As I have written in previous posts, one of the main benefits of meditation is the ability to observe the processes of the mind free from the bewildering experience of complex interactions with the “outer-world”. When we take the opportunity to isolate the senses, we can observe clearly how the mind associates with the conditions of reality in ways that cause suffering. We can clearly make out the factors of ignorance-fabrications-consciousness-form-the senses-contact-feeling-craving-clinging and becoming that play out over and over again throughout our waking hours.
It is incredible to see for the first time the intricate way in which our mind latches onto an object and what is produced by the bond. It takes some growing maturity and insight to see the depths of the harm this process is causing both ourselves and the world. It is because of direct knowledge of these processes that the Buddha taught that the “Path of Practice” must use these same processes of the mind to ferret out the unskillful qualities that continue to color our experience and reproduce this suffering. The particular methods incorporated are designed to bring balance to our heavily skewed perceptions that have ultimately solidified into erroneous views of identity.
The practice of penetrating reality beyond the gross levels of hideously inaccurate symbology that we access our world through, allows us to deal with the minutia that make up the human experience. By gaining a perceptual foundation in these Frames of Reference we do not allow the bewilderment of complexity to overcome our awareness. In essence we begin to see things through a microscope of controlled perception that focuses only on the root or innermost layer of our existential journey.
The Buddha describes it like this, “This is the direct path for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow & lamentation, for the disappearance of pain & distress, for the attainment of the right method, & for the realization of Unbinding—in other words, the four frames of reference. Which four?
There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself— ardent, alert, & mindful—putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on feelings… mind… mental qualities in & of themselves—ardent, alert, & mindful—putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.” -Samyutta Nikaya 47:40
In other words, instead of our focus being trained on our “external” circumstances through the environment of our mental processes, we can practice focusing on the mental processes themselves actively registering all phenomena as they appear and disappear. We should focus on the Body, the Feelings, the Mind, and the Mental Qualities that arise and fall away within every moment. When this form of training and strengthening the qualities of the mind is done within the scope of the Four Noble Truths it is perfectly effective in cultivating every condition necessary for the Unbinding of the mind that eradicates suffering and the conditions that produce it.
For more detailed instruction on the practice of the Four Frames of Reference, you can visit Access to Insight’s presentation here:
This detailing is in the book “The “Wings to Awakening”, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
May these words bless your house as they have mine.