LEARN TO OBSERVE SANKHARA MIND FORMATIONS by Steve Lin
“And what is the source of consciousness?
Viññāṇañcidaṃ, bhikkhave, kiṃnidānaṃ kiṃsamudayaṃ kiṃjātikaṃ kiṃpabhavaṃ?
Viññāṇaṃ saṅkhāranidānaṃ saṅkhārasamudayaṃ saṅkhārajātikaṃ saṅkhārapabhavaṃ.
And what is the source of choices?
Saṅkhārā cime, bhikkhave, kiṃnidānā kiṃsamudayā kiṃjātikā kiṃpabhavā?
Saṅkhārā avijjānidānā avijjāsamudayā avijjājātikā avijjāpabhavā.
And so, ignorance is a condition for choices.
Iti kho, bhikkhave, avijjāpaccayā saṅkhārā;
Choices are a condition for consciousness. … saṅkhārapaccayā viññāṇaṃ … pe …
That is how this entire mass of suffering originates.
evametassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa samudayo hoti.
When ignorance fades away and ceases with nothing left over, choices cease.
Avijjāya tveva asesavirāganirodhā saṅkhāranirodho;
When choices cease, consciousness ceases. …
saṅkhāranirodhā viññāṇanirodho … pe …
That is how this entire mass of suffering ceases.”
evametassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa nirodho hotī”ti.”
INSIGHTS FROM SUTTA STANZA
Choices (volitional mind formations) are sankhara (Pali) and are influenced by ignorance (avijjā).
Sankhara (mind conditions) are a key contributor to mind consciousness, kamma, cravings, and suffering (Dukkha).
Sankhara choices and conditions are impermanent and can be cultivated to end “purify consciousness” and end suffering (Dukkha).
The first important step to change or purify sankhara is learn to “observe the ignorance”, “observe the wrong views”, and “observe the causes that led to poor choices or thoughts.”
Second, “observe the discernment”, “observe the right views” and “observe mindfulness” that helps purify the mind sankhara and consciousness. Observe knowledge that helps make noble choices.
Use mindfulness to observe “daily thoughts and choices” that create sankhara mind conditions and formations.
Remember that “sankhara” is constantly changing due to thoughts and choices.
Don’t obsesses or fixate on past choices or sankhara. Old sankhara thoughts can be modified, purified, and replaced by new choices, new thoughts, and new sankhara.
New and noble thoughts, new and noble choices, new and noble sankhara are ways to purify the mind conditions and consciousness that will end suffering and lead to nirvana.
PREPARATION FOR GUIDED MEDITATION
🧘🏽♀ MEDITATION PLACE
Find a comfortable place that is quiet to sit and meditate with few interruptions and distractions to the senses.
After sitting comfortably on a cushion or pillow or floor, place hands in lap and close the eyes.
🧘🏽♀ TRIPLE GEM (1-2 min)
Prepare the mind and concentration by taking “Refuge in the Triple Gem”.
Visualize each one in the mind (as an object) and generate faith and warm feelings with each one. Don’t rush this.
I take refuge in The Buddha.
I take refuge in The Dhamma.
I take refuge in The Sangha.🧘🏽♀ SATIPATTHĀNA WARM UP (3-5 min)
Begin to focus in the breathing without attaching or stressing about it. Just relax and observe the breath.
As you breath in… observe it and release.
As you breath out… observe it and release.
Observing the rhythm of the breath is essential to relax the body and to practice releasing.
Use the out breath to practice releasing.
Relaxed smiling is good to use to help relax. I often will use the phrase “Peace” (in breath)
“Release” (our breath)
Continue observing breathing until it becomes very subtle or almost unnoticeable.
🧘🏽♀ SATIPATTHĀNA WARM UP (3-5 min)
As the breath fades, the mind relaxes, the body also begins to relax.
Observe the body as a (body) form. It’s not self, but only a shell, a rupa, that temporarily supports consciousness.
As observing, the body, let the breath and body fade.
🧘🏽♂ SATIPATTHĀNA WARM UP (3-5 min)
As the breath fades and the body relaxes, the mind tends to become active or stay busy.
As thoughts arise, don’t engage with them. Observe them and then let them fade.
They will rise and they will fall unless there is engagement to feed the thoughts.
After preparation, relax and smile…
Contemplate a recent “significant” choice (sankhara).
Observe conditions, thoughts, and influences on that choice.- passions, sensual feelings, pleasures?- thoughts of family pressures?- thoughts of peer pressure?- routine or habit?- thoughts of craving or clinging to an idea?- thoughts of craving or clinging to a person?- thoughts of fears, worry?
Observe how that thought and choice was influenced by past choices and throughts (sankhara).
Identify “insights” from this “pattern” that can help future choices and modify sankhara conditions that can influence noble choices in the future.