Wisdom and the Activity of the Mind

Dear Common Ground friends,

There is no worse danger than a mind without mindfulness and no greater protection than being clearly aware of the mind and its activity. Wisdom reflects back the activity of our mind. Without wisdom we remain unaware of what is being set in motion and thus we unavoidably receive the consequences of this activity without learning anything. Without deep understanding, the mind continues its habits to react to experience, perpetuating its stressful patterns.

Mindfulness of the mind is the heart of the path leading to the cessation of stress and suffering. This practice begins with a simple recognition: there is a mind here, and it is like this now. To be mindful of the mind is to discern its present-moment activity and feeling tone. Is it pleasant, unpleasant, or neither pleasant nor unpleasant? As mindfulness becomes more steady and equanimous, the mind is revealed to be an unfolding process driven by the presence of underlying wholesome or unwholesome roots. We learn to recognize: is the mind unfolding in a skillful direction toward wholesome states of inner release, or it is unfolding in an unskillful way toward states of contraction and entanglement?

Mindfulness of the mind is not so much about fixing the mind as it is about understanding the mind. Over and over, wisdom discerns the unfolding nature of the mind’s activity. How it is that contracted states come and go, and how it is that wholesome states come and go? Understanding the mind’s activity uproots the tendency to cling. This is the freedom that the Buddha pointed to.

Wishing everyone a peaceful summer.

Mark Nunberg

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