Feelings, perceptions and thoughts are arising continually and one tries to be aware of them in whatever domain they happen but the response that occurs in the fourth foundation, ‘contents of the mind’ is the important one. Here one becomes aware of the defilements and how they control thinking, but by keeping the mind anchored in one of the three signata, impermanence, suffering or non-self (this is the remembering aspect of mindfulness) and seeing how the habitual response differs from that perception, one is able to root it out and change one's position of observation from clinging to renunciation. Even opening up and being aware of this influence of habitual thought weakens it, otherwise it operates behind the scenes. Habitual responses stem from conventional reality and its purely functional role in maintaining the body, which is a different project to the aims of the Path.
The understanding of the three signata initially impermanence, should be strengthened as a separate exercise through study and contemplation, for example impermanence as a natural process and in the body of others through observation, visiting morgues etc., then they become a powerful tool when applied to interrogate incoming perceptions and thoughts. As practice develops, suffering follows as the mark by which to question responses. It is said that all states except craving and states free from cankers are included in the truth of suffering (Vism. XVI, 86.)
“The entire world is nothing but an affair of delusion, an affair of suffering. People who don't know the Dhamma, don't practice the Dhamma — no matter what their status or position in life — lead deluded, oblivious lives. When they fall ill or are about to die, they're bound to suffer enormously because they haven't taken the time to understand the defilements that burn their hearts and minds in everyday life. Yet if we make a constant practice of studying and contemplating ourselves as our everyday activity, it will help free us from all sorts of suffering and distress. And when this is the case, how can we not want to practice?” —“Looking Inward”, Upasika Kee Nanayon.
Upasika Kee Nanayon had the support of practising in a Buddhist country, but there is an emotional content to this process which does not figure prominently in the texts, as the abandoning of long-held responses and views which have a resonance in conventional society puts one into a seemingly isolated position and courage is needed in the battle. This is a particular feature of the western form of Buddhism which is in a pioneering stage and operates in non-Buddhist countries. Once views have been changed through insight, then there is the work over time of replacing habitual mental (perception and consciousness) and behavioural responses and all this pursuit is at the forefront of western culture, striking into unknown territory.
Last edited by paul
on Fri Jan 06, 2017 10:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.