simplicity of Jon Kabat-Zinn's definition, or rather description, of Mindfulness: "Paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally." ("Falling awake," he calls it!) Ditto, from Ruth Lerman: "Mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose, to what’s happening in the present moment without judgment."

Mindfulness is the direct perception of "what is". It is not so much a "system" per se ... thank goodness ... but, in the words of Jack Kornfield, it is "a systematic training and awakening of body, heart, and mind that is integrated with the world around us". Thich Nhat Hanh writes that to live mindfully is "to keep our appointment with life". Great stuff!

One of the best books - if not the best book - ever written on the subject of meditation is The Heart of Buddhist Meditation by the above mentioned Nyanaponika Thera. In the introduction to the book the author states what I also have found to be true in practice, namely that Mindfulness "provides the most simple and direct, the most thorough and effective, method for training and developing the mind for its daily tasks and problems".

The Nature of Mindfulness and Mindfulness Meditation

“You cannot buy Mindfulness in a grocery store, it must be generated from within yourself.” - Thich Nhat Hahn.

"Why should we observe or watch physical and mental processes as they are? Because we want to realise their true nature. The teaching of the Buddha leads us to the right understanding of natural processes as just natural process. ... When our body feels hot, we should observe that feeling of heat as it is. When the body feels cold, we should observe it as cold. When we feel pain, we should observe it as it is - pain. When we feel happy, we should watch that happiness as it is - as happiness. When we feel angry, we should observe that anger as it really is - as anger. When we feel sorry, we should be mindful of it as it is - as sorry. When we feel sad or disappointed, then we must be aware of our emotional state of sadness or disappointment as it is." - Sayadaw U Janakabhivamsa.

"Those who are awake live in a state of constant amazement." - Shakyamuni Buddha.

"True meditation is constant awareness, constant pliability, and clear discernment." - J. Krishnamurti.

"To meditate is to listen with a receptive heart." - Shakyamuni Buddha.

"When you want ... to understand somebody, something that someone is saying, what is the state of your mind? You are not analysing, not criticizing, judging what the other is saying; you are listening, ar you not? Your mind is in a state where the thought process is not active, but is very alert. Yes? And that alertness is not of time, is it? You are merely being alert, passively receptive, and yet fully aware; and it is only in this state that there is understanding. Surely, when the mind is agitated, questioning, worrying, dissecting, analysing, there is no understanding. And when there is the intensity to understand, the mind is obviously tranquil. This, of course, you have to experiment with, not take my word for it." - J. Krishnamurti.

"[Mindulness] is the cultivation of awareness, bringing the attention to the moment over and over until there is a constant consciousness. This awareness [is] without comment, without discrimination, without judgment ... ." - Steven Harrison.

“Mindfulness is deliberately paying full attention to what is happening around you—in your body, heart and mind. Mindfulness is awareness without criticism or judgment.” - Jan Chozen Bays.

“Mindfulness is about falling awake rather than asleep. Relaxation is more of a side effect. Mindfulness is about being in the present, taking things one moment at a time and being aware of whatever arises – not creating a pleasant experience.” - Shamash Alidina.

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally … When we commit ourselves to paying attention in an open way, without falling prey to our own likes and dislikes, opinions and prejudices, projections and expectations, new possibilities open up and we have a chance to free ourselves from the straitjacket of unconsciousness.” - Jon Kabat-Zinn.

"Mindfulness is the energy that sheds light on all things and all activities, producing the power of concentration, bringing forth deep insight and awakening." - Thich Nhat Hanh.

"Mindfulness refers to keeping one's consciousness alive to the present reality. It is the miracle by which we master and restore ourselves." - Thich Nhat Hanh.

"Mindfulness is a state in which one is open to creating categories, open to new information, and being aware of more than one perspective. Mindlessness is being prematurely bound to a perspective when in a particular situation and then acting from that particular mindest." - Ellen Langer.

"To be mindful is to be fully in the present moment." - William Alexander.

"Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” - James Baraz.

"Mindfulness, then, is the unfailing master key for knowing the mind, and is thus the starting point; the perfect tool for shaping the mind, and is thus the focal point; the lofty manifestation of the achieved freedom of the mind, and is thus the culminating point." - Nyanaponika Thera.

“Some people do not know the difference between mindfulness and concentration. They concentrate on what they're doing, thinking that is being mindful. ... We can concentrate on what we are doing, but if we are not mindful at the same time, with the ability to reflect on the moment, then if somebody interferes with our concentration, we may blow up, get carried away by anger at being frustrated. If we are mindful, we are aware of the tendency to first concentrate and then to feel anger when something interferes with that concentration. With mindfulness we can concentrate when it is appropriate to do so and not concentrate when it is appropriate not to do so.” - Ajahn Sumedho.

"[Mindfulness] is not concerned with anything transcendent or divine. It serves as an antidote to theism, a cure for sentimental piety, a scalpel for excising the tumor of metaphysical belief." - Stephen Batchelor.

“The practice of mindfulness begins in the small, remote cave of your unconscious mind and blossoms with the sunlight of your conscious life, reaching far beyond the people and places you can see.” - Earon Davis.

“Use each experience you encounter to awaken, and enlighten yourself. This is the key.” - Shinjo Ito.

"You have to remember one life, one death–this one! To enter fully the day, the hour, the moment whether it appears as life or death, whether we catch it on the inbreath or outbreath, requires only a moment, this moment. And along with it all the mindfulness we can muster, and each stage of our ongoing birth, and the confident joy of our inherent luminosity." - Stephen Levine.

"No technique, no communication skill or psychological process can come anywhere close to the effectiveness of being 100% present. It is not an easy thing to do." - Danaan Parry.

" is often more difficult to remember to be mindful than to be mindful itself.” - Donald Rothberg.

“If you are doing mindfulness meditation, you are doing it with your ability to attend to the moment.” - Daniel Goleman.

“The letting go or acceptance of your experience and state of mind as it is, is always the act of living completely and perfectly in this moment. For we have noted that ego consciousness is a bondage of time, being essentially a complex of memories and anticipations. All egocentric action has an eye to the past or the future; in the strict present the ego does not exist. This is easier to prove by experiment rather than theory, for in concentrating simply and solely upon what is happening at this moment, anticipation and anxiety vanish. ... Many masters of the spiritual life have therefore laid especial value upon the exercise of living and thinking simply in this moment, letting the past and the future drop out of the mind; for the ego drops away with them, together with its pride in the past and its fear and greed for the future." - Alan Watts.

"In what is seen there must be just the seen; in what is heard there must be just the heard; in what is sensed (a small, taste or touch) there must be just what is sensed; in what is thought there must be just the thought." - Udana I, 10 (trans by Nyanaponika Thera).

"The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it." - Thich Nhat Hanh.

"Nothing is as important as this day." - Goethe.

"Few of us ever live in the present. We are forever anticipating what is to come or remembering what has gone." - Louis L’Amour.

"Like a child standing in a beautiful park with his eyes shut tight, there's no need to imagine trees, flowers, deer, birds, and sky; we merely need to open our eyes and realize what is already here, who we already are - as soon as we stop pretending we're small or unholy." - Bo Lozoff.

“I exist as I am – that is enough;
If no other in the world be aware, I sit content.” - Walt Whitman.

“The habit of ignoring our present moments in favor of others yet to come leads directly to a pervasive lack of awareness of the web of life in which we are embedded. This includes a lack of awareness and understanding of our own mind and how it influences our perceptions and our actions. It severely limits our perspective on what it means to be a person and how we are connected to each other and the world around us. Religion has traditionally been the domain of such fundamental inquiries within a spiritual framework, but mindfulness has little to do with religion, except in the most fundamental meaning of the word, as an attempt to appreciate the deep mystery of being alive and to acknowledge being vitally connected to all that exists.” - Jon Kabat-Zinn.

"Thought has no future. When thought projects itself away from the present, the future is created." - J. Krishnamurti.

"The moment we want to be something we are no longer free." - J. Krishnamurti.
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1 comment:

  1. Thanks. Just one thing---I live in Sydney, not Melbourne, Australia. Cheers, Ian Ellis-Jones.