Purpose of practicing mindfulness

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D1W1
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Purpose of practicing mindfulness

Post by D1W1 » Tue Aug 11, 2015 3:33 am

Hello all,

We often practice mindfulness but what is the real purpose of practicing mindfulness? Is it to change negative (mental states) to positive ones or just watch them without changing anything or something else? Thanks.

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tiltbillings
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Re: Purpose of practicing mindfulness

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Aug 11, 2015 4:04 am

D1W1 wrote:Hello all,

We often practice mindfulness but what is the real purpose of practicing mindfulness? Is it to change negative (mental states) to positive ones or just watch them without changing anything or something else? Thanks.
It is to see change (among other things).
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

D1W1
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Re: Purpose of practicing mindfulness

Post by D1W1 » Tue Aug 11, 2015 4:21 am

tiltbillings wrote:
D1W1 wrote:Hello all,

We often practice mindfulness but what is the real purpose of practicing mindfulness? Is it to change negative (mental states) to positive ones or just watch them without changing anything or something else? Thanks.
It is to see change (among other things).
Of course. But if one sees the mental cycle and habit, do you replace the negative with positive ones or just watch the negative mental state?
I think negative mental states need to be recognized with mindfulness and then replace it with positive ones. Prevent the negative quality from arising in the future and repeating positive qualities until become a habit. But from my understanding, the purpose is to see change?

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tiltbillings
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Re: Purpose of practicing mindfulness

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Aug 11, 2015 4:29 am

D1W1 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
D1W1 wrote:Hello all,

We often practice mindfulness but what is the real purpose of practicing mindfulness? Is it to change negative (mental states) to positive ones or just watch them without changing anything or something else? Thanks.
It is to see change (among other things).
Of course. But if one sees the mental cycle and habit, do you replace the negative with positive ones or just watch the negative mental state?
I think negative mental states need to be recognized with mindfulness and then replace it with positive ones. Prevent the negative quality from arising in the future and repeating positive qualities until become a habit. But from my understanding, the purpose is to see change?
what is the nature of the negative mental state?
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

pegembara
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Re: Purpose of practicing mindfulness

Post by pegembara » Tue Aug 11, 2015 6:10 am

D1W1 wrote:Hello all,

We often practice mindfulness but what is the real purpose of practicing mindfulness? Is it to change negative (mental states) to positive ones or just watch them without changing anything or something else? Thanks.
The purpose of satipatthana (mindfulness regarding body, feelings, mental states and dhammas) is to see things as they are ie. anicca, dukkha and anatta.
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

Mawkish1983
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Re: Purpose of practicing mindfulness

Post by Mawkish1983 » Tue Aug 11, 2015 6:29 am

Purpose of practising mindfulness: to develop mindfulness.

SarathW
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Re: Purpose of practicing mindfulness

Post by SarathW » Tue Aug 11, 2015 6:34 am

Purpose of mindfulness is to attain Nibbana. (the highest happiness)
:D
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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samseva
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Re: Purpose of practicing mindfulness

Post by samseva » Tue Aug 11, 2015 6:39 am

“The only way that leads to the attainment of purity, to the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, to the end of pain and grief, to the entering of the right path, and to the realization of Nibbāna is the 4 foundations of mindfulness.”
- D. 22
From Nyanatiloka Thera's Buddhist Dictionary:
http://www.buddhistelibrary.org/en/disp ... p?pid=1956
(4) Concerning the mind-objects (dhammānupassanā), he knows whether one of the five hindrances (nīvaraṇa, q.v.) is present in him or not, knows how it arises, how it is overcome, and how in future it does no more arise. He knows the nature of each of the five groups (khandha, q.v.), how they arise, and how they are dissolved. He knows the 12 bases of all mental activity (āyatana q.v.): the eye and the visual object, the ear and the audible object,... mind and mind-object, he knows the fetters (saṃyojana, q.v.) based on them, knows how they arise, how they are overcome, and how in future they do no more arise. He knows whether one of the seven factors of enlightenment (bojjhanga, q.v.) is present in him or not, knows how it arises, and how it comes to full development. Each of the Four Noble Truths (sacca, q.v.) he understands according to reality.
And many more reasons.

