Mindful Conversations

Where Buddhism Meets Gendlin

Attention of and to the Matrix of Life

When I think over the fifty-six years since I left high school, I can say confidently that I can think of no single thing which has contributed to my healthy development (in terms of growing up and waking up) more than wisely-directed attention. Conversely, if I think of the suffering which I have brought upon myself and others at one juncture or another in that time, inevitably the most influential factor in my harmful behaviour was unskilful attention. If you ask what characterizes unskilful attention, I would say that in general I have hurt myself and others when selfishness has guided attention.

This may sound harsh, especially because when I left high school I was young – inexperienced, naive, and (in my case) very lost. That’s so. And yet, looking at the situation with an honest gaze, it was exactly that lack of self-knowledge that played a part in directing my attention unskilfully. I had much to learn, and the learning which has occurred was precisely due to the ‘right’ use of attention.

What characterizes ‘right attention’? Development became possible when attention was directed to knowing myself as a concrete life. The etymology of ‘concrete’ is helpful here. The word descends from a Latin root which means: to grow together. In the present context, what are the processes which are connected, or ‘grow together’?

I find this tricky to talk about, because the two processes I will start with aren’t ‘connected’ in the sense of there being ‘two processes’ at all. We talk that way, and it helps; but it’s not the most accurate way to conceive of our situation. That is, in a very real way the human individual is a growth movement with and of their matrix – which is the natural world. An individual is a separate process in some important respects, but not in all respects. World and organism are one interaction and move forward together. Your lived world and the big world of nature are indissolubly united in growing together. In his A Process Model Gendlin says that while the body and environment are in some respects different, “The body is a nonrepresentational concretion of (with) its environment.” That is, in its fundamental actuality it is one body-environment process.

So, let me suggest that the world of personal experience is both ‘within’ and of the bigger world. This has been recognised for a long time. What the European phenomenologists called ‘the lived world’ the Buddha called ‘a world within a world.’ The important thing to note here is that one’s lived world and the bigger life process have always grown together.

Humans have not only evolved ‘up from Eden,’ as has been said –  but, we have evolved with Eden. And the human process we call attention is still in the process of developing with vast nature as its matrix. When, at last, skilful attention led me to this realisation, and when I could confidently conceive of my body as of the world, then healthy development became organic.

But where do we now find ourselves, at this point within the evolution of the wider world? Poised for extinction, or for a further development? At our present level of development, we can think of our attention as functioning on two different levels. One level is shaped by three major urges such as: the need to possess people and things (a going toward); the desire to be aggressive (a going against); and a limited ability to learn from the matrix of primordial experiencing (a going away).

The other level involves disconnecting from the concrete in an even stronger way than simply a limit on learning. Via our capacity for symbol-making we effect a dissociation from bodily life. This second level creates the kinds of thinking and recreation of the world which are out of kilter with the way things are. This happens when preferences, thoughts, self-representations, and societal conditioning come into play. The matrix itself, of course, doesn’t prohibit this, but it is obvious that this level’s malfunctioning is not in favour of our continued life on planet earth.

The arising of symbolizing in the species was not itself a problem. For a time this level carried human life forward. However, it is how we are using it at this stage in our development which has brought our present dangerous predicament.

We will explore how this has happened, and the way forward. A large part of my project here is directed toward understanding what healthy attention is, and how it can develop from this ‘default mode.’ It might help us survive if we can develop attention in such a way that it can fulfil its true function as the world’s attention. It seems to me that this is an invitation that the bigger world offers.

Inner Guidance

If one lets oneself sense the whole feel of now, a sense of direction emerges, if it is sought…. It is the whole of one’s living which shapes this direction.” (Philosopher Eugene T. Gendlin, Thinking Beyond Patterns: Body, Language and Situations.)

There were so many explicit concepts in the previous post which would reasonably leave you with questions. I feel an internal pressure to return to any number of them. And, of course I will… in due course. However, so as to let felt thinking guide me, I want instead to pick up an issue which lurks between those lines. This is the issue of ‘inner guidance.’

On what authority does one say something is true which is not obvious to the senses or to established thought? On what authority do you decide an external ‘authority’ is trustworthy regarding the tasks of inner transformation? And, if you’ve established to your satisfaction that they are trustworthy, how can you verify what they say for ourselves?

