Author Topic: Mindfulness or Mindlessness? (Important video, please watch and discuss)  (Read 3792 times)

Renze

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Robert H. Sharf - Mindfulness or Mindlessness (ASI 2013)

What Sharf is saying is that the interpretation of sati as "bare attention", which requires non-judgemental awareness of the present moment, is a 20th century invention. It seems to be heavily influenced by western thought. He then goes on to say that its original meaning is "an awareness of things in relation to things and hence an awareness of their relative value" and "Sati is what causes the practicioner of yoga to remember that any feeling he may experience exists in relation to a whole variety or world of feelings that may be skillful or unskillful, with faults or faultless, relatively inferior or refined, dark or pure."

The biggest issue for me is that mindfulness meditation (and all its variants) basically makes you fool yourself into thinking you're attaining states of non-conceptual awareness. This goes against Buddhist principles such as anatta and dependent co-arising. According to these principles, there is only a conventional, culturally, cognitively and socially conditioned self through which we see the world. non-conceptual awareness would require some sort of atman or eternal self.

Please watch the video. I'd like to know what you think about this. Will this change anything in your practice? And if so, what will change? And if not, why not?

redalert

Re: Mindfulness or Mindlessness? (Important video, please watch and discuss)
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2014, 12:31:12 AM »
The biggest issue for me is that mindfulness meditation (and all its variants) basically makes you fool yourself into thinking you're attaining states of non-conceptual awareness. This goes against Buddhist principles such as anatta and dependent co-arising. According to these principles, there is only a conventional, culturally, cognitively and socially conditioned self through which we see the world. non-conceptual awareness would require some sort of atman or eternal self.

Who is there, when there is no thought? It's a paradox, the view of no-self is equal to the view of a self. Holding on to either view to tightly is wrong view.

Renze

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Re: Mindfulness or Mindlessness? (Important video, please watch and discuss)
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2014, 11:17:35 AM »
There is no paradox. During meditation, we are aware of the world through the conditioned, conventionally real self at all times. This is all we have and we can't see beyond it. But I believe we CAN become aware of our conditioning, so that we can think and act 'free' from that conditioning. I think this is exactly what sati really means: to become aware of in what way our mind is conditioned, NOT an attempt at unconditioned awareness.

redalert

Re: Mindfulness or Mindlessness? (Important video, please watch and discuss)
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2014, 01:31:51 PM »
In meditation we are aware of the arising and passing away of stuff(manifested), we are also indirectly aware of the gaps between the stuff(unmanifested). This indirect awareness of the unmaifested is Nibbana. This is our true nature, another dimension, a paradox.

At least this is how I have come to understand and experience this truth.

The paradox is if there is no self (ego) who is aware of the conditioned? Nibbana is our true nature, or True Self, or God.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2014, 09:03:47 PM by redalert »

Re: Mindfulness or Mindlessness? (Important video, please watch and discuss)
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2014, 08:34:29 PM »
Here is my understanding.

We do conceptualize during mindfulness meditation. We conceptualize and understand our experience without putting any views or desires into that experience.  We do not use concepts to modify an experience but to understand what actually is that experience.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2014, 08:38:33 PM by siddharthgode »

Quardamon

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If you look at  https://blogs.mcgill.ca/tcpsych/tag/robert-h-sharf/  and scroll a bit down, you will see a link to the video mentioned in the OP, and a text explaining what it is about. I looked at this video twice. It took quite a while to have an effect on my practice. I am more willing to temporarily stop my practice and to change it. Already I was in the habit of reading about what I experienced. (Mostly reading on psychotherapy, not on Buddhism.) Since January this year, I read more on Asiatic Buddhism. Apart from that, I look around what old and famous Dutch teachers of meditation teach.
Yes, it is a bit of a shock to see where I stand, and to see where Western Buddhism and "vipassana meditation" as taught by Mahassi Sayadaw stands.
A healthy wakeup call, I suppose. I never felt like simply plunging into this - but that may simply be my basic attitude in life. I got a lot out of it - there is no denying that.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2014, 09:24:29 PM by Quardamon »

yossarian

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Interesting arguments, though he relies heavily on later works and established buddhist cultures to portray the "bare attention" movement in a negative light.

I wonder what he would make of this quote:

"Herein, Bahiya, you should train yourself thus: 'In the seen will be merely what is seen; in the heard will be merely what is heard; in the sensed will be merely what is sensed; in the cognized will be merely what is cognized.' In this way you should train yourself, Bahiya.

"When, Bahiya, for you in the seen is merely what is seen... in the cognized is merely what is cognized, then, Bahiya, you will not be 'with that.' When, Bahiya, you are not 'with that,' then, Bahiya, you will not be 'in that.' When, Bahiya, you are not 'in that,' then, Bahiya, you will be neither here nor beyond nor in between the two. Just this is the end of suffering."

Ud 1.10

Of course, maybe we're all wrong and Siddhartha was really just trying to make people depressed enough to kill themselves, thus "ending suffering"  :-\




« Last Edit: July 01, 2014, 04:38:25 AM by yossarian »

 

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