These are notes from Joseph Goldstein’s book “Mindfulness.” These notes are from Chapter 5 on Contemplating the Four Foundations.
There is a refrain that occurs 13 times in the sutra. An abbreviated version is thus:
In this way, in regard to the body (feelings, mind, dhammas) one abides contemplating the body (feelings, mind, dhammas) internally, or one abides contemplating externally, or one abides contemplating both internally and externally.
One abides contemplating the nature of arising in the body (feelings, mind, dhammas)…. The nature of passing away in….or the nature of both arising and passing away in.
Mindfulness that ‘there is a body’ (feelings, mind, dhammas) is established in one to the extent necessary for bare knowledge and continuous mindfulness.
And one abides independent, not clinging to anything in the world…
Reminding us again and again to:
- Contemplate our experience internally, externally and both
- Contemplate the nature of impermanence – the arising, the passing away, and both the arising and passing away in regard to our experience
- Establishing enough mindfulness to recognize simply what is unfolding moment to moment – without mental commentary – and to remain mindful of what’s happening.
- Abiding without clinging to anything that enters our realm of experience.
Internally, externally and both
Noticing internally are experiences like the sensations of the breath or different sensations in the body like heat, cold, tightness, or pressure. To notice something externally is to notice other people’s bodily actions or breathing. Especially important with this “noticing” is to bare note which means to observe things without an added commentary or judgement. Sometimes noticing things externally includes noticing other’s people concentrated practice and allowing that to inspire our own practice. Buddha suggests that we associate with people who are mindful and concentrated.
Noticing things internally and externally simultaneously is actually a very profound and insightful mind. This is observation that goes beyond the distinction of self and other and the insight that other people’s experience are our own.
Arising and passing away
The Tathagata is translated as one thus gone. This means that a practitioner knows and actualizes impermanence. Each phenomena or moment is in the process of arising and passing away and we don’t cling to anything.
Buddha makes a distinction between the
- Establishment of mindfulness
- And the development of the establishment of mindfulness
- The awareness of impermanence becomes even more predominant that the object itself.
- Beginning the movement of
- Mindfulness of content to
- Mindfulness of process
- This is the stage moving towards wisdom and awakening
- We begin to open to the unconditioned, nibbana when we start to see everything as impermanent