14 Mindfulness Trainings for Order of Interbeing

The Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings

Updated April 22, 2012

The Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings are the very essence of the Order of
Interbeing. They are the torch lighting our path, the boat carrying us, the
teacher guiding us. They allow us to touch the nature of interbeing in
everything that is, and to see that our happiness is not separate from the
happiness of others. Interbeing is not a theory; it is a reality that can be
directly experienced by each of us at any moment in our daily lives. The
Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings help us cultivate concentration and insight
which free us from fear and the illusion of a separate self.

The First Mindfulness Training: Openness

Aware of the suffering created by fanaticism and intolerance, we are
determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or
ideology, even Buddhist ones. We are committed to seeing the Buddhist
teachings as guiding means that help us develop our understanding and
compassion. They are not doctrines to fight, kill, or die for. We understand
that fanaticism in its many forms is the result of perceiving things in a
dualistic and discriminative manner. We will train ourselves to look at
everything with openness and the insight of interbeing in order to transform
dogmatism and violence in ourselves and in the world.

The Second Mindfulness Training: Non-Attachment to Views

Aware of the suffering created by attachment to views and wrong
perceptions, we are determined to avoid being narrow-minded and bound to
present views. We are committed to learning and practicing non-attachment
to views and being open to others’ experiences and insights in order to
benefit from the collective wisdom. We are aware that the knowledge we
presently possess is not changeless, absolute truth. Insight is revealed
through the practice of compassionate listening, deep looking, and letting go
of notions rather than through the accumulation of intellectual knowledge.
Truth is found in life, and we will observe life within and around us in every
moment, ready to learn throughout our lives.

The Third Mindfulness Training: Freedom of Thought

Aware of the suffering brought about when we impose our views on others,
we are determined not to force others, even our children, by any means
whatsoever – such as authority, threat, money, propaganda, or indoctrination
– to adopt our views. We are committed to respecting the right of others to
be different, to choose what to believe and how to decide. We will, however,
learn to help others let go of and transform fanaticism and narrowness
through loving speech and compassionate dialogue.
The Fourth Mindfulness Training: Awareness of Suffering

Aware that looking deeply at the nature of suffering can help us develop
understanding and compassion, we are determined to come home to
ourselves, to recognize, accept, embrace and listen to suffering with the
energy of mindfulness. We will do our best not to run away from our
suffering or cover it up through consumption, but practice conscious
breathing and walking to look deeply into the roots of our suffering. We
know we can realize the path leading to the transformation of suffering only
when we understand deeply the roots of suffering. Once we have understood
our own suffering, we will be able to understand the suffering of others. We
are committed to finding ways, including personal contact and using
telephone, electronic, audiovisual, and other means, to be with those who
suffer, so we can help them transform their suffering into compassion,
peace, and joy.

The Fifth Mindfulness Training: Compassionate, Healthy Living

Aware that true happiness is rooted in peace, solidity, freedom, and
compassion, we are determined not to accumulate wealth while millions are
hungry and dying nor to take as the aim of our life fame, power, wealth, or
sensual pleasure, which can bring much suffering and despair. We will
practice looking deeply into how we nourish our body and mind with edible
foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. We are committed not
to gamble or to use alcohol, drugs or any other products which bring toxins
into our own and the collective body and consciousness such as certain
websites, electronic games, music, TV programs, films, magazines, books
and conversations. We will consume in a way that preserves compassion,
wellbeing, and joy in our bodies and consciousness and in the collective
body and consciousness of our families, our society, and the earth.

The Sixth Mindfulness Training: Taking Care of Anger

Aware that anger blocks communication and creates suffering, we are
committed to taking care of the energy of anger when it arises, and to
recognizing and transforming the seeds of anger that lie deep in our
consciousness. When anger manifests, we are determined not to do or say
anything, but to practice mindful breathing or mindful walking to
acknowledge, embrace, and look deeply into our anger. We know that the
roots of anger are not outside of ourselves but can be found in our wrong
perceptions and lack of understanding of the suffering in ourselves and
others. By contemplating impermanence, we will be able to look with the
eyes of compassion at ourselves and at those we think are the cause of our
anger, and to recognize the preciousness of our relationships. We will
practice Right Diligence in order to nourish our capacity of understanding,
love, joy and inclusiveness, gradually transforming our anger, violence and
fear, and helping others do the same.

