The purpose of mindfulness is to gather the scattered mind, to bring back the mind to the present moment, to have a mind that is not wavering or wandering.
Instructions: Gathering the Scattered Mind, by Pascal Auclair
About Pascal Auclair:
Pascal Auclair has been immersed in Buddhist practice and study since 1997, sitting retreats in Asia and America with revered monastics and lay teachers. He has been mentored by Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Massachusetts and Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California, where he is now enjoying teaching retreats. Pascal teaches in North America and in Europe. His depth of insight, classical training, and creative expression all combine in a wise and compassionate presence. In addition, his warmth and humour make Pascal a much-appreciated teacher.
The next second, and I think about this in the past, in the future, and there’s that consideration in this angle about that, and that sensation which brings me to the past or the future, you know, do you recognize some of this? Yehey. We’re known ___. Good. The Buddha uses several images to talk about this that are strong images. And one says, the untrained mind. This is us a lot of the time I believe. Like a fish taken out of the water and flip-flopping on the side of the, you know, and that’s how our mind often is. Oh, I did this. Oh, no. ___. I haven’t been here. Oh, I’ve been here. Get me home.
And another image that I try to go quickly through this one. I like it. It’s that when you imagine you’re on a rope, one long rope, six animals being tied to the rope, so we have an ___, an elephant, we have an elephant, we have a crocodile, a monkey, a dog, and eagle, and a snake that makes six, and they’re all in the same rope in this room. Imagine the mess and they’re all pulling in all directions, you know, and this is the kind of mind we live with. The six represents the six senses. Buddhism, the five senses that we know and the mind being the sixth one that encounters that sensations, our sounds, that images or ideas and impressions. And so the Buddha says we live like they’re all tied, the dog wants to go to the city, the snake and the ___, the monkey up the tree, the eagle in the sky, the crocodile in the swamp, and the elephants wants to go where the elephant do go. In the ___. And so, it’s a little bit messy, no? They’re all pulling in different directions and it’s dangerous for everybody within the hideout and within everybody around.
And so the practice of meditation, it’s as if the image will work for you, as if it were putting a pole on the ground and cutting the rope and giving each animal a rope in the field, you know, and then we can attend to each one carefully. You know, feed them, take care of them in many ways and so you might recognize this how it sounds, “Oh my God, a crow, a crow, it means something, what do they mean in my life right now? Oh, it’s snowing.” You know, so a sound, a sight, a sensation, “Oh, I must do something about my back. You know, I would take my back and you go.” Whatever, you know.
So, one moment of contact with reality, and off we go. And so, we often not very ___ reality, living in ideas about and so everything is a doorway to a checkout. You know, in some ___. So what we’re doing here in the practices that we do here, we actually gather the mind, we, this is the post of mindfulness, the post of intention, the post of Metta that we bring here to actually steady and make it safer to be in this system. And so what happens as we pay attention, we have the intention to pay attention to the present moment in a friendly way, no? That’s one of the practices that we do here. You can actually fully hear the sound and notice the quality of the mind that is there, it is a half present mind. If the mind is fully present, is it dry or is it warm, you know? Can there be, is it possible to infuse a little benevolence in there, infuse a little bit of friendliness. Something that we can recognize as wholesome. And so that’s the development of Metta and awareness. So, loving awareness. And this morning, I was thinking to actually be kind, to be friendly, one has to be present. You, it requires present to be benevolent. You know, you cannot, cannot be, it doesn’t awaken us that needs to be, that’s an intentionality, that’s some level of consciousness that needs to be there. To really see the other, to consider the other, to see one’s experience, feel it, consider it, make space for it, accompany, rejoice in it, one needs to notice to, so the caring is a mixture of kindness and contact with reality, but in the world of ideas is to be there. And so this is a way to gather the minds of, bring back the mind to the present moment, sustain the connection instead of hearing the crow for just half a second, crow ___, crow, whatelse? Hold on, let me be touched by vibration, by sound, by life, happening outside. You know, there is life there.
Somebody is telling me, something, they exist, there’s an existence, let me feel that, not think about that, not putting words to it, but it’s more of intuitive, direct, immediate simple experience, staying present there. In the other way, if you’re working with the phrases, sending wishes of love into someone yourself, yourself as a child, to an inspiring person, or person in this room, a mutual person, maybe somebody you don’t know so much, but you want to get out to your usual circle of caring, your usual circle of sharing, like, wow, let’s explore the world, let me try to send wishes of love into this person. Usually, I don’t consider so much, but let me actually put my attention on this life that I know little about, but that for sure has struggles and dreams, and secret hidden stories, you know, and complexities, and beauty, and potential, you know, let me put my careful attention and study it, of this post again, this is a gathering of the mind that will otherwise be scattered, so let’s focus on this being here for a little while and hold them in good wishes, you know. Do this, gathers the mind and so the Buddha’s teachings was saying the gathered mind, the unified mind, the mind that is not wavering, wandering, scattered is actually can be extremely satisfying way to live.
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