TypeOnline Course
DateApr 2, 2016
Student Enrolled187

Welcome to Four Modes

The Mind Map of Fully Being 

 

 

Description

In this section Rinpoche introduces a basic structure of the mind, the four modes, to provide a framework for other teachings and to highlight some essential differences in knowing, thinking, awareness and clarity. Here is a concise overview:

Knowing – This is a direct and immediate apprehension of a sense object. For example, we see a flower and immediately, without thinking, know it’s a flower. There is no thinking or reflection here. It happens automatically.

Thinking – Using the flower example above, thinking can involve some reflection or analysis of the object. For example, we may ask, “Who made this flower arrangement?”, “I don’t like these kind of flowers”, “I remember my mother liked white flowers”, and so on. It is beyond just knowing the flower in the sense that it reflects upon, analyzes, ruminates, etc., about the object that the senses know automatically.

Awareness – The Tibetan term for this is rang rig, our natural capacity for reflection and self-awareness. We can be aware of the processes of knowing, perceiving or thinking as they are happening. Mindful awareness, as is described in the four foundations of mindfulness, can be a close awareness of present experience arising and ceasing. Awareness can also be aware of the basic background quality of the mind, natural lucidity. Awareness is more intimate than regular knowing. It has a quality of fully pervading, of directly touching an experience, not just labeling or noting it. Awareness is crucial for this course because while the other qualities are automatic or naturally present, awareness can be trained, developed and strengthened.

Basic Clarity/Lucidity — Rinpoche usually calls this “clarity”. It is the basic home of the mind — the backdrop or background of all mental experience. As the basic substance of the mind, it allows all the other functions to occur. Normally the other functions are too busy and coarse to notice this basic backdrop. But with a calm and clear mind, our awareness can learn to be aware of this natural lucidity.

 

Method

There is not a special method for the four modes section, as it is a framework for understanding mind. Just paying attention to the teachings and examining experience according to Rinpoche’s instructions is the method.

Results

A clear understanding of the four mode model and an ability to distinguish between the four modes both in theory and in direct experience.

Obstacles

The main obstacle to understanding the four modes model is confusing the definitions here with other definitions given by other teachers, books or in other contexts. Comparing, contrasting or trying to make differing definitions correlate is not so useful.  It’s better to drop other frameworks and definitions and just use this model while doing this course. Other models and definitions have their own validity, usefulness and context, but trying to figure out differences just leads to conceptual confusion. This is a working model for use while learning and practicing Fully Being.

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The four modes section contains ten videos on theory and practice. Each has key points, exercises and daily mantras. There is also a review section with the most essential content on the four modes.

Below is an overview of the syllabus for four modes.

Section 14 Modes Theory and Practice
Teaching 1Free Preview

FOUR MODES 1

QUESTIONS
  • What happens when the thinking mind slows down or stops?
  • What’s the difference between knowing and awareness?

Four Modes Video 1

KEY POINTS

  • At first there is no need to try to be aware. Just drop.
  • At the end of dropping, be very gently aware of feelings.
  • Awareness and knowing are two different things.
  • If nothing is there, that’s fine. Then there is nothing to hold onto. There is no need to invite something, no need for a special state to be aware of.
  • If nothing is there, be aware of nothingness.

EXERCISES

  • Do the physical warm up practice many times and repeat dropping until you feel you’ve internalized the practice. After dropping, practice being gently aware of the feelings.
  • Contemplate the difference between knowing and awareness. Jot down any questions or confusions. This difference will be discussed in the next few teachings.
  • Examine your mind after dropping to see if you’re looking for something special. What are you looking for? If a clear answer emerges jot it down. Consider how looking for something special interferes with our ability to be aware of what is actually happening. Practice not looking for anything special nor creating anything special to be aware of.

DAILY MANTRAS

  • Awareness and knowing are two different things
  • If nothing is there, that’s fine
  • No need for a state to be aware of

DAILY PRACTICE

You can structure a daily practice as described in the course instructions

Opening with a warmhearted, benevolent intention. Reflect on the good fortune of having a human life.

Main Part — watching the video, meditating, contemplating and working with key points and exercises.

Concluding by sitting quietly, dedicating and making heartfelt aspirations.

