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Lions Roar : September 2016
(or form in general) and feeling. Mind cannot really express itself without the body and feeling. Therefore mind, in the third stage of mindfulness, is the basic idea of consciousness, of awareness. Finally, we have the fourth object, phenomena. Ordinarily, we relate to phenomena as the basis of confusion. However, from this perspective, phenomena are seen as the basis of both confusion and liberation, of samsara and nirvana. Samsara and nirvana appear and are experienced on the basis of phenomena. Our misunderstandings and unhealthy relationships with these four objects lead us into the vicious circle of samsara. Sam- sara’s game of illusion arises from a lack of prajna in our relation- ships with these four objects. Therefore, we develop prajna so we can relate with them more profoundly, as well as more basically. The Essence of Mindfulness What is mindfulness? The essence of mindfulness is the prajna of seeing—the wisdom that understands and experiences the true nature of form, the true nature of feeling, the true nature of mind, and the true nature of phenomena. To practice this means to focus, place, or relate your mind closely with these four situations or objects. Relating with these four objects dir- ectly with our prajna means experiencing them without any labels. This is what we call the practice of mindfulness. The essence of these practices is experiencing these four THE PALI WORD SATI , which in modern times is rendered as “mindfulness,” actually means “recollection” or “bearing in mind.” What do you recollect? What do you bear in mind? You recollect the true nature of phenomena, which can be summed up as impermanence, suffering, and no-self. These are not con- cepts but methods of practice in daily life. Impermanence means that in moment-to-moment experi- ences, there is nothing graspable as a fixed self or reified exis- tence. For example, as soon as we feel “this is my body, my feeling, my thought, or whatever situation I find myself in,” we have already frozen the natural flow of conditions into a “story.” Suf- fering is maintained through stories we tell ourselves about how we or the world are fundamentally fixed. To be the changing flow of conditions without fixation is the truth of no-self. In other words, impermanence is the key. If we resist it, then we swing to the side of suffering. If we don’t resist it, then we realize the wisdom of no-self. Practicing according to these three principles of buddhadharma is mindfulness. In the Chan tradition, which became Zen in Japan, the prac- objects without any barrier between you as the knower and the experienced object. The absence of any barrier is prajna. Prajna is also without coloring; therefore, we see the objects’ basic state and relate with that. The fundamental simplicity of the object is the essence or nature of mindfulness. The Result On the basic Buddhist level, the result of these four mindful- nesses is the realization or actualization of the four noble truths. Through the mindfulness of body and the mindfulness of feel- ing, we come to the realization of the truths of suffering and the causes of suffering. With the mindfulness of mind, we come to the realization of the truth of cessation, of completely being freed. And the fourth mindfulness, the mindfulness of phenom- ena, brings us to the realization of the path that leads to cessation. If we understand the interdependent nature of all phenomena, if we can relate with all phenomena as emptiness, then that is the path leading us to the result of nirvana, or cessation. From the Mahayana point of view, the result of these four mindfulnesses is the realization of twofold egolessness—the ego- lessness of self and the egolessness of phenomena. In Mahayana Buddhism, that is essentially what mindfulness is all about. ♦ DZOGCHEN PONLOP RINPOCHE is a master of the Nyingma and Kagyu schools of Vajrayana Buddhism. His latest book is Emotional Rescue. Exposing, Embracing, Responding & Letting Go In the Chan practice of mindfulness, GUO GO explains, four steps help us realize the three marks of existence and the four noble truths. tice of mindfulness can be approached in four ways: exposing, embracing, responding, and letting go. Mindfulness means exposing all forms of reification or attachment to permanence—this is the way to end suffering. Embracing means not rejecting vexations and life because they show us the causes of suffering as we turn them into the conditions of liberation. Responding means uncontrived action, in which we work cre- atively with causes and conditions without attachment. This is the truth of cessation as wondrous function. Letting go refers to no-attainment, the antidote to our inces- sant desires, which is the truth of the path. These practices can be simple or profound, depending on the practitioner’s insight. They realize the three seals of buddhad- harma and the four noble truths in either a gradual or sudden manner. This is the wisdom of mindfulness practice in Chan. ♦ GUO GU (Jimmy Yu) is the founder of the Tallahassee Chan Center in Florida and the author of Passing Through the Gateless Barrier. LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2016 60