This point is often called Right Recollectedness or Right Attention. Actually it means keeping one’s mind on what one is doing. As an example of how important it is to have this Right Mindfulness, or Right Attention, let us imagine a boy is riding his bicycle down a busy city-street. He is not paying attention to what he is doing and absent-mindedly goes through a stop-light. Another vehicle strikes his bike and the boy gets badly hurt. All this happens as a result of not using this important point seven of the Noble Path.
Right Mindfulness is a very great help to us in every good thing we do. Any job we are doing is a job that is done better if we use Right Mindfulness. If we fail to centre our attention on what we are doing, then it is very likely that the finished job will not be satisfactory.
The most successful students are those who have trained themselves to give complete attention to whatever subject they may be studying. If the subject is mathematics, then it is not a good use of point seven if the student’s attention wanders away and he begins to worry over whether or not he will pass his history examination. He would have a far better chance to pass all his examinations if he gave his undivided attention to each subject in its turn. Have you ever noticed that when we are trying to do three or four things at the same time, we usually get them only partly finished or, at most, imperfectly done. That is because there is divided attention. Divided attention is never Right Attention.
Right Mindfulness is a form of concentration and concentration always means fixing the attention on one point. In fact, Right Mindfulness is something referred to as one-pointedness. It is almost impossible for anyone to be successful in life and find real happiness if he cannot concentrate his attention on whatever he may have to do from day to day. Not be able to do this is not to have Right Mindfulness.
Ah Choo was helping her mother to prepare dinner. Her friend Ah Lan was in the kitchen for a chatty little neighbourly visit. They were devoting all their attention to Ah Choo’s account of the movie she had seen the previous afternoon. Absent-mindedly Ah Choo went on chopping meat as she talked to Ah Lan, and as her story increased in excitement, she chopped more and more vigorously. When she came close to the climax of the movie, she chopped so strongly that some of the small pieces of meat were flying all over the kitchen. Then came the climax of the movie and the heaviest chop of all; of went the tip of one of Ah Choo’s fingers! If she had kept her attention on her work she would still have her finger undamaged.
Keep thou thy mind as a garden,
Let not thy diligence cease,
Weeding out evil and error,
Striving the good to increase.
Sow thou by Highest Attention
Thoughts that are holy and pure;
Constant and earnest endeavour
Vigour and growth will assure.
Seek with the Light of the Doctrine
Daily thy thoughts to illume,
Truth by its power shall quicken,
Bring them in virtue to bloom.
Then shall thy thoughts find fruition,
Yielding in word and in deed
Cheer, inspiration and blessing,
Help unto others in need.
-A. R. Zorn.
Does Right Mindfulness mean thinking about several things at one time, or concentrating on one thought?
What is another name for Right Mindfulness?
Is it helpful to us in all we do if we have Right Mindfulness?
What often happens when we are trying to do two or three things at one time?
Is “one-pointedness” a good way to describe Right Mindfulness?
What caused Ah Choo to cut off her finger tip?
If we do not have Right Mindfulness, are we more likely to have happiness or unhappiness?
When we grow up and are working, will Right Mindfulness help us to succeed?
If we do not use Right Mindfulness in our school work, are we likely to pass the examinations?
Try to do some simple addition while you are saying the ABC and see what happens.
Typing for Quang Duc Homepage in Melbourne, Australia:
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Ajahn Brahmavamso (known to all as Ajahn Brahm) was born in London in 1951. He came from a working - class background, but won a scholarship to Cambridge, graduating with a Masters in Theoretical Physics.
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