September – December 2017
Mark Nunberg, Guiding Teacher, on the Soft Power of Mindfulness
The Buddha discovered two things in his practice. He discovered the unshakeable release of the heart and he uncovered the path that leads to this release. Both the means and the end of practice are characterized by an openness of mind and heart. Albert Einstein once said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Understanding this, the Buddha discovered that the healing power of mindful awareness doesn’t depend on force but rather on its ability to revolutionize the mind’s understanding of the way things are. It is precisely because of the non-judging nature of mindfulness that the mind sees clearly the changing and impersonal nature of the present moment.
The soft power of mindfulness arises when the mind is willing to connect to things as they are, not as “I” wish them to be. It is possible to sustain a stable and clear present-moment awareness that is no longer confused by any interpretation the mind might construct regarding what is coming and going in one’s experience. Just this is the aspiration of our practice, to be able to be undefended and responsive to the ten thousand joys and sorrows that keep touching the sensitive heart.
“…for the sake of those people stuck in the middle of the river of being, overwhelmed by death and decay, (insecurity and loss), I will tell you where to find solid ground.
There is an island, an island which you cannot go beyond. It is a place of nothingness (no thingness), a place of non-possession and of non-attachment. It is the total end of death and decay, (insecurity and loss), and this is why I call it Nibbana (the extinguished, the cool, unbinding).
There are people who, in mindfulness, have realized this and are completely cooled here and now. They do not become slaves working for Mara, for Death; they cannot fall into his power.’
-the Buddha (from Kappa’s Question, Sutta Nipata 10, translated by Saddhatissa)