The Island: An Anthology of the Buddha’s Teachings on Nibbana
By Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Amaro
Chapter Eight, Unsupported and Unsupportive Consciousness; Second half of the chapter – pages 142 – 154
Sections to be read out loud:
8.21, 8.23, 8.24, 8.25, 8.26
We practice to realize a mind that provides no ‘footing’ for sense experiences including even cognitive experiences, in other words a mind that provides no basis for proliferation. Of course, experiences continue as is their nature, but finding no footing, no one is established or bothered. There being no one established then there can be no one having a problem with the experiences that are arising and ceasing, no matter their quality. This is an unconditional happiness.
Understanding this possibility helps us as practitioners relate more wisely to our conditioned minds. When we began to practice mindfulness, our conditioned habits of liking and disliking seem like a huge problem that needs to be destroyed through practice. Insight reveals that the conditioned mind or personality is not inherently a problem. The problem is that we relate to the mind’s conditioning the same way we relate to other sense experiences – we take it personally and react with liking and disliking. Insight reveals another way that no longer provides ground for the establishing of a me who has a problem with this or that.
This month let’s keep a close eye on any tension or reaction that arises in the mind as it recognizes and reacts to its own cognitive activity. Notice in how many ways the mind is evaluating, judging and at times being embarrassed by its own performance as it negotiates life’s twists and turns. With mindfulness of mind, we can replace the reactivity with a wise equanimity that understands that it is simply, “Cognitive activity being known,” nothing more and nothing less. To practice effectively we will have to be willing to open to whatever feelings arise. Mental activity often arises in conjunction with body feelings. Without mindfulness, the impact of the body sensations will confuse the mind when we think, “These thoughts must be real because they feel like this!” In practice, we are learning how the heart can become more and more porous to the continual flow of experiencing – abandoning the habit of constructing friction/dukkha through the activity of self centered grasping.