Minute of Mindfulness is a weekly email from Josh Summers, with writings on meditation and notification of upcoming events.
Josh Summers: Minute of Mindfulness

Radiant and Pure


A frequently cited passage from the Buddha's teaching is this: "the heart's nature is intrinsically radiant; defilements are only visitors." (A 1.61)

The term 'defilement' is slightly anachronistic. But used here, it refers to the spectrum of mind-states that obscure the heart-mind's essential radiance. So anything from greed, hatred, delusion, to irritation, restlessness, jealousy, doubt, distress, depression, etc... any and all of these fall under the category of 'defilement'.

Now, what I find so empowering about this terse little Buddha-statement is that the defilements are only visitors, which means they don't get the final say on who or what we are. 
If we train ourselves to understand them and learn how to relate to them properly, their operational control in our lives is gradually reduced to the point of ultimate elimination.

In fact, one common way of defining 'awakening' or 'enlightenment' is the complete uprooting of these defilements. So how do we proceed to cleanse our hearts? How do we move along with the deep and necessary work of uncovering and abiding within the mind's natural radiance?

The Buddha compared himself to a physician, and he's prescription for mental health and happiness was the Noble Eightfold Path. I've written about this prescription before, but this Fall, I'd like to return to these core teachings that form the backbone of the Buddhist path. So in these Minutes of Mindfulness, as well as in my Friday night Yin classes, I'll be sharing reflections from this body of teaching.

A general overview that I've found useful is this: the Eightfold Path can be viewed as a comprehensive and integral path of transformation composed of three trainings: a training in morality, a training in mental development, and a training in wisdom. Each training acts specifically on a particular manifestation of the defilements.

For instance, by training ourselves in morality, ie. acting in ways that promote peace and well-being, we prevent our actions from being influenced by the defilements. Classically, this is described as preventing the transgressive manifestations of the defilements.

As we come to mental development, ie. meditation, the mind develops a kind of stability that prevents the defilements from entering one's stream of consciousness. And this, classically, is said to prevent the manifestation of obsessive defilements.

Finally, as the mind sees reality with ever greater clarity, the training in wisdom gradually ripens and eradicates the latent potential for defilements to arise (more on this as the week's unfold). 

So I'd like you to join me this Fall as we work with this remarkable body of teaching. For textual support, my recommendation is to procure a copy of Bhikkhu Bodhi's book The Noble Eightfold Path: Way to the End of Suffering. If you live in Boston, MA, second hand copies can be found at Seven Stars bookstore. But there is also a free pdf version, available  here, that you can put on your e-reader or print.

From my practice to yours,


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Day-long Retreat of Yin Yoga and Insight Meditation, Yoga East, Portsmouth, NH

Yin Yoga and Insight Meditation Workshop, Cork, Ireland

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The Path to Peace: An Inside Job, Yin Yoga Workshop, Eyes of the World, Providence, RI

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Banyan Tree Yoga, Nashua, NH

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