To explore this in what follows, I think it necessary to contrast where we are going with where we are, or where we’ve been. In the ancient Buddhist texts, the Buddha deemed it necessary to contrast the ‘noble trained person’ with the ‘untrained person.’ I’ll generally speak of the ‘mindful person’ in contrast to the ‘unmindful person.’

The unmindful person largely avoids ‘the big questions,’ and so misses opportunities to further their inner development. They don’t become the author of their own path, even when they are accomplished in philosophical talk.

The point here is that one who wishes to have a reliable foundation for inner work must have a mindful relationship to evidence and authority. Being inattentive to our immediate, actual lives doesn’t work for that. Furthermore, even when mindful people engage the inquiry into ‘mind,’ they can bypass their emotional development. As I’ll explore later, the mere fact that a spiritual teacher has ‘woken up’ to the goal (however you name it) doesn’t mean that they’ve ‘grown up.’ That is, realisation of “true nature” doesn’t mean that they’ve dealt with their wounds sufficiently to guide others. A large number of spiritual teachers have harmed themselves and others for lack of understanding of this issue. But, let’s tackle this later.

So, I’m asking: How can we be confident when we think we know something? Some say that we never can, but is this the case?

We can say what doesn’t work to bring true confidence. When I was a young man, I shared with a friend that I was learning to be mindful. She asked me to tell her more; and upon hearing what was involved, she exclaimed “Oh, no! I wouldn’t want to know what I was thinking!” I was stunned. She was affirming a way of living which would ignore her mentality. (Here I want to set your mind at rest. There is a lot more to us than mere thinking. Mindfulness, in fact, reveals the breadth and depth of that ‘more.’ Possibly my friend intuited the vastness of the more, and baulked.)

This ignoring strategy – a very weak happiness strategy – is more common than we think. Philosophy got a very bad name in the 20th century: even a pop song said that it was just ‘talk on the cereal box.’ When you set aside academic pretence, though, philosophy can be an on-going discipline. We can clarify our thinking to enhance how we live on planet Earth. It matters to do this. That’s why the Buddha placed a particular emphasis on getting your view ‘right.’

Wonky thinking brings confusion in its wake. Unexamined thoughts influence action as much as, if not more than, the thoughts that are in your face, so to speak. Yet, in the matter of straightening out your thinking, the question of ‘authority’ becomes problematic. Belief doesn’t cut it. What then can guide our thinking such that our thinking serves us, and doesn’t control us? So that we can not be controlled, too, by others’ thinking. [?]

Throughout the world there is domination and tyranny – the tyranny of governments, the tyranny of churches in the name of God, in the name of love and peace. We have every form of authority thrust upon us, and most of us accept it because it is satisfying.” – Krishnamurti, Talk in Paris, May 20, 1965.

Some people say that, in matters of spirituality, you need to accept some truths (passed on by others) provisionally, until you can verify them experientially. I’m examining this traditional assertion, fleshing it out. It has become merely a cultural dictate for many, a habit passed on over thousands of years. I haven’t got space here to say more, though I will when we look at the inescapable fact of culture in our flesh.

We are better equipped for the task of independent learning than we tend to think. The scientific evidence is in: babies come into the world already gifted learners. They are inquiring minds. A newborn doesn’t suppose or believe anything, to begin the learning which carries their life forward.

What might this mean for us? Even if that capacity has been dimmed by the harm created by our industry-serving education, we still have it. There are ways to uncover that flexibility. Unless we become beginners again, we will remain encrusted by culture – rather than empowered by it.

If we already have an organism which is always in the process of carrying forward its development – an organism which generates itself freshly out of, in, and on from what it has just been – we only need to reignite the flame of attention that we were born with. There is a natural foundation present within us for the ‘getting’ of wisdom.

Letter to Friends: Concern

Dear Kalyanamitta,

I have had two life-long preoccupations. Firstly, ever since I was a child, I wanted to know what people were talking about when they referred to ‘the mind.’ This preoccupation first manifested as a wish to know what was meant by the word ‘I.’ At age four, I asked my father “Who am I?” I didn’t want to know my name and place in the family; but his answer was: “What are you talking about? You’re Christopher. You’re your mother’s son.” Yet, my question was more essential than this.

I wanted to know what the nature of the knower was. I knew that I knew things, but I couldn’t see that knower, the one who was experiencing the ‘seens’ and ‘heards’ of the world. I remember later, at nine years old, staring at some stones and asking, “They’re there (those stones), so where is the one who is seeing them, the one I am in here?” I’d look back, inwardly, to see if I could discern ‘me’; but to no avail. In adult language, I can say that from age four onwards, I was occasionally beset by perceptions about (what a sophisticated person might call) ‘the inside/outside distinction.’

