Ignorance. . .

Ignorance – ig·no·rance /ˈiɡnərəns/ noun: A lack of knowledge or information. Not knowing. 

Ignorance can also be defined as seeing something as satisfactory when it really is not. Now that has many levels. For example, we can see fantasy as being satisfactory when actually it’s just disconnectedness. You know, we can see sloth and torpor as being satisfactory whereas actually it’s just being asleep. We could see the pursuit of fame and gain as being satisfactory while it may be all layers of delusion. Ignorance is sometimes defined as seeing continuity in things that are impermanent. You can delude yourself into thinking this is going to last forever. “This is who I am. This is, you know, unchangeable, unshakeable, this mental state defines who I am.” To see all of this as solid when actually it is not. Ignorance is sometimes defined as seeing solidity and self in that which has no independent self existence. Ignorance in that sense is often kind of an underlying belief system; and this is the ignorance The Buddha spoke and taught of to great extent in his lifetime.

Now the practice of mindfulness is said to be a wisdom practice. Concentration supports it, but concentration is not the goal. In the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta, which is the root source of mindfulness practice in Theravada tradition, the Buddha does not actually prescribe any particu­lar technique of insight meditation. What he does is lay down the guidelines for contempla­tion, for investigation and for reflection. This is one of the major differences between samatha and vipassanā—the investigation factor. Meditation is here to understand, to investigate what arises with a calm and clear attentiveness. Countless techniques of insight meditation have evolved over the centuries, and they are found in all forms of Buddhism.

It’s a little bit hard to talk about insight be­cause it is kind of a charged word, especially in this culture. You know, people feel like they ought to be having insights and they’re not even sure what they look like. Never mind what kind of insights they’re supposed to be having. People keep talking about insight meditation, and there’s often this kind of uncertainty about, you know, have I got the insights? Do I know if I’ve got an insight? (Laughter) Does it come in headline banners, like a sudden awakening experience?

By correctly comprehending the inner aspect of our mindfulness of ignorance, we begin to see reality in its absolute form. However, at this point, there is still a tendency towards believing that we are “practicing” something in order to get somewhere. In other words, there is still a subtle attachment to the notion of us being a mindfulness or meditation practitioner and of ignorance being something we should endeavour to transcend. For this reason, the direct perceiving of the ultimate nature of reality tends to be something that is limited to occasional (albeit spiritually potent) glimpses.

The hidden aspect of mindfulness of ignorance is concerned with completely relinquishing the idea that there is something to practice or that there exist such things as ignorance or wisdom. We are not practicing something in order to get somewhere because there is no-thing to do and no-where to be. We simply are. In effect, this aspect of our practice is concerned with understanding that even the most ignorant of people are, at all times, breathing, eating, and walking through emptiness. Liberation is literally in the palms of their hands. There is no physical abode called “samsara” (i.e., the realm of suffering and cyclic existence) and there is no physical abode called “nirvana”. In other words, beings subject to ignorance and suffering are, for all intents and purposes, living in nirvana (read that again). They just do not realize it. This predicament adds a certain sense of irony to the suffering that the Buddha asserted was the mark of our existence, and the fact that it can be permanently circumvented by a simple change of perception and understanding.

Peace and Love, Jim

#ignorance #thedailybuddha

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