I am glad to know my favourite tennis champions, Serene Williams and Rafael Nadal, had won the Women’s Final and Men’s Final of the US Open 2013 Tennis Tournament respectively. I find them inspirational, especially how they made a comeback from their injuries recently to persevere in their own ways, and how taking a few months’ rest from their work schedules does wonders to their recovery to regain their form.
I learnt from the video that mindfulness can be referred to as heartfulness, which is an awareness or a non-conceptual knowing that goes beyond the five senses of hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and touching. According to Jon Kabat-Zin, when we hear the sound of a bell, what we hear is not the bell as “bell” is just a name – what we are hearing is the sound in its original spirit, and on the top of the sound, the mind adds the thought to identify the sound as the sound of a bell. He added that instead of experiencing our life in the bare actuality of the senses, we are actually more experiencing life through our thoughts about our experiences, and our preferences, fears, worries, concerns, etc, and in essence, not really inhabiting the full spectrum of our innate capability. He said that it involves a certain kind of discipline, and it is actually remarkable that so many people are now moving to want to cultivate mindfulness in their lives.
And yes, perhaps mindfulness or heartfulness is about living and experiencing the world in a non-conceptual manner that transcends the limitations of language. On one level, we all associate meanings and concepts with sights, sounds, tastes, smells and touches – these concepts have their place as we use them to interpret and communicate to ourselves and one another, which engages the five senses. At the same time, these concepts may well be a finger pointing to the moon, or a boat leading us to the destination, to the direct experience of life or existence itself, and when we touch that ultimate reality, we no longer need the boat. We enter into a wordless realm that can only be experienced and understood with our intuition or sixth sense, so to speak. This somehow reminds me of the flower sermon I came across some time ago, in which Buddha used a flower without words to teach mindfulness. I think I came across this flower sermon in Anthony De Mello’s “The song of the bird“, which I find intriguing and inspiring.
“Toward the end of his life, the Buddha took his disciples to a quiet pond for instruction. As they had done so many times before, the Buddha’s followers sat in a small circle around him, and waited for the teaching.
But this time the Buddha had no words. He reached into the muck and pulled up a lotus flower. And he held it silently before them, its roots dripping mud and water.
The disciples were greatly confused. Buddha quietly displayed the lotus to each of them. In turn, the disciples did their best to expound upon the meaning of the flower: what it symbollized, and how it fit into the body of Buddha’s teaching.
When at last the Buddha came to his follower Mahakasyapa, the disciple suddenly understood. He smiled and began to laugh. Buddha handed the lotus to Mahakasyapa and began to speak.
“What can be said I have said to you,” smiled the Buddha, “and what cannot be said, I have given to Mahakashyapa.”
Mahakashyapa became Buddha’s successor from that day forward.”