Skip to content Skip to footer

Sharpen Your Mindfulness

The opening of the 4-day, 3-night meditation retreat last week for my old students was a success. The dynamic is now back into the Dhamma mode. Now that I’m back to teaching Vipassana meditation (Mindfulness Meditation) again, let me review the principles of Vipassana meditation based on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness.

Vipassana is about observing. The Foundation refers to basic principles of “Four,” meaning the four principles for being mindful, namely: 1. Mindfulness of the body: Know every action and movement.  2. Mindfulness of feelings: Clearly know which feelings you have, both in your mind and body. 3. Mindfulness of the mind: Know your state of mind. For example, feeling soft, heavy, depressed, sad, or distracted. 4. Mindfulness of Dhamma: Know that all of these are the states happening to yourself at that very moment.

So now you know…what’s next?

Detach yourself from satisfaction and dissatisfaction. That is, let your mind be equanimous, not attached to or having a remaining attachment to whatever feelings that occur; know that and stay mindful.

To be equanimous does not mean having no feelings for anything. It means to acknowledge and accept your feelings truthfully as they are. Humans must have feelings; feelings are a sign of humanness. Only dead people are without feelings.

In the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, practice with any Vipassana technique once feelings occur. Don’t let the mind follow or react to that emotion; just know it as it is but don’t take it in. Don’t let the mind attach to that emotion because what stirs the emotion is Kilesa (mind impurities). If you let your mind follow feeling and thoughts, you’re allowing yourself to be fooled by Kilesa. But if you just acknowledge it without reacting, that emotion will be cut off by the power of mindfulness. It sounds easy, but actually, it isn’t at all because letting go or equanimity requires the power of mind.

Those who can do it must have been practicing and have less impurities in their mind. Kilesa that bind their minds with Samsara have become weaker or broken. This state is called Samyojana, or fetters (the rope that ties the mind). When the mind is free from attachments or possessions, it will rise higher and higher until it reaches the first stage of enlightenment. That means the mind will get light to the level that a person will no longer be born in the lower realms. When the mind is more purified, it will move up to the second and third stages of enlightenment. If there are no impurities left in the mind, meaning the mind is powerful enough to entirely cuts off all fetters, it will reach enlightenment.

Based on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, Techo Vipassana meditation is the technique that uses the fire element in the body to burn impurities. While practicing, the mind must maintain mindfulness, consciousness, and equanimity at the same time. Focusing is the power of concentration. Mindfulness and equanimity are part of Vipassana. When impurities are destroyed, things that are never known become known. Anything that clouds the mind will be destroyed, allowing the mind to see the hidden truth. Knowing the truth is a state of wisdom in Dhamma which leads to enlightenment.

The core of Vipassana meditation that the Buddha taught gives much importance to mindfulness. That’s why it’s called the Four Foundations of Mindfulness; having the mind as an acting base to attain enlightenment.

I have one experience about mindfulness. Once, I got up from my bed and walked to the bathroom in the dark. Normally, it is a smooth walk because I am mindful, but when I tried walking and thinking about something else at the same time, I bumped into the wall. I’ve experimented with this many times and the results have varied from deviating from the direction or hitting the wall.

This story may sound insignificant, but I feel it is amazing. It clearly shows the harm in the lack of mindfulness. Most of the time, we’ve heard about it in terms of fine energy, but this substantial result is something that everybody can test and feel. Although I’m a Vipassana master, mistakes still happen if I’m not mindful. What about the untrained mind? How many mistakes can it make?

When practicing Vipassana, you must keep your mind sharp. Sharpening the sword of mindfulness is the key to Vipassana meditation practice. The sword of mindfulness is the weapon of the mind and body.

Letting the sword get rusty is the same as losing a battle even before the war starts. If you never enter the battlefield, when can you claim victory?

Sharpen your sword…