Memorable Quote: “If one has too much tranquility without enough awareness of impermanence, watch your whole body sensations to develop a perception of change.”
Synopsis: Bhante Sujiva talks about many different types of mindfulness, or degrees of openness. On the one end of the spectrum is completely open awareness, which is a sort of “anything goes.” Whatever comes to mind, you are mindful of it, like light cast all over a room. The second type is a little more focused, and is only mindful of the object that is most obvious, for instance if there is a sound in the room, you listen to the sound. If a pain comes, then you pay attention to the pain. In this type of mindfulness, of course, the mind does not choose what arises.
A third type of openness is even more anchored, and is one we may use in walking meditation. We focus very closely on our feet when we walk, concentrated there. Objects come to mind, on the periphery. We acknowledge them, but our attention is squarely on our steps. As we move from an open meditation to a more anchored one, we are able to notice different aspects of our experience. If we are narrowly focused, it is hard to notice very much unless our concentration is very strong. If we are broadly focused, there may be so much going on that we have a difficult time concentrating and being aware of each experience. In general, our awareness will likely shift on its own, and we can simply be present with the process.
I like: Bhante Sujiya provides a very precise, analytical, systematic treatment of the degrees of mindfulness.
I wish: There were times that I wasn’t entirely sure how this knowledge was to be put into practice, especially when he tells us that our awareness will naturally shift on its own.
More about the speaker: Bhante Sujiva has dedicated his life to Buddhist teachings. He has studied with many teachers in Malaysia, Thailand and Burma, including Sayadaw U Pandita. He began teaching meditation in Malaysia in 1984 and has held countless retreats there. Beginning in 1995, he started teaching internationally. He has since led retreats in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, several countries in Europe and the US. Hear more of his talks at www.audiodharma.org/teacher/145/