I didn’t get any help in that project from my parents, or from the other the adults in my childhood world. They, as it turned out, were as lost as I was – and it showed. Violence was a constant in my childhood. It was in my home, in the local streets, and even in the classrooms at school. The human world was a very unsafe place. By the time I left high school at seventeen, I entertained the possibility that violence went with being human. The Vietnam War – a war I refused to participate in – was raging at the time. And, as well, by the completion of my university education, I knew well of two other shocking battle-fronts: one maintained by men against women, and the other maintained by men (mostly men) against the natural environs – against the earth, plants, sky, and waters; and against the non-human creatures which inhabit these domains.

I was, of course, like everyone else, divided against myself. Regarding my own divided mind, while I was still at high school I began to take steps to find some peace. I learned a form of Eastern meditation, I encountered the philosophy of Plato and his mentor Socrates, and I also read some texts by the Christian mystic Master Eckhart. Daily meditation opened up a whole new domain of discovery, an ancestral domain. Hence, by the time I left university at twenty-three, I had started on a path of personal transformation which would resolve – for myself, at least – those two issues; that of self-knowledge, and that of the world-wide war on nature. It was clear to me that humans are lost in concepts, leading us to be insensitive to what holds us, the ever-present matrix of dynamic self-generating life.

As I proceeded through my twenties, it became evident that our war on nature – that is, against the Earth, against women, against each other, and, peculiarly, against ourselves – all this, had its roots in our lack of direct acquaintance with (what we call) ‘mind’ and its false separation from ‘body.’ In other words, the root of all conflict lies in our estrangement from our own nature. Back in those days, too, I remember reading Gregory Bateson’s teaching that the ‘mind’ is nature, and that it is a relational process.

As an aside, it struck me in my mid-twenties that I had been in my country’s education system for at least twenty years – from kindergarten, and on through university; and, in that time, not one of my educators had raised the issue of the meaning of the word ‘mind.’ Everyone used it in the most casual of conversations, yet no-one whom I met seriously questioned whether we knew its referent (except my fellow counter-cultural, consciousness trippers). I do know now, of course, that there were philosophers and psychologists who had long asked how we know the world, but I didn’t personally encounter them in all my years in the education system. That, I think, is an indication of the ignorance inherent in a Western education.

Eventually, I was able to have first-hand experience of the presence of mind – firstly through Buddhist meditation practice; and then later with the help of Western phenomenology. These two streams of inquiry enabled me, not only to feel that presence but, to further specify in modern terms what kind of accessible bodily process we refer to, when saying and thinking the word ‘mind.’ The result has been the felt inclusion of the non-conceptual dimension of ‘mind,’ a palpable embrace which helped me begin to transform the causes of conflict in myself. My ‘letters’ will explicate what I mean by ‘non-conceptual.’

The activist Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, said in Being Peace (Parallax Press): “Meditation is to see deeply into things, to see how we can change, how we can transform our situation. To transform our situation is also to transform our minds. To transform our minds is also to transform our situation, because the situation is mind, and mind is situation. Awakening is important. The nature of the bombs, the nature of injustice, the nature of the weapons, and the nature of our own being are the same. This is the real meaning of engaged Buddhism.

‘Nature’ as the human and the ‘nature’ of everything else – it’s the same nature.

So, I am writing for those interested in contributing to the solution – the ending of conflict in humans. I meet regularly with people who are interested in healing the ‘inner’ roots of human conflict, the divided ‘mind.’ I’m not dismissing the ‘outer’ which you can study in politics, anthropology, sociology, psychology (which is mostly about brains, now), nor any other sciences. Neither am I saying that we can just meditate and all problems will be solved. Action to bring about change is important. However, without getting the ‘inner’ dimension right, we’ll only be angry, hateful forces; merely hoping that our scatter-gun can bring about change. As Dylan said, we’ll become our enemy in the instant that we speak.

sFundamentally, we need new models of the human which can stand alongside the dominant scientific concepts. Western society is still privileging models of human behaviour based on observations of the ‘outer,’ as though what’s going on ‘over there,’ at a distance, can tell us what is most essential about ourselves.

