MINDFULNESS, what is this:
Not just presence in a deep stream of things, process, thought, you, I, rooms, colors, body, emotion, heart pulse;
Not just the sense of ceasing to overlook events and to devalue events;
Not just “being there 100%”;
Not healing, rest, peace, recovery;
Not just the flow and impermanence of events;
These are typically psychological objectives: self/other, reaction to situations, awareness of events. And this popular sense of mindfulness that can be positive in expanding awareness and letting go that have positive psychological, physiological and social effects.
It is clear that everyday awareness can be mind-FULL of sensory chatter that fails to observe most stimuli, to reinforce some experience and to priortize some experiences and to devalue others rather than simply open awareness. Efforts to be less mind-FULL and more mindful or aware can challenge this sense of everyday consciousness as “routine” or “trancelike” and limiting. By observing both introspection [especially processes such as restlessness and agitation and evasion and attachment] and external awareness—detachment and opening—can reduce a sense of suffering.
And yet, while this attentionality can expand awareness, psychological self can be reinforced rather than transcended. We may continue to see quite conceptually, sensing inside and outside, here and there, sameness and difference, birth and death, and coming and going.
Thus, the koans—“elephant and house, same or different?”
What kind of mindfulness are koans referencing?
Mindful of what?
The popular sense of mindfulness can continue suffering and be quite different from the mindfulness of Siddartha in that approaches “the sleep of existential confusion” [Stephen Batchelor, Buddha Without Beliefs]. Without this, the essence of a flower, a tree, or a human goes unseen. And so, a deep suffering remains that asks questions such as those Paul Gauguin asked in a masterwork—from where do I come, who am I, and where am I going?
What the poet [Shinkichi Takahashi] says to us is that man, unlike the
sparrow, has created forms which confine and frustrate, and until he
sees they have no reality, are paltry, “so much secretion,” he will
continue to tremble before them, their prisoner.
Lucien Stryk, Triumph of the Sparrow
What is the nature of you, I, body, thought, things, mind, flower?
What is each event at its essence? [and not just an esoteric sense, but at its most realistic, most practical aspect]:
Each experience is a gateless gate more than a wall or even a “melding;”
More “Thus” than “this and that;”
Not just inseparability, but a profound shift in identity beyond self.
Where is this “mindful” mind?
Seeing blossom sees mind, sees universe.
· Hui-neng said one should not look at, but as things.” [p.171]
Lucien Stryk, in Triumph of the Sparrow: Zen Poems of Shinkichi Takahashi
· ...the mind that has always been,…
It fills the great void.
Fujiwara-Fujifusa, [in response to Kanzan’s koan “Original Perfection”
· …we participate with the whole universe as it practices through our individual bodies and minds.
Shohaku Okumura, in Realizing Genjokoan