Friday, June 06, 2008

The Four Foundations of Mindfulness


Breathing in, you sense a fetid wisp blown from the south. Breathing out, rubbing against the propped screen door, you glimpse all conditioned things as impermanent and in endless flux except for the pure, ragamuffin manginess of the squirrel who stands straight and peppy and eats spoiled nuts on the far south side of the balcony. By lengthening the breath, you make the body calm and the turrets of your ears freeze and hear everything: the crackle of the squirrel's arrogant heart, the pop of split nuts in his pink, horrid mouth. A car horn bleats on Greenview Avenue and is terrifying. You are protected by the guarding point -- a spot on the snout where long breath enters and conditions the body's growing calm. Images arise naturally in the mind; the squirrel prone and stiff and glistening in sunlight.


Rub against the screen door. Rub your body on the deck planks soggy from last night's storm. A deck-chair leg is filled with garlic. Fully experience the rapture, the pīti, of rubbing your face against it. Take it as a new object for the mind to contemplate -- while the rancid, filthy squirrel chewing its precious nuts is always anchored at the guarding point, where the breath enters your snout and conditions the body, calming it in case the tiny ogre tries to run. What is the blathering heart of a squirrel like? Is it heavy? Is it light? How coarse is it? How delicious? Know its flavor. Investigate the influence the squirrel's bursting neck has on your mind and your thoughts. Once pīti arises, what is the mind like? Once pīti passes, what is the mind like? When the squirrel is delicious, we experience success. But we are simultaneously excited and disturbed by this success.


We cannot see the mind, but we can know it through its thoughts -- just as, for example, we cannot see the phenomenon of "fear" in and of itself. Instead, we know "fear" through its properties: the squirrel smells you, its eyes bulge like Sumerian idols and it stops chewing its stupid nuts and stops quivering its contemptible little tail. We cannot see one unified object called "fear," but we can see all of its properties. The same is true of the mind and its thoughts. A four-year-old girl sits in front of the closet where you've been hiding from her all morning. "Hi, Shimmy," she says. "Are you going to eat your food, Shimmy? Aunt Shelly and Uncle Tony put your medicine in your food so you can feel better." She does not run away when you hiss at her. Nevertheless, all things hissed at are in themselves not-self, and everything tastes like Enacard. They are anattā. Hissing can make the mind satisfied, or even dissatisfied, if we choose -- just as a brisk massage using a sea-salt-and-oil solution can cleanse the pores. Hissing at a little girl might not make her flee. Yet, as we let go of things to which the mind is attached, things that are attached to the mind let go as well.


Mary is put in charge of designing a new concept for WJM News, and now Ted is forced to share the stage with another anchorman. Mark Williams interviews Mary about her work at WJM -- and she tells him far too much. Things are symbols only of themselves. A mailboy at WJM calls Mary "ma'am" and she realizes she's not so young anymore. Rhoda and Mary try to think of some acceptable guys to go out with. Mary plans a small get-together with Howard Arnell (an ex-date) and Rhoda invites Armand Lynton, whom she hit with her car. Howard and Armand show up . . . and Armand brings his wife along! WJM has a partial power loss, and is unable to broadcast the election results.


Blogger William Keckler said...

"What is the blathering heart of a squirrel like? Is it heavy? Is it light? How coarse is it? How delicious? Know its flavor."

Shimmy, your mind is like the ocean freed of oceanness.

I bow before it.

Tanha is gone with a flick of the tongue.

You look gorgeous in inverts, btw.

And uninverted too.

10:04 AM  
Blogger Shimmy said...

Hi Bill--

The invert is my rainbow body.

2:48 PM  
Blogger cleek said...

i would bow, if arrangements of magnetic fields on a disk platter at could bow.

10:03 AM  

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