We talked in the previous feuilleton how the practice of resting of mind can be expanded from a sitting position to several other activities like walking in a quiet street and simple household chores. It may be challenging at first, but we can eventually master these new situations. However, our life goes far beyond washing dishes, walking in a quiet street and sitting at a bench to experience the connection with the forest. We work or study, drive, cycle, go shopping, talk with other people, read the news on the internet etc. If we really want to clear our lives from Disease, we have to learn how to deal with its effects in all situations.
It is not easy, to say the least. Most of the spiritual or secular practices of training our minds do not work when we go out of the required environment. Even the famous Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) can be used only in very specific situations but does not when, for example, we get involved in a highly emotional domestic dispute. We face an entirely new ground, where such practices based on being concentrated and keeping our mind focus would not be applicable to conquer Disease.
To avoid such a failure, we need to properly prepare ourselves before making the big leap, to rest our mind while being involved in lives’ totality.
To do that, we will look at ancient practices of developing virtues, known in their religious and civic contexts. The ones chosen are present in Mahayana Buddism called paramitas. However, since they were created for religious purposes over 2000 years ago, to make them useful in modern reality, they have to be modified, and their name changed to Attitudes.
They will be used for creating an intellectual and experiential base for expanding our horizons limited by Disease and free lifestyle from it. Consequently, we can make intelligent decisions avoiding impulsive reactions, and we cooperate with others rather than view them as a competitive threat or (occasionally) as an ally. It is accomplished by infusing the Attitudes in our everyday life, making it much easier to perform our activities without losing a resting mind.
We present the Attitudes very succinctly and pragmatically, while a much more detailed description you can find in the category Wisdom Practice on the Wisdom Society site.
However, it has to be emphasized that, despite its importance, Attitudes’ practice does not make the Basic Practice of mind resting redundant. It rather creates an atmosphere in which Basic Practice is much easier and effective in challenging situations.
The purpose of approaching our life with the attitude of Openness allows us to free ourselves from attachment to fixed views, ideas, reactions, etc., imposed upon us by Disease. Metaphorically speaking, due to this attitude, we abandon the automatic pilot of indoctrination and instead put our discerning Intelligence into the driver’s seat. Openness widens our horizons and frees us from compulsive searching for already known behaviours when challenged. It allows seeing life as a process in which each situation is different.
It may sound abstract, but it is not. I suggest a simple experiment: throughout our daily activities, pay attention to how often we repeat old, known patterns despite that situations never exactly repeat themselves. For example, let’s dishwashing detergent is not the place where it usually is. Instead of simply looking where it is, we get annoyed blaming someone or ourselves for misplacing, or we panic that it was all used, etc. Consequently, Openness helps us not take everything deadly seriously and see the playful aspects of reality.
The attitude of Openness corresponds to the Mahayana equivalent called in Sanskrit dana, usually translated as generosity. Openness embraces it because it makes us not cling to possessiveness, one of the key aspects of Disease. Consequently, we can share or even give some material or mental property, which is an act of generosity.
Acquiring Openness’s attitude is not easy because Disease narrowed our life to the set of well-established fixed patterns, and any attempt to change is paralyzed by fear of the unknown. However, this attitude has paramount importance in eliminating Disease from our life because clinging to many of our intellectual, emotional, moral, ideological habitual views makes returning to original human Wisdom impossible.
The attitude of Discipline corresponds to Mahayana paramita called in Sanskrit sila, usually translated as a discipline. It was originally designed for Buddhist monks, and now discipline is also associates with military, rigoristic education etc. For those reasons, in http://cooperative-wisdom-society.com/ , I used Dignity. However, after a long search for a better alternative, I decided that the term Discipline is the best to capture this attitude’s intention; protecting us from addictive indulgence in useless and often harmful thinking. In neuroscience and psychology, which has (as usual) various contradictory views on this phenomenon, it is called mental chatter. It protects us from the unending rehashing of memory and thinking about situations, which happened in the past and regret missed opportunities or negative consequences of your behaviour. Another kind of addictive indulgence is reacting (in our minds) to something we are told, read or hear about cruelty, injustice, oppression, and all horrors, which happen daily all over the world. The attitude of Discipline combined with Intelligence tells us that since we cannot do anything about it, indulging in emotions hurts only one person – ourselves.
But even more dangerous is indulgence in controversial verbal conversations, emails, messages, etc. . While the above reactions have consequences limited only to ourselves, such exchanges involve others impacting them and our relations. Discipline also may help, seeing that often trying others to accept our views only solidify their beliefs.
Patience’s attitude corresponds to the paramita in Sanskrit called kshanti. In the context of Therapy, Patience plays a double role: it supports us in the practice of mind resting and in utilizing Therapy in our everyday life.
As far as the first role goes, it prevents getting discouraged. For example, despite a seemingly long time of Basic Practice, we manage to “lose it” and get involved in a highly emotional domestic dispute. Then, as a result, we become disappointed and depressed. At such a point, we may realize that Disease is ingrained in us throughout our lifetime and socially inherited by millennia of its rule. It becomes clear that expect a quick cure is unrealistic, and the only solution is to continue patiently.
Another example applies to our everyday life situations. The attitude of patience takes away the stress experienced during seemingly unending activities, which manifest as a desire to “have it over with.” In such a situation, the attitude of patience brings us back to reality, and we realize that the desire to ”have it over with” does not help and only makes us irritated. Patience helps us see that seemingly tedious work provides an opportunity to rest the mind and use thoughts only when necessary.
This attitude corresponds to paramita called in Sanskrit virya, usually translated as effort. Earlier, in wisdom-society.org, it is called Joy of action, but now I decided that it does not adequately embrace its role. Consequently, here it is changed to Energy.
In fact, whatever happens, involves one or another form of energy. Energy’s attitude helps us realize the energy character of all phenomena in our body, brain, and connection with the environment.
Such a view if critical importance in the practice of resting of mind. We know that energy is a phenomenon, which by itself is neither good nor bad, but its results may be. For example, the energy of a strong current of water can power electric plants but also can cause floods.
Similarly, our thoughts manifest some energetic neuronal interactions (neuroscience, so far, does not generally accepted theory about it). As we talked about it presenting Basic Practice, such viewing thought as the product of the mind’s energy is essential.
However, it is equally important to remember energies’ omnipresence during everyday life situations, especially when we do something that we view as tedious and boring. In such a situation, we should note that what we are doing is an ongoing process of interacting energies, and it is Diseases’s indoctrination, which labels it unpleasant. Furthermore, viewing whatever happens in our life as a play of energies helps us to observe the subtleties of the activity and realize that nothing is in its nature repetitive – it is the Disease, which blocks us from experiencing the differences.
The attitude of Stability corresponds to the paramita called in Sanskrit dhyana, which has many interpretations and translations in different kinds of Buddhism but most often corresponds to mindfulness and concentration. Here we decided to use the term stability, which seems to be more to the point in everyday life.
Stability protects us from various forms of mental turbulences typical for effects of Disease. They usually arise from our reactions to problems and threats in our interactions with other people, and the Disease penetrates social structures and the economy. Another source of our emotional reactions is the daily portions of information (media) about situations that may not touch directly but evoke empathy to victims of injustice, terror, fanaticism, and ignorance. All of that is even more painful because, as a rule, we cannot do anything to help.
Stability is critically important in such situations and a multitude of similar ones. We can see that the one thing we can do is continue the Basic practice, which is indispensable to free the world from Disease, which is the real reason for its present state. In this context, Stability serves as an inspiration to continue clearing our minds from the indoctrination of Disease and searching for a social structure free of it.
The Mahayana paramita in Sanskrit called prajna is often translated as discerning Intelligence, so we preserve it. It captures its role as one of the qualities of our innate Wisdom. The meaning of the term intelligence is often relatively vague, but there is a well-known intelligence test IQ based on one’s ability to discover some regularity in the seeming chaos. But here, we are more precise putting emphasis on its discerning quality. It distinguishes among various views those, which come from our innate Wisdom from those rooted in the Disease’s indoctrination. Discerning Intelligence is necessary for compassioned cooperation, one of the founding principles of Wisdom Society. It permits us to separate real helpful compassion from fake compassion, which only pacifies our discomfort while observing others’ suffering.
It is particularly important in discovering our, sometimes well-disguised Disease’s impulses of possessiveness and domination. Discerning Intelligence counteracts all sorts of seemingly logical justifications, which we unconsciously borrow from Diseaes’s produced ideologies. For example, we may feel that our approach to some problem is superior to all others, and we manipulate become accept it.
In pragmatics of everyday life, it helps us to make proper decisions free from social pressure and our self-indoctrination.
Without Discerning Intelligence, any attempt to re-create the egalitarian social structure and economy, which enables humanity to exist and develop in harmony with the natural environment and, at the same time, take full advantage of science and technology.
Practicing the Attitudes.
The fact that the Attitudes make sense and acknowledging that is not sufficient to make them useful. For that, it is necessary to practice them. We begin that practice by contemplating their meaning in the context of our personal experiences. Without projecting them on our everyday experiences, they are just a collection of ideas added to our memory.
Once we properly internalize the Attitudes, they spontaneously appear in our life situations when we need them. It happens because the Attitudes are not just another fabricated concepts, but they are the consequence of our innate Wisdom. Also, they will begin to affect our Basic Practice making it more and more an enjoyable, integral part of our everyday life.
A more detailed discussion of the use of Attitudes will be discussed in the forthcoming feuilletons.
P.S. Openness helps us to notice the multitude of more subtle perceptions, which we usually ignore. Often they come form our body but not only. We do not experience them because we are focus on a selected one or thinking. They become easier to notice when we rest our minds.