Mindfulness = DON’T FORGET

Mindfulness is the word often used to translate the pali word sati. The most popular definition of mindfulness nowadays comes from the modern mindfulness movement. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines it as “an awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally.”¹

But this is different from how mindfulness is defined in the Indian and Tibetan Mahayana traditions as the mental faculty of maintaining attention, without forgetfulness or distraction, on a familiar object.²

Asanga defined mindfulness as “the non-forgetfulness of the mind with respect to a familiar object, having the function of non-distraction.” His brother, Vasubandhu, defined it as not losing the object of the mind.³

Buddha defined mindfulness as:

“And what monks, is the faculty of sati? Here, monks, the noble disciple has sati, he is endowed with perfect sati and intellect, he is one who remembers, who recollects what was done and said long before.”
– Samyutta Nikaya V, 197–98.

Put another way, mindfulness means don’t forget.

Don’t forget who you really are.

¹ Jon Kabat-Zinn: Defining Mindfulness

² The Attention Revolution by B. Alan Wallace, p60

³ ibid, p59

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *