Friday, November 6, 2015

Metanoia, Mindfulness and The Universe in a Table

COOL Lake Design

The Latin translation of the Greek, metanoeō/μετανοέω (metanoia) to poenitentiam agite.(repentance) during the 2nd century lent an unfortunate tone of remorse or contrition to the word, vastly misinterpreting its original intent. In fact, the Greek, metanoia, metá, meaning "beyond" or "after" and noeō,” meaning "perception" or "understanding" or "mind," is a change of holistic perception.

In biblical Greek, metanoeō/μετανοέω and metanoia/μετάνοια signify a "change of Mind, a change in the trend and action of the whole inner nature, intellectual, affectional and moral." This meaning of metanoia as a "transmutation" of consciousness is even in contrast to classical Greek in which the word expressed a superficial change of mind. (1) It was in its use in the New Testament and in writings grounded in the New Testament that the depth of metanoia increased until it came "to express that mighty change in mind, heart, and life wrought by the Spirit of God." (2)

This kind of perception change, or expanding awareness, can be most readily attained through contemplation, the lingering observation of an object or action that allows for all subjective possibility to inform objective discernment. It is important to remember that perception is always changing, consciousness is fluid, with ideas and thoughts full of meaning and understanding emerging and fading constantly. Experiencing this is encountering the nondual and interdependent nature of reality as yang and yin, as material and energetic, as formed and formless, as active and receptive...simultaneously.

Laura Spector Rustic Designs
From Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness (3) ~

Recall a simple and ancient truth: the subject of knowledge cannot exist independently from the object of knowledge. To see is to see something. To hear is to hear something.

The practitioner meditates on mind and, by so doing, is able to see the interdependence of the subject of knowledge and the object of knowledge. When we practice mindfulness of breath, then the knowledge of breath is mind. When we practice mindfulness of the body, then the knowledge of body is mind. When we practice mindfulness of objects outside ourselves, then the knowledge of these objects is also mind. Therefore the contemplation of the nature of interdependence of all objects is also the contemplation of the mind. Every object of the mind is itself mind. In Buddhism, we call the objects of mind the dharmas. Dharmas are usually grouped into five categories:

1. bodily and physical forms
2. feelings
3. perceptions
4. mental functionings
5. consciousness

These five categories are called the five aggregates. The fifth category, consciousness, however, contains all the other categories and is the basis of their existence. Contemplation on interdependence is a deep looking into all dharmas in order to pierce through to their real nature, in order to see them as part of the great body of reality and in order to see that the great body of reality is indivisible. It cannot be cut into pieces with separate existences of their own.

The first object of contemplation is our own person, the assembly of the five aggregates in ourselves. You contemplate right here and now on the five aggregates which make up yourself.

You are conscious of the presence of bodily form, feeling, perception, mental functionings, and consciousness. You observe these "objects" until you see that each of them has intimate connection with the world outside yourself: if the world did not exist then the assembly of the five aggregates could not exist either. Consider the example of a table. The table's existence is possible due to the existence of things which we might call "the non-table world": the forest where the wood grew and was cut, the carpenter, the iron ore which became the nails and screws, and countless other things which have relation to the table, the parents and ancestors of the carpenter, the sun and rain which made it possible for the trees to grow.

If you grasp the table's reality then you see that in the table itself are present all those things which we normally think of as the nontable world. If you took away any of those nontable elements and returned them to their sources-the nails back to the iron ore, the wood to the forest, the carpenter to his parents-the table would no longer exist.

Michael Dreeben

A person who looks at the table and can see the universe is a person who can see the way. You meditate on the assembly of the five aggregates in yourself in the same manner. You meditate on them until you are able to see the presence of the reality of one-ness in your own self, and can see that your own life and the life of the universe are one. If the five aggregates return to their sources, the self no longer exists. Each second, the world nourishes the five aggregates. The self is no different from the assembly of the five aggregates themselves. The assembly of the five aggregates plays, as well, a crucial role in the formation, creation, and destruction of all things in the universe.

Be Still and Know that I Am.  Be Still and Know. Be Still. Be.   This is the Way.

Blessings on the journey, Peggy @ Ecumenicus

1. Treadwell Walden, The Great Meaning of the Word Metanoia: Lost in the Old Version, Unrecovered in the New. (Thomas Whittaker, 1896) 4, 9.
2. Richard C. Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament (Macmillan, 1880, 9th edition) 255-261.
3. Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness, Trans. Mobi Ho (Beacon Press, 1975) 45-54.

1 comment:

  1. To Look at anything and really See it is to see the Universe and a sign that one is truly Seeing and not just looking, allowing the brain to assign its remembered interpretation of what it is viewing.

    Thanks for a thought provoking piece.