Sunday, August 3, 2008
73. The Four Abodes of Mindfulness
The Four Abodes of Mindfulness:
1. Mindfulness of the body, as impure,
2. Mindfulness of feeling, as unsatisfactory,
3. Mindfulness of the mind, as impermanent,
4. Mindfulness of the real, as free of self.
Mindfulness of the body as impure: One skin-bag being mindful here and now of his own body is the whole universe in ten directions. Because it is the real body, it is the mindfulness of the body's impurity that springs up and springs out, on the road of looking lively. For those with no spring, mindfulness might be impossible. They might be like zombies, in which case allowing as action might be impossible, expounding as action might be impossible, and being mindful as action might be impossible.
There really is such a thing as being successful in mindfulness: remember, it is success in springing up and springing out. What I have called "successful mindfulness," is everyday actions in grooving shoes -- sweeping the ground and sweeping the floor. Sweeping the ground mindful that it might be any number moon, or sweeping the ground mindful that "That was just the second moon!", we sweep the ground and sweep the floor, and so the whole earth is It.
Being mindful of the body is the body being mindful. That by means of the body's mindfulness something else is mindful, is not it. Being mindful in and of itself is the superlative having arrived.
When body-mindfulness is realizing itself, mental mindfulness is not at all worth groping for -- it is not real.
Thus, mindfulness is vajra-samadhi, diamond constancy, and is surumgama-samadhi, all-conquering stillness. Both of these are mindfulness of the body as impure.
Broadly, seeing a bright star in the middle of the night is called "being mindful of the body, as impure." Relative discussion of purity and defilement is not it. The body which I have, which is my existence, is the very negation of purity. This real body is just the negation of purity.
Learning in practice like this is, when demon becomes buddha, getting a grip on the demon in order to beat the demon and become buddha. It is, when buddha becomes buddha, getting a grip on buddha in order to form a conception of buddha and become buddha. It is, when a human being becomes buddha, getting a grip of being human in order to retune the human being and become buddha. We must get to the bottom of the truth that a way through exists just at the place where a grip is got.
It is like, for example, the washing of clothes. Water is dirtied by the clothes, and the clothes are permeated by the water. You use this water to wash with, and you replace this water and wash, but it is all still the using of water, and is all still the washing of clothes. During the first wash and the second wash, if in your view something remains not cleansed, do not hang around doing nothing!
When all the water is used up, carry on with other water. Even if the clothes are clean, carry on washing them. For water, all sorts of water can be used -- all sorts are good for washing clothes. We can investigate the truth that if the water is impure there might be fish in it.
As for clothes, all sorts of clothes need washing.
Working it out like this, we are realizing the universal law of laundry. At the same time, we are seeing into cleansing -- the point being this: our original purpose is not always to wet clothes with water, and our original purpose is not to dirty water with clothes; rather, it is in using dirty water to wash clothes that the original purpose of washing clothes exists.
Going further, there are methods of washing clothes and washing other objects, by using fire, wind, earth, water and space. And there are methods of washing and cleansing earth, water, fire, wind and space using earth, water, fire, wind and space.
The point of being mindful of the body, as impure, is also like this.
Thus, the body in its entirety, the mindfulness in its entirety, and the impurity in its entirety, are just the dull red robe that our mothers bore. If a Buddhist robe were other than the dull red robe their mothers bore, buddha-ancestors would never wear it -- how could Sanavasa be the only one? We should dwell mindfully on this principle of enlightenment, learning it in practice and getting right to the bottom of it.
Mindfulness of feeling as unsatisfactory: Suffering, dukha, dis-ease, pain, bitterness, hardship, trouble, dissatisfaction... is a feeling. That it is the independent subject feeling, is not it. That it is objective feeling, is not it. That it is feeling as something that exists, is not it. That it is feeling as what does not exist, is not it. It is the living body feeling. It is the living body suffering. It means sweet ripe melons being replaced by bitter gourds. This is bitter to the skin, flesh, bones, and marrow, and bitter to the conscious mind, the unconscious mind, and so on. This is the practice and the experience of a mystical power that is a cut above -- a mystical power that springs out from the entire stem and springs out from the whole root. Thus, "It has been said that living beings suffer. Yet what actually exist are suffering living beings." That living beings are self is not it. That living beings are the other is not it. What actually exists is suffering living beings. In the end, it is impossible to deceive others. Sweet melons are sweet through to their stems. Bitter gourds are bitter through to their roots. And yet it is not easy to grope what is this bitterness, this dukha, dis-ease, dissatisfaction. We should ask ourselves: what is this dissatisfaction?
Mindfulness of the mind as impermanent: The Old Buddha Daikan Eno says, "Impermanence is the Buddha-nature." So impermanence, changeability, as understood by various types, is in every case the essence of the Awakened -- the Buddha-nature. Great Master Yoka Genkaku says, "Actions are impermanent; all is empty. Just this is the great and round awakening of the Thus-Come." Mindfulness of the mind, as impermanence, is just the great and round awakening of the Thus-Come and is the Thus-Come himself, greatly and roundly awakened. The mind -- citta, heart, thinking, intention -- even if it intends not to be mindful, follows the external world completely; therefore where the mind is, there also is mindfulness. Broadly, arrival at the unsurpassed awakening of the Buddha, realization of the supreme integral truth of full enlightenment, is just impermanence, just changeability, and is mindfulness of the mind. That the mind is constant and unchanging, is not necessarily it. Because they are far removed from the four lines and beyond the hundred negations, fences, walls, tiles and pebbles, and stones large and small, are the mind, are impermanence, and are mindfulness itself.
Mindfulness of the real, as free of self: The tall, realized in Sitting, are the Real Long Body. The short, realized in sitting, are the Real Short Body. It is thinking in activity which, because it is real, is free of the small self -- free of I, me, mine; free of the expectant, grasping, manipulating subject. A dog as the Buddha-nature is negation, a bit of nothing, freedom, absence. A dog as the Buddha-nature is affirmation, something, existence, presence. All living beings, as bits of nothing, are the Buddha-nature. All instances of the Buddha-nature, being freedom, are living beings. All the buddhas, being nobody, having nothing, are buddhas. All instances of the Buddha-nature, as freedom, are the Buddha-nature. All living beings, bereft of all and lacking nought, are living beings. Because it is like this, we study all real things as being, without anything, all real things, and we learn this in practice as mindfulness of the real, bereft of me. Remember, it is to spring out from the whole body of self-entanglement.
Sakyamuni Buddha says, "All buddhas and bodhisattvas, those who are awakened in the truth and those who are of it, will be forever at ease in this teaching, treating it is a sacred womb."
So the buddhas and bodhisattvas have each treated these four abodes of mindfulness as a sacred womb. Remember, they are a sacred womb for the balanced awareness of bodhisattvas in the penultimate stage before the full awakening of buddha, and they are a sacred womb for the subtle awareness of bodhisattvas in the ultimate stage before the full awakening of buddha. We have it in these words already: "All buddhas and bodhisattvas." How could those in the stage of subtle awareness not be included? Even the buddhas themselves treat these four abodes as a sacred womb. And bodhisattvas who have transcended stages prior to balanced awareness or beyond subtle awareness also treat these four abodes of mindfulness as a sacred womb. Truly, the skin, flesh, bones, and marrow of the buddhas and the ancestors are nothing but the four abodes of mindfulness.
Translated end of July 2008 during a spell by the forest in France, inspired by re-reading "bodhinyana, teachings of Ven. Ajahn Chah," and mindful of Marjory Barlow's exhortation that our practice of mindfulness -- or whatever else we choose to call it -- "has to be REAL."
By the forest stream
A loser sits