Let us begin by making something very clear. Within Buddha Dharma we speak often of Mindfulness, but that Mindfulness is of two sorts and we must be careful not to confuse the two.
There is a Mindfulness which is complete and actually functions at a conscious and an unconscious level and it is best to think of it as FULL ATTENTION. The second is less complete, for it is only available to consciousness, but as a result of this specificity it can be directed effectively as a tool to consciously correct errors in comportment.
It is this DIRECT ATTENTIVENESS that is perfect when considering the refraining of inapproprite behavior and is essential for the practicing of the Noble Eightfold Path suggested by Buddha.
Both FULL ATTENTION and DIRECT ATTENTIVENESS can be directed at:
CONSCIOUSNESS OF THE MIND
CONTENTS OF MIND
in the former case through Meditation and in the latter through a conscious One-pointedness.
Energy is, of course, important and it flows through all the operations of a living system. In the case of the energy flow that we are discussing we can say that it flows through:
ATTITUDE, which sets the BASE for natural and correct behavior.
INTENTION, which generates the correct APPLICATION and DIRECTION of responses.
EFFORT, which generates MOTIVATION.
ACTION, which is the CONSEQUENCE of COGNITIVE FUNCTION.
This allows the final development of a response to any stimulus, be it internal or external.
It is naturally susceptible to Identity interference and this is the cause of IMPEDIMENTS.
This energy flows from what we call the Life Force and carries with it, in circumstances
liberated from impediments, the experiences of Gladness, Compassion, Benevolent Affect and Equanimity which can be experienced by Consciousness.
This is not to be confused with the states generated by the mind which are Identity-flawed and promulgated by state, education and religion.
This Energy is a natural flow that is not mentally directed and as such is not ponderous.
It is when that Energy is converted in effort that it can be correctly APPLIED and SUSTAINED after One-pointedness.
Bearing this in mind we can continue with the ATTITUDE MINDFULNESS which is DIRECT ATTENTIVENESS.
Attitudes are relatively stable and we can consider them basically as right-brain elements of the belief system of each human creature. In Advanced Dharma we will learn that these attitudes have as their base Survival that is correct and natural and that that survival forms the experiences which we call the four sublime states:
But these are difficult to develop if we wish more than the mental imitations provided by Education, State and Religions.
Yet there are areas of Mindfulness which can be developed by an Attentive Mindfulness.
At an intermediate level we can develop an attentiveness to our Confusion, our Acquisitiveness, our Aversion and our Fixation upon the Future. This fourfold group we can place under one element, which is Attentiveness to our Identity Impediments.
But at a level that is more elementary and is possible for all those new to the idea of Buddha Dharma there are several that become important for those involved in the everyday life of Samsara in the important areas of Work and Relationships.
Attentiveness to the Force of Life
Attentiveness to Generosity
Attentiveness to Listening and Speaking
Attentiveness to Social Consciousness
Attentiveness to Sexual Responsibility
Attentiveness to the Illusion of Phenomena
It is these six that when developed change completely one's apparent personal relationship with the world and generate a greater understading of what is meant by the "Oneness of all living creatures and the environment which supports them."
It is extremely important to understand that apart from the value imbued in each one, in and of itself, any Attentiveness, although it brings about effective changes in Intentions, the Energy of the Readiness to Respond and the final Actions of a person, carries no individual reward.
How can that be? Yet this attentiveness is masked by Buddhism today under the label of MINDFULNESS within what is called Engaged Buddhism. Its engaged objectives are egocentric and rather than permitting Correct Dharma, generate egocentric craving and clinging. This is disguised by the closed intellectual mind as the beautiful and false human characteristic of a "Mindfulness of Beauty" that develops the "Egocentric Ecstasy" of the Socially Engaged Emotional Neanderthal.
Oh, where have all the flowers gone... gone to graveyards every one... accompanying the Dying Dharma of Buddha.