Science hasn’t yet formed a model for human knowing which includes the way we actually experience ourselves. Science has no place for what it’s like to feel like a human. Philosopher Thomas Nagel famously asked, ‘What’s it like to be a bat?’ I presume that what he was getting at is the perennial importance of asking: ‘What’s it like to be a human being – a human being?’ “What’s it like to be you – a unique human, being?” Science is delightful and useful, to be sure, but experiencing yourself is a wholly different matter. I don’t experience neuronal networks. I experience body, feelings, perceptions, intentionality, and consciousness. (Here, there are other words and models for how to say what we experience. But this will do for now. The point is, these I can be mindful of.)

I have had various trainings, both Eastern (Buddhism) and Western (psychotherapy and phenomenology). I have learned much about ‘this being human’ from four main sources: from my compassionate teachers; from exploring in mindful psychotherapy sessions with many non-Buddhist clients (as a therapist myself); from experiencing my own being-as-such; and, from teaching Buddhist practice. My ‘letters’ will, no doubt, reflect all that.

I wish to suggest a model of the human being which can help transform of our underlying tendencies to destructiveness. In sum, I could say that I will unpack Nhat Hanh’s statement: “To transform our minds is also to transform our situation, because the situation is mind, and mind is situation.” (My emphasis.)

In this model, where “Awakening is important,” I place ‘experiencing’ to the forefront. The question “What’s it like, really, to be a human?” matters in every situation on our little blue planet – the only world that we people and all the other species inhabit. Let’s talk about the state of Being-here, everywhere we can.

Next: The person who wishes to discover what is true, what is real – and what is truly beautiful – must have a different relationship to authority than the person who ignores his or her relationship to (‘what is’).

Language is Wilderness

Humans seem to miss that language is not created by culture. It’s nature (as us) which has generated language and culture. The following is a more elegant, robust view of the situation:

We can certainly say that the natural world (which includes human languages) is mannerly, shapely, coherent, and patterned according to its own devices. The four thousand or so languages of the world model reality each in their own way (following Whorfian theories of the deep effects of each language on world-view) — with patterns and syntaxes that were not invented or created by anyone — organically evolved wild systems whose complexity eludes the descriptive attempts of the rational mind.” – Gary Snyder, Language Goes Two Ways. Kyoto Journal. November 5, 2011

Open Heart, Open Mind

There’s a story in a Buddhist text (the Honeyball Sutta) that the Buddha was meditating in the forest one-day when an old man from his own home tribe came by and challenged him: “What’s your doctrine, Recluse?

“My doctrine, Friend, is such that I don’t argue with anyone; a doctrine wherein one who is free from attachment is free of the underlying tendencies which beset of person (and which lead to violence).”

What might this look like in practice? There’s a story on the focusing.org site about a man in Afghanistan, who argued with his neighbour over water rights. So angry was he that he went back to his home to get a weapon. – no doubt, in his view, to return and revenge his honour.

However, this man had been taught Focusing, so that while at his home it occurred to him that he may ‘have a guest.’ A guest in the heart is a ‘someone’ (you could say) who is not intrinsic to the human heart. So he sat down, there, and looked inward at his feelings and at the ‘more’ which came there – some of the ‘underlying tendencies,’ the Buddha might say.

And indeed he did discover that it was a ‘guest’ and not his authentic self who wanted to return in violence to his neighbour. So, instead, he returned and told his neighbour that he would take his water rights the next day and his neighbour could have them today. His surprised neighbour asked what had happened, so he told him about Focusing.

In my view, Focusing is a way of contacting the subtle source of meaning-making in the felt body. It’s a way of transforming and not maintaining the tendencies to division in us which give rise to so much human conflict.

The man’s neighbour was impressed, and as a result the village set about expanding the opportunities for Focusing. They set up a house for purpose. (You can read an account of the story here.)

I talk about the necessity for us to learn how – in whatever way we can – how to listen deeply, to ourselves and to others. The violence between us and against nature, this is optional. It may take decades, or centuries, but it is created by thought, not by organic nature. We can engage in a learning which is of the nature of an unlearning.

To do this we have to be willing to meet our habits of ‘mind.’ I know, from practice, that it’s a daunting proposition. You might think, if it means that we have to know our own thoughts for there to be peace between humans… well, that’s a two thousand years project. This may be the case; but what choice do we have? More importantly, though, we can begin to feel some changes and benefits now.

