Mindfulness: A Secularized Buddhist Practice in the West

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.
Dinsdale
Posts: 5920
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Mindfulness: A Secularized Buddhist Practice in the West

Post by Dinsdale » Thu Aug 14, 2014 4:07 pm

Viscid wrote: With an exotic word, we are totally open to associate that word with novel meaning.
That's true, it provides the space for our understanding to develop over a period of time.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

User avatar
m0rl0ck
Posts: 1193
Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 10:51 am

Re: Mindfulness: A Secularized Buddhist Practice in the West

Post by m0rl0ck » Thu Aug 14, 2014 8:35 pm

Viscid wrote: With an exotic word, we are totally open to associate that word with novel meaning.
True, and english has an excellent strategy for handling new concepts, compound words. You see them in philosophy a lot.

For instance, here is one that you hear in zen:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodymind_ ... ditions%29

This at least gives an English language speaker access to new concepts on the fly and sans dictionary.
Viscid wrote: Thus, the subtle difference in the meaning of the word 'sati' as intended by Theravadin Buddhists may be understood, and not conflated with what 'mindfulness' has come to mean in Western culture.
I never understood the difference, i can recall asking people about this and the two sounded almost exactly the same to me, at least the way mindfulness is used in zen. So enlighten me, whats the difference?
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

SarathW
Posts: 9972
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Mindfulness: A Secularized Buddhist Practice in the West

Post by SarathW » Thu Aug 14, 2014 11:46 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:
Mkoll wrote: Sounds like a good idea. It would probably be good to use more Pali words in general rather than English translations, or at least mentioned alongside them. I think it's edifying and it avoids the problems that come with using just a single English word without mention of what the Pali is.

And one can replace "English" with any language other than Pali in what I just said.
Yes, if you have to use the pali, please put the english along side it. Occasionally in chat someone will stop in and every other word seems to be pali. They are such erudite, intellectual Buddhists that its impossible to understand them. Im sure if the buddha were with us today he would have no trouble communicating in english.
I have to agree with this point too.
My language Sinhalease mainly based on Pali influence.
However I acquire most of my knowledge about Buddhism by reading English literature.
If we incorporate too many Pali words to our writing it will be a very difficult task for the reader.
Person who need to explore will go in to the depth of the meaning of the word by further investigation.
Having said that I agree with Ven Gavasako.
There are certain words the meaning is not clear even to a Pali scholar.
Words such as Nibbana and Anatta is an example.
I think we should use these words without translation.
It is a good idea if we have a forum rule which allowed us to use certain words without giving the English meaning.
So I decided to open post for it.
:)
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

User avatar
Kim OHara
Posts: 4998
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:47 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: Mindfulness: A Secularized Buddhist Practice in the West

Post by Kim OHara » Fri Aug 15, 2014 12:18 pm

Getting back towards the OP ... I don't particularly like the commercialisation and simplification but this:
This neutered, apolitical approach is to help us personally – it has nothing to say on the structural difficulties that we live with. It lets go of the idea that we can change the world; it merely helps us function better in it.
is the aspect which bothers me most about the separation of "mindfulness" from its ethical context.
Mainstream western "culture" (for want of a better word) is going nuts and adaptation to it is a Bad Thing.

/ :soap:
:meditate:

Kim

User avatar
Anagarika
Posts: 915
Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 11:25 pm

Re: Mindfulness: A Secularized Buddhist Practice in the West

Post by Anagarika » Fri Aug 15, 2014 12:59 pm

A few articles on mindfulness in the west can be found at : www.mcmindfulness.com

User avatar
Viscid
Posts: 930
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:55 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada
Contact:

Re: Mindfulness: A Secularized Buddhist Practice in the West

Post by Viscid » Fri Aug 15, 2014 7:05 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:I never understood the difference, i can recall asking people about this and the two sounded almost exactly the same to me, at least the way mindfulness is used in zen. So enlighten me, whats the difference?
It's difficult to determine exactly what 'mindfulness' generally means to people in the West, and that's the problem. You may interpret Western 'mindfulness' as being exactly the same as what you'd find in Zen, but perhaps that's due to your prior exposure to Zen. If someone completely ignorant of the principles of Zen or Theravada were to learn about 'mindfulness' from some Western therapist or coach, they may obtain a different conception. If you're a teacher, you may want to use an exotic word so that students don't substitute their understanding of the word for how it's supposed to be known from within the tradition.

