[Buddha-l] mindfulness

Dan Lusthaus vasubandhu at earthlink.net
Wed Nov 6 00:27:29 MST 2013

> Sometimes I really wonder what the term being translated into English
> as "Mindfulness" from Pali, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese or Japanese
> actually is in the original language or text.
> Since this term "Mindfulness" seems to be so central to westen
> Buddhism, it would be good to know and have some exact definition.
> - Chris

Actually 2 separate issues, Chris. Generally the Pali sati, Skt. smṛti, Tib. 
dran pa is what gets translated by Buddhologists as "mindfulness" -- though 
Buddhologists are hardly a univocal bunch. How various Buddhist texts or 
traditions would define that varies with whom you are reading or which 
tradition you are dealing with.

Western psychologists, on the other hand, were using the term mindfulness 
before attempting to accomodate Buddhist ideas, and initially they treated 
the Buddhist version as an extension of their own definitions, which were 
empirical so measurable in a lab or by "testing." Before long the disconnect 
between the Buddhist and Psychologists usage became evident and problematic, 
so the gap has been closing.

So there is no exact single definition, though there are numerous exact 
definitions. Numerous exact definitions adds up to a vague term.


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