A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Post by Indrajala » Tue Aug 02, 2011 9:46 am

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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Post by Jnana » Wed Aug 03, 2011 8:10 pm

sangyey wrote:I am a little confused right now as I am searching on the Internet between attention and vigilance. Initially from reading Shantideva's chapter on vigilant introspection I thought that it would be the vigilance that checks what to adopt and what to discard. But after looking at some things on attention it appears that first being aware of what is going on initially and using the attention to analyze if it is an action to be adopted or discarded would be attention and not vigilance. Then it seems if you analyzed with proper attention you would employ mindfulness to direct the mind towards that appropriate action and the vigilance would check to make sure the mindfulness is in fact doing that. I am confused because the title of Shantideva's fifth chapter is vigilant introspection but in HH Dalai Lama's commentary the word attentiveness is used. I know that attention, mindfulness, and vigilance are all different mental factors.
Yes, there are three different terms here (I'll give the Pāli, Sanskrit, and Tibetan equivalents as you were also wondering about the Pāli in a previous post):
  • mindfulness (sati, smṛti, dran pa) means to remember, as in remembering an instruction or remembering what you are supposed to be doing

    attention or mental engagement (manasikāra, manaskāra, yid la byed pa) means to focus the mind on an object

    vigilance or full awareness (sampajañña, saṃprajanya, shes bzhin) means to be fully aware of what one is experiencing as it is being experienced
Mindfulness (smṛti) and attention (manaskāra) are mental factors (caitta, sems byung) given in the Abhidharma enumeration of 51 mental factors. In this context, full awareness (saṃprajanya) is related to the mental factor of discernment (prajñā, shes rab). All of these mental qualities are important for the development of calm abiding, and mindfulness & full awareness are specifically singled out in most of the Sūtrayāna meditation instructions.

The Sanskrit title of Bodhicaryāvatāra Chapter 5 is Saṃprajanyarakṣaṇa, which means "guarding" or "protecting" (rakṣaṇa) with full awareness (saṃprajanya).

A good overview of these terms, fairly well translated with clear definitions, can be found in The Inner Science of Buddhist Practice (the definition of manaskāra on p. 276; the definition of smṛti on pp. 278-79).
Last edited by Jnana on Wed Aug 03, 2011 8:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Post by Acchantika » Wed Aug 03, 2011 8:29 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Acchantika wrote:
Thank you, that is a very lucid explanation.

So, I am assuming that it is incorrect to apply this to all phenomena, i.e., the characteristic of clarity is unique to sentient beings?
Yes, the characteristic of clarity is unique to a sentient being's mind. The mahasiddha Virupa stated that "The mind is like space, the difference [between them] is that the mind is aware."

Ok, thank you for clarifying that for me.

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Re: A Question on Shunyata and Awareness

Post by sangyey » Wed Aug 03, 2011 11:01 pm

Thank you for the explanation and links. Also, thank you for the translation of Shantideva's fifth chapter. It's really interesting and helpful to now know the literal translation of it.

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