The Seventh Mindfulness Training: Dwelling Happily in the Present
Moment

Aware that life is available only in the present moment, we are committed to
training ourselves to live deeply each moment of daily life. We will try not
to lose ourselves in dispersion or be carried away by regrets about the past,
worries about the future, or craving, anger, or jealousy in the present. We
will practice mindful breathing to be aware of what is happening in the here
and the now. We are determined to learn the art of mindful living by
touching the wondrous, refreshing, and healing elements that are inside and
around us, in all situations. In this way, we will be able to cultivate seeds of
joy, peace, love, and understanding in ourselves, thus facilitating the work of
transformation and healing in our consciousness. We are aware that real
happiness depends primarily on our mental attitude and not on external
conditions, and that we can live happily in the present moment simply by
remembering that we already have more than enough conditions to be
happy.

The Eighth Mindfulness Training: True Community and Communication

Aware that lack of communication always brings separation and suffering,
we are committed to training ourselves in the practice of compassionate
listening and loving speech. Knowing that true community is rooted in
inclusiveness and in the concrete practice of the harmony of views, thinking
and speech, we will practice to share our understanding and experiences
with members in our community in order to arrive at a collective insight.
We are determined to learn to listen deeply without judging or reacting and
refrain from uttering words that can create discord or cause the community
to break. Whenever difficulties arise, we will remain in our Sangha and
practice looking deeply into ourselves and others to recognize all the causes
and conditions, including our own habit energies, that have brought about
the difficulties. We will take responsibility for the ways we may have
contributed to the conflict and keep communication open. We will not
behave as a victim but be active in finding ways to reconcile and resolve all
conflicts however small.

The Ninth Mindfulness Training: Truthful and Loving Speech

Aware that words can create happiness or suffering, we are committed to
learning to speak truthfully, lovingly and constructively. We will use only
words that inspire joy, confidence and hope as well as promote
reconciliation and peace in ourselves and among other people. We will
speak and listen in a way that can help ourselves and others to transform
suffering and see the way out of difficult situations. We are determined not
to say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest or to impress people,
nor to utter words that might cause division or hatred. We will protect the
happiness and harmony of our Sangha by refraining from speaking about the
faults of other persons in their absence and always ask ourselves whether our
perceptions are correct. We will speak only with the intention to understand
and help transform the situation. We will not spread rumors nor criticize or
condemn things of which we are not sure. We will do our best to speak out
about situations of injustice, even when doing so may make difficulties for
us or threaten our safety.

The Tenth Mindfulness Training: Protecting and Nourishing the Sangha

Aware that the essence and aim of a Sangha is the realization of
understanding and compassion, we are determined not to use the Buddhist
community for personal power or profit, or transform our community into a
political instrument. As members of a spiritual community, we should
nonetheless take a clear stand against oppression and injustice. We should
strive to change the situation, without taking sides in a conflict. We are
committed to learning to look with the eyes of interbeing and to see
ourselves and others as cells in one Sangha body. As a true cell in the
Sangha body, generating mindfulness, concentration and insight to nourish
ourselves and the whole community, each of us is at the same time a cell in
the Buddha body. We will actively build brotherhood and sisterhood, flow as
a river, and practice to develop the three real powers – understanding, love
and cutting through afflictions – to realize collective awakening.

The Eleventh Mindfulness Training: Right Livelihood

Aware that great violence and injustice have been done to our environment
and society, we are committed not to live with a vocation that is harmful to
humans and nature. We will do our best to select a livelihood that
contributes to the wellbeing of all species on earth and helps realize our ideal
of understanding and compassion. Aware of economic, political, and social
realities around the world, as well as our interrelationship with the
ecosystem, we are determined to behave responsibly as consumers and as
citizens. We will not invest in or purchase from companies that contribute to
the depletion of natural resources, harm the earth, or deprive others of their
chance to live.

The Twelfth Mindfulness Training: Reverence for Life

Aware that much suffering is caused by war and conflict, we are determined
to cultivate nonviolence, compassion, and the insight of interbeing in our
daily lives and promote peace education, mindful mediation, and
reconciliation within families, communities, ethnic and religious groups,
nations, and in the world. We are committed not to kill and not to let others
kill. We will not support any act of killing in the world, in our thinking, or in
our way of life. We will diligently practice deep looking with our Sangha to
discover better ways to protect life, prevent war, and build peace.

