Part 4 - What the Suttas Say from 'What Does Mindfulness Really Mean' by Bhikkhu Bodhi
Nevertheless, despite my reservations about the use of “bare attention” as an alternative expression for sati, if we consider how mindfulness is to be practiced in the system laid down in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta, we can find considerable support for the idea that the initial task of sati is to “keep to a bare registering of the facts observed” as free as possible from distorting conceptual elaborations. The problem, as I see it, is not with conceptualization itself, but with conceptualization that ascribes erroneous attributes to the objects and the experiential act itself. An experiential event can be viewed as a field distributed between two poles, the objective datum and the subjective act that cognizes it. Ordinarily, on account of the spontaneous functioning of unenlightened consciousness, this polarity is reified into a sharp duality of subject and object. The subjective pole seems to coalesce into a substantially existent “I,” an ego-self that hovers in the background as an autonomous and independent entity. The objective pole presents itself as an object that is there “for me,” ready to serve or oppose my purposes; thus it becomes a potential object of craving or aversion. This process is what the suttas refer to as “I-making” and “mine-making” (ahaṃkāra mamaṃkāra). It is the task of meditation to dismantle this structure by penetrating the selfless nature of all phenomena, whether pertaining to the objective or subjective poles of the experience.
narrated by Jonathan Nelson
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