Sunday, July 5, 2020

I got my 'zen' back. Spelled out for you: ☸Dharma is the implicit direct object of 'sati' (remembering, "mindfulness")

 Zen and the art of choicefully being mindful of something important.

Jigsaw Zen - Samurai Avatar on PS4 | Official PlayStation™Store ...Samurai zen | Samurai, Art, Zen

'Sati' (remembering, "mindfulness") is not "choiceless awareness", as commonly (mis)understood. 
As I explained in the article last week:

The slurp🥤 for sati (remembering, "mindfulness") has an implicit direct object

That implicit direct object for 'sati', is ☸Dharma.

Here is a version of my translation of the noble eightfold path, with that direct object of 'sati' spelled out and inserted in between square brackets '[]'

You might notice that the sutta instructions for the eightfold noble path now have a different feel, and the connection between right effort, right remembering (sati), and right undistractible lucidity (samadhi), is much more clear with sati and Dharma linking all of these  3 branches of the samadhi-group (khandha) with a clear, focused and concrete goal - of moment to moment application of  Dharma for the realization of Nirvana. Notice especially that all 3 of the samadhi-group are happening simultaneously. You don't leave samma samadhi to enter "sati" to do vipassana. 

An important note to keep in mind, is that one has to understand that ☸Dharma , the implicit direct object all of those path factors, straddles many dimensions simultaneously, like a wild card that can take on several functions, with the first and most important being remembering and applying Dharma in such a way that leads to Nirvana, not developing just any old 'wholesome' or 'skillful' dharma-mental-quality. We will explore this important point in detail later in a follow up article.

As a side project in this new translation, just for fun, I decided to try reviving the original meaning of the word 'zen'.  Zen is Japanese of Chinese 'chaan', which is a transliteration of pali 'jhāna' (sanskrit dhyāna).

In a strange twist of fate, the popular modern idea that we should 'zen out' and always be in 'zen', or 'zenning' at all times, in all 4 postures of sitting, walking, standing, lying down, is actually spot on correct, exactly what the Buddha taught in the EBT. Whereas  modern Theravada have got zen (jhāna) all wrong, thinking it's a frozen state devoid of insight capability, and that one has to leave 'zen' to enter a mode of 'vipassana' insight.  

But what the modern popular idea of 'zen' is missing, is they don't realize the Buddha gave very specific instructions and guidelines for four stages of 'zen', which are successively better quality levels of undistractible lucidity (samadhi) that happen concurrently with 'sati' (remembering of Dharma, "mindfulness" of Dharma) practice, with insight and serenity conjoined and operating in harmony. 


"Monks, what is right effort?"
1. He does not allow unskillful ☸Dharmas that have not arisen to arise.
2. He abandons unskillful ☸Dharmas that have arisen.
3. He arouses skillful ☸Dharmas that have not arisen.
4. With arisen skillful ☸Dharmas, he maintains, without confusion, increases, makes plenty, develops to their culmination.

[In all four modes of right effort],
* He generates desire, endeavors, arouses vigor,
* exerts and pushes his mind
"This, monks, is called right effort."

Right Remembering

"Monks, what is right remembering [of ☸Dharma]?"
1. He meditates continuously seeing the body as a body [as it actually is].
2. He meditates continuously seeing sensations as sensations [as they actually are].
3. He meditates continuously seeing the mind as a mind [as it actually is].
4. He meditates continuously seeing ☸Dharma as ☸Dharma [as it actually is, the only way to nirvana].

[In all four modes of right remembering of ☸Dharma],
* He is ardent 🏹, he has lucid discerning 👁, he remembers 🐘 [to apply relevant ☸Dharma],
* vanquishing worldly avarice and distressed mental states.

"This, monks, is called right remembering [of ☸Dharma]."

righteous undistractible-lucidity

"Monks, what is righteous undistractible lucidity?"
1. Quite withdrawn from sensuality,
withdrawn from unskillful ☸Dharmas,
with directed-thought and evaluation,
with the rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal,
he enters and dwells in the first stage of zen (j1🌘).
2. With directed thoughts and evaluation subsiding,
with internal assurance,
his mind 🌄 transcends into singularity.
Without thought and evaluation, with the rapture and pleasure born from undistractible lucidity,
he enters and dwells in the second stage of zen (j2🌗).
3. With rapture fading,
he meditates equanimously observing,
🐘💭 remembering [and applying relevant ☸Dharma], he lucidly discerns.
He experiences pleasure with the body.
The Noble Ones praise this [stage of zen]:
"Equanimously observing and remembering [to engage in relevant ☸Dharma], they have a pleasurable abiding."
He enters and dwells in the third stage of zen (j3🌖).
4. With the abandoning of pleasure and pain,
with the previous abandoning of elated and distressed mental states,
experiencing sensations of neither pain nor pleasure,
his equanimous observation and his remembering [and application of relevant ☸Dharma] is purified.
He enters and dwells in the fourth stage of zen (j4🌕).

"Monks, this is called righteous undistractible lucidity."

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