CCR Resident Teacher, Doug Veenhof, discusses Contemplative Applications.
Compassion also can be measured. There are ways that people, and I think that anybody who does these practices and, especially if you are observing your mind continually, you become a very keen observer of your mind and your own mental states. And so, the frequency and intensity of mental afflictions, which—mental afflictions are just states of mind that destroy your peace.
So basically, having ill will or hostility for others, which is the enemy of empathy, the frequency of occurrence of those could be, and is very likely to be much greater at the beginning of a retreat as opposed to two months, three months, a year into it. And so, I think there will be a noticeable movement that is going to be observable both to first, second, and third person observers from mental afflictions and just feelings of distress and dis-ease to a movement towards serenity, peace, and towards empathy.
So, all of these things can be observed from, I think, all three perspectives. And then also you are going to have the increase of attention, qualities of attention; by reducing distraction and laxity, you will have building of greater empathy. And then I think something that people notice as they really eliminate excitation and distraction completely from their repertoire at stage four of Shamatha, is that you really begin to notice a very perceptible increase in bliss. And that is something that just begins to color your outlook.
Because empirically, ignorance and delusion are at the root of suffering. And so, it’s absolutely essential to know the world truly, and know the nature of the mind, truly, in order to develop this authentic happiness and to free ourselves from suffering, and to realize that the authentic sources of happiness are in discovering wisdom rather than in acquiring more and more things. And in destroying the planet as we’re doing that.
Knowing the nature of the mind truly, and knowing how the mind is a partner in creating reality, that is absolutely essential for the sort of cultural, societal, and ecological transformations that are going to be necessary for people to be flourishing in the next generation, rather than to be just trying to survive.
It’s a way that each individual can begin to solve world problems because the really fundamental wisdom that is required in order to really transform the crises that we find ourselves in right now are that we have to understand that they’re all rooted in delusion.
And unfortunately, the basic approach to the mind sciences right now is rooted in that delusion. And so, when we believe basically in naive realism, that the mind basically is totally separate from matter, or in fact, is derivative of matter, then that just contributes to this feeling of ennui and disconnection, and basically, that “pleasure” is the only pursuit that makes sense.