February 04, 2009
A very good post over at One City where gzza compares two views of mindfulness, one from Thanissaro Bhikkhu and one from Henepola Gunaratana:
In “Mindfulness Defined” (available free here), Thanissaro Bhikkhu writes:
“The Buddha discovered that the way you attend to things is determined by what you see as important—the questions you bring to the practice, the problems you want the practice to solve. No act of attention is ever bare. If there were no problems in life you could open yourself up choicelessly to whatever came along. But the fact is there is a big problem smack dab in the middle of everything you do: the suffering that comes from acting in ignorance. This is why the Buddha doesn’t tell you to view each moment with a beginner’s eyes. You’ve got to keep the issue of suffering and its end always in mind.”
In Mindfulness in Plain English, Henepola Gunaratana writes:
“Mindfulness is nonconceptual awareness. Another English term for sati is ‘bare attention.’ It is not thinking. It does not get involved with thought or concepts. It does not get hung up on ideas or opinions or memories. It just looks. Mindfulness registers experiences, but it does not compare them. It does not label them or categorize them. It just observes everything as if it was occurring for the first time. It is not analysis that is based on reflection and memory. It is, rather, the direct and immediate experience of whatever is happening, without the medium of thought. It comes before thought in the perceptual process.” (pg 140)
What would resolve this apparent disagreement, consulting the texts?