The Thirteenth Mindfulness Training: Generosity

Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and
oppression, we are committed to cultivating generosity in our way of
thinking, speaking, and acting. We will practice loving kindness by working
for the happiness of people, animals, plants, and minerals, and sharing our
time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need. We are
determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to
others. We will respect the property of others, but will try to prevent others
from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other beings.

The Fourteenth Mindfulness Training: True Love

[For lay members]: Aware that sexual desire is not love and that sexual
relations motivated by craving cannot dissipate the feeling of loneliness but
will create more suffering, frustration, and isolation, we are determined not
to engage in sexual relations without mutual understanding, love, and a deep
long-term commitment made known to our family and friends. Seeing that
body and mind are one, we are committed to learning appropriate ways to
take care of our sexual energy and to cultivating loving kindness,
compassion, joy and inclusiveness for our own happiness and the happiness
of others. We must be aware of future suffering that may be caused by
sexual relations. We know that to preserve the happiness of ourselves and
others, we must respect the rights and commitments of ourselves and others.
We will do everything in our power to protect children from sexual abuse
and to protect couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct.
We will treat our bodies with compassion and respect. We are determined to
look deeply into the Four Nutriments and learn ways to preserve and channel
our vital energies (sexual, breath, spirit) for the realization of our bodhisattva
ideal. We will be fully aware of the responsibility of bringing new lives into
the world, and will regularly meditate upon their future environment.

[For monastic members]: Aware that the deep aspiration of a monk or a nun
can only be realized when he or she wholly leaves behind the bonds of
sensual love, we are committed to practicing chastity and to helping others
protect themselves. We are aware that loneliness and suffering cannot be
alleviated through a sexual relationship, but through practicing loving
kindness, compassion, joy and inclusiveness. We know that a sexual
relationship will destroy our monastic life, will prevent us from realizing our
ideal of serving living beings, and will harm others. We will learn
appropriate ways to take care of our sexual energy. We are determined not to
suppress or mistreat our body, or look upon our body as only an instrument,
but will learn to handle our body with compassion and respect. We will look
deeply into the Four Nutriments in order to preserve and channel our vital
energies (sexual, breath, spirit) for the realization of our bodhisattva ideal.

Guided Meditation on the Body

Guided Meditation on the Body

Throughout this meditation, let’s focus our attention on the body.

As we watch the breath moving in and out, we recognize that the breath inhabits the body. We see our chest moving in and out; we feel the breath filling our lungs and spreading throughout the body.
We feel ourselves sitting on the cushion, we are aware of our surroundings: the sounds, the temperature, the environment…

When in the observation of the body, we can breathe in our awareness of the body, recognizing the tensions and anxieties that we hold in our bodies; and when we breathe out, we relax the body, releasing all the tensions and anxieties in our bodies.
(more…)

