We will spend the next few days looking at the third way of establishing mindfulness – mindfulness of mind.
In Chapter 8 of The Four Foundations of Mindfulness in Plain English, Bhante Gunaratana first explores the nature of mind and consciousness.
First a side-note: “mind” in this context is a translation of the Pali word citta, and it has a broader sense than what we might mean in English. It is sometimes translated as “heart/mind”, as there’s an emotional as well as intellectual element to it.
Consciousness is what arises when a sense organ (e.g. ear) meets a sense object (e.g. sound) – then there is basic awareness of hearing.
Mind can be considered a sense organ, which meets internal objects, like thoughts and memories, and then mind-consciousness arises.
Bhante says, “The mind wants to shine by itself, but its mental contents don’t allow it. They conceal the mind’s luminosity and distort our ability to know things as they really are.”
Luminous is this mind, brightly shining, but it is colored by the attachments that visit it. This unlearned people do not really understand, and so do not cultivate the mind. Luminous is this mind, brightly shining, and it is free of the attachments that visit it. This the noble follower of the way really understands; so for them there is cultivation of the mind.
When we establish mindfulness of mind, we first look to become familiar with what attachments (like greed, hatred, delusion) are present, not as a reason to be judgmental, but to see how things as they are. As we start to understand, we can begin to cultivate the mind, and the grip of attachment will start to ease.
For a way to practice with this, you can check out this talk and guided meditation on Mindfulness of Mind by Jill Shepherd:
With best wishes,