I remember talking with a friend many years ago and telling her how I was learning mindfulness. On hearing that it means being aware of everything about yourself, as it’s happening – your body, feelings, sense perceptions intentions and thoughts – she exclaimed, “Oh, God! I don’t want to know what I’m thinking!”

It is nevertheless possible to survive such intimate self-knowledge, and it really does make a difference to the quality of your relationships. In fact, it changes everything if you follow it through to the root. It does transform the ‘underlying tendencies’ which give rise to discord. We become a ‘guest house’ for whatever negativity or exaggerated passion which may surface; so that, like the Afghani man, we realise we are more than our desires and hungers – more than the stuff of our personalities.

We are forever hankering after and yet resisting the world as it is – the world with all its insecurity, all its loss, all its changes. I think my friend felt there was something she’d lose, to know herself so intimately. Yet, when we give up concocting reality, something priceless remains. And that knowledge provides, as the Buddha would say, “a pleasant abiding here and now”; complete, I need to add, with all the power you need to stand against injustices. The end of being run by the underlying tendencies to division is: peace of heart, a flourishing inner life, and an energetic, engaged life.

Our Afghan friend in the story was inspired by the Rumi poem “The Guest House.” This poem was perhaps inspired by an earlier teaching of the Buddha:

“In a guest house, Practitioners, people from the east may take lodgings, or people from the west, north or south. People from the warrior caste may come and take lodgings there, and also brahmans, middle class people and the underclass.
“Similarly, Practitioners, there arise in this body various kinds of feelings; there arise pleasant feelings, painful feelings and feelings which are neutral; there are gross feelings that are pleasant, painful or neither; and subtle feelings that are pleasant, painful and neutral.”

The Buddha’s way was to be kind, compassionate, and dispassionate toward our ‘guests.’  Rumi said, “Greet them at the door, laughing.” They are transformed by relating with understanding.

Ways of Seeing the Body

What is clear from the experience of mindfulness, from this practice of immediacy, is that the lived body is not the body of science, nor the medical body; that it has gradations from (what might be called) course experience to very subtle. And instead of being a mere ‘housing’ for an owner, it has level upon level of intelligence of its own. Perhaps if humanity listened more attentively to the body’s wisdom, we might find a way forward in a way that respects nature, and doesn’t dominate it. Anyhow, at the very least, you and I can contribute by finding our way into belonging on the earth, by attuning to our bodies.

From the Samyutta Nikaya

iv.360; p.1372 of Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation:

At Savatthi. “Bhikkhus, I will teach you the unconditioned and the path leading to the unconditioned. Listen to that…

“And what, bhikkhus, is the unconditioned? The destruction of lust, the destruction of hatred, the destruction of delusion: this is called the unconditioned.

“”And what, bhikkhus, is the path leading to the unconditioned? Mindfulness directed to the body: this is called the path leading to the unconditioned.

“Thus, bhikkhus, I have taught you the unconditioned and the path leading to the unconditioned. Whatever should be done, bhikkhus, by a compassionate teacher out of compassion for his disciples, desiring their welfare, that I have done for you. These are the feet of trees, bhikkhus, these are empty huts. Meditate, bhikkhus, do not be negligent, lest you regret it later. This is our instruction to you.”

Knowing Nibbāna Directly

Just looking back at that verse from the Udana, translated by F.L.Wooward, to put it in a more modern idiom:

With mindfulness of the body present,
restrained in her sixfold sense contact,
the seeker continuously collected
can know nibbāna herself.
– Ud.III.iv

I appreciate the poise in this discipline. Here it reminds me of one of my favourite short suttas, called ‘Crossing over the Flood’ (SN 1.1), where the Buddha says he: “…crossed over the flood without pushing forward, without staying in place.”

“When I pushed forward, I was whirled about. When I stayed in place, I sank. And so I crossed over the flood without pushing forward, without staying in place.”

The whole sutta, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu can be found at:

Contemplating the Great Primary Elements (Mahābhūta)

Continuing with the translation of MN 119, the ‘Mindfulness of Body (Kāyagatāsati) Sutta.’ The Buddha instructs his disciples (i.e., those undertaking the discipline)…

“Again, seekers, a seeker contemplates this very body – however it is placed and whatever its posture – in respect of the four primary elements: ‘In this body, there is the earth element, the water element, the fire element, and the air element.’

Just as, Seekers, a skilled butcher or their apprenctice, having killed a cow, might sit at the crossroads with the dissected portions, a seeker contemplates this very body – however it is placed and whatever its posture, she reviews it [in terms of] the four primary elements: ‘In this body, there is the earth element, the water element, the fire element, and the air element.’

