Spirituality and Mindfulness

What Spirituality are you interested in? What kind of psychology are you looking for? But, when we talk about spirituality, which spirituality should we think about, and when we talk about psychology, which psychology should we think about? 

Although there is almost as much disagreement among the various schools of psychology as there is among the various world spiritual practices, each of these traditions exists because it has something valuable and significant to give. Nonetheless, neither our analysis of psychology nor our treatment of spirituality can be considered comprehensive. As a result, we must be selective in both areas. I first heard Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi speak at a university several years ago. He said, as I recall, that the true goal of schooling and scholarship is to answer the question, "What is the good life?" The more we get away from this fundamental, live issue, the more vague, dry, and distant the investigation becomes. 

In keeping with this insight, we choose a basic criterion that can be applied to a variety of programs and beliefs: We've focused on the facets of psychology and spirituality that are most useful in helping us live the positive life and becoming the person we were supposed to be. We place a premium on whatever specifically addresses the issue of how to live truly and well. We place a premium on teachings that not only tell us to love our neighbors, but also how to go about doing so. As a result, Buddhism is granted prestige within the philosophical paths because it excels at keeping an emphasis on practice while containing a lack of dogmatic values and speculative theory that can be a barrier to those who see things differently. 

The cultivation of mindfulness is at the core of Buddhist teachings. So, though we mention a variety of spiritual traditions, none is more important than mindfulness. The four noble truths are at the heart of Buddhist teaching. The Buddha delivered this teaching in his first sermon since attaining enlightenment, according to the record, and it set the tone for all subsequent teachings. The truth of pain is the first noble truth. This teaching isn't so much that everything is suffering as it is that suffering is the very thing that leads one down the right path. If we are to find our way out of suffering, we must benefit from it rather than dismiss it. 

It's similar to the Christian belief that crucifixion would precede regeneration, and that God's existence may be seen in our own hardships. The causes of pain may be identified and accepted, according to the second noble reality. Our misery is caused by our own stupidity, not by the existence of fact. We understand why we struggle until we understand the essence of truth. The third noble fact is that once we realize and understand the roots of suffering, we will put an end to it. We will visit the world of nirvana, paradise, or the kingdom of God, as Christians refer to it. The fourth noble reality is a summary of what it would be like to live a life free of pain. Right opinion, right thought, right expression, right behavior, right livelihood, right mindfulness, right vigilance, and right attention are the eightfold route. It's important to realize that this isn't so much a moralistic teaching as it is a realistic one. 

The eightfold path represents a way of life that is “right” (meaning effective) in removing suffering and assisting us in crossing to the other side of suffering. At the end of his life, the Buddha seemed to have learned nothing but the essence of pain and how to end it. This could be derogatory to others. And, just as Christians can become overly focused on Christ's excruciating sufferings on the cross, or Jews can become overly focused on the Holocaust's massive atrocities, Buddhists can become overly focused on the negative here. However, this is a distortion. 

We don't need to do something special to become holy beings of a divine disposition, or Buddha nature, because we already are. We've always been them. What we need to know is how to get out of whatever is in our path. All we need to know is how to deal through what allows us to despair in order to expose the sparkling joy underneath. In this sense, all of this discussion of pain is entirely positive. Any term often refers to pain and how to turn it in order to reach the other side. It makes no difference whether the technique is metaphysical or therapeutic. 

The psychology we use aims to alleviate our misery. The realistic emphasis of cognitive-behavioral psychology gives it some prestige among psychological methods for the same reason—having a minimum of speculative inference and a maximum of practical truth, though we draw openly on other psychological schools as well.

You may also want to read more about Mindfulness Meditation here.