Does Every Day Mindfulness lead to Awakening?

Does being more mindful of what you are doing, feeling, and thinking in each moment lead to awakening? Knowing that I am being somewhat provocative I am going to say no, although day to day mindfulness certainly does hold an important place in my practice. I think that many people have their cause and effect reversed here. General mindfulness has many great benefits (integration of various levels of experience, momentarily dropping out of the thinking mind, ‘being in the moment,’ helping to be conscious of addictions, to become aware of unconscious and negative patterns of behaviour, etc.) but I do not believe it leads to awakening - rather it is meditation (jhana) and awakening itself that bring about everyday mindfulness. 

I find that mindfulness in the day naturally flows out of my meditation practice in the morning. What is your experience? In my experience, before one is deeply grounded in jhana (meditation), efforts to be mindful throughout the day tend to be pretty shallow and dualistic (thinking - ‘this is me trying to be mindful’). However, when thinking drops in satori (a result of jhana), mindfulness becomes naturally effortless and non-dualistically – ‘just this.’

I think of it this way: Everyday mindfulness may be compared to looking for water over a great area in the desert by digging dozens of shallow holes every day. A thousand days may come and go - you will never find water with this approach. A better approach is to dig very deeply in but one well-chosen location. Then that solitary well can be the source of water for a great area. Likewise, awakening does not come about by being mindful of dozens of moments each and every day. Awakening, instead, comes about by looking deeply into the nature of a single moment, by entering into its profound stillness and then beyond. In Buddhism entering into this profound stillness is called  jhana. This is the heart of Buddhism – and in my experience it is the path to enlightenment.   


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