“As she dwells thus, ardent, diligent and committed, her thoughts about mundane life are abandoned and hence the mind becomes inwardly steadied, quieted, unified and collected. In this way a practitioner develops mindfulness of the body.”


The Four Great Elements of the Body.
Note that in this analysis, at present, we are just looking at the elements as found in the body. It is possible to find correlates of these elements in ‘the mind,’ but that is not our subject here.

Text: “atthi imasmiṃ kāye pathavīdhātu āpodhātu tejodhātu vāyodhātū.” “There are in this body, earth-element (pathavīdhātu), water-element (āpodhātu), fire-element (tejodhātu), air [or wind]-element (vāyodhātū).’

The practitioner inspects the body and discovers it in these qualities, which, for a beginning, we can define thus: earth = the solid, resistant, or hard element of the body; water = fluidity, wetness; fire = temperature (varying levels of warmth and cold); and air = movement or mobility.

It’s interesting that none of these stays the same from moment to moment – they are always alive and interactive, lighting up from moment to moment. It can also be easily observed, in these experiential reveiws which we do of the body during the day, that the hardness element varies according to one’s posture, one’s environment, and level of consciousness of one’s body. It can also be discovered, that when we have one element, we have the others.

Exploring the breath is particularly interesting from the movement point of view. How do you know you are breathing? Much of it (besided the sensations in the nostrils and nasal passages) is due to movement in the body. Also, temperature can be explored in the difference between the in-breath and out-breath. How do you know a particular breath is either an in-breath or an out-breath? If one’s perception is subtle enough, it’s likely a combination of all of the elements. Explore it. (Just note, if you are a beginner, it can be a little scary letting your breath breathe itself. But begin to learn how that can happen, just the same.)

The idea of these ‘elements’ isn’t to provide a scientific model for material events, but to encourage directly seeing what one is actually sensing. The word ‘body’ presents an entity that is much more than a thing – it is a subtle and complex set of perceptual events. If it wasn’t for sensations of this order of subtelty, how would one know there is a ‘body,’ for designating so. ‘Body’ is an aggregation of events – this body is conditions.

So, a personal note – during the night I was intimately contemplating my body, in terms of the elements, and I began to wonder, given my fibromyalgia (which was keeping me awake), then, where does pain fit in with this schema? Then I realised that it isn’t meant to – ‘pain’ is a word which designates something which is not a primary element of the body.

This can be seen by the fact that when you go 100% into pain, it changes. This isn’t the same for the four elements – go 100% into them, and (near enough, considering the space element may arise) they remain what they are: solid or soft, wet or dry, warm or cool, and moving or still. Pain, on the other hand, can even occasionally dissolve upon complete acceptance.

This contemplation makes possible the discernment of the difference between the fundamental presentation of the body, and the presentations that we call ‘mental.’ Once one’s inner poise (samādhi) is steady enough, discerning the basics of the body makes possible the discovery, on their own ground, of the kinds of experience that we designate as ‘mind’; and it becomes possible to see the inter-relation of these experiential dimensions.

What’s the purpose of all this? Freedom. It is even possible, once we are ‘inwardly steadied, quieted, unified and collected’, and when we are familiar with bodily and mental phenomena, to call into question whether there are even such ‘things’ as ‘moments’ to justify such phrases as ‘from moment to moment’ – and so, to become unbound.

May all being enjoy exploring the four great elements!

Mindfulness of body well-fixed

What a tough time I’ve been having in this body of mine, lately. The Fibromyalgia has been intense, but last night was so interesting – exploring the (Buddhist) elements and then asking “Exactly what is pain?” Going into the pain with that question revealed new dimensions of interdepdendence. A deep bow to my spiritual ancestors.

Here’s another text (Ud.III.iv), from Woodward’s translation of the Udana, in its now-quaint English:

Thus have I heard: On a certain occasionthe Exalted One was staying near Sāvatthi… in Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park. And on that occasion the venerable Moggallāna the Great was seated not far from the Exalted One in cross-legged posture, holding his body upright, having mindfulness concerned with body well established within himself. And the exalted one saw the venerable Moggallāna the Great doing so, and at that time, seeing the meaning of it, gave utterance to this verse of uplift:

If mindfulness of body be well fixed,
The monk restrained in the six spheres of sense,
Ever composed, could his Nibbāna know.

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