Mindfulness, No-Mind, Meditation, and Yoga

A monk asked Baso, ‘Why do you teach that Mind is Buddha?’
Baso replied, ‘To stop a baby’s crying.’
The monk asked, ‘What is it like when the baby stops crying?’
Baso answered, ‘No Mind, no Buddha.'” – Zenkei Shibayama. Zen Comments on the Mumonkan

Hence, the phrase “Mindfulness Meditation” could well be a misnomer. At least so in the Buddhist context, whether one claims to be following the Eastern or Western; the Indian or Chinese or Japanese, Thai, Burmese, or whatever brand of Buddhism. Meditation is not about being mindful, but about going beyond the mind, transcending the mind, or mushin (no mind) in the Japanese Zen terminology.

As a term, “Mindfulness” has been used in the Western Literature before the West even knew about Buddhism. Then, it was not related to meditation. Being mindful simply meant being mindful. Nothing more.

What i am referring to is being “Mindful” related to “Meditation”. It is not being mindful in the literary sense as used in the Western Literature.

Mindfulness Meditation – what if the mind is still conditioned with and by so many things, which are not conducive to our evolution? Being mindful alone of such conditionings will lead us nowhere. One must decondition such mind.

Buddha’s word for Mindfulness was Sammasati, Samyak Smrti, or Right Remembrance – it is going back to the roots and remembering or knowing-back the nature of all things. It is certainly not the same as sharpening or enhancing the conditioned mind.

Buddha believed in the Total Transformation of mind, or the flowering of mind as Buddhi or Intelligence. Hence, the term Boddhicitta for such fully transformed mind, or, rather Awakened Intelligence.

Indeed, it was Patanjali who used the word Saumanya, which can actually be translated as Being Mindful or Mindfulness:

sattva-śuddhiḥ saumanasya-ikāgry-endriyajaya-ātmadarśana yogyatvāni ca | From Sattva Śuddhi, True, or Rightful Purity – arises saumanasya, mindfulness or a right mental attitude that expresses itself as eka-agrya, focus, onepointedness, or singular intention; and, indriya jaya, victory or restraint over senses. Thus, one becomes worthy of Ātma Darśana or Self-Realization.” (II.41) – Anand Krishna. Live Yoga: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali for Modern Times. 2015

Now, if we follow the mandala, modulus, or model laid by Patanjali, such saumanasya or mindfulness does not lead us to the end of Yoga-Sadhana, or the Practice of Yoga, which is Kaivalya or Suchness (commonly translated as Oneness – close, but does not quite explain Kaivalya).

While Siddhartha Gautama Buddha himself has this to say about Yoga:

yoga ve jayati bhuri
ayoga bhurisankhayo | etam dvedhapatham natva
bhavaya vibhavaya ca | tatha ttanam niveseyya
yatha bhuri pavaddhati | Indeed, Wisdom is born of Yoga; without Yoga Wisdom is lost. Knowing this twofold path of gain and loss of Wisdom, one should conduct oneself so that Wsdom may increase.” – Dhammapada Verse 282

Unfortunately, almost all English translations of the above verse do not translate Yoga as Yoga but as Meditation, for which the Buddhist Term is actually , Jhana, Chang, or Zen – all derived from the Sanskrit Dhyana. Thus, uprooting Siddhartha from his very ground, his basic spiritual practice, i.e. Yoga as a Life Style.

Indeed, Sidhartha Gautama, the Awakened One, the Buddha is one of the greatest Yogis ever born.

So, my Dear Friends, decide for yourself how do you want to approach meditation, what do you intend to gain from any spiritual practice, how do you like to define Yoga, and etc and etc…

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