In our Cooking Pot analogy of the Buddha’s Eightfold Path, Wise Mindfulness is what we are cooking in the pot, the nourishment for our well being. Wise Intention and Wise Effort make it possible to cook. Wise Concentration stirs it to perfection. And Wise View is the pot that holds Mindfulness and is seasoned by it.
Now we begin to see how these aspects of the Eightfold Path work together, and how no one aspect is the ultimate goal. Wise Mindfulness benefits from all the other aspects, and it in turn gives us the wholesome desire to set Wise Intention and build the balanced steady campfire of Wise Effort. (It’s a perfect little ecosystem! But that’s a different analogy, so let’s not get off track.)
Wise Mindfulness is naturally delicious. As it simmers and as we stir with our spoon of Wise Concentration, it becomes even more so. But it can be seasoned with beneficial qualities that make it much richer and make living all the more joyful.
Just as herbs and spices sitting on the shelf aren’t of real value until added to the cooking pot, there are beneficial qualities that are just nice thoughts with lovely labels but rarely used, or are used without the benefit of mindfulness to enhance and meld the flavors. But something wonderful happens when they are stirred into Wise Mindfulness with Wise Concentration, sparked by Wise Intention, warmed by the steady heat of Wise Effort, and held in Wise View.
So let’s get cooking! What are our seasonings? The Buddha’s Ten Paramis aka Paramitas. Here’s the recipe for using them:
After meditation, or when you mind feels calm, imagine that beside our cooking pot is a spice shelf and on it we find jars labeled:
Looking them over, notice one that jumps out at you as something you need a little more of right now.
Now find that quality below and read that description.
Paramita Seasonings to add to Mindfulness
Sitting on the spice shelf, the quality of generosity may be used from a sense of obligation, habit, tradition or guilt. If we don’t use it, just seeing it sitting there makes us feel shame. So let’s take it off the shelf and sprinkle it generously into our mindfulness and see how with all of the aspects of the Eightfold Path we have looked at in place, generosity becomes heartfelt and authentic. [READ MORE]
Sitting on the spice shelf, this quality of virtue, aka ethical conduct or fairness, can seem judgy and harsh. We want to be fair, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of what else we want. But added into the mix, it brightens and clarifies. It attunes our inner moral compass. It draws from Wise View an understanding that when we are only in things for our own ends, driven by craving, aversion, and delusion, we end all hope of true happiness. [READ MORE]
Sitting on the spice shelf, this quality, also called Renunciation, can seem pretty scary. We may not think we have the palate to handle it, and we’re terrified of using too much and losing everything. But when we add it into the mindful mix, we discover freedom we’d never known was even possible. We see the suffering the myopia of the fear of insufficiency. Whether we’re letting go of excess stuff or bull-headed patterns of thought, what a relief to be free of what had been numbing us to the joy possible in this moment just as it is. [READ MORE]
Sitting on the shelf, wisdom may seem unnecessary — after all we have common sense. Wisdom may seem presumptuous because who really can call themselves wise? Or just too old school to be cool.
But when we add it to the mix, it helps to season the pot of Wise View, and in turn makes our mindfulness richer. What is wisdom? According to the Buddha: Bringing more intention to noticing the nature of impermanence and the clues of our interconnection. The simple cure for suffering. The very reason we are meditating and cultivating mindfulness. [READ MORE]
On the shelf this seasoning may look appealing — we see how other people seem to use it well — but challenging for us to use wisely. Maybe we’ve tried it but it gets out of control, overwhelming and punitive.
When we add it to the mindfulness mix, it brings a sense of deep empowerment and a steady balance. [READ MORE]
On the shelf, this seasoning seems boring or scolding. We want what we want and we want it now! Waiting is our biggest bugaboo. But when added to the mix, the seasoning of Patience brings a pleasant softening quality, evening our reactive tendencies that often lead to misery. [READ MORE]
On the shelf, this seems like a good seasoning that we try to use. We see its value, even when it’s inconvenient. Or we see it as a fairy tale, given the lies that abound all around us.
But added to the mix, we can be astonished by the clarity that Honesty adds. We see that it is more than just not lying to others, but also no longer lying to ourselves. [READ MORE]
On the shelf, it may seem like it’s about tightening up, narrowing our focus or hunkering down. But added to the mix of mindfulness, Resolve brings a wholesomeness of purpose that we probably never knew was possible. [READ MORE]
On the shelf, it’s like sweetened cinnamon we think of as a little treat. But added to even the most savory mix, it dissolves toxins of self-hatred and brings deep wisdom of the interconnectedness of all life, a most nourishing awareness indeed. [READ MORE]
On the shelf, it seems like it would be bland, but when added to the mix it makes it possible to be fully present for every flavor to be tasted and enjoyed. It’s the key to survival in a challenging world. It expands our ability to hold all that arises in an open and loving way without becoming overwhelmed or exhausted. [READ MORE]
In time, all these spices can be skillfully incorporated for the most nourishing and delicious way of being in the world, mindfully. While it’s good to be aware of them all, it’s recommended that you practice focusing on one or two at a time to see for yourself how they enhance the flavor of mindfulness.
A skilled chef can tell just by taste what’s missing in what they are cooking up. Just so, we can develop that skill within ourselves to sense which of these qualities are most needed right now.