Occasional Mind Conditioners

by Peter Carlson on September 30, 2016

During this talk, the exploration of the 52 cetasikas, categories that condition how the mind creates a self continues.  The focus is the Universal Cetasikas, that is mind conditioning categories that occasionally coordinate with the Universal Cetasikas.  These occasional cetasikas are vitakka, (aiming attention at a mind object), vicara, (sustained attention regarding a mind object), adhimokkha, (conviction or determination regarding a mind object’s formation), viriya (energy or persistence regarding the emerging mind object formation), piti, (enthusiasm regarding the emerging mind object formation) and chanda, (will to do, that is, the activating of the emerging mind object formation).

These mind conditioners co-operate with the Universal Cetasikas; these combinations are then aligned either with unwholesome cetasikas (producing dukkha, that is, confusion and distress) or wholesome cetasikas (producing liberation from dukkha).

Peter talked about how the simple practice of mindfulness of breathing supports liberation because mindfulness (a wholesome mind conditioner), when combined with vitakka, vicara and viriya supports deeper insights into how self-state organization is manifested, in the moment of becoming a self.

This was followed by discussion by the other meditators regarding how this understanding of self-organization processes is of benefit for dedicated meditators.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  the-occasional-cetasikas

Agile Mind Guided Meditation

by Peter Carlson on August 27, 2015

This is a guided meditation to accompany the next posting on training the mind to be agile and accurate.

Deerhaven 2015 Second Night Dhamma Talk

by Peter Carlson on March 28, 2015

During this talk, Peter read passages of the Anapanasati Sutta, the discourse on the practice of mindfulness of breathing.  The passages referred to provide training for cultivating vitakka and vicara, aiming attention at the breath and sustaining that awareness.  With practice, awareness  of the sensation of breathing becomes more intimate and persistent, setting the circumstances that support the practice of  vipassana, insight into the characteristics of impermanence, non-self and the consequences of craving and clinging.

Universal and Occasional Mind Conditioners

by Peter Carlson on February 19, 2015

This talk continues the exploration of the Anapanasati Sutta.  The topic this week is “…sensitive to the mind fabrications…calming the mind fabrications”, regarding the cetasikas, the categorically listed functions of the mind.  Specific attention was given to the universal cetasikas, involved in every moment of cognition, and the particular or occasional cetasikas, which may or may not be involved.  Peter emphasized that these functions were developed over the centuries after the historical Buddha as part of the Abhidhamma, the “higher teachings” of Buddhist psychology.  They can be somewhat dry as a focus of study; their value is in “deconstructing” the belief in a separate, enduring self or soul.

This  was followed by general discussion of how training awareness to discern the emerging formations increases the functional competency of the seven awakening factors, particularly “investigation of mental phenomena”.

Next week’s discussion will review the 14 “unwholesome mind conditioners”.

Calming The Breath Body

by Peter Carlson on January 29, 2015

During this dhamma dialogue, the exploration of the Anapanasati Sutta was continued, with a focus on the stanzas: “…He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.’  He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.’

Peter described an ongoing debate as to whether “the entire body” simply refers to the totality of the in- and out-breath cycle without interruption, or whether “the entire body” relates the calming effects of enduring breath awareness is coordinated with relaxing “the bodily fabrication”.  The accompanying .mp3 recording of the training meditation that immediately preceded this dialogue orients towards the latter interpretation, emphasizing that the out-breath can coincide with briefly sweeping attention through the body to release and relax any tension that is noted.  This strategy allows the body to become increasingly relaxed, the emotions to become increasingly calm, while the degree of internal investigation of the breath and body tensions actually increases internal alertness.

This explanation was followed by dialogues regarding how those participating in the training meditation experienced the practice of mindfulness of breathing.  It was noted that suggesting that attention is a flow of energy that is simply nourishing either wholesome or unwholesome self-states, and that the breath is a wholesome factor in that process, as it interrupts the escalation of self-talk and fosters calming.

The next scheduled talk will focus on the effects of this mindful calming, the release of energy into awareness as joy and happiness.

Acquiring Breath Awareness

During this dhamma dialogue, Peter fostered discussion of the preceding guided “acquiring breath awareness” meditition practice, posted just prior to this posting.  He explained the importance of the practice of vitakka and vicara, that is intentionally bring focus to the sensations of breathing, then to sustain that awareness.  Peter described the maturing of the practice […]

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Guided Acquiring The Breath Meditation

This is a guided meditation that supports the practice of mindfulness of breathing, particularly the “mindful of the long…and short…) stanzas at the beginning of the instructions for anapanasati practice.  The recording of a guided 45 minute meditation on Wednesday nights is unusual; this particular meditation included the placing of small amounts of Mentholatum, a […]

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