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Goofaholix
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Re: Purpose of practicing mindfulness

Post by Goofaholix » Tue Aug 11, 2015 6:51 am

D1W1 wrote:We often practice mindfulness but what is the real purpose of practicing mindfulness? Is it to change negative (mental states) to positive ones or just watch them without changing anything or something else? Thanks.
As has already been pointed out we "practice" mindfulness in order to develop mindfulness.

If you have developed mindfulness then you are more likely too see those negative states (among other things) sooner after they arise.

If you see those negative states sooner after they arise then you have a choice, you can choose to let them run their course or you can choose to do something about them.

If you don't have mindfulness and don't see these negative states arise then you don't have choice.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

mal4mac
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Re: Purpose of practicing mindfulness

Post by mal4mac » Tue Aug 11, 2015 7:42 am

D1W1 wrote:Hello all,

We often practice mindfulness but what is the real purpose of practicing mindfulness? Is it to change negative (mental states) to positive ones or just watch them without changing anything or something else? Thanks.
Both of those. You 'just watch them' without trying to change them, then 'just watching them' changes them.
D1W1 wrote:do you replace the negative with positive ones or just watch the negative mental state?"
If you *try* to replace the negative with the positive ones then you are no longer practising mindfulness. Just watch the negative mental states, and, on a good day, like puddles facing the mid-day sun, they evaporate (even though the sun isn't 'trying' or doing anything different when confronted by the puddles.)
D1W1 wrote:I think negative mental states need to be recognized with mindfulness and then replace it with positive ones.-

Mindfulness itself can often do the removing, after long and repeated application. But it's only one of eight path factors, and pursuing the whole path is necessary for removing negative states, then positive ones will arise.
D1W1 wrote:But from my understanding, the purpose is to see change?
Yes that's also my understanding. But, my understanding is also that you need to see the two other characteristics (suffering, no-self). But the ultimate purpose is, of course, the end of suffering.
- Mal

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Zom
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Re: Purpose of practicing mindfulness

Post by Zom » Tue Aug 11, 2015 9:46 am

We often practice mindfulness but what is the real purpose of practicing mindfulness?
The purpose of developing sati (often translated as "mindfulness") is achieving concentration (defined as jhanas). Based on jhanas you use sati further to get deepest insight into dependent origination (paticcasamuppada), thus gaining nibbana which is the end of the Path.

:coffee:

If we take a look on the path factors:

7) Right mindfulness leads to 8) Right concentration, which leads to 9) Right knowledge and 10) Right liberation.

D1W1
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Re: Purpose of practicing mindfulness

Post by D1W1 » Tue Aug 11, 2015 10:41 am

Thanks all for your prompt reply
Goofaholix wrote:
If you have developed mindfulness then you are more likely too see those negative states (among other things) sooner after they arise.

If you see those negative states sooner after they arise then you have a choice, you can choose to let them run their course or you can choose to do something about them.

If you don't have mindfulness and don't see these negative states arise then you don't have choice.
mal4mac wrote:
Both of those. You 'just watch them' without trying to change them, then 'just watching them' changes them.

If you *try* to replace the negative with the positive ones then you are no longer practising mindfulness. Just watch the negative mental states, and, on a good day, like puddles facing the mid-day sun, they evaporate (even though the sun isn't 'trying' or doing anything different when confronted by the puddles.)

Sorry for being unclear, what I mean is, say for example someone's mind has the tendency to think negatively.

You can recognize negative mental states because you have mindfulness. You choose to let them run their course or choose to do something about them, you have a choice. In other words, you don't just watch them, right? After you notice it, effort is made to change the negative thinking to neutral or positive outlook.

