seven factors of awakening

there are times when the mind is calm and tranquil, and there are times when the mind is anxious and jumpy. drugs can have two possible overall effects: to chill or to thrill

in spiritual practice the tools are aimed for developing calm and the for developing insight, clarity, wisdom

to develop calm, we use one set of tools

to develop wisdom, we use another set of tools

—we start out in our spiritual journey with a few tools (calming the breath, metta); as we develop our practice, we pick up a variety of tools

when we fall asleep there's tranquility but no clarity, no insight,

its understandable, as most people live agitated lifestyles where we find it difficult to find times of peace; when we stop, we really switch off

—when we go to dullness and sleepiness, we need to develop qualities of investigation, perseverance, joy,

if when we sit to meditate we carry on the agitated momentum and the mind is jumping about, unable to concentrate peacefully, we need to develop spiritual qualities of serenity/letting go, concentration, balance which builds a calm mind

its around this concept that the seven factors of awakening, bojjhaga

the seven factors can be told as a linear narrative, starting with mindfulness and ending with equanimity, or it can be explained as a sense of balancing factors with only one, mindfulness, always useful and appropriate

the first factor is mindful awareness, sati, the quality of mind which remembers what we're supposed to be doing.

—mindfulness is the only factor the buddha taught which is always appropriate

its like a thermostat that gives feedback to either the heater or the air-conditioning, aware of the house's climate

—part of sati is sampajhana, or clear comprehension, a sense of purpose (satthaka) to our awareness, a sensory restraint of letting go of the outside world and commitments (gocara)

mindfulness keeps the mind from wandering out into the world in search of quick pleasures

—it keeps the our 'knowing' awareness focused on our body sensations, feelings, mind states and thoughts

a second quality we bring to meditation is the ability of the mind to analyze and investigate on what we've been focusing on, dhamma vicaya

—this quality is used to bring clarity and energy to the mind

—we start asking questions, engaging our analytical and investigatory mind

investigation entails seeing the impermanence of states & unsatisfactoriness, ie if what we're focusing on leads to wholesome (kusala) or unwholesome (akusala) mind states

investigation invigorate our "search for the truth" in a way that brings about insight and wisdom

—10 reflections: when we experience a lack of faith, we can reflect on the buddha; if we're feeling unworthy, reflect on silanusati or caganusati; if we're feeling lonely sanghanusati, etc

—for example, when pain arises, we can analyze it, watching its qualities, how it works, etc

the third quality is effort and perseverance, persistence, viriya, a constant applying of the mind to a task

—like practicing the scales on a piano, or a backhand in tennis, a pushing through our dislike for discomfort

—when we've reached an impasse; we're just enjoying the ride, a reestablishment of our focus and intention towards a goal

—the mind loves to procrastinate, postpone, put off and settle for easy the way out

—there are so many times in meditation when its difficult to stay with the breath or body sensations or metta, and we want to fall back on an easier practice

—its one thing to see that certain thoughts may be unskillful, its another to preservere over

the fourth quality is joy and rapture, piti, an engaged sense of delight and happiness in our practice

—the buddha refers to piti as a result of persistence, an energizing happiness

—when the practice feels dry or too analytical, allowing ourselves to feel joy

—a quality of tingling or buoyancy or waves of ease moving through the body (not a short term, conditional physical pleasure)

—an all pervading sense of releasing into the body, which in turn makes the body seem to expand and float

—monks talk of feeling rapture after sharing the dhamma, so much so its difficult to sleep

—people can be too serious in their spiritual practice; we need joy to keep us engaged and pushing through; rapture and delight is like the candy in the practice

the fifth quality is serenity, passaddhi. to be at ease physically and relaxed, the pleasure of putting down our obligations and burdens and be at ease mentally

—this is a factor that calms the mind, the mental ease of release

—a natural development of continually letting go, even the quality of the agendas of meditation when they push us around

—passadhi is a pleasure that isn't energizing, like rapture, but rather is settling, that of a job well done, something we can be at peace with

—whereas rapture is often physically felt, passadhi is experienced primarily in the mind that is becoming light and open

the sixth quality is concentration or samadhi.

—another factor that chills the mind

—whereas serenity releases, concentration fills the mind with a skillful object

—concentration is the ability of the mind to become stable and focused on one object, to absorb into an object, to become one with an object

—concentration is not a shrinking of the mind, its a filling up; the mind is a vessel being filled with the object of our awareness, whether its the breath, the body, the mind, or skillful thoughts, such as metta, gratitude, generosity

—this one-pointedness can become a state we can fall into

the final calming factor is equanimity or uppekha.

1a) a stately, neutral feeling that results when we let go of identifying with either passing pleasures or pains, a sense of non-engagement with external developments, known as multiplicity

1b) part of equanimity is being willing to let go of trying to help everyone or fix everything in our lives; a knowing of when we should no longer be involved with endeavors, no matter how worthy

2) a higher form of equanimity is that of no longer needing to add anything to the moment, to reach a stage of non-fashioning, no longer wanting to achieve anything, a giving up of creating karma, even good karma