How to do Mindfulness of Phenomena Meditation?

"Better to understand for a single day the fleeting nature of things than to live for a hundred years without such understanding. Better a day with the vision of nirvana than a hundred years of blindness to the truth" - The Dharmapada

Mindfulness of phenomena meditation, unlike the other three mindfulness meditations discussed on this site, directs our attention to the external world.

Instead of going within and becoming aware of our body, feelings and mind, we move out toward everything happening around us: forms, sounds, smells, seasons, day, night, heat, cold, rain, sunshine.

Just as we observed the sensations in the body, our feelings and our thoughts earlier, we now actively watch the phenomena.

Bring your full awareness to them. You will notice how all phenomena first appear, stay for a while, and then disappear.

Reflect upon this transitory and illusory nature of theirs.

During the meditation, remind yourself of the fact that all phenomena are dependent-arisings and hence lack any inherent existence - they take place when certain conditions come together and cease to exist when those same conditions disappear.

Take for example, a heavy storm.

For the dark clouds to form, atmospheric temperature and pressure have to be conducive and the right amount of moisture should be present; certain wind conditions and other factors then result in lightening and rainfall.

But, as soon as these atmospheric conditions disappear, the sky clears up, leaving behind no evidence of the raging storm.

If everything around us is, similarly, a dependent-arising and lacks any inherent existence then what is there to cling to? What is to be liked and disliked?

Nothing exists by and in itself.

Please do not confuse this with nihilism - to say that a chair lying in front of you is empty of inherent existence does not imply that it has no existence at all. You can surely use it for sitting, or like me, for standing (my school teachers made me do that all the time).

What the statement does imply is that if you break the chair up into its constituent parts, then would there be any chair left? All that would remain would be the four legs, the seat, the back-rest and some nails. None of these individually could be called a chair.

Moreover, you can repeat the process with each individual part, further breaking them down into even smaller parts.

This is as true for a storm as it is for a chair or for anything else in the universe, including our own physical bodies.

Meditating upon the 'impermanent' existence of phenomena is a profoundly liberating experience, where you find all your attachments slowly melting away.

The void left by the disappearing attachments is filled by divine grace, which hastens our approach to the final destination.

It will be great if you combine mindfulness of phenomena meditation with the other three mindfulness meditations of body, feelings and mind for maximum benefit.

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