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dmattwads

Mindfulness vs delusion

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There are two basic categories in which everyone of us views our experience moment by moment, the first being through delusion and the second being mindfully. 

 

By far the most common view of experience is the view of delusion or non-mindfulness. It is this delusion (not seeing things as they truly are) that leads to the craving and/or aversion that leads to the suffering and frustration that we experience. This in turn gives rise to new reactions to deal with the previous reactions that arose out of delusion. As long as these new reactions also arise out of delusion they will lead to more craving, and aversion and then the dissatisfaction that these produce and so on and so forth potentially forever. An example is that typically when we experience an unpleasant feeling we tend to want to escape the unpleasant feeling, or stop it, or control it, or suppress it. If we experience a pleasurable feeling the general tendency is to want to cling to it, and/or seek more of it. Whether we seek to escape unpleasant feelings or seek more pleasant feelings, this conditions the mind with the habit or avoiding or seeking, which gives rise to more of these reactions in the future, thus never ending. 

 

The other option in reacting to experience is to be mindful of it. Mindfulness is the opposite of reacting, it is observing, and knowing. When we experience an unpleasant feeling the mindful approach is to simply know it for what it is as it arises. When we experience a pleasant feeling the mindful approach is to simply know it for what it is as it arises. As we continue to be mindful of our experiences the mind slowly begins to understand that these reactions it had previous had to experience were not making it happy, or were not beneficial, thus this is the opposite of delusion. 

 

 For example if we become angry, there are a variety of reactions that could arise from a non-mindful state but two of the most common are to either get caught up in the mental content of our anger and react to it either externally or mentally thus conditioning the mind to give rise to further anger. Or one might realize that they feel angry and suppress it. Since suppression is a type of control and since control arises from a judgment, one might then feel angry at themselves for feeling angry in the first place and if this happens long enough the self judgment leads to depression. Either way neither reaction are based upon mindfulness, but rather delusion and thus perpetuate unhappiness. 

 

 On the other hand if one becomes angry and one is mindful of the anger instead of reacting to the anger one way or another they observe it. They observe what this anger is, how it feels presently to be anger without getting caught up in the content of the anger, nor judging themselves for feeling angry. They simply want to know it. If there is tension in the body they allow themselves to feel the tension and know it simply as tension. If there are angry thoughts, they observe how it currently feels to be angry without thinking about what they are angry about. They realize that the state of being angry feels like suffering, and once the mind really understands what it is doing leads to suffering it lets go. Not reacting also does not give rise to the mental conditioning that leads to further mind states based upon delusion. 

 

 One really good way to practice mindfulness is by noting or labeling what ever it is you feel as you are feeling it. So if anger arises say to yourself "anger, anger, anger", or if desire arises say to yourself "desire, desire, desire". Personally I do this with each inhale and exhale as it helps me to feel the experience in my body as well as giving me something physical to anchor it to, but this is not necessary. But as you say what ever it is you are feeling to yourself, observe how it actually feels to feel what ever it is you are feeling (or thinking) as you are feeling it in the present moment. One will quickly notice that all mind states that arise out of delusion whether they are craving or aversion are actually suffering, and it is this realization that causes the mind to let go, and it is letting go that leads to peace and happiness. 

 

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