Right or Wrong Mindfulness

continuing in time & space
continuing in time & space

Right Mindfulness is a way, not an instrument or tool, or a means for achieving an end ~ Most Venerable Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh

wild sunflower
wild sunflower ~d nelson

Smrti or mindfulness is an integral part of the Buddha’s 2600 year old Noble Eightfold Path. When practiced in conjunction with the insight of interbeing, or interconnection of all things, it helps individuals and the collective move away from ill-being towards well-being. With right mindfulness we recognize what is happening within and without, and use proper attention to cultivate compassion, joy and non-harming towards all beings. When practiced separate from the noble path, mindfulness has the potential of doing good, as well as harm to ourselves and the planet. While secular mindfulness is popularly defined as “non-judgmental present moment awareness”, we might meditate on whether it’s truly possible for mind consciousness to see through the eyes of non-discrimination. Experience informs me that perceptions and thoughts are colored by world views and behaving as a separate self. Mindfulness-based practice, inherited from the Buddhist tradition, is being employed in psychology to reduce a variety of mental and physical conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and in the prevention of relapse in depression and drug addiction.

With right mindfulness, experienced teachers are able to offer a living example to help students water joyful, positive seeds within themselves, to find happiness in the moment and relieve their hurts. Classrooms filled with calm, peaceful students show curiosity about the wonders of life, including themselves and others, and find joy in the being together, as well as the learning. It’s also possible, that as a by-product of their ease and happiness, they will do well in their projects and exams.

As mindfulness-based trainings are being requested by, and offered to, military soldiers and business leaders, we can reflect on the question of whether this is right mindfulness or not? If awareness of how to better kill the enemy or exploit the resources of our precious planet for profit are the aim of mindfulness practice, then it cannot be called right mindfulness according to Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. However, if military leaders and soldiers are taught to respect the preciousness of life, including the lives of so-called enemies, avoiding killing and destroying, then it has the element of right view. When business leaders and companies practice mindfulness to cultivate happiness and harmony as the aim of the business, and stop focusing on being number one at any cost or making as much profit as possible, which generally creates suffering for people, animals and nature, then it can be called right mindfulness. The noble eightfold path is walked step by step, breath by breath. Arriving in the present moment with each step, mindfulness is recognized as a journey, not a destination. Mindfulness, concentration and insight have the power to change the situation and make sure that we all have beautiful continuations.

21 Replies to “Right or Wrong Mindfulness”

  1. You’ve brought up some interesting points. My own thoughts are that regardless of the initial intent on employing mindfulness, the ultimate result will take a person toward a higher version of themselves, and thus bring greater peace to our planet. As you say, step by step is the only way…and we are all at a different point in the path.

  2. I call mindfulness to myself with each day, succeeding better on some then others. This post is wonderful, and beautifully put together. If we all practiced mindfulness, being fully aware, we could change this world. Thank you for this most important post. Love, Amy

  3. Awareness of what we feel and think and do, amid all that surrounds us, during each moment often brings acceptance. I tend toward secularism in general, as it is natural for me. Whether my mindful practice is right or wrong, it serves me well, and I believe, in turn, others benefit from it as well.

    I found myself quite upset when I saw a woman drop trash onto the roadway through the open motorcar window the other day. But the unhappy feelings and thoughts this action triggered in my mind quickly turned into wishes for the benefit of Earth and all her inhabitants. I pick up trash too.

  4. ‘Respecting the preciousness of life’ doesn’t seem to coincide with the core missions of military leaders and soldiers.
    Instead of mindfulness, I tend to witness ‘mindful blindness’… 😦

  5. Thanks for this. In particular, I really enjoyed the images, especially of being thankful for our food and all the individuals who have helped to bring the food to our plate. It might actually take away from focusing completely on the taste and feel of our food, as we consider farmers, and merchants, and transport teams that move our food, but I believe this practice helps to feel more interconnected and in awe of humanity.

    1. thanks for kindly sharing your diligent gratitude practice! recognizing conditions that helped provide the food may only take a second or two. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: