Book Talk: Touching the Infinite: A New Perspective on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, authored by Rodney Smith
There seems to be a cohesive message that lies within the Satipatthana Sutta that may have been less emphasized in earlier translations. The Buddha seems to be moving us through our mental interpretations of form in the first three Foundations and dropping us off into formless awareness in the Fourth Foundation. In the Fourth Foundation the Buddha is suggesting that it is not what we see, but how we look that is the essential point in discovering the formless. If we look at the content through desire or fear we will see the mind’s projected interpretation of the world, but if we allow our perceptions to be transformed by the Buddha’s teaching (Four Noble Truths, Five Aggregates, etc) then we look through wisdom and the objects will return to their essential nature. If this is the case then the Buddha is revealing a straightforward path toward his ultimate destination using the Four Foundations as a means to reveal a new perspective of life undistorted by mind.
Rodney Smith spent eight years in Buddhist monastic settings, both at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Massachusetts and several years as a Buddhist monk in Asia. He ordained with Mahasi Sayadaw in Burma then practiced for three years with Ajahn Buddhadassa in Thailand. He disrobed as a monk in 1983 and, after returning to the West, started working in hospice care and teaching vipassana meditation throughout the U.S.
At the end of 2016, Rodney retired from a full-time teaching role after more than 30 years of teaching. He served as a Senior Teacher for IMS and is the founding and guiding teacher for Seattle Insight Meditation. He is author of the books Lessons From the Dying, Stepping Out of Self-Deception: The Buddha’s Liberating Teaching of No-Self, and Awakening: A Paradigm Shift of the Heart.