Breathe, You Are Alive

Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing

Section One
I heard these words of the Buddha one time when he was staying in Savatthi in the Eastern Park, with many well-known and accomplished disciples, including Sariputta, Mahamoggallana, Mahakasapa, Mahakaccayana, Mahakotthita, Mahacunda, Anuruddha, Revata, and Ananda. The senior bhikkhus in the community were diligently instructing bhikkhus who were new to the practice – some instructing ten students, some twenty, some thirty, some forty; and in this way the bhikkhus new to the practice gradually mad great progress.
That night the moon was full, and the Pavarana Ceremony was held to mark the end of the rainy-season retreat. Lord Buddha, the Awakened One, was sitting in the open air, and his disciples were gathered around him. After looking over the assembly, he began to speak:
“O, bhikkhus, I am pleased to observe the fruit you have attained in your practice. Yet I know you can make even more progress. What you have not yet attained, you can attain. What you have not yet realized, you can realize perfectly. [To encourage your efforts,] I will stay here until the next full moon day.”
When they heard that the Lord Buddha was going to stay at Savatthi for another month, bhikkhus throughout the country began traveling there to study with him. The senior bhikkhus continued teaching the bhikkhus new to the practice even more ardently. Some were instructing ten bhikkhus, some twenty, some thirty, some forty. With this help, the newer bhikkhus were able, little by little, to continue their progress in understanding.
When the next full moon day arrived, the Buddha, seated under the open sky, looked over the assembly of bhikkhus and began to speak:
“O bhikkhus, our community is pure and good. At its heart, it is without useless and boastful talk, and therefore it deserves to receive offerings and be considered a field of merit. Such a community is rare, and any pilgrim who seeks it, no matter how far he must travel, will find it worthy.”
“O bhikkhus, there are bhikkhus in this assembly who have realized the fruit of
Arahatship, destroyed every root of affliction, laid aside every burden, and attained right understanding and emancipation. There are also bhikkhus who have cut off the first five internal formations and realized the fruit of never returning to the cycle of birth and death.”
“There are those who have thrown off the first three internal formations and realized the fruit of returning once more. They have cut off the roots of greed, hatred, and ignorance, and will only need to return to the cycle of birth and death one more time. There are those who have thrown off the three internal formations and attained the fruit of stream enterer, coursing steadily to the Awakened State. There are those who practice the Four Establishments of Mindfulness. There are those who practice the Four Right Efforts and those who practice the Four Bases of Success. There are those who practice the Five Faculties, those who practice the Five Powers, those who practice the Seven Factors of Awakening, and those who practice the Noble Eightfold Path. There are those who practice loving kindness, those who practice compassion, those who practice joy, and those who practice equanimity. There are those who practice the Nine Contemplations, and those who practice the Observation of Impermanence. There are also bhikkhus who are already practicing Full Awareness of Breathing.”

Section Two
“O bhikkhus, the full awareness of breathing, if developed and practiced continuously, will be rewarding and bring great advantages. It will lead to success in practicing the Four Establishments of Mindfulness. If the method of the Four Establishments of Mindfulness is developed and practiced continuously, it will lead to success in the practice of the Seven Factors of Awakening. The Seven Factors of Awakening, if developed and practiced continuously, will give rise to understanding and liberation of the mind.
“What is the way to develop and practice continuously the method of the Full Awareness of Breathing so that the practice will be rewarding and offer great benefit?
“It is like this, bhikkhus: the practitioner goes into the forest or to the foot of a tree, or to any deserted place, sits stably in the lotus position, holding his or her body quite straight, and practices like this: “Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.”

1. ‘Breathing in a long breath, I know I am breathing in a long breath. Breathing out a long breath, I know I am breathing out a long breath.’
2. ‘Breathing in a short breath, I know I am breathing in a short breath. Breathing out a short breath, I know I am breathing out a short breath.’
3. ‘Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body. Breathing out, I am aware of my whole body.’
4. ‘Breathing in I calm my whole body, breathing out , I calm my whole body.’ He or she practices like this.
5. ‘Breathing in I feel joyful. Breathing out, I feel joyful.’ He or she practices like this.
6. ‘Breathing in, I feel happy. Breathing out, I feel happy.’ He or she practices like this.
7. ‘Breathing in, I am aware of my mental formations. Breathing out, I am aware of my mental formations.’ He or she practices like this.
8. ‘Breathing in I calm my mental formations. Breathing out, I calm my mental formations.’ He or she practices like this.
9. ‘Breathing in, I am aware of my mind. Breathing out, I am aware of my mind.’ He or she practices like this.
10. ‘Breathing in. I make my mind happy. Breathing out, I make my mind happy.’ He or she practices like this.
11. ‘Breathing in, I concentrate my mind. Breathing out, I concentrate my mind.’ He or she practices like this.
12. ‘Breathing in, I liberate my mind. Breathing out, I liberate my mind.’ He or she practices like this.
13. ‘Breathing in, I observe the impermanent nature of all dharmas. Breathing out, I observe the impermanent nature of all dharmas.’ He or she practices like this.
14. ‘Breathing in, I observe the disappearance of desire. Breathing out, I observe the disappearance of desire.’ He or she practices like this.
15. ‘Breathing in, I observe the no-birth, no-death nature of all phenomena (I observe cessation). Breathing out I observe the no-birth, no-death nature of all phenomena (I observe cessation).’ He or she practices like this.
16. ‘Breathing in, I observe letting go. Breathing out, I observe letting go.’ He or she practices like this.