Daily life — repeating your favorite Daily Mantras throughout the day and putting Post-its of them around your spaces to remind you.

Teaching 2Free Preview

FOUR MODES 2

QUESTIONS
  • What is the difference between knowing and thinking?
  • Are knowing and thinking automatic?

Four Modes Video 2

KEY POINTS
  • Some Buddhist traditions describe eight types or functions of consciousness. But here, to be concise and simple, we use the model of the four modes.
  • The four modes are: knowing, thinking, awareness and clarity (or lucidity).
  • Knowing is an automatic response — you just know a flower is yellow or red.
  • Thinking is not automatic.
  • Awareness needs to be aware of its own nature.

EXERCISES

  • Familiarize yourself with the four modes of mind.
  • Practice distinguishing knowing and thinking. Place an object like a flower or stone in front of you and rest your gaze casually on it. Be mindful enough not to lose the object but relaxed enough to watch your mind. Close your eyes for a minute or so and then open them and try to notice knowing and thinking in relation to the object. Notice which quality is automatic and which is not. Repeat the exercise several times until the difference is clear.
  • The quality that is aware of knowing and thinking is called awareness. Reflect on awareness as something not quite distinct from knowing and thinking, but more pervasive and intimate. Perhaps it’s a subtle and intrinsic reflectiveness within other mind states. Contemplate things that are so close we often overlook them, like a transparent window we don’t notice because we’re always looking through it, or contact lenses, or the structures of our mother tongue, or assumptions about the world we’re unaware we even have.
  • Jot down any questions or confusions about the four modes model.

DAILY MANTRAS

  • The four modes are knowing, thinking, awareness and clarity
  • Knowing is an automatic response
  • Thinking is not automatic
  • Awareness needs to be aware of its own nature

DAILY PRACTICE

 

You can structure a daily practice as described in the course instructions

Opening with a warmhearted, benevolent intention. Reflect on the good fortune of having a human life.

Main Part — watching the video, meditating, contemplating and working with key points and exercises.

Concluding by sitting quietly, dedicating and making heartfelt aspirations.

Daily life — repeating your favorite Daily Mantras throughout the day and putting Post-its of them around your spaces to remind you.

Teaching 3Free Preview

FOUR MODES 3

QUESTIONS

  • Does knowing always involve labeling?
  • Do we have to think through everything we know?
Four Modes Video 3

KEY POINTS

  • Very basic knowing is just whatever pops up first in the mind.
  • Sometimes knowing comes with a label, sometimes without.
  • Usually knowing is through the five senses.
  • Whether we are aware of it or not, knowing is there.
  • It is not necessary for us to think through everything we know.
  • Sometimes just let awareness be aware of the basic knowing, nowness, and just stay with that.

EXERCISES

  • Spend a few minutes with each of the five senses, noticing the quality of bare knowing. Observe how the thinking mind analyzes, associates, judges and dissolves. Notice how strong a habit it is to just go around thinking all the time, one thought after the next. Our capacity for bare knowing through the senses is always there, but our thinking mind rarely allows us to just rest in the nowness of bare knowing. Notice if it’s easier or more difficult to practice basic knowing through particular senses.
  • Sometimes basic knowing comes with a label, sometimes without. Observe when labelling is part of basic knowing. If labeling occurs, does it necessarily lead to thinking?
  • Practice resting in nowness. Contemplate the paradox of nowness — there is only ever nowness but we rarely rest in it or even notice it. We are usually caught up in memories and plans, leaning backwards and forwards in time.

DAILY MANTRAS

  • Basic knowing is just the first thing in the mind
  • We don’t have to think through everything we know
  • Sometimes just be aware of nowness and stay with that

DAILY PRACTICE

 

You can structure a daily practice as described in the course instructions

Opening with a warmhearted, benevolent intention. Reflect on the good fortune of having a human life.

Main Part — watching the video, meditating, contemplating and working with key points and exercises.

Concluding by sitting quietly, dedicating and making heartfelt aspirations.

Daily life — repeating your favorite Daily Mantras throughout the day and putting Post-its of them around your spaces to remind you.

Teaching 4
Teaching 5
Teaching 6
Teaching 7
Teaching 8
Teaching 9
Teaching 10