Gil Fronsdal has a wonderful series of published talks called “The Issue at Hand”.  The following is from Chapter 6: Heartfelt Practice –

Whatever a mother, father
Or other relative may do,
Far better is the benefit
From one’s own rightly directed mind.– Dhammapada 43

The English word “mindfulness” is the usual translation for the Pali word sati. Most generally, sati means to hold something in awareness. When the Chinese translated Indian Buddhist terms into Chinese characters, sati became a character with two halves: the top half is the character for  “the present moment” and the bottom half is the character for “heart.” The combination suggests that mindfulness is connected to the heart, to being “heartfelt in the present moment.” It points to the possibility of holding our experience in our hearts, to having an accepting, soft, and spacious awareness toward whatever is occurring. …

Many of us have hearts that are encrusted with anxieties, fears, aversions, sorrows, and an array of defensive armor. The non-reactive and accepting awareness of mindfulness will help to dissolve these crusts. The practice has a cyclic quality; it is self-reinforcing. At first, the practice will allow us to let go of a small amount of defensiveness. That release allows a corresponding amount of openness and tender- heartedness to show itself. This process encourages us to drop even more armor. Slowly, a greater sense of heartfeltness supports the further development of mindfulness.

As our neurotic thought patterns drop away, layers of judgment and resistance atrophy, and the need to define our selves through hard-held identities relaxes. As this happens, the natural goodness of the heart shines by itself.

The impulses to be aware, happy, compassionate, and free, all come from the goodness of our hearts. As we connect to these intentions and allow them to motivate our mindfulness practice, the practice becomes heartfelt.

The Thai meditation master Ajahn Chah said that everything occurs within the heart. In mindfulness practice, we let our heart hold whatever arises within itself.

As Gil so wisely points out, the softening of our hearts is part of the process of cultivating mindfulness. The two go together and cannot, in a practical sense, be separated; real wisdom cannot co-exist with unkindness or any other resistive mind state.

Many folks have proven through their own experimentation that the shedding of our defenses and the resulting increase in feelings of compassion and kindness for others can calm the heart and incline it towards more regular and deeper meditation.

The five precepts (harmlessness, generosity, ethics in sensuality, truthfulness, and sobriety), if undertaken seriously, also have the effect of reducing our tendency to grasp. As we become more aware of the human needs before us and the results of our actions, we are likely to start seeing more clearly the truth of our situation. We are all in this together and we can only control our own actions, words, and (sometimes) minds.

About lynnjkelly

Australian/American. Practicing Buddhist.
This entry was posted in Causes and results, Compassion, Generosity, Harmlessness, Mindfulness, Precepts, Wisdom and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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