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Lions Roar : March 2011
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2011 44 fear; a seed of mindfulness, compassion; a seed of understand- ing, and so on. store consciousness is made of the totality of the seeds, and it is also the soil that preserves and maintains all the seeds. The seeds stay there until we hear, see, read, or think of something that touches a seed and makes us feel the anger, joy, or sorrow. This is a seed coming up and manifesting on the level of mind consciousness, in our living room. now we no longer call it a seed, but a mental formation. When someone touches the seed of anger by saying something or doing something that upsets us, that seed of anger will come up and manifest in mind consciousness as the mental formation (cittasamskara) of anger. The word “formation” is a Buddhist term for something that’s created by many conditions coming together. a marker pen is a formation; my hand, a flower, a table, a house, are all formations. a house is a physical formation. my hand is a physiological formation. my anger is a mental forma- tion. In Buddhist psychology we speak about fifty-one varieties of seeds that can manifest as fifty-one mental formations. anger is just one of them. In store consciousness, anger is called a seed. In mind consciousness, it’s called a mental formation. Whenever a seed, say the seed of anger, comes up into our living room and manifests as a mental formation, the first thing we can do is to touch the seed of mindfulness and invite it to come up too. now we have two mental formations in the liv- ing room. This is mindfulness of anger. mindfulness is always mindfulness of something. When we breathe mindfully, that is mindfulness of breathing. When we walk mindfully, that is mindfulness of walking. When we eat mindfully, that’s mind- fulness of eating. so in this case, mindfulness is mindfulness of anger. mindfulness recognizes and embraces anger. our practice is based on the insight of nonduality—anger is not an enemy. Both mindfulness and anger are ourselves. mindfulness is there not to suppress or fight against anger, but to recognize and take care of it—like a big brother helping a younger brother. so the en- ergy of anger is recognized and embraced tenderly by the energy of mindfulness. every time we need the energy of mindfulness, we just touch that seed with our mindful breathing or mind- ful walking, smiling, and then we have the energy ready to do the work of rec- ognizing, embracing, and later on look- ing deeply and transforming. Whatever we’re doing, whether it’s cooking, sweep- ing, washing, walking, or being aware of our breathing, we can continue to gen- erate the energy of mindfulness, and the seed of mindfulness in us will become strong. Within the seed of mindfulness is the seed of concentration. With these two energies, we can lib- erate ourselves from afflictions. The mind needs good circulation We know there are toxins in our body. If our blood doesn’t circu- late well, these toxins accumulate. In order to remain healthy, our body works to expel the toxins. When the blood circulates well, the kidneys and the liver can do their job to dispel toxins. We can use massage to help the blood circulate better. our consciousness, too, may be in a state of bad circulation. We may have a block of suffering, pain, sorrow, or despair in us; it’s like a toxin in our consciousness. We call this an inter- nal formation or internal knot. embracing our pain and sorrow with the energy of mindfulness is the practice of massaging our consciousness. When the blood doesn’t circulate well, our or- gans can’t function properly, and we get sick. When our psyche doesn’t circulate well, our mind will become sick. mindfulness stimulates and accelerates circulation throughout blocks of pain. occupying the living room our blocks of pain, sorrow, anger, and despair always want to come up into our mind consciousness, into our living room, be- cause they’ve grown big and need our attention. They want to emerge, but we don’t want these uninvited guests to come up be- cause they’re painful to look at. so we try to block their way. We want them to stay asleep down in the basement. We don’t want to face them, so our habit is to fill the living room with other guests. Whenever we have ten or fifteen minutes of free time, we do anything we can to keep our living room occupied. We call a friend. We pick up a book. We turn on the television. We go for a drive. We hope that if the living room is occupied, these unpleas- ant mental formations will not come up. But all mental formations need to circulate. If we don’t let them come up, it creates bad circulation in our psyche, and symptoms of mental illness and depression begin to manifest in our mind and body. sometimes when we have a head- ache, we take aspirin, but our headache doesn’t go away. sometimes this kind of headache can be a symptom of mental illness. perhaps we have allergies. We think it’s a physical problem, but aller- gies can also be a symptom of mental illness. We are advised by doctors to take drugs, but sometimes these will contin- ue to suppress our internal formations, making our sickness worse. draWIng BY lIla Wagschal, age 6