“The Full Awareness of Breathing, if developed and practiced continuously according to these instructions, will be rewarding and of great benefit.”

Section Three
“In what way does one develop and continuously practice the Full Awareness of Breathing, in order to succeed in the practice of the Four Establishments of Mindfulness?
“When the practitioner breathes in or out a long or short breath, aware of his breath or his whole body, or aware that he is making his whole body calm and at peace, he abides peacefully in the observation of the body in the body, persevering, fully awake, clearly understanding his state, gone beyond all attachment and aversion to this life. These exercises of breathing with Full Awareness belong to the first Establishment of Mindfulness, the body.
“When the practitioner breathes in or out aware of the joy or happiness, of the mental formations, or to make the mental formations peaceful, he abides peacefully in the observation of the feelings in the feelings, persevering, fully awake, clearly understanding his state, gone beyond all attachment and aversion to this life. These exercises of breathing with Full Awareness belong to the second Establishment of Mindfulness, feelings.
“When the practitioner breathes in or out with the awareness of the mind, or to make the mind happy, to collect the mind in concentration, or to free and liberate the mind in the mind, persevering, fully awake, clearly understanding his state, gone beyond all attachment and aversion to this life. These exercises of breathing with Full Awareness belong to the third Establishment of Mindfulness, the mind. Without Full Awareness of Breathing, there can be no development of meditative stability and understanding.
“When the practitioner breathes in or breathes out and contemplates the essential impermanence or the essential disappearance of desire or cessation or letting go, he abides peacefully in the observations of the objects of mind in the objects of mind, persevering, fully awake, clearly understanding his state, gone beyond all attachment and aversion to this life. These exercises of breathing with Full Awareness belong to the Fourth Establishment of Mindfulness, the objects of mind.
“The practice of Full Awareness of Breathing, if developed and practiced continuously, will lead to perfect accomplishment of the Four Establishments of Mindfulness.”

Section Four
“Moreover, if they are developed and continuously practiced, the Four Establishments of Mindfulness will lead to perfect abiding in the Seven Factors of Awakening. How is this so?
“When the practitioner can maintain, without distraction, the practice of observing the body in the body, the feelings in the feelings, the mind in the mind, and the objects of mind in the objects of mind, persevering, fully awake, clearly understanding of his state, gone beyond all attachment and aversion to this life, with unwavering, steadfast, imperturbable meditative stability, he will attain the firs Factor of Awakening, namely mindfulness. When this factor is developed, it will come to perfection.
“When the practitioner can abide in meditative stability without being distracted and can investigate every dharma, every object of mind that arises, then the second Factor of Awakening will be born and developed in him, the factor of investigating dharmas. When this factor is developed, it will come to perfection.
“When the practitioner can observe and investigate every dharma in a sustained, persevering, and steadfast way, without being distracted, the third Factor of Awakening will be born and developed in him, the factor of energy. When this factor is developed, it will come to perfection.
“When the practitioner has reached a stable, imperturbable abiding in the stream of practice, the fourth Factor of Wakening will be born and developed in him, the factor of joy. When this factor is developed, it will come to perfection.
“When both body and mind are at ease, the practitioner can easily enter into concentration. At this point the sixth Factor of Awakening will be born and developed in him, the factor of concentration. When this factor is developed, it will come to perfection.
“When the practitioner is abiding in concentration with deep calm, he will cease discriminating and comparing. At this point the seventh Factor of Awakening is released, born, and developed in him, the factor of letting go. When this factor is developed in hem, it will come to perfection.
“This is how the Four Establishments of Mindfulness, if developed and practiced continuously, will lead to perfect abiding in the Seven Factors of Awakening.”

Section Five
“How will the Seven Factors of Awakening, if developed and practiced continuously, lead to the perfect accomplishment of true understanding and complete liberation?
“If the practitioner follow the path of the Seven Factors of Awakening, living in quiet seclusion, observing and contemplating disappearance of desire, he will develop the capacity of letting go. This will be a result of following the path of the Seven Factors of Awakening and will lead to the perfect accomplishment of true understanding and complete liberation.”

Section Six
This is what the Lord, the Awakened One, said; and everyone in the assembly felt gratitude and delight at having heard his teachings.

–Majjhima Nikaya, Sutta NO. 118, translated from the Pali