For example, you have negative feelings toward a friend who didn't make a call as he promised. With mindfulness you realized you are thinking negatively, you make an effort to change your outlook to neutral or positive ones. Otherwise that would be the same as you know you can't eat certain foods but you still consume it and watch the pain rising and falling?

nmz
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Re: Purpose of practicing mindfulness

Post by nmz » Tue Aug 11, 2015 1:28 pm

"In this way he remains focused internally on mental qualities in & of themselves, or externally on mental qualities in & of themselves, or both internally & externally on mental qualities in & of themselves. Or he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to mental qualities, on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to mental qualities, or on the phenomenon of origination & passing away with regard to mental qualities. Or his mindfulness that 'There are mental qualities' is maintained to the extent of knowledge & remembrance. And he remains independent, unsustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the five hindrances.
Maha-satipatthana Sutta (DN 22)

In this sense, one doesn't need to change it. It is NOT also just to watch it. You can contemplate qualities (weak or strong, good or bad, ect), origination(cause and effect), passing away(cause and effect) etc. After contemplating it and being satisfied yourself, come back to the primary focus.

To your question, mindfulness is to build up "samadhi", which purify one's mind and, if carry on, lead to jhana. We need this purified (and analytic) mind because we want to see things as they really are, which will result in vipassana wisdom i.e. seeing anicca, dukkha, anatta. Then one will want to escape from these anicca, dukkha, anatta, one will start looking for a way for escaping it. That way he's seeking turns out to be Noble Eightfold Path.
:) So easy to tell in words. But so difficult when practicing.
Last edited by nmz on Tue Aug 11, 2015 1:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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bodom
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Re: Purpose of practicing mindfulness

Post by bodom » Tue Aug 11, 2015 1:44 pm

The Buddha tells us the purpose right in the beginning of the satipatthana sutta:
The Blessed One said this: "This is the direct path for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow & lamentation, for the disappearance of pain & distress, for the attainment of the right method, & for the realization of Unbinding — in other words, the four frames of reference.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:namaste:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

mal4mac
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Re: Purpose of practicing mindfulness

Post by mal4mac » Tue Aug 11, 2015 2:01 pm

D1W1 wrote:You can recognize negative mental states because you have mindfulness. You choose to let them run their course or choose to do something about them, you have a choice. In other words, you don't just watch them, right? After you notice it, effort is made to change the negative thinking to neutral or positive outlook.
Short answer: YOU DO JUST WATCH THEM.

Longer answer:

Here's my notes from Anãlayo's "Satipatthãna: The Direct Path to Realization" https://www.buddhismuskunde.uni-hamburg ... t-path.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; on this matter.

---------------------------------------------------

viii.2 NON-REACTIVE AWARENESS OF ONE’S STATE OF MIND
Unwholesome actions and speech should be overcome by better conduct, but mental defilements (lust, anger…) are best overcome through wise observation of them, and the volition or driving force that produced them. -175

Other approaches to unwholesome thoughts:
* direct attention to something wholesome
* reflect on the danger of succumbing to them. [I'm not actually sure how to do this...]
* “crush” them, a last resort. [Or this...] -176
----------------------------------------------------

So if you have anger try and be mindful of the anger and what is causing it. If this doesn't help, then pay attention to something wholesome - I recommend the breath. Outside that, better conduct in daily life should help. Beyond that, and beyond Analayo, I apply "Greek" Socratic & Stoic methods to my negative thoughts, and that can deflate the negative emotions. But this is certainly outside formal meditation practice - the two 'practices' could not mix at all. (All that Greek thinking would destroy Buddhist mindfulness...)

Analayo has a list of references if you want to 'dig in' to effortful ways of changing your thoughts - but (I reckon) just being mindful of the thoughts, or your breath, is 99% of what you should be doing. If you are mindful of a negative thoughts and then start thinking "I gotta change this, let's try something...blah... blah...blah...' you have immediately destroyed mindfulness, concentration, meditation and have de-railed yourself from the path.
- Mal

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