Mindfulness always have to be established before meditation really can take off. So why is it mindfulness is so important, why is it always required, what is the reason for that? The reason of course is simple because mindfulness, one of the meanings mindfulness means a few different things in Pali, the Pali word is Sati.
Sati can mean memory, the ability to recall things that happened long time ago. But the other important meaning of Sati in the sutta is this ability to stay in the present moment. Just to be aware what’s happening. I’m sure many of you will know what that means right sometimes in a matter of the mind is all over the place, other times the mind might become peaceful. And you have this ability to be aware of what is happening. So we all have some idea of what sati is about.
Some of you were complaining about thinking too much but even when you think a lot, there are moments often when the mind becomes clear. The way a teacher does that, I like the way Ajahn Brahm does it traditionally, he says to be able to be aware of the thinking … mind right. As soon as you stop like that, you kind of halt and that is where the mind becomes quiet because you’re waiting for something to happen. That is how you know what mindfulness is, at least with a tiny little degree because the mind at that point has stopped basically. And it is so important mindfulness because if you haven’t got that mindfulness it means that the reason why you haven’t got mindfulness is because defilements are still in charge in the mind.
Usually desires, usually ill will, to at least a little bit of a degree and as long as they are there to drag your mind into the past and into the future right. As long as your mind has been dragged around by the defilements, it is impossible to do any meditation because meditation by its very nature is about staying with the meditation object. So you cannot do that, is only when mindfulness is established which means that the defilements are already very low at this particular point, and then you are able to stay with a meditation object because these things that drag you into the past and the future, they have largely disappeared. Then meditation becomes possible. This is why mindfullness always needs to be present for meditation really to happen. So one of the most important things in meditation practice is this ability to give rise to mindfulness. To sit back and wait for the mind to come to that sense of peace right.
I’ll talk about this later on how we give rise to mindfulness. Most of the ways of giving rise to mindfulness is all the stuff with do in our daily life. If we live our daily life in a skillful and wholesome way then the mindfulness will tend to rise when we sit down to meditate. Sometimes it takes a long time right, we have to surfuse, imbued the mind with all this good qualities and after have done that for years, sometimes for many years right, do it again and again and again, you understand every time we do a tiny bit of bad action, it drags you down. And because you understand it drags you down, you become so scared or doing anything bad, just stop it, even the smallest bad thing for the people around you.
You become this very good hearted person because you understand the danger of this things. You are destroying your own future, destroying your own life, every time you do something bad. Every time you think about a bad thought it will have a long term negative consequence for you. And understanding that drives you in a different direction move you forward, encourages you to live more mindfully, more clearly, more compassionate and kindness to the people around you. There are ways of doing this so that to enable us to do this things more easily.
So mindfulness is so crucial right this is where it comes from. In the end it comes from the kindness in our hearts, our good heart and those are really where it comes from. This is why this whole Sila (virtue) is so fundamental to this all of the Buddhist path. Every meditation practice, everything we do is absolutely crucial.