Thursday, April 20, 2017

Right Mindfulness/Right Concentration

Let’s wrap this up.  Today you get two thoughts for the price of one…
The last two steps on the Nobel Eightfold Path are “Right Mindfulness” and “Right Concentration”.  In my mind these are very similar in nature.  Right Mindfulness is being present to life as we should and Right Concentration is paying attention as we should.  How is one present to life?  You are present to life when you are where you are and you are doing what you are doing.  It’s this simple and it’s this challenging.  It is often difficult to be where you are.  For example, as I was beginning these thoughts my son called and asked if I could pick up my granddaughter when I get off work.  Although I am still at work my mind has shot ahead several hours to the route I will drive and what restaurant I should take her to for dinner.  This kind of thing happens to all of us all day long.  When we are one place, something will grab our attention and take us somewhere else.  It’s virtually impossible to not do this.  However, what you can do is learn to bounce back to the present moment.  As soon as you realize you are no longer where you actually are, bring yourself back to the moment.  In a few hours when I am with my granddaughter my task will be being present to her, especially when she shares with me the drama of her school day.  When you are where you are and you are doing what you are doing, be mindful, not mindless.  Right Concentration is very similar.  I think this is more about paying attention and noticing things.  Wherever you are, pay attention and notice things.  When you are outside taking a “Zen Walk” what are you experiencing?  Do you feel the warmth of the sun or the coolness of a breeze?  Are you noticing the flowers growing or the trees budding?  What about that homeless person walking down the street?  Perhaps you notice the aroma coming from the restaurants near the office.  Sometimes when I am with my granddaughter and I am listening to her stories I try to also pick up on the subtleties and nuances of her personality or mood.  Occasionally when I am doing this I realize how much she is like her father who I have been listening to for almost 39 years.  The bottom line is to not go through your life asleep.  Be present, be awake, and be aware.  There’s more to life than meets the eye and you will miss it if you are one of the walking dead.   
All of my thoughts on the Noble Eightfold Path were very basic and my own interpretations.  If you found any of them remotely interesting and want to learn more I recommend the following book.
The Beginner’s Guide To Walking The Buddha’s Eightfold Path by Jean Smith            


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