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Barbara O'Brien

Practicing Mindfulness of Mind

By December 31, 2012

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Cruising on in our review of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness -- the third foundation is sometimes translated as "mindfulness of mind," or mindfulness of mental states."

Whenever the word "mind" pops up in a Buddhist text, it's usually a good idea to find out which mind it is talking about. In the Pali Tipitika, for example, there are three words commonly translated as "mind," and they all mean different things. Manas is associated with judgments and volition, and vinnana is the mind of ideas and cognition.

But the third foundation is cittasati, or mindfulness of citta. Citta is the mind of mental states or qualities -- sleepiness or alertness, for example. Citta is sometimes translated "heart-mind." At its most basic, this is mindfulness of states of mind. Through dispassionate observation, we see how ephemeral they are.

Comments
January 4, 2013 at 9:30 am
(1) George Deane says:

Your discussion of mind is a valuable contribution to scattering the clouds of confusion as the word is used in seemingly contradictory ways.
I think that there might be another way to classify the use of the word in Buddhism: mind with content and mind without content. Mind with content can be he mind polluted by delusions , scattered thought, even happy thoughts. But the other mind is the mind of pure mindfulness, consciousness itself – the mind of what we call in Zen Shikantaza. It is the mind without the “me”, just open to the contingency of the next moment without being filtered through the distorting lens of a prejudiced observer.

Comments on the above are welcome.

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