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Lions Roar : January 2013
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2013 53 Mindfulness, Concentration, and Insight From the time of his first teaching delivered to his first disci- ples, the Buddha was very clear and practical about how we can transform our difficulties, both individually and collectively. He focused on how we put the teachings into practice in our every- day lives. That is ethics. Practice is key because practice generates mindfulness, concentration, and insight. These three energies are the foundation of all Buddhist practice and Buddhist ethics. We cannot speak about Buddhist ethics without speaking of these three energies. Mindfulness, concentration, and insight help us build a path that will lead to peace and happiness, trans- formation and healing. It is so important that we don’t focus on ethics in the abstract. Our basic practice is the practice of gen- erating the energy of mindfulness, concentration, and insight. We rely on our insight to guide us and help us bring compassion, understanding, harmony, and peace to ourselves and to the world. Recently, a Christian theologian asked me how to bring about a global spirituality. The person who interviewed me seemed to dis- tinguish between the spiritual and the ethical, but there is always a relationship between the two. Anything can be spiritual. When I pick up my tea in mindfulness, when I look at my tea mindfully, and begin to drink my tea in mindfulness, tea drinking becomes very spiritual. When I brush my teeth in mindfulness, aware that it’s wonderful to have the time to enjoy brushing my teeth, aware that I’m alive, aware that the wonders of life are all around me, and aware that I can brush with love and joy, then tooth-brushing becomes spiritual. When you go to the toilet, defecating or urinat- ing, if you are mindful, this can also be very spiritual. So there’s a deep link between the ethical and the spiritual. If you can’t see the spiritual in the ethical, your ethics may be empty. You