Notes From a Mindful Conference

“Se changer soi, changer le monde” / “Change yourself, change the world”

This was the title of the conference I attended a few days ago, whose theme was the relation of mindfulness to our current global crisis. Some great speakers took part, including Jon Kabat-Zinn and Matthieu Ricard, and while much of what was said was not new to me, there were of course some interesting ideas and concepts presented. The following are the notes I took, which I share as potential for though-provocation :)

Consciousness expansion is like climbing a mountain; the higher you climb, the more you can see

* Mantra suggested by Matthieu Ricard: “Je n’ai besoin de rien” / “I do not need anything” – repeat, repeat, repeat

* Inside and outside are inseparable, as are stillness and motion

“Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it toward others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world” – Etty Hillesum

* Mindfulness/awareness is partly about finding a point of continuity within the continuous flux, change, transformation

* Awareness is understanding and acceptance of the fact that we are constantly changing

* Awareness is big enough to hold all of our thoughts and emotions

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it” – Albert Einstein

* The Pali word for meditation is “bavana”: “cultivation” – this gives us the concept that we are cultivating what is already within us when we meditate

* Meditation can give us insight into the dharma dimensions that underlie mindfulness

The fundamental question is: What are we as human beings?

* Our suffering arises from the trouble that the human mind causes when it doesn’t know itself

* Man is an auto-immune disease of the planet earth; it is both its vector and its first victim

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity” – Albert Einstein

* It is interesting to ask “Is there life after death?” – it is far more important to ask “Is there life before death?”

* Currently, much of human behaviour is betraying what is deepest and best in us; we are not living up to our potential as humans

Homo Sapiens Sapiens: the species that know that it knows

* We are now living in the “Anthropocene” epoch, in which man is impacting the earth to such a significant degree that it may have consequences for the evolution and/or survival of living beings

* We are humans that have not yet fully grown into our own humanity

*  Mind and Life is an Initiative by H. H. the Dalai Lama which brings together scientists and mindfulness practitioners for open discussion with the aim of furthering our capacity to reduce human suffering through an integrated understanding of the mind

* Jon Kabat-Zinn‘s Center for Mindfulness has developed a technique called MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction), which is being adopted in hospitals and clinics across the Unites States and in the Netherlands