The main difference I see between 'mindfulness' in the Theravada and mindfulness in the West is that Western 'mindfulness' is disconnected from the cultivation of ethical behaviour. It seems to be presented more as a means to become peaceful, happy or efficient, rather than as a support for the identification of inappropriate thought or action. Also lost is the Theravadin association with memory (the literal translation of 'sati' is 'recollection') and that itself may justify sticking to the original Pali.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James

User avatar
m0rl0ck
Posts: 1193
Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 10:51 am

Re: Mindfulness: A Secularized Buddhist Practice in the West

Post by m0rl0ck » Fri Aug 15, 2014 8:24 pm

Viscid wrote: The main difference I see between 'mindfulness' in the Theravada and mindfulness in the West is that Western 'mindfulness' is disconnected from the cultivation of ethical behaviour. It seems to be presented more as a means to become peaceful, happy or efficient, rather than as a support for the identification of inappropriate thought or action. Also lost is the Theravadin association with memory (the literal translation of 'sati' is 'recollection') and that itself may justify sticking to the original Pali.


You're right context is important. I dont know if there is a secular mindfulness thats free of any sort of principled or ethical context. I suspect that if there is some sort of ethical context would assert itself before long just because of the nature of human beings.
However mindfulness as taught in zen seems to me to be about the same as the idea of sati theravadan buddhism and this is one of the problems with using pali (or any jargon in any technical subject) to refer to such concepts, it segregates people who are talking about the same thing and prevents communication. And of course that is part of the purpose of technical jargon, a badge of identification and difference.
Now if you want to refer to secular mindfulness vs buddhist mindfulness, that might be a useful distinction, but im not sure of that since i dont know much about the way secular mindfulness is taught.
Last edited by m0rl0ck on Fri Aug 15, 2014 8:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

meindzai
Posts: 595
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 8:10 pm

Re: Mindfulness: A Secularized Buddhist Practice in the West

Post by meindzai » Fri Aug 15, 2014 8:26 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:
I never understood the difference, i can recall asking people about this and the two sounded almost exactly the same to me, at least the way mindfulness is used in zen. So enlighten me, whats the difference?
"And what is right mindfulness? There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on feelings in & of themselves... the mind in & of itself... mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. This is called right mindfulness.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

And of course each of these terms (feelings, mental qualities, etc.) are loaded with meaning further elucidated in the Suttas. (See the Satipatthana Sutta for the big laundry list)

That's hardly anything like what passes for mindfulness in any non-Buddhist context.

In zen sometimes this gets boiled down to "pay attention to what you are doing," or "throw yourself into your activity" and so forth. The simplification is sometimes helpful. The problem is that it doesn't include the other subtle meaning of mindfulness which is "memory" or "recollection." Paying attention is no good if you don't *remember* to pay attention or if you aren't keeping in mind what you are supposed to be paying attention to.

Probably the westernized versions of mindfulness are closer to the simplified versions taught in zen. But even in Zen mindfulness is part of a whole package with meditation and so forth. Or part of a package that the teacher is aware of but the student does not, as is often the case with enigmatic zen masters.

-Dave K

User avatar
m0rl0ck
Posts: 1193
Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 10:51 am

Re: Mindfulness: A Secularized Buddhist Practice in the West

Post by m0rl0ck » Fri Aug 15, 2014 8:30 pm

meindzai wrote: In zen sometimes this gets boiled down to "pay attention to what you are doing," or "throw yourself into your activity" and so forth. The simplification is sometimes helpful. The problem is that it doesn't include the other subtle meaning of mindfulness which is "memory" or "recollection." Paying attention is no good if you don't *remember* to pay attention or if you aren't keeping in mind what you are supposed to be paying attention to.
I have never known mindfulness in zen to be taught free of context which seems to me what you are talking about. Its a part of the path and is practiced as such in my experience.
I dont think the point you guys are trying to make with this holds any practical (as in actual practice of buddhism) value, but im not sure i understand the point you are trying to make, but maybe you guys know something i dont :)
Last edited by m0rl0ck on Fri Aug 15, 2014 9:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

meindzai
Posts: 595
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 8:10 pm

Re: Mindfulness: A Secularized Buddhist Practice in the West

Post by meindzai » Fri Aug 15, 2014 9:02 pm

m0rl0ck wrote: I have never know mindfulness in zen to be taught free of context which seems to me what you are talking about. Its a part of the path and is practiced as such in my experience.
As I said " But even in Zen mindfulness is part of a whole package with meditation and so forth...." So I'm not sure why you are saying this.
I dont think the point you guys are trying to make with this holds any practical (as in actual practice of buddhism) value, but maybe you guys know something i dont :)
What do you think mindfulness is in Buddhism?

-Dave K

Locked

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Baidu [Spider] and 55 guests