Sunday, June 17, 2007

Mindful or Mindless?

My morning walks have gone from mindless to mindful, and back, and forth again. The 'good' mindlessness of our everyday life is what some would call all that which we do on 'autopilot' or the necessity of letting go of control and allowing the parts of the brain to do what they were designed to do, to take care of the million things that our conscious mind would only get in the way of. And of course all that which our conscious mind has no control over, or so we think, all the inner workings of our own body. Sometimes when we confuse who controls what is when we get into trouble, like letting the unconscious mind take care of the heart, and usually that works just fine, we think not of the heart beat and by not thinking of it we have a regular beat, but once we dwell upon it is when the trouble starts. So mindlessness in this respect is something we depend upon to survive. I said before that the goal of Buddhism is a kind of mindlessness, yet the irony is that to attain that state one must practice mindfulness. The Zen Buddhist meditates in a very mindful way, even becoming hyperaware of each breath, seeking to become aware of the moment, or living in the here and now, which sort of shoves the past into the background and leaves the future where it rightly belongs, in the realm of the unknown. Bro. Simon gave me this teaching from Buddha (I think because he has reservations about my thoughts on mindlessness).

Bhaddekaratta Sutta
(Buddha’s teaching on living in the present)

Do not pursue the past,
Do not lose yourself in the future.
The past no longer is,
The future has not yet come.
Looking deeply at life as it is, in the very here and now.
The practitioner dwells in stability and freedom.
We must be diligent today,
To wait until tomorrow is too late.
Death comes unexpectedly,
How can we bargain with it?
The sage calls on the person who knows how to dwell in
mindfulness, night and day.
One who knows the better ways to live alive

And Jesus saying:
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.
Matthew 6:34

So does that mean we are to be mindless about the future? Or does it mean that we are to practice mindfulness in the present, mindfulness daily, hourly, each minute, each second, and then this mindfulness when approached from a right heart (for too a criminal can be mindful in planning a crime), the good mindfulness of living in the moment, being aware of the moment, doing the right thing each moment, this kind of mindfulness changes the mind and heart in tiny increments, until we find ourselves mindlessly doing mindful things.


Lucy said...

:~) The tofu sounded good; and to me it takes quite a lot to make tofu sound good...

nina said...

three simple words come to mind for me (and i thank you for reminding me to stop and listen to the wind, to see the sun, to smell the summer in the air): be here now.

camilyn said...


You have a very good weblog. Most people don't fully grasp what mind power can do to one's achievements.

Mano said...


You have a very nice blog. To become a successful person the essential thing would be to have positive thinking.