Mindfulness is Not the Way

Liangkai's famous painting of the Sixth Patriarch Hui-Neng
caught in a mindless, fierce, crazed state of nondual awareness,
dancing with joy while ripping up sutra scrolls. 

Q: Roshi, I've heard you more than once shock people by saying, "Mindfulness is not the Way." You've also said, "Mindfulness is horseshit!" What do you mean by this?

A: All the great Masters agree on at least this one point: Mindlessness, not Mindfulness, is the Way.

Why? Because "Mindfulness" is always guided by particular concepts & never transcends those concepts.

You decide that you want to be a certain type of calm or lucid person, maybe a "holy" or a "good" person according to whatever bizarre Dalai Lama-esque ideal you've fixated upon, & so you try to force yourself into that mould by paying razor sharp attention to everything you do, whether it's eating an orange or driving down Hollywood Boulevard.

But by that very effort to coerce yourself into a new & improved state of consciousness, you divide yourself into two. You put a head on top of your head, a mouth over your mouth. Believe me, you're going to fail at this impossible task anyway & then you'll just feel bitter about those who lied to you.

"Mindfulness" is actually a very serious & tiresome perversion of the Great Way, which can be realized only by throwing out all thinking all at once -- exactly as you'd throw out a bucket of dirty dishwater.

Note: It is true that mindfulness, if done with the right resolve & intensity, can sometimes trigger mindlessness. This article merely objects to mindfulness taken as an end in itself. 

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